Anime has been ripping itself off for a long time. Most shows recycle elements, even fan favorites like Love Hina and Inuyasha. And don't even get started on franchises, for whatever originality could be found in the Gundam series died a long time ago. A lot of times, we forgive good shows for their stolen elements. But what happens when a show sticks a little too close to its sources? Although I rather enjoyed the show, De:vadasy is clearly an intentional rip-off of Neon Genesis Evangelion, from the mecha designs right down to the protagonist. It isn't content just to rip on EVA, though, as it plays out as a less horrific and tentacle free reminder of Iczer 1. With a bit of gore, a bit of sex, and wacko alien mecha action, De:vadasy covers all the fanboy bases but doesn't go much beyond that, though I liked it for what it was.
It's been about a year since aliens landed on Earth. Although Anno Kei has his mind more on girls than interstellar battlefields, he winds up joining "Spirits" with his friend Naoki to get out of going to school. "Spirits" turns out to be an experimental training exercise on the part of the military and Kei winds up being molded into one of the two operators of Devadasy, an alien mecha the Japanese were able to get their hands on. The mech requires a second operator, and the mysterious Amara is chosen for the job. Naoki's none too happy about it, especially when she finds out that Devadasy essentially runs off of libido. She's willing to help if she can save Kei from death at the hands of alien invaders...but what sacrifice will ultimately be required of them?
There's not much to say about De:vadasy's format or animation. A three-part OVA from late 2000-early 2001, the animation is good but a little washed out, not all that unlike how EVA looked until the recent restoration of the program. You'll recognize a lot of the mechanical designs looking like you-know-what-show, though the characters aren't quite that blatantly stolen. The music didn't stay with me at all, though it wasn't annoying, either. It was all pretty plain, in my opinion.
That doesn't mean that I don't think De:vadasy didn't have some good marks going for it. Whereas I've never really gotten into EVA, though I've tried (and will be trying again in the near future), De:vadasy pops us right into the action. Even if it is a little confusing, the first episode messes with the timeline just enough that we get into the story right away, picking up the exposition later. I was reeled in right away, and for the roughly hour running time of the show, I got into it.
But does the material from Neon Genesis Evangelion ruin it? For all the talk on the Internet about how this show steals from EVA, I felt it had far more in common with Iczer 1 and old tentacle horror pictures. Granted, there isn't a tentacle in sight, but the internal struggles of the leads (and especially Naoki) are very reminiscent. Combined with women piloting mecha in their skivvies (if even that much), the hidden mysteries surrounding the aliens, and the fact that AIC was the lead production company on both, and you've got some striking similarities to Iczer 1, even if they are 15 years apart. However, this is far more enjoyable to watch that Iczer 1 ever was.
I sound pretty hyped on De:vadasy, and that's not exactly true. Admittedly, most reviewers have slammed it so thoroughly that I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed it. It has a good sense of flow, a lot of action, and a focus on only two characters. However, there are still problems. Kei is nothing more than another take on the "average Ataru" who is run as much by his hormones as by his brain. Naoki isn't all that much different, and had we known them both better, perhaps this would be a better show. Although sexuality is built into the show in such a way that I wasn't particularly offended by it, one could question whether it was necessary...and there are some bits that will disturb the sensitive. Parts of the plot are paper-thin, as well, partially because of its abbreviated running length. Finally, it's not all that memorable. Just a day after watching it, I had to go back and watch the ending again to remember what happened...not a good sign.
But what really makes or breaks De:vadasy is your take on Evangelion. If you loved it and thought it was a superb anime, then I can't see much other response than either pity or disgust at De:vadasy. If you aren't yet convinced that Evangelion is the last word in sci-fi anime, you'll note the similarities but might find this at least entertaining, as I did. Yes, it's clearly an homage at best, but not nearly as bad a one as many claim it to be, and one I'd suggest for the Netflix queue if you're running low on suggestions.
De:vadasy -- violence, nudity, sexual concepts and situations (though most are implied and off-screen) -- B