[evangelion games]Anime and Games That Wouldn’t Exist Without Neon Genesis Evangelion

  Neon Genesis Evangelion provided a major deconstruction of the themes and conventions that many have come to accept from giant robot anime that was popularised by Mobile Suit Gundam and Mazinger Z.

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  Instead of a light story of a boy who controls a giant robot, Neon Genesis Evangelion went heavy on the psychological themes and the toll it takes on its three young protagonists, examining the meaning of life and man’s purpose in the world.

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  The series’ name even references Biblical text, and many more can be found throughout the show – the very beings who pose an existential threat to the world are literally called Angels. While it may be hard to fully encapsulate and document the impact of Neon Genesis Evangelion in the media as a whole, here are a few standout examples of its influence on various anime and video games.

  Xenogears

  <img alt="Xenogears, Square/Squaresoft, 1998: This game made me realise anew the importance of story and world in a game. There was an unparalleled sense of catharsis for me in the way the complicated story and setting start to unveil themselves as you play. If you can get into it, even just reading about the deeply thought-out setting is interesting.” class=”image shot” data-src=”https://assets1.ignimgs.com/2018/01/25/xenogears-1516859489850.jpg” src=”https://assets1.ignimgs.com/2018/01/25/xenogears-1516859489850.jpg”/>

  With its similar focus on a war being fought by young people with giant mechs, Xenogears was also not shy with its themes on Jungian and Freudian schools of thought. The game was initially conceived as being the seventh entry of the Final Fantasy series, or even as a sequel to Chrono Trigger. Instead, it became the first installment of the Xeno meta-series, which includes Xenoblade 1 and 2.

  Gurren Lagann

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  The animation studio behind Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gainax, had a second major giant mecha anime series with Gurren Lagann. The story focused on the rise of a group of people who have been forced to live underground, with the story quickly elevating to the depths of space and beyond. It may not be as deep as Evagelion, but it is somewhat a spiritual successor.

  Final Fantasy VII

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2. Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII is (almost) solely responsible for putting JRPGs on the map. No one had ever seen anything quite like it when it launched on the original PlayStation in 1997. It’s the second only to Gran Turismo in units sold, and for good reason. The dark, sci-fi storyline and incredibly of-the-times character design took a whimsical fantasy franchise, and brought it to an international audience in a way that neither Sony or Square could have possibly predicted. It’s a timeless classic that spawned an entire universe of spin-offs (and one stellar remake) that absolutely deserves all of its praise, despite some of its more glaring shortcomings.” class=”image screenshot” itemprop=”contentUrl” src=”https://sm.ign.com/ign_ap/screenshot/h/h32-final-/h32-final-fantasy-viih3final-fantasy-vii-is-almost-solely-re_gnq2.jpg”/>

  While it may not have a ton of giant robots in it, Final Fantasy VII’s examination of its main protagonist, Cloud Strife, is sprinkled throughout the game and definitely takes a page from Neon Genesis Evangelion’s main character, Shinji Ikari. Just like how Evagelion was a deconstruction of the giant mech genre in anime, Final Fantasy VII provided the same zeitgeist within the JRPG genre of video games.

  SSSS. Gridman

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  This fairly recent anime series was created by Studio Trigger, an animation company created by ex-staff members of Gainax. Throughout SSSS Gridman, viewers will see a handful of references to Evangelion in its themes and the poses the mechs make. SSSS Gridman may at first seem like just a simple Ultraman spin-off, but things get way heavier as the series goes on.

  Zone of the Enders

  Hideo Kojima is a huge fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion and paid homage to the mecha aspect of the series with his own mecha game, Zone of the Enders. The game was also created as a departure from the giant robot genre, which primarily focused on giving players a more nuanced and mature story about the horrors of war and the soldiers who are caught up in it. The Zone of the Enders series ended as a trilogy, with no word of a continuation just yet.

  Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

  

  If you like giant robots and kingdoms battling against one another, then look no further than Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. It definitely leans more towards class struggles and political intrigue between factions spliced between mecha battles, which is different from Evangelion’s more introspective approach. But it definitely hits the same notes throughout its run.

  Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

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6. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

One of the most divisive and brilliant games of all time, Metal Gear Solid 2 is constantly shifting what the player thinks they know and understand about the game into something completely different. A game about the spread of misinformation that actively used misinformation in so much of its marketing, MGS2 was thematically and mechanically ahead of its time, even though it initially turned off fans and critics by replacing series hero Solid Snake with the younger, more… outspoken Raiden. It has, however, aged like a fine wine, and is still widely regarded as one of the best stealth games – both with and without vampires – ever created.” class=”image screenshot” itemprop=”contentUrl” src=”https://sm.ign.com/ign_ap/screenshot/h/h36-metal-/h36-metal-gear-solid-2-sons-of-libertyh3one-of-the-most-divi_87pq.jpg”/>

  Another Hideo Kojima entry, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty definitely pays homage to the legacy of Evangelion in a couple of ways. The first is with the titular Sons of Liberty themselves, acting as a form of shadow government, which is something like Evangelion’s SEELE. Character revelations throughout the Metal Gear franchise that involve sci-fi tropes like cloning and amnesia is also right up Evangelion’s alleyway.

  Revolutionary Girl Utena

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  Revolutionary Girl Utena did what Neon Genesis Evangelion did to the mecha genre – by deconstructing and playing with what people have come to expect from the magical girl genre. Think of it as Sailor Moon turned upside down. Instead of high school girls transforming into superheroes, Revolutionary Girl Utena is more surreal and tackles way more psychological themes. It may not be in the same genre as Evangelion but it is definitely along the same vein.

  Nier: Automata

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  Quite possibly the closest thing we can get to a complete Neon Genesis Evangelion video game, Nier: Automata tackles hard-hitting themes, like the meaning of life and one’s purpose in the world, through its narrative and gameplay. Things can get really cerebral in Nier Automata, especially through the lens of its three protagonists, who are just like the main characters of Evangelion, consisting of two females and one male character. You definitely have to play it to believe it, just like how one has to watch Evangelion to truly “get it”.

  Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion

  The most oddball entry but one that needs to be addressed, Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion is a silly story of pre-teen kids duking it out with toy trains that can turn into robots. Nothing cerebral, nothing Jungian, and yet, the main mecha of Neon Genesis Evangelion, EVA-01 and its pilot Shinji Ikari makes a bizarre cameo in one episode. It’s weird and definitely off-brand, but one that fans have come to enjoy.

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