it hasn't been talked about at all.
If I were an average American, which by all rights I am, I'd probably not know about Neon Genesis Evangelion. Even if I'd heard of it, I may not know its origins as a serialized animated television show. The movies are just recaps, and in fact some of the plot lines were abandoned for the movie. As far as I know, there's no US equivalent of what happened. We've had TV shows turned into movies, and we've even had kids cartoons turned into major summer blockbuster movies. But I don't think we've had a long running main stream cartoon turned into a major motion picture, but containing its own story. Closest I can think would be the Simpsons.
But I've become completely sidetracked. The point is, Evangelion is a pretty big deal. It had a huge following in Japan and a rabid one in the US. The last few episodes were among the most watched and most talked about of any TV series. And its ending has left a lot of fans unhappy. (So now think M*A*S*H or Dallas or Lost.) It's a well known idea, it's a well known story. It's not like this is some weird little DVD only anime that Hollywood has never heard of.
Personally, Evangelion was a bit of an eye opener for me. I wasn't ignorant of anime by any stretch. I'd been watching various serials and movies since Robotech first hit the US in 1985. But there was something about Evangelion that frightened me and yet also made me more invested. It could have been the time I was watching or the people I saw it with or the fact that I hadn't seen much like it in a while, but regardless, it made an impact. Probably the same impact it had in its televised form in Japan years before. There was something primal about it the ideas; the link between man and machine, the fact that we've been targeted by supreme beings for annihilation, the fact that the angst and confusion of youth seems universal.
For those that don't know, Evangelion is set in the future in the city of Tokyo-3. Earth's population has been cut in half by a great cataclysm. Most think it's the result of a meteorite, but the result is the world is physically and politically changed. The remaining populace band together and the resultant scientific breakthroughs allow them to create towering mechanized warriors called Evangelions. These giant machines were useless unless a pilot was included and were controlled primarily by neural interface. This was in preparation for the coming of the Angels, creatures of vague origin setting about to destroy humanity.
For those that have seen Pacific Rim, does that sound familiar?
It should, but in defense of the new movie, that's about where the similarities end. In Pacific Rim, humans know where the Kaiju have come from and we've been able to beat them back for years, handily. The pilots in Evangelion are children because of their youthful brains and ability to meld with the EVA. Pacific Rim has two pilots to offset the neural load, but for the most part they are trained and hardened warriors. The Angels in Evangelion are complex and completely unearthly figures (save for the first couple.) The Kaiju are just giant beasts.
To be fair, Neon Genesis Evangelion is actually an adaptation of many properties before it. Pacific Rim is just a different version of that adaptation. To say the later is copying the former is disingenuous. It's easy to point and say, "It's just Western Evanglion!" What we should be saying is, "This is great, can we make a decent live action Robotech now?"
I like both for what they are. Yes they are similar, but so many stories are. To me, Pacific Rim at a story level was more in line with Independence Day than Evangelion. If you haven't seen it, it's not the greatest movie ever and I rolled my eyes a few times, but it's just damn fun.