Neon Genesis Evangelion Comic Tribute (2013)
Published by Dark Horse
For many people, the iconic Neon Genesis Evangelion is sort of the holy grail of anime, the series that challenged the medium like no others have, before it or after, which routinely shocked and confused and engrossed fans across its 26 episodes and film tie-ins. In one light, it is a deconstruction of the mecha genre of anime and manga, full of moral and philosophical complexities and religious allegories and imagery. In another light, it is a painful and all-too-real drama depicting the daily horribleness and awkwardness of adolescence (and as if suffering adolescence wasn’t bad enough, these kids have to do while juggling lives as pilots of extremely dangerous weapons in an attempt to save the world). While occasionally comical and having fun with fanservice, Neon Genesis Evangelion is famous for being largely depressing and psychologically terrifying (see: End of Evangelion). Comics have been released after the anime’s run that turn the series on its end, poking fun at every possible component of the franchise, and fans have a good enough sense of humour to appreciate them. “Neon Genesis Evangelion Comic Tribute” is one of these comics, and it lampoons as much of the series as possible in under 200 pages, and with mostly strong and giggle-inducing results.
“Neon Genesis Evangelion Comic Tribute” is an anthology of one-shot comics from many big name writers and artists working in manga. This comic is a manga itself, first published in Japan in 2010. Comprised of close to 20 stories in roughly 160 pages, the comics are very brief; usually running between four and eight pages each. The volume is brisk and light, and can be read in random order simply by opening up to any page and reveling in the hijinks for short durations, or can be read fairly quickly from cover to cover. Naturally, the book is intended for people familiar with Evangelion, and those without existing knowledge of the series will be mostly lost – unless they simply picked up the book because they heard it has a lot of gratuitous over-sexed poses and situations featuring the female characters. Well, those people would have heard correctly. There is a lot of low brow sexual comedy in the volume, but some one-shots at least do so in a deconstructing manner, pointing out the obvious fanservice-y moments from the television series, and pushing them further.
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With as much talent involved as there is, there is so no way that every comic in “Neon Genesis Evangelion Comic Tribute” would be a success, and while not all of them are, this volume never bores. The predictable joke strips or half baked concepts are executed amusingly, and fortunately, there are not even many moments that achieve that level of meager amusement. There are plenty of inspired Evangelion parodies, including the EVA pilots having to walk around everywhere in space suits permanently engulfing L.C.L. Liquid, or another that replaces its human cast with dog counterparts (and dog EVAs) with characters acknowledging and reinforcing cute actions being done by other characters, and there is even a comic that parodies a parody, making fun of the ridiculous plot set-ups in the long-running alternate universe Evangelion manga “The Shinji Ikari Raising Project”. A brief highlight, “A Man’s Tassel” is a four page one-shot that recreates and critiques a recurring gag in the series of a nude Shinji’s genitals being barely covered on-screen by the tiniest of objects. Being an Evangelion fan is key to appreciating (and understanding) many of these jokes, which are some of the comic’s most clever and funny.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is as devastating as it is brilliant, and sometimes being incredibly serious is an invitation for ridicule. “Neon Genesis Evangelion Comic Tribute” makes fun of everything Evangelion-related, but it is clear in every page that this is a comic created out of love and respect; through comedy, these writers and artists have banded together to pay tribute to this beloved series the best way they know how. A tribute should make us feel good about what we love, and what better way to make us feel good than through laughter?
“Neon Genesis Evangelion Comic Tribute” will be released in trade paperback on February 20, 2013.