I used to watch this series when it was shown on Sci-Fi Sundays on the Sci-Fi Channel (Note the spelling, as that’s how it was spelled back then) and was rather interested in it.
Good storyline and great animation…two combinations that kept not only my appeal but my attention as well. And ‘Mechs…the series had ‘Mechs. That was an important factor.
I caught the series somewhere in the middle, and never actually saw it all the way to its conclusion. Sci-Fi (Or Sy Fy as it’s now called) liked to switch their schedules around a LOT.
Last year, and I actually am not sure how I missed this, there was a revamp of the series franchise that had fans sitting on both sides of the fence as to whether or not they liked this Rebooted Evangelion or the Classic one better. (Hey…doesn’t THAT sound familiar with ANOTHER franchise I am pretty sure you are familiar with?)
Anyhoo, since I found out that this revamp is now on Blu Ray, it has actually sparked an interest in me to watch the series from beginning to end.
Here is what Wiki has to say:
Neon Genesis Evangelion (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン commonly referred to as NGE, Eva, or Evangelion, is a commercially and critically successful and influential Japanese Anime that began in October 1995.
Evangelion is an apocalyptic mecha action series which revolves around the efforts by the paramilitary organization Nerv to fight monstrous beings called Angels, primarily using giant mecha called Evangelions which are piloted by select teenagers, one of whom is the primary protagonist.
Events in the series refer to Judeo-Christian symbols from the Book of Genesis and Biblical apocrypha among others. Later episodes shift focus to psychoanalysis of the main characters, who display various emotional problems and mental illnesses; the nature of existence and reality are questioned in a way that lets Evangelion be characterized as "postmodern fantasy."
In the original Japanese, the word "Evangelion" is pronounced with a hard “G” per its Greek Roots.
The story of Evangelion primarily begins in the year 2000 with the "Second Impact," which was a global cataclysm which almost completely destroyed Antarctica and led to the deaths of half the human population of Earth. The Impact is believed by the public at large and even most of Nerv to have been the impact of a meteorite landing in Antarctica, causing devastating tsunamis and a change in the Earth's axial tilt (leading to global climate change) and subsequent geopolitical unrest, nuclear war (such as the nuking of Tokyo,) and general economic distress.
Later, Second Impact is revealed to be the result of contact with and experimentation on the first of what are collectively dubbed the Angels: Adam. The experiments were sponsored by the mysterious organization Seele, and carried out by the research organization Gehirn.
In the year 2010, Gehirn had accomplished a number of its scientific and engineering goals and corporately changed into the paramilitary organization Nerv which is headquartered in Tokyo-3, a militarized civilian city located on one of the last dry sections of Japan; Nerv's central mission is to locate the remaining Angels predicted by Seele, and to destroy them. However, Nerv has its own secret agenda, as directed by its Machiavellian commander Gendo Ikari: the Human Instrumentality Project, which, according to Gendo in episode 25, is the task of uniting all human minds into one global spiritual entity. Associated with Nerv is the Marduk Institute, which has the task of selecting the pilots for the Evas, the most capable being children conceived after the Second Impact (14 year olds). The institute consists of Commander Ikari, and Nerv's chief scientist Ritsuko Akagi; supporting the two are 108 companies which are all revealed to be ghost companies.
As the first episode opens in the year 2015, Tokyo-3 is being attacked by the third Angel. Conventional weapons prove ineffective, largely due to its projected force field called an AT Field. Nerv takes command of the battles, and is able to intercept and defeat the Angels using the Evangelions (Evas), biomechanical mecha previously developed in secret by Gehirn inside the underground Geofront; the Geofront is located underneath Tokyo-3.
Not knowing why his father summoned him, Shinji Ikari, a 14 year old boy arrives to Tokyo-3 just as the Third Angel attacks the city. Shinji reluctantly agrees to join Nerv to pilot Evangelion Unit 01, and begins living with Captain Misato Katsuragi. He and Rei Ayanami battle the successive advances of the Angels together and are later joined by Asuka Langley Soryu, the pilot of Unit 02.
Each Eva has its own designated pilot (Unit 00–Rei, Unit 01–Shinji, Unit 02–Asuka, and subsequently Unit 03–Toji Suzuhara), and operates by synchronizing the pilot's soul and the human soul inside the Eva via the enigmatic liquid substance known as LCL. (In the context of Evangelion, a "soul" refers to an individual's conscious existence, mental structure and identity, rather than a more conventional "supernatural" entity.) Surrounded by LCL, the pilot's nervous system, mind and body join with the Eva's controls, allowing the Eva to be controlled by the pilot's thoughts and actions. The higher a pilot's synchronization ratio, the better the pilot can control the Eva and fight more adeptly.
While Ritsuko mentions at the series' beginning that the Evas do have some biological components to them, the extent of this is not immediately apparent. Unit 01 is connected to Yui Ikari, Gendo's wife and Shinji's mother, since it absorbed her body and soul in a failed experiment, as shown in episodes 16 and 20. Rei herself is suspected to be a partial clone of Yui, and is known to harbor the soul of Lilith, the second Angel.
It is finally revealed, towards the end of the series, that the Evas are not really "robots" but are actually cloned Angels (Units 00, 02, 03, and 04 are made from Adam, and 01 is made from Lilith) onto which mechanical components are incorporated as a means of restraint and control. This control is not perfect, as various units are shown over the course of the series driving into "berserker" mode, in which they can act of their own will, independent of any artificial power input.
Along with the battles against the Angels, the central characters struggle to overcome their personal issues and personality conflicts, which factor heavily into the events of the series and its eventual conclusion. Throughout the series, many of the main characters constantly have to cope with several social and emotional problems: characters are unwillingly forced to confront socially complex and challenging situations; unresolved sexual tensions grow between numerous characters; injuries, deaths, and defeats cause blows to their psyches; and previously steady relationships begin to falter.
Over the final months of 2015, the characters begin to learn of the true plan of Nerv and Seele, the Human Instrumentality Project. Its purpose is to force the completion of human evolution, and thereby save it from destroying itself. To do so, they plan to break down the AT fields that separate individual humans, and in doing so, reducing all humans to LCL, which is revealed to be the "primordial soup", the fundamental composite of human beings. All LCL would then be united into a supreme being, the next stage of humanity, ending all conflict, loneliness and pain brought about by individual existence. At the end of the series, Seele and Nerv come into direct conflict over the implementation of Instrumentality.
In the last two episodes (the second set in 2016), Gendo and Rei initiate the Human Instrumentality Project, forcing several characters (especially Shinji) to face their doubts and fears and examine their self-worth, with sequences that "suggest animated schizophrenia." This ending was made up of flashbacks, sketchy artwork, and flashing text "over a montage of bleak visuals, that include black and white photos of desolate urban motifs such as a rider-less bicycle or vacant park benches interspersed with graphic stills of the devastated Nerv headquarters in which Shinji's colleagues are seen as “bloodstained bodies,” and a brief interlude depicting an "alternate" Evangelion universe with the same characters but apparently in the high school comedy genre, eventually seems to depict Shinji concluding that life could be worth living and that he did not need to pilot an Eva to justify his existence; he is then surrounded by most of the cast, clapping and congratulating him. The introduction implies that this same process took place for everyone.
And here is what Wiki has to say about two of my favorite characters from the series:
Rei Ayanami (綾波 レイis a fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. She is the First Child (First Children in the Japanese version) and pilot of the Evangelion Unit 00.
At the beginning of the series, Rei is an enigmatic figure whose unusual behavior confounds her peers. As the series progresses, her personality evolves and she becomes more involved with the people around her, particularly her classmate and fellow Eva pilot Shinji Ikari. She is revealed to be a key factor in the events that conclude the storyline. Her role in this conclusion is not made clear in the TV series, but is one of the principal plot points of The End of Evangelion.
No specific information is given about Rei's origin or heritage; what is presented in the series implies that she is not entirely human. Ritsuko Akagi states that Rei was born in a certain room deep in the lower levels of Nerv headquarters, but this is all that is explicitly revealed in the series about her creation.
Asuka Langley Soryu (惣流・アスカ・ラングレー is a 14-year old fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. She is designated as the Second Child ("Second Children" in the original Japanese versions) of the Evangelion Project and pilots the Evangelion Unit 02. Her surname is romanized as Soryu in the English manga and Sohryu in the English version of the TV series, the English version of the anime movie and on Gainax's website.