A benchmark series in the history of anime, Hideaki Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most widely discussed in anime. It’s not the first series to combine mecha (futuristic machines, especially robots) with theology and a character-driven story, but it does so exceptionally well.
The story is set in 2015, 15 years after a cataclysmic explosion in Antarctica that caused the ice cap to melt, killing a large portion of the Earth’s population. Although it was reported as a meteor impact, the explosion was caused by human interaction with Adam, the first of a series of powerful, sentient creatures known as “Angels” to appear on Earth. To defend against their depredations, humans rely on NERV, a secret agency dedicated to destroying the Angels with their gargantuan robot suits called Evas. Only teenagers with special psychic powers can pilot the Evas, and the best pilot is the repressed 14-year-old Shinji Ikari, who is a more interesting, believable character than standard mecha pilots.
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