Neon Genesis Evangelion - A Dark and Deep Mecha

I think many might not even be familiar with the term ‘mecha’. It is a diminutive of mechanized and refers to giant robots controlled by humans controlling them from within. There is a whole genre of science fiction anime centered on this concept. One of the main themes in these stories is usually the relationship between a man and a machine. This is of course a theme explored in other genres as well – for instance the relationship between a man and his horse or that between a pilot and his aircraft. In fact the very first anime I had viewed – Ninja Robots- was one of these. I had been fascinated by the concept. However after watching many more anime Ninja Robots looks rather shallow and I would not choose that as the one series to represent the mecha genre in my anime series. Instead I choose a rather dark one filled with symbolisms – ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’.

As I had mentioned the core of the concept is the bond between a human and gigantic robotic machine. Here the machine is biological and is made from cells of some alien creatures called angels. There are some special humans who can bond with these machines. These machines are crucial for human’s fight against the angels who are looking to invade earth. The protagonist is a young boy who has this rare ability to bond with one of these machines. 
Such a story can easily end up being a mindless slug fest like many of the computer games. However this series has avoided going along this path and instead chooses to focus on the psychology of the boys and girls who bond with the machines, their emotional struggles and existential crises. That way the series which starts on a lighter note begins to turn darker as we near the end. 

The other interesting aspect is the richness of symbolism. The story is built around Christian, Greek and Judaic mythology. The alien creatures called angels are a representation of the angels in the Old Testament. Even the names of the angels are borrowed from there and one can see patterns of resemblance between the stories in the Old Testament and the conflict between the angels and humans. Even the name has the word “Genesis’ based on the genesis from the old testament. That makes it very fascinating.  

We also have this theme of people in power just manipulating the common man for their purposes citing reasons of general good. Sometimes even idealistic leaders trample over aspirations of individuals in their quest for greatness for the overall society. And there are always individuals who stand up for individual rights against powers that be. The protagonist here is one such person and that brings an ethical conflict between interest of society as a whole and oneself and the one’s closer ones.

Overall this is a very fascinating anime that makes a very gripping watch. However it is not a very feel good type of anime and possibly not recommended when you are down in your dumps and looking for something to cheer you up.

This is the last post in this series

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  1. Interesting. Anne McCaffrey wrote a series on 'Brainships' which would probably be something like this.


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