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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project Volume 4

Evangelion answers the question of ‘what if’ seen at the end of the original series

Ah, Evangelion. An iconic series that frustrated fans with it’s odd ending only to satisfy with movies giving the deserved finale. While FUNimation is releasing the re-make/update to the famed anime Dark Horse is publishing a refreshing ‘what if’ scenario for the franchise. In Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project the series takes the normal life for Shinji seen in those controversial final episodes and says what if to this being more than a scene in an episode. What if Shinji, Rei and Asuka were childhood friends going to school with fairly normal parents (still alive). What if they had to deal with not Angels but crushes and embarrassing situations? Let’s take a closer look at volume 4 of the series and ask ourselves ‘what if I wanted to buy this book?’

As the trio of Shinji, Asuka and Rei continue to go to class and train together the hidden feelings Asuka has been hiding really begin to surface. Is Shinji more than a childhood friend? Why does his relationship with Rei frustrate her so? A day to exchange chocolates leads to awkwardness while a very familiar synchronization test takes place in the school swimming pool followed by a drunken cherry-blossom party that shows the lighter side of Shinji’s father while Dr. Kyoko Soryu makes an appearance surprising her daughter. All of this pales when compared to Asuka’s mistaking a kiss between Rei and Shinji and its results. Things are definitely heating up for Shinji and the Evangelion crew.

Notice something interesting? All of these interactions and encounters seem fairly ordinary, no Angels, no Eva’s … just normal life and this is what makes this series so refreshing. The art style is beautiful and reflects a polished, updated look for the franchise which keeps the main looks of the original, solid, character and setting designs. The story is the star as fans get a different side of these iconic characters, one that is not all doom and gloom. The exploration of feelings between the three pilots … students reeks of many a school age comedy in a flowery fragrant manner (read good folks, its good). The humor is great and the embarrassing situations and new personalities for characters rocks. This really is a world of normalcy, of happiness that’s populated by the characters fans of Evangelion came to know and love.

The Shinji Ikari Raising Project is rock solid. Its beautiful art mixed with characters that fans love in a brand new setting that just needs an anime adaptation. As Full Metal Panic FUMOFU was to the original Full Metal Panic so too is The Shinji Ikari Raising Project to the original Evangelion.

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