Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mech Week : Neon Genesis Evangelion

I just had to place Neon Genesis somewhere, it is one of the perfect series. A now classic, a must watch, even non anime fans that I know have seen Evangelion. I was a little hesitant of putting it on my list, simply because seemed too obvious of a choice an all, and the fact that at a first look it's seems like an deep psychological anime featuring mechs on the side. But no it's much more than that, without the mechs it just wouldn't of been so awesome, it set the standard for not only for mech anime but for every mature anime. I think it even spawned a verb of some sorts among forums and such, Evangelion like. It also feature one of the best opening themes to date, not even Trigun's air guitar can beat that! (But the new Brotherhood theme is pretty rockin')

In the beginning, after I watched the first few episodes, I was utterly disappointed. For me it seemed so generic, although generic is a word I trow around a lot, I'm always glad to be said the contrary. I did learn the true nature of the anime after watching more but at first it did nothing to distinguish itself apart from other mech animes like Escaflowne or Gundam. It had every single cliché; young boy with low self estime discovers his true power? Check. Father problems? Check. Sexy counterpart? Check. Jealous partner? Check. Balancing school and saving the world? Check. Post apocalyptic environment? Check. Large religious undertones? Check.

BUT! There is one difference with Evangelion and it's infinite cliché and some of it's other anime mech counterparts. For the first time ever a series did the cliches, in lack for a fitting word; Good, amazing even. There are simple and subtle instances that make it seem like you know what a character is thinking because of the predefined ascetics or whatnot, but then they completly surprise you. They don't even surprise you because of good will or a turn for the good they surprise you for being real people, really fucked up real people. For example Shinji's situation with his father, at first I found it cheesy that he had father issues and the series made it seem like his father knew exactly how to encourage Shinji for the better, but no, Shinji's father knew exactly how to manipulate Shinji and not encourage him at all. Personally I would as far as saying that Shinji doesn't have any father problems because of the lack of even having a father.
They even dealed with high school drama perfectly. I can't stand high school drama or any kind of school place related feelings, it simply makes me cringe, even when I was in high school I didn't follow gossip, if it could make me cringe back then no way I'm going to enjoy it in my pass times. Again they surprised me incredibly, they made an awkward situation, I wouldn't say fun to watch because I found myself feeling shame for those characters and facepalming myself a few times, yet that's why it works so amazingly. For me it doesn't have to be overly touching to get a reaction, it simply needs to be good.

Just a quick breakout of the setting so for some of the people who didn't watch it yet (shame) won't feel completely lost. After the Second Impact, which killed off half of the human population and made massive global climate change the world is in turmoil. The second impact was caused by an entity named the Angels, an unknown being with incredible power. So Shinji is mysteriously summoned by his father to pilot Eva a giant Mech, with the power to destroy the Angels. The catch is that the Evas can only be piloted by 14 year old teenagers born at the same moment of the Second Impact. And that was a very brief description of the setting.

Continuing on why I like this series so much. There is another thing that took me by surprise, like I already mentioned before, the characters. Usually an anime fandom can be completely fueled by a single character, Hellsing for example, it is an anime about Alucard kicking ass for 13 episodes and people love it! Naruto is another anime fueled by character fandom. Yet in Neon Genesis, I never heard anyone say that Rei or Shinji was so awesome or how they loved them for just for being themselves. Because no character in the series is really that appealing, they're all horribly flawed in their own way and its what makes them so real and that's what makes some scenes hold a bigger impact. Yet in all their flaws they seem to be likable in a way, making you relate a little more compared to the super brave heroes in other media. They really did achieve something amazing with the character development. One scene sticks out in my mind and probably will go into my “greatest anime moments ever”. It's when Shinji helplessly wails at the Eva controls, right when the Eva was taken control by his father, the Eva viciously slam and destroys its target without any control from Shinji still inside and when it's finally revealed who resides inside, couple with Shinji's reaction...awesome....

The story is also one of those things, that you can't quite explain. Even you do go see on the internet for hardcore fan speculations, that's what they exactly are, speculations. How to explain it? Seen Donnie Darko? Well its like that, everyone thinks they get the film but nobody actually does. They even made an extra film to explain (or erase) the first ending, even then it raises more questions than answers. Still fantastically fun to think about the show and its entire effect. Porcupine effect hit me hard because it applies so well. Even the explanation of the AT field is purely made of cool, the AT field is simply another way of explaining the artificial barriers we create to protect ourselves, and without those would the world be better? They beautifully demonstrated the power of the AT field in the first battle in film with Asuka monologing along. Purely made of awesome. Anyways, I could go on forever about every single instance of the series.

“Wait isn't this mech week” This is the phrase I got in my head while writing this post, so lets talk about the actual mech on the show. I really do like the design of the Evas, they're sleek and cool. They also don't look like a conventional mech, they're too humanoid, which gives them even more appeal. Sure they are super powered mechs but they are also very limited. Because of their huge need of power they constantly need to be hooked up to a power cord so they can operate and if severed they only have five minutes until total shutdown. They really went far into making this mech be humanoid as much as possible, instead of having transforming components comment out of every orifice they made it have almost no weapons build at all. They simply have a small (well for their size) sonic knife, which is quite effective against angels because they need to counter each other protective shields in close combats, but also the Evas can wield giant assault rifles and other neat weapons. They never made it seem like mechs, they never really concentrated on showing how huge it was compared to everything else, the motion seems so fluid yet still hugely stiff like a mech, especially a scene where Eva Model 02 jumps from boat to boat.

The Angels themselves could be identified as mechs, but they change form after each defeat in order to evolve and destroy the Eva. Really an interesting enemy because we don't know that much about them. They adapt after each fighting learning more and more. THE LAST ANGEL was a total kick in the brain and heart, you totally saw it coming but when you really think about it; total mind fuck on their part.

So that's Neon Genesis, it'll probably end up on my blog another time for a further look. My post was accidentally deleted from my computer by one of family members because I write it on Openoffice before I put it on my blog, serves me right for simple calling it “txt”. So I had to re-write it pretty quick anyways my rest of the week is mostly ready so tune in.

EDIT: Also having trouble with images, I think it's just the html code freaking out apparently.
EDIT2: Now if I click on the button to place images nothing happens...?


Pout said...

What I love about the Evas is that they are visually TERRIFYING.

Nizbel said...

It's the eyes...well the whole head really.

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