Neon Genesis Evangelion
Reviewed by Hideki Saito:
NOTICE- The video is not available at time I'm writing this, but it will be released soon.
More detailed than most other robotic war stories, the plot involves the fight against an enemy identified as "Angel," set in the year 2015.
Reviewed by Giles Liu:
The time is 2015, the place Tokyo-3, on an Earth that experienced a mysterious explosion in the South Pole at the turn of the millenia. This caused global environmental damage, and subsequently triggered a series of civil wars worldwide, killing more than two billion people.
Things have finally settled down, but now there is a new threat - entities called "Angels" who mysteriously appear in a variety of forms, each attempting to attack Tokyo-3 for reasons unknown. The Angels possess "AT fields" which make them nearly immune to conventional weaponry (the force of a nuclear explosion would at most stun them for a while). Fortunately, humans have developed "Evangelions" (EVAs), mecha-like organic giants which also possess AT fields, allowing them to neutralise the Angel's fields and battle with them. However, the EVAs specifically require 14 year olds, furthermore, those without mothers, as pilots.
The 26-episode TV series largely revolves around the lives of these pilots and the commanding staff of NERV, the organization that is responsible for defense against the Angels. However, NGE is a lot more than your run-of-the-mill "giant robot piloted by children defeats evil monsters" series. The show places great emphasis on the development of character and relationships, with the various battles acting more as a plot device than the main focus of the story. (although they _are_ well choreographed and very watchable.) A short description of some of the major characters will probably best illustrate this.
Ikari Shinji, the series' protagonist, is an insecure but esssentially good-natured boy who is constantly plagued with dilemna after dilemna. His mother was lost in an accident involving research on the EVAs when he was four; his father sent him away soon after, leaving him without a family to call his own.
Ikari Gendou was that father. He is now Commander-in-Chief of NERV, secretly carrying out the orders of SEELE, a covert organization controlling the whole show. Their objective? "To allow mankind to achieve a new stage of evolution". Their actions are almost diabolical, though they are supposedly acting for the good of humanity. But Gendou also has his own hidden agenda...
Ayanami Rei, the first EVA pilot, seems to be instrumental to this plan. Her parents are unknown, and she is nearly emotionless ; what little feelings she shows appear almost solely in her devotion to Gendou, who raised her from young. Rei lives by herself in a downtrodden apartment unit, and has been described as being "poor at living", arguably to the point of being self-destructive. She has a perpetual air of mystery around her, with a shocking secret about her revealed late in the series.
Sohryuu Asuka Langley, the third pilot to appear, is a conceited, boastful girl of mixed German and Japanese blood, born and raised in America. Her pride is understandable; amongst other things, she already holds a university degree (remember, she is 14) But Asuka's early childhood was not a happy one. Her father left her mother for another woman, shortly after which her mother went insane and subsequently hanged herself.
Katsuragi Misato is the guardian of the three EVA pilots. Her personality ranges from a coldly efficient professional as a Captain (later Major) in NERV, to a wild party-animal at home (she has an amazing capacity for alcohol). However, Misato also has a past. She accompanied her father in an expedition to the South Pole, and was the only survivor and witness to the terror that occurred there.
From the above, it should be obvious NGE has much to work with in terms of character development and interaction. The themes of parental neglect and troubled childhoods are very prominent in the series; even more so the barriers between communication and interaction between people, largely caused our reluctance to fully involve ourselves in relationships with others. The series is a good opportunity for the discussion of the abovementioned topics and more besides, such as the issues of responsibility and ethics.
This is in spite of the fact that many events do tend to the extreme, such as Shinji's inability to stop his friend getting seriously injured by his EVA unit, or even worse, his being forced by _very extraordinary_ circumstances to kill a friend.(although that "friend" wasn't entirely...human) Rei also has, as previously mentioned, a very unusual status, and later sacrifices her life for Shinji. And while NGE, like most other series of the mecha genre, does involve the fate of the Earth, the specifics of that fate are very bizarre indeed. - G.L.
Parent's Guide Rating:
red (Recommended for Mature Audiences)
This story line contains cruelty (a lot of blood), and sexual contents (kiss, sex scene). It might be quite hard to understand for children under 13 or so.
This is something I would label "Watch with caution." (- HS)
The sex, violence and language throughout the series is no worse than a PG-13 production. Nudity is present in slightly detailed silhouettes during the opening and ending credits, and during certain parts of show, which then either makes use of "strategic" camera angles or a lack of detail to hide. There also is a bedroom scene; however, the camera is locked onto a table by the bedside and nothing more than a forearm is seen, though there are suggestive noises heard. There are also quite a few instances of bawdy humour, such as people tripping and landing in _very embarassing_ positions. And in this writer's opinion, some of the risque element in the series is hardly necessary. Violence is largely restricted to EVA vs Angel fights; human injury is infrequent but considerably serious when it occurs. The language used is relatively mild (at least in the original production).
However, a note of caution: Neon Genesis Evangelion uses elements from Judeo-Christian religions very arbitrarily, whether it be the series' title, the many religious/biblical allusions and often blatant symbols (e.g. one of the Angels creates a distinctly cross-shaped light in the air when defeated), resulting in something neither here nor there and almost reminiscent of some kind of cult. In particular, the concept of eternal happiness (in a sense even a parallel to salvation) is very unorthodox. Some parts of the plot also tend to the morbid, with the idea of suicide often toyed with.
In closing, I feel that Evangelion is more suited to a matured audience, but with appropriate parental guidance is still suitable for viewing by older children, unless, of course, there is personal objection present for any reason. - G.L.
Note: This series was originally rated as a 'Judgement Call', but I believe that there are enough adult-oriented themes (violence, sexual situations) in this series to up the rating to 'Intended for mature audiences.' You, the parent, will ultimately have to decide if this series is appropriate for your children. - AN
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