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It’s difficult to recommend something similar to NGE. Eva offered an experience that was unique and truly groundbreaking, becoming one of the most influential and well-known series in both Japan, and the west. Still, there are some great titles that are more and worth the shot if you’re an Eva fan. This is a diverse list, and because Eva has a lot going for it, we’ll try to spell out what part of Evangelion these shows relate to.
Similar Anime to Shinseiki Evangelion / Similar Anime to Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Jan 21, 2002 - Sep 10, 2002
RahXephon takes place in a futuristic Japan where Tokyo has been blocked off from the rest of the world by a strange dimensional barrier. Our main character, Ayato Kamina get’s caught up in the conflict when Tokyo is attacked by those beyond the dimensional barrier and ends up piloting the mysterious Mecha known as RahXephon.
This one’s easy. RahXephon was a tad controversial when it released for being an Eva clone, and the title has stuck with it up until this day. It’s somewhat unfair, though they have similarities, especially in character design, RahXephon is very much its own entity. One of Studio Bones first productions, you can definitely see a Bones pedigree, animation is very solid and the overall design of the show is some of the best you’ll see in anime, RahXephon looks and feels very unique. Story wise, it’s a mecha sci-fi with twists and turns aplenty with so much going on visually to complement it it’s hard to turn away.
2. Aim for the Top! Gunbuster (Top wo Nerae! Gunbuster)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct 7, 1988 - Jul 7, 1989
Humanity is at war with an insectoid alien race who seem bent on killing any humans they can find and our Main Character, Noriko Takaya is bent on fighting them to avenge her father who was lost in an alien attack. Noriko, however, is nowhere near a natural pilot, but is picked because of her potential to pilot humanity’s super weapon which is still under development.
Gunbuster is an oldie but a goodie and something that every anime fan owes a watch. This is Hideaki Anno’s directorial debut and in many ways is a forerunner to NGE. Imagine starting to listen to a band via their third album, hailed by many as a masterpiece, then you listen to their debut album and you note some of the very beginnings of techniques, themes and artistry that matured into their magnus opus. That’s kind of what watching Gunbuster is like. It’s a six episode OVA and it tells a complete, memorable story inside of a small package. Gunbuster is notable for taking the Introspective and character driven sci-fi approach that Eva is so well known for, but on a more compact scale.
3. Bokurano (Bokurano: Ours)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr 9, 2007 - Sep 25, 2007
Bokurano is the story of a group of children who are essentially tricked into piloting a huge Mecha in order to defend the earth. The story deals with each child as they pilot the Mech, and their reasons for doing so. We find out that the story is less about the struggle against the invaders, and more about the struggles of the pilots themselves.
Super powerful, world-saving Mechs which are piloted by kids is nothing new. Eva took this trope and put it on its head a little bit. Instead of a typical narrative where the young pilots overcome adversity, learn to believe in each other and share a happy ending, we deal extensively with the characters past traumas, inability to communicate with others and their overbearing psychological complexes. Bokurano takes the child-soldier Mech pilot in a very Eva-esque approach. The protagonists in Bokurano deal with a conflict and enemy they don’t entirely understand and the show delves heavily into their psychological mindsets.
Any Animes Like Neon Genesis Evangelion /Shinseiki Evangelion?
4. Serial Experiments Lain
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Jul 6, 1998 - Sep 28, 1998
Serial Experiments Lain follows the story of Lain Iwakura, a closed off and reclusive middle school girl. One of her classmates commits suicide and starts communicating with her classmates by email via ‘The wired’ a more powerful and engrossing version of our instrument. Is it a prank, were the emails written beforehand? Lain ventures into the wired to find the answers.
Serial Experiments Lain appears alongside Evangelion on many lists of mind-bending, psychological anime and when you watch Lain, it’s easy to see why. The shows share a lot of the same themes, exploring loneliness, examining characters with personality disorders and the broader relationship that one has with the world. Lain is dense at first, but upon multiple viewings and some analysis, really blossoms as you start to get more meaning out of the complex and challenging narrative. The use of symbolism in Lain is also top-notch, and adds another layer to the overall package. If you were intrigued by some of the denser, more complex elements of Eva, or its heavy use of symbolism, you’ll want to check out Serial Experiments Lain if you haven’t already.
Serial Experiments Lain - Complete Series
5. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: Apr 1, 2007 - Sep 30, 2007
Tengen Toppa gurren Lagann is the story of Simon and Kamina, two people confined to an underground village who both dream of what’s above the surface. After a chance encounter with a Mech and a girl named Yoko, who eventually explore the surface and the world and fight the powerful beings inhabiting it
If you’ve seen both Eva and TTGL, you might be thinking I’m crazy. Hear me out for a bit, though these series seem to be polar opposite takes on the Mech genre, in a way, they have some major things in common. The major similarity between these shows, other than the fact that they’re both two of the most popular things that ever came out of Studio Gainax, is that they’re thematically consistent. If Eva is about self-evaluation and trying to find self-love, TTGL is about believing in yourself, fighting hard and doing your absolute best to the logical extreme. The entire story of TTGL relies upon this, as the characters have to face greater and greater challenges and have the face them head on, winning out of sheer will. The two form a natural complement to each other that is very easy to appreciate.
Gurren Lagann DVD and Blu-ray Box Set Trailer
6. Puella Magi Madoka Magicka (Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 7, 2011 - Apr 22, 2011
This is the story of Madoka Kaname, a typical middle school student who meets a cat-like creature who offers to giver her magical powers in exchanged for fighting witches. Madoka eventually takes up the offer and the world she’s entering in may be a bit too much to handle.
Similar to Bokurano in that Madoka again focuses on Young Children fighting in a situation they don’t perfectly understand. Eva is famous for being a deconstruction on the typical tricks and tropes of the Mecha Genre. Madoka, like Eva, on the surface appears to emulate much of the typical and mundane within its Genre, but steadily reveals itself to be anything but. Because of this deconstruction, Eva has appeal with those who aren’t big fans of the Mecha genre, albeit it making it somewhat controversial with some who love that genre. Madoka is dark, perhaps much darker than Eva upon closer analysis, but it’s steady deconstruction of the Magical Girl genre is why I can recommend it to fans of Eva.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Trailer
As of this year, 2015, Neon Genesis Evangelion is 20 years old and has changed the Anime landscape in many ways. There are definitely many shows that draw influence, for better or for worse, to Eva and It was tough to leave this list at 6 as there are definitely some shows that could be recommended we have to leave off. Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think of this list.
Feel we missed anything? Did we highlight one of your favorites? We want to hear what you think!