NOTE: This review will focus solely on the original TV series and The End of Evangelion.
INTRO: I have mixed feelings towards Neon Genesis Evangelion. I guess part of the reason why is because of how many people claim the series to be one of the most influential Anime series ever made. I heard about Evangelion from my friend from high school , and he explained to me how the series was influential with its animation, character development and character designs. Furthermore, my cousin who doesn't watch Anime, watched Evangelion during his orchestra trip and said he enjoyed it. As a result, I was excited to watch the series and when I finally did watch it, some parts were awesome. Other parts however, were kinda iffy.
Premise: The premise of Neon Genesis Evangelion takes place in a post apocalyptic Earth, where an apocalypse known as "The Second Impact" occurred in the year 2000, killing almost half of the human population ,and changing the entire balance of nature. Fifteen years later, a 14-year-old boy named Shinji Ikari is summoned by his father Gendo Ikari as the "Third Child" to pilot a giant bio machine named "Eva" in order to defeat the alien beings known as the "Angels" who are attacking the planet. Shinji initially refuses to pilot the Eva but after seeing the other pilot gravely injured and unable to get up, he reluctantly agrees and defeats the Angel. The rest of the series focuses on Shinji's new quest to defeat the Angels in order to restore peace to Earth, his relationship with his father and later on in the series we go through the psychosis of the main characters. Along his quest Shinji meets some few new characters: Misato Katsuragi, who becomes Shinji's mentor and lets Shinji live in her own house , Rei Ayanami who was the injured pilot and the "First Child", Asuka Langley Soryu, who transfers from Germany in order to become the "Second Child", Toji Suzuhara and Kensuke Aida, who become Shinji's best friends and Ryouji Kaji whom Shinji sees as someone to look up to. The premise of the Anime is pretty interesting because it does build up suspense later on in the series. Additionally it is pretty interesting to see a post apocalyptic Japan and how life is like during the post apocalyptic period.
Characters: The characters of Evangelion are likable for the most part. For the sake of not spoiling anything I will go through the main characters and some of the recurring ones .
Shinji Ikari: Shinji is the main protagonist of the series and is a character people either love or hate. Personally, I don't really mind him. I do agree he does become a huge emo later on in the series and often he does whine a lot to the pointwhere I want to say "Dude! Shut up!". However at the same time, he does represent how we used to be when we were 14 year old teenagers. Whether you want to deny it, we definitely had issues and mood swings we had to deal with when we were 14 year old teens. Additionally he is polite and tries his best to help those whom he cares about.
Asuka Langley Soryu: Asuka is a character I feel like I should hate. She represents the character archetype known in the Anime community as the "Tsundere". A Tsundere is basically a tomboy character who initially hates the main character butlater on starts to develop warm feelings and eventually falls in love with him/her. Examples of Tsunderes in Anime are Sakura Haruno from Naruto, Chi-Chi from the Dragonball series, Akane Tendo from Ranma 1/2 etc. With that said, I don't hate Asuka. Even though she can be very annoying in the early episodes, she is sociable and does have a lot of fun, which I think makes her stand out from other characters of the same archetype.
Rei Ayanami: Rei is my favorite character and probably the most interesting character of the cast.She has a cool minded personality and her motivation on to why she is helping Shinji's father Gendo Ikari is a mystery until later on in the series. But what is evident is her devotion in obeying Gendo and the fact that she can be calm and subtle even when she's angry. For example in this scene where she just slaps Shinji in the face after he badmouths about his own father.
Misato Katsuragi: Misato is a pretty enjoyable character. I do like the idea of how she can turn from a crazy-party-girl-soccer mom into a woman who has problems of her own. Her back-story, while I won't give it away, is pretty sad.
Toji Suzuhara & Kensuke Aida: Toji and Kensuke are pretty enjoyable characters and they prettymuch provide the comedic relief in the series.I especially like this scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=playerdetailpage&v=7T6CIFmO8c#t=209s
For whatever reason, every time I see this scene it makes me laugh.
Animation: The animation for Evangelion is pretty awesome. The fight scenes are pretty cool and the character model designs and colors are also spectacular.Though I will say that sometimes the animation can downgrade sometimes to looking like something out of the early 90s, which isn't necessarily bad, it's just a noticeable thing. Other that it does hold up pretty well and the idea of using human models for the mechas and the angels was innovative at the time.
Music: The music for Evangelion is pretty good. The usage of orchestral instruments is pretty fitting for the fight scenes and some of the background music does fit the scenes of the show. But in my opinion what triumphs the music for this series is the opening theme song "A Cruel Angel's Thesis" and the opening is probably one of the best I seen yet. The animation, the angles , it is awesome and it blows me away every time I see it .
Problems: For all the legacy the show holds up however it does have a lot of flaws. One of them ,and for me the biggest flaw is how they explain the problems with the Evas,and the solutions. I don't know whether it's the dub's fault ,but most of the time it feels like I missed something, and I had to rewind the video in order to understand what they were talking about.
Opinion on The End Of Evangelion: Before wrapping it up I guess I'll discuss what I thought about the original series finale "The End Of Evangelion". Personally I thought the movie was like a roller coaster ride: it has a lot of action and stuff really gets trippy. In the end I had nothing to say but it did not hurt me like it did for most people.
Final Verdict: In the end, Neon Genesis Evangelion is Anime series I respect more than I actually like. While I do like parts of the anime, I respect it for what it did for a lot of anime series.For example, we wouldn't have the traditional 26 episode format like we do now if it wasn't for this series,and it did create a character personality via Rei which I find to be fascinating.Additionally the fact that they mixed the mecha genre with religion is cool.That being said though, I can't really say that it's one of my favorite Anime series because of confusing explanations and of sheer indifference.But I will say that the stuff that's good, holds up very well and I am glad I did watch the Anime at least once. Will I watch it again? Maybe, Maybe not! I did see the 2nd movie of the reboot series Rebuild Of Evangelion though,so time will tell whether I will watch the series again. Overall though, it is a good Anime to watch if you're into the Mecha genre,psychological drama and for the sake of viewing how the series changed the Anime genre as a whole.