Wednesday, January 27, 2016

CBR Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project

What if Evangelion... was actually funny?

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

Comic title: Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project also known as Neon Genesis Evangelion: Human Instrumentality Project: Shinji Ikari
Written & drawn by Osamu Takahashi

Published by Kadokawa (Dark Horse Comics in America/Tonkam in Europe)/Gainax/Studio Khara 
From 2006-current
Lineup Evangelion series/AU/Ecchi 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, a second spinoff title was created.

What if Evangelion was... an "ecchi" harem manga?

Typically said, an ecchi manga is a work typically aimed at male readers. Full of fanservice. The more famous ones are without a doubt Ranma 1/2 or Love Hina.

This 2nd spinoff is actually one of the more popular EVA spinoff series.

Like the previous one, it is actually based on a video game as well, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari Raising Project. The game also took a cue from the alternate universe glimpsed in episode 26 of the anime. The game sees the player take control of Shinji's life and choices. Various choices can be made, you could decide the job Shinji ended as (from basketball player to musician, but also animator, or even jobless!) and it offered different possible relationship endings. The game also added a few more female characters, such as 3 new NERV workers, Kaede Agano, Satsuki Ooi, Aoi Mogami as well as a new transfer student Mana Kirishima (which only appear in the manga version several volumes later).

This comedy manga series from the same name was written and illustrated by Takahashi Osamu. It was published by Kadokawa in Shōnen Ace, the same publication as the main Evangelion manga by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto!

It's also the longest running Evangelion spinoff manga, since it launched in 2005 it has been ongoing ever since and has already over a dozen of volumes to date.

Asuka and Shinji have been friends since childhood. For this reason, Asuka always assumed they would always be together... until this new student arrived! Who is this Rei Ayanami exactly and does she want to be just friends with Shinji, or something more..?

This is not your regular Evangelion! In this world Shinji's mother Yui Ikari is still alive, and working alongside his dad Gendo as head scientists of NERV.

Everybody seems very interested in Shinji's relationships (or lack thereof) for some reason. The teacher at school, Misato, seems to be keeping an eye on him. Ritsuko is the school nurse. And Kaworu appears to be an agent sent by the mysterious SEELE to prevent and disturb the Ikaris' research.

Askua and Rei compete for our oblivious Shinji who doesn't seem to notice anything. The rivals join forces to stop Kaworu from flirting with Shinji. Rei is a distant relative on Yui's side and she starts living at Shinji's home. The other characters even get some time to shine. Kensuke and Toji are never far behind, Hikari doesn't know how to express her own feelings.

And in this spinoff Rei appears to be the main love interest instead of Asuka.

While it sounds pretty similar to Angelic Days on the surface, it's actually a very different manga. Despite revolving around Shinji's relationships as well, it's clearly not meant for the same audience. Angelic Days was a cute romantic story aimed at girls. This here is more meant for boys, with a ton of jokes and random sexy situations!

They might be school romances both, but the tone and style are completely different. It's not as cheesy and generic as the previous title. It's also a lot more perverse! With a lot of embarrassing situations happening all the time. With lots of panty shots! Near-naked shots! Think Love Hina.

It's also sort of a parody of the main Evangelion series, mocking it all the time. Gendo is one of its main targets, turned into a goofy father who loves his family. He's kind of awkward and is as unlucky as his son regarding the situations he ends up in.

It's also nothing like the much more serious, mature and dark Evangelion from Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.

The characters here are just regular kids in school. The NERV is the "Artificial Evolution Lab", Shinji's parents seem to base their research and work on Shinji's love life! Shinji is not a troubled kid with a problem regarding his relations with his distant father or other people in general.

It's much funnier comedy. It still plays off a lot of scenes from the main series and does a lot of allusions to it. We even get to see Rei wearing the plugsuit! Only things get twisted all the time. We get to see the scene where Gendo tried to open a locked door to help Rei or Shinji catching Rei changing after a shower... only it always plays off differently for a lauch!

It's a fairly hilarious school comedy.

It's a fun lighthearted read. No more dark mysteries, complex psychology or action. Just a goofy hilarious scenario.

Osamu Takahashi's art looks really good. I would even say almost as good as Sadamoto himself a couple of times. The characters are always easily identifiable and the art is stunning.

It also helps Osamu can really draw well hilarious goofy sexy scenes!

Specially compared to the previous title. Easily one of the better drawn EVA spinoff series and actually really close and faithful to the original design from the series.

Evangelions has always meant a lot of different things for fans out there. It was never just drama, action or a psychological exploration of super robot series characters. It was also funny.

Here we have a spinoff that takes the humor part of the franchise, and decides to run along with it. It never takes itself too seriously. It even makes fun of itself and EVA in general.

Don't expect an actual continuation of the series, it's certainly not what you would call "canon". It's a really fun loose adaptations of the series, taking the original characters from Evangelion into a completely tonally different setting. And the characters are even kept fairly intact in the translation and they also get some development over the volumes.

The story actually kind of holds on its own. There's no Angels nor Eva units (although they get a few cameos here and there). Everyone looks recognizable enough and in character. And even Yui Ikari gets a lot more screentime than she ever did. I really love how Gendo is not a bad father anymore but just an overly enthusiastic and affectionate dad. Shinji's not annoying anymore. Rei and Asuka are still pretty much the same but it works in this context.

It's very funny, and hilarious! It's just a great time!

Overall, The Shinji Ikari Raising Project is an hilarious parody series. With a lot of great scenes, fantastic art and really fun situations.

It's kind of a throwback to older vintage "ecchi" harem series such as Love Hina or Tenchi Muyo, rather than the dark bleak world you would expect from the original Evangelion series.

For Evangelion fans or just fans of the characters in general, it's well worth a look, I Highly Recommend this! Although be advised, it's full of fanservice!

It's also the longest-running Evangelion spinoff story! As of today there's been 17 volumes already. One last volume is apparently scheduled to come out soon. A lot has evolved over the years, including Osamu Takahashi's art style not just the plot.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Bobobos!

No comments:

Post a Comment