32 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

Infinite Ryvius vs Neon Genesis Evangelion

Being the massively popular series that it was, Neon Genesis Evangelion inspired a lot of copycats. Not that every series copied it to the same extent that RahXephon does. Some copied the aesthetic or the female character archetypes or the newer look at giant robot series.

Infinite Ryvius is one of these post-Eva series. Directed by Goro Taniguchi, who later went on to direct Planetes and Code Geass, the show takes the same angst-heavy approach that Evangelion does. It takes a group of kids with plenty of emotional baggage, tosses them into a sci-fi setting, gives them heavy responsibilities, one of which may be piloting giant robots, and then proceeds to torture their minds for 26 episodes. Each series has aspects it does better than the other and, as the title of this post might have already clued you into, I’m going to compare the two.

The post is largely spoiler-free, apart from the discussion about endings, which I have covered with a spoiler tag. However this spoiler tag doesn’t work if you are viewing this post in a feed reader. You have been warned.

Artistry

Animation quality isn’t something I’m too pushed about. Artistry, on the other hand, is something I care about hugely because how you frame a shot tells a story in it’s own right. That’s where Evangelion excels. It has a way of framing the Angels that conjures a mixture of awe and fear. Set against sunsets, towering over our view, those Angels are genuinely frightening beings. Ryvius just doesn’t have that. It is, for the most part, very straight forward in how it presents the characters. There’s certainly not a whole lot of imagery, which Evangelion basks in towards the final episodes, sometimes even to its detriment. What that does for Evangelion is it instantly gets you into that characters head, while with Ryvius it’s a more gradual horror as you realise how messed up this kids brain is. I would like to say this suits Ryvius, because the show is very gradual in how it presents it’s story, but Evangelion does pretty much the same thing to it’s characters and achieves this better with it’s use of imagery.

Verdict: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Plot

Ryvius’s plot is often described as ‘Lord of the Flies IN SPACE!’, which is fairly accurate. For the record, Lord of the Flies is a damn good book that has been ruined for the general population by English teachers forcing them to write essays about every instance of the colour ‘pink’. There is a lot more going outside of the ship the kids are trapped on in Infinite Ryvius, but they don’t really come to the fore until perhaps the very final episode. But it’s a clearly constructed plot with definite goals, which is more than I can say for Evangelion. I flat out don’t understand the plot of Evangelion. Not at all. Which isn’t as bad as it sounds when you realise the creators were making it up as they went along anyway. The plot, as it were, was still fascinating to watch unfold as you tried to work out what was going on, but you were left never knowing what was going on in the first place anyway because of that damn ending. Yeah, more on the endings later.

Verdict: Infinite Ryvius

Construction

Plot construction is more about the pacing, subtlety and finesse at which the story was constructed. Again it is Evangelion’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along-itis that bites it hard here. Well, maybe not that hard. There was certainly a disconnect between which characters they felt like focusing on at any different point, but by and large the plot continued along the same path. One aspect that always impressed me with Evangelion is how each Angel becomes gradually more and more terrifying. There is no let up for these characters. Even when there’s a mid-show moment where it looks like these characters are finally developing, the toughness of their adversaries comes back to haunt them. Which is pretty much the exact same thing Ryvius does, except Ryvius keeps a more even control on it’s characters than Evangelion was ever able to do. That said, I can’t give this award to Ryvius because of the disconnect between life on the space ship and the greater picture. It does come together in the end, but that’s still 25 episodes worth of disconnect.

Verdict: Draw

Music

YouTube Preview Image

Yeah yeah, I know Ryvius has a cool funky R&B/hip-hop soundtrack that you desperately want to praise for simply being cool, but I really can’t. A hip hop soundtrack suited the likes of Samurai Champloo down to a tee because the nature of the show was a cool and slightly laid back one. In Ryvius, the soundtrack becomes less and less relevant as the series went on. It’s a bit jarring when the characters are going through their emotional breakdowns towards the chaos that is the end of the series, to the soundtrack of “uh yeah uh Ryvius uh yeah“. Besides, the Evangelion music is fantastic. Like the animation, the music heightens that sense of awe surrounding the Angels.

Verdict: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Sense of Humour

Yes, both these series has a sense of humour. It’s not hugely present but you don’t need chibified faces and overreactions to count as humour. What they both have in abundance is a dark sense of humour. A chilling, evil, wry yet brilliant little twist every now and then that generates a fleeting smirk on your face before you wash it away, feeling very bad about yourself. Also, neither series takes themselves 100% seriously. Whether it’s the girl searching for her dinosaur costume on the Ryvius or a conveniently placed box of toothpicks, both series are willing to laugh at themselves. Generally, sci-fi is good at this and I wish some of the high fantasy series would take note.

Verdict: Draw

Characters

I love to hate the characters in both Evangelion and Ryvius. Therefore it comes down to a battle of how well both series develop these characters. Main character battle of Shinji vs Kouji, there simply is no competition. Kouji is a damn fine character, but the level at which Evangelion goes into Shinji’s mind and explores is far beyond anything Ryvius could dream of achieving. Similarly nothing Ryvius can conjure beats the depth they go into Asuka’s character. However beyond that, Evangelion starts to break down a bit. I really couldn’t tell you what drove half of the characters in Evangelion, and I doubt the creators really knew either. Meanwhile Ryvius has full control over every single characters development. You knew what drove every single one of them and understood what it was that made them snap, as every character in Ryvius eventually did. In short, Evangelion for the main characters, Ryvius for side characters.

Verdict: Draw

The Ending

Ryvius ending Show ▼

Evangelion ending Show ▼

Verdict: Infinite Ryvius

Final Verdict

2 for Ryvius, 2 for Evangelion and 2 draws, so no clear winner. Evangelion was certainly the more ambitious of the two, while Ryvius was a lot more controlled and constructed it’s story better. The endings for both series ultimately swings my opinion on both series though. Infinite Ryvius is better than Neon Genesis Evangelion. Mwahaha, go my biased views, go!

In all seriousness, both of these anime are fantastic and, at time of writing, hold pride of place in my top 30. Highly recommend both of them.

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32 Comments

  1. mcm38
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Evangelion, so overrated. I watched it after I saw it on many top lists, but an anime with no clear conclusion just gives a bad after taste no matter how good it was. Just like Elfen Lied.
    I’m not saying they sucked, but they didn’t make the finish as good as the development, which made it seem like the whole series was b*llsh*t.
    Much like playing a game. You fight of each round and get to the final , but you can’t keep up and it’s game over. It’s a major dissapointment.

    • romulus
      Posted April 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      Talkin’ about 2 of my huge favourites, eh? Elfen Lied manga will satisfy your yearning for a good ending, I recommend you read that if the only major problem is the not-so-conclusion of the anime. The manga was still ongoing at that time so they just made something up.
      Evangelion has multiple endings to choose from, the original unwatchable thing was revised a few times. Please forget the original, Evangelion is not overrated I swear.

      • mcm38
        Posted April 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        Oh so same thing that happened with D. Gray-Man. I wish they also continued the anime. The developement of the manga speeds up after the point it stopped at the anime. One of my fav mangas right now.
        Btw, where can I find those other endings. I watched a movie of Eva but there were not different endings.

      • romulus
        Posted April 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

        Actually I dont really know a thing about D. Gray-man. Seriously.
        About evangelion movies: there are quite a few of them, wikipedia has info. Most of them are remakes not doing anything differently. You might have watched Death or Rebuild 1.0 New stuff in the End of Evangelion and the Rebuild 2.0 movie, but only the upcoming 3.0 and 4.0 will give another conclusion.

    • Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      It seems as if most fans who experience confusion over Evangelion tend to ask two questions. (1) what the hell happened? and (2) what does it mean?

      For (1), wikipedia, youtube, google are your friends

      For (2), you can either accept the fact that Evangelion was created in 1995 for a Japanese nation who, at the time, were struggling to regain what they had lost and what things were in its thriving bubble economy. Or you can take Anno’s word that “everyone must find their own answers” and leave it at that.

      • mcm38
        Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        ‘What the hell happened?’ and ‘What the hell does it mean?’ don’t have anything to do with the watchers. It’s the producers fault if the average viewer doesn’t get what happens in it. That doesn’t mean the viewer fails, but the opposite producer fails is more appropiate here.

      • Posted April 28, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        I agree with you for the most part. But remember, Evangelion was never intended for a western audience. It’s not so much of fault on the part of the director as it is a fault of circumstance. Evangelion is very peculiar as it is very indicative of its time and social norm. I’m not Japanese, nor I do I know much about Japanese culture. But I’m assuming that it would at least make a bit more sense simply from the fact that most Japanese viewers can associate with said norms, whereas Americans find it more difficult.

      • mcm38
        Posted April 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

        That is offcourse a possibility. Sometimes I wonder if that’s also the reason why we think anime doesn’t improve. Maybe the opposite is happening in the eyes of the original viewers, the Japanese.

  2. JonBob
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I know it technically isn’t part of Evangelion, but how would you consider the series if you replaced the final 2 episodes with (or appended instead) End of Evangelion? Yeah, it is kinda a cop out, since they had a redo after the fact, but it does seem to complete the story.

    • Posted April 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      In my humble opinion, the message of the show was made clear in the TV ending. The movie of course, made the actual story and the events that transpired clearer, but the message was lost. I think both EoE and the TV finale are integral to understanding Evangelion as a whole and that you shouldn’t replace one with the other.

    • kero92
      Posted April 29, 2011 at 5:22 am | Permalink

      the original idea they had for the ending was actually End of Evangelion, but they got budget problems, so they did the TV ending instead. The TV ending is part of the actual ending though

  3. Posted April 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I dunno, I thought the hip-hop soundtrack added a pretty solid amount of tension to some important scenes, but to each their own.

    More people need to watch Ryvius. Maybe I’ll buy the show if I ever feel like rewatching it …

  4. Posted April 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Being the one who had to write that essay about every instance of ‘pink’, that Infinite Ryvius redeemed LotF in my eyes counts for a whole lot.

  5. Posted April 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    There are shows like Brain Powered where the director explicitly states he was influenced by Evangelion. Then there are shows like Rahxephon, where although they share similar motifs, plot elements, etc, have separate messages and are inherently different. Granted, no anime is made without borrowing at least a tiny bit from its predecessors. Raideen and Ideon are more or less the prototype Rahxephon/Evangelion…in a sense.

    • mcm38
      Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      It’s the process of looking at the previous productions and aiming to make a better one. They should learn out of the mistakes of previous ones, yet it seems the anime world didn’t improve that much yet. Lot’s of b*llsh*t keep showing up.

      • Posted April 28, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. Too bad success and failure is measured by how many copies sold.

  6. Posted April 28, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    I love the design of the clothes of the girl in the “plot picture”. Why is she dressed like that? Well, she looks totally cool.

  7. Posted April 28, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    i’ll have to watch infinite whatever someday. i guess i’m one of the few students who were spared having to read lord of the flies, but i’ve always wanted to read it to see if it was as bad as everyone tells me it is.

    ugh evangelion. ughhhhhh. end of series baffled me beyond frustration and end of evangelion movie just made me ragequit the whole series.

  8. Ian K
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    To be honest, I felt like IR was a great idea let down by mediocre execution. Maybe it works as a thought experiment, but it didn’t work too well for me as a story. But it does its own thing, and deserves a lot of credit for that. I do plan on rewatching it someday, maybe I’ll be able to see it in a new light.

    Did they ever explain why the space station was attacked?

  9. luffyluffy
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Unit-01 has Buckteeth in the Artistry photo.

    Cannot unsee.

  10. Posted April 29, 2011 at 3:22 am | Permalink

    Infinite Ryvius wins for its fade-in to the opening sequence.

  11. kero92
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    emm.. evangelion didn’t end in the series, but in the movie. Actually a little bit of both, but the last 2 episodes of Eva are NOT the ending. The actual ending is the most awesome piece of anime I’ve seen in my short life, and I seriously believe no other ending can top that.

    • Posted April 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      Shinji masturbates over Asuka’s comatose body!

  12. Posted April 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I got a virus visiting your page :(

    • OHEMGEE
      Posted April 29, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      Oh crap. Seriously? Then am I in danger too? D:>

      • luffyluffy
        Posted April 29, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

        Which virus?

      • Posted April 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

        Dunno. I let my antivirusprogram delete it the soon I saw it D: Doesn’t seem to be something big.

    • Scamp
      Posted April 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

      Wait what? Virus? De fuck, how did that happen?

      I’d class that as a mistake, but there have been other things happening recently that make me think there’s some malicious code in this blog. I’m going to have to flush it out somehow

      (also sorry for not responding to comments. I’ve been kinda busy lately. Even this post is one I’ve had pre-prepared ages ago)

  13. Posted April 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen my ex attack this boxset with a sword.

    All the disc were okay…but poor series….

  14. smallish
    Posted May 1, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    I seriously need to buckle down and watch NGE. I think I watched 6 episodes when I was 14 and then my friend forgot to give me the next disc in the series, so I never finished it. Sounds like I’ll really like Infinite Ryvius, though, so maybe I’ll get started with that, start craving delicious angst and mech battles, and start with NGE finally. Any other NGE knock offs people would recommend? I love myself some good angst.

  15. Fremen
    Posted May 2, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    On episode 23 of infinite ryvius right now. Man this series is really gripping. I love the way it gradually builds up all the strife and emotional issues within the characters. My jaw definitely dropped more than once throughout this show as the characters start to lose their grip on reality. Like when Aoi begs Kouji to tell her that this is all a dream, and she’ll wake up from it tomorrow. I was like slap that bitch dammit!

    Really makes me wonder if scenarios like this are avoidable when you put a bunch of adolescents together with no real authority. I keep trying to put myself in the place of some of the characters, thinking of what I might do in their situation. If only I could get my friends to watch some of these shows, arrggg!

    Anyhow, thanks much to scamp for exposing me to these great shows. Oh, and if you haven’t already, go watch Ryvius!

  16. anon
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Hey Scamp, how about you watch End of Evangelion and then talk about the endings, because you know, the ending of the series is not the actual ending (well it is technically speaking, but thats not the point)

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