Neon Genesis EVANGELION | Japan Anime Guide
Neon Genesis EVANGELION (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン) is a popular Japanese anime franchise, but it wasn’t always like that. The series was even a bit controversial during its early days, but audiences slowly grew to love it. What is it that captivated people so much that made the series into a sleeper hit?
History of Neon Genesis EVANGELION
The 26 stories were broadcast on TV every week in 1995 and 1996, and the audience was small at that time. It was broadcast at a time when kids could watch it. There were a lot of arguments about the anime because it was too extreme and unconventional compared to other anime in the eyes of some. The series has a lot of battle scenes, but it also describes the emotions of hero Shinji in life-or-death situations.
One year before the TV anime came out, the manga (comic) of EVANGELION was published in a weekly comic magazine for kids that ran for 18 years until 2013. It was their intentional strategy to publish both a comic and anime. Then they made a feature anime for the movie theater in 1997. They changed the ending, and “Air” and “The End of Evangelion” became the 25th and 26th stories.
From 2007, they created a new series for movie theater release. “Jo or EVANGELION: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone” in 2007, “Ha or EVANGELION: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance” in 2009, “Kyu or EVANGELION: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo” and finally “New Theater Version or EVANGELION: 3.0 + 1.0 Thrice Upon a Time” in 2021. These four parts have been renewed with different settings and stories.
The director of EVANGELION for both the TV and theater anime is Hideaki Anno. Born in 1960, he has loved anime and tokusatsu (filming with many special effects) since his childhood. Anno was the manager of an art club, and he already made a film when he was still a high school student. He continued his studies at Osaka University of Art while he worked in the anime field as a part-timer. Anno quit university because he thought it was more important to create his work instead of staying there as a student with unmotivated friends.
Then he moved to Tokyo, and there he worked on several anime projects as an animator. When he joined the making of “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”, director Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli appreciated his talent. It was at that time that he got the chance to direct several TV anime series before creating EVANGELION.
He also made several live-action movies such as ‘Shin Godzilla’ in 2016. Anno received many awards for EVANGELION, and his Shin Godzilla was chosen as the best movie of the year by the Japan Academy Award commission.
The earth lost half of its human population from the Second Impact, a meteor hit, in the year 2000. 15 years later, the main character Shinji Ikari, a 14-year old junior high school student was called by his father Gendo who lived elsewhere. Gendo is the captain-general of NERV, which is a secret organization of the United Nations. NERV is in the city Tokyo-3 because the original Tokyo was completely destroyed by the Second Impact.
After moving the capital to Matsumoto in Nagano as a temporary capital, they moved it to the Hakone area. Shinji was ordered by his father to be a pilot of a giant bio-machine called EVANGELION Unit-01 to fight with an unknown enemy called Shito, or Angels.
He doesn’t want to be a pilot because he has no experience, but he saw a young girl named Rei Ayanami, who was the pilot of Unit-00, get injured. So he reluctantly goes aboard. He goes on to defeat a Shito against all odds and decides to continue his mission. Soon after, Soryu Asuka Langley comes from Germany to be the pilot of Unit-02. They start to collaborate and defeat many Shito one after another.
The Story’s Ending
But then one day, Unit-03 is brought from the USA, parasitized by Shito. Shinji hesitates to fight it because his friend Tojii is on it, but Gendo controls Shinji’s EVANGELION using a so-called dummy system. Gendo and Shinji win, but Toji loses one of his legs. Shinji gets so shocked by this event that he quits being a pilot.
But then, when the very strong Shito 14 appears, Rei and Asuka are defeated and Shinji decides to be a pilot once more. He goes on to win the fight. During the fight with Shito 15 and 16, Asuka was psychologically damaged and Rei was killed. A new pilot appeared, Kaoru Nagisa, but he was actually Shito 17, the last Shito. Shinji feels bad about it, but he finally kills him.
The last two episodes are made differently in the TV anime and the movie. Please enjoy two different endings.
Many songs have been used for the anime series. The most popular one is “Zankokuna Tenshi no Teze” or “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” in English. It was used as the theme song for the TV series. The singer is Yoko Takahashi.
You can easily find figurines of EVANGELION characters in anime-related shops in places like Akihabara, Nakano Broadway, and so on. There are also six EVANGELION stores in Japan. You can also find more paraphernalia besides figurines such as T-shirts, stationery, and sweets.
1.EVANGELION STORE TOKYO-01 (Ikebukuro, Tokyo)
2.EVANGELION STORE SHINJUKU (Shinjuku, Tokyo)
3.EVANGELION OSAKA (Namba, Osaka)
4.EVANGELION HAKATA (Hakata, Fukuoka)
5.HAKONE EVA-YA (at Hakone-Yumoto Station, Kanagawa)
6.RADIO EVA STORE (Shibuya, Tokyo)
Your Japan Tour
As seasoned Japan experts, we can help you create your perfect Japan tour including guides who can tell you all about EVANGELION and other anime. The guide can take you to the places where you can buy character goods or to Hakone, the setting of Tokyo-3, if you wish. Contact us to start planning your unforgettable holiday to this fascinating country. Japan is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, culture, history, nature, and delicious food!