By Various Artists, based on the franchise created by khara and GAINAX. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten direct to tankobon. Released in North America by Dark Horse.
We’ve been seeing more and more of these doujinshi anthologies over here in North America. Quite common in Japan, both official product and fan-produced, doujinshi in this case doesn’t mean porn featuring the characters (at least not yet; Kadokawa just announced another Eva spinoff and I think they’re running out of other ways to make it work), but getting other artists around the office to draw parody comics making fun of said franchise, with the tacit approval of the creators. Given that Anno is quite happy making fun of his own work, an anthology like this was probably inevitable. But the question is, is it readable?
Well, yes, but only if you’re a hardcore Evangelion fan. As you’d expect, this volume makes absolutely no attempt to interest casual readers, and relies on everyone knowing not only the series itself but also the fandom and cliches regarding said series. The very first story involves the pilots dealing with their public approval rating dropping because they’re whiny and morose, there’s mocking of the fake “episode 26”, Shinji Ikari Raising Project, and even the live-action Eva that was in production at one point. Everyone is equally skewered, though admittedly Shinji gets the majority of the abuse here. And fear not, Eva fans who like to admire the girls, there’s lots of fanservice here, from normal “Ooooh, pretty girl” art from the Macross character designer all the way to leeringly horrible “Look, boobs!” parody as Misato and Ritsuko try to get Shinji to study by dressing in increasingly skimpy outfits.
That said, I feel pretty safe in saying this isn’t for everyone. It’s almost entirely comedy, with only the author of Loveless, Yun Kouga, providing a serious character study towards the end. Much of the humor relies on knowing the other titles the artist is famous for, which is fine if it’s say, the Sgt. Frog artist (who did the cover, of course) but verges towards incomprehensibility when you see artists such as Keiichi Tanaka and Tony Takazaki clearly making use of their own stylistic humor… which is lost on me. Given this is edited by Carl Horn, some liner notes might have been appreciated. Then again, given there’s a Sambo joke towards the end, maybe they were better off without them.
All that said, I did laugh quite a bit while reading this, even if it was sometimes “what the hell, this is so stupid!” laughter. Easily the best bits in here are the ones by Yushi Kawata and Yukito, “Neon Genesis Revolutionary Legend Evangelion”. They get three short chapters all to themselves, so I suspect the editors liked them as well, and have just the right amount of humor, snark, and insanity. Yoko Sanri’s Eva-san (the author of B Gata H Kei) is also fun, an amusing 4-koma Eva that feels like a relaxing breeze amidst all the loud Osaka comedy in this that tries a bit too hard.
I think Evangelion fans will like this, but even for them it may be a bit of a risk, as it’s simply so diffuse. The sort of book you’d describe as madcap. But recommended to Eva fans anyway, provided you don’t mind a lot of making fun of the cast. Oh yes, and Rikdo Koshi does a color page at the start, in case people wondered if my Excel Saga radar hadn’t gone off.