There are some anime that are so high-quality and so transcendent of the genre that they should be seen by everyone, even people who don’t really care for anime. One series that definitely deserves this ranking is Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is currently streaming on Netflix. It’s worth noting that the Netflix iteration isn’t the absolute best way to watch the series, but it is the easiest, and the changes are minimal enough to make it easily recommendable.
Streaming on Netflix, Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the greatest anime series of all time.
The Netflix-distributed version of Neon Genesis Evangelion does leave out the beautiful cover of “Fly Me to the Moon” at the end of each episode due to licensing issues, but we’ll have to ignore that for now. Regardless of which version of the anime you watch, prepare for an incredible experience. The anime is considered seminal for a reason, and you’ll quickly find out why when you watch it.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is set in the futuristic Tokyo-3, a fortified city that was put together after the cataclysmic Second Impact that changed the world. Attacks on Earth continue to be carried out by beings known as Angels, which humanity battles using giant mecha known as Evangelion. The series primarily follows Shinki Ikari, a young teenage boy who is recruited by his father to pilot one of these mecha.
Neon Genesis Evangelion features stunning animation and fight scenes, but the violence is not glorified like you might see in other animes. Rather, this series is more of a deconstruction of the mecha genre, and it dives deep into psychological themes. The series is absolutely laden with symbolism, especially religious symbolism, and you’ll be rewarded by watching it multiple times as you pick up on new things with each rewatch.
In short, once Neon Genesis Evangelion gets its hooks into you, you’re going to have plenty of content to dive into.
This is especially true if you experience the rest of the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise outside of the main series. Director Hideaki Anno has further iterated on his masterpiece after the release of the original series, including the film End of Evangelion, which offers an alternate ending for the last two episodes of the series. The ending of the original series was controversial at the time for being too abstract, but fans have looked more kindly at it since, especially with End of Evangelion offering more to the story.
Hideaki Anno still wasn’t done with the franchise yet, as four movies collectively titled Rebuild of Evangelion would then be released between 2007 and 2021. These films would follow the original series but change plot elements and offer a new ending, along with giving the series new animation. Of course, the old animation style still absolutely holds up, and Neon Genesis Evangelion looks as good as any high-quality anime does today.
In short, once Neon Genesis Evangelion gets its hooks into you, you’re going to have plenty of content to dive into. The deep dives you’ll be doing in Reddit and other forums alone to learn more about the symbolism and themes of the series will keep you occupied for hours. The series is more than just a masterpiece in the world of anime; it’s a titanic artistic achievement in any medium.
Neon Genesis Evangelion features stunning animation and fight scenes, but the violence is not glorified like you might see in other animes.
Of course, if you’re getting into Neon Genesis Evangelion for the first time, you may be wondering where to start. Put simply, starting with the first series is going to be your best bet. The original anime is actually only 26 episodes, which someone could easily binge over the course of a weekend. With that being said, the series is worth taking your time with, but it might be hard not to take it down in a couple of sittings once you’re engaged.
After you finish the Neon Genesis Evangelion original series, you can pretty much watch the movies in the order they’re released. If you’re looking up the list of films, keep in mind that you can probably skip the film Death & Rebirth that came out right before The End of Evangelion, especially if you just finished the original series. Death & Rebirth pretty much acts as a recap of the events of the series, so it’s the only totally skippable project out of all the movies.
Neon Genesis Evangelion will take you on quite the ride, but it’s well worth it. The series is streaming on Netflix now. Make sure to check it out if you haven’t yet.