Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review: Neon Genesis Evangelion-Part 1-episodes 1 thru 6

To begin my blog I figured I'd start with a fairly basic review, and Neon Genesis Evangelion is perhaps as good a place to start as any. When I first watched Evangelion, it ruled my life; I visited the fan sites, discussed the show with anyone who would listen, made bad jokes about a certain scene (you know which), and pondered the hidden meanings of every other scene. The first 6 episodes form a bit of an introductory chapter, and are also the easiest to remember of the entire TV series. They begin in a surprisingly mainstream manner in contrast to the series' eventual legacy, yet broke many of the "rules" of the Giant Robot genre at the time (I'll elaborate in a bit).
 The plot is ingeniously simple, or at least was: The year is 2015, 15 years after The Second Impact destroyed the polar ice caps and changed the world. Shinji Ikari, a neurotic teenager, is the third child. He is to pilot The Eva- a mysterious giant robot that may or may not actually be alive- to fight the mysterious angels, monsters that had a hand in the cataclysmic events of The Second Impact, for the once again mysterious Nerv, an agency run by his abusive- and mysterious- father Gendo, a plain-clothes Darth Vader. He is accompanied by Rei, the second child, an emotionless girl who may be even more neurotic than he is, and Misato, Shinji's commander/roommate.
 Many things made the show different at the time- rather than a brave hero, Shinji was essentially being repeatedly traumatized, Rei was a total opposite of the average anime-girl type, and, as I mentioned before, THE MYSTERY! Conspiracy plots in mainstream anime were no new thing, but never has it been so fully realized; Gendo hides his secrets quite efficiently, and the angels are no cackling villains, but silent destroyers that can be genuinely creepy (I mean, when Rameil The Cube Angel popped up, I did laugh, but those two episodes ended up pretty epic).
 However, that isn't so big by todays standards. Numerous Eva knock-offs have since popped up (one such knock-off, Rahxephon, had a character named Reika. I mean, really. ReiKA?), and wimpy heroes and robot-like heroines have become the norm. However, Eva is still superior, even in these early, less surreal episodes. This can be proved with just one scene. Rei needs a new access card or something (this isn't all that important), and Shinji is told to go to her apartment and give her said access card. When he goes to her apartment, she does not answer the door, but it is unlocked, so Shinji lets himself in. He sees a pair of old glasses sitting on a shelf. He examines the glasses, and then suddenly Rei steps into the room SHE'S BEEN SHOWERING SHE'S NAKED OH NO!!! At this point I expected a typical fan-service scenes in which the hero gets embarrassed and the anime-girl gets upset o-ho-ho. But Rei seems to not even notice, even when Shinji falls on her chest in typical anime fashion, but does get a bit upset when she sees Shinji looking at the old pair of glasses. This scene has a scary, surreal quality to it that we will come to expect from Evangelion, as well as a significant amount of character development.
It should be mentioned that the english dub is horrible (so. many. monotone. performances.), so be sure to watch the show in original japanese. This portion of Evangelion is very early in the series, and two of the main characters haven't even appeared yet. However, this is one of the few parts of the series where it is OK to watch with family. Hasshin!

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