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Neon Genesis Evangelion

One of the most intriguing anime series of late is definitely Neon Genesis Evangelion.  The strength of the series lies in its murky depth.  Evangelion hosts a wide array of characters with dark backgrounds in a troubled time for Earth.  Pretty much all of the action happens on the planet and helps to keep the show grounded in a conspiracy-theory-based story that is better than most.

The story runs for 26 episodes, with the first 23 as the original television run.  The last 3 episodes were done later as a wrap-up for the series in a special edition OAV.  The entire series can be purchased in volumes on DVD with subtitles.

The story is based in the future world of 2015 A.D. where a meteor has struck Antarctica and wiped out half of the world’s population.  The survivors, especially around Tokyo, have to live every day with rising water levels as the ice caps melt rapidly.  Most cities are based underground where the remaining inhabitants wage a brutal war with an invading alien race called the Angels.  Humankind’s only hope lies with NERV, a covert agency based in New Tokyo that specializes in the latest in combat robot suits, known as Evangelions.  With a crack team of scientists and military elite, NERV attempts to figure out the meaning behind these alien attacks.  To begin with, the story only gives a hint of the deadly secrets that NERV has uncovered over the last 15 years since the first meteor strike.  Later in the series you’ll be surprised as the mystery unfolds with fantastic consequences.

While NERV races to find a solution to the crisis, the Evangelions are sent into action against a variety of alien beings.  The caveat of the story is that the Evangelions can only be piloted by children born 9-months after the meteor impact.  They are the true stars of the story as they struggle with their new machines against powerful foes.  The protagonist of the story is Shinji Ikari (who’s father happens to be the mastermind of NERV) who’s joined by the quiet Rei Ayanami and the cocksure Asuka Langley Soryu.  Together they make a powerful team of Evangelions but begin the story as pure rookies.

You’ll learn more about the backgrounds of each character along with their strengths and weaknesses as the story progresses.  With each successive battle, the Evangelions are continuously upgraded and repaired.  The original 23-episode story arc builds up to a fantastic 3-episode finale.

The Neon Genesis Evangelion series is quite possibly one of the best-written anime shows produced by the legendary Gainax studios.  It’s a must-see in the world of anime, though detractors often point out that the series lacks focus and uses too much pretension.  I accept those criticisms but still encourage anyone who hasn’t caught the series yet to experience it first-hand.