How to watch ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ in order

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Neon Genesis Evangelion, the legendary anime by Hideaki Anno, is a groundbreaking series that has left an indelible mark on both the anime genre and its community. Renowned for its surreal, philosophical imagery, remarkable mecha designs, iconic characters, and a mind-boggling apocalyptic narrative, it’s often hailed by anime enthusiasts as one of the finest sci-fi series ever conceived.

Delving into the entirety of Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t a straightforward task due to its multiple spin-offs, movies that either reboot, expand, or retell the original story. For those eager to embark on their first encounter with Neon Genesis Evangelion or seeking a comprehensive viewing experience, here’s an in-depth guide to the show and the optimal way to watch it.

What’s Neon Genesis Evangelion about?

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Set in 2015, fifteen years after the cataclysmic Second Impact, the series unveils a world transformed by this event. The aftermath includes the melting of the Antarctic, disrupting Earth’s axis, erasing traditional seasons, igniting a nuclear conflict, and ultimately claiming the lives of half the global population.

Amid humanity’s efforts to rebuild, mysterious entities known as Angels assault what remains of Japan’s cities, posing a constant threat. The protagonist, 14-year-old Shinji Ikari, is summoned to Tokyo-3 by his estranged father, Gendo Ikari, who leads NERV, a military force combating the Angels using giant biomechanical weapons called Evangelions, piloted by adolescents for undisclosed reasons.

As the series commences, Gendo aims to recruit Shinji as a pilot for the new Eva Unit-01. However, Shinji hesitates to risk his life by operating this enigmatic machine.

 

How to watch Neon Genesis Evangelion:

The primary way to commence your journey into Evangelion is through the original anime series, titled Neon Genesis Evangelion, which aired from Oct. 4, 1995, to Mar. 27, 1996.

This series is available on Netflix, albeit with the classic song “Fly Me to the Moon” edited out due to licensing issues. While some prefer the show with this song, its absence is not a significant deterrent.

For newcomers, the suggested approach is to watch the first 20 episodes of the 26-episode series in chronological order. Each episode runs approximately 22-25 minutes. Below is a recommended episode list based on Netflix titles:

[Episodes 1-20]
(“Angel Attack” through “Of the Shape of Hearts and Humans”)

After episode 20, viewers face a choice regarding episodes 21 to 24, which have both regular and Director’s Cut versions. Most fans favor the Director’s Cut versions due to additional content and a more comprehensive story. Fortunately, the new Netflix dub exclusively includes these Director’s Cut episodes. Continue with:

[Episodes 21-24]
(“The Birth of NERV,” “Staying Human,” “Tears,” “The Last Cometh”)

The series then returns to its original form for the final episodes:

[Episodes 25-26]
(“The Ending World,” “The Beast that Shouted ‘I’ at the Heart of the World”)

Next, the series’ cinematic releases unfold. “Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth,” while a recap, contains some exclusive footage and additional insights from the series. It’s available on Netflix but considered optional due to its nature.

Following this, “The End of Evangelion” provides an alternative conclusion to the series, addressing fan dissatisfaction with the original’s abstract ending. It’s a must-watch and, like the series and “Death & Rebirth,” is also available on Netflix.

Moving beyond the series and its alternative conclusion, viewers can explore the Rebuild films: “Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone,” “Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance,” “Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo,” and “Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time,” available on Amazon Prime Video. These films offer a reinterpretation of the original storyline, introducing new characters, plots, and an alternate conclusion.

For a chronological watch order encompassing both the main series and Rebuild films, options exist for enthusiasts who believe the Rebuilds coexist within the original series’ timeline. This approach involves alternating between episodes and Rebuild movies, providing deeper context and lore.

Ultimately, while watching Neon Genesis Evangelion in chronological order can offer an intriguing experience, it’s not necessarily the most optimal method for first-time viewers. The recommended approach remains sticking to the release order to savor the series as it was initially experienced by fans during its original run.