I first watched Evangelion when I was 14 years old, the same age as its main character, the weak and tormented Shinji Ikari. I wasn’t piloting giant bio-mechs but I was a dinky little high school freshman, alone and frustrated, and I had a hell of a tough time connecting with people; “Hedgehog’s dilemma.” I couldn’t help but parallel my own angst with Shinji’s. Yeah, I know. I’M SUCH A NURDLOL
Add sexual frustration, tension, various betrayals and love triangles up the wazoo and, well, Evangelion and me, we got something in common. Whenever I think of it, whenever it’s mentioned, my chest tightens and I sigh. I’m inextricably linked to it. I imagine a lot of other people are too, seeing how its popularity never once waned since its Japanese debut so long ago. Now, I’m a college senior and, to be frank, I’m still hedgehogging. I actually sorta miss high school, I love to run, but my balls are bluer than a summer sky. At least the tenth volume of the Evangelion manga came out. FINALLY. So all you other Shinjis out there, rise up!
It’s been THREE LONG YEARS since the last volume of the manga came out, if Amazon.com is to be trusted, and I think it is to be trusted. It certainly feels like it’s been three years. I first started reading the manga when I first saw the anime, so, that’s EIGHT. LONG. YEARS I’ve been reading this thing. That’s a good majority of my life! Well, to be exact, I’ve been waiting for the next volume more than I’ve been reading it.
Apparently this is the norm for manga. They all take forever! Your typical manga-ka, or manga author, is just a lonely dude sitting on his 3×4 tatami mat scratching out doodles by candlelight. Except, in Evangelion’s case, it’s Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, the chief character designer for animation studio GAINAX. Well, FUCK, I imagine balancing those two jobs would delay the comic a bit. I love the guy, he’s my favorite anime artist out there, but c’mon! Is it that difficult to do two things at once?! AM I SO UNREASONABLE?!
It doesn’t help the books go by quickly. Volume Ten goes by really, really fast. Which SUCKS. Three years to wait, three minutes to read. Most of it is action and two-page spreads so there’s not a whole lot to read. There must be an average of 15 words per page, if there are any words at all. What’s most disappointing is how close this book sticks to the anime. The great thing about Sadamoto’s manga is that it’s his own spin on the anime’s story, so it’s not exactly the same thing. It’s worth it to read the manga to see the differences: Shinji isn’t a total wuss anymore – he actually throws a punch at his father, Gendo. Toji’s fate is different. There are less Angel fights so the pace is tighter (no thermal expansion here!). Kaji’s got a larger role in the lives of Shinji and Asuka, and an expanded backstory. Rei is much, much warmer than she was in the anime. And most surprising of all, Kaworu shows up earlier. It’s Evangelion Remixed.
Volume Ten has some new bits involving Kaworu and Gendo, but the sixteenth angel fight is almost exactly the same fight in the anime, except with new looks into Rei’s thought process and some nifty new art. I know I shouldn’t bitch that much about how unchanged it, since it IS a fuckin’ important part of the original story but… I waited three hundred years and spent $10… for something I’m already pretty damn familiar with.
It doesn’t help that I’ve been reading this manga, Death Note, before I picked up volume ten of Eva. Death Note is just a far better bargain in every sense. It’s longer, full of pages and pages of meticulous dialogue, planning, double-crossing and it has more twists than a Sonic 2 stage. It’s good solid fantasy/detective fiction and it’s cheaper and longer than volume ten is.
Eva manga, I love you, but goddammit, hurry the fuck up. It hurts to compare you to newer, shinier mangas! But at the rate you’re going the new Evangelion Rebuild movie series is gonna come out in America before your next volume!! Heaven forbid the WETA live-action movie is resurrected before your finale, Eva manga. Then all hope is lost.
I wouldn’t know what to do. I just… wouldn’t know who to turn to! Rei! Misato!! Help me!! Kaji?!
Nrgghh… Asuka?! I don’t know who to go to…!