Now we're getting down to the dregs of the Evangelion spinoff manga, the ones that are little more than goofy glorified doujinshi collections. In their eternal question to own ALL the Evangelion manga they can find, Dark Horse picked up TWO of them, starting with this one.
NEON GENESIS EVANGELION COMIC TRIBUTE (Shin Seiki Evangelion Comic Tribute), by various artists. First published in 2010 and first published in North America in 2013.
The Evangelion universe will never be the same after manga artists both big and small have their way with series canon, turning this sci-fi mecha masterpiece into a collection of parody shorts and one-shots.
Much like my review for Kaoru Mori: Something and Anything, this is a very hard work to review because it's a format that mostly defies your traditional review. How much can you say for a comedy anthology? The major difference between those two is that this is a work handled by multiple artists versus just one, and the only common thread amongst them all is the same cast and the fact that they are almost entirely comical.
What you see here though is not exactly the cream of the manga crop, though. The closest we get to big-name contributors are Mine Yoshizaki (Sgt. Frog), Rikdo Koshi (Excel Saga), and Yun Kouga (Loveless); the rest are lucky to have even one work published in English, if they have any at all. Many of the chapters are rather meta in tone, as they have the cast comment and parody various elements of Evangelion and its fandom. This can encompass anything from staging the show like a cheap sentai series (complete with the leading trio in cheap rubber suits), a 10-year reunion for the staff of NERV, and even one about Hideaki Anno going nuts and trying to make a live-action Evangelion movie starting himself. A lot of the chapter rely a lot on fanservice as a gag, with the majority of them making a point about Shinji being some sort of ridiculous fanservice magnet. Most of these are short and punchy, which means that some of them are the funniest chapters in the entire work. Hell, even the 4-koma strips are funny, and I haven't come across a funny 4-koma on this side of the Pacific since Azumanga Daioh. Another common theme is having a lot of fun at the expense of Gendo, with many a silly explanation for his signature poses, his weird relationship with Rei, and his equally weird relationship with Shinji (which apparently can easily be mended through the power of fanservice). There are even a few attempts to be serious, like Yun Kouga's chapter about Shinji and Kaworu or another romantic one about Asuka getting annoyed with Shinji until he apologizes. Other chapters are just plain weird, like the one where everyone is a puppy, or the one where the main trio try to play an RPG, or the one where Gendo tries to get info out of Ritsuko with the threat of katsudon. Even then, they're all over in 10 pages or less, so it's pretty easy to move on from the duds.
This is absolutely NOT a work for Evangelion newcomers. The vast majority of the humor depends on the reader knowing quite a bit about the show, the characters, the history of the production, and even the fandom for the show, and those who are not in the know will simply be left in the dust. The translation is also surprisingly wild and loose for a Dark Horse work. Most of the jokes feel like part of the original, but there are also references to American pop-culture that I suspect were either added for humor's sake or there to replace those that would otherwise be untranslatable or referred to even more obscure bits of Japanese pop-culture. Still, those who do love Evangelion will likely find a lot to like here. It's just that it can vary wildly in quality and humor, and how wildly it will vary will itself vary from person to person.
Just as the writing varies, so too does the art. In most cases the artwork is perfectly solid. In the cases where things go noticeably off-model, it's clearly done more out of personal style than lack of talent. Panels tend to be small and plain, although some artists do put a lot of effort into the characters and backgrounds. A lot of them clearly put effort into the fanservice, so you should prepare yourself for a lot of well-drawn panties. Much like the story, the artwork is simply too hard to sum up well because there's just so much variety that it defies traditional review.
There are a couple of color pages up front, and this version of "Misato's Fan Service Corner" mostly serves as an extended plug for The Shinji Ikari Detective Diary.
It might not be n00b-friendly, but Evangelion fans will likely find something to laugh about here in this comic tribute. It might be a naked cashgrab, but at least it's an amusing naked cashgrab!
This book is published by Dark Horse. This series is currently in print.