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MANGA REVIEW: Neon Genesis Evangelion Vol. 14 – An Anticlimatic End?

 
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Overview
 

Story by: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
 
Art by: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
 
Publisher:
 
FG RATING
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/ 5


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To sum it all up..

The end is finally here! After twenty years or so, Neon Genesis Evangelion by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto has finally come to a satisfying end in the last volume, number 14. Truth of the matter, I actually thought that its thirteenth volume should be the last due to numerological reasons—the number itself is considered unlucky, a portent […]

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Posted January 20, 2015 by

 
FULL REVIEW
 
 

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The end is finally here! After twenty years or so, Neon Genesis Evangelion by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto has finally come to a satisfying end in the last volume, number 14. Truth of the matter, I actually thought that its thirteenth volume should be the last due to numerological reasons—the number itself is considered unlucky, a portent sign of nasty things to come, and simply notorious for the superstitious lot. But lo and behold, the end was yet to be commenced! I even immersed to a known manga site that caters for English-literate anime/manga fan readers that has anything Neon Genesis Evangelion. The story was still on-going until I found out it was finished only last November 2014.

I am aware that the manga-version was a mere reflection (or an alternative universe) of the original animated series in the 1990s, and its subsequent movie versions that primarily focused on the supposed “endings” that still create intense debates and discourses amongst fans, anime connoisseurs and followers due to the fact that the more infamous last two episodes of the original series were so bizarre, infuriating, frustrating, confusing, blatant, psychologically mind-bogglingly shattering, and significantly unsatisfying at all. I still remember vividly how I got so confused and a bit edgy whenever I recall watching (and re-watching) the first anime version in the 90s, courtesy by a major television network, and being ended up more confused, and even formulating questions on how this series ended up so damned wasted, if not so lazily. This unsatisfying moment led me to search, buy and watch the movies versions just to have closure once and for all. Instead, I ended up watching a pure Japanese version; and more so, two equally confusing/convoluting endings until I got the right stuff, The End of Evangelion. My distasteful moments ended upon revisiting and re-reading a good anime review in an influential popular culture magazine named Animerica regarding that matter, and further readings on credible internet sites and serious articles point out the problems GAINAX Studios and the series creators, particularly khara, had endured/faced—monetary and personal matters. I then realized that this series was more than the generic mecha-formulaic narrative. The mechas are just the facades to a very complicated plot of the upcoming dystopian/apocalyptic future. On top of this, there are so many philosophical, religious, scientific, ideological, and psychological underpinnings, symbolisms, messages, themes, and sub-plots to deal with, unlike the usual yin-and-yang, good-versus-bad simplistic overtones. And, this infamous run has plenty of conspiracies layered upon layers, particularly in the middle part of the series that culminated in the dreadful two last episodes. Worse, the characters are completely shattered to begin with, similar to what readers experience in reading The Watchmen. One source says the concept of “emo” was already evident in the protagonist Shinji Ikari even though the term was yet to be popularized or conceptualized. Little wonder why Neon Genesis Evangelion is considered as one of the most influential and controversial anime series, and being labeled as the trailblazer of post-modernity in anime genre.

On the other hand, the manga version attempts to explain the finer details that the anime series either failed to elaborate or simply mentioned briefly. Characterizations were further enhanced in this novelization to the point that certain characters whose portrayals were so unlikeable in the anime became a bit sympathetic or understandably knowing their motivations/psychological insecurities/fears/ belongingness. However, due to some commitments in conceptualizing other alternate universes/ versions of the series and other personal responsibilities/commitments of the author, it took two decades to finally fulfill the promise of closure since the last volume.

Volume fourteen has exactly two-hundred pages, though the entire story takes up more than 190 pages. It is divided into seven chapters or “stages”. The seventh one is basically an added bonus for fans/followers of the alternate universe of the series, but nevertheless, we have the opportunity of glimpsing a shred of Yui Ikagi’s collegiate past, including her intellectual rival and classmate Maria Makinami. The rest focuses on the end of humanity that we anime fans are familiar with, and the decisive moment the main protagonist, Shinji Ikari, has to face up in the midst of total annihilation. Recalling that moment, this ultimate volume is more uplifting, optimistic, and very positive than the anime. It also ties many loose ends that include the clarity necessary in explaining the in-between moments that the anime version mostly lacked. For examples, Professor Fuyutsuki actually knew Yui Ikagi’s master plan and promised her that he would keep that vow, even from her husband and future head Gendo Ikari. On Gendo’s part, it is revealed that he had good intentions to his son and showed a rare fatherly affection, particularly when he touched Shinji’s baby finger and told him “LIVE”. Furthermore, Asuka’s death in this volume is not as horrific or traumatic as in the movie version (if you insist of seeing it to believe, do so at your own risk. You are being warned).

However, the art is understandably less stunning in visuals and details than the animated versions. Additionally, I am really flabbergasted on the anti-climatic tone in the sixth chapter where the timeline takes place a few years after the Third Impact. I can comprehend that there should be massive build-ups due to the devastation occurred, but that part implies as if nothing happens at all. Even Shinji is barely aged and looks like a normal teenager still. Though there are resurrected secondary characters due to what transpired in the fifth chapter, they still possess no prior memories whatsoever, including Asuka’s case where again, drastically different from the anime-movie counterpart (the infamous straggling scene by Shinji and Asuka’s caressing touch end-moment). In short, how on earth Japan was quickly rehabilitated within a few years after the end-of-the-world apocalypse? I hope Mister Yoshiyuki or khara or both of them will come up a companion edition to explain and/or answer some/many questions left behind of this highly controversial series. Since it is rated OT or “older teens”, there are a couple of nudities and a bit mature theme here. Hence, readers’ discretion and/or some parental guidance if necessary are advised.

Overall, this coda could satisfy many fans of the Neon Genesis Evangelion mythology, though questions can be arise or issues to be raised if ever discourses arise. Whatever the ends or aftermaths emerge from this volume, it nevertheless promises closure to this long-overdue series. Comparing this one to the anime versions is unavoidable, as I presented earlier. Yet, we can repeat what the abovementioned reviewer cited on the controversial endings that the purpose of both versions is to appreciate the journey itself, more so LIFE. One must and should experience both pain and happiness to be able to see the meaning/essence of existence. As what Gendo and Yui said to their beloved son, LIVE! Life marches on!


 by C. Paul Ramos 

Norby Ela

 
FlipGeeks Operations Editor, Managing Editor of Comics, Komiks, Manga, atbp.


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