What a time to be alive. For a number of years now, particularly in the UK, availability of anime from the 80’s and 90’s has been at a premium. The founding flourishing anime market that exploded thanks to Manga Video, ADV Films and others, has seen many Anime licenses come and indeed, go. In the case of Neon Genesis Evangelion, it remains one of the few exceptions to that trend. And with good reason; Evangelion excels in almost every department. And thanks to Netflix, as of today, the franchise now has a new home.
Neon Genesis Evangelion was animated by studio GAINAX, which is also known for the superb Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise, as well as the surreal FLCL. Often described as an apocalyptic, psychological drama, Evangelion depicts how teenager Shinji Ikari’s life is changed completely after he is summoned by his estranged father, Gendo, and pressured to pilot a secret paramilitary robot suit, known as an Eva. Gendo’s organisation, NERV, is the world’s last defence against giant monster-like beings called Angels.
But Evangelion is far more than just a typical “Mecha” series. If anything, it is a total deconstruction of the genre. Shinji must learn to cope with his father who had previously abandoned him, saving the world, and growing up. He is desperate for acceptance in a world where he feels abandoned and alone. Eva’s can only be piloted by children, and fellow pilots Asuka and Rei have their own emotional issues also, and must learn to cope with the pressures of piloting together. It’s a psychological cocktail that also boasts several fantastic action sequences.
The series is the definitive entry point for the franchise. In mid to late 90’s UK, where the anime scene was growing but still in its infancy, Evangelion was significant as part of that growth. In Japan however, Evangelion erupted the genre from a slump and quickly became a social phenomenon and new guiding light.
The series’ production wasn’t without its own controversies, however. Rumours of production and budget issues at Gainax led to some visible decay in editing. Since that time it has been attributed more to director Hideake Anno’s creative process and changes. The final 2 episodes in particular polarised fans the world over, and shook the anime world at the time.
Ultimately, this led to the creation of 2 Evangelion movies; Death (True)2, an alternative, condensed cut of the series, and End of Evangelion, an alternative ending movie, just 2 years later. End of Evangelion has garnered its own deserved and widespread critical acclaim.
The Netflix streams feature the original Japanese audio, plus a brand new English dub. This dub replaces the English dub used for the original ADV Films release and Manga Entertainment releases of the TV series and films, respectively. There are also multiple subtitle options available.
Having reached episode 5 at the time of writing, the high-definition remaster is very impressive, as is the new English dub. The original soundtrack is intact and sounds better than ever. With the first chords of its brilliant theme song I was immediately taken back to my college youth, collecting the 2-episode length VHS tapes every few weeks at a time when DVD was barely a reality.
Also At the time writing, these Netflix Evangelion anime titles are currently not available for home release as the licenses from ADV Films (TV series) and Manga Entertainment (Films) have since expired. More recently Hideako Anno has been working on the Rebuild of Evangelion films. The first movie starts with a remake of the first six episodes, with 3 subsequent movies taking an entirely new direction. The first 3 films are currently available on DVD/Blu-Ray, entitled 1.0 You Are (not) Alone, 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, and 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo. The fourth and final film Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 is scheduled for release in Japan next year.
Netflix pages for each Evangelion entry:-
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a tremendous feat in animation, drama and action. It serves as one of the glowing examples of the anime genre, and has been instrumental in growing its fan base across the world. And now, almost 25 years on, thanks to Netflix, its bound to grow even more.