I'm going to speak total sacrilege here
@an4th I feel exactly the same as you do.
It's like they had this good giant robot story but decided to NOT tell it even after getting the same chance 3-4 times. I assumed that was the point when the production began having financial difficulties during the original TV run.
Regarding Fafner, I've always wanted to like it, but I just can't.
@paul-nebeling true, there was no real romance just Shinji being horny around girl.
But I think the waifu war was more to determine who was best girl, the right answer being Shinji's dad, seeing him act all edgy like a cartoon vilain was one of the best part of the show.
I admit, I wasn't watching anime at the time Evangelion came out, so I've got no frame of reference what the industry was like at the time. What I got was a feeling of a bunch of missed opportunities and confused plot points. It might have been "groundbreaking" at the time, but it fails the test of time. In contrast, Akira was equally groundbreaking, completely baffling, yet still considered a classic piece of anime. Oh yeah, it also predates Evangelion by how many years?
Not really fair to compare a TV show with a Film -- different animals really.
@Paul-Nebeling I similarly had trouble with Evangelion when I first saw it, many moons ago, but I rewatched it not too long ago (on old DVDs, just before the Netflix release) and felt like I started to understand what the fuss was about.
I think the key is that Evangelion is, in crude terms, a show by a massively depressed person working through his depression in part by making an anime series about massively depressed people. This is part of why it feels like there's no character development (a criticism I also had the first time I saw it): personal development when you're in a mental place like the one these characters are in is excruciatingly difficult and slow, if it happens at all. I think if you pay close attention, subtle shifts are detectable in the way the characters relate to each other and to themselves over the course of the series, shifts that are actually pretty plausible for people in this kind of emotional situation. (Zac Bertschy addressed this at length in a recent ANNCast on the subject; note: spoilers galore.)
Similarly, the plot makes the most sense not qua plot, but by recognizing that the action is figurative, if not allegorical. The Angels each force the characters to confront things about themselves or about the way they relate to others, and the Evangelions become, in essence, the mediators for personal growth. (In this sense, Evangelion and Akira have something in common, as they're both as much about visceral emotional impact as they are about whatever is nominally happening in the story.) Watching the various remakes, the differences have as much to do with Hideaki Anno's personal feelings when he was creating them as they do with any attempt to "improve" the telling of the story.
I'm not going to sit here and argue that Evangelion is an easy watch, or even necessarily a pleasant one. But I would say it has more cohesion (thematically if not narratively) than you might think, and more to recommend it than simply being the original of a species. It's not the sort of thing you pop in for a relaxing time with your friends on a Friday evening, though. Love it or hate it, I don't think there's much question about that.
@kevin-s Agree completely. I tried to write something articulating this and failed horribly so I'm glad someone was able to get it out.
It's like they had this good giant robot story but decided to NOT tell it even after getting the same chance 3-4 times.
Depending on what you mean by 'good giant robot story'... that was kinda the point.
One of the major themes of Eva was to take all the traditional Heroic Giant Robot Story tropes and deconstruct them - the good guys don't always win, property damage doesn't just get reset after every fight, the child heroes get PTSD and have to deal with people close to them almost getting killed, the leaders of the viewpoint save-the-world organization deliberately sabotage a competing giant robot prototype... it's not all heroic deeds and happily ever after.
@jason-maranto Certainly not for production quality, but for writing and direction, why not? If would submit that a 26 episode x 24 minutes/episode anime (in the range of 8-10 hours) has a lot more opportunity to properly tell a story than a single feature movie, even if it's a 3+ hour behemoth. Direction is direction, no matter what length the subject is.
@kevin-s That was very well reasoned. I can't argue that it's not an easy or pleasant show to watch. I didn't know about the writer's circumstances. It does it it in a different light, kind of like a Van Gogh.
And yeah, just about every character in that show is broken in some way.
@travis-butler Sorry. I'll try to clarify.
Earlier robot anime--especially from Sunrise--had been doing similar deconstructions up to that point. What I meant was that midway through the story, Eva had been doing a deconstruction too (in the most brilliant way, if I may add), but then they suddenly decided to change directions.
I agree with the sentiments of some critics that it made the story didn't develop as well as it should be.
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@Paul-Nebeling I agree, I feel it’s overhyped. I also saw it a while back and saw it again when Netflix released it. I have mixed feeling about Darling being compared to Eva but at least I got a decent conclusion with Darling. Of course my opinion so don’t kill me for it.
@hyferzftw Not likely. I'm pretty much in agreement with you.
I'm of the opinion that if you need some "authority" to explain or interpret the "meaning" of something in order for it to be comprehensible then at the very least the story is a failure. Writing is verbal communication, art is visual communication -- the point of communication to to transmit information. When transmitting information you always have a signal-to-noise ratio -- if you end up with more "noise" than "signal" then the information is not successfully transmitted.
IMO, EVA gradually devolves into more noise than signal... and that is assuming the author even really understood what they were trying to say or do (which I stand in doubt of). EVA may be interesting as an exercise in psychological examination of the creator but I am not a psychologist, nor do I particularly care about the creator. I think a creative work needs to stand or fall on its own strengths and merits -- bringing the creator into the mix is really more of a bait and switch tactic.
Symbolism absolutely can be crystal clear. However being "artsy" is often a tactic for trying to get around the fact that you really just don't have much of worth to communicate. EG: add enough noise and hopefully people won't notice your signal is "meh". Pretentiousness can be an effective tool to browbeat the commoners into not talking about the fact that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.
For the record, I understood all the symbolism of the last half of EVA the first watch through. I just didn't think it was all that noteworthy. Combine the sort of "meh" themes and characters with all the pointless red-herrings and dead ends you end up with something that had much more potential than it actually was able to realize. And I believe that is the real reason we keep getting remakes -- because even Anno feels like EVA had way more potential than he was able to deliver.
@shrike_al Ah, OK, that makes more sense. Honestly, I've been reading so many comments over the years that Eva was bad because (effectively) it wasn't a traditional giant robot show - the good guys didn't win, it was dark and depressing, everyone was messed up, etc. etc. - that when people say 'good giant robot story', I read that as 'traditional giant robot story'. My apologies.
@travis-butler No problem man. I really like Eva too. It's just that I often feel it needs better resolution. (That's why I much prefer the manga.)
Also, the way the Rebuild movies took a dark turn really left a bad taste. (Although it was probably intended.)