Neon Genesis Evangelion can be a confusing anime series to watch. Fortunately, the watch order doesn’t have to be confusing.
Admittedly, the Evangelion timeline has some oddities to it. The original series was followed by a couple of films — one of which completely changes the ending.
Then there is Rebuild of Evangelion, a series of reboot films released between 2007 and 2021. At first, these anime movies appear to retell the original 1995 story. However, by the end, the plot deviates considerably.
Despite all of this, the watch order isn’t actually that hard to figure out. But first, what is Evangelion?
Neon Genesis Evangelion Plot
Evangelion is a deconstruction of a typical mecha anime series. It asks the viewer, “what if those heroic teenage Gundam pilots were more like real, angsty teens?”
The series has a reputation for being trippy, with an incomprehensible ending — which it does (just ask Spike Spencer).
But it’s also a thought-provoking and worthwhile series to watch, with some truly hilarious comic relief scenes (and some fanservice).
The franchise takes place after the Second Impact, a global disaster. Mankind is under attack by giant creatures called Angels.
Our only defense are giant mechas known as Evangelions, a.k.a. Evas or Eva Units. The only people capable of piloting the Evas are teens.
Unfortunately, the teens in question — Shinji Ikari, Asuka Langley Soryu, Rei Ayanami, Toji Suzuhara, and Kaworu Nagisa — are all flawed in some way or another. It doesn’t help that Shinji’s father, Gendo, is a horrible, manipulative person.
The series focuses on Shinji, as he tries to overcome his various neurotic issues in order to save the world (or something).
Evangelion Watch Order
Compared to Gundam, which has multiple, often unrelated timelines, Evangelion’s mecha anime story is relatively straight-forward.
Evangelion has a couple of versions of the same basic story, with three endings. And while the versions aren’t the same, they at least share characters, concepts, and themes.
Evangelion Release Date Watch Order
- Neon Genesis Evangelion, 1995-1996
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth, March 1997
- The End of Evangelion, July 1997
- Revival of Evangelion, March 1998
- Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, 2007
- Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, 2009
- Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, 2012
- Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, 2021
Note: The 2007 through 2021 movies are collectively known as Rebuild of Evangelion.
You should probably start with the classic 1995 original, especially if you like older series.
Some websites recommend a complicated mixture of original series episodes, intermixed with the Rebuild of Evangelion movies. Theoretically, this should work, at least chronologically. For example, 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone recaps stuff found in the first few episodes of the 1995 series.
However, the movies are different enough that they should really be considered a separate timeline, as we will see below.
Neon Genesis Evangelion — The 26-episode anime series introduces Shinji, the other Eva pilots, and the rest of NERV.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth — This movie was originally divided into two parts, Death and Rebirth. The first part, Death, recaps the original series, with some new animation added. Rebirth contains the first part of The End of Evangelion.
Most people will stream this as Death (True)2. It’s a slightly different version of Death & Rebirth.
The End of Evangelion — This movie is a complete “alternate ending” rewrite of the final two episodes of the Evangelion series.
Fans who were disappointed or confused by the original ending will get a better explanation of series details. However, End is also much darker and weirder than the series’ original “I’m on a big blue ball” ending. And it has some disturbing images as well.
Revival of Evangelion is a combination of Death and End. But good luck finding it.
Rebuild of Evangelion Timeline
The first Rebuild of Evangelion movie came out a decade after the original series aired. New improvements in animation allowed the producers to tell a better version of the series.
However, as the movie series progresses, the films deviate into an alternate timeline.
Series creator Hideaki Anno apparently also wanted to change the characters’ personalities somewhat. Fans have described these changes as “less angsty” and “more stable.” The plot still puts these characters through a lot of psychological torture, and the movies still contain a lot of symbolic weirdness.
Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone — The first film in the Rebuild of Evangelion timeline generally sticks to the original story — specifically, episodes 1-6.
However, there are some notable differences. For example, Kaworu shows up earlier than he does in the original. Some spoilers are also revealed earlier.
Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance — The second film continues to retell the original story — this time concentrating on episodes 8-19.
A new Eva pilot, Mari Illustrious Makinami, is introduced. Asuka’s last name is changed to Shikinami.
Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo — The third film in the series introduces a new organization, WILLE, which opposes Gendo and NERV. Kaworu plays a large role in this movie, which takes place 14 years after Evangelion: 2.0.
Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time — This film is the last, final grand finale of Evangelion. The fight between NERV and WILLE continues, while Shinji confronts Gendo. The emotional and psychological motivations for a lot of Gendo’s grand plans are finally revealed. The (surprisingly happy) ending slams the door on any future Evangelion sequels.
Best Places to Watch Evangelion
The language options are amazing, with more than 20 subtitle choices. But the iconic ending song, “Fly Me To The Moon,” was cut.
Netflix U.S. doesn’t have any of the Rebuild of Evangelion movies.
Price: Basic with ads, $6.99/ month. Basic: $9.99/ month. Standard: $15.49/ month. Premium: $19.99.
How to Watch Neon Genesis Evangelion on Netflix Anywhere in the World
This method works on both desktop PCs and mobile phones or tablets.
- Purchase (or start a free trial) of a VPN. I can confirm that NordVPN works for this purpose.
- In the settings, choose United States as your location.
- Fire up the VPN and wait for it to do its magic
- Once you’re connected, navigate to Netflix (browser or app)
- Search “Neon Genesis Evangelion” in the Netflix search bar and you should see the anime pop up.
Enjoy! Please note that if your Netflix library doesn’t update to reflect the country you selected in your VPN, you may have to clear the Netflix cache first and try again.
To do this on mobile, go to settings -> apps -> Netflix -> clear cache. To do this on PC, you have to clear the cache in your web browser.
I’ve had no trouble using this method and I still use NordVPN to watch anime from various Netflix country libraries daily.
Amazon Prime (U.S.) has extended versions of Rebuild of Evangelion:
- Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone
- Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance
- Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo
- Evangelion: 3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time
- Evangelion: Death (True)² (English dubbed)
- Evangelion: Death (True)² (subtitles)
- The End of Evangelion
Depending upon which of these you choose, the language options and prices for these vary wildly.
Price: Rebuild of Evangelion is free with Prime. Prime offers a free-trial period, then $14.99/ month. Prime Video only, $8.99/ month.
3. Apple TV
Price: $1.99 an episode, $12.99 for Death; $12.99 for End; $14.99 to pre-order Thrice.
Hopefully, you should now have everything you need to watch Evangelion in the right order, even if you’re stuck in Nowhere-Land. Congratulations!