I just read an interesting essay (Reflections on a Legend) about Evangelion.
When this series came out in 1995, it was definitely the best anime of those days (we have to look at it in the context of the era). Whether you like it or hate it—the series was already controversial then and remains controversial today because it was so over-hyped—this series is certainly one of the most influencial title of the history of anime. It was to anime what Star Wars was to sci-fi movies. However, I agree with the writer of the essay: the series has numerous flaws (in Eva's defense I would like to add that the production team had to deal with censorship and budget cuts—which seriously affected the quality of the series toward the end), but I think its esoteric aspects are part of its qualities.
When I first watched Evangelion, I was literaly floored. My friends and I were watching every episode passionately—raw! Every month we were getting a VHS tape from Japan, where a contact of mine was tapping the show for us. The last show of each tape had just played on Japanese TV less than a week before. Today, in the age of instant downloading it might seem trivial, but in those days it was really something! Of course, since then, there was so many Eva imitations, so many hype, so many re-packaging of the show that we all feel blasé about it.
An amusing anecdote: it's because of all the controversies surrounding the series and the backlash reaction of the anime fans, that Hideaki Anno, the director, became fed-up with anime fandom, eventually leaving the anime industry to direct weird live-action movies instead.
But why are people suddenly talking about Evangelion, you may ask? It's simply because there is a new incarnation of the story coming up in 2007. Like many others, I am rather ambivalent toward yet another Eva repackaging. I find the idea annoying, but yet I can't stop myself from being excited. Like I often say: we'll see.