Eight months before the EVANGELION anime there was the manga, co-creator Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's personal -- and surprising -- take on what many consider to be the anime series of the decade. Now editor Carl Gustav Horn explains how the Angels are coming to America


NEON GENESIS EVANGELION, winner of Japan's COMICKERS 1996 fan poll for best manga, is the first extended comic work of studio Gainax co-founder, character designer and key animator Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (THE WINGS OF HONNEAMISE, NADIA/THE SECRET OF BLUE WATER). Previously, Sadamoto's longest professional manga had been ROUTE 20, serialized in NEWTYPE between December of 1991 and April of 1992 (but never collected) -- a 63-page story based on a never-produced anime concept Sadamoto developed with fellow Gainax member Mahiro Maeda.

During 1994 and 1995, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto developed the EVANGELION story together with anime director Hideaki Anno, reprising the partnership they had shared on NADIA. The first installment of the NEON GENESIS EVANGELION manga appeared in the February 1995 issue of the Kadokawa monthly SHONEN ACE, and had been running for a good eight months before the TV show premiered on October 4 of that year. Just as the EVA anime is unmistakably the statement of Anno, the EVA manga is Sadamoto's own interpretation of the basic story.

The EVANGELION manga is therefore more than simply the anime in comic form. Although the basic events of each anime episode occur in the EVA manga, the way individual scenes unfold is often quite different from how things happen in the TV show, with the characters present, their dialogue, and course of action all being factors that may vary. In the first installment of the manga, for example, before Shinji even arrives at NERV headquarters, Rei engages the Third Angel, using the Eva Unit-01 that will later become Shinji's to pilot. You won't find this incident in the first episode of the EVA anime. Shinji, our protagonist, also displays a subtle shift in character. He is somewhat less withdrawn in his actions than in the anime, yet more openly cynical. Compare Shinji's remark to Misato about NERV's purpose as they enter its headquarters; he says it in a neutral manner in the anime -- but in a markedly sarcastic tone in the manga. And check out the "Institutionalized" essay with which Shinji opens the story...

In the end, how will the EVA manga compare to the anime&emdash;what will Sadamoto emphasize, how will he diverge in his treatment of the most talked-about title in years? That's for readers of Viz Comics' release of NEON GENESIS EVANGELION to discover and delight over. And for the first time, with EVA, Viz offers the fans, in simultaneous release, a manga in both the standard "flopped" left-to-right format, and a special "Collector's Edition," with variant cover, that presents the EVA manga with its art and sound effects un-reversed, exactly as Sadamoto drew it and as his Japanese audience read it. Each will be translated -- but how you wish to view the artwork is your choice. end dot


Carl Gustav Horn

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Neon Genesis Evangelion ©Gainax 1995.
First published in 1995 by Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co., Ltd. in Tokyo

©1997 Viz Communications, Inc.