Whether you’re a fan of classic, retro anime or not, there are some series that are simply must-watch. Evangelion is so big that it’s spawned multiple series and films, which can be confusing for first-timers. So, what is the best watch order for Neon Genesis Evangelion?
Unsurprisingly, the watch order for Evangelion can get a little confusing, so we’ve tried to break it down and give you multiple options depending on how deep you want to go.
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Should You Watch the Evangelion Movies or Series?
If you want a complete Evangelion experience, you should watch both the movies and original TV series. If you want to quickly get through it, you may just want to watch the TV series, but trust me, you’ll want to see the movies once you reach the end.
To explain why you should watch both TV series and movies, let’s break down what we’re working with – here is the ‘complete’ Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise, minus spin-offs and so on:
|Neon Genesis Evangelion||TV Series||1995 - 1996|
|NGE: Death & Rebirth||Film||1997|
|NGE: The End of Evangelion||Film||1997|
|Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone||Film||2007|
|Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance||Film||2009|
|Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo||Film||2012|
|Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time||Film||2021|
Really, you can break the franchise into two – the original pre-2000 run and the post-2000 films known collectively as Rebuild of Evangelion.
The original TV series ended controversially – it’s a great example of a long-running series going off the rails, with the final two episodes seen as a psychoanalytical mess.
Soon after, The End of Evangelion film was released to provide an alternate ending to the TV show. In-between those, Death & Rebirth recapped the events of the TV series.
The Rebuild of Evangelion
It was revealed that the original series creator, Hideaki Anno, had a very different story in mind for Evangelion, and he got the chance to bring it to life through Rebuild of Evangelion.
The four Evangelion films post-2000 – 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 (3.0 + 1.0) – are Anno’s retelling of the original TV series and End of Evangelion film. with modern animation capabilities. However, the story significantly deviates from the original, making it more than just a simple reboot.
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What is the Best Watch Order for Neon Genesis Evangelion?
This is somewhat down to opinion, but if you want to understand why Evangelion is such a classic without having to invest an extraordinary amount of hours, the best watch order is the TV series followed by its concluding film. Then, if you fall in love with the franchise, you can enjoy it all over again with the Rebuild movies:
- Neon Genesis Evangelion (TV Series)
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion
- Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone
- Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance
- Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo
- Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time
Watching the TV series and End of Evangelion gives you a full flavour of the classic anime, including the famous issues which the TV series faced at the end.
While there are some interesting directorial points to be taken from the Death & Rebirth movie, it was created as filler before the final film came out, and to get people that hadn’t seen the TV series on board. If you’re going straight through, you will probably want to skip this film.
The new Rebuild films are a great way to bring new fans into the franchise and give Anno another go at finishing the story. However, they don’t have the emotional value of the original series. Ultimately, if you’re only going to watch one, it should be the original series.
If you want to be a completionist and watch the entire Evangelion catalogue, then it’s recommended to watch the originals first before going onto the new films. While the Rebuild series is designed so it can be watched without seeing the original stuff, it’s easier to appreciate what Rebuild is trying to achieve once you’ve seen its ancestor.
It might just be me, but ultimately, there’s no beating the original 1990s mecha classic! Hopefully, this article will help you get out there and discover what helps this dramatic, personal story stand the test of time.
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For more articles like this, take a look at our Anime and Neon Genesis Evangelion page.