Neon Genesis Evangelion
|Name:||Neon Genesis Evangelion ((新世紀エヴァンゲリオン Shin Seiki Evangerion)|
|Abbreviation(s):||Evangelion, Eva, NGE|
|Creator:||Gainax (directed/written by Hideaki Anno)|
|Date(s):||October 1995 - March 1996|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|External Links:||https://wiki.evageeks.org/Main_Page |
|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 most 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 adaptation
- The Rebuild of Evangelion movie series
All of these versions of the Neon Genesis Evangelion story follow the same basic storyline, focusing on teenagers Shinji Ikari, Asuka Langley Sohryu and Rei Ayanami, who pilot monstrous robots called Evangelions in order to defend the city of Tokyo-3 from monsters known as Angels. The show is particularly noted both for its intensely psychological and philosophical 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 by multiple fansubbing groups.  The anime later became available legally, exposing it to a wider audience. ADV released one VHS and two different DVD collections, each one featuring considerable differences in their subtitles, mastering, packaging and overall quality. Due to ADV's eventual dissolution, Eva was very hard to come by legally in the West for over a decade, limited to used collections sold on sites like eBay. The manga adaptation, by character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, was initially created as a supplement meant to promote the series, which had a delayed first airing, but NGE's popularity lead to the manga continuing. Despite cutting most of the series' storyline, the manga was finished in 2013, thanks to a very inconsistent schedule and multiple years-long hiatuses. Sadamoto, the author of the manga and character designer for the series (no involvement as a writer) has repeatedly stated the manga is his separate project and asks fans not to use it to inform the anime or the Rebuild movies.
The early and middle 00s also featured a heavy influx of licenced spin-off manga and video games, many of the former having been officially translated and published in the West such as Angelic Days, though the games did not receive such treatment and are instead limited to fan translations, as well as scanlations of the numerous doujinshi the franchise has inspired. Apart from the English-speaking fandom, Evangelion also enjoys high popularity particularly in the Spanish and Italian-speaking fandoms, having being aired on television since the 90s. Possibly because of this, Eva became somewhat more mainstream in those countries, and non-English fandoms have also been bestowed with official releases of some supplemental material such as Evangelion Chronicle and Newtype 100% Collection In particular, Evangelion's edited airing in Toonami in 2003 and an uncensored one in Adult Swim in 2005 brought a new wave of English-speaking fans, which would go to form the basis of the subsequent fandom in the mid and late 00s.
The first movie in the Rebuild of Evangelion series, produced under Hideaki Anno's new Studio Khara, 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. Evangelion 1.0 was released in 2007, Evangelion 2.0 in 2009 and Evangelion 3.0 in 2012. 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. They mostly featured a new dub cast in English, but retained the ADV voice actors for Asuka, Shinji, Gendo and Misato. Particularly, the poorly-received dub in the Evangelion 3.0 theatrical release in the West was completely remade under tight Khara supervision, with a DVD/Bluray release only happening in 2016. As previously mentioned, the manga was in fact finished after the last Evangelion movie, in 2013, but it is not very popular among the fandom and is not generally held in high esteem. In fact, it is probably not much more popular or well-known than some spin-offs or even fan-made works. The series also got a Bluray remastered collection in 2015, which did not reach the West. There are very few fans who are limited to only watching either the series or the Rebuilds, let alone the manga, and most discussion and fan material still centers around the older anime series. The reception to the Rebuild movies is usually positive but they have a considerable amount of detractors, with Evangelion 3.0 being by far the most polarizing movie, though both that movie and the Rebuilds in general have gotten better reception over the years, while initial reception was somewhat more negative.
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. Due to the overall size of the fandom, it is even possible to find some isolated circles that seem fairly big on their own, even if proportionally they make up tiny sections of the fandom (something common in many large fandoms). Some fans are most interested in creating theories or analysing the show, though others engage in more transformative activities such as fanart, cosplay and fanfiction. The Evangelion subreddit is also quite large for a single anime community, at over 110 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. It also mantains the EvaWiki. EvaMonkey is also a big fan-site that is still active. Some older fan-sites also still exist though they have been mostly inactive since the early 00s. 
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. This was particularly the case after Funimation's mishandling of the 3.0 localization, as well as the many creative liberties and innacuracies present in the old localizations of the series. With the exception of EoE, the actual ADV subtitles of Eva were so hard to find that a big chunk of fans who watched the show through extra-legal means before Netflix, such as Kissanime, did so with (often poor) fansubs and did not even realize it.  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. Toji/Hikari also almost get together before a plot event interferes. Canon, particularly the original anime, does not have much in the way of romance, but this has been greatly expanded in licenced material, which features many different pairings in different, usually much more light-hearted settings.
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
OT3s are rare, with the most common option by far being Asuka/Rei/Shinji, or sometimes Asuka/Kaworu/Shinji or Asuka/Misato/Shinji.
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, 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), or more than all Eva fics ever posted in AO3, excluding crossovers (which are shown separately on FFN), despite the burst of activity around in the years around and after Evangelion 3.0's release. Reishin fics on FFN are less popular than they used to be, but still enjoy decent popularity, also enjoying higher numbers and popularity than K/S fics on both sites.  For this reason, authors writing almost anything that is not Kawoshin-related tend to avoid or disconsider AO3. 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, having never attained much popularity on larger communities such as Reddit or EvaGeeks in the first place. and largely restricted, in the West, to English-speaking fandom)  Asushin is still popular overall and, although Reishin might still not be more popular than Kawoshin again, it has greatly regained popularity, and is certainly more popular than it was immediately after 3.0. Other ships, like Marishin, Misashin, Hikashin, Asurei, Kaworei, Mariasu, Asukawo, also have their own smaller followings, the latter two of which were also suddenly popular after 3.0 but quickly relegated to a much smaller following. This can be reflected on the distribution and popularity of both officially licenced and fan-made material over the years.
As previously mentioned, 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. Some material also features more unconventional relationships involving Shinji with Misato or Hikari. Videogames have even created no less than five original characters as possible romantic interests for Shinji. Though it is not very heated nowadays, the Eva fandom has also experienced one of the most famous "waifu wars", between Rei and Asuka.
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, with perennial releases of supplemental material, spin-offs, video games, figures, merchandise, official art and crossovers and tie-ins with several brands and other media allow Evangelion to always stay relevant and popular, 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 proportionally less popular, as well as ships involving them. Rei's merchandise sales were so strong at the time she was called the "Premium Girl" inside the industry. However, 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.. Asuka in the 90s was always just as or slightly more popular than Rei in the West but would gradually become just as popular and eventually surpass Rei's popularity even in Japan along the 00s.
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. It also greatly widened the gap between Rei/Reishin and Asuka/Asushin in both Japan and the West, as Kaworu received a lot of the popularity Rei used to have. 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. Curiously enough, because the other "main" ships use Roman letters (LAS, LRS, LRK, LMS et al), works featuring them tend to not get tagged more often than not. Because 3.0 was the last Eva movie and was so commercially successful, this means that some 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, many 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, as well as with the sex appeal of Asurei, 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. Mana Kirishima, an original character from one game, also appeared in that manga in a similar fashion. 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 immediate 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) and would eventually recede again, 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. The nature of Eva merch has also changed with the times, with things like cassete tapes and "regular" video games being complemented or supplanted by designer clothing, accessories and pachinko. This should hardly come as a surprise, as the bulk of profits for anime in Japan actually comes from merch and other licenced material, not DVD/Bluray sales or streaming.
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, to the point where it became consensus among them and more casual fans sometimes had that impression as well, but those expectations were 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:
- The RE-TAKE series is so popular it's probably more well known and well liked than the official spin-offs.
- EVA-303 by Grunmancant
- Epilogue of Evangelion series
- Aki-chan's Life
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
- A Polygon article dealing with the long and messy history of Evangelion releases in the US
- Neon Genesis Evangelion (manga) on EvaWiki
- The Current Status of GAINAX – Interview: Hiroyuki Yamaga & Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
- Other notable fandoms include the French, Brazilian/Portuguese, Russian and German ones, though the English-speaking one is the most influential in the West nonetheless
- NGE in Toonami Fandom Wiki
- 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.
- EvaGeeks Forum
- There is also an Evangelion FANDOM Wiki, however it is less complete than EvaWiki, even though a vast majority (80%+) of its content is copied straight from EvaWiki, having been created years after the former. It even includes an "EvaWiki" template for the very frequent case of it having to note that "This article contains content from the EvaGeeks.org Wiki article XXX. Please view that page's revision history for the list of authors.".
- The NERV Archives
- This led to part of the controversy, like the "worthy of my grace" line allegedly removing "worthy of love", even though the previous subtitles in fact used "worthy of sympathy" and "worthy of regard".
- Fanfiction.net: Evangelion
- AO3: Ikari Shinji/Nagisa Kaworu
- AO3: Neon Genesis Evangelion Femslash
- Asushin fics on FFN, ordered by reviews. Note that because of FFN's age and poor tagging system, there are even more Asushin fics on the site which aren't tagged, as authors often don't bother or, when they do, they often don't use the "pairing" option. This is particularly the case for older fics, such as The 2nd Try
- Reishin fics on FFN, ordered by reviews. Note that the inconsistent tagging also applies.
- A best ship poll from r/Anime from mid-2019, right after Eva was released on Netflix, features Misato/Shinji in 76th place, Kaworu/Shinji in 70th, and Asuka/Shinji in 13th with more than double overall votes than both ships put together. This is also repeated in previous polls, with Kawoshin even falling far behind Asurei. as well as Reishin on multiple occasions and doesn't even appear in one of them.
- Mayumi for 2nd Impression, Mana for Girlfriend of Steel 1, and Satsuki, Aoi and Kaede for Shinji Ikari Raising Project. Except for Mayumi, all of these are also featured in the manga adaptation of SIRP. The latter three are also adults.
- A 2010 post from one of the most prominent Evageeks translators compiling activity on 2ch, the biggest Japanese chan site. Asushin (LAS) threads are the most popular (not counting the equally big Asuka threads which are bound to include some discussion of that as well) followed by Reishin (LRS), with significant hate threads for both, reflecting the active shipping war, and comparatively very small Kawoshin threads. Another user claims Kaworu/Rei was popular in Japan at the time. This was made before Evangelion 3.0: Japanese Evangelion fan-sites on EvaGeeks
- List of highest-grossing media franchises on Wikipedia
- Popular 'Evangelion' bullet train makes final run
- Kotono Mitsuishi Narrates Evangelion-ish Trailer for Shinkalion Film
- "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 ." - Hideaki Anno's Roundtable Discussion (1996) on EvaWiki
- "Evangelion" Creator Hideaki Anno Discusses Rei Versus Asuka
- Tributes to Neon Genesis Evangelion in other Anime and Manga on EvaWiki
- This marketing was also very appealing to Kawoshin and yaoi fans in general, in fact, the movie poster itself has just Shinji and Kaworu
- Eva Store's Character Popularity Poll Yields Surprising Results
- "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