A great many people wrote about Evangelion, so I guess I’ll throw mine in too.
From its fame, I went into Evangelion expecting it to be this super entertaining, super intense, mind blowing philosophical emotional rollercoaster mecha anime about a boy nobody likes. Real Evangelion was different from what I was expecting, though. It’s a lot more… quiet and reflective, I think.
I first knew of Evangelion from a Youtube video. I was about 9 or 10 at the time, a little girl, and I was just introduced to the world of internet. I love anime, and so when I searched up anime videos, of course Evangelion had to show up. Which scene, you ask? The Asuka-lost-her-eye scene from the End of Evangelion.
That kept me away from Evangelion for ten fricking years. I only started Evangelion when I was 21 and was strong enough to not be affected by that kind of stuff in anime anymore. The only reason I grew interested enough to watch was because the controversy surrounding the ‘I love you’ scene with Kaoru. I wanted to know what that was all about, and so there’s that.
Evangelion was more entertaining than I thought it would be. All the characters are flawed in one way or the other, which makes it interesting for a robot anime. The Angels were really creative. The animation and character design aged really well; they never look outdated and still look fluid to this day.
What was surprising to me was that I did not hate Shinji as much as I thought I would. For the most part I just felt that he was really pitiful. If I were a fourteen-year-old shoved into a robot and got my skull pounded during my first fight, I’d have reacted the same way he did. As the show went on, he went from being the dramatic kid to being this Deus Ex Shinjina, and then he lapsed back into whiny mode again after the thing with Kaoru. Then, my thoughts on him began to change. I thought I could relate to him at first, but then I didn’t feel that he grew from the experiences. He just stayed Shinji, but with more trauma. Maybe he did grew up, but compared to the changes Asuka was going through during the same episodes, he paled in comparison. I started to dislike him. Not hate, still dislike. Then that dislike grew stronger in End of Evangelion and stuck until now.
From the anime, I could still take it that he’s a fourteen-year-old boy that fantasizes about the girls around him. That’s uncomfortable for a girl like me to watch, but I could still wrap my head around it. But that yogurt scene in the movie? Heck, that was disturbing. I had to close Netflix and leave it for three days before continuing the movie.
Before I started, I thought I was going to be on team Ayanami for the entire duration. Then I kind of shifted to team Kaoru for one episode, and then the movie pulled me over to team Asuka. Aaaand because of that, I thought the movie was going to kill me emotionally, but I just sat there going through the whole thing like ‘oh.’ What did kill me was the ‘kimochi warui’ at the end. It sums up my thoughts on Shinji at that point perfectly.
Contrary to public opinion, I like the ‘congratulations’ ending from the original series. It brings closure to what Shinji has been struggling with for pretty much the entire show. However, I think the End of Evangelion version of the ending was a better closure to the anime as a whole, so I still prefer that one. (Komm Susser Todd was amazing, the way they showed the empty cinema. I like how Evangelion’s music contrasts sharply with the mood of the scene, but that’s on a whole other level.)
I think Evangelion deserves its fame. I haven’t watched many mecha animes from before the Evangelion era, but I think Evangelion went and did something not many mecha anime before or after has ever done, and that’s a thing. It’s also got a set of characters that you can like and hate at the same time. However, it wasn’t a roller coaster ride I was expecting. It feels like a cult anime, like Serial Experiments Lain or something like that. I won’t put it up as a ‘must-watch’ anime that everybody has to see, and I won’t put it on a list of animes you should watch before you die. It’s not an anime for everyone.
To wrap this up, my reactions to watching Evangelion has been lukewarm. I get the feeling it’s a good anime, but it’s not my thing. Please don’t bash me for that.