Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION 3-in-1 Edition Volume 1


CARTOONIST: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
TRANSLATION: Mari Morimoto, Lillian Olsen
ENGLISH ADAPTATION: Fred Burke, Carl Gustav Horn
LETTERING: Wayne Truman, John Clark
ISBN: 978-1-4215-5079-4; paperback; Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
528pp, B&W, $19.99 U.S., $22.99 CAN, £12.99 UK

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a Japanese science fiction anime (or animation) television series. Twenty-six episodes of the series were originally broadcast from October 1995 to March 1996. The anime had a comic book companion, Neon Genesis Evangelion the manga, which was produced by author Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. The manga actually debuted in the manga magazine, Shonen Ace, 10 months (December 1994) before the anime as a way to introduce the series to the public.

In addition to publishing single volumes (which are up to Volume 13 as of this writing), VIZ Media recently began reprinting the series in 3-in-1 editions, which gather three volumes in one large-sized, single volume. Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1 Edition, Vol. 1 reprints Neon Genesis Evangelion, Volumes 1 to 3.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the story of humans at war with hostile beings called Angels. The human side of the conflict is led by NERV, a paramilitary organization. NERV created giant biomechanical units or mecha called Evangelions (also known as EVA and Evas) that are piloted by teenagers. The lead character is 14-year-old Shinji Ikari, EVA “Unit-01” pilot.

The first three volumes of the series introduce Shinji and reveal how he was brought into the EVA program by 29-year-old Misato Katsuragi, the NERV operations chief who plans EVA missions. Shinji is also reunited with his estranged father, 48-year-old Gendo Ikari, who is NERV Supreme Commander. Shinji meets 14-year-old Rei Ayanami, called the First Child because she was the first to pilot an EVA.

After Rei’s EVA Unit-00 is damaged, Shinji and Unit-01 have to fight the Angels. These early stories also depict Shinji’s conflicted feelings about being an EVA pilot, but two of his classmates, Kensuke Aida and Toji Suzuhara, provide comic relief in contrast.

As I’ve previously noted, I knew of Neon Genesis Evangelion the anime, but had never seen it. My first direct experience with the franchise was reading Volume 12 of the manga last year. I enjoyed reading this Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1 Edition more than I did reading Volumes 12 and 13. These early chapters are simple and straight forward.

Author Yoshiyuki Sadamoto uses Shinji Ikari as the vehicle through which we are introduced into the world of NERV and the Evangelion. As a lead character, I find Shinji a bit soft and unfocused. His moody, sad boy personality gets old after awhile, but he meets so many interesting characters (like his father) that he’s worth the trouble.

Of course, the giant robot battles are good, and Sadamoto composes them with imagination, so this is not just battle for the sake of battle. Sadamoto makes this interesting, mixing intrigue and melodrama with the anticipation of another attack. This is giant robot with quality soap opera, and that’s a good thing.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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