Even fans who have never seen or even heard of Neon Creation Missionary will probably recognize the most famous scenes, lines, and especially memes the show has created. As a result, there are many anime that are influenced by Evangelion’s striking visuals, action-thriller, and philosophical themes. From the machine battles in Code Geass to the nightmares in Perfect Blue, Neon Genesis Evangelion fans have a lot to offer.
10 Perfect Blues (1998)
An animated film more than an Oscar, Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue is a master of the surreal horror genre. Idol singer Mima Kirigoe left the group to pursue a career as an actress and build a more mature image for herself. But an obsessed fan can’t let his own image of her fade: believing Mima is the impostor, he rushes into murder to correct the mistake.
Evangelion fans will love it as the plot twists in a confusing direction, and the journey Mima is forced to take to finally assert her own identity. Under the intense pressure of trying to recreate and assert herself, she was pushed to the point of almost collapsing. However, just as Shinji caught himself and humanity with his fingertips before they could fall forever in the film’s original ending, Mima not only managed to survive, but became a stronger person.
9 Ergo Proxies (2006)
The humans of Evangelion are still fighting against the impending apocalypse (at least most of them are, since Gendo has plans of his own). The humans of the Ergo Proxy have been through it, but their uneasy peace with their cyborgs is disrupted when the virus-infected cyborg becomes self-aware and begins killing people. Now, it’s a desperate race to uncover the source of the virus and prevent another catastrophe.
The mystery of Ergo Proxy revolves around a genuine Proxy, not a human or a machine. Many characters in Evangelion walk the line between being human and something mechanical or supernatural. Traces of consciousness of Ritsuko’s mother operating the supercomputer Magi, for better or worse; Kaworu denies his true nature as a Humanoid Angel; and Rei resigned to her existence as one of many clones. These topics become even more central in Ergo Proxy.
8 Resonating Terrors (2014)
Lisa Mishima is shocked to discover that those responsible for the recent terrorist attack in Tokyo are two transfer students in her class. Nine and Twelve, since they were assigned to the government experiment they escaped from, are determined to expose what was done to them and attack the government again. Lisa is caught up in their campaign to bring the country to its knees by any means necessary.
Terror in Resonance is the product of Shinichiro Watanabe, of Cowboy Bebop and the famous Samurai Champloo. A dark, haunting tone pervades all twelve episodes, and Nine and Twelve have the same energy as the young pilots of Evangelion: children doomed to fight an impossible battle against a force far greater than themselves. Although the threats on both sides are man-made and not supernatural, the severity and urgency are just as high.
7 Gunners (1988-1989)
Hideaki Anno directed, wrote, and worked on the animation of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and his vision is a big part of what makes the show unique. However, before Evangelion, there was Gunbuster. When humanity is threatened by monstrous aliens, highly skilled young men are selected from the Earth and Moon to be trained as mechanical pilots. Sound familiar?
Gunbuster is Anno’s first anime, and in the six-episode OVA, viewers can see clear nuances of what Evangelion will become over the next decade. This not only applies to the giant machine that pilots like Noriko, Kazumi, and Jung fly into battle. The heroine Noriko struggles with issues of self-worth and baggage about her father, the film starts off rather bleak but has to wait until halfway to really let go, and after that, the film greatly enhances the anxiety and reality-bending elements.
6 Geass Code (2006 – 2008)
If there was a support group for anime boys whose mothers had died pitted against their fathers, powerful and shady government figures with the ambition to recreate the world, Shinji Ikari and Lelouch vi Britannia would be the first to join. During his revolt against his father and half-brothers, exiled prince Lelouch always plays a real-life strategy game that can make Shinji spin. As he nears victory, he discovers more and more about his own powers, his parents, and Britannia’s ultimate plan that he never suspected.
The Knightmare machines that Code Geass characters control can easily take on an Eva unit. From Suzaku’s modern Lancelot models to Lelouch’s nimble Shinkiro, the Knightmares are deadly effective war machines. Watching them clash makes for some of the best scenes on the show.
5 Akira (1988)
In Neo-Tokyo, out-of-control youths terrorize the streets in motorcycle gangs. Orphaned Tetsuo Shima’s biggest worry is measuring his stronger childhood friend Shotaro Kaneda, until he encounters a government escape experiment that transfers his psychic powers to him. Tetsuo struggles horribly with new, unwanted powers that quickly take over him in one of the scariest zombie horror anime ever.
Like Shinji, Tetsuo doesn’t ask to be drawn into the world of dark government experiments and kids with superpowers. His power gives him the same confidence as Shinji’s Eva pilot, but it’s short-lived: the giant chip on his shoulder from a lifetime of impotence causes Tetsuo’s new-found strength to rush straight into his head. He comes close to the brink of world destruction, but Kaneda’s intervention and his own will to reverse what he’s done allows him to save humanity and restore hope for the future instead.
4 FLCL (2000 – 2018)
Three seasons of FLCL, each focusing on different human protagonists. The connecting thread between the original, FLCL Progressive, and FLCL Alternative is Haruko Haruhara, an alien with her own agenda on Earth. However, what she is best at is turning the lives of the main characters upside down.
Much lighter than Evangelion, this is a great match for fans looking for a cooldown after their latest rewatch. It’s not only about the mecha genre, with giant robots taking part in the climax of each season, but also about kids struggling to grow up. While no Eva pilot likes Haruko at all, it will be interesting to see if her influence can make a difference.
3 Bokurano (2007)
In Evangelion, innocent childhood isn’t worth much. All 5 Eva pilots are children, if they weren’t traumatized, their mission would have completely collapsed. They not only witnessed death and destruction, but were physically and mentally pressed and even forced to kill humans and Angels.
Bokurano’s fifteen young pilots in Zearth weren’t much better. Tricked into working together to control the machines and save the Earth, they face increasing danger each time they fight. Evangelion fans who haven’t fully understood their horror and tragedy will want to pick this movie up next.
2 Ghosts in the Shell (1995)
Major Motoko Kusanagi works with the 2029 police force to tackle cybercrime. Kusanagi is a cyborg with all sorts of problems with humanity and a sense of self, but her pursuit of the Puppet Master, one of the most feared cyborgs in anime, only exacerbates her conundrum about what really makes a human.
Ghost in the Shell combines thrills, character exploration, and philosophy in an Evangelion-like ingenious way. While its horror and action come from the perils of human existence becoming intertwined with technology, rather than outside supernatural forces, both are equally enjoyable. Exploring how one’s identity is formed is similar to the struggles Shinji, Asuka, and several other Evangelion characters face outside of battle.
1 series of Lain experiments (1998)
High school student Lain Iwakura is disconnected from everyone, from his family to the other kids at school. However, she has a chance to escape to another world. She discovers Wired, inhabited by people who have given up their bodies to bring their consciousness to the virtual world and who try to convince Lain to join them.
At under 15 episodes, Serial Experiments Lain explores the same themes as Evangelion: identity, difficulty forming meaningful relationships with others, the juxtaposition of technology and people. Lain and Shinji are defined by their isolation from others, and their struggle to find meaning in their own existence and, ultimately, form connections with others. In the end, it was still debatable how successful either of them was.
In Evangelion, Shinji and his fellow pilots struggle to not only survive and assert their own right to existence, but ultimately decide the fate of reality and humanity. These other great anime series share some of the qualities and elements that make them Neon Genesis Mission one of the most influential anime of all time, as well as a great indie series that fans of Hideaki Anno’s franchise are sure to appreciate.