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ACMI Re/commends: Neon Genesis Evangelion

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Teenagers in giant mechas. Obscure alien threats. A heavy dose of existential angst.

What’s not to love?

For those who aren't in the loop - Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most influential and seminal anime works of all time. Premiering in 1995, the series by Japanese animator and director Hideaki Anno generated a cult following – and for the first time, the full series is available on Netflix to stream at home.

Set in a post-apocalyptic era,  alien beings called Angels threaten Earth's very existence. The only hope of survival rests with... teens in fighting robots.

I can remember the first time that I watched Hideaki Anno’s masterpiece – it impacted me in a way that still holds to this day. Anno uses the series' characters and themes to explore his own struggles with depression, and this spoke to me at a deeply personal level, as it does for its legions of fans.

Although you might be willing to write this off as just another post-apocalyptic anime –  hold on. It's mixture of complex motivations, human emotion, religious symbolism and psycho-social philosophy. At times it approaches and embraces the abstract, and it is unlike anything else in any medium. There are few other shows or films that I can say I honestly learn something new from every time I re-watch.

Its creator refuses to explain many of its ambiguous elements, instead stating that "we’re offering viewers to think by themselves, so that each person can imagine his/her own world... We all have to find our own answers".  It is this deeply personal element to Evangelion that makes it so impactful. It defies surface level interpretations and rewards those who choose to delve into its complexities - it offers a chance for viewers to debate, form and evolve their own interpretations... and in the end, to make it their own.

Come on Shinji – get in the robot.

By Arieh Offman, producer & curator


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