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Der Mond is the gorgeously, over sized Art book of the manga and anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion featuring art by the great Yoshiyuki Sadamotto.
The story of Evangelion itself is a neo biblical one in which children of the age of 14 whom already have very damaged egos and personalities are forced to pilot giant robots to to stop the Genesis happening. Or in other words in typical Japanese fashion to stop giant aliens known as angels from coming in contact with an angel/alien that the organisation of NERV has kept in secret custody under neath the earths surface. It is predicted in scriptures that the world will start over if an angel reaches the one named lilith. Though it is suspected that NERV maintains it as a test subject to control humanities next evolutionary step. Deep Huh? The basic plot is said to inspire the American apocalyptic movie Pacific Rim.
Fortunately you do not have to have even watched the series or read the manga to enjoy the smooth glossy artwork within the book, as long as you enjoy Japanese art work and anime it is a great coffee table book to have sitting out for people to flick through.
In terms of structure the book has 110 full colour glossy pages of art the paper it has been printed on is very high quality which can be felt in the weight of the book, it is also a hardback which nicely protects the contents within. The contents are as follows:
-Shinji-A the young male robot pilot, whom has severe father and mother complexes. He has nine pages allocated to him including pilot scenes and sitting with his fellow pilots however my favourite images are of him sitting by himself in a destroyed city playing with a paper airplane as images such as this are never depicted in the anime and it really demonstrates his sense of permanent withdrawal and loneliness as the story develops and the second being a rather dark image with his robot and his father coming out of the background behind his own portrait.
- Rei-The young female pilot shown on the front of the book, she has virtually no personality and just does what she is told with no self esteem she puts herself on the line most frequently though she has a weird connection with Shinji's father which complicates relationships. Rei has been allocated 11 full colour pages however I think that this is my least favourite section as although I like the character of Rei herself the images of her in this section do not really justify her character properly and the images specifically used I feel are geared towards the fanboys that like this character but that is just my opinion, she is much better represented in some of the group pictures contained within The Shinji and Cardass Masters section.
- Misato (and penpen the pet war penguin she rescued from a research lab that just makes me go "awww")-The main guardian of the the children she devises the missions for destroying the aliens/angels. Since Misato is in her 20s she does show off some fan service in the form of her in hot pants as well as her representing her serious military exterior.Unlike the other characters a lot of her section is taken up by a 5 page full colour manga which is nice in the sense that until the release of this book there didn't appear to be a full colour manga in any form at least available in the UK or America in English language anyway, so this is a very pleasant variation to be included in this art book. However perhaps this may have been better in a separate section as it includes a lot more of Shinji piloting as opposed to lots of Misato portraits. Though I do like that her pet penguin gets his own page where he is holding a car wheel staring longingly at the moon on a clear starry night wondering where everyone is? This image is also included on one of the official anime soundtracks. As lovely as this image is I have a feeling it is representative of one of the darker sides of the series though.
- Asuka-The second female pilot, a red head, bossy, bubbly character whose personality is largely overcompensating for her insecurities. Red is a prominent colour within this section as this is the colour of her plug suit robot and hair, the only other character that features in her section is Shinji which I feel represents her need for independence and desire to distance people but at the age of 14 which I feel is quite sad as when I was 14 I enjoyed having the company of others. I think in the anime series at least Shinji is the first person she tries to relate to though she seems to see the othyer characters as her rivals including Rei as she sees her as a competitor in piloting and Misato as an overall female rival since shinji lives with her so this could explain why Shinji is the only other character in her section.
- Cardass Masters- This section contains full body portraits of the main pilots as well as secondary characters and group portraits. I quite like this section for the detail and the fact that it is kind of like a photo shoot for the anime actors they are all smiling and posing something which very rarely happens in the series the characters almost never genuinely smile in the series due to its dark and serious themes.
-Poster of Film and LD box-As it describes this section contains cinema posters and advertised images. This section is really quite small though contains the most biblical themes including crosses, and angel wings on Rei, these are the images of Evangelion which are most readily available on the internet if you search either Evangelion or anime.
-Drafts-This section has to be my favourite, it contains detailed full colour production sketches of the robots breaking down and fighting angels at full force, the attention to detail is amazing you can almost hear the people below screaming in fear and it shows you just how huge the robots are in comparison to the pilot in one of the sketches as Shinji and Misato are sitting on one of the robots shoulder, they couldn't be larger than one of the robots finger nails. the original models of the angels/aliens, robots and human characters do vary rather significantly from the final animated product though but they aren't far off from the original manga which does differ from the animated series and movie. Though I always like to see how progress is made anyway and what brings artists to their final format.
Other Works-This section as suggested contains art work from other series including Nadia the Secret of Blue Water, Aoki Uru, Fatal Fury and various music CD art covers including Eric Clapton's album Pilgrim which generally came as a surprise to me as I had no idea that Neon Genesis Evangelion could be connected to such a Western phenomena as Eric Clapton but you learn some thing new everyday.
My favourite non-Evangelion image in this section has to be one from Aoki Uru. The image depicts A pilot sitting at what looks like an open church alter with stained glass staring up at the sky with a dark cloudy ceiling I could just stare at it myself all day it looks like a gateway to heaven even though its just an open door of an airship hanger the artist must makes it really special, the pilot seems like a tiny insignificant spec in comparison to the great sky beyond, its really something else and I would buy the book just to look at this particular image. The aircraft itself is rather insignificant but it looks very much like Spike Spiegels swordfish plane from cowboy bebop but it hardly the hero of this picture.
I bought this art book for full price $24.99 when I was in America and I do not regret it in the slightest, I won't ever sell it or give it away the images are far to mesmerizing and I guess it also holds memories of my trip, I only have maybe one other anime art book but due to the caliber of this one I don't really feel that I have to purchase anymore. You can get it for a lot cheaper now a days through amazon though maybe £15-£19 including postage, but I would pay for full first class as this is a book you do not want to get damaged as it would spoil it.