Neon Genesis Evangelion: Anima, Vol. 4

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 Michael Rachmat. Adapted by Peter Adrian Behravesh.

I will be honest, midway through this volume I was getting exhausted, and not in the good way. Fortunately things turned around, but let me tell you, you can only draw out an apocalypse so far before it grows wearying. To be fair, things were not helped by current events – a large part of the book features a series of earthquakes, and it was written about the same time as Japan was also dealing with deadly earthquakes, so things had to be delayed. As such, a large, large portion of this book is the main cast all having a giant fight on top of a chunk of the moon headed for Earth. This includes Shinji (who is now in the Torwachter that stole his heart – don’t ask, it’s convoluted – and about to start Third Impact, three different Reis, Asuka, who is finally becoming herself again, and Mari, who isn’t. The result is fantastic if you love mecha battles and nothing else.

The biblical imagery in the book is still there, but it feels more like Star Trek technobabble than anything else. What’s important is that, by three quarters of the way through the book, Shinji is .83 seconds from dying – and him dying will bring about Third Impact. For reasons that are somewhat murky but likely involve the late Rei Cinq, who seems to also be Yui, most of the cast end up at the old high school classroom, dressed in uniforms from Yui’s time, possibly so that the illustrator can draw the Reis in a different uniform style than the usual. Shinji, unfortunately, is perfectly happy to be there, though others soon vanish. What’s needed is a strong, forceful presence to get Shinji out of his dream sequence torpor. And fortunately for the readers, she’s back and she’s pissed off.

I cannot emphasize enough how much having Asuka back to her old self means for this series. Aside from a couple of amusing parts during Rei Six’s adventures on the moon, where she honestly sounds like Little Orphan Annie, this was a book seriously devoid of snappy dialogue. Asuka can fix that. The best bit involves Mari, who was trying to either add Asuka to her pack. She’s now lost the pack and is dealing with not being a feral child as best she can – mostly by sobbing. Asuka’s response is to save her, so that she could “see what being around me is *really* like”. This is funny stuff! She also gets to be badass – after hearing about Shinji’s dream sequence school, she promptly shows up (with her hair cut short!), saunters into the room like a model, and smashes his reality to bits. I love her.

The next volume is the final one in the series, and it’s due. I hope that we get a slightly better ending than Shinji and Asuka strangling each other on a beach, but this is Evangelion, so who knows? Till then, enjoy your fearsome mechs and headscrewing philosophy.

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