What I Learned About Writing From: Evangelion (Film+TV Series)

I had the pleasure of watching the fourth and final Evangelion Rebuild movie that came out this year. I enjoyed it so much, I went back and watched the original TV series from the 1990s too! And The End of Evangelion!

Evangelion as a whole is a famous anime franchise from Gainax Studio, Studio Khara and Hideaki Anno. It is one of the most famous anime of all time, and now I know why! It has thrilling action, distinctive characters and surprising depth, especially among anime. The scale of the story is epic while also being quite personal at times. What I mean is the story features wide areas such as the city Tokyo-3. At the same time, the story dedicates time to looking at individual characters.

As a writer, watching the Rebuild movies and the TV series were inspiring. Let me share what I have taken away from it all as a writer. I will avoid major spoilers, but minor spoilers may follow:

There is a place for deep story elements, philosophy and symbolism.

I get personally concerned sometimes that readers will not understand subtlety or very abstract concepts. Things like religion, the meaning of life, philosophy etc. These are hard to imagine and visualize let alone understand or explain in simple terms. Evangelion is a pretty action oriented series, but it surprisingly takes time to examine human behavior too! The sheer depth the story takes in both the TV series and movies were very impressive! I have to say, I got lost near the endings of both lol…

Extremes in a story will not doom a story.

If you have watched Evangelion, you know what I am talking about. Warlike conditions, psychological stress, brutal gore and intense combat are things that not everyone likes (which is probably why the TV series became an adult oriented anime instead of for kids). In a media world dominated by kid friendly shows like Pokemon, Sailor Moon and other shows, Evangelion is a fairly dark and brutal show. The world is serious, bleak and depressing. The characters all endure a ton of stress. Yet the story is still so good, people are not turned off by how oppressively dark and harsh it can be.

Details in a story can be valuable.

If you watch the behind the scenes TV mini series on Anno’s Rebuild movies, you will notice something.

He LITERALLY had a miniature city set made out of WOOD for one of his battle scenes. Like, complete with POWER LINES, INDIVIDUAL HOMES, TRAINS, STREETS…and he kept tinkering with the placement of objects after the set was made. This miniature set was used for one major battle scene in one movie I believe.

Can you IMAGINE how many hours went into making a MINIATURE PHYSICAL SET of a small town? Such detail…and a desire for authentic settings clearly.

Pacing is important.

In both the movies and the TV series, the pacing of the stories in both is, more or less, quite quick and agile. The action scenes are gripping and quick. When there is no fighting, there is often intensive planning going on for the next fight, or there is some dread about the next fight. The point is that the pacing remains quick in the movies and TV series. This really helps to stay engaged with the spiraling combat, political mystery and striking characters.

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