Evangelion's Apocalyptic Ending Is Rooted in an '80s Mecha Classic
Evangelion did not invent many of the themes that made it a success, despite its praise, controversy, and continued popularity.
Neon Genesis Evangelion remains one of the most successful mecha and anime franchises of all time. The subversive deconstruction inverted a number of genre conventions, resulting in a grim, introspective series that reveled in the psychological torment of its central characters.
The Rebuild of Evangelion films, which remake and radically retell the original series, have kept the series alive. Evangelion: 3.0+ 1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, the fourth and final installment, was recently launched, bringing the series back into the spotlight. Evangelion did not invent many of the themes that made it a success, despite its praise, controversy, and continued popularity. Here's a look at the lesser-known Space Runaway Ideon series and how it influenced Evangelion greatly.
What Is Space Runaway Ideon?
Runaway in Space Ideon takes place in the year 2300, when mankind has colonized a large portion of the known galaxy. Humans discover vehicles that can combine to form the powerful mystical robot Ideon in the mysterious world of Solo. The group uses this device quickly to protect themselves against the alien Buff Clan, who assume they are being attacked by humans. This confusion sets off a full-fledged war, with both sides fighting for possession of the Ideon and the Ide energy that fuels it. The involvement of a girl called Karala, who could hold the key to victory for either side, further complicates matters.
By the end of the season, what had seemed to be a kind of middle ground between Super Robot anime and the more war-oriented Real Robot genre had become a much darker, more subversive series. The TV show ends with the Ideon judging humanity and the Buff Clan for failing to take advantage of the opportunities they were given. As a result, it extinguishes all races, promising to resurrect them as superior beings on the other side of the planet, granting them a second chance to right their wrongs.
Space Runaway Ideon: Be Invoked, the series' final film, took it even further. For starters, the majority of the cast were violently murdered in ways that are not shown in the show's conclusion. Similarly, as Ideon judges all beings, it kills the world as a result. While it still claims to be able to resurrect humanity and the Buff Clan, it only does so after annihilating all existence.
How Ideon Inspired Evangelion
As many have pointed out, Ideon's basic premise is strikingly similar to that of Evangelion. The misunderstood essence of the conflict that leads to the war between humanity and the Buff Clan is similar to how the Angels battle humanity in Evangelion for a long time. Another common theme between the franchises is the amorphous mix of Super Robot and Real Robot elements, as well as the Eva units' and Ideon's seemingly spiritual existence. Other parallels between the Evas and the Ideon include their almost infinite energy sources and their ability to read and preserve their pilots' emotions.
The most striking resemblance is the esoteric and dystopian aspect of both shows' ends. Evangelion, like Ideon, had an enigmatic, out-of-left-field conclusion. Both endings result in the protagonists waking up in a new world, with similar concepts of eggs and reproduction revolving around these rebirths. They both got movies to help clarify and extrapolate these incidents, which just added to the strangeness of the parallels. It's worth mentioning that budget cuts culminated in Evangelion's TV ending becoming so obtuse, mirroring Ideon's ratings and financial loss.
Many of the show's cast members are killed in this climax's violent events in The End of Evangelion. When the true ending arrives, the rest literally implode into a violent miasma of primordial goo. All of this is part of the Instrumentality event, which sees humanity reduced to nil; it's all part of the species' transformation into a hive-minded, single consciousness. This affects the entire human race as well as the Earth itself. Though it doesn't quite fit Be Invoked's universal destruction, it's close to how humans and the Buff Clan were both killed and remade in both of the series' endings.
The "Congratulations!" ending of Evangelion, which evokes the "Happy Birthday" heard in Ideon's rebirth ending, is one last message exchanged between the shows. These unmistakable similarities have won Evangelion the title of spiritual successor to Ideon, despite the fact that, based on its continued popularity and the recent film's results, it is unquestionably a much more successful franchise.