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Rintaro Okabe is convinced he’s being pursued by a certain ‘Organisation’, and being the mad scientist he proclaims himself to be, it isn’t entirely beyond the realms of belief. But the wonder of this series is that it isn’t about the science, time-travel, or even a microwave with a DeLorean function. After meeting his assistant Mayuri, who becomes one of Okabe’s few friends, it travels further inwards and reveals itself as a study of the masks we make to shield our fragile souls.
Under a thin veil of teenage angst and existentialism, Evangelion harnesses the fraught despair of depression and channels it into an apocalyptic Earth, out of our hands. The world that once supported our existence is invaded by a destructive force, the Angels, symbolic of the release from suffering in each life they snuff out. But Shinji braves the warrior’s path, fighting to keep the world safe rather than giving in to the invaders, the desolation of his fate.
#3 Serial Experiments Lain
Fronted by the soothing indie sound of Boa’s ‘Duvet’, the quiet of this series bolsters the creeping disturbance in the negative space of the script, and the bleeding together of the physical and digital worlds. Now even more relevant as the advent of virtual reality as a commodity sees people overwhelmed and increasingly enamoured by the virtual, Lain has taken on new meaning in the now-tangible dangers of disenchantment with the “real” world.
This Orwellian dystopia explores the fragile morality of society, questioning whether security is worth the cost of personal freedoms. And as mental health is coming to the forefront in media, this show portrays the hostility towards human susceptibility. In this world, even victims of circumstance are held accountable and criminalised for their own instability. As Psycho-Pass delves into shooting first to solve the problem, it seems eerily precogniscent of a worst-case scenario on the trajectory we’re currently riding.
#1 Ergo Proxy
In cynical suspicion, this exploration of the ever more concrete possibilities of AI discards the idea of a utopian co-existence with androids. Ergo Proxy instead proposes that we’ll create the beings who will destroy us, bringing about the horrific next phase of our evolution. The Cogito virus which infects humanity’s synthetic companions and servants, AutoReivs, remains undefined as a product of humanity or the machine, and the very people meant to control them are driven deepest into the chaos the virus breeds.