Neon Genesis Evangelion: Anima, Vol. 3

By Ikuto Yamashita. Released in Japan as “Shin Seiki Evangelion Anima” by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazine Dengeki Hobby. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Nathan Collins. Adapted by Peter Adrian Behravesh.

Fans of the Evangelion Anime light novels will be pleased to hear that there is not quite as many millions of people turning into pillars of salt in this volume. Indeed, the focus turns a bit narrower, as we are very much concerned with battling the enemy, which has stolen Shinji’s heart. That said, are they an enemy? The various troops certainly think so, and the nations have now teamed up to battle the Angels and their spinoff monsters. Unfortunately, biblical imagery is still the main way to attack in this series, and so very quickly no one is able to understand one another, reminiscent of the Tower of Babel. As for Shinji… who is the real Shinji? Is it the one who’s fighting in Super-Eva for most of the volume, with at least one Rei there next to him (though not always the SAME Rei)? Or is it the heart that makes someone who they are?

Asuka certainly thinks so, though to be fair she spends almost all of this book in a sort of primal mode, her experiences from the second volume having merged her with her Eva (as the art within makes abundantly clear) and her personality vacillating between ‘small child’ and ‘adorable pet’. She’s got company, however, as with the Americans coming into the picture we’re introduced to Mari in this continuity. Mari has been experimented on by scientists, and now functions as a wolf pack, complete with actual wolves. She’s not quite as primal as Asuka, but it is noteworthy that the two are paralleling each other again. And Shinji ends up swapping Reis, as Trois’ self-sacrifice butts up against Quatre’s emotional instability and they essentially swap roles. This ends up being very good for Quatre, who was so angry she reminded me of Asuka at times, but I worry about Trois.

As you might guess by the fact that I’m actually discussing characters, this is a better volume than the first two when it comes to actual introspection and things that are not giant robot allegorical battles. Not that there aren’t plenty of those as well – they’re still the main reason to get the book. But this volume is not as frenetic as the first two, and pauses to take in Hikari and Toji’s romantic yet also battle-torn meeting (Toji also gets his arm back – which is both good and bad) and Misato briefly dealing with essentially being a damsel in distress for most of the second book. This book, as with the others, ends with a cliffhanger, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out – heck, this is Evangelion, we could actually see the Angel with Shinji’s heart take over the narrative as Shinji. It works metaphorically, after all.

There have been so many Eva spinoffs it’s hard to compare them. This is better than the first two books, but I’d still say it’s best for fans of the design and mecha work more than anyone else.

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