Back when I was regularly blowing an hour or two each morning watching YouTube, the algorithm recommended a ten-minute-long video of Hideaki Anno calling phone sex workers and having sad conversations with them. His name had rung a few bells, and it wasn’t long before I found myself facing Neon Genesis Evangelion, a supposed masterwork of animation storytelling.
I remembered the robot designs from my time in Japan. I may even have owned an Evangelion plastic model kit or two—never built, mind you, but it I was more in love with the idea of the hobby than the actual doing of the hobby. But I’d never watched a single episode of the anime.
I’ll say this about my viewing experience: it inspired me more to draw than anything else. The simplistic shapes of the characters coupled with the compelling hard-surface forms of the technology that inhabits Anno’s universe were very exciting to me. The show is also a masterclass in animation minimalism. I’d wager most of the frames are still shots with zero animation, and yet it still works. Until it doesn’t. It’s clear that something went wrong in the production process near the end, resulting in many cut corners.
The ending of the original run of the series left a lot to be desired. If you approach this work as the character study of the protagonist, there’s nothing to be mad about. If you think background events were important, you’re going to end up with a sour experience. Fortunately, Anno got a chance to make a reparatory film. It’s on the to-watch list.