Neon Genesis Evangelion, commonly referred to as Evangelion or Eva and stylized as EVΛNGELION, is a Japanese anime produced by Gainax and Tatsunoko Production and directed by Hideaki Anno. It was broadcast on TV Tokyo from October 1995 to March 1996. The original Japanese cast includes Megumi Ogata as Shinji Ikari, Megumi Hayashibara as Rei Ayanami, and Yūko Miyamura as Asuka Langley Soryu. The music was composed by Shirō Sagisu.
Evangelion is an apocalyptic anime, set in a futuristic Tokyo fifteen years after a worldwide cataclysm. The story centers on Shinji, a teenage boy who is recruited by his father into the shadowy organization Nerv to pilot a giant bio-machine mecha called an Evangelion in combat against monstrous beings known as Angels. The series explores the experiences and emotions of Evangelion pilots and members of Nerv as they attempt to prevent another catastrophe. In the series there are many references to psychoanalytic concepts, such as the oral stage, introjection, oral personality, ambivalence, and the death drive. It features religious symbolism throughout the series, including themes and imagery derived from Kabbalah, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Shinto.
Neon Genesis Evangelion gained widespread critical acclaim. Regarded as a critique and deconstruction of the mecha genre, the series has become a cultural icon and influenced an artistic and technical revival of the anime industry. Subsequent film, manga, home video and other products in the Evangelion franchise have achieved record sales in Japan and strong sales in overseas markets, and by 2013 gross revenues had reached over 150 billion yen (approximately $1.32 billion).
In 2015, fifteen years after a global cataclysm known as the Second Impact, teenager Shinji Ikari is summoned to the futuristic city of Tokyo-3 by his estranged father Gendo Ikari, the director of the special paramilitary force Nerv. Shinji witnesses the United Nations forces battling an Angel: one of a race of giant monstrous beings whose awakening was foretold by the Dead Sea Scrolls. Because of the Angels’ near-impenetrable force-fields, Nerv’s giant Evangelion bio-machines, synchronized to the nervous systems of their pilots and possessing their own force-fields, are the only weapons capable of keeping the Angels from annihilating humanity. Nerv officer Misato Katsuragi escorts Shinji into the Nerv complex beneath the city, where his father pressures him into piloting the Evangelion Unit-01 against the Angel. Without training, Shinji is quickly overwhelmed in the battle, causing the Evangelion to go berserk and savagely kill the Angel on its own.
Following hospitalization, Shinji moves in with Misato and begins settling into life in Tokyo-3. In his second battle, Shinji destroys an Angel but runs away after the battle, distraught. Misato confronts Shinji and he decides to remain a pilot. Evangelion Unit-00 is repaired and Shinji tries to befriend its pilot, a mysterious, and socially isolated teenage girl named Rei Ayanami. With Rei’s help, Shinji defeats another Angel. The pilot of Evangelion Unit-02, teenage girl Asuka Langley Soryu, loses her self-confidence following her defeat, and spirals into a deep depression. This is worsened by her next fight, against an Angel which attacks her mind. In the next battle, Rei self-destructs Unit-00 and dies to save Shinji’s life. Misato and Shinji later visit the hospital where they find Rei alive but claiming she is “the third Rei”. Misato forces Ritsuko to reveal the dark secrets of Nerv, the Evangelion boneyard and the Dummy Plug system which operates using clones of Rei.
Asuka is reduced to a catatonic state by her depression, and Kaworu Nagisa replaces her as pilot of Unit-02. Kaworu, who initially befriends Shinji, is revealed to be the final Angel. Kaworu fights Shinji, then realizes that he must die if humanity is to thrive and asks Shinji to kill him. Despite his initial hesitation, Shinji kills Kaworu. Soon after this act, Nerv and SEELE trigger the forced evolution of humanity, termed the “Human Instrumentality Project”, in which the souls of all mankind are merged into one through Rei. Shinji’s soul grapples with the reason for his existence and reaches an epiphany that he needs others to thrive, enabling him to destroy the wall of negative emotions that torment him. This allows him to be reunited with all of the main characters, who congratulate him.