A World without Evangelion

This is a series that has been with me most of my life now. I first saw bits and pieces of it when I was middle school during the Toonami anime block on Cartoon Network. The world has changed so much since then. Anime used to be this foreign and rare thing with there being so little of it in the West that everyone watched everything. Dragon Ball Z, Pokémon, Gundam, Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo, etc. It was really easy to keep up with things and the community was small, often just your sibling or a friend who enjoyed it. Fast forward to 2021 and we basically have an impossible amount of anime to keep up with every year at our fingertips, often released simultaneously (Or in Netflix’s case, before Japanese audiences). I’ve even seen signs that like comic books, anime with series like Attack on Titan or Fullmetal Alchemist are breaking into the mainstream population. I remember vividly walking into our NOC one day and somebody I never expected to be a fan of anime want to talk to me about an Attack on Titan season. Evangelion has always been a series that has felt culturally significant to me. It bucked the trend in the 1980s and early 1990s of the main character being this macho man or boy jumping in a giant robot to save the world because JUSTICE or it was the right thing to do. Shinji is probably like a lot of us and does what a lot of us would do if the weight of the entire world was thrust upon us. He rejects it, runs away, finds his courage, runs away again, and does his best to fight against forces beyond his control or understanding. I won’t go into spoiler territory with the movie for those for haven’t watched it yet, but I enjoyed it. Its a wild ride that Evangelion fans will appreciate, but by the end of it the world and characters of Evangelion feels a lot like the fans who grew up with it…not what we expected or even imagined for ourselves when we were teenagers, but matured and more comfortable in our own skins. The movie ends on a note of hope for the future instead of being the nihilistic middle finger to fans that the End of Evangelion felt like. For me, Evangelion original TV series was perfectly timed for me because I watched it as a teenager, then started the Rebuild Movies when I was in college, and now finished things off as an adult. I feel like I’ve gone through the same journey of not knowing myself, fighting against the world, being beaten down, and coming to terms with the nature of things, and now working every day to make the world a better place in my own small ways. I may not have been thrust into an apocalyptic scenario and told “to get in the robot Hobie!”, but as somebody who has lived through 911, the fear of war on terror years, economic recession, struggling to find myself in college, graduating into a tough economy, and now a global pandemic I understand the feeling to live through events way beyond my control and sometimes failing despite my best efforts. I guess like Shinji, I’ve learned that you just have to keep getting up and learn to put your trust in other people around you. Your friends, your family, coworkers, or even sometimes strangers you meet in the gym or on the road can help lighten the road and improve your day. Like Shinji, I grew up with a negligent father and withdrew emotionally for a long time. I buried myself in computers and books as an escape, but with time I turned computing into a career that I use to not only help myself, but help other people. Overall, I am satisfied with the final Evangelion movie. As somebody who has watched both the TV show and the rebuild movies, I feel like it closes things off nicely. I found it a deeply touching and satisfying conclusion to a series that has been with me my entire life. So, now I go forth into the future with another meaningful series finally over, joining the likes of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, or even the Marvel Infinity War Saga, uncertain of what comes next, but more comfortable and confident in myself than I was when I was at the beginning of this journey.

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