Neon Genesis Evangelion
|Name:||Neon Genesis Evangelion ((新世紀エヴァンゲリオン Shin Seiki Evangerion)|
|Creator:||Gainax (directed/written by Hideaki Anno)|
|Date(s):||October 1995 - March 1996|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Neon Genesis Evangelion ((新世紀エヴァンゲリオン Shin Seiki Evangelion; literally translated as "Gospel of a New Era") is an apocalyptic science fiction mecha anime created by the anime studio Gainax that was both ground-breaking and a huge critical success when it first aired in 1995.
Its popularity resulted in a multimedia franchise that includes video games, manga, light novels, and movies. Although all of these materials are relatively popular within the fandom, only a few are generally regarded as "main" continuities, as opposed to spin-offs:
- The original TV series, which shares the same continuity with the End of Evangelion movie
- The Neon Genesis Evangelion manga
- The Rebuild of Evangelion movie series
All of these versions of the Neon Genesis Evangelion story follow the same basic storyline, focusing on teenage Ikari Shinji, who pilots a monstrous robot called an Eva in order to defend the city of Tokyo-3 from monsters known as Angels. The show is particularly noted both for its intensely psychological storylines and its liberal use of symbols and terminology from Christian and Jewish mysticism.
The Evangelion fandom is often abbreviated into NGE, or Eva.
The Western Evangelion fandom developed in the mid-nineties, at a time when anime was not easily accessible in the West. Kotaku writer Richard Eisenbeis admits to buying bootlegs of the series from Singapore to trade with other anime fans.  Fansubs of the initial Evangelion TV show and the two-part VHS release of the End of Evangelion movie were created multiple fansubbing groups.  The anime later became available legally, exposing it to a wider audience. Evangelion also has a planned rerelease on Netflix for Spring 2019.
The first movie in the Rebuild of Evangelion series, in contrast, was released in 2007, after anime piracy went digital, but prior to the advent of convenient streaming platforms. In fact, the slow English release of the second Rebuild of Evangelion movie was specifically mentioned as grounds for piracy in an Ars Technica article on the topic released in 2011. However, despite delays in both production and Western release, these movies were affordable and required little previous knowledge of Evangelion to enjoy. They thus attracted a new generation of fans to the fandom.
The Evangelion fandom includes a wide range of demographics, and is located on a number of platforms. Not all parts of the fandom are particularly interested in interacting with each other, and some can be fairly insular. Some fans are most interested in creating theories or analyzing the show, though others engage in more transformative activities such as fanart and fanfiction. The Evangelion subreddit is also quite large for a single anime community, at over 80 thousand subscribers. Evageeks is a major and very influential 15 year old forum that is still active and responsible for a large part of translations and popular fan theories and interpretations. EvaMonkey is also a big fan-site. Eva was finally released worldwide on Netflix in June 2019, giving non-Japanese fans a way to legally watch it (sans importing) for the first time in decades. The new English localization was directly made by Khara themselves with strict oversight over the sub and dub, unlike the older ADV dubs and subs. Some changes irritated Kawoshin fans who based their interpretations on the older DVD translation (though not the VHS one) or even fansubs. However, there is abundant evidence that Khara simply remade the translation to bring it closer to the way the show was actually written in the original Japanese. See Kaworu's lines in Episode 24 on EvaWiki
The Evangelion Fanfiction Mailing List was active from 2001 to around 2008.
Generally, the most popular pairings in the fandom are between the main character, Shinji Ikari, and another character. Some side character pairings are popular as well. While Shinji's pairings are kept inconclusive (although Asuka is the one he has the most development with, and is present with him in the ending), canon pairings are limited to Misato/Kaji and Gendo with Yui/Naoko/Ritsuko at different times.
Some of the most common pairings include:
- Asuka/Shinji or Asushin
- Kaworu/Shinji or Kawoshin
- Rei/Shinji or Reishin
- Misato/Kaji or Misakaji
- Toji/Hikari or Hikatoji
- Misato/Shinji or [[Misashin]
- Asuka/Rei or Asurei
- Kaworu/Rei Kaworei
- Asuka/Mari or Mariasu
- Ritsuko/Maya or Ritsumaya
- Mari/Shinji or Marishin
- Asuka/Kaworu or Asukawo
Shipping trends within the fandom have changed dramatically over time. Among the fandom gathered by the original TV series, starting in the mid-90's, Het shipping was most popular, and Shinji/Asuka was the most popular pairing, very closely followed by Shinji/Rei. Fanfiction.net, which hosts Evangelion fanfiction dating back to 2000, hosts more fics featuring Shinji and Asuka in the romance genre than it does featuring Kaworu Nagisa as a major character.
However, shipping trends shifted following the release of the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, which brought in new fans, many of whom were more interested in the Kawoshin slash ship. This is reflected by the distribution of fics on the newer Archive of Our Own site, where many Evangelion fics feature this pairing. Femslash has also become more common in the Evangelion fandom since the release of the Rebuild movies. However, as of recent years activity on AO3 has greatly decreased and Fanfiction.net still maintains an active community and many averagely popular fics, both newer and older, have as many reviews and favorites as many of the most popular AO3 fanfics put together, and the Asushin and Reishin preference is still pronounced there. There are more Asushin fanfics in FFN alone than there are Kawoshin ones in AO3 and FFN combined (many of which are posted on both), despite the burst of activity around in the years around and after Evangelion 3.0's release. There are also several Evangelion fanfiction hosted on independent and smaller sites like Evafics, Darkscribes, Fanbards and Lemontastisca, as well as older well known fics with their own sites like Eva-R, which notoriously even features voice-over work by Asuka's first English VA. Some of these are quite old and are now defunct, or are undergoing reforms.
Particularly after Evangelion 3.0 also, the popularity of the Reishin ship, which used to be very significant, fell drastically as many fans believed the movie had shut down Reishin as the apparently canon relationship for the Rebuild movies, after Evangelion 2.0 strongly teased at it and seem to imply they were getting together. In turn, this gave way to the increased popularity of Kawoshin which became far more prominent, often generating tension with those who preferred Asushin, which still remained very popular throughout the years. Over time, however, Kawoshin, mostly espoused on the Tumblr Eva fandom which has gradually grown more and more inactive, also declined in popularity. Asushin is still popular and, although Reishin might still not be more popular than Kawoshin again, it is certainly more popular than it was immediately after 3.0. Other ships, like Marishin, Misashin, Hikashin, Asurei, Mariasu, Asukawo and Kaworei also have their own smaller followings. This can be reflected on the distribution and popularity of both officially licenced and fan-made material over the years.
Additionally, official spin-off material, videogames and merchandise often cater to fans of a specific ship, mainly Asushin - possible as an option or sole option in all games that feature such an option, has an ending in Angelic Days, followed by Reishin - usually featured and an available option, but not always, and Kawoshin - featured slightly less often, sometimes has no ending routes, most notable in material made around or after the release of Evangelion 3.0. Overall however probably only Reishin has less official material than either ship, followed by Asurei.
The trends in Japan are mostly similar compared to the West, except that in Japan Evangelion is not considered just a cult classic anime, but instead it is a pop culture phenomenon. Although it is not exactly mainstream as something like Naruto, Eva has kept consistent popularity over the years even as other more mainstream and/or seasonal anime rose and fell in popularity, and characters like Asuka, Rei, Shinji and Kaworu are consistently present in popularity polls like those of Newtype magazine. Shipping trends mainly differ because of the fact that Rei was extremely, overwhelmingly popular in Japan during the initial years of the fandom, which meant that Asuka, Misato or Kaworu were less popular, as well as ships involving them. Like in the West, Asuka steadily rose in popularity over the years, a fact that has surprised Anno, who says Asuka is his favorite character. He attributes this mainly to the fact that Rei had simply lost her mystery, as her character was endlessly copied in a multitude of anime. Rei is, in fact, often credited with being a huge influence in creating the kuudere archetype and moe aesthetics, much like Asuka was very influential in developing the tsundere archetype. Evangelion, and pretty much all of its elements, has been a steady influence and heavily referenced in hundreds, if not thousands of subsequent anime.
The Rebuild movies, first released in 2007, marked a slight shift back to Rei, particularly with Evangelion 2.0 from 2009, which featured her heavily. However, Evangelion 3.0, released in 2012, was extremely heavily marketed, and very commercially successful. Much like 2.0 featured Reishin heavily, 3.0 features Kawoshin heavily, and it and Kaworu exploded in popularity. This means that Kawoshin received a disproportional amount of official and fan-made material, including from artists whose first and only Evangelion work was Kawoshin related. Likewise, fan production in Japanese sites like pixiv now reflect a disproportional advantage for Kawoshin over other ships, which was not the case prior to 2012, though this is not necessarily reflected nowadays in how much new material gets released on pixiv, or how much attention it gathers. Because 3.0 was the last Eva movie and was so commercially successful, this means that trends have not really moved much away from Kawoshin, however, as mentioned before, this is not reflected in other facets of the fandom, and over the years ships such as Asushin and Reishin have received as much if not more official and fan material as Kawoshin when it comes to doujinshi (including non-H with long series such as RE-TAKE and Epilogue of Evangelion), videogames, spin-offs, figures, official art, et al, most of which were also released before 2012.
Generally speaking, Eva merch is mind-boggling numerous and completely shameless. Despite what a Westerner might think, featuring same-sex couples isn't really a taboo in Japan, and Eva was not doing anything new even in 1996 as there was a number of what might very well be considered LGBT manga and anime in Japan for decades, and a good number of Kawoshin official material was released at the time. However, that material also existed alongside even more numerous Reishin and Asushin official material, and by the early 00s Kawoshin had mostly eroded in popularity. Angelic Days, for instance, was published in 2003-2005. It is a shoujo romantic comedy/drama story, centering around Asuka and Rei fighting over Shinji, with a little bit of Kaworu thrown in. However, it features an Asushin ending, the only spin-off in which Shinji actually ends up with someone. Kaworu actually cheers Shinji on and refers to Asuka as "your girlfriend". Shinji Ikari Raising Project, somewhat similar to AD but also being more of an ecchi comedy, featured Kaworu in a very flirtatious and comedic manner for a few early chapters, but then he was completely absent for the entire remainder of story, which ran from 2005 to 2016, eleven years, and returned to Rei and Asuka fighting over Shinji. These are largely made based on what is more popular at the time of release and Gainax/Khara profiting off such attention, a industry-standard practice that extends to virtually all anime and in Eva extends to virtually all ships, which is why Kawoshin dominated the post-3.0 period, but was more of a niche compared to other ships within the fandom throughout the years (though hardly small in size, since pretty much everything Eva-related has a sizable following by itself in Japan), even though the lack of a new movie means other ships have not gained much more momentum again. It is also what happened with Reishin for a while after Evangelion 2.0, however 3.0 greatly reduced the popularity of that ship. Similarly, Mariasu was also very popular after Eva 3.0 but greatly fell in popularity after a few years.
Anno is known for teasing his audience and later subverting or even crushing their expectations. Many Reishin fans felt 2.0 made Reishin canon or strongly hinted at it but had those expectations shut down with 3.0 replacing Rei with another character. Many Reishin fans feel betrayed by Anno because of this, as if 2.0 was nothing but a bait and switch. Similarly, many Kawoshin fans feel 3.0 strongly hints or confirms their own pairing as canon. The next movie, Evangelion 3.0+1.0, is due to release in 2020 and will probably shift trends again.
Because of the generally ambiguous nature of the source material, as well as the large number of available side-stories, debates about whether various ships are canon has featured prominently in the discussion of shipping in this fandom. Examples can be found at these links:
- A forum discussion of Shinji and Asuka's relationship during canon
- An article from the Evageeks wiki, a major Evangelion fandom center.
- A Kawoshin ship manifesto
- Very well known old ANN article about the series, deals with the relationships as well
- Karl: A name used by the fandom to refer to the manga version of Kaworu 
- Rei I, Rei II, and Rei III: Names used to differentiate the Rei we spend most of the series with (Rei II) and the two other Rei clones who appear in the original TV series. These names were used in the script, but are never used in the show itself. 
- Qworu: Name used by the fandom to refer to the version of Kaworu who appears in the Rebuild of Evangelion movies (Referencing the Japanese title of the movie in which he first appeared, Evangelion Shin Gekijouban: Q or Evangelion The New Movie: Q) 
- Rei Q: Name used by the fandom to refer to the Rei clone who appears in the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, again referencing the Japanese title of Evangelion 3.0: You Can(not) Advance
- Tang: A joking way of referring to LCL, an in-universe material with an appearance and apparent consistency similar to Tang, that got extremely popular 
- NGE: Nobody Dies by Gregg Landsman
- Once More With Feeling by Crazy-88
- Advice and Trust by Panther2G
- Scar Tissue by deathbringer374
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide by Rommel
- Book of Revels by Laryna6
- Free Will by TGP
- Welter by Budinca
- Child of Love by Axel Terizaki
- The 2nd Try by JimmyWolk
Webcomics and doujinshi
Evangelion has several long and well known fan-made doujins, naturally they often include porn but many are also non-pornographic in nature or at least only have sporadic sex scenes and focus on the story, such as:
Communities and Archives
- Neon Genesis Evangelion stories on Fanfiction.net
- Neon Genesis Evangelion fanworks on AO3
- EvaGeeks Forum
- /r/evangelion on Reddit
- NGE Threads on SpaceBattles.com
- Misato's Fan Art Emporium
- Asuka's Notebook
- Jimmy's Desktop
- EvaWiki: Continuities
- Wikipedia: Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Kotaku: "Anime Fans These Days Are Too Damn Spoiled"
- My Puny Fansub Collection
- Ars Technica: "Why anime fans pirate the shows they love"
- reddit: How much does the interpretation of Evangelion vary between different fansites? released in 2011.
- Fanfiction.net: Evangelion
- AO3: Ikari Shinji/Nagisa Kaworu
- AO3: Neon Genesis Evangelion Femslash
- https://wiki.evageeks.org/Statements_by_Evangelion_Staff#Hideaki_Anno.27s_Roundtable_Discussion "On his favorite Evangelion character... ANNO: Asuka , because she's cute.
When told that the American audience favors Misato ... ANNO: I'm surprised. In Japan, the overwhelming favorite is Rei . They can't handle strong women such as Misato and Asuka ."
- This marketing was also very appealing to Kawoshin and yaoi fans in general, in fact, the movie poster itself has just Shinji and Kaworu
- "ANNO: As for all the merchandising, it's just a matter of economics. It's strange that Evangelion has been a hit. Everyone in it is sick!" - Hideaki Anno's Roundtable Discussion
- Which is also a matter of strong discussion, as several inconsistencies in the movie compared to Kawoshin fans' general perception of Kaworu might point out at Anno planning to do something similar to Kawoshin as he did with Reishin.
- reddit post by shinto29: "To differentiate from..."
- EvaWiki: Rei I
- Wikipedia: Evangelion 3.0
- EvaWiki: Ayanami Rei(tentative name)
- EvaWiki: LCL