Why is Neon Genesis Evangelion Depressing?

Short Answer: Neon Genesis Evangelion is depressing because it portrays a dark theme and also touches on sensitive issues like depression and self-loathing. This show made most of the viewers feel miserable due to the connections created between you and the characters. It also opens up viewers’ perceptions of depression and how you can manage to overcome it. However, even though it is a depressing anime, it is worth watching as this series one of a kind. Even though Neon Genesis Evangelion was first released almost 3 decades ago, it still remains very popular to this date.

The plot of Neon Genesis Evangelion takes place where Earth is on the verge of destruction by the giant-sized monster beings called Angels, and the only thing that can fight it off are Biomechanical robots called Evangelions. This classic anime has been the subject of controversy because of the psychological issues that it tackles. Each character’s depressing personality is difficult to watch but they are relatable and the further you go into each one’s issues the more depressing it gets. Likewise, the violent demise and annihilation will leave you wondering if there is still any hope left for humanity.

To understand more on why this anime is depressing, let’s take a look at the personalities of the characters involved.

Shinji Ikari

The wimpy and yet courageous main protagonist of the series, and the pilot of Evangelion Unit-01. He is the son of the NERV Commander Gendo Ikari and Gehirn bioengineer Yui Ikari. Shinji’s personality originates from his mother’s death and his father’s abandonment. Shinji shows an emotional torment of being loathed or abandoned, probably because of being deserted in his childhood and, hence, condemning himself for not being sufficient enough to make his dad stay.

Shinji is shown to be thoughtful and detached from reality due to having almost no contact with others. He is socially awkward, and frequently experiences issues controlling his feelings around others because of his tough time abandoning his past. We can see some of the episodes showing Shinji wearing headphones; this is his way of shutting off the world due to his delicate emotional state and high sentimentality.

Rei Ayanami

One of the female protagonists, Shinji’s first love interest, adopted daughter of Gendo and the pilot of Evangelion Unit-00. Rei is introverted, apparently deadpan, and seldom socializes with anybody, aside from Shinji’s father. As the series advances, she starts to foster connections with others and show a bit of authentic reaction, to a point where she tries and becomes miserable and cries. It was then later revealed that she is only a replica of Shinji’s mother, Yui, created by Gendo, Shinji’s father where viewers finally understood Rei’s stoic personality. Rei sometimes shows a little flash of humanity but it is then clouded by a vast negative feeling of self-esteem and the awareness of being easily replaceable.

Asuka Langley Soryu 

Also one of the main female protagonists of the series, the second love interest of Shinji Ikari, and the pilot of the Evangelion Unit-02. Asuka is an extremely proud individual, with an exceptionally high assessment of both her appearance and her ability to pilot an Eva, the exact opposite of Shinji. She is tenacious and finds it challenging to communicate her actual affections to other people. She does not allow anyone to look down on her or told her what to do as she needs to be considered to be a grown-up. In any case, this nature is only a front that shields an entirely powerless and shy young lady. She is frequently brutal and intrusive with another’s space, particularly Shinji’s.

She is also independent and has a lot of trouble managing her self-judged disappointment when she needs help. Her personality comes from her post-traumatic childhood that’s darker than Shinji’s. Her mom lost her self-awareness in Unit 02 Evangelion Human Interface Contact Experiment, unlike Shinji’s mom who out of nowhere vanished inside the Eva Unit-01. It was shown in one of the series where her mother is holding and talking with a cloth doll that she believed was her little girl rather than Asuka and began choking the real Asuka to death.

The day Asuka decided to be an Eva pilot is the very day she opened the medical clinic room to visit her mom who at that time successfully hang herself. This is the reason why she detests all dolls and Rei who behaves like a loyal doll to Commander Ikari, Shinji’s dad.

Gendo Ikari

The father of Shinji Ikari and the commander of NERV. Gendo deserted his child, Shinji, when he was a baby, and all through the series, he was uninterested, far off, and brutal towards his son. Shinji and Gendo have the most confusing relationship throughout the series, however, hidden feelings remain. In End of Evangelion, it was revealed that Gendo admitted that he still cares for Shinji, however, is very reluctant and unreliable, and likes to keep his distance between them to not hurt him like what happened to him when he lost his wife Yui from the second impact. As such, he is the same as his son.

Now that we all know some of the characters’ dark pasts and personalities, it is time to introduce you to some of the saddest, disturbing, and darkest moments in the Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Asuka Langley Soryu’s Death

Asuka’s demise was likely one of the most merciless and saddest scenes ever. After at last realizing how much her mom adored her, Asuka bravely takes on numerous Evas completely all alone. However, she eventually got pierced through the head and the mass-produced Evas devour her Eva Unit-02 like vultures, destroying it. Even after that, Asuka lifts her hand towards the sky, promising to kill every one of those that cross her way but a downpour of lances ends her commitment before she could make another stride.

Here’s a short clip of how Asuka fought bravely against the Eva series till her last breath.

Third Impact

End of Evangelion was probably the actual ending to Neon Genesis Evangelion. After watching it, you just get hit by a wave of emotions, one of those waves is depression as so many beloved characters die in this film. In this film, everybody on Earth failed to stop the Third Impact thanks to Gendo Ikari’s dubious ploy to rejoin his dead wife, Yui. Thanks to the “Komm, Susser Tod” melody which was played behind the scenes while the Third Impact is going on, the end times seem more wonderful and tasteful. Indeed, even the actual melody was cheerful as the title signifies “come, sweet death” with the melancholy verses sung in an appealing and carefree tune.

Here’s a short clip of End of Evangelion’s Third Impact!

Gendo Ikari’s Hard Judgement

Assuming there was one individual whose presence in the anime is very upsetting then the honor goes to Gendo Ikari. Gendo has no reservation about abandoning his child and degrading him at whatever point he’s not cut out for Eva’s battle.

Gendo rationalized that he is frightened that he could raise Shinji in the wrong way. Eventually, what he fears ended up coming true as he chose to abandon Shinji instead of being a good father to his son. Just realizing that certain individuals like these exist is sufficiently upsetting.

Kaworu’s Death

Alienated from every one of his companions, Shinji meets Kaworu, another EVA pilot. Kaworu is caring toward Shinji and Shinji becomes fascinated by him. Their relationship even blooms furthermore that they even shower together and Kaworu is the first to say “I love you” to Shinji. Kaworu’s action is too good to be true, and it was later revealed that he is the seventeenth (17th) angel named Tabris.

After seizing Eva Unit 02 and realizing that the being in NERV’s Central Dogma isn’t Adam, but Lilith, Kaworu forsakes his main goal. Kaworu acquired another appreciation for Lilith’s kids after spending time and love towards Shinji. For this reason, he chooses to die with the goal that mankind and Shinji may live. The job of killing Kaworu tumbles to Shinji himself, who hardly forces himself to make it happen and afterward fell into depression later.

Rei Ayanami’s Death

In Episode 23, Unit 00 and Rei inside it are tainted by the sixteenth (16th) Angel, Armisael. To shield Shinji, Rei explodes her own Eva Unit, killing the Angel and herself. For some unknown reason, Rei was miraculously retrieved alive from the remaining parts of the fight. When Shinji went to visit Rei in the hospital, Rei does not even remember sacrificing herself in the battle.

This is when Misato and Shinji uncover the reality with regards to Rei after Ritsuko takes them to the lowest levels of NERV and that is she comes from a series of clones. Rei is the spirit of Lilith planted inside a clone of Yui Ikari. The Rei they knew is already dead, replaced by a duplicate with just some fragmented memories. A resentful Ritsuko then guarantees that “Rei III” will be the last by annihilating the other clones.

Misato Katsuragi’s Death

Episode 12 uncovers that Misato’s dad was the researcher who wakens Adam and unintentionally caused the Second Impact. Misato is the sole survivor and the witness to this event. The cross jewelry she wears is the last gift her dad gave her. After fifteen years, during The End of Evangelion, Misato spends her last minutes frantically attempting to drag Shinji out of his misery but to no avail. With her last words, she beseeches Shinji to pilot the EVA again, gives her cross to him, then expresses farewell with a kiss and a vacant promise that they’ll see each other once again. As Misato falls from her injuries, a blast annihilates her body.

There are a lot of disturbing and saddening scenes in Neon Genesis Evangelion that will make you cringe, hate and cry at the same time. If you want more of Neon Genesis Evangelion, I urge you to watch it.

Have a look at Misato’s last words for Shinji just before her death.

You might also like: Is Rei Ayanami an angel?

One of the scenes shows there are various forms of Rei filled-in containers in the basement, however, just three were shown in the series. Rei III is created to be identical to Rei II at the hour of her death. Rei was made from parts of someone, to know who or what it was click the link below.

Our Final Thoughts:

Evangelion has for some time been taken as Hideaki Anno’s battles and his long fight with sorrow. The series catches the hopelessness, disappointment, and outrage that characterize melancholy in a strong and sobering manner. The show is unquestionably baffling according to the plot’s point of view since characters continually break back into their flaws, and things become so difficult to determine what is and isn’t transpiring.

Shinji as an example reaches a place where any level of improvement or joy is wiped away. His pessimism resembles a wheel; regardless of how frequently he faces his sadness, abandonment, and indignity and then overcomes it, it continues to come around. It is worth watching this series just because there’s nothing on the planet out there like it, which might just be the best thing.

Thank you so much for reading! If you made it this far, you are awesome!

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Hi! I'm Demby and I've been a fan of Mecha since I was a little boy. Now I enjoy writing about all things mecha to answer questions that you guys have. I hope you enjoy my articles. :D

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