Neon Genesis Evangelion. Aged Anime 1995- 1996.
The original anime TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion has aged pretty well with its classic hand drawn animation. This franchise has captured the imaginations of fans for thirty years now and it is a powerhouse that just keeps going. Mazinger and a few other shows are kind of like this too as the original premise keeps getting updates or re-imaginations to add to their momentum. Gundam, which is longer running, has its own reboot in the form of Gundam Seed, but the Gundam franchise is large in scope with many alternate universes and timelines so it technically only has big robots in common sometimes.
Instead of summarizing what Evangelion is all about yet again, here is the Wikipedia blurb on it if you haven't seen the show.
"Evangelion is set fifteen years after a worldwide cataclysm, particularly in the futuristic fortified city of Tokyo-3. The protagonist is Shinji, a teenage boy who was recruited by his father Gendo to the shadowy organization Nerv to pilot a giant bio-machine mecha named "Evangelion" into combat against beings called "Angels". The series explores the experiences and emotions of Evangelion pilots and members of Nerv as they try to prevent Angels from causing more cataclysms. In the process, they are called upon to understand the ultimate causes of events and the motives for human action. It recasts the saintly inventor/father as a sinister figure, and the enthusiastic teenage protagonist as a vacillating introvert, a deconstruction of classic mecha anime tropes. The series features archetypal imagery derived from Shinto cosmology as well as Jewish and Christian mystical traditions, including Midrashic tales and Kabbalah. The psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Jung also feature prominently." Wikipedia.
Evangelion is one of those anime that leaves a lasting impression when you first see it. It knocked my socks off on my initial viewing, especially that opening scene with the UN versus the angel in episode 1. The show had big robots fighting monsters, but the characters and setting seemed to be really well grounded in a kind of gritty reality. There was nothing over the top in terms of Shonen characters which probably helped. I was pretty new to anime tropes and such back in 2003 when I watched Evangelion, so it was new, doubly cool, and amazing. This means I'm in the camp that likes this show a lot. The ending was a little mystifying the first time I saw it, but I pretty much get it now and it isn't bad at all in my book, especially if you saw the revised platinum edition ending.
I'm pretty impressed by the impact this series has had on anime in general and I kind of like that it has stuck around so long. Even after the series finished its run with the enigmatic final episodes, Evangelion lived on in a couple of movies and in manga. The manga adaptations by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto are great and actually flesh out the characters in many aspects better than in the TV series too. The funny thing is that the manga started in 1994 and didn't finish the final volume until 2013, giving something for Evangelion fans to gnaw on for years. Then there were the spin off manga like the Shinji Ikari Raising Project, Angelic Days, and more. There has been so much merchandise produced for this series that could probably fill some really massive warehouses. Just how many figures of Rei and Asuka can you own - too many, even on my account, but I'm getting better!
When they rebooted the series with Neon Genesis 1.11 movie, it was a bit of a rehash, but it was a really good rehash of the first four episodes that I like a great deal. The 1.11 movie is almost a better episodes 1 through 4 than the original. After this movie, the plots start to deviate from the original series in a drastic manner, so that 3.33 is brand new. The 2.22 movie was pretty impressive too, and I especially like the Tokyo III morning sequence that shows the city coming to life. While the 3.33 movie started to get kind of strange, it was still awed in its own way, and I'm now waiting for my chance to see the last movie that wraps everything up!
In addition to all of this, Evangelion lives on in commercial products tie-ins to promote convenience stores, cell phones, razors, theme parks, restaurants, and much more. You can live the Evangelion lifestyle for limited periods of time and just roll in the happiness inspired by its imaginary universe. I think all of this is pretty remarkable and cool, as long as one doesn't take it too far. Actually living with the impacts and angels would pretty much suck in reality, but the show is fun.
Evangelion has stood the test of time I think because of its unique world building, the western mysticism that has been incorporated, along with good characterizations. The angst and psychological issues of the main characters has been represented so that almost anyone finds a character they like or can sympathize with. I think my favourite characters are Asuka and Misato, edging more towards Misato, but even the whiny Shinji who has to save the world gets a little love. The mecha designs in Evangelion were pretty unique for the time too with their gigantic slender forms and their indestructible AT fields protecting them. Many mecha designs and story-lines were influenced by Evangelion, including RahXephon and Fafner, amongst them.
The world of Evangelion expands quite a bit when you start searching Youtube for little animated features and tie-ins. I've collected a few in this post that shows how companies have tried to leverage the popularity of this show, and maybe give you something to enjoy watching or maybe visit in Japan.
Commercials and Tie-ins.
The first big LAWSON konbini Evangelion Branding Event in Hakone back in 2010. Seeing this was an eye opener and one of the things that amazed me about product tie-ins in Japan! Hakone is where Tokyo III is supposed to be located.
500 Type Evangelion Train Project in 2015. This working bullet train has the EVA-01 colours and the interior had branding and exhibits you could peruse while traveling. There was even a Evangelion pilot's couch and video game you could play onboard.
Oppo X Evangelion Smart Phone Ads with some amazing CG in 2019. There are two amazing ads for this smartphone.
7-11 Evangelion Tie-in Ad from 2014.
2020 Evangelion Restaurants Tie-in CM. There was Evangelion themed souvenirs and food at each restaurant chain.
Toei Studio Park Kyoto (Japan) and Shanghai (China) Giant Evangelion Units
Fuji Q Highland theme park has an Evangelion World attraction.
Godzilla VS Evangelion: THE REAL 4D (Promotional Trailer) Universal Studios Osaka. Evangelion versus Shin Godzilla for a thrilling ride!
I think most fans of Evangelion own some kind of Evangelion figures or merchandise. Some of my earliest figures I collected were from Evangelion. Due to the popularity of the show, there was even merchandise available to an extent in North American back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. My earliest figures were bought in North America, but I soon decided to import figures from places like Hobbylink in Japan. Some of my Evangelion figures are shown below and I haven't really bought any new merchandise except for T-Shirts in ages. I suppose if there was something on sale I really wanted, I might, but I have more than enough for now.
|Evangelion units 1 and 2 with a set of gashapon figures in front.|
|These are your typical UFO catcher prize figures with pilot couches which was a nice touch. You can tell the set comes after Evangelion 2.22 as Mari is in it. These were fairly nice figures.|
|These Grimrock figures debuted at a Wonderfest in Japan in the late 2000s. They have been released several times. Pretty cool and stylized with a bit of Goth.|
|These Revoltech action figures for two versions of EVA-01 are pretty neat. They were about $20 each back in 2007. The price of this stuff has doubled or tripled over the years, even though the detailing has increased too.|
|This is a set of blind box figures called Evangelion Portraits - Plug Suit Special - that were 400 yen each. I basically bought a case of 10 to get a set back in 2012. The figures are about 10 cm high.|
That's pretty much all for now. There is a crazy number of available figures both new and used out there to choose from, but how many plug suited figures can you own? Still, there is always something new around the corner, so I'll keep looking, but opening the wallet for this has a lot of resistance even though there have been some pricey, but fantastic looking figures lately.