Neon Genesis Evangelion 1

February 28, 2013

Yoshiyuki Sadamoto – Viz – 2012 – 13+ volumes
this is a 3-in-1 edition, containing vols 1-3

I should say first that this is a very nice 3-in-1 edition. Viz has some bare-bones 3-in-1s (One Piece) and some that are pretty nice (Inu-Yasha, Vagabond), but this one feels comparable to the Tenjho Tenge Full Contact Edition, or the X 3-in-1s. There are several color pages between each volume in the book, and the paper stock is very nice. Each volume in the book is followed by a couple interviews with Evangelion staff. The only thing missing are some random color pages in the chapters themselves, but those wouldn’t have been included in any edition, so no complaints from me.

The story itself… hm. I’ve always sort of suspected Evangelion isn’t for me. Honestly, the story is pretty good here. Depressed teen Shinji dreads a meeting with his estranged father, and is attacked enroute by a monster. He is saved by an energetic woman named Misato, and the two of them watch a robot fight the monster, called an “Angel,” and basically lose. When Shinji reaches the facility, he finds out they mean for him to pilot one of the giant robots himself, and his father basically bullies and shames him into the suit. The rest of the story is about Shinji getting used to the suit through multiple Angel attacks, his growing relationships with Misato, his friends at school, and fellow pilot Rei, and working through some daddy and apathy issues.

Though it is cliche now, I do like that Shinji is a main character that doesn’t inspire confidence. There is nothing I like about him, and I just can’t root for him. That he feels the same way about himself is brilliant, in its own way, and yet he still pilots the robots. But I have that same disconnect with all the characters, and that’s my main problem with it so far. Gendo and Rei are meant to be emotionally remote, so they’re out. Even the more accessible Misato feels somewhat like a stereotype right now, and Shinji’s school friends definitely fit that description. I know there’s another pilot coming, and I suspect she may solve the problem, but we’ll see.

What it does best is flesh out the history behind what happened in the story, and the technology behind the robots and the fights themselves. A lot of love goes into that stuff, and it shows. The designs are pretty spiffy, though admittedly, the robot and monster designs are so out there that I tend to lose track of what’s going on during fight scenes since it’s not clear what a head and arm is, et cetera. The art is otherwise very good though, and Sadamoto’s softer style suits the series well.

I did like it better than I thought I would though, and after reading the very cosmic volume 13, I’m willing to keep reading to see if I get sucked into the story a bit more. The second 3-in-1 is already out, and I’ll be halfway caught up if I pick that up. It’s not for me, but I am intrigued, and I’m going to give it another try.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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