Neon Genesis Evangelion, Vol. 14

By Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and GAINAX. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Viz Media.

(This review contains spoilers.)

A journey that began in Japan back in 1995, and in North America approximately 2004 I think (it’s been so long), has finally come to an end with this final volume of Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s only out digitally for the moment, as the volume was only released last week in Japan. Print volumes should be arriving in February, but I can’t wait that long, so let’s swipe at our tablets and find out what happens. I think we all have the same question: we know the manga is following the same beats as the anime did, but is it also going to end with Shinji strangling Asuka on some godforsaken (literally) beach?


Thankfully, the answer turns out to be no. Now don’t get me wrong – everyone still ends up in orange goo here. Makoto gets to see Misato before he dissolves, and Maya gets Ritsuko. Sadly, Aoba isn’t heavily crushing on anyone special, so he just gets dogpiled by a bunch of Rei clones. We see Gendo finally die, and it’s notable that he does NOT dissolve like everyone else – but wait till later. In the end, all is nothingness, and Rei presents this nothingness to Shinji as what Gendo has been shooting for – and what Shinji has wanted as well. To run away, to give in, to be accepted in the same nothingness as everyone else. No war, no hatred, no love, no peace – it’s all one. (There is a fantastic two-page spread showing Shinji seeing dialogue bubbles of the entirety of human experience – acceptance and rejection all in one.)

Shinji in the manga has gone through a lot of stuff, but in the end he rejects this world – and tells Rei why, in no uncertain terms. Rei describes it as a happy world, but Shinji points out that in a world that is nothing, happiness can’t exist. This too is familiar from the anime, but these scenes in the manga end up being pretty heartwarming. He recalls Yui telling him that he has to protect the happiness of everyone in the world – which means the sadness as well. After essentially saying goodbye to Rei (who I think makes it clear that if he rejects Third Impact she is not going to be around), we get one of the more iconic shots of Evangelion, which is Unit 01 emerging from Lilith’s giant eyeball.

The apocalypse gets to take up a good chunk of space, but when it’s over, and Shinji sees both Yui and Gendo in what looks like the afterlife telling him to stand on his own two feet (dammit, why a happy ending for Gendo? Grump), we see that Rei essentially rebooted the world, as things pick up with an older Shinji about to take a train into Tokyo for high school exams. This is, thank GOD, nothing whatsoever like the wacky romantic comedy universe of Episode 26, or even The Shinji Ikari Raising Project. Yes, he meets Asuka in a cute way, but it’s fairly reserved and there is no falling into anyone’s chest. It’s a new beginning, and is combined with his seeing Kensuke to show that this is what Rei and Shinji wanted. Here he can make new connections and form new bonds. Helpfully, there are also no duels in giant robots (we see the remains of the Evas describes as mysterious remnants), so it’s entirely possible that this will come to pass.

And that’s that. (There is a final chapter, which introduces Mari Illustrious Makinami as a high school classmate of Yui’s with a crush, but it’s pretty slight, and feels like an attempt to shoehorn the very popular Mari into the main manga series.) I’ve always read the manga wanting a somewhat less hopeless take on the human race. And that’s what we get here. It’s not Shinji and Asuka as Adam and Eve, it’s a chance to start anew, given by a girl who learned how to reach out and care for others thanks to Shinji’s empathy. Evangelion is a good story, well told, and I am happy that it ends like this. Well done.

Neon Genesis Evangelion Omnibus, Vols. 10-12

By Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and GAINAX. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazines Shonen Ace and Young Ace. Released in North America by Viz Media.

This fourth omnibus from Viz will be the last for a while, as Japan hasn’t even announced when the final volume is coming out yet. I assume it will be released simultaneously here and Japan, as Vol. 13 was, and that there will be a gap between that any any 5th omnibus. That said, there’s more than enough here to keep Evangelion fans busy. So much happens in this omnibus that it’s a bit difficult to know where to begin. One thing is for certain, though, and that’s the ongoing massacre of everyone Shinji loves and holds dear is still going to happen. Business as usual, folks.


Kaworu was introduced far earlier in each successive adaptation of Evangelion, probably as fans took him so quickly to their hearts. That doesn’t mean that he gets to be all warm and fuzzy, though he’s trying. I think it’s clear he wants to comfort Shinji and make him feel better, but he has no idea how people deal with grief – or indeed, emotions in general. He tries to make up for that by physical closeness, but Shinji, who’s already somewhat sexually confused due to simply being a teenager, lashes out at him. The manga makes things bigger – both Shinji’s rejection of Kaworu’s advances of friendship (or something more), and of his admitting how close Kaworu really got to him. In the end, Kaworu wanting Shinji to kill him manages to be rather heartwarming and sweet, in an Evangelion way.

And, in the opposite direction from heartwarming and sweet, we have Ritsuko, who has realized all along that Gendo is using her like he uses everyone else, but has been too wrapped up in her desire for him to really try to do anything about it. Gendo throwing her to the wolves of SEELE seems like it was a wake-up call, and she proceeds to give him the biggest ‘fuck you’ that she possibly can, with Misato and Shinji as witnesses. The idea of Rei being a clone is something that we’ve basically accepted, particularly given we see her get killed early on in this volume and then show up with the same body but without the emotional attachment to Shinji she had grown over the series. Despite that, the scene showing all the Rei bodies in the vat, waiting to be the next one, has not lost any of its power. It’s almost a relief that a suicidal and self-loathing Ritsuko destroys them all.

I talked last time about how Asuka gets much less to do in the manga, and that’s still true in this volume – until the end. Sticking her in her Eva may have been a safety precaution, but it was also the best possible thing for her psyche, as she manages to come to terms with what her mother was to her – and then goes to town on SEELE’s invading Evas, in the most glorious battle sequence we have seen to date in the series. Seeing Asuka, who has spent her entire life overcompensating for feeling useless and unwanted, take out these fakes with strength and purity of heart, is a beautiful thing, even if she can’t quite save the entire day. Mostly as it’s questionable as to whether there will be a tomorrow to be saved.

Because the JSSDF is invading NERV, and the orders are to kill everyone – even people who surrender, even people begging for their life. This we see, and it’s absolutely terrifying. It comes to the point where only Shinji in his Eva can save the day, but he is absolutely emotionally dead after everything that has happened to him (and remember, the timeline for the manga seems to be far faster than the anime one). Luckily, he has Misato,who gets her finest hour in the final part of this volume at the same time that Asuka is getting hers. Misato has always sort of straddled that line with Shinji between feelings of a mother, of a sister, and of a woman. It fits well with the rest of the series, where Shinji can’t tell if he loathes or is attracted to Kaworu, Ritsuko’s desire merges with her anger, and Gendo imprints her dead wife onto a clone that is both her and not her at the same time – something that she gets but he may not. All of these things are what makes up humanity – and that’s what Misato has to convince Shinji to save.

Has she done that? Well, you can get Vol. 13 right now and see for yourself, but whether we manage to get an ending that isn’t covered in orange goo is another matter. The manga has ended in Japan, so it’s a matter of Kadokawa scheduling the final volume. either way, it’s been an amazing ride. The manga world of Evangelion is still my favorite.

Neon Genesis Evangelion Omnibus, Vols. 7-9

By Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and GAINAX. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazine Shonen Ace. Released in North America by Viz Media.

Well, the party’s over. As if it weren’t obvious from the events at the end of the previous omnibus, the light and fluffy ‘everyone is slightly more tolerable’ manga antics end here, as these three volumes are a brutal kick in the teeth reminding us over and over again that humanity is desperately fighting to survive… and that most of the people in charge actually have a different agenda OTHER than fighting to survive. And, just as we finally add our last major cast member, we also get the first of our major cast deaths. There will be more.


The Evangelion fandom doesn’t use “I mustn’t run away” as a meme for no good reason. This volume sees Shinji in a constant cycle of attempting to flee from his destiny and the responsibilities being thrown at him, and constantly being drawn back as he’s unable to just let everyone else get annihilated. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he gets to accomplish anything here – he returns, but is basically “sat in the corner” by his father, who punishes him by having him watch everyone get annihilated without his help ANYWAY. The manga is less emotive than the anime, with characters at times seeming to underreact to horrible crises, but that’s unsurprising – the pace of the manga is such that there is a state of constant danger, and I imagine after a while the senses just get numbed.

There’s a lot of backstory here. Kaji’s is designed to make him both more likeable and more vulnerable. For all that we like to pretend that we wouldn’t crack under the threat of death, the reality is that we probably would. And so much of Kaji’s life has revolved around finding out the real reason that things happened the way they did – an attempt to expose what led to his own actions. Shinji at one point notes that Misato still loves him, and indeed he’s clearly in love with her, but these are two people, like the rest of the cast, who are unable to grasp at the happiness that could be theirs. As for the other flashback, Fuyutsuki seems to be the perfect “follower”, and Gendo seems even worse than we’d originally suspected. As for Yui, I suspect that she’s being idolized in the memories of both Fuyutsuki and Shinji when we see her, but I agree that it’s easy to see Gendo could have genuinely loved her.

And then there’s Asuka and Rei. I’ve said before that I find manga Asuka far more likeable, and the counter argument to that is that she’s involved in the manga plotline so much less than in the anime, so doesn’t get the time to be irritating. Asuka’s backstory is also shown to us, which is bad news for her, as backstory in this manga is always followed by trauma. Asuka’s attempts to take out the Angel are interrupted by it raping her – yes, yes, mentally, but given that she screams “don’t come inside me” at one point, I think the distinction is fairly irrelevant here. It’s the most horrific we’ve ever seen the Angel attacks, and she comes away from it basically comatose. Rei, meanwhile, is struggling with a distance growing between her and Gendo as she and Shinji grow closer. Ritsuko seems to realize that Rei is growing more human and less doll-like, something that nearly drives her to murder. This, naturally, leads up to the cliffhanger for this omnibus, showing Rei’s “last stand”.

As for Kaworu, it’s interesting that he arrives right as Kaji departs, given his presence as “the mole”. He’s shipped with Shinji a bit harder than in the anime, with Shinji’s “have some sense of personal space” going unheeded. And the scene with the kitten shows a somewhat unbreakable wall between his own value system and that of the First Child. Nevertheless, you can even see Kaworu getting caught up in the struggle against the Angels, and wonder if he’s oing to be a double/triple/quadruple agent the way Kaji was.

The plot may be going places I don’t want it to go, but the writing is still top notch, with a complete inability to put the book down. The news that the manga will end with Chapter 95 in June means that this is likely to be 5 omnibuses (14 volumes) long, and thus this volume begins the second half of the story. It’ll be hard to make things even more tense after this, but I’m sure we’ll find a way.