So, I’ve watched a lot of anime over time. Like, enough to last a person a lifetime. And yet, the one genre that I’m always wary of dabbling in is mecha anime. No shade to the amazing shows that exist in the said genre; it’s just never been my cup of tea. Sure, I’ve watched a few that I’ve enjoyed, such as Code Geass. But most franchises are usually so long and convoluted that I’m too intimidated to start them. Case in point, Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Look, don’t hate me for this. I promise I’m a real anime fan, even if it took me a while to understand why Neon Genesis Evangelion was so popular. It’s just one of those cult classics that are so fiercely guarded by its die-hard fans, that it’s hard to start it without feeling a little scared. But that means it is probably worth navigating through an entire season and 6 movies. So, where to begin with arguably the most famous mecha anime out there?
It helps to remember that you can’t just start randomly with Evangelion. There is a set timeline in which all the events happen, and it is crucial to the plot that follows the timeline. This is a series that is intensely influenced by the creator’s struggles as it aired. This means getting the timing correct on all the events that occur is important for the show to make sense.
This is exactly why I’m here to guide you on how to get started on your Evangelion journey. So that you, too, can be as traumatized as the fans before. Listen, I wish I was kidding. This is why I will mention that it’s probably wise to look up the warnings before starting Evangelion. It isn’t an easy watch with triggering themes such as religion, philosophy, and mental breaks. But if that sounds right up your alley, then keep on reading!
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Controversial Stroke Of Genius?
The reason why fans invest so much time in Evangelion, even now, is because it’s a masterpiece to many. Despite the franchise first airing back in the 90s, it still holds up.
And that’s because it was unlike anything that was airing on TV at the time. Studio Gainax and creator Hideaki Anno have talked about how much went into creating Evangelion. It was not the typical Shonen fare, that most early weebs were used to. It subverted plenty of anime norms of the time, which is why it was popular.
Alternatively, Evangelion created its own standard, with a blueprint based on mature themes, artistic expression, and deep characterization.
The Ultimate Evangelion Watch Guide!
Evangelion is significantly easier to navigate when compared to its contemporaries such as Gundam, Mazinger, etc.
The original 26-episode series should be the first thing newcomers should watch as it establishes a lot of the overarching themes and lore that long-term fans continue to discuss to this day. Following that, the aptly titled End of Evangelion should be viewed as it answers a lot of the open-ended questions that were left unanswered at the end of the original series, though it can also be viewed as an alternate ending if one prefers the ending to the OG series.
And that’s about it. Sort of. Death and Rebirth is an edited version of the first 24 episodes of the original series and the first half of End of Evangelion. Though due to its runtime being limited to around 2 hours it does skip a lot of what happened in the original series. I’d recommend watching this one after viewing the OG series and End Of Evangelion if you have the patience.
Rebuild is where things get interesting and controversial. A retelling (not a remake, that’s important) of the original story that was developed and released slowly over almost 15 years in the form of 4 movies. The films aren’t a great entry point since they expect you to recall details of the setting among other things.
If you only want to watch big mechs fight monsters, you could just skip to this because of the spectacle, but at that point, you’d be better off watching something more suited to it.