Neon Genesis Evangelion Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Sunday, April 18, 2004
Release Date: Monday, March 01, 2004
Translated by:Mari Morimoto
What They Say
behold the angels of God descending
Japan's most controversial anime series is over... but not the manga version of Neon Genesis Evangelion! Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's personal interpretation of the Evangelion characters and the story is sure to intrigue new and old fans alike.
In 2015, the "Angels" have returned, and Shinji Ikari, a fourteen-year-old child of the new Earth, is forced by his father Gendo - commander of the secret organization NERV - to pilot the monstrous biomechanical weapon called "Evangelion" to match the Angel's fearsome power...
Viz uses Sadamoto's original art on a matted cover. The background is full of red and blacks making the contrast of Shinji's white plug-suit so much more dramatic.
Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... the logo Viz uses is similar to the one used by ADV on their DVDs. The times roman font is no where near as dramatic as the original logo but it is familiar and looks clean impressive.
Inside Viz passed on the original intro that is after the volume header (which Viz for the back cover art). This two-page spread has an image with Rei, Asuka and Shinji in front of Unit 01 surrounded by some text describing the world these characters are in. A little disappointed that this is not in there since Viz did include the mangaka notes (which were originally on a dust jacket flap) along with interviews with Anno Hideaki (director of the animated series) and Yamashita Ikuto (mechanical designer).
They also passed on the lush color pages that were featured in the Kadokawa Shoten version. But we do get ads for: Gundam: the Origin, Excel Saga, Flame of Recca, Battle Angel Alita: Last Order and Project Arms.
The printing is not too bad. There is a slight contrast between this and the original - Viz's version is a tad dark but still pretty good.
Having created the character designs for the animated version Sadamoto's designs are familiar and perfectly reproduced on paper. His designs may be a little leggy and often have heads that look like turnips but his lines are strong and his expressions are subtle but powerful (which is critical with these personalities).
Presented in its original right to left this new printing is now in a tall B6 (which is Viz's current standard size).
SFX have been translated in a glossary at the back of the book. Viz's glossaries feature the literal kana translation as well as an appropriate translation into English. Nice. Because of the art of this series I really appreciate Viz doing this for this series.
Fred Burke and Carl Gustov Horn do a great job with Mari Morimoto's translation. I will say admit that they seemed to have added text to add a little more detail to the world of Neo-Tokyo, but it never compromises the story in any way. They do not use honorifics which can be disappointing considering how these characters interact with each other. That interaction will be vital to the plot as the inter-personal drama builds in future volumes (I have to admit I felt a little confused when I did not read "Shinji-kun" in Misato and Ritsuko's dialogue bubbles).
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
You can possibly say that Ikari Shinji is not the most peppy of teens. He admittedly has little regard for his own life. He does not have real ties to anyone around him. He has not been an active part of his father's life for a while. The kid has not even really thought about the future since he does not dream or hope for such things.
Today things will change for Shinji very quickly. For some reason or another his father has requested his presence. Most kids might see their parents on a regular basis, but Shinji has been with relatives for a good part of his life. Why the sudden change of heart? And what is going on in Tokyo today? It's almost like a war zone... Heck, it is a war zone! All the trains are down, there is no one above ground and where is the nearest shelter!
Meet Katsuragi Misato. She is a captain for the international organization known simply as NERV. Misato may seem a little ditzy but she is capable leader and her bravery can hardly be matched (hmm... should I call that bravery?). Misato has been sent to collect Shinji. With the situation as volatile as it is she can only hope to collect him alive and hopefully make it back to the main base in one piece.
The situation is pretty serious. Tokyo is currently under attack by beings codenamed "angels." These "beings" have returned after 15 years to continue what they started so long ago. Their size and strength cannot be beaten with conventional war strategy. With the supervision of the UN (and some other groups) NERV has created a weapon to combat these angels and keep the hope for humanity alive. Now with all of the normal resources failing NERV's weapon, the Evangelion, has been launched to save Neo-Tokyo. Unfortunately, there is a problem. NERV's only pilot has been injured and the only other person available to control this weapon is Shinji. It was his father's intention to have his son ride his Eva, and now with the lives of millions on the line he orders Shinji to get in the Eva as soon as the two meet. Truly a touching family reunion.
The results are far from perfect but with Shinji as the Eva's pilot the angel was defeated. What was to cost of this wicked experiment? Obviously large amounts of money, manpower and time went into the Eva but there are also homes, property, lives and memories that cannot be replaced. What Shinji experienced inside that cockpit cannot be replaced either. Whether he would like to forget is unknown. But in the end there is one thing that Shinji got from all of this... a friend in Misato. What will he do with that? Will that relationship be replaced someday as well?
Third time is the charm for Viz (this being the third version of volume one in graphic novel format). What they have here is a good presentation of a wonderful story. But in all honesty the story is what this series is about. The start to the series sets a tempo that will not let up for the rest of this manga. With the confusion of battle in the very first chapter, followed with intense drama between father and child in the second chapter Gainax and Sadamoto quickly set a stage for what to expect as the series progresses. The procedure may leave some readers wishing for more information or just a little more history but, as we can see in this volume, most of that will eventually be answered. It's almost as if they are trying to set a pace for the readers to keep them coming back for more. Add some interesting relationships from a diverse range of personalities and you have something great. Shinji and Gendo, Shinji and Misato, or Misato and Ritsuko these relationships all build unique dynamics that intrigues and leaves me wishing for more.
For those who are sci-fi fans this title will give you a good serving of that and add some drama. There is angst, confusion, abuse and humor here and quite often it is very good (better than the sci-fi, in my opinion). The way these characters interact is how this version of the Eva story is unique to its animated brother. Because of that you might end up liking this version much more.
This title is not the end all for the sci-fi genre. This first volume could just as easily turn readers off as it can attract them. For those who have tired of this story (from the TV series and its movies) you may want to pass. So even though Sadamoto's manga differs from Anno's anime the concept is the same they just have different messengers bringing them to you (whether the message is good or bad, that's up to you).
Before I had even seen an episode the anime Sadamoto had me waiting for his work in the pages of Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Shonen Ace. His art and the pacing for this complex story about life's trails got me to forget the unbelievable science fiction that surrounds it. His characters are so flawed they immediately had me sympathizing with them and with every chapter I would hope for their forgiveness or their salvation only to see them desperate and often willing to do anything to escape their harsh realities. Fiction like that does not come too often and even with my bias against sci-fi I was able to dig past the cheesy surface and find characters and dialogue that challenged me and most importantly entertained me.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left