title-colorNeon Genesis Evangelion, commonly referred to as just Evangelion, is a widely successful award winning Japanese anime franchise which began with the series in October 1995. Created by Gainax and written and directed by Hideaki Anno, the series spawned 26 original episodes and 2 movies. Lopulta, director’s cuts and rebuild movies with additional footage would surface. The show is an apocalyptic mecha action series which revolves around the activities of NERV, a paramilitary organization, in their fight to destroy monstrous beings called Angels. There are many references to Judeo-Christian concepts and symbolism throughout the series, making this franchise rather controversial in many circles. It is said that Anno, the director, had suffered from depression prior to the series creation and that the psychological aspects of the series are based on his own experiences with his illness.

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In March 1992, Gainax had begun planning and production of an anime movie called Aoki Uru, which was to be a sequel to Oritsu Uchugun set 50 years later which, like Oritsu, would follow a group of fighter pilots. Production ceased in July 1993 because of financial difficulties on the part of Gainax. A full-length anime movie was just beyond their ability at the time. Anno, who was slated to direct Aoki Uru, would soon after agree to a collaboration between King Records and Gainax and set about actually making the anime. Not surprisingly, elements of the original anime were incorporated into the nascent Evangelion.

The original plot line for Evangelion remained relatively stable through development, although later episodes appear to have changed dramatically from the fluid and uncertain early conceptions; for example, originally there were 28 Angels and not 17, and the climax would deal with the defeat of the final 12 Angels and not with the operation of the Human Instrumentality Project. As well, Kaworu Nagisa’s initial design was a schoolboy who could switch to an "Angel form", accompanied by a pet cat.

The first episode aired October 4, 1995, long after originally planned. Initially ignored (although received positively by those Gainax fans invited to early screenings), viewership grew slowly and largely by word of mouth.What started out as a much lighter action adventure show slowly turned into a dark, twisted psychological trip for its viewer and by episode 16, that shift was apparent. Later episodes would receive criticism over graphic displays of violence and elusions of sex, rampaging that it was “unsuitable on an anime show that is viewed by children.” Nevertheless, the show increased in popularity.

The story of Evangelion begins in the year 2000 with the Second Impact, which destroyed most of Antarctica and was responsible for the deaths of about half the human population. Second Impact is widely believed to be the result of a large meteorite landing so great that it caused a change in the Earth’s axis, leading to a global climate change. The events that followed only brought further ruin to the human race – nuclear war and economic distress.  NERV came about officially in 2010, rising out of what was previously Gehirn, the research and development organization that created the Evangelion units and NERV’s main computer system, the Magi. NERV’s primary mission is to locate and destroy the remaining Angels predicted by Seele, a secret organization pulling the strings of the United Nations. NERV turns out to have its own secret agenda in addition to destroying the Angels, due to its commander, Gendo Ikari. His secret project, Human Instrumentality, will unite all human minds into one global entity upon its completion. Associated with NERV is the Marduk institute, responsible for selecting the pilots for the Evangelion Units – children conceived after Second Impact.

As the series opens in the year 2015, we meet the main protagonist, Shinji Ikari, as Tokyo-3 is being attacked by the third Angel. Rescued by Misato Katsuragi, Shinji is taken deep underground to the Geofront housing the NERV facility. Rei Ayanami (pilot of Unit 00), Ritsuko Akagi and Shinji’s father, Gendo Ikari are all introduced by the time Shinji reluctantly agrees to join NERV and battles the Angel using Evangelion Unit 01. Asuka Langley Soryu joins the team in a later episode along with Eva Unit 02.

evasEach Eva unit has its own designated pilot (Unit 00 = Rei, Unit 01 = Shinji, Unit 02 = Asuka, and so on) and functions by synchronizing with the pilot’s human soul, joka, according to the show’s definition, is an individual’s conscious existence, mental structure and identity, rather than the more commonly thought spiritual meaning. We later find out that the Evangelion units are biomechanical, not merely mindless machines. Each Unit is “powered” by a human soul – Unit 01 to Shinji’s mother, Yui and Unit 02 to Asuka’s mother. There is much debate as to the soul of the prototype unit 00. Toward the end of the series, we also discover that the Evas are made from Angels. Units 00 and 02 thru 04 are made from Adam. Unit 01, however, was made from Lilith.

Throughout the series, the characters battle Angels and struggle with their own sets of personal issues and conflicts, many of which play an integral part of the main storyline itself. Second Impact is eventually revealed as being the result of a botched experiment by Gehirn and Seele on the first Angel, Adam. Rei is suspected of being a hybrid clone of Shinji’s mother, Yui, and the soul of the Lilith, the second Angel. As the series continues, the characters begin to learn of NERV’s true intentions and, in the last episodes, attempt to stop Human Instrumentality only to fail.

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In the last two episodes (the second set in 2016), Gendo and Rei initiate the Human Instrumentality Project, forcing many characters to face their doubts and fears and examine their self-worth. The ending was made up of flashbacks, sketchy artwork, and flashing text over a images of black and white photos of desolate urban motifs such as a riderless bicycle or vacant park benches interspersed with graphic stills of the devastated NERV headquarters in which Shinji’s colleagues are seen as bloodstained bodies. There is also a brief interlude depicting an alternate universe with the same characters but in more of a high school comedy genre, which eventually seems to depict Shinji concluding that life could be worth living and that he did not need to pilot an Eva to justify his existence. One of the final shots is of Shinji being surrounded by most of the cast, clapping and congratulating him. It is implied that the rest of the cast went through the same process.

The series concluded on March 27, 1996 on a rather irritating note, according to many fans. The ending was left largely unresolved: Third Impact and Human Instrumentality are implied to have taken place (either just beginning or running through their completion) but the final two episodes focus more on the psychological journey of the characters (particularly Shinji) rather than the actual events that unfolded. Many fans felt confused or even betrayed by the series finale and a large debate ensued, both scholarly and informally, about the “real ending” of Evangelion. In response to the backlash, Anno, the series director, made several controversial comments shortly after the series finale but prior to the release of End of Evangelion, stating fans need to “have more self-respect” and “come back to reality.”

Despite the controversy, the series was still incredibly popular. In 1995, the series won first place in the reader-polled "Best Loved Series" category of the Anime Grand Prix, a reader-polled award series published in Animage magazine. The series was once again awarded this prize in 1996, receiving 2,853 votes, compared to the second place show with only 903 votes. End of Evangelion would win first place in 1997, allowing Neon Genesis Evangelion to be the first anime franchise to win three consecutive first place awards. This feat would not be duplicated again until Code Geass won the 2006, 2007, and 2008 awards. The show’s opening theme song "Zankoku na Tenshi no These" won the Song category in 1995 & 1996; "The Beginning and the End, or "Knockinon Heaven’s Door"" won the 1996 Episode category; and Rei Ayanami won in the Female Character category in 1995 and 1996 (followed by Shinji Ikari winning in the Male Character category in 1996 and 1997), contributing to Megumi Hayashibara’s 1995-1997 wins in the Seiyuu category. In 1998, EX.org’s readers voted it the #1 US release and in 1999, the #2 show of all time.

dr-poster1After the series ended, Anno was not completely satisfied due to issues of time, financial troubles, and network censorship. Thus, when the series was released on VHS and Laserdisc, each episode was remastered and cuts were reincorporated into episodes 21-26, with the first four being drastically enhanced and the final two being completely remade as the double-feature Kuolema ja uudestisyntyminen. However, again, due to time and budget constraints, the remastering and reanimating of episodes 21-24 was put on hold in favor of the movie. However, the Uudestisyntyminen animation wasn’t finished and it was decided to later release the second half of Kuolema ja uudestisyntyminen as a stand alone release. Death included some of the scenes that were already completed for the remastered episodes 21-24. It was then decided that Evangelion: Rebirth II should also include the previous animation and was then renamed End of Evangelion.

After that, the tapes "Genesis 0:11 and 0:12" were released and contained the redone episodes 21-24 and "Genesis 0:13 and 0:14" contained both endings, 0:13 containing both the TV and film versions of episode 25 and 0:14 containing the TV and film versions of episode 26. In 1998, the Evangelion films were released in their original intended form, without the extra scenes in the recap movie (Death(true)²) and with the full new ending.

In 2000, the "Second Impact Box" was released in 3 parts, containing the 26 uncut, remastered episodes and the 2 movies (also including Uudestisyntyminen).

In 2003, the nine-volume "Renewal of Evangelion" DVDs were released, with the seriessound and picture remastered for HD and 5.1 technology (for example, new background sounds were recorded). The first eight volumes covered the original 26 episodes (with two versions of episodes 21-24: the uncut version and a reconstruction of the edited version). The ninth volume, containing two discs, named Evangelion: The Movie, contained Death(true)² and End of Evangelion.The Renewal release formed the basis for the western "Platinum Edition" (which didn’t include the movies, as the movies were licensed by Manga Entertainment, while the series was licensed by A.D. Vision).The "Platinum Edition" features slightly different English subtitles than the original VHS and DVD releases. The original dub of episodes 25 and 26 were replaced with only the ‘Director’s Cutdubs of these episodes.

Evangelion is filled with allusions to biological, military, religious, and psychological concepts, as well as numerous references or homages to older anime series. Anno’s use of Freudian jargon and psychoanalytical theory as well as his allusions to religion and biology are often idiosyncratically used and redefined to carry his message. The interpretation of the symbols and concepts varies from individual to individual, and it is not clear how many are intentional or meaningful, nor which were merely design elements or coincidences. Anno himself said, "It might be fun if someone with free time could research them." A number of these symbols were noted on the English DVD commentary for Kuolema ja uudestisyntyminen and End of Evangelion.

The franchise has long been taken as a deeply personal expression of Hideaki Anno’s personal struggles. From the start, Evangelion invokes many psychological themes. Phrases used in episodes, their titles, and the names of the background music frequently derive from Sigmund Freud’s works, in addition to perhaps some Lacanian influences in general. Examples include "Thanatos", "Oral stage", "Separation Anxiety", and "Mother Is the First Other" (the mother as the first object of a child’s love is the basis of the Oedipus complex). The scenery and buildings in Tokyo-3 often seem laden with psychological import, even in the first episode.

The connection between the Evas and their pilots, as well as the ultimate goal of the Human Instrumentality Project, bear a strong resemblance to Freud’s theories on internal conflict and interpersonal communication.

The hedgehog’s dilemma is a concept described by philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and later adopted by Freud. It is the subtitle of episode 4 and is mentioned in that episode by Misato Katsuragi as descriptive of her relationship with Shinji.

Many of the characters have deep psychological traumas in relation to their parents. Shinji’s introversion and social anxiety stem from the death of his mother at an early age and his abandonment by his father. Asuka was the target of her mother’s insanity, and discovered her mother’s body after she hanged herself; her tough, bullying personality is a means of distracting herself from her pain, and she has made piloting Unit 02 her only source of pride and satisfaction. Misato’s father neglected her when she was a child; after he was killed in the Second Impact, she stopped talking for a couple of years. In episode 25, Misato states that she was both attracted to and afraid of Ryoji Kaji because he reminded her of her father. Ritsuko saw her mother having an affair with Gendo Ikari; after her mother’s suicide she felt both attraction and hate towards Gendo. Indeed, the last two episodes are "stripped of the high-tech gadgetry and the colorful visuals that characterize the earlier episodes in the series, these last two episodes take place largely in muted tones… a form of interrogation proceeds to be carried out as [Shinji] asks himself – or is asked by an unseen voice – probing psychological questions." The questions elicit unexpected answers, particularly the ones dealing with Shinji’s motivation for piloting the Eva – he feels worthless and afraid of others (especially his father) if he is not piloting the Eva. Asuka and Rei are also depicted in deep introspection and consideration of their psyches. Asuka comes to the realization that her entire being is caught up in being a competent Eva pilot and that without it, she has no personal identity: "I’m the junk… I’m worthless. Nobody needs a pilot who can’t control her own Eva." Kuningas, who throughout the series has displayed minimal emotion, reveals that she does have one impulse; it is Thanatos, an inclination to death: "I am Happy. Because I want to die, I want to despair, I want to return to nothing." In episode 25 Shinji and Asuka both show that they in fact suffered similar pasts and found different ways of dealing with it. This is further established in Shinji when he claims he has no life without Eva and this is disproven by the world shown in episode 26 followed by the famous "Congratulations" scene.

Besides the references to Freudian Psychoanalysis there are also some minor references to the theories behind Gestalt Therapy, a form of psychotherapy influenced by both psychoanalytic ideas as well as philosophical notions of a holistic self, personal responsibilities and the consciousness. In episode 15 there is a reference to Gestalt’s theory of change, the constant shifting between ‘homeostasisand ‘transistasison which Fritz Perls wrote in his work ‘The Gestalt Approach’. Furthermore episode 19 is entitled ‘Introjection’, a psychoanalytical term used by many Gestalt Therapists to indicate a neurotic mechanism used for the mental processing of the things humans experience. Introjection is closely related to three other neurotic forms of mental processing; namely projection, confluention and retroflection.

nervlogoThe most prominent symbolism takes its inspiration from Judeo-Christian sources and frequently uses iconography and themes from Judaism, Christianity, Gnosticism, and Kabbalism, in the series’s examination of religious ideas and themes. The destruction of an Angel causes an explosion which is cross-shaped: one example of Christian icons being used in Evangelion. Nerv’s logo featuring half a fig leaf; "God’s in his Heaven, all’s right with the world" is a quote from a song from Robert Browning’s Pippa Passes.

Assistant director Kazuya Tsurumaki said that they originally used Christian symbolism only to give the project a unique edge against other giant robot shows, and that it had no particular meaning, and that it was meant to be susceptible to multiple interpretations. Hiroki Sato, head of Gainax’s PR department, has made similar statements, as has Toshio Okada.

References, with multiple equally plausible interpretations which exist, include:

  • The Christian cross is often shown, frequently represented by energy beams shooting up skyward.
  • The Angels are a reference to the angels of God from the Old Testament (in Japanese, the word used is the same one used for apostle (or messenger), as in the New Testament). They are named after angels from Biblical angelology, including Sachiel, Shamshel, and Arael. The first Angel is named Adam, just as the biblical Adam is the first man created by God. The second Angel is named Lilith, a reference to the Jewish folklore in which Lilith is the first wife of Adam. Lilith is shown crucified and impaled with a spear named the "Lance of Longinus", the same lance used to pierce the side of Jesus during his crucifixion, according to the Gospel of Nicodemus. Eve or Eva comes from Adam’s rib; similarly, most of the Evas come from the Angel first identified as Adam.
  • The Magi supercomputers are named Melchior, Balthasar and Caspar after the names traditionally given for the Magi who were mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew as having visited Jesus in Bethlehem (often called "the three wise men", though the number of visitors is not recorded in the Gospel) .
  • The Tree of Sephiroth (Tree of Life) is mentioned, as well as shown in the opening title sequence and on the ceiling of Gendo’s office, with Hebrew inscriptions on it (the terms written there are mostly Kabbalic). It also appears in End of Evangelion during Seele’s version of Instrumentality.
  • The Marduk Institute is a front organization for Nerv, tasked with finding the teenagers suitable for piloting Evangelion units. Marduk was the name of the chief Babylonian deity and patron god of the city of Babylon.

Neon Genesis Evangelion and particularly the Human Instrumentality Project show a strong influence from Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End, an influence Anno acknowledged. Similarities between the works, such as the larger themes and the declining birth rate after the Second Impact, were gleaned from this work. Evangelion also shows influences from the science fiction author Dr. Paul Linebarger, better known by his pseudonym, Cordwainer Smith. Linebarger was raised in China, became the god-son of the nationalistic leader Sun Yat-sen, and during World War II, worked in psychological warfare on behalf of the U.S. Army, including propaganda efforts by the U.S. against the Japanese. Linebarger’s work included strong influences from both East Asian culture and Christianity. His science fiction novels revolve around his own concept of the Instrumentality of Mankind, an all-powerful central government of humanity. Like Seele, the Instrumentality of Mankind see themselves "to be shapers of the true destiny of mankind." Although Anno insisted that Hokan (補完, complementation, completion) be translated as "Instrumentality" in English, perhaps as a way to pay homage to Linebarger, the two authorsconceptions of "instrumentality" are extremely different. Other fiction allusions Philip K. Dick’s The Divine Invasion, and "The Prisoner, Thunderbirds, Ultra Seven, UFO, The Andromeda Strain, even The Hitcher." Existential themes of individuality, consciousness, freedom, choice, and responsibility are heavily relied upon throughout the entire series, particularly through the philosophies of Jean-Paul Sartre and Søren Kierkegaard. Episode 16’s title, "The Sickness Unto Death, And…" (死に至る病そして, Shi ni itaru yamai, soshite) is a reference to Kierkegaard’s book, The Sickness Unto Death. The Human Instrumentality Project may be inspired by the philosophy developed by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The title of Episode 4, "The Hedgehog’s Dilemma", is a reference to the Hedgehog’s dilemma, Arthur Schopenhauer’s analogy about the challenges of human intimacy.

As much as Evangelion has been impacted by other works like Devilman, the series itself has become a staple in Japanese fiction. The nature of the show made it a landmark work in the more psychological and sophisticated vein of anime that would be picked up by later works such as Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997) that, like Evangelion, center on an ambiguous world-changing event to come. Serial Experiments Lain is a later anime which dealt with many of the same themes as Evangelion, and so is often thought to be influenced by Neon Genesis Evangelion, although the writer did not see any of Evangelion until he had finished the fourth episode of Lain, and attributes the utility pole visual motif to independent invention and the screen captions to his borrowing from Jean-Luc Godard and Anno from Kon Ichikawa. The show His and Her Circumstances (1999), which was also directed by Hideaki Anno, shares techniques (the experimental ‘ripping-apartof the animation and use of real photographs) and portrayed psychological conflicts in much the same way (although the various cinematic devices can be traced back to works other than Eva, for instance the works of Osamu Tezuka.).

Evangelion dramatically changed the design of giant robots in animated works. Previously, mecha or giant robot shows took their "mechanical suit" designs from Mobile Suit Gundam, Mazinger, and other similar shows from the 70s and 80s. Evangelion changed this with its fast and sleek Evas, making a noticeable contrast to the comparatively bulky and cumbersome looking Patlabors and Mobile Suits of the past. Indeed, the style set and created by Evangelion has become more common since its release, yet series like The King of Braves GaoGaiGar have continued to use the classic "mecha" style. RahXephon, a show with designs inspired by 1970s mecha shows, was compared to Evangelion by many English language reviewers. Evangelion is generally viewed to be a part of the soft science fiction genre, by avoiding the technical hard S.F. approach of Gundam and other popular mecha anime in favor of psychological struggle and metaphysical symbolism. Some anime have been made in direct opposition to NGE; Tomino Yoshiyuki publicly stated that with Brain Powerd he intended to "outdo Evangelion". Shows or works involving similar mixtures of religion and mecha are often compared to NGE, such as Xenogears or Gasaraki.

Neon Genesis Evangelion has been frequently parodied and explicitly referenced in popular media. In the Digimon Tamers series, many Evangelion elements were used in the back stories for the three main children, their friends, and the D-Reaper. Gainax’s own His and Her Circumstances and FLCL had Evangelion parodies, as did Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi. In Episode 5 of Hanamaru Kindergarten, Tsuchida is seen with Evangelion Gashapon, featuring some of the characters, along with a reference to the Second Impact.

Invader Zim’s Christmas episode, "The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever", had a cameo parody of Evangelion (a reference to when Shinji was assimilated inside Unit 01.) In the episode "Hamstergeddon", Ultra-Pipi (the class hamster that Zim accidentally mutates into a giant monster) rushes at Zim’s War Cruiser in a manner that is a rip from the blitz that Unit 01 makes at the Third Angel, Sachiel (as admitted by the episode’s director in the commentaries.) In the online community, Evangelion is a common source of parody. Numerous webcomics, such as Tsunami Channel, have featured Evangelion tributes. Some ‘creaturesalso appear in other works such as the manga Berserk where a transformed demon soldier, in chapter 233, shares an uncanny resemblance with the unleashed Eva-01.

1z6ft39Anno himself has also poked fun at his work. In the soundtrack Neon Genesis Evangelion Lisäys, a twenty minute audio drama (directed and written by Anno) was included that reunited the entire voice acting cast, titled "After the End". The drama is set after episode 26 and has the characters breaking the fourth wall and discussing a sequel. Anno is believed to be featured as a guest voice in the piece, taking on the role of the "Black Space God". On a similar note, Spike Spencer made fun of the seriesrather ambiguous ending by acting as Shinji throughout the ending credits in a hidden track in the Platinum re-release of the series, highlights of which include him deducting that previous advice given to him towards him not running away doesn’t apply to his current predicament on the account that he’s on "a big blue ball" and complaining that the animators "ran out of ink", a reference to the lowered budget to the second half of the series.

Evangelion has been referenced in American media as well. In the 2002 film One Hour Photo starring Robin Williams, Williamscharacter offers Jake an Eva-05 model. This was by special request of Williams to include a reference in the film. It is commonplace for movies and shows to rename or repackage existing products with a generic name and graphic logo. In this case however, the toy was from Williamspersonal collection (he is a fan of the show, as is director Wes Anderson), so the series name Neon Genesis Evangelion and the graphics on the blister card are left untouched, and are clearly visible. An Evangelion Unit 01 model is seen in the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still and several Evangelion figures are seen in Michael’s house in the 2007 film Michael Clayton starring George Clooney.

Fan interpretations and reworking of Evangelion have ranged from various stories, fanfictions, and even screenplays that expand or reinterpret the ending to comical fan-dubs such as Evangelion: ReDeath and even hoax posters such as that for the fictional sequel Reprise of Evangelion. Natsuo Kirino’s Real World novel invokes Evangelion as the muse of its murderous protagonist.

The Japanese title for the series, Shin Seiki Evangelion, is composed of two parts: "Shin Seiki" (新世紀, new era/century) from Japanese and "Evangelion" (εὐαγγέλιον, Anglicisation eüangélion, "gospel, good messenger, good news"—etymologically unrelated to the Hebrew word Eva) from Ancient Greek. The decision to call the series Neon Genesis Evangelion in English was originally made by Gainax, and not by translators; the use of the word "Evangelion" in particular was chosen by Anno "because it sounds complicated". It appears in the eyecatches of the original, untranslated episodes, and is used by Gainax to market the series worldwide.

All three words of the English title Neon Genesis Evangelion (Νέον Γένεσις Εὐαγγέλιον) are derived from the Greek language. The simplest English interpretation is "New Beginning Gospel," although it can also be interpreted to mean "(the) Good News of a New Beginning," or even "(the) New Gospel of (the) Beginning."

The title appears to be constructed from the three words "neos," "genesis," and "evangelion" as they are listed in a lexicon or dictionary. In respect to the grammar of the Greek language, a literal translation of Νέον Γένεσις Εὐαγγέλιον (Neon Genesis Evangelion) does not make much sense, as it means something like "a young gospel a beginning." Greek grammar uses cases and gender, which have been ignored in the title and a more accurate rendition of the title in the Greek of the New Testament is (τὸ) Καινῆς Γενέσεως Εὐαγγέλιον or "(to) Kainēs Genéseōs Evangélion", meaning "(The) Gospel (or Good News) of a New Beginning."

Νέος "neos" means "new" in the sense of "young, fresh, not having existed previously." Καινός (kainós) from this grammatically accurate title means "new" as in "replacing something old, superseding." Either "neos" or "kainós" could be used depending on the intended meaning, but καινός is probably more suited to the show’s pretext and storyline than νέον "neon."

Γένεσις "genesis" should be given in the genitive case as γενέσεως "geneseos" in order to represent the type or genus of gospel that is referred to: the gospel of a new beginning. This is similar to how the letter "s" is placed after an English word to express possession or kind: "a new beginnings gospel." Γένεσις (genesis), like many abstract nouns, is feminine; καινός (kainos) which describes it must also become feminine καινή (kaine). Thus Καινὴ Γένεσις "(a) New Beginning" becomes Καινῆς Γενέσεως in the genitive ("possessive") case: "of a New (fem.) Beginning (fem.)."

Genesis (γένεσις) can also mean "origin, source" or "birth, race" and is the Greek title for the first book of the Hebrew Scriptures, describing the creation of the universe and early Hebrew history. The Japanese term for the first book in the Bible is "Souseiki" "Souseiki" (創世記, Account of the beginning of the world), perhaps a wordplay (with two different beginning and ending kanji) with "Shin Seiki" in the Japanese title.

Euangelion (εὐαγγέλιον, Latinized evangelium) originally referred to a reward offered for good news (eu (εὖ) meaning "good" and angelos (ἄγγελος) meaning "messenger", and later "messenger of God; angel"), and later came to mean "good news" itself. Eventually it became most commonly associated with the Christian gospel (from Old English gōdspell "good story"). It is the source of the English word "evangelist." This dual meaning (message and messenger) may be the reason both the series itself and the "mecha" are called Evangelion.

There has been debate over the correct pronunciation of "Evangelion." In the original Japanese version a hard ‘g’ (IPA: [ɡ]) pronunciation is used by Japanese characters, and, episode 18 of the series, a native English-speaking announcer. Official secondary dubs, including the English one, use the pronunciation /ˌeɪvæŋˈɡɛliən/ with a hard ‘g’. The confusion probably results from that related words in English, such as "evangelist", the ‘gis soft (/dʒ/). The pronunciation /ˌiːvænˈdʒɛliən/ (with the first vowel rhyming with "Eve" instead of /e/) is not uncommon. The hard ‘gand /e/ is correct because it is accurate in both the original Greek and Japanese, and they are the pronunciations preferred by Gainax since Evangelion is a Greek word.

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