1.13e “Why All the Death Threats?” Neon Genesis Evangelion, Part 4

Part 4 concludes the Nostalgia Hangover Season Finale with a long discussion about the two endings of Neon Genesis Evangelion: first, the final two episodes of the television show which provoked a major fan backlash (that included death threats sent to the creator of the series), and second, the movie that was made to ‘fix’ those problematic episodes.

This all happened in the mid-1990’s and in many ways anticipated the relationship between contemporary creators and modern fandom. We discuss the episodes themselves, the ferocity of the fan backlash, how to respond to art that disappoints, and whether or not the movie was worth it.

Content warning: depression, PTSD, suicide

Outro: Cruel Angel’s Thesis (AmaLee)

1.13d “Is Kaworu a Psychopath?” – Neon Genesis Evangelion Season Finale, Bonus

This didn’t quite fit into any of the other episodes so it got spun off as a bonus.

In this episode. We discuss the character of Kaworu, who appears in only a single episode yet has a phenomenal fan following and popularity (the “Boba Fett” of Evangelion). He is an enigmatic love interest for Shinji, though you could also view him as a psychopath grooming a victim.

1.13c “A Perfect Microcosm of the Series” – Neon Genesis Evangelion Season Finale, Part 3

Part 3 is a deep dive discussion on the character of Asuka, who stands in perfectly as a microcosm of the series as a whole. Asuka originally appears in episode 8 and is introduced as a shrewish cliché with a lot of problematic elements. But by the end of the series, she is one of the show’s most compelling characters: an arrogant, unlikable, unstable adolescent girl full of self-loathing acting out on severe unresolved childhood trauma.

We hit upon the fact that how close you are to the age of the adolescent main characters of the series definitely shapes your perception of the series. In particular, the protagonist Shinji Ikari, who is about as far from your standard action/adventure hero as one can get. Shinji is wishy-washy, uncertain, depressive, confused, and generally passive, i.e. a very realistic portrayal of a traumatized adolescent in an extreme situation. But a realistic portrayal of adolescence at its worst is not necessarily what you want to see when you’re in the middle of it.

Content warning: depression, PTSD, suicide

Outro: Fly Me to the Moon/Lucky in Love (Rick Hale and Breea Guttery)

1.13b “Put It in My Veins” – Neon Genesis Evangelion Season Finale, Part 2

In part 2, Usman and Noah cover episodes 8-24, the bulk of the series, and go into more depth about how the tone and content of the show fluctuates over the course of its run. Starting with episode 8 Evangelion veers away from its more serious elements involving war/trauma/depression into a sillier and more cliché teenagers & fighting robots show. It snaps back around episode 14 before ultimately culminating in the psychological destruction of every character. Fun stuff!

Content warning: depression, PTSD, suicide

Outro: Fly Me to the Moon (The Macarons Project)

1.13a “Life During Wartime” – Neon Genesis Evangelion Season Finale, Part 1

Nostalgia Hangover Season Finale: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Part 1: Life During Wartime

Neon Genesis Evangelion is an iconic Japanese animated series (now on Netflix!) that uses a common anime premise (teenagers piloting giant robots that fight monsters) to tell a story about depression, loneliness, PTSD, parental estrangement, teenaged angst, and life during wartime (content warning for all of those things, btw).

The series is difficult to summarize in large part because it veers so wildly in tone and content from episode to episode. What begins as a promising take on a cliche premise veers into hack territory around episode 8 before going hard on psychological rumination and brutality around episode 14. It also veers from fantastic highs (its handling of the lived experience of mental illness and existential despair) to unpalatable lows (sexualizing its adolescent characters).

There’s a lot to unpack here, so the discussion has been divided into 4 parts. In part 1, Noah and Usman begin the discussion with a focus on the premise and theme of the series as well as the first seven episodes.

Outro Music: Fly Me to the Moon (Sungha Jung)