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From ~600 Cold to 770 (Q48 V51): A Debrief of My Summer Journey
My BackgroundI'm a native english speaker but the child of immigrant parents and a first gen college student - that is to say, although I was native, there was no english spoken in my household and I honestly wasn't a particularly good english student as a result growing up. However, in high school, I started to read a lot just in my own time and my general verbal skills improved drastically. I was an engineering major and did very well in my courses, so I had solid quant foundations. Moreover, I graduated this past spring, so my GMAT preparation and test occurred while I was on break in between graduating school and starting full-time. Finally, this was the first standardized test I have ever taken.
Overview of PreparationStarting Point
I actually never did a true cold diagnostic. However, after flipping through the basic lessons in the Official Guide to get a sense for what is tested on the GMAT, I worked through the short diagnostic test that the OG provides. I completed this without time pressure, and really took my time, so if anything, my results here would be an overstatement of my actual capability at this point.
Now, this cold diagnostic doesn't have a "true" score attached to it, but there are some references online that provide rough estimates for how your diagnostic score scales to an actual GMAT score. My diagnostic was estimated at approximately 600 (Q36 V35). That's based on the following diagnostic performance:
1) Problem Solving: 16/24
2) Data Sufficiency: 17/24
3) Reading Comprehension: 13/17
4) Critical Reasoning: 14/17
5) Sentence Correction: 12/18
I started my preparation in May. I already had access to the old Manhattan guides as PDF's, so I started here by working through all of the quant books first, and then working through their SC and RC books as well. It took me about 80 hours or so to work through all of Manhattan in addition to slowly starting to work through some small OG problem sets (mostly easy questions).
At this point, I decided to take the official mock test #1 to see where I was at. Unfortunately, although I scored really well, it was a very poor simulation of the actual test. I had to pause multiple times due to distractions in the house (which gave me extra time to think about questions) and even paused to consult my notes for one question (facapalm). In any case, I didn't feel god writing the test - for some questions, I ended up getting them right for the wrong reasons, I felt like I was scrambling the entire time, etc. I knew I needed a lot more preparation ahead of my late September test date.
TTP + OG
In mid July, I started TTP, and I planned to work through it over the course of the next 2 months leading up to my scheduled GMAT.
I first went through the entire quant course (all lessons + examples) and about 30% of the chapter tests (mostly focusing on medium and hard). I was consistently above the target accuracy outside of a few hard tests on some topics (like combinatorics / probability). My medium tests were usually 90-100% while hard tests were 80-95%. Then, I went through the verbal content that was available (SC and CR) including all of the chapter tests (because there are very few of them currently available). I was certainly feeling more confident in my quant ability after all of this (and I mean....good grief, I BETTER be feeling confident after putting in all of this time!). In total, I estimate that I spent ~200 hours on TTP.
In August, I started working through increasingly larger OG problem sets using the online tool. I started with a mix across easy / medium / hard, but once I saw that I was at ~95% accuracy on easy, I started to focus exclusively on medium / hard. As I was getting close to my practice test phase, I started to work on larger problem set sizes so as to better simulate the test taking experience (i.e. 30 timed problems for quant and ~40 timed problems for verbal as a stamina challenge).
Practice TestingOnce I finished TTP, there was nothing left to do but actually work on OG problems and, of course, the actual OG tests. I tried to simulate these as realistically as possible, including:
- Taking these practice tests with a mask on (because I was taking an in-person exam)
- Using an erasable notepad (used the Manhattan simulation notepad & marker)
- Absolutely no pauses
- Timed breaks
- Taking the exam at the same time as my afternoon actual exam (also, going through the same breakfast and morning routine as I planned to do for my actual exam)
|Test #||Composite Score||Quant||Verbal||IR|
- It was clear to me that at the upper end, verbal has a remarkably tight margin of error. Getting 2 vs. 5 verbal wrong is a pretty big difference in score. In comparison, I had as many as 7 wrong in quant and still got Q50...and I had as few as 1 wrong on quant and...still got a Q50!
- I also took one Manhattan practice test (the free one that is offered) and scored only a 720 (this was right before doing official mock #3, in which I got a 770). Manhattan is definitely tough, so don't get discouraged my lower Manhattan scores. I also did two GMAT Club CATs (when they were free on Labour Day). Suffice to say, these are TOUGH. I did them at 11pm back to back (I remembered the free giveaway at the last second). I got Q49 on my first one and then Q48 on the second one.
Test DayAt the end of it all, all of your preparation means nothing if you don't execute on test day. At this point, I had put in ~350 hours into test prep. I was conflicted internally between the two following thoughts:
1) Wow, I've done so much prep. How can I not do great here?
2) Wow, I've done so much prep...what if despite hundreds of hours, I mess this up??
Ultimately, test taking psychology is so important and underrated. It's easy to tell people "just be confident" and whatnot. The best thing you can do mitigate that anxiety is just prepping as much as possible. Aside from that, simulating test day is a good idea. I had more confidence knowing that I had used the erasable notepad and used my mask. In general, you want to limit surprises on test day. In the week leading up to my exam, I tried to visualize taking the test at night time. I would imaging walking into the test centre and feeling confident through the exam. I would imagine seeing a 770 flash on my screen at the end.
When I was driving there, I felt INCREDIBLY nervous. I wanted to barf! However, as soon as I walked into the Pearson test centre and sat in the lobby, I was amazed: I felt incredibly calm. I had looked up what the test centres looked like and had done these visualization exercises - perhaps that was the trick?
I went with verbal - quant - IR - AWA as my order. Verbal felt pretty good overall. It was in line with the difficulty of the official mocks, IMO. At most, some of the RC questions were more vague than what I was accustomed to. After the break, I moved onto quant - this had always been my stronger section and my performance here in practice was remarkably steady.
However...I failed to execute on quant. There were 2 questions where I spent ~4 minutes on them before giving up and guessing. As some of you know, this is a recipe for disaster. This prompted me to move quickly through the other questions, causing me to lose precision and miss on some medium level questions for sure.
Going into the final stretch, I told myself at this point that what's done was done. IMO, with IR and AWA, you just want to avoid having a blemish on your score. From my prep, IR was honestly a wild card. There are some IR questions in general where I was just confused at what it was asking. However, the test IR's ended up feeling alright.
And then...right after submitting the AWA, the final score immediately appeared. In summary:
770, 48Q, 51V, 8IR
I immediately did two massive fist pumps at my desk before calming myself before catching the ire of the test proctors. I couldn't care less about my splits at this point - I saw the 770 and knew I was done. Interestingly, at this point, I didn't even feel happiness or enjoyment per se. It was more so a feeling of...relief.
Obviously, the quant / verbal split was unexpected. I'm still a bit disappointed in dropping to Q48 as I feel that that's definitely below my actual talent level...but I was thrilled with the V51, obviously. In the end, I was able to tighten up my focus on verbal for test day. During my mock tests, even on the ones where I had gotten 2-3 wrong, they were usually careless mistakes on second glance. I felt I could put it together to throw a perfect game on verbal on test day...and thankfully that materialized!
List of Resources Used:Happy to expand on any of this in the comments:
- Manhattan Guide - ultimately, these gave me a strong foundation. I actually do think I could have potentially gotten to a 770 with just Manhattan + the full Official Guide
- TTP Quant and Verbal. It's truly an excellent program and great at building strong fundamentals. There are tons of positive reviews on this sub so I'll leave it there for quant but ask any follow up q's. Additionally, I was a fan of TTP verbal. Was it completely responsible for my V51? Impossible of course, since there isn't even an RC section. However, I will say that it helped me the most IMO in SC. It's pretty comprehensive and the tests do a good job at improving your ability to spot specific errors. The best aspect about TTP SC IMO is that it does a good job at getting you used to spotting meaning errors. However, the TTP questions focus on different aspects of sentences than the OG, so you can't use TTP in isolation.
- Official Guide - Indispensable. TTP questions are good but nothing can match the OG. I felt that although TTP quant questions were often harder, the OG had more..."weird" questions out of left field
- All 6 official GMAT tests. It's the only source of official questions with the actual GMAT algorithm. Worth investment, IMO. Use them wisely and ALWAYS use them under realistic testing conditions
- Manhattan + GMAT Club tests - these were pretty okay, especially if you want to use them for timing practice / additional problems. But don't read too much into their scores and their explanations (especially for verbal)
Section Tips / Commentary:I'll keep this brief here because, but please do follow up with any questions you may have.
Quant in General
Don't take quant lightly, even if you're a quant major. I was an engineering major at a top school who got an A+ in university level probability and statistics. Guess what? I scored a 66% on my first TTP hard probability test and to this day, will still get some stats questions wrong. Maintaining precision on quant questions is key.
Verbal in General
- RC: I don't think gimmicks work. When I was doing my practice tests, RC was my strongest area on verbal (only got one RC wrong through tests 2 -6). I would actually read the entire passage (every word) AND take some brief notes throughout. I rarely referred back to my notes - they were just there to keep my mind engaged with the passage. One of the keys to RC is really sticking to the passage. On harder questions, there may be 3 to 4 options where your reaction is "well...that does kind of make sense, right?". But then one word or two will change the true meaning so you have to be precise.
- CR: Likewise, precision is king. The most important skill I picked up was truly isolating what the EXACT conclusion was. This is tougher than it seems! A common wrong answer type is one that is relevant to the argument...but not truly addressing the core conclusion. Moreover, it's essential to really put yourself in the author's shoes and understand the logic they're using.
- SC: I started thinking I could get away with picking answers based on "sound". If you're aiming high on SC, this simply isn't viable. You need to know the basic grammar rules and understand proper sentence correction. Moreover, getting beyond the basic rules and towards interpreting the meaning of sentences is the true differentiator that takes you from an A- to an A+. Reading will help you a lot here. Throughout the summer, when I'd read publications like The Economist or the New York Times, I would actually note their sentence structures. I'd ask myself "what is this modifying?" or "cool, there's a present participle! Let's see how this is working in this sentence". If I ever noticed sentences that I thought were wrong or awkward, I'd read it again to understand what it was actually a good sentence.
Fire away with any questions you have! Also feel free to DM me as well :)
How to get into Neon Genesis Evangelion: A 100% spoiler-free guide for complete newbies
What’s the deal with Neon Genesis Evangelion? I keep hearing about it.Neon Genesis Evangelion is the name of an anime and also a manga series that both started in the mid 1990s. Since then, it’s grown into a major franchise with numerous spinoffs, and a merchandise empire to rival Star Wars. Beloved in its homeland of Japan and by fans all over the planet, Neon Genesis Evangelion’s early releases still hold up to the very best today, and as of 2020 the franchise is still active with new entries on the horizon.
If you’re curious about this series and want to see what all the fuss is about, you could just dive head-first into it, but if you’re like me, you suffer from severe franchise anxiety, worrying about getting into it “wrong”. Well, that’s where I come in. I’m going to tell you all the things that my overthinking ass wished I knew back when I first jumped into it a long time ago. You can read this whole guide and not be spoiled about any story details.
Throughout this guide, I’ll use the word “Evangelion” as an abbreviation for the franchise as a whole. As well as “Evangelion”, fans may use the full title “Neon Genesis Evangelion” to refer to the franchise, or the acronym “NGE”, or simply “Eva”.
I feel like this franchise is really complicated. Where do I even start? How does it all fit together?I remember hearing a friend tell me that he was curious about getting into the series but felt overwhelmed by the many entries and didn’t know where to start. It was sad to hear that, because in actual fact, the franchise structure is very simple. This isn’t Gundam.
The most important part of Evangelion is what I’ll call the “core Evangelion story”, and it’s the primary continuity. This begins with the 26-episode anime series, plus the theatrical film The End of Evangelion. That’s it! That’s the core story. All you need to do is watch the series, then the movie. Everything else is a spinoff or bonus content in one form or another. There’s no “true” sequel to the core story*.
*…or is there?
Okay, so I start with the TV series?Yep! The original show (which I’ll just call NGE from here on in) ran for a single season of 26 episodes between 1995 and 1996 in Japan, and each episode aired in a half-hour timeslot, so episode lengths are generally 21-23 minutes each. It won’t take you long to get through it (although I recommend NOT binging it all at once for reasons I’ll go into later) unlike many other long-running franchises.
There are some key things to know before you start, though:
Director’s cut episodesFirst of all, most versions of NGE released after the airing of the show include an alternative “director’s cut” for episodes 21 to 24. My DVD version allows you to select between the original cut and the director’s cut. If offered a choice, always choose the director’s cut of these episodes. The director’s cuts include several minutes per episode of additional footage. These extra scenes are critical to understanding the story. If you are watching on Netflix, don’t worry, episodes 21 through 24 are the director’s cut versions.
Episode TitlesThese can get confusing. If you want to talk about specific episodes with other fans, you may want to try and remember the episode numbers. The titles work too, but there are two of them for each episode, and there are numerous translations of each.
For example, episode three is titled 鳴らない、電話 in Japanese, which roughly translates to “The Phone That Doesn’t Ring”, but it also has an English title, which is “A Transfer”. To make matters worse, the English titles were chosen by Gainax, the animation studio, who are Japanese and aren’t native English speakers, so some of them are a bit awkward-sounding.
LanguageWe need to talk about dubs and subs. NGE was made by a Japanese studio for Japanese audiences and used a Japanese cast speaking Japanese. As the show soared in popularity, broadcasters around the world took notice and moved quickly to secure rights to dub the show in foreign languages. Since this guide is in English, I’ll only be talking about English adaptations, however the show is available dubbed and subbed in many other languages, and I understand that some of the dubs are considered excellent.
The original JapaneseThe original Japanese voice actors deliver a phenomenal, iconic performance. My personal preference is to watch the show in Japanese with English subtitles, and the main reason is because I love the Japanese voice cast and I think they do the best job of conveying the emotions of the characters. Plus, Megumi Ogata’s screams… Blood-curdling. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
The show is set in a version of Japan, and cultural references to Japan are frequent. In my opinion, these references feel more natural in the original Japanese language, as compared to the dubs which have to find ways to make them make sense in American-accented English.
Most versions of NGE use the same translation for the subtitles, and I think it’s a great translation that captures the intention of the original Japanese whilst making sensible choices to ensure that it reads naturally in English. The Netflix subs are a new translation, and are much stricter in sticking to the Japanese wording, but many longtime fans are unhappy with the way certain scenes appear to have their meaning or context quite significantly altered by this new translation. I haven’t closely compared the two translations, but some of the things I’ve read about the Netflix translation certainly sound concerning to me as a longtime fan. Still – if Netflix is your only means of watching the series, I don’t think it’s a deal-breaker!
The downside of watching a subtitled anime is the same as always: Your immersion in the visuals is hampered by the need to keep an eye on the bottom of the screen to read subtitles, and NGE’s dialogue can get a bit hectic at times. You’ll need to be an attentive reader to keep up with the play at some points. I find that I can still appreciate the visuals of the show while reading the subtitles, but for many, it’s far more preferable to hear the dialogue in their native language, and for that, you’ll need to decide between the two English dubs that have been officially released.
The original English dubThe original English dub was produced by ADV Films not long after the show started airing in Japan, and the studio were operating on a tight budget, short timeframe and a limited pool of voice acting talent. Also it was 1996, and anime dubbing in 1996 was a very different artform to today. The result is that the original dub of NGE sounds a bit like a children’s cartoon from 1996… Which is exactly what it was in many ways. Despite this, the original dub has many passionate fans, and as the series progresses, the performances increase in quality. Most of the main voice cast returned for later series entries as well, and they’ve only got better over time.
The Netflix dubNetflix surprised everyone when in 2019 they brought the entire series to their platform… With a brand-new translation and dub. This new dub has generated a lot of controversy, and the main reason is that none of the original voice cast reprised their role, and many were never even invited to audition. It also has a reworked script, just as the subtitles have, and many of the changes upset longtime fans. On the other hand, it’s a much more polished and professional dub than the original, and the translation is closer to the original Japanese in many ways.
My advice to first-timers is to not sweat the decision too much, but if you’re comfortable with reading subtitles, I still think watching it in Japanese is the best way to experience it, but go with whatever suits you best!
The MusicShiro Sagisu composed the music for NGE, and it’s fantastic. You’re in for a treat. The series’ opening theme is famous, and also a bit of a meme. All I’ll say is if you only heard the opening theme and had to guess what the show was like, you’d be very, very wrong.
The Netflix dub made a pretty major change to the music in that they could not get the rights to the original ending theme, the classic Bart Howard song “Fly Me to the Moon”. Instead, they use one of the series’ prominent cues for the ending theme. The replacement music actually works quite well, but as a longtime fan, it’s difficult to imagine each episode not ending with “Fly Me to the Moon”. If you’re a newbie, it probably won’t make much difference at all, but if you want the “classic” experience, you’ll need to find a version other than the Netflix one.
The FormatNGE is in 4:3 ratio. If your version is somehow in widescreen, press stop immediately because something has gone very wrong. Learn to love the elegance of the 4:3 format.
The whole series is now available in HD, and it looks great, however the animation isn’t so richly detailed that you lose out by watching it in SD. If you only have a DVD copy, don’t sweat it trying to find an HD copy!
There are a fair few releases of the series out there, some of which are highly collectible. I’m not an expert on the differences between them, but as far as I know, there aren’t any “must-avoid” prints you need to worry about.
So, uh, what’s Evangelion even about?Ask this to most fans and they’ll probably chuckle before a bit before they say anything. That’s because there’s quite a few ways to describe it, and they all sound either shallow and boring, or pretentious and overblown.
The core Evangelion story is about monsters who attack a city in Japan, and the only way to fight them off is by using giant robots, who all happen to be piloted by teenagers. Pretty standard premise, really.
It sounds like a straightforward mecha show.Glad you said that, because NGE is indeed an entry in the mecha (giant robot) genre of anime.
You’ll hear the phrase “deconstruction” mentioned a lot in reference to this show, but don’t be put off by that. All it means is that prior to 1995, mecha anime and manga were very popular, and they tended to follow a pretty rigid set of tropes. One of NGE’s calling cards is that it intentionally dodges many of the clichés of mecha shows by trying to show how teenagers piloting giant robots against a mysterious enemy would really go down in real life.
The deconstruction aspect of NGE, although prominent, is also not particularly important to a new viewer in 2020, particularly if you aren’t familiar with earlier mecha series. If you are though, I think you’ll appreciate how NGE deals with what seems like a standard premise.
NGE was animated by Gainax, a famous anime studio, and the director was Hideaki Anno. If you’ve seen the 2016 film Shin Godzilla which Anno directed, you’ll notice many similarities between that and this series. If you’ve seen the 1984 Hayao Miyazaki film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, you might see things in NGE that remind you of the scene where the Giant Warrior attacks. Guess who animated that scene!
I heard this show was deep. How deep are we talking?NGE is the butt of many a meme due to its reputation as a “deep” anime with a complex (or incomprehensible, depending on who you ask) story and themes. My advice is to forget all that. Your expectations going into this show need to be reset if you really want to enjoy it for what it is. All you need to know is that the story is a wild ride, and no matter how clued-up you think you are, it’s going to go places you don’t expect.
You don’t need to do preparatory readings of philosophy papers or religious texts, just go into it with an open mind, and perhaps a reflection on what your own life goals are, how you motivate yourself to achieve them, and also your experiences trying to create and maintain relationships with others. Casting your mind back to how you were in your early teens will help get into the mindset of the main characters too.
Great. I think I’m ready to get started.That’s good. Just a few more bits of advice from me:
- Get in the right headspace before you hit play. The vibe established in the first episode is one of pure dread. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
- You’re going to see some weird things. Roll with it.
- Remember, you’re watching an anime from the ‘90s. There’s going to be some very cliché ‘90s anime tropes. This isn’t all high art.
- This was made with a younger audience in mind, but Japan has a slightly different opinion on what constitutes ideal entertainment for kids and teens compared to other countries. Don’t try and view it as either a kids’ cartoon or an adult drama.
- This was made for Japanese audience. If you’re an anime fan you’ll be right at home, but if this is your first anime, it’s going to take some adjusting to get used to how visual storytelling works in this medium
- If you like to hunt for “problematic” elements in media you watch, I’m sure you won’t have trouble finding them here, due to it being 25 years old and being aimed at a very different culture to 2020 Western Culture. Take a deep breath and leave your 2020 Western gaze at the door and you’ll have a much better time.
- The show may seem like it settles into a “formula”. Keep watching. The “formulaic” episodes are actually some of my favorites. Savor them.
- As you’re watching, it might help to write down questions as they come up, e.g. “what was that whole thing about _______ ??”
- Think about the questions the main characters aren’t asking.
- The teenage characters are all 14 years old. Their age and inexperience is important.
- Resist the temptation to binge. Breaks in between sessions will help you to digest and reflect.
- Turn off all background noise or wear headphones. This series deserves to have your full attention.
- If you’re going to watch this with others, their attitude will make or break your experience. If they’re attentive and respectful, you’ll love experiencing the story with them and having heated conversations after each episode. If they’re obnoxious and distracted, you need to ditch them ASAP.
- NGE is very story-heavy. It’s now your responsibility to avoid all spoilers about any Evangelion-related media. As the show is now 25 years old, most people who have seen it won’t think twice about openly mentioning spoilers. Be very wary.
- If you do get spoiled on something, don’t freak out. There’s so much to this show that no one spoiler is going to ruin your enjoyment.
- There’s a couple of points in the show where the screen may appear to be frozen. Don’t worry, your copy isn’t defective.
- You’ll see lots of Christian symbolism in the show. Don’t get too bogged down in trying to assign it all meaning, some of it is just there to look cool.
- This is completely optional, but you might get a kick out of reading up on the difference between pop culture angels and biblical angels before watching the show.
- If you are partway through the show and have a burning question, it’s going to be really hard to get an answer without getting spoiled. Your best bet is to message a trusted Evangelion veteran and let them know your question and where you’re up to, and they’ll do their best to answer (or just tell you to “keep watching”!) without spoiling you. I invite you to DM me for this purpose!
- Each episode concludes with a preview for “next week’s” episode. It’s tempting to skip these, but there’s some good stuff hiding in them…
So I finished the series. What’s this about a movie?To be clear, there are no spoilers in this guide, so feel free to read this section even if you haven’t watched the series yet!
You’ll hear all sorts of things about The End of Evangelion, the film that was originally released in 1997. All you need to know right now is that it’s the conclusion of the core story. You could not watch it, and leave the story as it is concluded at the end of the series, but you really shouldn’t. This movie is too good to skip, even if it has some notable differences from the series in terms of its general feel and vibe.
You may see the film referred to as episodes 25’ and 26’ (note the apostrophes), or as a replacement ending for the TV series (which also has episodes 25 and 26). Don’t overthink it too much – the film and the end of the series overlap in some ways, which is why the film is structured as two “episodes” that share a number with the final two in the series.
All I’ll say about The End of Evangelion is that you may think after finishing the series that you have been desensitized to the types of things the franchise throws at you. You are wrong. This movie is an even wilder ride than the show, and you are really going to want to take some time to go for a long, meditative walk both before and after it.
I have questions. Lots of questions.That’s normal. You could watch some of the many “Evangelion explained” videos on YouTube, but I haven’t yet found one that I was really satistfied with. In my opinion, the most rewarding way to get your questions answered is to interact with other Evangelion fans and get their perspective on what it’s all about and exactly what happened. Again, feel free to DM me for this purpose! The Evangelion subreddit is a great community and will be more than happy to share their thoughts with you.
Like many stories, the “correct” interpretation of it is the one that means the most to you. I have my own specific interpretation that works for me, and that may diverge from many other fans’, but that’s okay! Hideako Anno himself would be delighted at all the different meanings that various fans have taken away with them and held onto tightly.
What’s this Death and Rebirth movie? Didn’t it come out before The End of Evangelion?Skip it. Yes, it did come out between the series and The End of Evangelion, but you don’t need to watch it. It’s a recap of the series, plus an early edit of the first third of The End of Evangelion. You will not miss anything by skipping it (provided you saw the director’s cuts of episodes 21-24). Death(true) and Death(true)2 are re-edits of the recap part of Death and Rebirth. If you hear about The Revival of Evangelion, it’s simply an edited together version of Death(true)2 and The End of Evangelion.
You said something about a manga series at the beginning there?Like Star Wars in 1977, Evangelion’s famous debut wasn’t actually its debut. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto released the first issue of a manga also entitled Neon Genesis Evangelion at the very end of 1994, 10 months before the show started! Sadamoto was the character designer for the TV show, and as a result, the art in the manga is extremely consistent. He nails it in every chapter.
Incredibly, it took Sadamoto almost 19 years to finish the series, which exists in a separate continuity to the show. Certain plot points play out very differently, and the characterization differs in many places, but the overall story arc is the one we know and love from the anime.
I highly recommend the manga to fans of the show, despite it telling a very similar story. You’ll appreciate it best if you’ve taken a bit of a break between the anime before starting the manga.
There are 13 volumes of the manga, and they’re fairly easy to come by. The easiest way to read them is by picking up the omnibus editions which have multiple volumes within each. There are five omnibuses collecting the entire series.
I swear there are way more movies than what you’ve mentioned so far.Uh, yeah. We’ll get to those. First of all, let’s wrap up some of the other Evangelion-related media that’s out there:
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days is a spinoff manga set in an alternate continuity. It has shades of the core Evangelion story but with a romantic shoujo twist. Six volumes were released between 2003 and 2005.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari Riasing Project is another spinoff manga set in another alternate continuity. It’s very different to the core Evangelion story and has much more comedy and fanservice. 18 volumes were released between 2005 and 2016.
Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse (aka Neon Genesis Evangelion Academy: Record of Heaven's Descent in Japanese) is yet another spinoff manga in another alternate continuity, this time with a high school mystery premise. Three volumes were released in 2007.
Petit Eva: [email protected] is a chibi-style parody manga, plus a series of animated shorts, where everyone gets up to wacky hijinks completely unconnected to any of the other continuities. If you are desperately searching this out, you may have taken your Evangelion obsession a bit too far.
There are quite a few video games that are part of the series, but most were only released in Japan and aren’t considered canon. The exception is Neon Genesis Evangelion 2, originally released for the Playstation 2 in 2003 in Japan only. As a reward for completing each scenario, the player is given access to increasingly-detailed information on various Evangelion topics (Called the “Classified Information”). The complete Classified Information includes a lot of information not found anywhere else in the series, and what’s more, it seems to be aligned with the original anime’s continuity. Many of the “Evangelion Explained” videos you’ll see will heavily rely on this information. It’s debated whether it’s truly “canon” or not, but apparently Hideako Anno was involved in the writing. In my opinion, the Classified Information makes enough sense that I do consider it canon, and if you’re itching for answers after finishing the core story, you should look it up – English translations are easy to find.
There are a bunch of one-off publications of dubious canonicity that you may wish to look up, and heaps of art books and other behind-the-scenes material, much of it only in Japanese.
The merchandise situation is… Out of control. You will struggle to name a product that has not had an Evangelion-themed version of it produced at some point.
Okay, can we talk about these other movies now?The Rebuild of Evangelion is a series of four full-length theatrical films set in a new Evangelion continuity.
If you want to be absolutely in the dark about what to expect from these movies, you should skip this section. Although I won’t give away any story spoilers, I will hint at a little about what these movies “feel” like.
The Rebuild films are infamous for a number of reasons:
- The first film was released in 2007, and the second was supposed to come out later that year, and the third and fourth were supposed to be released together in 2008. The second film didn’t come out until 2009, the third not until 2012, and the fourth… No release date as of 2020. Yeah.
- They’re not made by Gainax, but by a new studio called Khara. Hideako Anno is still director though. I think Khara do a great job, but not all fans are fans.
- Anno pitched the series as a kind of “re-make” of the original TV series in theatrical form, but with the benefit of more than a decade’s worth of the director’s personal growth and a very healthy animation budget. It was suggested that the characters and story would be re-tooled for a modern audience, and that the whole thing would be more accessible and coherent than the original continuity. That... was a lie.
- Are the films really a new continuity? Don’t say I didn’t warn you if you choose to obliviously bring this topic up around passionate fans.
Evangelion 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance was released in 2009 and introduces a brand new, Rebuild-exclusive character into the mix. To say it diverges from the original story would be an understatement.
Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo was released in 2012 and should probably require a waiver to be signed before it is viewed.
Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time was supposed to come out in 2020, but the coronavirus caused it to be put on hold indefinitely. The film is apparently complete, but knowing Anno, that doesn’t necessarily mean much. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if the film goes through three more titles and a complete re-write before it finally comes out.
Most of the original English and Japanese voice casts returned for the Rebuild films with a few exceptions, and the performances are better than they’ve ever been. The English dub of 3.0 was a bit of a drama, with it initially premiering in 2013 in cinemas, but with no DVD release in sight. Khara apparently sent the dubbing team (Funimation) back to the drawing board. The agonizingly re-worked dub was finally released on DVD in 2016.
The DVD and Blu-ray releases of the films have slightly altered numbering: 1.11, 2.22, 3.33 etc. This reflects that many corrections and additions were included for these releases compared to the versions shown in cinemas.
I can’t really tell if you’re recommending these movies or not…The Rebuild series is frustrating, perplexing, sometimes rage-inducing, but it’s the true successor to the original core story, with Hideako Anno’s creative vision in full bloom. You need to see these movies if you’re an Evangelion fan. However, you also need to completely re-set your expectations. Don’t stumble into these movies right after the credits roll on The End of Evangelion. You’re going to want to give it some time, get a few life experiences under your belt, and then sit down with a fresh palate to experience this very different iteration of the Evangelion story.
Why do people go on and on about Evangelion? The fans seem kind of rabid sometimes.If you’ve read this far, you will probably have got the sense that any media franchise that inspires people to write guides like this (and many, many other far more impressive fan contributions) must have some sort of cult-like appeal. That’s pretty much the case for Evangelion, and the fans are pretty notorious for their passion and geekery. That can be said for quite a few franchises, but I think Evangelion is special because it genuinely changes people’s lives.
Hideako Anno has struggled with depression on-and-off throughout his life, and Evangelion is a product of that struggle. Evangelion tries to grapple with the “why am I really here” question in a way that very few other stories have. I still remember the moments after I first finished the series, my heart beating fast, and in the ensuing days I mulled over what it all meant. After a while, and some discussions with other fans, I started to put together my own interpretation. The immense satisfaction and comfort I felt after deciding on the meaning that I wanted to take away stays with me to this day, and the lessons I took from it are ones I still regularly use to navigate my own life.
Ask any Evangelion fan and they’ll have a story similar to this. That’s why they’re so fiercely protective of it. It’s much more than a media franchise – it’s an introduction to a lifelong practice of self-reflection and conscious growth, and that’s not a small thing.
Regardless of what you get out of Evangelion, at the very least I hope you have a blast enjoying it, and becoming part of the huge and wonderful community of Evangelion fans around
How did you find this guide? I'd love to hear your feedback. I can think of lots more things I'd love to include in future editions and absolutely intend on expanding it and updating it as new material is released.
The main intended audience for this guide is actually film/TV geeks who may not be anime fans, but have no doubt heard NGE referred to as one of the best - I really want to encourage them to step out of their comfort zone and reap the rewards, so this guide is really trying to cater for them!
For the love of all that is holy, please don't post spoilers in the comments! I really want this to be a valuable resource for those curious about getting into the series.