Story/Art: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
Translation/Adaptation: Lillian Olsen/Fred Burke, Carl Gustav Horn, William Flanagan, David Ury
What They Say
Once Shinji didn’t care about anything; then he found people to fight for – only to learn that he couldn’t protect them, or keep those he let into his heart from going away. As mankind tilts on the brink of the apocalyptic Third Impact, human feelings are fault lines leading to destruction and just maybe, redemption and rebirth.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
While the Angel that took over the 04 Eva was defeated it may turn out to have won in the long run as Gendo’s decision to have the 01 run by the Dummy Plug to defeat the berserk Angel/Eva hybrid which lead to Toji’s death seems to have severed Shinji’s last remaining bit of belief in his father and it causes him to attempt to lash out, first inside the 01 after it was berthed and later inside the Commander’s office before walking away from NERV. As Shinji awaits the train that will take him out of Tokyo 3 he notices that once again he is becoming distant from his emotions and cutting off all the pain but also whatever ties he may still have for the friends he has made since coming, though his brooding is cut off by the arrival of yet another Angel.
With Shinji gone NERV attempts to use Rei as the pilot of the 01 only to discover that the giant refuses to move and even the Dummy Plug system can’t get it to engage forcing Rei to take her still not fully repaired Eva out to provide back up for Asuka who didn’t even have time to get to the surface before engaging in combat and instead is fighting the angel from the floor of the Geo-front but not having any success despite the small arsenal of weapons around her. Meanwhile Shinji finds that Kaji has tracked him down and in exchange for taking Shinji to a special and safer NERV shelter to ride out the attack Kaji begins to tell a unwilling audience the story of his life when he was Shinji’s age, trying to survive in the wake of the Second Impact and how it forged his current carrier choices only to surprise Shinji with the moral- neither he nor Misato nor Shinji himself deserve to be happy due to the people who have died around them which forces the youth to contemplate just what it is he must do now that the barriers he had set for himself in regard to how he dealt with his life were peeled away.
Having decided he must continue on, Shinji returns to NERV just in time to stop the Angel from taking out all the people in the command center as it had disable both other Evas before penetrating into the depths of NERV but when the Eva runs out of power it looks like all hope is lost…that is until the Eva reactivates and everything goes straight to hell. The Eva’s secret origins will suddenly be made clear as Misato learns she has no idea of either what NERV is fighting or the truth about its principle weapon in that war when the now out of control 01 goes into a frenzied attack mode that hints that the Eva has a consciousness of its own, and a particularly vicious and vindictive one at that. As the helpless NERV personal watch the Eva suddenly engages in behavior that is equal parts horrifying and sickening despite it also proving their salvation and the aftermath of this event will change the pace of events completely for almost everyone involved in the Eva project.
Now that the Eva has taken a step they had not wished, the mysterious men behind SEELE decide that Kaji is no longer of any use to them and they put their trump card into play- a young man who looks to be the age of the other pilots but who is kept in the same kind of an enclosure as Rei is inside NERV headquarters and whom SEELE dispatches to NERV Tokyo as the Fifth Child. Meanwhile the Tokyo branch has no end of problems of their own as both Rei and Asuka’s units are going to be out of commission for some time due to the damage they received while the 01’s pilot has gone missing…from inside the entry plug with only his now empty clothes floating in the LCS to show he was ever there.
When a storm of chaos blows through the fog that has hidden many of the secrets behind the Eva project and seemingly almost every member assembled there starts to dissipate the mist that concealed so much as long held assumptions prove to be lies and the bonds joining all the members in a common goal turn out to have been built on shifting sand. Not everyone is going to survive the current maelstrom and even some who do will find that everything changes in their world as the Angels figure out how to get personal in a major way for one of the key members of NERV. When all the swirling events cause a drastic shift to take place in the established order is the fortuitous appearance of the Fifth Child going to prove to be mankind’s salvation or damnation when various plots start to coalesce?
The manga adaptation of the Evangelion story finally starts hitting the point where many of the themes that have caused the franchise to be so memorable as well as divisive are blooming after the seeds were planted when the mask falls of the Eva project (literally) and the people who worked on it without full knowledge suddenly come to see just how in the dark they were about things. Probably the biggest difference to be found between the anime and manga version is that Kaji is finally granted a back story that helps to explain some of the decisions that he made which were left in the dark in the animated series and made him an enigma. The fun thing is that having his back story exposed doesn’t lessen Kaji by exposing some of the mystery around him but in fact it makes him far more human but also allows him to be much colder to Shinji when the youth is confronted over trying to leave NERV than the TV series could ever have allowed without the perspective of Kaji’s past and it also works to help explain a lot about Misato’s motivation and why the two just couldn’t be together despite being seemingly perfect for each other.
Of course the series doesn’t stop with just these revelations or with Kaji’s death but it sprints forward to become attuned with events in the anime version by having Shinji decide to take up his role as an Eva pilot before discovering just what happened to his mother as he also experiences an incident when he synchronizes with the Eva to the point of losing his physical body and having his spirit merge with the one already there- his mother Yui’s. As Shinji learns more about his past and makes a very weird- and possibly quite Oedipal in many ways- connection with his mother he gains the longed for support and affection of one of his parents that he dreamed of and he is forced to choose between the needs he has had for so long and the new life he has built since coming to Tokyo-3, which is a reflection of one of the themes of the series overall as the question of convictions when it comes to choices in life as well as what lengths one is willing to go to in order to reach them plays in the background of many of the characters who drive the series plot.
The manga lays out a bit better than the animated version just how similar in many respects Kaworu and Rei are but it also reinforces almost from his first appearance just how it is that the Shinji here doesn’t seem like he is ever going to be on the wavelength of this Kaworu despite how like Rei he is and Shinji’s obvious attachment to her here. Perhaps it is the slow coming out of her shell aspect that Shinji grew fond of or the effort that was needed from him to try to bridge the gap between the two that made the bond he feels with her as opposed to the very forward Kaworu who seems almost like he reflects a much bolder version in many respects of Shinji and his attempts to reach Rei that creates the contempt that comes across here from Shinji, though Kaworu’s abrupt decision in dealing with a situation involving an abandoned kitten sure did not help matters any given Shinji’s recent history with the Angel/Eva 04 incident.
Of course the story wouldn’t be complete without presenting the Angel attack and assault that lays Asuka psychologically bare which takes her from being a character easily despised for her attitude and instead transforms her into yet another damaged individual as the events of her life are put on display in their full trauma inducing nature and which helps to bring sympathy to this often erratic and unlikeable Character. It isn’t just Asuka who gets revealed either as an incident between Rei and Ritsuko gives more highlight into the doctor’s past and given Ritsuko’s role in maintain Rei’s life it might not be a stretch to say that the doctor is almost like a stepmom to Rei which brings into question just how damaged by their parents the main three pilots in Eva are and it opens the question of if being such raw and wounded people who seem to be searching for approval is a requirement to being a pilot of an Eva in this clash between the goals of some strong willed humans and the Angels who also clearly have something motivating them.
It is really is on this psychological battlefield that Eva starts to stand out as the exploration of a pilot’s psyche and the battles there is different than almost everything that came before as the fight in the giant robots becomes almost secondary to the fights in each pilot’s mind and it starts to look quite possible that despite all the money poured into the Eva and all the damage that an Angel can do that the true outcome of this conflict will have to be fought on a unseeable front and that it may be that those capable of wielding the strongest physical weapons are the worst possible combatants in that type of battle. With revelations flying, hidden plots becoming apparent and new dangers on the door Evangelion starts to reveal itself as it builds up to its finale and the series continue to show why nearly 20 years later it still has such a hold over anime fandom around the world.
The Evangellion manga continues its (long) trek toward a conclusion that touches on many of the events from the anime but which also at times goes its own path to introduce events, back story and motivations that make it a piece that goes far beyond just being another format for the same story to play out as it becomes an entity of its own with many similarities to the anime events but also many twists and turns that that the animated tale did not engage in. Seeing the story with some of these new elements and perspectives makes for a rather fresh view on events that still have the power to shock and amaze almost two decades after they first were introduced to the public
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: May 14th, 2013