Manga Review: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Here, as promised, Neon Genesis Evangelion (the Manga.) In Japanese, It is Shin Sheki Evangelion, which translates to New Century Evangelion.

EVA is regarded as a good series and a definitive mecha series. However, if this is the definitive or a definitive mecha series, I feel sorry for the genre.

Plot: The plot evolves around a boy named shinji, who is called upon to pilot a giant robot called EVA. He meets his father, who ignores him and treats their relationship as purely business and tries to get shinji to stand on his own two feet, which is something shinji continually tries to avoid doing. Gendo, shinji’s father, prefers to spend time with ayanami rei, an emotionless 14 year old girl who spends a lot of time being naked. Fanservice that they attempt to justify through her emotionless character-she simply doesn’t care about being naked.

Of course, it is later revealed that she is some sort of science creation and there are many clone bodies of her (which a couple other characters destroy) so it stands to reason that the big boss of the blace (gendo) would spend more time with rei-given she is basically an artificial creation, they basically need to constantly moniter her. Given how much it costs to make a clone of a simple animal, and they have a giant fluid-filled tank full of rei clones, it would also to be to ensure nothing happens to what amounts to a really expensive body.

Either way, the series constantly pulls off slight sexual innuendo and suggestive themes, some of which are very subtle and very freudian.

I would try to explain the plot, but it is a jumbled mass of conspiracy theories and twisted judeo-christian ideas. But, it is something about these angels are tryng to come into contact with some giant thing nailed to a cross and cause something, but they stop it by fighting the angels with these gian trobots that are actually made from the crucified thing, but one of the robots turns into an angel…and something about a giant spear in space and a computer that is called the magii and…

If you can actually make sense of the plot that doesn’t consist of shinji whining about how he isn’t loved enough and how his dad doesn’t pay enough attention to him and how his mother died and how terrible his life is. Given how he either has incurable chronic depression, or is just a really whiny kid, by the second time he tries to run away, but lacks the balls TO GO THROUGH WITH ANYTHING, your opinion would be to prescribe the kid some heavy duty drugs, or a bullet through the skull. He is literally that hateful and annoying. Maybe they were trying to do the young teen confused about his life and unsure of what to do and trying to find his path in all this, but it was done in the same way EVA does everything else-overtly heavy-handed to the point of distaste.

Let’s pick on it some more. The EVAs are giant robots it seems, with control areas filled with fluid that allows them to breathe. Fair enough. It’s called Perflourocarbon, and it is an existing technology that can be used for oxygenation, drug delivery, and other applications, but it still quite experimental. It WORKS, but it has a lot of drawbacks, and is best used for medical treatments and, potentially, deep sea diving. Oh, and it isn’t a pleasant thing either-your body does not have enough strength to breathe the fluid, so mechanical pumps need to force the fluid through your lungs. SO, basically, he would have been hooked up to a tube running down his windpipe. Also, even without that, because of the density of the fluid and the difficulty that your body has moving it into and out of your lungs, speech is impossible. So all those scenes with them speaking inside the robots? Yeah, couldn’t happen. However, as it is only once that the fluid appears, it seems more like the author simply forgot about that.

Even more abuse is on the way. Okay, they wear these neural links and have this neural linkage to the EVAs, and yet they control them through hand controls, and presumably, foot controls, as well as what looks like laserdiscs mounted on the side of the chair (for if they can’t continue to control the EVA.) Okay, so basically, they control the EVA through a closed loop servo system. So why does it need a neural interface when they don’t use neural controls? It’s as if an R/C car also had you wear headphones, despite that the headphones simply have no use.

Right, let’s harp on the EVAs some more. Ignoring the square/cube law for simple rule of cool, the EVAs are powered by giant electrical cords. Fair enough. But, they have batteries that power the EVAs for 30 seconds, then the EVA shuts down if it hasn’t reconnected to the power supply by then. However, later on, shinji begs and pleads with the EVA to move, despite it being out of battery. Then it gets up and allows him to continue fighting. So, really, all the other faff about the power cords wasn’t really needed, was it? Oh, and then it is revealed that the EVAs are essentially biological organisms and the armor contains their power. SO, when the armor power runs out, then the biological should have immediately taken over. If the electricity powers it all, well, organics don’t respond well to electricity (organics respond to electricity powering them by dieing.) Okay, so the armor keeps the EVA from actually using all of its power, so when the battery runs out, the EVA should have emerged immediately. Not to mention, as organic lifeforms cannot be powered by electricity, the EVA would have required a constant intake of nutrients and a constant removal of waste products.

Right, I’m calling an end to that bit of well-deserved nitpicking. But I still have more. NGE is a definitive work, which gave us a lot to be thankful for in manga and anime. It gave us the Rei Ayanami character type, an emotionless young teen girl with pastel hair, and it gave us the depressed introvert hero who has to have a good cry before he maybe, just possibly, goes out to kick ass and take names.*

Or, in other words, it gave everyone character types who fit in well in NGE, but are horrible elsewhere. All manga and anime fans who read and watch other genres get to enjoy the aftertaste of a series that constantly complains about how everything is horrible, despite the actions of others are actually to help it or in its best interests. It’s that pre-teen who listens to depressing music and cuts themselves and complains about their parents, despite the fact their parents are trying to help them.

Score: 3/5 not bad

Pros: it is interesting. You will have more fun trying to figure out what exactly is going on than actually following the impossible story

Cons: characters are whiny to the extent even the most devout pacifist would want to kill them-and would enjoy killing them. EVERYTHING about the story is heavy handed to an extent that nothing needs to be. The judeo-christian antics are horribly convoluted and unfollowable (to the extent one wonders if the author even follows it or simply makes it up as they go along) and seem to be THE sole plot point. Not to mention plenty of INTENTIONAL high-octane nightmare fuel that seems to be there to shock (frequently in a rather freudian way) than as an integral part of the plot. Even worse, those complaints are NOWHERE NEAR then end of the complainable topics, and that ignores any potential nitpicking.

Afterthought: Did I mention I actually enjoy the series? I gave up trying to follow the plot as it makes the Gordian knot look like a straight line. The gainaxing is annoying, but ignoring the penguin love that has no plot relation solves that problem. Also, I generally just try to not think about things like the one girl trying to seduce the much older man…Squick.

Provided you don’t think deeply, or even shallowly about ANYTHING NGE throws at you, it is an enjoyable read.

Plug: I read NGE manga through my local library. Odds are, your local library has a manga section, and may even have anime to rent. Try reading some things there that you haven’t read before, as in doing so, you open your eyes to new genres and help support public libraries. So, yeah, support your local public library and such.

* This bit was mentioned in the very enjoyable book How NOT To Draw Manga. It isn’t very expensive, and will make you a far more educated consumer of Manga and Anime. I highly suggest you pick up a copy.


One thought on “Manga Review: Neon Genesis Evangelion

  1. > EVA is regarded as a good series and a definitive mecha series. However, if this is the definitive or a definitive mecha series, I feel sorry for the genre.

    The *anime* is… the manga sells very well, but is mostly ignored in Eva fan circles. (Which is not to say you might not dislike the anime too, you might. Many do.)

    Notice that the manga is still running like 16 years after the anime started; I’ve long said Sadamoto doesn’t care about the manga and does it as an obligation. One could hardly expect much from such a setup.

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