It has been a while since Neon Genesis Evangelion fans have been treated to a new manga installment of this beloved series, and Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Shinji Ikari Raising Project corrects that error. Or does it? This Evangelion is a “reimagining” of the Evangelion world hinted at the end of the anime TV series.
This alternate retelling starts out as a high school rom-com where Asuka and Shinji have been friends all their lives. It wouldn’t be any fun without some sexual tension and it isn’t many pages before the odd but beautiful Rei Ayanami shows up to throw a wrench in any plans Asuka may have had (not intentionally, of course).
Too detailed a plot summary would ruin the fun, but writer and artist Osamu Takahashi delivers young love comedy that may not be always original, but is fun and funny. Non-Evangelion fans may not understand what the big deal is, but regardless, this is better than a lot of shojo romance sitting on shelves today.
But this is Evangelion, and the heart marks and bloody noses can only last so long. By the end of the first volume of this short series we start to see what is really going on (and a second reading helps reveal those hints earlier on). Without saying too much, two words: pump suits.
I am a casual Evangelion fan, and it was nice to be reintroduced to these characters I hadn’t seen in a while in a whole new light. Will all Evangelion fans like this? I think the canon of Evangelion is malleable enough that there is nothing offensive here, though hardcore fans my snub their noses until the end. A unique bonus is this series is edited by Carl Gustav Horn for Dark Horse, the same Carl Horn who first edited Evangelion manga for Viz in the 90s when it first debuted in English. Horn has a plea for fan-art and several pages of interesting notes in “Misato’s Fan Service Center” at the end (send it, and he will print it – publishing fan-art is common in Japanese publications, and I like that Horn is hoping to keep that going by printing art from English-language readers in future volumes). Volume 2 will be out by the time you read this.