Mecha Fridays: Evangelion – You are(not) a mecha

5 years after, we’re still not getting a fourth movie

Back in 1995, the anime crowd was introduced to what would become as one of the most talked about series of all time with its influence still being felt up until today. It was when the genius (or perhaps twisted) mind of creator Hideaki Anno, fresh from his depression, came up with what is either the “most brilliant thing to happen to anime at that time”, or “the most confusing work of modern art” that is the series Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Evangelion, as what it is commonly referred to, details the story of Shinji Ikari and his quest of gaining his father’s approval in a post apocalyptic world in which more than half of the human population is wiped out due to an ancient power that got accidentaly (or intentionally) awakened because science just had to. Together with Shinji are other youngsters who find themselves to be children “chosen” to pilot “mechas” called Evas in order to battle cosmic beings called Angels who are hell bent in wiping the human population.

I’m pretty sure that’s not what angels look like.

On its surface, the plot of Evangelion seems to be your generic young hero robot pilot plot butjust inches beneath the surface lies a complicated story which details how the fates of each characters intertwine and how each one of them is both using and depending on each other, and as well as each one’s dark and hidden pasts.

For instance, the start of the series introduces us to Misato Katsuragi, Shinji’s caretaker and one of the top employees at Nerv, and is presented to be a n easygoing character who always seems to find a way to smile even in dire situations such as being in the range of the shockwave of a freaking nuclear explosion.

I mean, how can do you even doubt that face?

However, as the story progresses, we learn that Misato, despite maybe having a growing affection towards Shinji, is ultimately just using Shinji as his way of revenge against the Angels which she blames for the death of her parents during the events of the second impact.

Another character Asuka Langley Soryu, who was introduced episodes later was initially introduced as your typical tsundere (for all you Shinji-Asuka shippers out there) always hating stuff to hate about the protagonist that is Shinji, but overtime it was revealed that she actually suffered from trauma and rejection and, just like Shinji, is forever seeking the approval of her parents.

But perhaps the most intriguing and compelling (or confusing) thing about Evangelion, and perhaps its very legacy, is how it left a good part of the story to fan interpration, especially the hazy ending which had both enthusiasts and critics forever torn as to whether it was really a deep artistic metaphor about life, approval and longing or just a convuluted and confusing mashup of moving pictures and dialogue pieced together because “F*ck it, why the hell not”.

Congratulations.

Speaking of confusing one question that really haunts fans of the series up until now is was Evangelion really a mecha anime? Of course you have pilots, but Evas aren’t technically robots but rather Angels or cosmic giant humanoids that are “trapped” or made dormant via its metal shells and are controlled by infusing it with human thought through a pilot’s capsule. Also, despite having one of the most common tropes as other popular mecha series, a government backed organization that is tasked to battle giant monsters and save the world, Nerv’s ultimate plan is the grand unification of the human species into one ultimate being, or at least that’s what we all understand about it.

Honestly, this is the ONLY actual mecha shown in the original series.

Perhaps Evangelion is a mecha series on the surface but at the same time it is not as it artistically incorporates elements from other mecha anime, and adds layer after layer of complex detail and surprising revelations that ultimately destroy its outer shell into a million beautiful pieces.

If perhaps Eva is actually a mecha series or not is something that is left for the fans to decide and interpret much like the original series ending, and while this may still be the subject of debate for many years to come, one thing’s for sure.

We’re still not getting that 4th movie, so damn you Hideaki Anno.

 

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