Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shin Seiki Evangelion) began as a manga in 1995. The series was written by Hideaki Anno and was produced by Gainax, a Japanese animation studio. Neon Genesis Evangelion has set itself apart from other animes, as it does not focus on humor, or on fantasy and fighting, but rather on characters, choices and the impact that decisions can have. It is an anime that is full of religious and psychiatric story lines, and has been called controversial by some.
Neon Genesis Evangelion starts with Shinji Ikari in the year 2015. The world has already suffered through one cataclysmic event, and another one is on the rise. Monsters, called Angels, are destroying the world, and the only thing that can stop them are giant machines that have to be piloted by children. Shinji is recruited by his father, the commander and chief of the company that created the mechanical giants.
Shinji is one of three main controllers, and he is the one the anime centers around. Shinji is a very withdrawn person. He has convinced himself that he is worthless. Unlike most anime heroes, Shinji does not try to be heroic, it is only through his emotional outbursts that things occur. It has been bandied about that Shinji suffers from an emotional withdrawal due to the early death of his mother, but Anno has never fully confirmed that suspicion.
One of the most notable things about Neon Genesis Evangelion is its appeal to both anime fans, and non-anime fans alike. There is a huge following of this anime, of people who have never watched an anime before. For some reason they decided to try Neon Genesis Evangelion and quickly became hooked. This could be because the story is so different than the typical anime. It centers around theological questions and psychological dilemmas. Religious symbols abound in this anime, including:
The creators of Neon Genesis Evangelion have stated that they only used religious symbols as a way to separate themselves from other “giant robot animes”. Fans of the show are skeptical, though, because of the ease at which these religious symbols and words are intertwined throughout the entire series.
While the series starts out fairly light, with some definite comedic lines between some of the main characters, it takes on a darker feel as it goes on. It ends up asking questions such as, “who are we”, “why are we here”, and “is life worth fighting for.” Even though the series has ended, it is still available to watch and is still responsible for bringing new blood into the anime genre.