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REVIEW: Neon Genesis Evangelion


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Lord Geo



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:51 am Reply with quote
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heralding the age of modern late-night productions


I've been seeing this claim stated repeatedly lately, due to Eva's return to regular availability, but with no real explanation as to why. When Eva debuted in 1995, late-night anime wasn't a thing by any means, and in fact Eva aired in prime time, replacing the Japanese dub of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The first "modern" late-night anime, Those Who Hunt Elves, wouldn't debut until October 1996, a year after Eva had debuted. Now, yes, Eva did eventually get re-run in late-night, but that wasn't until February 1997, after TWHE had finished airing, & Eat-Man '97 had already been a month into its run. Really, Eva was only re-run in late-night because it had a strong otaku following, as well as to help advertise Death & Rebirth (which came out in theaters just a month later) & End of Evangelion.

In fact, from what I've been able to research over the years, late-night anime primarily became a thing because the OVA market had essentially bottomed out by the mid-90s, and companies needed a new way to market & sell anime for otaku. Some producers, though, noticed that otaku were watching Aniraji, which were late-night airings of anime-themed radio shows, & decided to try airing anime at late-night, directly at those otaku, with the intention being that they'd be advertising the late home video releases directly to the market they were aiming at. Late-night anime, even to this day, is really nothing more than an infomercial, when you get down to it; they're the anime equivalent of Billy Mays trying to sell you Oxi-Clean.

Was Eva an occasional subject of those Aniraji programs? Sure, more than likely, & I don't doubt that Eva's late-night re-run likely helped bring in more otaku viewers, but to claim that Eva "heralded" late-night anime sounds a bit like hyperbole that's only meant to heap more praise on Evangelion, even when it's not really necessary..

That being said, Nick's review is still great, & super detailed; I just wish he actually explained that one line early on, instead of just mentioning it without any real context.


Last edited by Lord Geo on Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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prime_pm



Joined: 06 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:03 pm Reply with quote
I should have saved my Rick & Morty parody of Eva for this review. Can I repost here?

Otherwise, a thoughtful, reflective analysis of the series well cognizant of all its merits without dumping entirely on its divisive new English dub. Congrats.
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MarshalBanana



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:15 pm Reply with quote
Lord Geo wrote:
snip
I've always taken that as gospel, as it seemed to make sense. However if there were late night Anime appearing around then, then there must have been another reason, and Eva just got credited as it was the most well known of them.

Are you sure about the OVA market? As it seemed to run strong throughout the second half of the 90s; Virgin Fleet, Hyper Speed Grandoll, Saber Marionette R, Galaxy Fraulein Yuna, Agent Aika, Gunsmith Cats etc


Last edited by MarshalBanana on Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Amibite



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:30 pm Reply with quote
Lord Geo wrote:
Quote:
heralding the age of modern late-night productions


I've been seeing this claim stated repeatedly lately, due to Eva's return to regular availability, but with no real explanation as to why. When Eva debuted in 1995, late-night anime wasn't a thing by any means, and in fact Eva aired in prime time, replacing the Japanese dub of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The first "modern" late-night anime, Those Who Hunt Elves, wouldn't debut until October 1996, a year after Eva had debuted. Now, yes, Eva did eventually get re-run in late-night, but that wasn't until February 1997, after TWHE had finished airing, & Eat-Man '97 had already been a month into its run. Really, Eva was only re-run in late-night because it had a strong otaku following.


We've been seeing a lot of questionable claims about Evangelion ever since it appeared on Netflix. As you say, Evangelion at it's core is a children's show. No different than others that also attracted a huge otaku following like Pretty Cure. Some people take issue with watching children's anime, though
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Lord Geo



Joined: 18 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:51 pm Reply with quote
MarshalBanana wrote:
Are you sure about the OVA market? As it seemed to run strong throughout the second half of the 90s; Virgin Fleet, Hyper Speed Grandoll, Saber Marionette R, Galaxy Fraulein Yuna, Agent Aika, Gunsmith Cats etc


The OVA market was still around, but it wasn't anywhere near where it used to be, & it did screw over some potential productions. For example, I know that there were plans for Group TAC to make an anime adaptation of 70s baseball manga Team Astro in 1992, but no network was willing to air it in the traditional way (due to a lack of baseball anime at the time), & the OVA market was no longer strong enough to support it for any real length of time. Had late-night been a thing back then, I'm sure that anime would have been made.

Late-night not only was a good replacement for the old methods, but also allowed for longer productions, since they were buying guaranteed 12-13 weeks of TV time from the network, which meant that they could always have some length to them, instead of risking poor sales, which would then cut an OVA short. Why do you think most, if not all, of the ones you brought up are only 2-3 episodes long? By the mid-90s, it was too risky to make anything more than that many OVA episodes for one production.
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EternalNothingness



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:39 pm Reply with quote
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The show's unprecedented success would change the anime industry forever, ushering in shows that revered its iconography even as they ignored its core lessons.


Can anyone explain to me what wrong lessons did other anime learn from Evangelion, and what were the actual right lessons they could have learned from the series, instead?
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Neromon



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:26 pm Reply with quote
This is one of the best reviews I've read on ANN. Good job
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Cardcaptor Takato



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:30 pm Reply with quote
Evangelion has been a personal favorite of mine for years and a series that has a lot of personal meaning for me. What I enjoy about Eva is how it portrays the complexities of human relationships and the struggles with mental illness in such a raw and unflinching manner. I feel like in most fictional media when a character is depressed they usually just get over it after a major story arc and everything is completely better after that but I always loved Eva for showing that mental illness is messy and complicated.

It's this reason why I've always somewhat enjoyed the TV series ending over End of Eva as the TV series ending discards everything you would expect it to focus on to focus on the core themes of what make Eva so special. End of Eva is still a powerful film in it's own right, but I feel like I enjoy that movie more in the second half where it gets back into the character study focus aspects, and End of Eva works more as a companion piece to the TV series ending, whereas contrary to popular sentiment, I feel like the TV series ending actually stands pretty well on it's own. Misato has always been my favorite character as I always found it interesting how Misato portrays herself outwardly as so bubbly and confident but it's more of a mask for her own relationship insecurities and her own flaws and mistakes she's made.

I still have my criticisms of the Netflix dub but I've mostly come around on it. I still have a lot of nostalgia for the original dub, but I do find the new cast to be fitting for their roles, and I appreciate they're playing the different characters than the ADV dub. I'm always impressed how close Shnji's VA sounds to Megumi Ogata and I thought Asuka's new VA actually did really well with the character, though I'll always love Tiffany Grant's "what are you stupid?" and "Wonder Girl" lines. Rei's VA was also well done and I think the biggest improvement is with the supporting cast. As much as I enjoy the ADV dub, the original supporting cast aged the poorest, especially Kensuke and Touji, so I'm pretty pleased with the VAs of the supporting cast.

I feel like Misato is the main one I'm 50/50 on with her new VA. I think Carrie Keranen is just fine but I still really like the energy Allison Keith brought to the character, especially in the next episode preview segments. I had the same issue with Carrie in the Viz Sailor Stars dub where I thought she was just fine as Sailor Galaxia but not really anything special. The biggest problem I have with the Netflix Eva dub is that it feels too literal at times and they sometimes make odd choices for phrasing sentences where you can tell the translation wasn't done by someone who's primary language is English.

The original ADV dub though had it's own share of problems, especially with the original movies, and I don't think the ADV dub was as accurate as some fans made it out to be. I still wish the ADV dub could be persevered because of it's historical importance, but the new Netflix dub isn't really that bad as I initially felt when I started watching it, and I think it's a perfectly good dub if you've never seen the ADV version. I'll still be disappointed if we never get a BD release though.

Quote:
Can anyone explain to me what wrong lessons did other anime learn from Evangelion, and what were the actual right lessons they could have learned from the series, instead?
I think the biggest problem with a lot of the Eva clone shows is they mostly focus on copying the aesthetics of Eva but a lot of them just end up coming across as cliched rip offs. It's similar to a lot of the post Madoka dark magical girl shows tried to copy Madoka's success but never really succeeding at understanding what made Madoka special and just focusing on making everything as dark and gritty and shocking as possible.


Last edited by Cardcaptor Takato on Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:48 pm; edited 4 times in total
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whiskeyii



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:32 pm Reply with quote
EternalNothingness wrote:


Can anyone explain to me what wrong lessons did other anime learn from Evangelion, and what were the actual right lessons they could have learned from the series, instead?


Just as a broad stab in the dark? Wrong lesson: that romantic interests are there not to exist as fully fledged people, but as props for the main character that only occasionally get their own lives and problems to wrangle with.

This is more a vibe I get than anything concrete, but Eva always seems pretty careful to demonstrate that these people's lives don't really revolve around each other the same way a bevy of beauties might revolve around a shonen MC--if you cut them all loose to do their own things, Eva's characters all seem like they could go on to live full, heavily dysfunctional lives of their own. I don't really get that impression from other anime of Eva's time (though I'm sure there are exceptions), and I do think there has been some work done to make more fully fleshed out side characters in series nowadays.

See also:
Eva: "Escapism is bad; don't run from reality!"
Anime industry: "We need even MOAR escapism!!!!"
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EternalNothingness



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:44 pm Reply with quote
Cardcaptor Takato wrote:
Quote:
Can anyone explain to me what wrong lessons did other anime learn from Evangelion, and what were the actual right lessons they could have learned from the series, instead?
I think the biggest problem with a lot of the Eva clone shows is they mostly focus on copying the aesthetics of Eva but a lot of them just end up coming across as cliched rip offs. It's similar to a lot of the post Madoka dark magical girl shows tried to copy Madoka's success but never really succeeding at understanding what made Madoka special and just focusing on making everything as dark and gritty and shocking as possible.


As in, these other anime try to be dark and edgy like Evangelion, and failed because Evangelion was less about being dark and edgy and more about Shinji and his friends learning to accept themselves for who they are, flaws and everything, and thus accept each other in their lives as a potential social support system. Right?
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MarshalBanana



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:53 pm Reply with quote
It just occurred to me how strange it is that around the same time as Netflix dubbed Eva, they contracted Sentai to do dub 7 Seeds. Just to be clear I'm not bothered by the recasting, it's just odd that they never thought to farm it out to Sentai(I'm sure Spike and co would return), or at least offer.
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Lord Geo



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:03 pm Reply with quote
EternalNothingness wrote:
Cardcaptor Takato wrote:
I think the biggest problem with a lot of the Eva clone shows is they mostly focus on copying the aesthetics of Eva but a lot of them just end up coming across as cliched rip offs. It's similar to a lot of the post Madoka dark magical girl shows tried to copy Madoka's success but never really succeeding at understanding what made Madoka special and just focusing on making everything as dark and gritty and shocking as possible.


As in, these other anime try to be dark and edgy like Evangelion, and failed because Evangelion was less about being dark and edgy and more about Shinji and his friends learning to accept themselves for who they are, flaws and everything, and thus accept each other in their lives as a potential social support system. Right?


Honestly, I've been trying out as many "Eva Clones" as I can over the past month, as part of an article I'm doing (you can read Part 1, if you want), & what I've noticed is that, while the aesthetics are there for many (some more than others), I do think that people have been exaggerating the similarities, or simply imposing Eva's image over them.

Sure, short OVAs like Super Mobile Legend Dinagiga & De:Vadasy are very much "clone"-like, while some longer shows like Platinumhugen Ordian & RahXephon play their Eva similarities pretty close, but then I've tried out something like Gasaraki, which honestly only feels similar to Eva in absolutely minor ways, or Dual!, in which the Eva similarities are pretty much surface level & quickly give way to it's Tenchi style. And even Ordian & RahXephon have more than enough different to them to help differentiate themselves from Eva. And how about a show like Argento Soma, which simply uses an Eva-like aesthetic to simply help sell it's own story, which is really more like a fusion of Frankenstein, War of the Worlds, & The Count of Monte Cristo? Or how about the likes of Fafner, Aquarion, & Eureka Seven, which have all gone on to become their own franchises?

(Also, yes, people did indeed call Eureka Seven an "Eva Clone". Dai Sato even brought up how he hated that in an interview back in 2010.)

I'm not saying that the term "Eva Clone" isn't without merit, & I am only checking out the first 5-7 episodes of each of these shows, but so far I've been seeing that the term itself is feeling more like a way for people to simply dismiss having to actually watch these later shows, based primarily on the fact that Evangelion came first. It'd be like dismissing any 70s super robot show because they're "Mazinger Clones", or any 80s real robot show because they're "Gundam Clones".

I mean, let's face it, mech anime in general is super iterative & flows based on what's popular. Dismissing stuff for being "clones", regardless of what they actually do differently, is kind of silly.
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zendervai



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:07 pm Reply with quote
MarshalBanana wrote:
It just occurred to me how strange it is that around the same time as Netflix dubbed Eva, they contracted Sentai to do dub 7 Seeds. Just to be clear I'm not bothered by the recasting, it's just odd that they never thought to farm it out to Sentai(I'm sure Spike and co would return), or at least offer.


Netflix basically had nothing to do with the dub. Khara has basically taken control of all dubs and subtitles for Evangelion releases. It's why 3.0 had such a long period between the theatrical NA release and the blu-ray release. It isn't really that odd, they just had no say.
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LightningCount



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:20 pm Reply with quote
It's been about 13 years since I've seen the whole TV series, and for a number of years, I had only seen the first five or so episodes, so I'll have to watch it again in its entirety. But this review was fantastic in its depth of content.

The directing of this show is definitely a strength. It grabs you right away. I'm sure I'm an outlier, but the religious symbolism, overarching plot mysteries, clever scenarios, and inspired design work of this franchise have always been more interesting to me in the long term than its characters. That's not to say its characters are not noteworthy, but the leads sometimes came across more as caricatures to me...and part of that may have been the sometimes over-the-top voicing in the ADV dub. When I really read between the lines, I know that's not really the case, but it somehow gave me that impression. Perhaps it's some of the extreme antics and such that are baked into the show, or perhaps I just wasn't used to the kind of characters it was trying to present when I watched it.

For me, RahXephon, which was partially an "re:" to Evangelion, and is often dismissed as nothing but a clone, resonated more. It's not as "in your face" as EVA, which doesn't make it as immediately thrilling or iconic, but its characters feel so naturalistic in how they try to either find or reconcile their place in the world. (The first two EVA Rebuild movies had more of a RahXephon-type tone to them, I feel, which is part of what led to my disappointment when 3.33 rolled in.)

The thing that shows how subversive EVA is to me is how Toji is handled. spoiler[In any other mecha anime, he would have been developed into a genuine EVA pilot first before anything happened to him. And to this day, that sort of frustrates me.]

Speaking of frustrations...because EVA has such an interesting world with so much lore and striking visual imagery, I feel like it never capitalized on a better way to unveil or spell out some of its mysteries, particularly on a global scale. And the fact that all the religious symbolism is apparently just there for aesthetic purposes is also a missed opportunity, in my mind.

Regardless, I'm not as versed in EVA as most here, as I've been more of a casual fan of it overall since first seeing an episode of it circa 2001, and have probably watched the Rebuild films more than the TV series. I'm just offering my long-term impressions, without having watched it recently, which I am wanting to do. I will say that it was correct for the reviewer to point out Mobile Suit Gundam, though. I've been gradually rewatching the original series, and Amuro goes through A LOT, and they show the effects of that much more than I remembered. I forgot how different it is compared to later Gundam series.

EDIT: Shout-out to Lord Geo for addressing the EVA clone topic. Gasaraki, Eureka 7, RahXephon, Fafner...these are all memorable shows--some more structurally solid than others, some more similar to EVA than others--that deserve to be watched on their own merits and have a good amount to offer.
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BodaciousSpacePirate
It's Over 9000!It's Over 9000!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:36 pm Reply with quote
Back in 2011, ANN's Mike Toole put forward his own take on the "Eva clone" issue:
animenewsnetwork.com/the-mike-toole-show/2011-06-05

Personally, I still have a soft spot for Brain Powerd, to the point where I recently sought out and acquired all of the SD figures that were officially released for the series.
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