Getting into beloved franchises such as Neon Genesis Evangelion is a bit of a tough journey. Because it’s from such a while back, with multiple entries that are still being released, even enthusiasts have a hard time making sense of the watch order. That’s not to say it isn’t worth it though. Any weeb will tell you that Neon Genesis Evangelion is a cornerstone of the mecha genre, if not anime in general. Like, if you’re looking to expand your taste in anime, look no further!
Being able to watch Neon Genesis Evangelion in chronological order would be the natural way for newcomers to get into the series. But that’s not the case here. Because the series itself is so complex and heavy-handed, starting it can feel immensely daunting. I mean, there is just so much content to sort through here. Even if you put aside the original series because of its episodic nature at the very start of the series, multiple movies are supposed ‘retellings’ of the Neon Genesis Evangelion saga. And then, there is the End Of Evangelion. But luckily, there is a watch order here!
This is where the internet comes in. Things aren’t like they used to be before the dawn of the world wide web because now we have enough fans pouring in the effort to curate the perfect lists of introductions of characters, premises, and how to properly immerse yourself in the experience. And that holds for Neon Genesis Evangelion as well. There is a proper way to begin watching the series and it involves a little leg work, but we’re getting there.
It also helps that most of Neon Genesis Evangelion is on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, so you don’t have to go out of your way to search for hidden box sets or anything. These sites curate the watch order themselves to provide their user with the best experience. But how do you sift between the two? Let’s start the Neon Genesis Evangelion watch orders!
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Get the Show Out Of The Way
This is probably the easiest one to get through. This was what started all the hype and rightfully so. Hideaki Anno’s directorial pitch for a mecha anime that focused more on spiritual aspects rather than the ‘giant robot’ schtick was both a dark turn and revolutionary. It’s become a legend in anime for a reason.
And that anime series is exactly where you start. With 26 episodes that aired from 1995 to 1996, this is the groundwork for the entire Neon Genesis Evangelion saga. And, while it might feel dated because of the animation, the show itself is anything but. The heavy themes mean that you get thrown into the world of Tokyo-3 pretty damn harshly. But just like our protagonist, Shinji Ikari, you kind of have to make do.
Once you’re done with the series, make sure to include the special directorial cut episodes from episodes 21-26, for the full experience. These special episodes contain more content than the ones in the original series, which means a more cohesive story for when you eventually get to the rest.
End Of Evangelion And Other Movies: What To Skip?
Now that you’re done with the main line series, you move on to the duologies and movies. The first of them is ironic, the End Of Evangelion. This is the latter half of a two-part series known as the Revival Of Evangelion, but the former, Death And Rebirth, is easily a skip. However, End Of Evangelion is important because of the alternate end it poses from the anime. The two episodes are considered controversial, but they lay the framework for the movies that come after.
And now you’re prepped for the Rebirth Of Evangelion, a retelling of the series with much better accessibility! This includes four movies, the finale of which only came out last year. Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone covers the first 6 episodes, with little to no difference besides updated animation. Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance is where you get to see new characters and lore being added to previously existing ones.
But it is Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo that breaks all continuation, and veers into a completely different plot from the original series. It also puts a much bigger spotlight on a character we only met down to the last episodes of the anime, leading to new antagonists and threats.
However, it all comes to a head with Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, with calls back to End Of Evangelion and much more to conclude the entire saga.