Evangelion Influences on Mecha Anime/Manga

Other mecha manga, shows, OAV's & movies

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Evangelion Influences on Mecha Anime/Manga

Post by Tachyon » Thu Jan 20, 2005 10:00 pm

I have heard several times that the TV/movie series Neon Genesis Evangelion has had a lasting influence on mecha anime and manga that followed. I don't doubt this but I would like help understanding what effects it has had. How is anime/manga different after Evangelion?
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Post by Poseidal » Thu Jan 20, 2005 10:14 pm

IMO I don't think it's true. Why people think if has influences is that it had copied things from many other anime that it's easy to say that EVA influenced it, while it's (the concepts it's borrowed) been in the industry for 20+ years. It seems to borrow a lot from Ideon, Dunbine and Raideen, mostly.

I suppose staple fanservice and doll girls; but I have a hard time enjoying what is an animated memorial of the worst time of the director's life.
Last edited by Poseidal on Fri Feb 04, 2005 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

ShinDVDz

Post by ShinDVDz » Thu Jan 20, 2005 11:37 pm

Actually, Tachyon meant how did OTHER anime that came AFTER Evangelion copy Evangelion.
I'm ot too sure myself, though, cause I've not been too big into mecha anime (with the exception of a few, cause I dont have access to alot of mecha anime)

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Post by Grebo Guru » Fri Jan 21, 2005 1:47 am

Oh boy, I can't wait for SteamTrooper to jump into this thread and poop all over it...

(I'll comment on this subject for real once Im home. Im still at work right now.)

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Post by Poseidal » Fri Jan 21, 2005 9:27 am

ShinDVDz wrote:Actually, Tachyon meant how did OTHER anime that came AFTER Evangelion copy Evangelion.
I'm ot too sure myself, though, cause I've not been too big into mecha anime (with the exception of a few, cause I dont have access to alot of mecha anime)
Maybe I wasn't very clear on this: Many so called 'influences' from EVA, are from things that came before it. If it has actually had influence on the anime industry, I regard it to have influenced it in a negative way; there are few anime shows I like post 1997.

SteamTrooper

Post by SteamTrooper » Fri Jan 21, 2005 1:50 pm

Grebo Guru wrote:Oh boy, I can't wait for SteamTrooper to jump into this thread and poop all over it...
now.)
LOL - yeah well you know my opinions on this one - I think Poseidal is about right - It only looks like Evan has influenced others - but if you look more closely Evan just copied and homogenised so many other shows that its hard for anything AFTER Evan to not look like it borrowed from it - I also agree with the Negative Influence comment.

If Evan didnt exist I think most of the shows that came after would remain the same. Therefore it is just one in a line of many shows that used a tried and tested series of formula.

I have asked Grebo to explain this very `Influence` to me and havent recieved a reply. (well not one without expletives.)
Last edited by SteamTrooper on Fri Jan 21, 2005 5:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Daishikaze » Fri Jan 21, 2005 3:10 pm

I agree with Poseidal, I couldn't have said it better myself
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Post by Grebo Guru » Fri Jan 21, 2005 5:34 pm

Poseidal wrote:Maybe I wasn't very clear on this: Many so called 'influences' from EVA, are from things that came before it. If it has actually had influence on the anime industry, I regard it to have influenced it in a negative way; there are few anime shows I like post 1997.
Daishikaze wrote:I agree with Poseidal, I couldn't have said it better myself
You old fogeys. ;-)

Seems to me there have been plenty of good mecha shows since 1997. Did you guys see and dislike GaoGaiGar? Or Brainpowerd? Or Shin Getter Robo? Or Turn-A Gundam? Or Zoids? Or The Big O? Or Mazinkaiser? Or Overman KingGainer? Or Godannar? Or Gravion? C'mon now.

This weekend I'll give my views on Eva.

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Post by Poseidal » Fri Jan 21, 2005 11:48 pm

I like GaoGaiGar and Turn A, I haven't seen Brain Powerd or Gainer yet, Godannar was too bouncy for my liking and I didn't really like Zoids, Big O, or Gracion. I heard Mazinkaiser was really fanservicey as well and Shin Getter didn't really grip me.

I suppose that's not a bad showing, but considering that I don't only watch mecha anime, and those mentioned are almost half the shows I like post '97...

But I suppose it is taste. I can see why EVA is likeable, but I don't think it had a good influence on the industry; in a similar way, I love FF7, but I think it caused the downfall of the FF games.

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Post by Zoxesyr » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:07 pm

Grebo Guru wrote: Seems to me there have been plenty of good mecha shows since 1997. Did you guys see and dislike GaoGaiGar? Or Brainpowerd? Or Shin Getter Robo? Or Turn-A Gundam? Or Zoids? Or The Big O? Or Mazinkaiser? Or Overman KingGainer? Or Godannar? Or Gravion? C'mon now.
One thought that comes to mind, is that some plots became more sophisticated, more literary, and were willing to take risks that most mecha shows didn't take before. One example is the Big O where the show doesn't answer all of the questions, and doesn't hand every bit of information to the viewer on a silver plater.

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Post by FSS is totally emo » Sun Jan 23, 2005 1:54 am

look at shows like Argentosoma, Rahxephon, Brain Powered etc, its pretty clear that EVA has influenced anime. personally, i find these sorts of "postmodern pseudo=intellectual" mecha shows to be both self indulgent and boring.

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Post by Grebo Guru » Mon Jan 24, 2005 1:09 am

EVAs influence

Hmmm. OK, let's see here. This is a pretty large subject...

Let me start off by saying I'm truly surprised whenever someone says that they don't see how Eva influenced anime. I'm not trying to criticise anyone here, it's just that it's so clear to ME that I dont understand how others can miss it. (Much like how I dont get how anyone could NOT find giant robots cool! Ya know?) But it's really all just a matter of different viewpoints. I recognize that. I hope I haven't offended anyone, and I hope I won't. That ain't my goal.

Now then...

There's a saying out there that "if you want to do something better, you have to do it differently." In other words, rehashing something won't be an improvement; doing something new will. There's another saying, that "there's nothing new under the sun." My opinion on this statement is that there are no new components out there, yes, BUT there is a veritable infinity of combinations that can be made from those limited elements. ("Energy can neither be created nor destroyed" and all that.)

I bring this up because some people say that Eva just took a lot of familiar elements and mixed them together. And yes, it did. That's all ANY story can do. What's important is if the resulting mixture is fresh, new, interesting, and special. In the case of Evangelion, it is. In the case of something like, say, D.I.C.E., it isn't.

(Again, please note, this is all my opinion. It is shared by some, and not by others. But that's what makes fandom fun, isn't it?)

See, the thing about Evangelion is that it took many classic anime elements and synthesized a radical new work from them. Those elements include:

Giant robots (Gundam, etc)
Monster of the week (Voltron, etc)
1 boy surrounded by lots of girls (Urusei Yatsura, Tenchi Muyo, etc)
Hero has a time limit (Ultraman, etc)
A city with retractable buildings (Thunderbirds)

And lots of other things. However, Neither Gundam nor Voltron nor Urusei Yatsura nor Tenchi Muyo nor Ultraman nor Thunderbirds are much like Evangelion at all. Perhaps this is because Eva also used elements from the Kabbalah and the Book of Revelations. Or, perhaps its because of Eva's often-minimalist directing, or because of its determination to withhold information from the viewer, or because of its overpowering focus on the psychologies of its characters. The point is, Evangelion WAS very different -- in fact, it was and is unique.

(Eva's uniqueness can probably be attributed in large part to the uniqueness of the group that made it. I mean, Gainax started out as a fan group which did little animated films for anime and SF cons, after all...)

Id actually go further than to say that Eva is unique -- I consider Evangelion a masterpiece, a work of genius and beauty. I know some don't agree, but then again some do.

Now, another saying is that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." And there have been quite a few Evangelion imitators. The thing is, its pretty darn hard to imitate a masterpiece. Do so, and you're gonna end up looking derivative and shabby. This happened more than a few times (Dual and Nadesico come to mind) but Eva also opened a lot of doors, started a few trends, and changed the anime industry and the mecha field profoundly.

So that gets me, finally, to the question at hand: What exactly are Eva's influences? Let me count the ways...

PLOT AND WRITING

Evangelion took the path less traveled writingwise. It was a show which was explicit in its theme and obscure in its story.* (As opposed to the other way around, which is how most animes -- indeed, stories of any kind -- are written.) Only a few anime features have been so obtuse and yet theme-oriented. The Urusei Yatsura movie Beautiful Dreamer, Angel's Egg, and Goshogun: Etranger are among the very few works of this kind. However, unlike those, Eva was a massive success and thus encouraged more shows to follow its lead... Although few shows could without looking amateurish. Though unable to get away with Eva's level of impentrability, many animes adapted more slippery storytelling techniques: The Big O, RahXephon, Gene Shaft, and Gasaraki are all examples of shows whose stories are obscured, obfuscated, and generally kept deliberately staggered while at the same time investing heavily in the emotional states of the characters.

*Eva's explicit theme: (spoilers!!) Humans create emotional barriers to protect themselves from emotional pain, yet in doing so they seal themselves off from the emotional contact they so desperately crave. Eva's obscure story: the Angels' attacks are a precursor to Gendo's Human Instrumentality Project, which will "solve" the human condition by melding all people into one complete, self-knowing and self-loving mass entity.

DIRECTING

Evangelion was often freakishly minimalist in its directing -- long shots holding on the sky or a piece of furniture, effectively distancing the viewer from the events taking place, establishing that feeling of isolation. Other times, it was almost painful in its "wetness" -- that is, its extreme saturation of emotion and sentiment. Then again, it was very abstract in many cases, deviating from linear time narration and even blurring the lines between "actual" events and psychological processes. It also sometimes delivered shocks of the David Lynch variety -- that is, shocks which defy the audience's expectations and desires. "Wha!?! Audrey Horne got blown up?!?" sputtered we Twin Peaks watchers... and "Wha?!? Every human being bursts into puddles of LCL?!? Even Misato?!?" stammered we Eva watchers. This show's complicated, mind-bending, precise, face-slapping approach is really hard to get right. Many viewers don't like it. (Many people dislike David Lynch films too.) But the fact is that such an approach does provoke thought and discussion -- and that's something that a lot more animes have tried to do as well. Some come off as pretentious, some come off as boring, some come off quite nicely. Brainpowerd, Gasaraki, the Big O, and RahXephon all use similarly high-end directing techniques, some with greater success than others.

ECLECTIC IDEAS


One mustn't forget Eva's use of eclectic subjects (religion, psycholanalysis, mysticism). Be they window dressing, sumbolic parallels, or obscure references simply beloved by the creators, they're in there in force. This kind of topical association is a gimmick which has since been used again and again by other shows. RahXephon's use of music, Gasaraki's use of Japanese traditional superstition, Dai-Guard's use of corporate irresponsibility, Gene Shaft's use of gender issues and nature-vs-nurture... it goes on and on, and the use of such ideas as additive or complementary storytelling devices definitely increased inthe post-Eva age.

CHARACTERS

Evangelion went further than just about any anime I can think of in terms of featuring characters who are flawed... and yet still expressing great love for those characters. I mean, we've all seen anti-heroes and hotheads and characters with haunted pasts in anime, but Eva's characters are all SEVERELY damaged goods. RahXephon is a show which strongly followed Eva's lead here, as is Argent Soma. I think that Evangelion gave the anime industry in general a kick in the pants with its humanistic focus; Eva's embracing of human archetypes and simultaneous rejection of story stereotypes was a breath of fresh air. Ive watched a lot of animes floundering around, attempting to acheive a similar balance. Many animes come out looking clumsy as they try and fail to reach that same "vibe." (Nadesico is a good example here.)

MECHA DESIGN

The saying "if you want to do something better, you have to do it differently" really comes into play here. Eva's mecha were quite different from its predecessors. In fact, the Eva's arent actually even mechanical -- but nevermind that. Im referring to their visual and thematic construction. After Eva, mecha designers took much greater risks. They went all sorts of wierd places with their mecha. Consider the absolute strangeness of the mecha from Zone of the Enders, Brainpowerd, Overman KingGainer, RahXephon, Turn-A Gundam, Infinite Ryvius, Gene Shaft, Argent Soma, and Demonbane. I'm all for creativity, and its clear to me that the success of Evangelion encouraged mecha designers to take much greater creative risks. Obviously, not all designers and shows took such leaps, but the fact is that after Eva, MORE shows and designers did. Eva also depicted its mecha as having a kind of innate savagery -- an idea which was definitely around before, but was, again, seen more frequently afterward. Shin Getter Robo, anyone?

I'll just wrap up by saying that, if you couldn't already guess, I love Evangelion. Its a show which celebrates the diversity and capabilities of anime, and is at the same time deconstructivist of its own context. Probably the most "meta" anime I've ever seen. Sure, it doesn't make much sense in the end, but I find that commendable.

Grebo!

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Post by Grebo Guru » Tue Feb 01, 2005 11:24 pm

Hm. Seems I wrote too much. Nobody has any response... :(

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Post by Tachyon » Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:39 pm

Heh heh. Didn't mean to give you the silent treatment.

Yeah, that post answers my questions. After reading it through and thinking over the examples cited I'd have to agree it has had quite an influence on anime.

I have some further questions on Evangelion. Perhaps I could Email those to you?
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Post by Grebo Guru » Thu Feb 03, 2005 6:32 am

Anytime bro. Fire away!

(And I'm glad my rambling was helpful.)

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