Why Is Neon Genesis Evangelion so Confusing?

by Hazel

Neon Genesis Evangelion” (commonly referred to as “Evangelion”) is a groundbreaking anime series that has captivated audiences around the world since its debut in 1995. Known for its intricate plot, complex characters, and philosophical themes, “Evangelion” has garnered both critical acclaim and widespread fascination. However, for many viewers, the series can be perplexing and bewildering, leaving them questioning the meaning behind its enigmatic narrative. In this comprehensive analysis, we delve deep into the complexities of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” to unravel the mysteries that lie beneath its surface and explore why it is often perceived as confusing.

The Rise of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”

Before delving into the reasons behind the confusion surrounding “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” it’s essential to understand the context in which the series emerged. Created by Hideaki Anno and produced by Gainax Studio, “Evangelion” was originally conceived as a mecha anime, a genre that typically features giant robots and epic battles. However, what sets “Evangelion” apart is its subversion of genre conventions and its deep exploration of existential themes, psychological trauma, and human relationships.


Set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is under threat from mysterious beings known as Angels, “Evangelion” follows the story of Shinji Ikari, a reluctant teenager who is recruited to pilot a giant bio-mechanical robot called an Evangelion to defend against the Angel attacks. As the series progresses, it delves into increasingly complex and introspective territory, challenging viewers to confront existential questions about identity, purpose, and the nature of reality.


The Complexity of “Evangelion”

One of the primary reasons why “Neon Genesis Evangelion” is perceived as confusing is its dense and multi-layered narrative. The series is known for its intricate plot twists, ambiguous symbolism, and philosophical musings, which can be challenging for viewers to decipher on a first viewing. Additionally, “Evangelion” employs surreal and abstract imagery, dream sequences, and nonlinear storytelling techniques, further adding to its complexity.


The series also incorporates elements of psychoanalysis, mythology, religious symbolism, and existential philosophy, drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources to create a rich and textured narrative. This eclectic mix of influences can make it difficult for viewers to discern the underlying meaning behind the series’ themes and imagery, leading to confusion and speculation.


The Mind of Hideaki Anno

To understand the complexity of “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” it’s essential to consider the creative vision of its creator, Hideaki Anno. Anno has openly discussed his struggles with depression and existential angst, which heavily influenced the themes and tone of “Evangelion.” The series has been described as a deeply personal and introspective work, reflecting Anno’s own psychological journey and quest for meaning in a chaotic and uncertain world.

Anno’s penchant for introspection and self-examination is evident throughout “Evangelion,” as the series explores the inner struggles and emotional vulnerabilities of its characters with remarkable depth and nuance. The protagonist, Shinji Ikari, is portrayed as a deeply troubled and conflicted individual who grapples with feelings of inadequacy, alienation, and existential dread. Through Shinji’s journey, Anno invites viewers to confront their own inner demons and existential anxieties, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality in the process.

Ambiguity and Interpretation

Another factor contributing to the confusion surrounding “Neon Genesis Evangelion” is its deliberate use of ambiguity and open-endedness. Throughout the series, key plot points, character motivations, and symbolic imagery are left open to interpretation, inviting viewers to engage in active speculation and analysis. This ambiguity allows for multiple interpretations of the series’ themes and messages, fostering discussion and debate among fans and scholars alike.

Additionally, “Evangelion” is notorious for its cryptic and abstract conclusion, which left many viewers scratching their heads and searching for answers. The final episodes of the original series take a surreal and introspective turn, delving into the psyche of the protagonist and blurring the boundaries between reality and illusion. The ambiguous nature of these episodes has led to countless theories and interpretations, further adding to the series’ mystique and allure.

The Impact of “Evangelion”

Despite its reputation for being confusing, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” has had a profound impact on the anime industry and popular culture as a whole. The series has inspired countless imitators and homages, influencing the visual style, narrative structure, and thematic depth of subsequent anime and media. Its thought-provoking themes and complex characters have resonated with audiences worldwide, sparking discussions about the nature of consciousness, the human condition, and the search for meaning in a chaotic world.

Furthermore, “Evangelion” has achieved cult status among fans, who have embraced its ambiguity and complexity as part of its enduring appeal. The series has spawned numerous spin-offs, sequels, films, and merchandise, cementing its legacy as one of the most iconic and influential anime of all time.

Conclusion: Embracing the Mystery of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”

In conclusion, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” is a complex and multifaceted anime series that defies easy categorization. Its dense narrative, philosophical themes, and ambiguous storytelling have contributed to its reputation for being confusing, yet it is precisely these qualities that have made it a timeless and enduring masterpiece. By embracing the mystery and ambiguity of “Evangelion,” viewers can engage in a rich and rewarding exploration of its themes and imagery, uncovering new layers of meaning with each viewing. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or a newcomer to the series, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” continues to captivate and intrigue audiences with its enigmatic charm and profound insights into the human psyche.


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