Anime fans all over the world have been hyped for months since news broke of Netflix aquiring the streaming rights to Neon Genesis Evangelion. While it may be one of the most highly regarded anime series of all time, it's been kind of difficult to watch legally, so surely Netflix would do their best and give the show the respect it deserves when bringing it to the widest possible audience?
Yeah, about that... Eva fans are rarely a cheerful bunch but Netflix certainly haven't helped much. Firstly, the dub. The original ADV Films English dub has a place in the hearts of many OG western fans of the series, so they weren't impressed when Netflix announced they'll be redubbing the show with completely different voice actors. Spike Spencer (original English voice of Shinji Ikari) and Amanda Winn-Lee (original English voice of Rei Ayanami) claimed they were allowed to reaudition for their parts but didn't get through.
Another thing is that the series' famous end theme, a chill cover of Bart Howard's Fly Me to the Moon by Claire Littley, has been replaced by generic, mopey piano music that has nowhere near the same reflective vibes as the original ED. Supposedly, Netflix in Japan still has Fly Me to the Moon so it's possible they couldn't afford to license it everywhere else. But they have no problem blowing $100 million to keep Friends for another year.
Those who prefer subs to dubs still aren't safe from the hands of Netflix. Several lines have been changed, giving them a different tone to the original, e.g. Shinji's infamous line "I'm so fucked up" in End of Evangelion is now "I'm the lowest of the low," which doesn't quite have the same ring to it. The most controversial example of Netflix's meddling is in episode 24, where Kaworu Nagisa is introduced. After Shinji has been bossed around or neglected by just about every other character, he meets a beautiful boy that's actually friendly toward him. After chilling together, Kaworu tells Shinji he loves him, but that's been changed slightly in the Netflix subs (shown on the right, original is on the left.)
It's worth noting that in the original Japanese, Kaworu uses the word "suki", which is more ambigous than the romantic "aishiteru". But Evangelion is nothing if not open to individual interpretation, and many see Shinji finally finding a suitable romantic partner that loves him for who he is as opposed to the emotionless Rei, cold Asuka and neurotic Misato. After all, his journey throughout the series is a mental one, which leads to him discovering himself as he sees himself instead of how everyone else wants him to be, so why can't he discover himself sexually as well? If you've seen the show you'll know why this isn't explored much further but fans of Kaworu, yaoi and BL shipping are outraged at how a seemingly minor change can lead to reinterpretation of the show's themes at best, or gay erasure at worst.
It seems that by making Eva widely available for the first time, Netflix have lost some of what made it special in the first place. Long-time fans are worried that by watching it on Netflix, new viewers who want to see what the hype is about aren't going to experience it as intended. They could buy one of the home releases, but that's much less convenient than paying a monthly fee for streaming.
What do you think of the way Netflix handled Evangelion? Do you prefer the old dub or the new one? Did they really make Kaworu less gay? Let us know what you think in the comments.