If you're a creepy adult or a twelve-year-old with parents who don't supervise what you read, The Shinji Ikari Raising Project is for you, I guess. Okay, kids: story time. The original Neon Genesis Evangelion is a seminal work. It comes highly recommended from all kinds of outlets and all kinds of people. I think I have had at least three friends insist that I watch it, and I don't even have three friends. In any case, I still haven't seen it. Since I wanted to get some exposure to the title and fill out my sparse manga contributions, I jumped at the chance to review this title.
Apparently a big feature of the original series is alternate timelines that we get to glimpse at and this manga covers one of them, following in the vein of a video game of the same title. This particular alternate timeline has most of the characters and, from what I understand, absolutely none of the charm of the original series. There are no mechas, there is no action, there are no complex existential themes: there are just a bunch of teenagers doing really oddly timed, arbitrarily lewd shit to one another during a bunch of contrived adolescent situations.
There's actually a name for that latter thing in Japanese: “ecchi.” Now, I'm not condemning ecchi outright; after all, this is a Shonen title, and although some Shonen titles transcend their age range (which is roughtly 10-17 years old) with complex themes that are worth contemplating even as you get older (or at least this is what I tell myself), some of the titles really are just targeted at young audiences. This title is not even meant for someone my age, or at least not someone my age who is not a total creep.
The problem, independent of demographic concerns, is that absolutely nothing happens in this title. Nearly 200 pages and all of the conflict is just piles of cliché garbage that once in a while get infiltrated by spontaneous cunnilingus or trip-and-fall boob-grabs. Maybe this whole title just exists as fan service for people who wanted more of the characters from the shows, movies, and video games. But it's essentially like seeing these characters in a conflict-free fan fiction. I don't want to tell people how to enjoy their favorite characters, but I will anyway: if they aren't in a world that challenges them to suffer and grow, they aren't the same characters, especially if they used to be in an interesting world.
Writer/Arist: Osamu Takahashi Publisher: Dark Horse Price: $9.99 Release Date: 12/17/14 Format: Paperback, 184 pages