Friday, April 22, 2011

Neon Genesis Evangelion

So seeing as this is probably going to be my last blog entry, I thought I'd save my favorite animated series for last. This series is one of the reasons I got so into animation in the first place. It's called Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is at first glance, a typical giant robot show. It's premise is that in the year 2000 (the series aired from 1995 to 1996) a meteor struck Antarctica, flooding the Earth, and killing half the human population. Afterwards, these giant monsters referred to as Angels begin attacking humanity. The only thing which can fight the Angels are these giant robots called Evangelions. And the only people who can pilot the Evangelions are three teenagers named Shinji Ikari, Rei Ayanami, and Asuka Soryu.

The first thing that stands out about Neon Genesis Evangelion (commonly referred to as "Eva") is that the designs of the Angels are some of the most creative monster designs I've ever seen. The designs captivate you, and do to the fact that the Angels regularly defy physics, each episode's fight with an Angel is intense and exciting to watch.

Above: An Evangelion fighting an Angel

However, the main appeal about Eva is the characters. Like I said, at first glance, Eva appears to be a pretty typical giant robot show. However, as time goes on, you see that it's really a psychological examination of the characters. Each of the characters has mental and emotional issues, and this eventually becomes the main drama of the series, with the Angels and the whole question of why they exist becoming sort of a subplot.

Basically, the main theme of Eva is an examination of alienation, depression and the distance humans put between each other. The series creator, Hideaki Anno, was depressed at the time he created the series and it shows throughout the series. As the series goes on, it gets more and more disturbing. When it first aired it was originally on primetime. Eventually, it had to be moved to a timeslot after midnight because it would have been too disturbing to air on primetime.

The whole trend of the series becoming more dark also applies to the animation. Eventually, the animation becomes so twisted that it can only be described as postmodern. The animation is also rife with religious symbolism, and many a person has tried to analyze all of the symbolism in Eva. The concluding movie to the series, End of Evangelion, looks like it was made on acid. In fact, here's my approximate reaction when I first started the series and when it ended:

Beginning of the Series: "Huh, this looks like a pretty typical giant robot show. I wonder what's the big deal?"
End of Evangelion: "...WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST WATCH?"

Eva made a huge impression on me when I first watched it, mainly because I could relate in a way to many of the characters, and its whole plot left me speechless. Countless people have felt the same way after viewing it. Neon Genesis Evangelion made a huge impact when it aired, and it continues to influence animation to this day. Everyone should watch it, if only to view one of the most iconic anime series of all time.

On one final note, Hideaki Anno has recently started making a remake of the series, in the form of four movies, called Rebuild of Evangelion. It's undoubtedly influenced by the fact that Hideaki Anno has grown a lot as a person in the fifteen years since Eva first aired, and is now happily married with a daughter. The focus is no longer on psychological drama. Instead, its main appeal is that many of the Angel fights are now redone with amazing animation and CGI, and many characters spend less time contemplating their emotional issues, and more time fighting Angels. In addition, neglected characters from the series seem to be getting more character development so far. Two movies are already out on DVD and Blu-Ray, and two more are planned. However, I wouldn't recommend watching Rebuild of Evangelion before the original Neon Genesis Evangelion series. Rebuild has its own appeal, but its much better to appreciate when you've already seen the series. Finally, I hope you love the series as much as I did.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show

Like many kids of our generation, I would religiously watch Cartoon Network. Those shows defined our childhood and it's shame that so many kids cartoons pale today pale in comparison to past cartoons. And without a doubt, my favorite show on Cartoon Network was Ed, Edd n Eddy. I used to spend countless afternoons watching it. Of course, it's been years since I watched it, but when I heard that Ed Edd n Eddy only recently ended, and that it concluded with a hour and thirty minute long movie called Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show, I had to check it out.

The whole movie's basically about the Eds fleeing town after one of their scams goes awry, and going off to find Eddy's brother. The movie perfectly concludes the series. First off, the movie is worth watching for the first twenty minutes along, in what is probably the most epic car chase ever. I don't want to give too much away but let's just say it has all of the slapstick humor that made me love Ed Edd n Eddy as a kid. As for concluding the series, it does a great job at that since we finally get to see Eddy's frequently-mentioned older brother and an ending where the Eds actually win for once.

 When the movie was over I did feel a bit sad, since one of my favorite shows from childhood was now officially over. Still, as a whole, watching it made me experience an awesome feeling of nostalgia.

So yeah, if you want a huge hit of nostalgia, go watch Ed Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show. Amazingly, the whole movie is available on Youtube. So I'm guessing that with all their new, crappy shows, Cartoon Network doesn't really care if someone violates their copyright on Ed, Edd n Eddy.

Friday, April 1, 2011


A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, is this young man's birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name!

What will the name of this young man be?

Okay, so today I'm not going to blog about an animated series, but a webcomic called Homestuck. A few of my friends from high school read it and had been bugging me for a long time to read it, but I was put off by its length. About two months ago, I finally set down to read it, and I was not dissapointed.

Homestuck is described by its creator, Andrew Hussie, as "A tale about a boy and his friends and a game they play together". It's basic premise is that four kids receive a game called SBURB, which allows them to manipulate their environment in a way similar to The Sims. It starts off feeling sort of like a deconstruction of The Sims. But then they notice that a certain object from the game starts a countdown when activated. And then meteors start impacting the Earth. Before they know it, the Earth has been destroyed in the Apocalypse and the kids find themselves transported to a new dimension. And as the kids begin to learn the true nature of the game, SBURB, it only gets more and more complicated.

The thing that may put people off about Homestuck is its complexity and length. It's basically the webcomic equivalent of Lost. The thing is though, it gets incrementally better, so I would keep reading more if you're not liking the current pacing. Andrew Hussie writes occasional recaps so readers can grasp everything that's going on but otherwise, it can be hard to follow. As for its length, it updates nearly every day. And it has been updating since April 2009. Since each update is usually multiple pages, its current length is around...5500 PAGES. Yeah, needless to say, it took me weeks to get caught up.

One cool thing about Homestuck is that while the art is pretty simplistic, it uses more media than other webcomics. Andrew Hussie will occasionally create flash animation and even flash games and the result is some of the best flash animation I've seen on the internet. He'll also occasionally release whole soundtracks for the webcomic, made by numerous artists. It ends up drawing you in more than your average webcomic.
For two good examples of the flashes (which don't spoil the plot) watch these:

So, if you have time on you hands, I would definitely recommend reading Homestuck. The first page can be found here:

Oh, and here's an image I found to give you a basic idea of the plot: