Saturday, October 31, 2015


Ok, it's time to move on to the more interesting Evangelion spinoffs.  Dark Horse has made it all but a mission to release every Evangelion-related thing they can get their hands on, and in doing so they sometimes happen upon ones that actually strive for some originality, much like today's selection.

NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: CAMPUS APOCALYPSE (Shin Seiki Evangelion Gakuen Datenroku), by Ming Ming.  First published by 2007 and first published in North America in 2010.


Shinji Ikari is a normal kid.  Well...he's about as normal as you can expect, considering that his mother died, his father abandoned him, and is now cared for by his guardian Kaji.  Otherwise, he spends most of his days at NERV Foundation Campus with his friends and doing normal teenaged stuff.  One night he observes two fellow students running about and acting secretive and he discovers a strange orb.  From that moment, his life was never the same.  His is now a world where humans can be possessed by angels who seek to destroy the world tree Yggdrasil.  It's also one where he and his classmates Rei, Asuka, and Kaworu can turn their souls into weapons to strike back at the marauding angels, and Shinji must learn to unlock the secrets behind both sides of this holy war.


Finally!  Instead of turning it into a bunch of slice-of-life nonsense, someone decided to do something INTERESTING with the Evangelion universe!   Sure, it's still set at a school but at least they're actually fighting angels and using EVAs!  It's just that this time the angels are rather literal and the EVAs are some magical scientific mumbo-jumbo soul weapon orbs instead of giant robots. 

All the usual suspects are here save for Gendo, and all those who get more than a few pages of screentime are pretty consistent with their animated counterparts.  Some are toned down a little (like Shiji and Asuka), some are toned up (like Kaworu), and others are simply just there (like Rei).  I'll take that last part gladly if it means I don't have to deal with yet another "Rei" with a personality implant.  The story is decently paced, as it brings Shinji into the main conflict without wasting too much time on either campus hijinxs or exposition.  It doesn't lose itself in symbolism but neither does it avoid it.  Best of all, the Christian imagery here isn't just there for decoration - it has purpose and meaning, even if said meaning tends to be rather on-the-nose.

There's not much more to say for Campus Apocalypse at this point.  It's not brilliant by any means, but of all the Evangelion spinoffs I've read thus far, it's the only one to really grab my interest all without throwing away everything about Evangelion canon.


Campus Apocalypse is also one of the better looking Evangelion spinoffs.  It doesn't stray too much from the original designs, and what few changes it does make are minor and well-incorporated...well, all but their weird, dark, doll-like eyes.  Those are just kind of creepy.  The panels tend to go to extremes when it comes to perspective, as they mostly tend to be angled very high or very low.  Aside from a bit of layering, the pages tend to be straightforward and easy to follow. 


There are a few color pages up front, but they look weirdly muted and I can't tell whether it's so because of the thick, heavy paper they use or their choice of inks.  This wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that the first few scenes are set in dense blue darkness.  There are also some character model sheets for the characters along with another installment of "Misato's Fan Service Corner." 


Campus Apocalypse is a solid, action-packed story that expands upon the Evangelion mythos without entirely leaving it behind, which puts it a step ahead of most Evangelion spinoffs.

This series is published by Dark Horse.  This series is complete in Japan with four volumes available.  All four were published and all are currently in print.

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