I’ve never seen an episode of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion anime nor read a single backward-printed page of the manga. With that in mind, this is what I think is going on in the first 15 minutes of this franchise “rebuild.” The film, cryptically subtitled “You Are (Not) Alone,” begins with a dude, Shinji (voiced in the English-dubbed version by Spencer) staring at a snapshot of a lady, Misato, on which someone has helpfully Sharpied an arrow pointing out her ridiculous cleavage. But there’s no time to do whatever the hell Shinji’s planning on doing with that photograph, because a giant fucking bird-looking monster thing — later referred to as an “angel” — is attacking the city Godzilla-style, and all the tanks and bomber planes futuristic Tokyo can throw at it aren’t doing shit.
Don’t worry, though — a car driven by Ms. Giant Boobie Crack herself screeches up beside Shinji and takes him away from all this. It soon turns out, however, that Misato’s taking Shinji not to safety but to the headquarters of NERV, some kind of military-industrial outfit that houses huge battle robots. (Motto: “God’s in heaven. All’s right with the world.”) Conveniently, the robots, Evangelions, are made specifically to take down angels. The man in charge — Gendo (Swasey), a guy who looks like Abraham Lincoln in cyberpunk TV-screen goggles — also happens to be Shinji’s estranged dad, and he tells Shinji to climb inside one of the robots and save the world. “You will be the pilot,” Gendo says. “Now I have a use for you.” Shinji, who looks all of 10 years old and is also apparently entered in the junior-league competition for World’s Largest Vagina (apologies to the world’s strong and proud actual vaginas, any of which could totally take Shinji in a fight, mech suit or no), immediately starts crying.
His dad, in one of the more extreme instances of what they call “tough love,” opts for plan B: loading a seriously injured female pilot, Rei (Palencia), who has to be carried in on a stretcher, into the suit instead. You’re not man enough to do it, Shinji? Fine — we’ll send this half-dead little girl in your place. Shinji is finally shamed into piloting the suit himself, but he gets another nasty surprise when the cabin fills with some sort of oxygenated liquid he has to allow into his lungs in order to breathe. “Couldn’t he just, you know, breathe the oxygen that’s already in the air?” you might ask, but Shinji’s dad knows that inhaling lungfuls of mystery fluid is a surefire way to put some hair on your sack.
Later, when Shinji’s Evangelion unit (Eva for short) engages the angel in battle, they both explode into a giant rainbow, revealing the mech’s “true form.” I wish I could explain what this means, but this is about the time the part of my brain in charge of making sense of things disembowled itself in shame.
— Jeremy Martin