Mamerto Adan is a feature writer who is back in college once again. Science is one of his many interests and his favorite topic.
I triggered a lot of fan nerves when I said that the EVA unit is a bad mecha. It is just my opinion but welcome to the anime world! Yet it doesn’t necessarily make the Evangelion series that bad. In fact, as one reader said, the shortcomings of the EVA unit added excitement to the show. It presents a new dimension and challenges both to the pilots and the rest of the crew.
Then years ago I managed to acquire the Gundam Wing Endless Waltz DVD and The End of Evangelion OVA. Both served as a conclusion to the anime series we loved and boy they couldn't be any different from each other. One focuses more on the mechas (Endless Waltz or EW), while the other (The End of Evangelion) is on the character. Emotions run high in The End of Evangelion, as bullets and beams flew in EW. The lead mecha of EW is angelic; The End of Evangelion is demonic. And there is no explaining how different Heero is from Shinji.
Both don’t really compare to each other as it’s all about personal taste. My subjective view dictates that while The End of Evangelion had some edge, EW had something to offer that it never had.
I’m not making an apology, but what you will see below is just my opinion. If you can’t take it, feel free to leave and thanks for stopping by. I keep stressing the fact that taste will vary according to people and I know a lot who had different opinions about the two anime. You might say what you want but this is my article and not yours. Now let’s move on and dig deeper.
How I Judge an Anime
Being a story writer myself I was often told by an editor to consider the following;
- Theme: This is basically what the story is trying to tell you.
- Plot: You know the conflict and struggle the main character has to go through. This is the cause and effect of the story
- Characters: What’s the use of a story if nobody is around to tell it? They are the guys and girls that play around in a fictiom.
- Settings: We all know how no story will be complete without their world.
- The style and tone of the story; be it childish or daring.
This is mostly for hand written stories but the same applies to an anime. No story is perfect and an anime could only achieve a certain level of perfections. Now let the face-off begin!
The End of Evangelion got this one. It departed from the traditional “good vs evil” mecha anime themes and went for something deeper and more mysterious. I’m not saying that the proud EW’s anti-war theme was unwatchable. In its own right it was a hit. It got an extra push of relevance when we saw modern day conflicts like the War of Kosovo and 9/11. Yet I think Bandai was pushing their luck too much as the theme was becoming overused. They never came that close to the mysterious and mind wracking symbolism of Evangelion that intrigued fans until this day. Religions, philosophies and psychoanalysis had brought anime to a new depth, something that will influence future shows. For sheer originality and creativity, the End of Evangelion scored high.
The Gundam Wing series was plagued with plot holes and the NGE series was no exception. I wrote an article once on how the NGE series left several unanswered questions. The theme might be great, but it never worked well with the confusing twists looming in the series. This became all too clear when The End of Evangelion came out. Things are still unresolved and we need a special kind of thinking to decode the messy story-line. And this is where EW got it right. Its plot is simple yet solid. It worked for a lot of fans and not just for the intellectually gifted. It managed to offer an epilogue to close the series and put it to rest once and for all. Somehow I got a feeling that Hideaki Anno was just trolling his fans when he let The End of Evangelion loose.
Yes I know what you are thinking. My love to the Wing pilots and my hatred to the NGE lead characters made me follow the two movies. I want to see more of the Wing pilots. They are badass! These guys are a bunch of psychos with no qualms about killing. As to the NGE casts I want to check on them to see if they are going. And yes the Wing characters are much more lovable than the NGE people. Back then when I was young I found the NGE casts curiously interesting. As I get older I found out that I rather stick to more positive and aggressive characters over passive emos. I love men of actions, and Shinji doesn’t fit the bill. And for me, watching Shinji do nothing but cry in the End of Evangelion was hard to watch.
Both anime did their job well in this case. There is no comparing as both presented an intriguing and realistic universe despite of a number of fantastical elements. The Neon Genesis Evangelion and its OVA gave us a world in the brink of apocalypse, an unstable universe where humans are losing control. And now that we talk of instability, the Wing pilots are fighting to preserve the fragile peace in their world. Somehow the scenery will bring in mind a European country after a World War. Both won my heart and their world building is top-notch!
The most subjective criteria perhaps as the preference for tone vary according to people. The problem is the moody tone of The End of Evangelion simply doesn’t work for me. I used to like that, but again as I grow older I’m better off sticking to something more positive. I could use a lot of cheering up to help me face the stresses of my job, and the last thing I want is to see an OVA of a teary boy in the edge of emotional breakdown. Watching the fights of EW is a guilty pleaser after a hard day of work, while the End of Evangelion is a bitter reminder that it’s Monday morning again! I’ll leave the depressions to Anno as I walk away from the pessimistic side of life.
Again you are your anime. It’s a matter of preferences and it just so happens that I love Endless Waltz over The End of Evangelion. It might be deep anime as other claims but I think I’m better off enjoying the robots clash than sharing the angst of a 14 year old teen. And did I mention that the Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz had a better title name than The End of Evangelion?