Critical Miss was a webcomic by Grey Carter about a female game reviewer called Erin. It was through this comic that Neon Genesis Evangelion first appeared on my radar. Grey loved to poke fun at the series and its fans. Fans always insist that the series is “Deep & Meaningful”.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is today heralded as an anime classic. A masterpiece of mecha anime and a brilliant exploration of its deeply-traumatized characters. Legends are told of how its creators wrangled the show’s troubled production to their advantage, resulting in the later episodes being especially artsy and introspective. As I mentioned in my review; there is a lot of discourse about the franchise’s deeper themes to this very day.
Some of it is undeniably pretentious. Even those who have seen Evangelion and liked it are sometimes annoyed with how eager others are to hype it up as an intellectual masterpiece. Whether you enjoy this kind of discourse or not, however, it has very much clouded a different side of the anime entirely. The fact that it’s completely ridiculous.
I somewhat got into this in my review, when I pointed out that beyond all the analysis and theorizing, Neon Genesis Evangelion is also just a very fun action series. It’s a cathartic mecha anime about giant robots stomping monsters. It’s easy to forget about that when most of the talk is about the deeply-rooted psychological trauma behind Shinji’s apprehension to stomp monsters in his giant robot.
Upon rewatching the series, I was even more stunned to rediscover just how goofy it is. All the aggrandizing had made me forget that there’s a two-part arc where Asuka and Shinji need to bond over DDR to defeat an angel with the power of dance. I forgot about the slapstick and lewd comedy, conveniently in ways that legitimize the anime’s prestige.
People argue that Shinji dreaming up a generic highschool romcom scenario is a brilliant mockery of the tropes present in lesser anime. Only to ignore that there’s an earlier episode where tsundere Asuka slaps everyone because the wind exposed her panties.
That’s not criticism of the show itself, mind you. I like this aspect of Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s just remarkable how little these moments are brought up, even as entire videos are made to dissect the emotional value of a prolonged elevator scene.