CJAS attempted to bring you Evangelion last year, but due to technical difficulties (projection screens are really picky), the quality was below acceptable. This year, we've decided to begin again. At first, I wasn't sure what to make of Eva; when I could see the animation, it was very good, but the characters were a bit distant and the plot seemed rather slow. I saw a few episodes during the summer, but they were a bit out of order, and since I'd missed episodes, they were even more confusing. It wasn't until I saw episode 8 or 9 or something that I realized how much I could like the series. Perhaps because I saw some things in the characters that I hadn't noticed before. Being reminded of how cool the opening theme is must have helped, too.
There is a lot of character development, which is why the plot seems a bit slow; we see much emotion from the people in Eva, but in a much more subtle way than in other anime. Usually, the main character tells you directly how he feels; for example, you'd hear his thoughts. With Evangelion, you have to watch facial expressions and body language. No one blurts out "I don't know what to do!!"; they reveal little about themselves to others - often how we behave in real life.
I have seen the first few episodes twice, and although I'm no expert on it, I'll try to shed light on some of the parts that I missed the first time around. First, a quick character rundown. Shinji Ikari is the main character, pilot of Eva-01. Misato Katsuragi is the woman who picked Shinji up in the first episode; now she is his guardian. The blonde scientist is Ritsuko Akagi. The tall quiet man, who runs the whole project, is Gendou Ikari, Shinji's father. Next, Evangelion itself is a living organism with an armor shell. The pilot plug inserts into a mechanical part in the middle of the organism. During the flashback of the end of the first battle (which isn't a flashback in the manga), Evangelion tears off its damaged head armor, and Shinji gets a view of the organic face of Eva while the eyeball regenerates (he sees the reflection off the windows of a building). In the manga, he also dreams of the upper body of Eva "coming out of the ground" and reaching out to him. Third thing, the girl with blue hair. Her name is Rei Ayanami, and she is strange for a reason; well, I guess I can't give away a big plot secret, but there is something strange about her, isn't there? As for Penpen, well - some things in anime just are. Also to note, we saw Misato tell Shinji to let his two classmates into the entry plug; in the original manga, he tells them himself without any outside prompting. As great as any anime is - as far as plot and characters go - the original manga is usually better. Then again, manga has no music! Watch Eva carefully, and it will show you all it has to offer. [Jerry- The term "original manga" can be misleading, as it implies that the manga came out before the anime. While this is true for many anime, the manga and anime for Evangelion came out simultaneously, and differences in characters and plot are the result of different writers for the two media.]