Neon Genesis Evangelion Perfect Collection

UK Distributor:  ADV Films

BBFC Certificate:  12

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  £89.99

Episodes:  1-26 (of 26)

Audio Options: English 2.0; Japanese 2.0; Spanish 2.0

Subtitles:  English

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)


On paper it looks very simple and straightforward.  A trio of angst ridden teens pilot massive mechs called Evangelions to defend humanity from a series of giant monsters called Angels who are hell bent on starting the apocalypse.  It doesn’t sound particularly special, in fact it sounds a little clichéd.  On paper.  Many other things have been written on paper about Neon Genesis Evangelion too.  In fact essays have been written about it…

Evangelion is often regarded as the greatest anime series of all time.  Magazines, fans, reviewers and creators have waxed lyrical about it, debated its hidden meanings and depths, discussed its use of Freudian psychology and Catholic dogma, and argued long and hard over which was sexier, Asuka or Rei?  Rarely has a series so captured the imagination of the anime viewing public, both male and female, as Neon Genesis Evangelion.

As with most of the output of the Japanese anime studio Gainax – a maverick collective of extremely talented writers, artists and animators – Evangelion is far more than it seems on paper.  Hideaki Anno’s nihilistic vision of a near future earth recovering from a disaster that wiped out half the population of the planet, and now under siege from a monstrous enemy of unknown origin, proved to be a refreshing shot in the arm for the (at the time) turgid TV anime market.  For once an anime series cropped up that had intelligence, an anime series that took risks and had interesting and intriguing characters.  Evangelion was not really like any anime on TV at the time and its impact hasn’t dulled with age.

One of its main strengths was in characterisation.  Instead of the usual square-jawed heroes, cutesy girls, stern officers with secret hearts of gold and cloak wearing enemies, Evangelion brought something anime had rarely seen – people.  People who were vain, people who were self-obsessed, people who schemed, people who were insecure, scared, or just plain angry.  From the fiery Asuka Langley to the unemotional Rei Ayanami, from the angst-ridden Shinji Ikari to the tragic Misato Katsuragi, from the uncaring Gendo Ikari to the cold and calculating Ritsuko Akagi, Evangelion succeeded in creating a whole raft of new archetypes that can be seen in nearly every anime released since.  It gave you characters who weren’t always going to do the right thing, characters who had issues, and it wove their stories around the simple core premise and made it anything but straightforward.

However, personal insecurities and cleverness isn’t all Evangelion has.  For one it’s entertaining, if the stunning action scenes aren’t your cup of tea then the comedy probably is, or the romance, or the sci-fi, or the fan service.  Evangelion is a bit of everything, in places it is very funny and surreal – more like a romantic comedy than a deep intellectual sci-fi – but in others it is deeply introspective, and in others highly disturbing.

Evangelion focuses on Shinji, the estranged son of scientist Gendo Ikari, who is summoned by his father to pilot the biomechanical weapon known as Evangelion 01 following the serious injuries sustained to the main pilot Rei Ayanami.  Feeling used and angry Shinji becomes the Evangelion’s pilot but descends into a spiral of angst and self pity, which the seemingly carefree Major Misato Katsuragi attempts to drag him out of by moving him into her apartment.  Soon after a third pilot arrives from Germany – the impetuous and arrogant Asuka Langley – and she moves in with Misato and Shinji to form a dysfunctional family unit.  However, not everything is as it seems, the characters all harbour their own secret conflicts and insecurities and there are plots and counterplots being woven that threaten humanity as we know it.  Will Shinji, Asuka and the immensely introverted Rei Ayanami, under Misato’s guidance, be able to cope with the pressures they will face and save the world?

Evangelion is a masterpiece.  It is a masterpiece of storytelling, design and delivery.  There are still criticisms, it often hints at layers of meaning that probably aren’t there, it is occasionally deliberately confusing and the last episode drew an angry reaction from fans for its arty montages of still images and convoluted psychological introspection, but whatever people say about these segments they at least make you think.

Evangelion succeeds on many levels.  It is entertaining, action packed, funny and thought provoking.  It packs in huge amounts of character development and has great music and voice acting (especially from Megumi Hayashibara and Mitsuishi Kotono, who are cast completely against type as Rei and Misato respectively).  The design is excellent, particularly on the surreal and disturbing Angels and the main characters, and the animation is smooth and stylish.  You can even forgive some of the deliberately confusing sequences, even the unexpectedly psychological ending (which makes more sense once you watch the End of Evangelion film), because the series is so watchable.

At the end of the day Neon Genesis Evangelion is an important anime series.  It is one of the best available in the UK and is one no self respecting anime or sci-fi fan can be without.  It shocks, moves and entertains in equal measure and it gives birth to the uncomfortable thought that those who are tasked with saving the world may have the same insecurities and hidden agendas as the rest of us.  Buy it now.


The eight discs in this set are exactly the same as the existing eight individual volumes, and as such contain the same extras.  Basically you have ADV Previews, character profiles and clean opening and closing sequences spread over the discs, but you do get a spankingly good boxset featuring UK exclusive artwork to keep them in!


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