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THINGSText: Tomotaka Nagata

Do you know the TV animation called “Neon Genesis Evangelion“?

This is a TV animation which had been broadcasted from Oct.1995 to Mar.1996 on a minor TV station “TV Tokyo Network” from 6:30pm to 7:00pm which was also minor time for TV animations.

This animation has won great popularity and the sales of related goods have soared sky high, for example, 820,000 copies of CDs (3 CDs released), 2,140,000 copies of Video LD (Vol.1-10), 3,000,000 copies of Comics (Vol.1-3).

The economic impact by those sales is estimated as a amount of nearly 20,000,000,000 yen. That amount proves how Evangelion is a monstrous animation.

It seems heating up so much but actually the majority of people doesn’t even recognise the existence of this animation. How come?? Well, it is, in fact, very understandable situation because usually non-Otaku isn’t interested in this kind of animation. All Otaku knows Evangelion but not non-Otaku. That’s it.

The target of Evangelion is only Otaku. That is the difference from other animations such as Disney’s “Beauty and Beast”,”Pocahontas”, Ghibli’s “Totoro”, “Nausica” and so called Japanimation “Ghost in the Shell”, “Memories”.

Now, let’s see the story.

It is the year 2015 at Third Tokyo City. The world has just recovered from the planetwide catastrophe known as “Second Impact” which caused a loss of the half of the human race. One day, mysterious enemies called “Angels” come and attack the earth (Third Tokyo City).
The weapons of human beings which possibly conquer Angels are “Evangelion Units” which are some sort of robots or machines developed by NERV, a special organization under direct control of the United Nations.
Moreover only selected 14 years old boys and girls with certain characteristics can pilot Evangelion Units. (They are the main characters in this animation, Ikari Shinji, Ayanami Rei and Sohryu Asuka Langley.)
Since this is the war risking human race existence, they have no choice therefore they are almost forced to involve in life and death battles.

How do you find it? In a word, it is a story that “ridding cool machines, and exiting battles with mysterious enemies! Plus, such cute girl characters are in!! mu mu mu”, isn’t it ??? See? I guess only Otaku watches this kind of animation. Or otherwise, I would say you are such a liar, if you watched Evangelion and said you were not Otaku. There is no doubt those who watch this kind of animation from 6:00PM everyday are Otaku. Therefore It can be concluded as Evangelion is the animation exists for Otaku.

However in the second half of story, the atmosphere has been changed 180 degree. The typical “Otaku’s favourite” kind of story is fading and disappeared but getting wretched. Human relationships are almost all clapped. An uncomfortable atmosphere covers whole works. Each one of episodes is very cruel. Shinji, the main character, loses a leg of his own and his friend with his hand and Rei Ayanami explodes herself. Asuka is mentally polluted by Angels and become invalid . Then a boy named Nagisa Kaoru appears front of Shinji as a friend and they have homosexual relationship.
However Kaoru is identified as one of Angels, therefore Shinji kills him.

We,who expected the animation for Otaku, are just wondering.

“How come? It was supposed to be much happier story.”
“Mysteries have not been made clear up, so far”
“Rei was so cute and pretty…how come she exploded herself??”
“Where has Aska gone? Since she became mad, she disappeared from story, though.”

Yet, we still keep watching because it is great and interesting anyway, even though we don’t know what is going on and we feel the story seems too abstract to understand. And the tension of story gets higher and higher abnormally, so we can’t help keeping eyes on it. Under such a condition, 24 episodes out of 26 have finished. There are 2 episodes left. We wait last two episodes with a little bit of hope.

However, our such hopes are betrayed completely. In the last two episodes, there are definitely no stories exist anymore. Now what we see is Shinji’s delusion in his inward (psychology).
Pictures don’t move at all. It is continues of still pictures. Too many use of past scenes. Pictures were roughly done. On top of those, the script book of Evangelion appears on TV screen!

Then, we see Shinji is surrounded by other characters and making some weird conversations.
After this, Shinji says, “I see, I understand!”
He understands something by himself but we don’t.
Shinji is in middle of big applause.


What the hell?? We are at a loss.

Thus, the Evangelion controversy is bursted out.

“Yes,I was moved very much through watching this work. I feel I was salvaged.It was very good.”
“What are you saying?! It is not good at all. See the way it finished, it is exactly same as self-development seminars. People salvaged by such a fake thing is something wrong.”
“You are wrong! Anyway you watched it every week, didn’t you?”
“Well, I had noticed it was a fake. However I dared to watch it. Do you understand? Remember the last episode, pictures didn’t move at all! Same images were used over and over. It is a scamped work! Anno is disqualified for professional!!”
“I think it was all right with ending like that. I think it was very novel way of expression. I guess Mr.Anno might want salvage people like you who can only interpret thing in crooked way.”
“It is not your business! Then I wanna ask you where all mysteries are gone. I am not convinced with the way finished, since there were so many hints here and there in the story.”
“Well,I could understand completely by the last episode. Moreover is it necessary that all mysteries have to be revealed ?”

Still now, in somewhere, this kind of controversy is going on.

Text: Tomotaka Nagata
Translation: Satoru Tanno

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