Tuesday, February 16, 2016

CBR Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Detective Diary

You thought we covered every possible single genre with all these Eva spinoff mangas?

Well, you guessed wrong! There's more where that came from!

Fly me to the moon, and let me review Evangelion among different mediums:

Comic title: Neon Genesis Evangelion The Shinji Ikari Detective Diary, originally titled Shin Seiki Evangelion - Ikari Shinji Tantei Nikki, also known as Evangelion: Shinji Ikari's Detective Journal
Written & drawn by Takumi Yoshimura

Published by Kadokawa Shoten (Dark Horse Comics in the USA)/GAINAX/khara 
From 2010–2011
Lineup Evangelion series/AU/Shōjo manga
Format: Tankōbon/Manga-sized softcover trade paperback.

Considered by many anime purists a seminal work of fiction. Love it or hate it, you have to admit Neon Genesis Evangelion is a cult classic vintage anime that covers so many subjects and tropes now common to the entire medium. In fact it was designed by creator Hideaki Anno and the rest of the crew at GAINAX as their ultimate tribute to everything they loved growing up.

Giant robots. Giant monsters. Post-apocalpytic science-fiction. Fanservice. And deep physiological interrogations about life! Along questions regarding God, mankind as a species and some oedipal issues and you got an idea of what Eva is about.

Of course after the success of the TV series and due to the slow schedule of the official manga, a few spinoff series were launched over the years to satisfy the fan demand. After a first shojo manga, The Iron Maiden 2nd, an ecchi comedy series, Shinji Ikari Raising Project, a comic strip parody, Petit Eva, and a more straight forward shonen, Campus Apocalypse, one last spinoff was launched in 2010.

This time it's a mystery/school life shojo series!


What if Evangelion was... a detective series? How about that!?

The last published spinoff to date, this one was born from a co-production between GAINAX and the American publisher Dark Horse Comics to celebrate the anniversary of the franchise actually. Which is why it hasn't been published much outside Japan and English-speaking countries.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Detective Diary started its publication in the pages of Kadokawa's Asuka on February 2010. The English version would be published in 2013.

It was written and illustrated by mangaka Takumi Yoshimura. in collaboration with Hideaki Anno's khara studio.

Since it wasn't very successful, the series actually only lasted 2 volumes.

As the title indicates, it's a detective take on the franchise!

The story makes very little sense as you will see.

It all begins the day Shinji Ikari's schoolmates Toji and Kensuke ran into some trouble with the Yakuzas (!!). They asked for Shinji's help, if he could run to the nearby Kaji Detective Agency to get help there. Shinji spent most of his life trying not to be noticed and avoid getting mixed with other people.

After running there Shinji accidentally broke some vase when he got scarred by some penguin running around. And thus our hero ends up blackmailed into working cases for Ryoji Kaji and Misato. Shinji is paired with this young assistant Kaworu Nagisa, since his partner Pen Pen (YES, the penguin!) is currently injured!

Soon Shinji discovers the Kaji Detective Agency mostly focuses on supernatural cases,

For once, Shinji is seen working alongside Kaworu from the start. But worry not, long time EVA fans. Asuka and Rei are not far behind and still seen around, only it turns out they're working for a rival detective company.

Oh, and if this wasn't enough for you, the Evas are still present in the story. This time they turn out to be magical entities a select few people can summon at will!!

When you're hoping for a Sherlock Holmes-type of series playing with references and the mytho of EVA, they threw you a curve ball and what we get here is something closer to Campus Apocalypse instead. The detective agency is slowly revealed to deal with supernatural cases. Shinji is given a "magical" Eva just like Kaworu, which are here these magical beings that pop out of thin air (I do think the magical weapons from Campus Apocalypse would have worked a lot in this story here).

Shinji's personality starts closer to Rei's rather than Shinji from the original series. Here he's pretty distant and doesn't want to bother with the other kids at school.

There's a lot more emphasis on the relationship between Shinji and Kaworu. A bromance quickly blooms, with a lot of "subtext" for the female audience. It was published in a shojo magazine afterall!

The story is not all serious though. There's a ton of comedy, slapstick and hijinks.

The strangest part I have a problem here is the Evas that get summoned like Pokémon, whenever our heroes need an easy way out or face the team of Asuka and Rei. The Evas are people!?! How does that work? They're summoned like something out of Yu-Gi-Oh!. I don't know, I would have preferred to see the Evas turned into other students like in Petit Eva instead!

At times this feels like an official fanwork/doujin at best. When it's good are the moments playing with these character shuffled around this different world. No more darkness, this is a much lighter comedy. A fun reimaignings of the rules of the series. Specially around the cast. But whenever you get to see these Final Fantasy rejects as the Eva Units, it gets painfully bad...

Some of the changes are fun though. Like Toji turned into this really dumb rural kid. Or Pen Pen always freaking out Shinji the first time. Or who Shinji drops on top of this time, instead of Rei for once...

I think the story could have been fine if was kept only to the detective angle. What with the whole helping people at school and dealing with supernatural cases. There was no need for these Evas in this story. Which seem to have come out of a Final Fantasy game here. Even the guns from the previous spinoff would have made more sense here.

Despite the very silly premise and how bad the story and the writing can be, it is sort of enjoyable.

The art can be a kind of sloppy. It's fairly typical shojo artwork. Aside from a few good panels, I guess it's ok. What you'd expect from the genre. It's light with a big emphasis on faces, expressions and male characters. There's not many backgrounds and the new designs are kind of bland and generic.

Very little things make any sense to be honest.

It's kind of fun. Sure, it is bad. But it is also funny. Sometimes you'll find yourself either laughing with the manga, and other times laughing at it.

Overall, The Shinji Ikari Detective Diary is not really good, but it was also a nice change of pace for a series stuck in the middle of darkness and angst, and all the fan service. It was kind of surprising actually.

Oh, the story is really stupid and actually kind of bad. But that doesn't change the fact it was a fun read and funny too.

I do feel this spinoff had one gimmick too many (those random Evas...).

The Shinji Ikari Detective Diary has been entirely collected into 2 volumes.

Personally, I'd say Give it a Try if you're a fan of the franchise or looking for some little manga to pass the time. Hey, it's only 2 volumes-long!

With this I covered all the main EVA spinoff mangas. Well, more or less.

It wouldn't be the last book to come out, there also were 2 tribute books released after that. As well as the latest spinoff to date, a brand new title. A seinen (adult manga) parody which started not long ago.

And that's not all as far as these spinoffs go. Officially there's also one long-running visual novel book, the Evangelion - ANIMA-. An official continuation of the anime taking place 3 years after the end of the show. It's more of an illustrated book, not a proper manga, but it acts as a direct continuation to the original anime set in the future with older characters (and like Petit Eva, with now 3 separate Rei Ayanamis). But so far it hasn't received a proper publication outside Japan.

I suppose I might review some of the other books before moving onto the Rebuild movies...

I give it:
1.5 / 3 Bobobos!

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