'Neon Genesis Evangelion' on Netflix: What are 'End of Evangelion' and 'Death (True)2'?

The landmark anime Neon Genesis Evangelion is coming to Netflix, but the show's complicated legacy of remakes, re-edits and tie-in movies might confuse even those already familiar with the mecha saga.

Neon Genesis Evangelion was first broadcast on Japanese television in 1995. It premiered as a tribute to mecha anime predecessors like Mobile Suit Gundam, as the teenaged Shinji Ikari finds himself pressed into piloting Evangelion Unit 01 by his domineering father. Commander Gendo Ikari is the director of an organization called NERV, originally formed to combat alien "Angels" after first contact resulted in a cataclysmic event which killed more than two billion people.

From there, Evangelion becomes so much more than giant, fighting robots. Laden with religious imagery, Evangelion grew into an expansive exploration of the psychic boundaries between people, the nature of consciousness and mankind's eventual destiny, as the true nature of the Evangelions and NERV's secret plans, overseen by an even more mysterious ruling cabal, SEELE, is unveiled.

The final two episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion 's 26-episode run don't feature a lot of climactic battles, but instead explore Shinji's subjectivity, depicted in a dizzying combination of photographs, sketchy line drawings, abstract imagery and whole scenes of dialogue played out over static imagery.

The series pushed deadlines throughout its production and many fans felt the ending was either rushed or poorly thought out, the product of a director, Hideaki Anno, who hadn't really figured out how to end the series properly.

In response to widespread outrage, Anno and anime studio Gainax produced two movies in 1997 to append to Neon Genesis Evangelion the splashy and spectacular finale it deserved.

Things get a little confusing from here, particularly since not all of the follow-up to the original series will be streaming as part of the Netflix deal. In addition to the 26 episodes of the original series, Netflix will also stream Evangelion: Death (True) 2 and The End of Evangelion.

'Evangelion: Death(True)2'

Most fans know this movie as Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth, originally released as a two-part movie separated by a short intermission. Death is essentially a 67-minute clip show, recapping the series. Rebirth consists of 27 minutes of new story, which essentially shows the political situation left out of the series, which prioritized Shinji's internal psychic state. As Gendo and NERV enact their endgame, the Human Instrumentality Project (it's a long story), Japan's military invades NERV headquarters to t stop them.

In 1998 Death & Rebirth was re-edited for Japanese television by Evangelion episode director Masayuki. This version was titled Evangelion: Death(True). Later that year, a slightly altered version of Death(True), which restored a few shots Masayuki cut from Death & Rebirth, was combined with The End of Evangelion to create Revival of Evangelion. The version of Death(True) used for Revival is what will appear on Netflix as Evangelion: Death(True)2.

It's a complicated origin story, but Death(True)2 is the version of Death & Rebirth that's probably already familiar to Western fans of Evangelion, since the edit was released in box sets under the title Revival of Evangelion.

Got all that? Which brings us to...

'The End of Evangelion'

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"The End of Evangelion" is loaded with disturbing, psychedelic imagery that portends the end of humankind as we know it. Studio Gainax

While Death (True) 2 will be required viewing for the completists and diehards, all versions of Death & Rebirth were largely superseded by The End of Evangelion, one of the most mind-bending, shocking movies ever released. The first part of the movie is the Rebirth segment of Death & Rebirth, depicting the decaying political situation on the ground, as the Japanese military tries to stop Gendo, causing a bloodbath in the process. But it's too late and humanity will be irrevocably altered by what comes next…

So that's what's coming to Netflix when Neon Genesis Evangelion begins streaming in spring 2019. What's not included (or, at least, hasn't been announced yet) are Anno's Rebuild of Evangelion, a quadrilogy of movies that retell the story of the original series, with some substantial changes (particularly in the latest, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo). The final entry in that series, Evangelion: 3.0+1.0, is expected to premiere in 2020.