I’ll admit I’m biased here; I first watched Neon Genesis Evangelion 15 years ago. It’s now available on Netflix, which means anime fans all over the world have access to it for the first time. This may seem great, but Eva is not for normies. It’s not for stereotypical anime fans who watch much of the generic series’ on Crunchyroll or Funimation. While it may start off seeming like a typical shounen mecha series, it’s anything but. It deconstructs the genre. It’s psychological. It has references to religion and philosophy. All of the characters are completely screwed up. Whenever Shinji takes a step forward, like in episode 19, “Introjection.” Shinji speaks assertively for the first time in his life. Misato even notes this. Then Shinji decides to pilot Eva 01 again, saves the world, and reverts back to his former self. He does develop throughout the series, but he is definitely the most frustrating character throughout the show. Hideaki Anno said it best when he explained what Evangelion is about prior to the release of the Rebuild films. “”Eva” is a story that repeats. It is a story where the main character witnesses many horrors with his own eyes, but still tries to stand up again. It is a story of will; a story of moving forward, if only just a little. It is a story of fear, where someone who must face indefinite solitude fears reaching out to others, but still wants to try.” Shinji does something “awful” to Asuka Asuka is another character who is severely screwed up, to the point where she tries to commit suicide. She begins as the confident pilot of Evangelion 02, but this is just a facade. It’s a mask. She hides her true self, which is full of sadness, jealousy, and self-loathing. Her true mother abandoned her as a child and killed herself. This would take its toll on anyone, but Asuka takes this a bit further. She carries a doll with her and talks to her dead mother. She idolizes Kaji, even though she’s a minor and roughly 13 years younger than him, and cannot take his rejection. She’s so desperate for human connection but severely lacks it. She has a strong will though. And it is because of this will to live, to move forward, that she is one of the only humans to survive the Third Impact. Misato mourning Kaji, the scene Netflix butchered Misato kisses Shinji. Pedo? Misato may be the most effed up character of them all. She craves human connection, but constantly pushes others away, like Kaji. In fact, she’s a wonderful parallel to Shinji. She cycles through constant “hollow joy” and “self-disgust”, hiding her loneliness with a bubbly personality. She brings Shinji into her home simply to use him. She uses him to fight the Angels, she uses him as a form of human connection, and she constantly cuts these relationships off when they require any kind of commitment. She hated her father but dated a man just like him, which caused her to lie and say she fell in love with someone else in order to run away from true intimacy. Before her death, she kisses Shinji and tells him “we’ll do the rest when you come back.” No matter how you look at it, Misato is a broken person. She constantly lectures Shinji but can’t even follow her own advice, though it is clear she cares for Shinji deeply and is constantly protecting him. Shinji and Kaji’s epic conversation. It’s criminal this was cut in the Rebuild for “fan service” Shinji loathes himself. He hurts himself because it’s easier than being hurt by others; this is why he retreats into himself. He is the most layered character in the show, but also the most frustrating. He constantly takes steps forward but then takes multiple steps backward. He develops assertiveness, but then retreats back into himself. He finally finds someone that loves him, Kaworu, the final Angel, but is forced to kill him. Once again he retreats inward. Misato has to forcibly drag him to the elevator to pilot Evangelion 01. “Shinji, the only thing I can do is stand here and water. But you, you have something that you can do. That only you can do. Nobody is forcing you. Think for yourself, and make the decision for yourself. Think about what you ought to do now. You know, so you don’t have any regrets.” Misato, after dragging Shinji to pilot Eva Like Misato, Shinji goes through a vicious cycle of self-disgust. When he finally boards Eva 01 again, he loses it and triggers the Third Impact after seeing Eva 02, Asuka’s Eva, decimated. This is where things get weird. The Spear of Longinus, which was allegedly the spear that pierced the body of Christ during the crucifixion, appears. Shinji has the Stigmata as Eva transcends into a new life form. The Tree of Life appears, which the Angels ate from, who descend from Adam. Humanity ate from the Tree of Knowledge, who descend from Lilith. Lilith, in Jewish folklore, was the original wife of Adam; this is why Kaworu calls humanity the “Lilin.” The slogan of Nerve is “God’s in His Heaven, All’s Right in the World.” Although these biblical references were supposed to be “edgy” because Christianity and Judaism aren’t prominent in Japan, they play a deep part in the story and mythos of the series. Shinji versus Kaworu descending into the Terminal Dogma Shinji is forced to kill his best friend The end goal of the main antagonists of the series, Seele, is to evolve humankind by bringing all souls together as one. This is a clear reference to Eastern ideology, as some believe that all life comes from one entity and all life returns to one entity. Seele calls this the Human Instrumentality Project. Gendo Ikari, Shinji’s father, is complicated; it is stated in episode 24 that he is trying to “open Pandora’s Box” and then close it before Seele’s “hope at the bottom appears.” Gendo’s entire goal throughout the series is to bring back his supposed dead wife, Yui. He is attempting to alter Seele’s scenario (which is outlined in the Dead Sea Scrolls, another biblical reference) to his own in order to reunite with his dead wife Yui. In a way, he’s trying to save humanity rather than destroy it. None of the characters are black and white. All of them are screwed up beyond belief. Eva Unit 01 Ascending The Tree of Life The series ends with Instrumentality coming full circle. All souls meld together as one, — save two: Asuka and Shinji. Of all the people in the world, these were the only two who had the will to live, the will to keep moving forward. This is so incredibly powerful and shows how their character development comes full circle. In the end, out of frustration, Shinji attempts to strangle Asuka out of sheer frustration. Yet Asuka doesn’t resist. She simply caresses his cheek, as a lover would do. It’s a heartwarming, bittersweet moment. Especially after what Shinji did while Asuka in the hospital in End of Evangelion. The final words of the series come from Asuka: “kimochi warui”, which is typically translated as “I feel disgusting.” The Third Impact, complete, with Shinji strangling Asuka Asuka caresses Shinji’s cheek Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t for normies. It’s a deep philosophical series that deals with loneliness, depression, and constant heartbreak, full of deep mythological references. It’s not for bandwagon fans. And yes, maybe this article is incredibly elitest — but it’s true. Bandwagon anime fans won’t be able to handle it. Generic anime fans will not be able to handle it. They’ll fail to see the subtleties and the brilliance of this masterpiece. While it’s great that Netflix has made it available on their streaming platform, they have butchered it. Eva is frustrating, the characters are all screwed up beyond belief, but it’s a touching story about the power of will and attempting to move forward, if even just a little. Many fail to understand this, or the basic plot, and now “normies” (we’ve already seen it happen) will come up with ridiculous theories, like Shinji is bi, or Kaworu and Shinji are in a gay relationship, and insert their own socio-political agenda into this iconic tale. No thanks. Take it off Netflix and just release the Blu-Rays already with proper subtitles and “Fly Me to the Moon.” That’s all we want anyway.