Yoshiyuki Sadamoto – Viz – 2013 – 14 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 4-6

So I just finished this book, and… I was not expecting that to happen to Eva 03 right away.  I probably should have, the way they built everything up around the pilot, but still.  That was some disturbing stuff.  Why you gotta be so sad, Evangelion?

Otherwise, this is probably The Volume of Asuka.  Again, I’m not terribly familiar with the plot or characters from the anime, so this story is all new to me.  As such, I was shocked with how irritating Asuka was.  On one hand, she’s great, because the other Eva pilots are really depressing.  On the other hand, she’s constantly dumping on Shinji, and he just doesn’t need that.  I can’t figure out why she would be tormenting him from the start, other than the fact she smelled weakness.  The collaboration with Shinji is painful, because she insists it’s all Shinji’s fault that he can’t match up with her, and when Rei proves otherwise, she gets angry and leaves.

She also, apparently, graduated from a German university (?), but still goes to Japanese high school?

I mean, I get it.  She’s not depressing, and she’s just “flawed” in a different way than Shinji.  She just rubs me the wrong way, and I hate seeing her pick on him.  I don’t even really like Shinji that much, but I suddenly find myself taking his side against her.

Also also, the part with her and Kaji towards the end was hard to read.  Perhaps mostly because I wasn’t reading her “crush” as sincere.  Apparently it was.  I was glad Kaji dealt with it in a classy way.

Otherwise… some more of getting into Shinji’s head.  Apparently his mother’s death is different than what he remembers.  His dad is even more distant than we thought.  Shinji likes the way it feels to have friends.  Et cetera.

There’s also some more history and info about Nerv.  I don’t like how this is a huge enigmatic puzzle, and I tend to shut such things out when I run across them (why should I care about Nerv when you offer me so little to care about?).  But I have to admit, this is a well-crafted story.

I love this manga adaptation.  Again, I’m not sure how close it comes to the anime, but I’m pretty into the story at this point.  I had my fingers crossed that I could get the last pair of volumes in this series (I needed 10-12, and 13-14), but alas, 14 single doesn’t come out until spring next year, and I suspect the omnibus will follow some months after that.  In the meantime, I’ll probably read 7-9, then buy 10-12 and hang onto it until it finishes.

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.

Neon Genesis Evangelion 13

November 3, 2012

Yoshiyuki Sadamoto – Viz – 2012 – 13+ volumes

Again, I’m the wrong person to take advice from on this manga series. I watched half the anime and couldn’t finish it. I’ve only read one other volume of the manga, and that was volume 12 a year ago. However! Two things: One is that Viz is releasing this series in a 3-in-1 edition, so we all have a chance to start from the beginning. The other is that this volume is so unbelievably cosmic that you almost don’t need to have read the rest of the series.

That’s not true, exactly. I couldn’t remember what the Evas fought. For some reason, I thought it was one another (but perhaps they only do that out of the Evas?). I was a bit confused when they were fighting the angel monsters at the beginning of the volume. Then again, the battle is pretty awesome, so it doesn’t really matter what those angel monsters are. Shinji is fighting this battle, and he’s under A LOT OF STRESS, so that’s going on.

Meanwhile, his father is bartering with Rei Ayanami. That doesn’t go well for anyone, especially when Genji is betrayed. He probably deserved it. But Rei didn’t have Genji in mind anyway.

And the entire rest of the volume is so unbelievably cosmic, I’m not quite sure what to make of it. It was actually quite easy to follow. I did not know the nature of Rei Ayanami, until I read this, and I still understood it perfectly. I’m not entirely sure how to adequately describe it without giving the whole thing away. I’m a happy customer, though. I’m also not entirely sure where it’s going from here, and if that’s part of the story or I just don’t know the intentions of the ones that abducted Shinji. But it looks to be nearing a rather epic climax. About time, too, since this thing started in the mid-to-late 90s.

Again, I’m not the best opinion on this, but it did get me excited for the 3-in-1 relaunch. It’ll be fun to start from the beginning.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Neon Genesis Evangelion 12

February 27, 2011

Yoshiyuki Sadamoto – Viz – 2011 – 12+ volumes

Let’s see if I can connect the last several reviews I’ve done: So, Neon Genesis Evangelion is referenced/parodied in Genkaku Picasso. Genkaku Picasso is drawn by Usamaru Furuya, who has recently had his adaptation of Osamu Dezai’s No Longer Human licensed by Vertical. No Longer Human is central to the plot of the first Book Girl and the Suicidal Mime novel. How about that? Three unrelated works connected together. Though I think using Evangelion in that game is cheating. For more connections, how about the fact that, not counting reprints, Oh My Goddess and Evangelion are probably the two longest-running (time-wise) manga in English, and both are edited by Carl Gustav Horn?

Anyway, I’ve never read any other volumes of Evangelion, and I’ve only seen half of the anime series. This is incredible, given my otaku roots go back to 1998, when Evangelion was still something you watched lest you be ejected from the internet. It just wasn’t much my thing. Despite this, I know the characters and plot better than series I actually did watch back then, so I wasn’t completely lost when I picked this up.

Admittedly, I was a little lost, but it was pretty easy to pick up. NERV appears to be under attack by a rival agency, and most of the volume is spent trying to locate Shinji, convincing him to fight in the Eva unit, and also watching Asuka fight in her Eva unit despite being sick/injured. There are some really great character-to-character scenes amid all this action too, including a heart-to-heart between Gendo and Shinji that is later interrupted by Misato telling Shinji to do things for the exact opposite reason as Gendo. Gendo’s a great character as far as villains go, and his openly brutal psychological abuse is really something to behold. I liked him here, if only because I wanted to see just how bad his “motivation” was going to get.

The Gendo/Shinji/Misato scene is a good one, even without knowing much of the context for it, but the true highlight of the book for me was the wonderful scene between Misato and Shinji later, as Shinji is boarding his Eva unit. I was unsure whether or not Shinji really knew what Misato was doing, and I loved that after all that she did, Shinji’s Eva was surrounded by bakelite (?!) and was completely inoperable. Even though it was out of context for me, that scene was still extremely powerful.

I also like the art in this series quite a bit. I can’t comment on the character designs at this point since they are too iconic for me to really… critique, but I like Sadamoto’s linework and the background details he includes. There’s something very sterile about all the scenes in NERV (I’ll freely admit that this might not be NERV, I assume it is), and the detail isn’t very intricate, which goes with the idea that NERV is a military facility. The action scenes are very dynamic, and I was surprised by how clear and dynamic everything was. The fight scene with Asuka was another favorite part of the volume for me, and that was largely because the art was so good.

How close is the plot of the manga to the anime? How far is it from the end? I have no idea, honestly, but I did like what I read here. Do I like it enough to go back and read the rest? Mmm, probably not, especially after giving the anime a try, but I am happy that I read this volume, and I think fans of the series that have been waiting for this will be pleased. It’s a good one, even from a non-fan perspective.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.