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Neon Genesis Evangelion's creator says there might be plans for more with someone else at the helm, but I can't think of a worse idea

It's the end of the end of Evangelion.

Neon Genesis Evangelion's Shinji and Kaworu sat back to back, each with an earphone in one air, the starry night sky in the background.
Image credit: Studio Khara

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a weird series. Not even just because of its content, though that does go to some strange and complicated places too, but because never really ended. You've got the original, iconic '90s series, each episode opening with the objectively best anime opening of all time, consisting of 26 episodes and a movie (two movies if you count that compilation film). And then, 10 years on, series creator Hideaki Anno decided to make it again, this time as a film series, and from the second film onwards the plot went in a completely different direction narratively.

When the fourth film finally arrived in 2021, with an almost decade long gap between it and the third entry, it offered a strong if highly flawed thematic and narrative conclusion to the anime. I loved it, I hated it, it was everything it should and shouldn't have been at once, and it felt cathartic to be free of it in a way. There didn't feel like there was anything left to say, even if it was an imperfect film. And then, earlier this week, Anno, in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun (via Anime News Network), said something that immediately triggered my fight or flight response and queued up Decisive Battle in my internal radio: "there may be plans" for more Evangelion anime, but possibly with "someone other than [himself]" leading it. That, dear reader, sounds to me like an awful idea.

I'm fully aware that there have been other interpretations of Evangelion across a broad range of mediums. Both the PS2 and Dreamcast have a number of visual novels, there's the manga adaptation, and more besides these too. I get it! They existed to capitalise on a very popular anime, with the games in particular letting players live out fantasies where they can make Shinji enter romantic relationships with characters like Rei, Asuka, Kaworu, and even some OCs. But as much as Evangelion quite literally plays with ideas of different timelines and history repeating and remixing itself, more anime just feels like a mistake.

Anno is quite obviously deeply tied to his own creation, not simply because he was the lead behind it, but also because it famously (perhaps even infamously) is a reflection of his own struggles with mental health. Rebuild too felt like a contemporary approach to the change in his own life, landing on a different, arguably much more positive note than how the original series did. I'm not really a fan of framing works like these as solely the result of a genius auteur, I think I'd be giving Anno too much credit there, given how inherently collaborative anime is, but it also quite literally wouldn't exist without him.

An anime without him at the helm, presented as a new addition to the Evangelion canon, would feel wrong. There shouldn't be a further canon exploration of the series, especially because of how resolutely it ended - I'm not opposed to a more fan fiction approach, one that makes it clear it's doing its own thing and should be regarded as something separate. But even then, I worry about the worsened waifufication of characters like Rei and Asuka.

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If you're even remotely aware of anime, you'll be conscious of the plethora of figures and toys you can buy of all sorts of characters, often stereotypically overtly sexual, posed in ways you can't help but think that these poor women must have severe back issues. Of course, figures like these exist of Rei and Asuka, who I'd like to remind you are minors. It's partially why those PS2 visual novels can ring so uncomfortable, as they clearly have a particular player in mind. I don't trust a new anime to not double down on this treatment of its female characters, who Anno himself didn't treat all that respectfully, though in much different ways than just sexualisation.

At the very least, Anno did say that there aren't any definite plans for the series, but he's not ruling out future instalments either. As someone that loves Evangelion, I do understand the immediate response of "yay more thing I love" but I'm going to continue to be hesitant about the prospect of more. Plus, I really don't think they should put Shinji in the Eva, it never goes well.

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