Warning: Evangelion spoilers ahead.
Evangelion ANIMA gives us a rather charming alternate ending to Neon Genesis Evangelion - what if Shinji had managed to save Tokyo-3 from the Third Impact.
The novel begins 3 years after the end of the Human Instrumentality Project, replacing episodes 25 and 26 of the anime, as well as the End of Evangelion film. Our team of former Eva pilots are coming to terms with the aftermath of the battle at NERV HQ, while adapting to normal life. Three clones of Ayanami Rei have been put into Eva units and sent into space as a precautionary way to seek out and eradicate the remaining mass-produced Evangelion units, as well as monitor Earth’s safety. Misato is now in charge of NERV and the world seems peaceful for just a moment - but is the threat really gone?
As an Evangelion fan, this novel was an absolutely wild ride. There were several times when I felt so hyped up, I actually let out a yell (and definitely spooked my cat). Though brief, I loved seeing the crew get to interact and exist as normal teenagers for once. The author does an amazing job describing the environment and the newer Eva units in such great detail, you can picture it in your head perfectly. ANIMA is actually written by the mecha designer of the series, Ikuto Yamashita, and you can definitely tell. In fact, that actually lends itself to the one downside of this book - there is so much action crammed into the novel that you lose the charm and human moments that make Evangelion so relatable and beloved by fans.
Though lacking the heart and realism of the original television series, this novel contained larger than life Eva designs and action scenes. I don’t know if I would prefer this AU to the actual End of Evangelion, or even the newer Rebuild movies, but I do think it is a delightful reimagination that forces long-time fans to stop and think, “What-if?”
Neon Genesis Evangelion: ANIMA Novel Volume 1 features story and art by Ikuto Yamashita, Khara, and Yasuo Kashiwabara.
What if reluctant hero Ikari Shinji had saved the world? Now, at seventeen years old, he is the defacto leader of the EVA team. Under the leadership of Commander Katsuragi Misato, the Evangelion suits have been updated with advanced designs and powers, in preparation for the possible return of the monstrous Angels. Four copies of Ayanami Rei have been tasked with operating a global anti-Angel search-and-destroy program. But when one of these clones goes rogue, it’s up to Shinji to stop her.