Dark Horse dives into the rich history of Neon Genesis Evangelion for one of its latest graphic novels.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project is a side-story based on the alternate timeline shown at the end of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion anime. It explores a more normal world and it has some minor changes from what you might be used to as a fan of the anime series.
For example, Misato is Shinji’s homeroom teacher and Akagi is a nurse in their school, while the position of head researcher was instead given to Shinji’s mom, Yui Ikari. It’s a comedic take on the classic anime show and the comic is an adaptation of the game of the same name.
The art style looks amazingly faithful to the source too. The characters all look and feel the same, with the slight exception of Rei Ayanami who’s smiling a lot more and is a little more open of her attraction to Shinji. The various locales all look the same though and the amount of detail that went into their design is surprisingly well done.
A feeling of nostalgia comes to mind whenever I saw the characters interacting with each other in a peaceful and mundane world and the way they were accurately reimagined for this universe had a lot to do with that. The artists did a wonderful job with adapting the battle-hardened and gritty crew of NERV into the stark contrast of a bunch of normal, love-struck teenagers. And the effort that went into converting the Japan of Neon Genesis Evangelion into the more normal Japan as seen in the Shinji Ikari Raising Project manages to mesh these two completely different worlds into one nostalgia driven comedy fest.
Speaking of art style, the Shinji Ikari Raising Project is filled to the brim with fan-service – and they manage to do it all with style. Stylish, but without any class in any shape or form, mind you. From topless shots of the various female protagonists to subtle girl on girl action, to simply finding an excuse to draw the female characters changing, this comic has it all. Yup, it has it all! Even Shinji and Kaworu aren’t spared from this fanservice fest! Now let that sink it. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
The story is nothing special, but it does its job of entertaining the reader who is assumed to be a diehard Evangelion fan. To put it in simple terms, the world of the Shinji Ikari Raising Project is essentially the world of Neon Genesis Evangelion – but without the Angels and any of the Impacts ever really happening. Volume 15 returns to Asuka and Rei’s rivalry for the heart of Shinji Ikari while they’re protecting his chastity from Kaworu who amazingly does not really appear much in this volume. The volume also gave a much needed focus on the side-characters. The stories were fun to read and Shinji’s inhuman density about anything that relates to romance is nothing to underestimate.
Each Shinji Ikari Raising Project manga comes with tons of comedy and romance filled pages while making fun of some of the more comical elements of the original show.
Volume 15 and the entire Shinji Ikari Raising Project manga are a wonderful ode to the source material for the Evangelion fan.
From fan-service to the much needed additional content on anything Eva, the manga has it all. I loved the art style and I appreciated the story lines, and basically everything about the manga is faithful to a fault. This manga is everything an Evangelion fan would love.
This manga is recommended for the Neon Genesis Evangelion fan; first-timers are welcome too, though they are advised to start with the anime before reading the Shinji Ikari Raising project series.