Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995-1996)
Saving the best of all for the last is Neon Genesis Evangelion. Now, this is what you can truly call THE anime. It boasts all the genres you can think of: drama, action, sci-fi, comedy, suspense, mystery, and more.
This series is way ahead of its time and boasts a uniquely wonderful premise that is experimental but nonetheless a success. The plot may seem simple but it gets dark and complicated as the story unfolds.
Premise: Shinji, a 14-year-old boy gets a surprise order from his estranged father, whom he has not seen in years, to pilot a massive robotic machine called Evangelion Unit- 01 and use it to fight against monsters that threaten to wipe out all of humanity.
These monsters, called Angels, are seemingly invincible and indestructible, even traditional weaponry abundant in 2015 has no effect on them. Shinji’s average life is never the same again once he embarks on his new destiny where the fate of humanity lies on his shoulders.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a mecha series that has been called a masterpiece by anime lovers and rightfully so. It is by no means an easy watch since it contains metaphors.
It requires deep thinking since it contains several thought-provoking situations and serious aspects that were not considered entertainment back in the 90s but prove influential nevertheless. It has religious symbolism and psychoanalysis, with the latter highly influenced by the writer, Hideaki Anno’s depression.
The characters are the highlight of the series. You have our hero, Shinji, who is as real as anyone who is struggling through a mental dilemma while trying to face hurdles with a smile on his face but fails to do so. Then you have Asuka, Rei, Gendo, three characters who can’t be more opposite of each other.
Throughout the series, you see these characters develop gradually so you have time to invest in their story and understand their motivations. Character growth is so deep in the show that you feel strongly for them. Shinji, Asuka, Gendo, and Rei all “tick,” which make them memorable and relatable characters in anime.
Suffice to say, that Neon Genesis Evangelion employs some of the most human characters in an animated series. It shows us that not all heroes in anime are brave, strong, and both mentally and physically capable of control over their lives.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is by far one of the strongest and influential animes to have ever come out on TV. So much so, that even today people are still trying to understand the meaning behind the symbolisms. Anime lovers still pore over every detail and discuss about the series as if it only aired recently.
Director: Hideaki Anno, Kazuya Tsurumaki – Screenplay: Hideaki Anno –Cast: Yuko, Miyamura, Megumi Hayashibara, Megumi Ogata, Kotono Mitsuishi, Akira Ishida – Run Time: 24m