Sunday, April 18, 2010

Neon Genesis Evangelion and RahXephon review

This may be a bit long. I'm really having a hard time separating my review of Neon Genesis Evangelion from RahXephon, two really excellent anime series. Yes, Evangelion came first, and their summaries on are seemingly very different, but they're both mecha anime, and plots tend to have very similar elements.

These two anime, however, I have to put together because they get compared to each other so much. This is probably because most mecha plots have a more battle-field focus, even with boy/teen pilots and the fantasy mecha anime.

With these two, the stakes are much higher, in a relying-on-religious-mythology/symbolism-heavily-for-a-reason kind of way. In both, a teen boy is coerced to pilot an organic mobile suit against mysterious enemies that caused a major catastrophe, for the sake of the world and humanity. The sakes are the same, the symbolism at least similar if not the same, and both have underlying conspiracies of pretty much the same thing.

The differences between the two series are the details.
Evangelion's Shinji has abandonment and psychological issues (as does most of the cast), and often comes across as a whiny brat. However, Evangelion goes into these psychological issues in such a way that can cause psychological trauma to the audience. Even if you manage to escape trauma, many viewers have either started really complex analyze of the series, or just sit there in a "what the heck?" shock. This is because Evangelion has either a happy ending, or doesn't have a happy ending, depending on your point of view and definition of "happy".

Don't worry, to this day, Evangelion still sparks very engaged discussion online, and not just because of it's incredible hand-painted cell animation.

RahXephon, on the other hand, has a definite happy ending. Focusing more on an a musical symbolism with it's religious symbolism, the characters face various issues, but for the purpose of dealing with the issues and achieving a sort of closure in events. Ayato, the main character, is more composed, a psychological stable young artist coming to understand the truth about events happening around him. Not to say he doesn't have his outbursts, but he gets pissed for some very good reasons.

Between the two, I like RahXephon the best. I like the music, the characters and the plot, an elegantly crafted story. Evangelion, I admit, has a mark on anime history, to the point where it is a defining and very recognizable name in anime circles. It's one of those series that you have to see when first getting into anime. Unless, of course, you can't take the trauma. Then, stick with RahXephon.

~ Corina
P.S. This review does not take the Rebuilds of Evangelion into account, as that series of movies is still incomplete, and the various manga and off-shoot Evangelion manga.


  1. What!? Rahxephon is horrible. I don't just dislike it compared to Evangelion - it sucks on its own. First off, there's WAY too many characters, so your time and attention is split between all of them, so you can't get emotionally attached whatsoever. Also, the characters have the depth of a piece of paper.

    Even worse, every second of the show is a cliffhanger... You know how on shows, a character will say something ominous you don't understand, but you know you'll find out what they mean later on? Well, that's usually cool and dramatic, but EVERY SECOND of this show is like that until the end! You'll just sit there for 20-something episodes just waiting for explanations, and getting more and more disappointed as time passes.

    Evangelion, on the other hand, has a tangible plot that ~eventually~ gets deeper and deeper until becomes a mind-f**k, giving you time to become attached to the characters and plot. Rhaxephon STARTS out with nothing making sense, and THEN tries to explain it at the last second.

    When it comes to philosophy - Evangelion was a statement, Rahxephon was a gimmick.

  2. I'm sorry, but did you happen to miss the episodes that explored pretty much each individual character in RahXephon, their relationships, and involvement with Ayato? How about the subtle little details and clues scattered throughout each episode, including the first episode?

    The difference is that Eva turns into the director's mental and philosophical breakdown, and the entire series hinges on an emotional cripple with an Oedipus complex.

    And just because it uses a different philosophical approach that doesn't tailor itself to your preferences doesn't mean it's not as good or as valid.

    I've been honest about what I prefer, and I'm one of those who marathon watch Evangelion every year right before exams. I'm not saying it's not good, but for those who don't appreciate going through mental breakdowns, or have emotional and mental illnesses themselves, Eva's not a good choice.

  3. i tried to watch evangelion as a teen and i thought it was a strange show.i really enjoyed the art of oshka but that was bout it.i TOTALLY agree with you about this one being better, ive just started it but i like it much much better than Evangelion immediately :)
    and i respect your opinion as another woman, people stop trolling!! >.<

  4. As someone who has spent some time pulling RahXephon apart to see the subtleties (see my timeline and on the same site reviews and indepth analysis of the series on a volume by volume basis.) I am always amazed to see people say RahXephon never explains itself. Quite the contrary - the series goes to a fair bit of trouble to ensure that all the major questions and riddles posed within the series have a clear answer by series end.

    Much as I love Evangelion and respect its importance to the anime world the fact that the series really required two finishing movies to even begin to complete the story marks it as being an incomplete work. Combine that with RahXephon being, as you note, a profoundly more optimistic tale in substance and I tend to agree it is the better series even while it will never have as much importance historically as Evangelion.

    Anyhoo, nice blog entry.


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