Primer for the Evangelion series
For those of you that want to get a general idea of what is up with Evangelion, you've come to the right place. It is hoped that this orientation to and description of the Eva story helps you, the reader, to know a little more about this widely known anime without the spoilers that are rampant at so many other places on the internet. You may have already heard a lot of stories about this show...whatever it is that you've heard, this page should serve as a clear definition of what to expect from the first episodes and help you to decide whether it's worth your time or not. For all the reviews and comments that have been made on it, only you can decide this for yourself; short of buying the first set of videos, this primer is aimed at helping you decide.
Of note from the start is the fact that things in this series should not exactly be taken at face value. When some particular piece of the puzzle is explained, the explanation can be as confusing as the mystery it unfolds. This series is incredibly deep; to use a phrase often associated with The Transformers, it's more than meets the eye. When the series begins, you'll probably wonder about a few things straight away, such as "What kind of show is this?" "Is this part of the typical giant robot anime, or is there more to it?" "How quickly does it resolve conflicts and move along?" Immediately following your first viewing, a new set of questions will assuredly spring to mind.
General perspective on the first episode:
Our story begins with one Shinji Ikari, a 14 year old Japanese boy who, having been summoned by his father, is first found waiting for someone on the streets of the futuristic Tokyo-3, which is being visited by a giant creature as United Nations forces fruitlessly attempt to stop it. After being picked up by Misato Katsuragi, the young woman assigned to bring him to his father, they make their way to the headquarters of a clandestine international agency called NERV. Once there, Shinji is confronted by his estranged father, Gendo Ikari, who abandoned him years ago in favor of devoting all his energy to his work as the director of NERV. It is made known that the agency was organized in order to destroy huge creatures, referred to as Angels, who are seemingly out to destroy mankind. To do this, the Evangelion Unit-01 is revealed, a gargantuan humanoid construct designed to combat and destroy the Angelic threat. After much trepedation, Shinji boards the macabre machine and is pitted against an Angelic monster who had already proven too much for the UN special forces. The episode ends with the Evangelion being dispatched to battle the Angel, but the action is continued in the next episode.
Reluctant as he is to be used by his father, Shinji continues to work at NERV. Over time, he gets to know other members of the cast. Among them is Misato, the director of operations at NERV who becomes his legal guardian and his roommate; Rei Ayanami, a girl who had been seriously injured in an Evangelion test but seems to be indifferent about everything around her; Ritsuko Akagi, a scientist who pretty much handles all the technical details at NERV and is Misato's best friend; Asuka Langley Sohryu, an Eva pilot who appears later in the series who is very aggressive and bossy toward everyone, particularly Shinji. All these supporting cast members as well as the more minor players lend a lot to the overall story as well as being well developed characters in and of themselves.
As well as the characters in the series, the intensely convoluted plot is one of the aspects of the series that keeps people riveted to the series. There are clandestine international agencies directing huge and mysterious entities against an enemy that seems to represent the ultimate nightmare for humanity. There is political haranging going on in the background of said agencies, startling revelations about those weird giant robots, and opponents who constantly challenge the cast in new and terrifying ways. Then we have the interactions between these complex characters that define as well as redefine the flow of the story as well.
However, with the stellar action sequences that seem to draw people and the convoluted plot that has them scratching their heads, the real meat of the Evangelion series is it's character interactions. Shinji is established as an insecure and unambitious child without a clue as to why he exists, much less how he is instrumental in saving the Earth; and this comes to be his sole reason for his sad existance. Misato is another interesting character, projecting an aura of confidence and self-assertedness while truthfully she's just as insecure and uncomfortable with life as Shinji is. And then we have Rei...why is it that she seems so distant and cold, yet and still so strangely familiar to Shinji? The further one delves into the series, far more is learned about these people, and despite what is thought of them there is at least one part of their personalities that reflects those of our own. It's for these reasons and more that the characters of Evangelion have become so classically recognizable, and why Neon Genesis Evangelion has gone on to become one of the most seminal anime products in memory.