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Neon Genesis Evangelion Special Collector's Edition Vol.6
Right-Left Manga
190 pages
Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
Top-notch anime deserves top-notch manga, and this unflipped version of Neon Genesis Evangelion delivers in every way. If you're a fan of Evangelion (and who isn't?), grab these to see the series from a slightly different point of view.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Neon Genesis Evangelion Special Collector's Edition Vol.6
By Patrick King

Evangelion. If you haven't seen it (for I'm sure you've at least heard of it), then one day, you will. Now widely available in North America as both individual DVDs as well as a fancy collector's box set (created to punish those of us who bought the discs independently, no doubt), a whole legion of new fans is steadily expanding its ranks. More than a mere giant robot tale, Evangelion is packed with religious overtones, a complex and mysterious plot, and some of the most endearing (and manipulative) characters ever brought to life. Indeed, while the spectacular battles may be the hook that snags potential followers, it is the emotional attachment to the main players in this drama that makes it must-watch material.

After the success of the series in Japan, one of the original designers at GAINAX, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (the character designer for the series), decided he wanted to delve in deeper to the story than the animated version allowed, producing the manga adaptation of Evangelion. Here in North America, it is available from Viz in both a standard version (with reversed or "flipped" images so that it may be read from left to right) as well as a "Special Collector's Edition." (SCE) Both are the same price, but the SCE is printed to read in the traditional way it was written - from right to left. The SCE also includes the original Japanese sound effects and background noise lettering - written in hiragana or katakana. Despite being based upon a series that has already been written, this manga is far more than simply a novelization of the plot. It presents a deeper, more personal perspective of the characters in the story, specifically focusing upon Shinji, the main character of the series.

In Volume 6, the story has progressed quite a bit. The events that transpire in this volume correspond roughly to episodes seventeen through twenty of the animated version. At this point, Shinji begins to grapple with the truth as Ryoji Kaji (now exposed as a double agent to Shinji and Misato) presented it when he led Misato and, unknowingly, Shinji to the hidden vault containing Adam. Shinji is now aware that his mother was the scientist that made the development of the Evas possible, and he is coming to terms with this newly rediscovered knowledge.

Shortly after this revelation, NERV's Nevada-based facility is obliterated, taking Evangelion Unit 04 with it. Unit 03 is shipped from the United States to Japan as the U.S. decides it's not worth the risk to hang on it it any longer. In this volume, the fourth child is chosen, and Unit 03 begins testing for operation. However, while many questions start getting at least partial answers, countless more are raised, maintaining interest and sparking anticipation for the next installment. Plot twists and heart-wrenching drama intermingle flawlessly with the charming interactions and budding relationships between Shinji and his classmates, presenting part of one of the most interesting stories to come out of the 1990's.

For those of you who've already seen the anime, there are some notable differences from the manga and the videos. For example, in the manga, Shinji knows the identity of the fourth child (I'm not using the name to keep it a surprise for those of you who actually haven't seen it yet) before taking on the thirteenth angel. Oddly enough, in the manga, the thirteenth angel is instead the eighth angel. Because of slight changes to the story such as this, the manga is not quite just a static version of the anime, but rather a slightly different retelling of the same general story. Characters remain practically the same, but details blur between the two sometimes. If you don't mind the changes, this can actually be a good thing, presenting an alternate version of some of the events.

The artwork for the manga is fantastic, as can be expected from Evangelion's character designer. The images are sharp and the myriad of emotions characters experience clear under Sadamoto's skillful renderings. The cover art is attractive, as is the design of the entire graphic novel. While the core of this series is the story and characters, the artwork only adds to the experience, enhancing it, if anything.

This edition possesses many qualities that other publishers would do well to imitate. It features extensive biographical character information, a translation guide to the sound effects, and an in-depth examination of certain aspects of Evangelion termed the "Secrets of Evangelion." This volume covers Adam, Albinism, the Marduk Agency, Positrons, SEELE, the Spear of Longinus, Systema Sephiroticum, and the United Nations. Reading these informational sections help to straighten out the sometimes convoluted plots and subplots within the world of Evangelion, and as such are a welcome addition to the manga. The book itself is average in size (for a manga - that is about 2cm taller and 1cm wider than a standard DVD case), being larger than TOKYOPOP's current selection but smaller than Dark Horse's Akira collection. Of course, with a larger size comes a higher price, so the book's dimensions suit me just fine.

The manga would be wonderful even on its own, but when evaluated as a compliment to the animated series, its enjoyment is greatly amplified. It dovetails admirably with the events of the anime, helping to fill in the holes that that were previously left vacant. It's a great story, told well, and illustrated beautifully, and this exceptional edition of an exceptional work is without a doubt one manga series that should not be missed.

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