Is "Evangelion" truly ground breaking??

For serious and at times in-depth discussions only, covering the original TV series, the movies End of Evangelion and Death & Rebirth.

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Postby Evangelion217 » Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:41 pm

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Hey, mj, you should really edit multiple posts into one; mods don't like double/triple posting around here. ;) What I do is right click -> open anything I want to reply to and copy/past it all into one post.


Thanks for the Advice. I haven't been here in awhile.
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It's stange that "Evangelion" became such a hit. All the characters are so sick!- Hideaki Anno

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Postby kaji kun » Sat Jul 11, 2009 5:37 pm

You know, I have a hard time putting into words how Eva is so groundbreaking, so I'm going to borrow something from Anno...

”Eva" is a story that repeats.
It is a story where the main character witnesses many horrors with his own eyes, but still tries to stand up again.
It is a story of will; a story of moving forward, if only just a little.
It is a story of fear, where someone who must face indefinite solitude fears reaching out to others, but still wants to try.


This is why I think it's so groundbreaking. It completely deconstructed the genre, and although it's a mecha show, at it's core it was a character drama. It was so introspective and had so much to say about the human condition...and because of this, it resonates with people. Maybe that's not necessarily "revolutionary", but, I think the techniques in which it told the story were..if that makes sense.

I also think the characterization of the characters was groundbreaking, and still is. Shinji gets a lot of crap as a character because people think that he doesn't "grow" throughout the series. Shinji is constantly taking steps forward and taking steps backward. It may seem like no growth is taking place, but really that's bullshit. Life is a constant between going backward and forward and gaining insight and understanding from your experiences, and I think Shinji's character arc epitomizes this. This is why I love Shinji's character and his character arc, as frustrating as he is. Because people ARE frustrating, and SHIT happens. Growth isn't just a linear progression, it's a vicious cycle of moving forward and taking backsteps. That's life.

Eva is still ahead of it's time IMO in characterization. All of the characters are so well done, and it has so much to say...about life...about people. It doesn't try and justify the actions of people, it merely shows how people go through their experiences and how they cope with hardship. And I find that to be so incredibly powerful...

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Postby Evangelion217 » Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:46 pm

Eva is still ahead of it's time IMO in characterization.


How it explores the characters minds was definitely ground breaking. And as of right now, nobody has given me names of other animes that did was "Evangelion" had done during the mid 90's.
The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.

"Komm Susser Todd" is the most up-lifting song about depression"- Evangelion217

It's stange that "Evangelion" became such a hit. All the characters are so sick!- Hideaki Anno

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Postby Orphan Of Darkness » Sun Jul 26, 2009 7:15 pm

Kaji kun wrote:Epic post of truth.


I agree 100%. Evangelion is groundbreaking at an undeniable level for me because of its characterization. When you can take an introspective story aspect and present it in a powerful way; not only are you establishing a character but an amazing story as well. Evangelion does this in ways that speak to me universally as a person and that is what sets it apart and makes it 'groundbreaking'.
I also think it's brilliant in its simplicity and execution on how they took stereotypes and a very old anime formula and gave it a sex-change (no Shinji jokes intended :p) into totally bad ass story of the human condition.
Evangelion took your run of the mill mecha/anime and did something no one else ever did with it.

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Postby chee » Sun Jul 26, 2009 7:47 pm

Jean-Luc Godard + Stanley Kubrick + Yoshiyuki Tomino + Stan Brakhage = Evangelion.

It's not so much the individual elements that are original, rather, it's what elements are combined and how.

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Postby Xard » Sun Jul 26, 2009 8:20 pm

chee wrote:Jean-Luc Godard + Stanley Kubrick + Yoshiyuki Tomino + Stan Brakhage = Evangelion.

It's not so much the individual elements that are original, rather, it's what elements are combined and how.


There's a lot of actually original stuff in Evangelion's form: stuff I talked about with Jimbo extensively in last winter. Before Anno came along with NGE, EoTV and - by extension - Kare Kano there had been virtually no formalistic stuff that didn't have predecessor in cinema for decades. That's quite stunning achievement.

Of course you can derive show's inner mythos etc. to vast spectrum of anime that came before it (especially to Tomino's Ideon), it's themes are ageless and quite eternal and directingwise it has history of cinematic langueage behind it.

IF we concentrate on directing my take would be:

Jean-Luc Godard + Orson Welles + Bergman + Stanley Kubrick + Kihachi Okamoto + Hayao Miyazaki + Noboru Ichiguro + just that unique touch of his own = Anno's directing style

Anno apparently ended up inventing the wheel again couple of times during show's making. Especially in regards of mindrapey quickly flashing images which Godard "invented". Anno without knowing this "invented" very same technique based on some obscure 70s Japanese art movies. They had something similar (inspired by Godard) but in very mild form. Anno just took basis and went far further with the techniques far more sophisticately.

Too bad someone else (Godard) had already done the same thing couple of decades ago. *laugh* Great minds think alike is very true sayin'.

Anno's camerawork and framin' is so peculiar I can only attribute it properly to him. Tons of "alternative angles", odd relationships between objects (think of shot in KK ep 3 where basketball looms enormous in foreground with Yukino being tiny framed figure to left of ball's curve - fantastic shot btw) and flatout WEIRD camerawork and editing - think of his floor cameras, putting them into bushes etc. etc. while doing the - if not impossible at least really frickin' hard thing to do: Compositions are constantly perfect (I'm excluding certain sections of L&P).

Of Welles I'm absolutely sure of and Bergman is educated guess. When Anno doesn't go all weird with angles (and this happens most of time. He knows not to overuse them) he creates great and very classic framing. Think out of Cage Scene in ep 2 and try to tell me it isn't really fucking Wellesian. Bergman - as I said - is more of a guess but Anno quite often heads for rather clea, intentional positioning of characters in frame that quite often has reminded me of Bergman's way to structure shots.

Editingwise Anno is absolutely his own man (no one edits quite similarly) but his biggest influence would be Kihachi Okamoto, rather obscure Japanese director. Anno's peculiar staccatorhymings a la breakfast scene in ep 7 show strong influence from here.

Stanley Kubrick is IMO Anno's strongest influence after Miyazaki. Anno took his beloved red&blue color schemas (2001, Clockwork) and liking for original camera angles (think Clockwork) from him. I also suspect his heavy use of fisheye lens might come from him but that's not sure at all.

Anno himself has said that he pretty much "learned everything from Miyazaki" and as such he is obviously biggest influence on Anno. As for MACROSS director Ichiguro I put him there because Anno - according to his own words - likes to "brag about he is propably only one in the world with combination of Miyazaki & Ichiguro as teachers/mentors". Well, I guess his influence on mecha action in Anno's works can be seen.


As for last part I'm not going there because our pm's became quite ginormous in those conversations.

This was all about Anno's directing mind you and while Anno was in his directorial peak during NGE these influences hold quite equally across his whole career. As for NGE there are many things in which it was genuinely groundbreakin', but its roots in classic anime cannot be overstated as they are strong.

edit: I nearly added Bresson here but I don't think Anno has seen him. It's just that their use of sound, off screen action and whole "OH GOD DON'T SHOOT THEIR FACES SHOOT THEIR HANDS OR WHATEVER" is really bressonian.
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Postby honsou » Sun Jul 26, 2009 8:58 pm

I wouldn't call it groundbreaking exactly, because it took a lot of things from other anime and did some really interesting and new things with those things. What I would call it, is the death blow of Mecha.

The anime started out as stereotypical as possible, monster attacks the city, boy is forced into a giant robot to fight the monster. The first half of eva is pretty straight forward when it comes to the Mecha genre, Shinji becomes more comfortable in his role as pilot, Asuka shows slight signs of softening up, and other things of a similar nature.

Then episode 16 happens and all hell breaks loose. Everything starts falling a part for each character. Shinji starts to spiral into depressing, so does Asuka, Rei becomes even more alien to human emotions then before (except for when she dies and cries). Everyone fails to live up to the expectations of the genre, which led to the famous bad end of EoE (many may argue that its actually a good end at the very end but thats really only if you look at it quite closely).

What it lead to was basically Mecha as we see today, just starting to recover by the aftershocks. After Eva, the only good Mecha was series based on older series (Turn A gundam), and within the last few years some anime purely based on nostalgia (Gurren Lagann). The rest of the Mecha series are either medicore at best or just plain old terrible.

Evangelion was not a deconstruction of the Mecha genre, it was a demolition.

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Postby chee » Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:03 pm

I never said Evangelion wasn't original, I said its originality lies in how it puts together its borrowed elements into something totally new.

Otherwise, good points all around, Xard.

And @ Hons: the mecha genre still needs more demolitions. "Make it new!"

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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:25 pm

honsou wrote:I wouldn't call it groundbreaking exactly
Ha, you said this and then essentially went on to describe why it WAS groundbreaking! :clap:

chee wrote:I never said Evangelion wasn't original, I said its originality lies in how it puts together its borrowed elements into something totally new. Otherwise, good points all around, Xard.
Indeed. Xard and I had an epic discussion about this (and various other NGE things) a while back and I think we've really fed off each other in terms of discovering NGE's/Anno's directorial sources, innovations, and moments of real originality. It's a fascinating topic for film geeks and it's why I wonder that NGE isn't more of a staple in the cinephile community. I once said that Anno has a unique ability to adopt any cinematic device or language he needs for a scene, moment, episode, or even groups of episodes and he has an uncanny instinct for selecting the perfect ones. It makes for interesting discussion because unlike most auteurs Anno is never static or limited into just one or a few formal styles and devices. I guess you'd say he's a "fox" opposed to a hedgehog and yet the consistency and sophistication in which he utilizes these tools is extraordinary and why he definitely is an auteur.

I especially love what I call the "fortissimo to pianissimo match cuts", like in ep. 2 where Shinji wakes up after the Angel battle. The transitional device goes "close up of Misato's face at dramatic critical moment, match cut to close up of Shinji's face, cut back to wide shot of empty hospital room". He essentially carries the drama over in the transition and then immediately dissipates it when he cuts back; this is both a brilliant dramatic and narrative device for its ability to enhance the drama, pull it back, and advance the narrative to the next section. Another thing I find so fascinating about the series is that it literally seems to evolve from a very classically composed style (I might have been the first to note the Wellesian elements in those first several episodes especially) to a much more chaotic, improvisational style in the second half and how even the cinematic language mirrors the breakdown of the characters and narrative. I've never seen any film or series do that, and I don't know if it was conscious on Anno's part or not, but it does have this sense of ordered and careful composition disintegrating to absolute chaos.

Anyway, this is way OT but I think this is probably the most grossly unexplored aspect of the series that really deserves more attention than it gets.
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Postby Allemann » Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:00 am

Eva Yojimbo wrote:I think where Evangelion was groundbreaking was in its incorporating of ideas and influences outside of anime that from then on became permanent fixtures in anime itself. In its cinematic language which moved so effortlessly through styles and theories, in its overall structure and formalism, in its intricately layered allegory, in its use of pervasive symbolism, in its incorporation of classic literary techniques, in its deconstructionism and metafiction, in its heavy philosophy/psychology and social criticism...


You're overstating the artistic merit of Evangelion. I agree that it's a fairly entertaining animation show with, I add, the standard "style over substance" problem, but on the other hand, it's a hodgepodge of discredited ideas like psychoanalysis, ignorant and inept use of Judaistic symbols and religious references (Which I forgive; they said themselves it was only "To look cool."), a quasi-existentialistic theme (Why some fans insist it's existentialistic is something I don't get.), and some other things I can't remember at this moment.

Watch it for entertainment value. If you're expecting to get a life's epiphany by watching a japtoon, you really have to get out of that basement.

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Postby Reichu » Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:07 am

Allemann wrote:If you're expecting to get a life's epiphany by watching a japtoon, you really have to get out of that basement.

I would guess that most of the people who've been affected by NGE didn't see it coming.

If it's just "japtoon entertainment" for you... well, have a blast. Note that you are propagating media stigmas and stereotypes.

NGE has so much in the way of low-budget talking heads sequences (or low-budget "nothing happening at all" sequences) that huge chunks of it fare rather poorly on the basis of "entertainment value".
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Postby FallenTabris » Mon Jul 27, 2009 4:15 am

If you're expecting to get a life's epiphany by watching a japtoon, you really have to get out of that basement.


you've no understanding of what an epiphany or its circumstances are if you think meaning and significance could only possibly be derived from a small set of media, apparently not including anime. Did you ever get an epiphany from a movie? is that any different than getting one from an animation? they're both just channels for communicating ideas. But if you feel that's "below" you, I imagine you're going to be depriving yourself of quite some potential enjoyment in the future, be it music, movies, whatever.

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Postby honsou » Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:34 am

Eva Yojimbo wrote:Ha, you said this and then essentially went on to describe why it WAS groundbreaking! :clap:


I wouldn't call it groundbreaking because it was more of a destroyer. The only way I can really describe it is as if Nirvana was the only grunge band and still had the same effect of destroying Hair Metal. The other big problem in calling it groundbreaking is that it nothing really came after it, even shows that seemed influenced by Eva (Rahxephon) ended up being completely influenced by some other show. There are references in other shows sure, but no one ever tried to adapt the themes for its own. Though I guess on that front time will tell.

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Postby Allemann » Mon Jul 27, 2009 12:31 pm

FallenTabris wrote:
If you're expecting to get a life's epiphany by watching a japtoon, you really have to get out of that basement.


you've no understanding of what an epiphany or its circumstances are if you think meaning and significance could only possibly be derived from a small set of media, apparently not including anime. Did you ever get an epiphany from a movie? is that any different than getting one from an animation? they're both just channels for communicating ideas. But if you feel that's "below" you, I imagine you're going to be depriving yourself of quite some potential enjoyment in the future, be it music, movies, whatever.


I'm not denigrating the media (animation), nor the country of origin (Japan). As a matter of fact, film is my favorite art medium after music. My hobby are cult and obscure movies. You would wonder what kind of things I watch.

This reason I'm like that could be that I'm to old school. To me, the gold era of Japanese animation were the late eighties and early nineties. One of the first Japanese animations that I actually knew were Japanese and that there was something special about them as "cartoons" were Bubblegum Crisis and M.D. Geist, and later on everything from that time period.

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Postby Merridian » Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:25 pm

Allemann wrote: You're overstating the artistic merit of Evangelion.


See thread. Be prepared for long-ass posts, though.

And the fact that multiple audiences can get multiple things out of Evangelion at multiple different point in their lives tells me that its worthy enough of being considered artwork.

Allemann wrote: If you're expecting to get a life's epiphany by watching a japtoon, you really have to get out of that basement.


That all depends on how well the viewer can relate to the themes Evangelion presents, and how well the viewer can apply these themes to his/her life. It also depends on whether the viewer has even been exposed to the kind of themes Evangelion brings up.

honsou wrote: The other big problem in calling it groundbreaking is that it nothing really came after it, even shows that seemed influenced by Eva (Rahxephon) ended up being completely influenced by some other show. There are references in other shows sure, but no one ever tried to adapt the themes for its own.


Perhaps direct analogues of plot details aren’t so popular, but look at the way the typical anime protagonist has been portrayed since Evangelion’s release—and more importantly, the way in which attempts at psychoanalytic deconstruction had pervaded the popular genre since Evangelion made it acceptable to do so. Compare Akira Toriyama’s presentation of character development in Dragonball to the way Naruto’s characters are developed—and Naruto’s creators even admit heavy influence from the former! Even with the influence from Dragonball, though, Naruto still attempts to overanalyze its characters by inviting the viewers into their personal thoughts--it's not as intrinsic or personal as Evangelion presents, nor is it nearly as well done, but it still attempts to give that kind of presentation. Even better, look at series like Elfen Lied—or hell, even Love Hina—and you’ll see pretty blatant parallels of the creators’ attempts at character deconstruction. I’d say that the themes have been adapted too often and (for the most part) too poorly; deconstructionist attempts like this have become a cliché of the medium.

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Postby FallenTabris » Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:43 pm

I'm not denigrating the media


You are certainly denigrating something.

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Postby Allemann » Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:00 pm

And the fact that multiple audiences can get multiple things out of Evangelion at multiple different point in their lives tells me that its worthy enough of being considered artwork.


Or maybe the audience is uneducated and can easily get duped.

Allemann wrote: If you're expecting to get a life's epiphany by watching a japtoon, you really have to get out of that basement.

That all depends on how well the viewer can relate to the themes Evangelion presents, and how well the viewer can apply these themes to his/her life. It also depends on whether the viewer has even been exposed to the kind of themes Evangelion brings up.


My goodness! Is the American educational system so bad and the families so dysfunctional that today's youth is emotionally and socially catatonic to such a degree that it searches life's answers in semi-obscure foreign animation? What happened to the good old libraries where you have access to what the greatest minds have written on varieties of topics, or in extreme cases, the visit to the family shrink?

If somebody's applying themes from a cartoon on his life, he's a loon. Loonier than Anno. :crazytwirl:

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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Jul 27, 2009 4:11 pm

Allemann wrote:You're overstating the artistic merit of Evangelion.
Not in the least. NGE is in the upper pantheon of great art. Coming from someone who's been dissecting its merit these past several years you better believe I'm ready to defend that statement.

Allemann wrote:the standard "style over substance" problem,
Hardly. If anything NGE is a perfect marriage of form and substance. Anno's cinematic language and expressive range is second to none in anime.

Allemann wrote:it's a hodgepodge of discredited ideas like psychoanalysis,
Instead of lumping all of the series' ideas under a label you need to actually provide examples that fall under it and then argue how they're false.

Allemann wrote:ignorant and inept use of Judaistic symbols and religious references
Oops! You stepped in your first pothole and VERY much against the wrong EvaGeek since I've probably done the most digging into this particular area. See HERE and HERE and HERE. Anno's use of Christian symbolism is quite subtle (in meaning), sophisticated, and complex and something so few people, even now, fully understand. They never said it was only "to look cool" (Anno also didn't say that) and they never said it had no other meaning (they said it had no Christian meaning), and one can translate "to look cool" into "adding aesthetic texture", which it certainly does regardless of any meaning.

Allemann wrote: a quasi-existentialistic theme (Why some fans insist it's existentialistic is something I don't get.),
Errr, because most of its core themes have roots in existentialism. There's plenty of threads on this subject for further reading.

Allemann wrote:If you're expecting to get a life's epiphany by watching a japtoon, you really have to get out of that basement.
Like Reichu said, most probably weren't expecting it. In fact, I'd say nobody was, since to expect is to place preconceived restraints on the show. Most that go into it blind and then proceed to relate the characters or themes to their own life are the ones going to get the most out of it, and obviously it's greatly impacted more than a few and that profundity has carried over to sites like this.

Allemann wrote:Or maybe the audience is uneducated and can easily get duped.
Is art only for the educated? Is theirs the only opinion worthwhile? But, more to the point, care to argue this rather ridiculous proposition against any number of EvaGeeks members who clearly ARE educated?

Allemann wrote:Is the American educational system so bad and the families so dysfunctional that today's youth is emotionally and socially catatonic to such a degree that it searches life's answers in semi-obscure foreign animation?
I don't know what the education system has to do with it, but the series' impact clearly isn't limited to America (its popularity is greatest in Japan) so if you are going to ignorantly direct this at a country, how about Japan? I also assume there are dysfunctional families and youths all over the world. Anno certainly isn't the only Asian making narrative art about this subject (see: New Wave of Taiwanese Cinema; especially Tsai Ming-liang and Edward Yang's A Brighter Summer Day). And, again, I don't think anyone went into NGE searching for life's answers. But as I said elsewhere I think the series did a superb job of illuminating, vitalizing and making emotionally resonant themes and philosophy I'd been long aware of.

Allemann wrote:What happened to the good old libraries where you have access to what the greatest minds have written on varieties of topics, or in extreme cases, the visit to the family shrink?
Why are books any more of a potent source for such concepts? If anything, art has always been about presenting such concepts in a manner that could make people care and emotionally understand them. That's NGE's greatest strength; it's not in the themes themselves but how it masterfully portrays them. I've read plenty of such books (fiction and non-fiction) and they ranged from dull and unenlightening to informative to genuinely insightful, provocative, and revelational (again, I found the greatest medium for expressing these ideas were fiction), but nothing has had a great an impact on my life as NGE. Why? Probably because of everything it's the only work that felt like it had been created by someone who'd been where I'd been and walked away from it and was able to distill that experience into an allegorical piece of, yes, 'entertaining' fiction that somehow made it all the more real, resonant, and affective.

Allemann wrote:If somebody's applying themes from a cartoon on his life, he's a loon. Loonier than Anno.
Don't bother arguing any of these idiotic claims, btw. You don't look like an asshole in the least. :rolleyes:
Last edited by Eva Yojimbo on Mon Jul 27, 2009 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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^ Writing as Jonathan Henderson ^
We're all adrift on the stormy seas of Evangelion, desperately trying to gather what flotsam can be snatched from the gale into a somewhat seaworthy interpretation so that we can at last reach the shores of reason and respite. - ObsessiveMathsFreak
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Postby Mr. Tines » Mon Jul 27, 2009 4:12 pm

Allemann wrote:My goodness! Is the American educational system so bad and the families so dysfunctional that today's youth is emotionally and socially catatonic to such a degree that it searches life's answers in semi-obscure foreign animation? What happened to the good old libraries where you have access to what the greatest minds have written on varieties of topics, or in extreme cases, the visit to the family shrink?
I can't speak for the young people of America -- but I can say that I was taken completely off guard by quite how raw and unsentimental -- and ultimately, personal -- the handling of its story. It struck a raw nerve for me over things that I'd thought resolved and buried thirty years before, in a way that nothing had done before or since, because it, uniquely, has seemed to get past my defences of distance and detachment.

Being an old and staid bruin at heart, the only way it has changed my life is in the exact disposition of my personal entertainment time but I can understand a younger person being seriously affected by it.
Last edited by Mr. Tines on Mon Jul 27, 2009 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Mon Jul 27, 2009 4:18 pm

honsou wrote:I wouldn't call it groundbreaking because it was more of a destroyer. The only way I can really describe it is as if Nirvana was the only grunge band and still had the same effect of destroying Hair Metal.
But even in your example Nirvana paved the way for all kinds of alternative bands to go mainstream; modern radio still feels their influence. NGE wasn't really a destroyer; works like Gundam still exists and are going strong, for example. However, it did open up all kinds of channels to be explored by future animes (Merridian makes some good points about this). But consider that the superflat movement wouldn't exist without Anno and NGE (even though it/he wasn't superflat he almost single-handedly inspired the movement). And I go back to my first post that talks about all of the outside influences that NGE incorporated that became staples in anime even if in different forms. Even NGE's brand of metafictional deconstructionism has been incredibly influential and has show up more and more in dramatic anime (it had often been used for comic effect before NGE).

I see NGE as a kind of landmark piece in a similar way that Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was; both seemed to mark the end of one era and the beginning of another. I think the exception is that because of anime's core audience NGE hasn't had quite that kind of extirpation where it eliminated the forms, styles, and modes before it. They still exist, but I would certainly say it ushered in a new era of intelligent and sophisticated anime; especially in terms of series.
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