Comic Book Spotlight of the Day: Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1 Omnibus vol. 1 (Volumes 1-3) – November 2012 (Viz Media)

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TITLE: Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1 Omnibus vol. 1 (Volumes 1-3)

YEAR: November 2012 (USA release)

COMPANY: Viz Media

Story and Art by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

It all began with a deal between King Records rep Toshimichi Otsuki and director Hideaki Anno in discussion of an anime TV series and project. Suffice to say, both men would not know how successful the project known as “Shin Seiki Evangerion” (Neon Genesis Evangelion) would be.

With a 26-episode animated series by Tatsunoko Productions and GAINAX achieving critical acclaim in 1995-1996, two major films with “Evangelion: Death and Rebirth” and “The End of Evangelion” in 1997 and 1998, interest in Evangelion still continued in the next ten years with video games and eventually leading up to the 2006 announcement that four films titled “Rebuild of Evangelion” with an alternate retelling of the TV series would be released. And to this day, three of the “Rebuild” films have been released as of 2012.

But prior to the TV series and radio programs, the manga series by the anime series character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (“.Hack” series, “Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honneamise”, “Gunbuster” series”, “Summer Wars”) was released in Feb. 1995 (to help drum up interest in the anime series and toyline). Surprisingly, while the animated series was completed back in 1998, the manga series has somewhat been released in a much slower pace, with volume 13 having been released in Japan and the USA on November 2nd.

Flashforward to 2012 and Viz Media who have been releasing the “Neon Genesis Evangelion” manga series since 2004 would release the first three chapters/graphic novels again in an omnibus format titled “Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1 Edition, Vol. 1”.

“Neon Genesis Evangelion” is set in an alternate Japan, a.k.a. Tokyo-3 which is at war against giant creatures known as Angels.

A teenager named Shinji Ikari receives a message from his estranged father to go to Nerv headquarters. Picking him up would be Captain Misato Kasuragi and immediately, while she picks Shinji up, Tokyo-3 is under attack by an Angel.

Barely escaping the attack, the two managed to make it into Nerv HQ where they meet Nerv’s chief scientist Ritsuko Akagi. He is quickly introduced to a synthetic android and Earth’s weapon code named “Evangelion”. And not long after he sees the robot, Shinji’s father, Commander Ikari shows up to tell his son that he asked him to come to Nerv, because he will be fighting the Angel that is out there.

Shinji is shocked because he thought perhaps his father asked him to come to see him, but instead, his father wants him to immediately fight the Angel. Without any explanations, his father tells him to get inside which upsets Shinji who thinks his father contacted him to order him to his death. The Commander tells Shinji that if he doesn’t go out there, all humanity will perish and the existence of the human race is on his shoulders. Shinji refuses! And his father calls him coward.

While Misato feels for Shinji, when an injured Evangelion pilot named Rei is brought in and is badly injured, Commander Ikari requests that despite her injury, she has no choice but to fight again. Seeing that Rei can’t fight, Shinji reluctantly agrees to go out there with the Evangelion unit.

And immediately, he begins fighting the Angel, without any training, Shinji is getting himself beat to the point that the Evangelion has lost all function. But somehow, when Shinji starts screaming of how he does not want to die, the Evangelion somehow reactivates and is able to reheal the Evangelion defeating the Angel.

Despite beating the Angel, there is no close relationship with his father and as for Shinji, he doesn’t know why he has to fight. But he eventually becomes Misato’s roommate and attends the local high school and wonders why his father cares so much about the pilot Rei Ayanami, than caring for him.

As Shinji is not so sure why he is being part of this whole project, he still feels that with him being there, it may lead his father to finally get close to him. But with the weight of humanity on his shoulders, even though he doesn’t want to be part of it, Shinji has no choice but to become the pilot of the Evangelion and defend humanity from the creatures known as Angel.

My first introduction to the manga series of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” was back in college. As one of my friends from Japan was a big fan of the manga and anime series, a few years later I would be reviewing the TV series, the films and later the Rebuild films over a decade later.

So, here we are over 15-years-later since the release of the first “Neon Genesis Evangelion” manga and it will be my first time reviewing any manga-related to Evangelion.

And I have to admit that I enjoyed the manga series a lot, primarily because with the manga, you don’t have to be inundated with the whining, complaints of Shinji which I found so irritating in the anime series. Yes, he whines and complains in the manga but there is something about reading it, that makes it a lot easier than hearing it.

While I was very impressed with the beautiful artwork of legend Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. I already have great respect for Sadamoto for his work on the “Gunbuster” series and “Wings of Honneamise” film and he has continued to win me over with his work on “.Hack” and “Summer Wars”. But to see his work in printed format, from the color illustrations to his manga character designs and how much detail is featured on each panel, I’m blown away.

He’s already a busy man and it probably explains why the manga series is taking longer to release. But for those who have grown up with “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, you get a bit of extra storyline that is not featured in the anime series. Especially stories that surround Shinji’s high school classmates.

I have watched the anime series so many times, but reading the manga for the first time, there is something about that feels fresh and new, but yet having seen the anime series, you know what to expect, but yet can’t help but be excited whenever you see things that are not featured in the anime.

So far, “Neon Genesis Evangelion 3-in-1 Edition, Volume 1” is an excellent manga release based on one of the most critically acclaimed anime series. Illustration and storyline is fantastic and even if you watched the anime series, you may find something new in the manga. Exciting, action-packed, emotional and extremely entertaining! Highly recommended!

A fantastic omnibus release from Viz Media and I can’t wait to read volume 2!


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