A benchmark series in the history of anime, Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most widely discussed in anime. It's not the first series to combine mecha (futuristic machines, especially robots) with theo... more »logy and a character-driven story, but it does so exceptionally well. The designs of the robots by Ikuto Yamashita are strikingly original; the questions raised about the future of the human race stimulate viewers' imaginations and the characters show a depth of personality rare in anime. The story is set in 2015, 15 years after a cataclysmic explosion in Antarctica that caused the ice cap to melt, killing a large portion of the Earth's population. Although it was reported as a meteor impact, the explosion was caused by human interaction with Adam, the first of a series of powerful, sentient creatures known as "Angels" to appear on Earth. To defend against their depredations, humans rely on NERV, a secret agency dedicated to destroying the Angels with their gargantuan robot suits called Evas. Only teenagers with special psychic powers can pilot the Evas, and the best pilot is the repressed 14-year-old Shinji Ikari, who is a more interesting, believable character than standard mecha pilots. The two final chapters of the Evangelion series (which originally ran in 1995-96) are highly philosophical ruminations that satisfied neither Anno nor the viewers. The episodes were remade as the theatrical features; however, only the original 26 episodes appear in this set. Not rated; suitable for ages 14 and up: Brief nudity, violence, sexual humor, and complex adult themes. --Charles Solomon« less
"I have reviewed all the individual DVD's in this series, so this won't be a review that focuses on plot details. Whether you like it or hate it, there is no denying that Evangelion looms large in any investigation of anime as an art form. In truth, there is very little to dislike, but director Hideaki Anno has put so much into it that the story is prone to take sudden changes in direction. Usually right after the viewers think that they have everything figured out. This is intentional, but sometimes it is a source of temporary discontent.Put simply this is the story of three fourteen year old children - Shinji Ikari, Rei Ayanami, and Asuka Langley - who have been bred to be able to merge with giant bioengineered creatures called Evangelions, EVA's for short. Their task is to protect a post apocalypse world from the invasions of giant angels. These are creatures much like the EVA's, whose agenda is not completely clear. Of course, the truth is that this is perhaps 30% of the story, which is a combination of psychodrama, metaphysical mystery play, and an investigation into the potential of the human race. In fact, nothing is ever exactly what it seems.As an example of the many layers to the story, there is a tremendous amount of Judeo-Christian symbolism worked into the story. The Sephiroth, the Kabalah's tree of life, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Lance of Longinus, and cruciform images abound. All of this adds up to an impending sense of apocalypse, but the truth us far stranger. Hideaki Anno has intentionally used this symbolism to create an atmosphere that is 'mysterious' to his Japanese audiences. Yet there is a whole other spiritual layer that is uniquely Japanese, drawing deeply from the Kojiki, an ancient creation legend. This is something many non-Japanese viewers will miss.This is one of many cases of the subtle undercurrents that make this series far more than an action oriented mecha story. Characters are complex, and develop rather than stay single sided. Anno's artistic control creates a visual layering that is just as right as the ploy. Careful attention to details will reward the viewer with all manner of hints and indicators of what is to come and what is happening. All production values are excellent and Anno shows he is willing to take real creative risks in his efforts to communicate.Of course, if you are considering buying the series, this collection really is the only sensible way to buy it. Despite the alarming price ticket, it is still much better priced than the one at a time charge. Whether you buy, rent, or borrow, this is one of the anime series that must be seen. You will not be disappointed."
A. Steinhebel | Tacoma, WA United States | 07/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the record, I am not a huge fan of Anime. Maybe I am looking in the wrong places, but everytime I start to watch a series it ends up as mindless action or mindless comedy. I've only seen 2 that can truly be called intellectual. Serial Experiment: Lain was one. Neon Genesis Evangelion is the other.
I cannot say enough good about this series. It it quite simply the best piece of work to ever have been broadcast. Anywhere. Nothing to come out of America, nothing to come out of Japan, nothing anywhere can meet the sheer brilliance of the 26 episodes of this most disturbing, heartwarming, and beautiful anime.
Evangelion starts out simply enough. Ikari Shinji is a 14-year old boy who gets called upon to pilot a giant mecha, called an Evangelion. He, Rei, and Asuka are the three children that have the ability to pilot these machines. Simple enough, right? The first 3/4's of the series deals with the relationship between these 3 and the various leaders of NERV, the organization they work with. It is highly entertaining, beautifully drawn, and very engaging. Alot of the middle episodes are very light hearted, and nothing too fantastic, but enjoyable in their own right.
It is in the last quater of the series that it becomes brilliant. Shinji, Asuka, Rei, and Misato (one of the leaders of NERV) become very introspective. By this point their back stories and personalities are developed beyond any rational expectation. I don't want to spoil the moving experience of this anime, but let me just say that it is incredibly philosophical, psychological, and depressing.
Oh, and for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT listen to anyone who tells you not to watch the last 2 episodes. They are, simply put, fools. The last 2 episodes are jarring, disturbing and very hard to watch. They do not give perfect closer to the whole series (don't worry Plot [enthusiasts], End of Evangelion, due out in September ties up all the loose ends). But they made the series for me. You have to see it to believe it and I am not going to spoil it by saying anything more. Just trust that it is simply breathtaking..."
Wonderful anime, horrible distributor
Global engineer | Cranberry Township, PA USA | 04/17/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What can I say that hasn't been said about the Evangelion series? I'll spare you the rant and just tell you about the dvd collection. First of all, I really dislike ADV Films, and one of the main reasons is for what this set could have been if they had only spent a little more money. Gainax, the studio that created eva, gave ADV films the chance to get the digital masters of the series complete with the directors cuts of episodes 21-24 (the directors cuts were extra footage added into episodes 21-24 when the box set was released in Japan), but instead they opted(more than likely to save money) to just buy the rights to what was broadcasted on television. They didn't even do the transfer right as the picture in some points in the series was very jumpy(they somewhat coorected this later on, and in the box set there was a very noticible fix on DVD 1). Then they claim that DVD 1 was "re-mastered", and by re-mastered they mean they fixed the spine to match up with the other ones and got rid of the annoying layover which they never should have put in to begin with. Finally, the fact that the series spawns 8 discs just shows where their main concern is, their pocketbook. Bandai has released many great 26 show anime series on a mere 6 discs(not to mention with many more extras and much better production quality). Overall, I still recommend you pick up this great series at a VERY reasonable(thank you amazon.com) price! Just write letters to ADV! (And by the way, appearently I'm not the only one ADV is upsetting, GAINAX recently cut all ties with them, so no more ADV distributed GAINAX anime! Hooray!)"
Maybe not all it's cracked up to be
Roger Steinbach | IL USA | 02/29/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"With "Evangelion", anime fans seem to be split into two camps--those who really, really like it, and those who don't. (An apparently small but occasionally vocal minority.) Many of the reviews here (I can't say most, since frankly I haven't read all 228 evaluations of this item) seem to be from the former group. I'm here to present a dissenting, though hopefully level-headed, opinion.The series starts out with a lot of promise. A potentially very interesting plot and cast of characters, boosted by some very intriguing foreshadowing. Unfortnately, this holding of the proverbial carrot in front of viewers' noses goes on for the entire first half of the series, with far more questions than answers being dispensed. In the second half of the series, the story itself begins to short-circuit--ANNO Hideaki, the director, wrote this more or less as it came to him, and it shows in the way that the actual plot never quite comes together. (The last time I watched this series, I tried very, very hard to make sense of all the divergent plot points we're given, and although in several episodes everything comes really close to making complete sense, it ultimately dissolves again each time. The only thought I have on this is that Anno himself didn't really know what was going on while he created the series, and it hurt the plot badly.)While the comprehensibility quotient of the story goes down during the series' second half, the strange symbolism quotient rockets up, compounding the issue severely. This is really the deciding factor: many fans seem to love the apparently random barrage of symbolism (which in an interview, Tsurumaki, the co-director, admitted was largely a meaningless lark), and mind-boggling amounts of literature has been written about this show. (It also plays this symbolism very straight and serious, which makes occasionally feels odd.) If you're the kind of person who is okay with that, or even enjoys it, then by all means, buy this show. If you're like me--someone who doesn't really appreciate symbolism where the creators didn't seem to have any intentions at all and it's up to viewer to impart any meaning at all to it--you may want to be careful.As an aside, I also don't feel that the characters are advanced at all over the course of the series. I think the manga remedies this immensely and recommend trying Sadamoto Yoshiyuki's ambitious reinterpretation of the series even if you didn't like the show. That said, Eva is also home to some very impressive mecha battles--the climax of episode 24 is, in my opinion, one of the most thrilling battle sequences to come along in quite a while.Nonetheless, I urge everyone to see this show at least once, whether you buy it or borrow it from a friend. Why? Well, whatever you or I may think of "Evangelion", it is inarguably one of the most influential anime shows of its era--I can't bring to mind another series that has been more widely or more passionately discussed and debated by this generation of fans. If you are an anime enthusiast, it beehoves you to see this show if for no reason other than to know what people are talking about with it and so you can know where you stand when the issue comes up.I'm hard-pressed to say that "Evangelion" is an unequivocally bad show, because it does have good points. But amidst all the fan-love usually directed at this series, newcomers may want to take it with a grain of salt."
Zev Bazarov | S. FL | 09/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a 26 episode series on 8 DVDs. It revolves on the workers of a Secret Organization known as Nerv, in an apocalyptic age, that protect the Earth from surreal invaders known as Angels. In this story Nerv develops bio-machine robots that 3 children operate to defeat the 17 Angels that come to Earth, based on the prophecies in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It starts out simple enough, kill one Angel move to the next etc etc. But each new Angel is more harder to kill, and not everything at Nerv is as it seems. This series presents many religious and philosophical questions, dealing with God, Man, his place in the world, and explores many psychological issues of modern man. It goes into an in depth look into its characters, what makes them who they are, why they are, why do they do things, what purpose do they serve, what is the meaning of their lives, and how to improve their lives and find happiness. The dialogue and questions raised can be debated many times. This is just the themes, and ideas being presented, I haven't even mentioned the intriguing story that unravels as you get further and further into the series. There is a lot of conspiracy and secrets, and things that are not as they seem. I won't spoil it here and give any of the secrets away, that would not be fair. If you enjoy Anime that makes you think, and that you can come back to, and analyze and go over many times, this is for you. The animation, battle sequences, music, all add to the quality of the story, themes, questions, and answers brought out in this series. This is a great piece of art that rewards upon multiple viewings. Bring your friends, watch, and when its all over, you'll have lots of things to talk about. 5 stars. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED."