The Netflix Sci-Fi Epic Anime Is The Only One Everyone Should Watch Once

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

neon genesis evangelion

There are very few anime series that serve as foundational texts for nearly all modern Japanese animation. However, the one series that everyone (whether you consider yourself an anime fan or not) is Neon Genesis Evangelion. Now that the show is streaming on Netflix, you finally have the chance to learn why this ambitious epic has maintained its reputation as the best anime series ever created for nearly three decades.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

What is Neon Genesis Evangelion about? On the most basic level, the show is about citizens of Tokyo-3 who live in a largely bleak and dystopian world after a borderline-apocalyptic event known as Second Impact.

Now, humanity is under attack by increasingly deadly foes known as Angels, and the only effective method of stopping them is for the mysterious organization known as NERV to send child soldiers piloting huge mecha (known as Evangelions, or simply “Evas”) against these otherwise intractable enemies.

A Poignant Glimpse Into The Characters

neon genesis evangelion

It’s impossible, however, to overstate what a simplified description of Neon Genesis Evangelion this is. If you’ve never seen the show, our description may make you think this is simply an action-centric series of giant mechs taking on creepy kaiju.

Certainly, the series will help to scratch your itch for machine vs. monster combat, but it also provides a poignant glimpse into the dark inner lives of the child pilots, particularly Shinji Ikari, the NERV commander’s son who may be the only one who can save humanity… salvation that increasingly looks like it will come at the expense of his mind, body, and soul.

Mindblowing Action And In-Depth Characters

Neon Genesis Evangelion perfectly blends mindblowing action with in-depth character studies, using its sci-fi lens to unflinchingly examine topics such as trauma, loss, depression, and faith.

The show even seems oddly prescient at times, especially when you discover how NERV has placed the fate of the world in the hands of a complex AI known as the Magi system. The final result is an anime that is truly perfect, and critics agree: on Rotten Tomatoes, Evangelion currently has a 100 percent critical rating.

Anime Series And Movies

While Neon Genesis Evangelion began life as a one-season anime series (making it relatively easy to binge-watch, incidentally), it spawned a series of films.

The End of Evangelion, for example, effectively helps to end the show’s narrative, fleshing out more of the characters and events that brought this show-stopping series to a close.

If you’re still hungry for more, there are four modern movies, and they take an already-epic franchise to the next level in terms of scope and scale.

Breaking Continuity?

These modern Neon Genesis Evangelion movies are known as Rebuild of Evangelion. As the name implies, the films nominally serve as a way for show creator Hideaki Anno to re-tell his famous Evangelion story.

We say “nominally” because while the first two Rebuild films loosely retell the events of the original show, the second two break from established continuity, taking the narrative to exciting and unexpected places before definitively wrapping up the most influential anime franchise ever made.

Neon Genesis Evangelion On Netflix

Neon Genesis Evangelion

By the time you get to the end of the fourth Rebuild film, your mind will be well and truly blown (and, if you’re like us, your phone will be overflowing with Asuka memes).

Of course, those movies won’t make any sense unless you watch the show first, so it’s time for you to stop reading and start watching Neon Genesis Evangelion on Netflix.

Just one word of warning to animation lovers: after you experience this series, you may never be able to look at your favorite modern anime without feeling the indelible influence of this modern masterpiece.