Every Episode of ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ Ranked

Discover the psychological mindf*** that changed the anime industry forever.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
By  · Published on June 17th, 2019

8. “Rei II” (Episode 6)

Neon Genesis Evangelion

A race against the clock. In the previous episode, Shinji suffered critical injuries from the Fifth Angel, Ramiel. Nerv must find an alternate solution against the Angel without Shinji. Misato devises a plan to stop the Angel in its tracks which involves a prototype sniper rifle that will give Shinji only one chance to take it out. During the battle, Rei also suffers critical damage and Shinji must race to free her from her damaged EVA. This mirrors Gendo saving Rei during episode 05. In this case, Shinji burns his hands as he tries to rescue Rei. Whenever Evangelion utilizes the idea of countdowns or final solutions, the drama amps up to another level. “Rei II “utilizes this idea to the fullest, making us believe that this is truly a do or die situation. This episode is heavy on action and drama making it one of the more exciting episodes in the series’ run.

7. “Introjection” (Episode 19)

Neon Genesis Evangelion

How do you to deal with the aftermath of Shinji destroying EVA Unit 03, while simultaneously pushing the narrative forward? It isn’t an easy task, but “Introjection” is another solid episode. Up to this point in the series, the children have faced dangers but were able to surpass them without too many repercussions. After this episode, survival doesn’t feel like a guarantee anymore. With Suzuhara sidelined indefinitely and Shinji reeling from his part in Suzuhara’s injury, Asuka and Rei suit up for a new Angel challenge. This was the introduction of Zeruel, the Fourteenth Angel. When Asuka and Rei fall in battle, Shinji must decide to pilot his EVA once again. A great aspect of this episode is that Shinji finally becomes the hero he was once envisioned to be. One of his traits throughout the series is his indecisiveness, and here Shinji is finally able to stand up to his father and make decisions for himself.

6. “Asuka Strikes!” (Episode 8)

Neon Genesis Evangelion

“Asuka Strikes!” is the introduction of the charming Asuka Langley Soryu. We know her as the second child and the pilot of EVA Unit 02. She is also a bit of a tsundere (unusually cold to others but eventually becomes more welcoming as the series progresses). Oddly, a third of the series goes by before she is introduced, but she is one of the central characters the rest of the way. Nevertheless, Asuka is confident about her abilities and is determined to be the best EVA pilot, and this episode shows her striving towards greatness. There are more introductions this episode as well since Ryoji Kaji makes his first appearance here. Asuka is traveling to join Nerv to protect Tokyo-3 when the naval fleet bringing her there is attacked by an Angel. The Sixth Angel, Israfel, is an aquatic Angel capable of taking out the naval fleet in a flash. Its shape is almost like that of a stingray, but much larger and equipped with a massive jaw. The combined efforts of Shinji and Asuka finally take the Angel down before it can inflict greater damage. An Asuka-centered episode is usually a great sign of quality, and this is a lot of fun.

5. “Splitting of the Breast” (Episode 16)

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Adult themes and graphic violence appear throughout Evangelion, but this episode really doesn’t hold back with its gore. There are some terrific animation and horrific images on display throughout “Splitting of the Breast.” It is almost like the animators at Studio Gainax were waiting to unload their entire gore budget. The relationships between the children continue to evolve as they battle the Twelve Angel, Leliel. Leliel is a sphere-shape that can absorb objects into its shadow. Shinji and his EVA are trapped within the floating Angel for hours until he tore himself out of Leliel’s body in a blood bath. Following the battle, Rei and Asuka show their concern for the injured Shinji in different ways. Rei reminds Shinji of his mother while Asuka romantically cares for Shinji but is afraid to show her emotions. This is an excellent episode as it sets the tone for the rest of the series. This is the dark side of Evangelion.

4. “The Beginning and the End, or ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (Episode 24)

Neon Genesis Evangelion

[Set soundtrack selection to Beethoven’s — Symphony №9 in D minor: Ode to Joy.]

Tokyo-3 was destroyed during the last battle, leaving Shinji as the last available pilot. The other children are no longer fit for combat, and Nerv needs a replacement. Nerv sends for the fifth child, Kaworu Nagisa. Kaworu is free-spirit and seems instantly attracted to Shinji. He also processes a weird outlook and wisdom for someone who is supposed to be fourteen. When he arrives, he is not what he seems. He is the Final Angel. Will he bring about the end of humanity?

Everything comes to a head in this episode — it almost feels like the finale for Evangelion. The series becomes polarizing with its last two episodes, but this makes a fitting end. A pivotal moment in this episode decides the fate of the world. It is an agonizing wait for the ultimate decision but is certainly memorable. “The Beginning and the End, or ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” is a spectacular episode, one that could work as a fitting end to an iconic series.

3. “Angel Attack” (Episode 1)

Neon Genesis Evangelion

First episodes can make or break a series. Few anime premieres do a better job of setting up the players and crisis than Evangelion’s opening episode. Shinji must suit up quickly as humanity depends on him. This episode is also the introduction for Misato. She helps to keep the whole endeavor grounded as she grouses about her utter misfortune of having her car totaled. Nevermind the giant creature destroying half the city. Shinji must prepare for battle against the Third Angel, Sachiel. From the very beginning of Evangelion, there are many questions. What exactly are these beasts known as Angels? What is this giant purple mech that Shinji must pilot? Why is the fate of the world placed in an unstable teenager’s hands?

Spectacular visuals make up the majority of this episode as we witness the underground city known as The Geofront that protects the citizens of Tokyo-3 and the giant mechanical beasts known as Evangelion for the first time. Evangelion is a rush of drama and excitement right from the start with the end of the world scenario and the “special” child who must save the world, making for an especially lovely touch.

2. “Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!” (Episode 9)

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Among all the episodes, this one is my personal favorite. “Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!doesn’t move the plot forward in any particularly exciting way. It just follows the formula of another day, another Angel. This time Shinji and Asuka do battle against the Seventh Angel, Israfel, which is capable of splitting into twins. They are roughly the same size as the EVAs and can only be defeated using a synchronized attack. The idea that two pilots must put aside their differences and synchronize makes for some fantastic comedy. Asuka and Shinji will have to team up to defeat their foe, whether they like it or not. It is through a training montage that some of the hilarious moments of the series occur as Asuka and Shinji try to get in sync by playing a glorified game of Twister. They even begin to act and dress the same, brushing their teeth, having to use the bathroom, and watching the same TV shows. When it coincides with an excellent combat sequence timed with the music, it feels like something special. If you are trying to show someone Evangelion without a ton of explanation, this episode does an excellent job of showing why audiences love it.

1. “Ambivalence” (Episode 18)


A landmark episode of anime featuring images that will be forever engraved into viewers’ minds. The first half of the episode is a tease; it is more concerned with a high school romance that involves Suzuhara. The romance takes a backseat as quickly as the narrative moves into an entirely different gear.

During testing for EVA Unit 03, the unit malfunctions and turns into an Angel with Suzuhara inside! What comes next is a bloody spectacle. When people talk excitedly about Evangelion, it is most often this episode they remember. This episode is where the shit hits the fan. The final moment when Shinji learns who the pilot of EVA Unit 03 is… all we are left with is screams.

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News Writer/Columnist for Film School Rejects. It’s the Pictures Co-host. Bylines Playboy, ZAM, Paste Magazine and more.