Neon Genesis Evangelion (NGE) was and is still today one of the most influential anime ever thanks to its cast and themes.
It not only affected the mecha and Sci-Fi landscape; it’s also considered one of the best productions in terms of psychology and philosophy.
This anime doesn’t really have competitors but it may be the case that some of you want to watch something after it.
Let’s see what are the best anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion to broaden your anime knowledge and fill the gap after watching Hideaki Anno’s masterpiece.
Table of Contents
Aquarion looks like an NGE clone because they share many things in common: strange robots, alien beings and religious symbols.
The direction of the plot isn’t actually the same and the overall execution is mediocre compared to the quality standard set by Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Earth is threatened by Shadow Angels, mysterious beings that drain the life force out of people.
After they were sealed for 12,000 years, a catastrophe named Holy Genesis brought them back and humanity had to find a way to survive.
The solution is DEAVA, an organization in charge of Aquarion, a powerful robotic weapon. The main character will join this war after his friend is kidnapped by an angel.
23. Guilty Crown
If you like the theme of a young boy in a post-apocalyptic world fighting against a bigger power, Guilty Crown is a nice alternative.
The protagonist Shu combats the opposing faction with the aid of “The Power of the King”, which allows him to extract weapons from his friends
Another similarity is given by the role played by Inori Yuzuriha, who resembles Shu’s dead sister and has a detached and mysterious attitude, much like Rei Ayanami.
The story is set in Japan, 2029. The country fell into chaos due to the spreading of the Apocalypse Virus, causing the UN to intervene by removing every political authority and replacing them with the GHQ.
But a decade later, the country was still controlled by this organization with force, and this caused the birth of the Funeral Parlor, a group determined to liberate Japan. Yep, the 2 characters mentioned above work for it!
22. Darling in the Franxx
Darling in the Franxx can be partially considered a worse NGE clone as there are some cool ideas that were executed quite poorly. That said, the structure is almost the same.
It’s a nice show if you want some fanservice with Zero Two and if you prefer something much less challenging than another NGE run.
The protagonist Hiro is a troubled young pilot without a sense of purpose, and this should ring a bell. The cast is even formed by teenagers and you will even see mechas!
It’s set in a distant future where humanity is on the brink of extinction due to giant beasts called Klaxosaurs.
Humans live in fortified cities called Plantations and children are raised solely to pilot the FranXX, giant mechas which require a boy-girl pair to operate and fight the Klaxosaurs.
21. Bokurano (Our Game)
This anime feels a lot like NGE because a group of children has to defend the Earth against the attacks of mysterious creatures.
Yep, this is exactly like Shinji and the other Eva pilots fighting the Angels.
You can tell Bokurano is depressing and covers a lot of important existential themes, even though the main cast is made up of youngsters.
The reason why this is so low despite the premises it’s because the adaptation covers the first half of the manga and the cool stuff happens in the second part.
The manga is one of the best post-Evangelion series, so you’d better read it and ditch the anime.
20. Super Dimension Fortress Macross
If you love space operas and Sci-Fi, Super Dimension Fortress Macross is an ’80s mecha anime that deserves a chance. This is even more valid if you liked the action of the Rebuild movies and want to see some old-fashioned fights.
We wouldn’t say there are many connections to Neon Genesis Evangelion, if not some of the staff who worked on Macross became part of Gainax later on.
This anime is the ideal choice if you want to learn more about vintage anime and mecha alike.
The story begins when a massive alien ship crashes on Earth. Fearing an impending alien invasion, humanity quickly dismantles the ship to construct the formidable spacecraft called Macross as a defensive measure.
But their fears are confirmed when the alien race known as Zentradi attacks Earth on the day of Macross’ unveiling, leading to an intense and thrilling space battle.
19. Sonny Boy
Sonny Boy is a great choice if you are looking for another psychological anime without robots and more focused on survival.
Non-traditional storytelling is the keyword here as abstraction and interpretation will be everywhere. Definitely recommended to those who love theory-crafting and spend countless hours analyzing anime.
At the beginning of what was supposed to be an ordinary summer school break, a school is mysteriously transported to another world.
And that’s how 36 students will find themself in the dark, unable to contact the outside world as they begin to develop special powers.
But among these students, the personalities of Asakaze and Nagara, the 2 male MCs, and Mizuho and Nozomi, two female MCs, will stand out.
That’s the beginning of a deadly struggle for survival, filled with betrayal, death, and plot twists.
18. Haibane Renmei
This anime is a little gem about existentialism, identity and the search for purpose, all decorated with Christian imagery.
NGE makes heavy use of the same imagery too and covers related themes, so Haibane Renmei is a great pick if you want to take a break from robots (again).
The author Yoshitoshi ABe is the same person behind Serial Experiments Lain and even drew Asuka and Rei because he loves NGE like us!
Rakka is a girl with angelic features who lives inside thick, stifling walls together with her fellow humans, called Haibane.
None of them remembers who they were before why they have this strange appearance or even why they live inside this wall, isolated from the outside world.
Texhnolyze is another serious anime you should watch because it opens your mind about society.
While NGE focuses on the struggles of the cast and somehow shows some sides of Japanese society, Texnolyze goes all in.
What would a dystopian society look like? This anime takes a Luddite approach and heavily criticizes technology to show how it can consume our lives.
The story takes place in the crumbling underground city of Lux, marked by a harsh conflict between 3 factions.
The conflict revolves around Raffia, a rare substance that can only be found in this dreaded city and it allows for the texhnolyze transplant of any limb with a prosthetic and more powerful one.
Ichise is at the center of the story and is an orphan boy who has become a bounty hunter by circumstances.
He was mutilated and left without a leg and arm, for them to be replaced by advanced inhuman, yet powerful technological prosthetics.
RahXephon is quite similar to NGE as there are many tropes, from the young mecha pilot MC and the focus on existential crises.
Mind you, most of them were existing before 1995! It was inspired by Brave Raideen (1975), a Sunrise super robot anime.
This anime uses a lot of symbolism too and this time it’s all about music and romanticism, or finding your soulmate.
In practice, RahXephon is much more than a clone so we recommend giving it a try if you don’t want to watch NGE another time.
The ending is actually happy, the cast isn’t insufferable and the perspective on the geIf you have enjoyed NGE, chances are you will also resonate with most of the ideas that this show proposes.
The story follows Ayato Kamina, a teenager who lives inside Tokyo Jupiter, a city enclosed in a large energy sphere that causes the inhabitants to live in a separate time and dimension.
Through an encounter with Major Haruka Shitow Ayato will discover many truths about which he had always been kept in the dark, such as the ongoing war with the multi-dimensional creatures called MU.
15. Welcome to the N.H.K.
If you want to take a break from robots, Welcome to the N.H.K. is a valid alternative that covers equally deep themes, such as depression and solitude.
Both anime offer a perspective on the backstage of Japanese society even if slightly different. Welcome to the N.H.K. shows us the lives of hikikomori and what solitude looks like.
NGE is more about the high-stress environment and the challenges that young people have to overcome.
The story follows Satou Tatsuhiro, a 22-year-old hikikomori who has completely withdrawn from society due to past traumas. He remains confined to his apartment, experiencing anxiety and paranoia at the mere thought of venturing outside.
His life takes a surprising turn when he encounters Misaki, a mysterious girl who claims she can help him.
14. Eureka Seven
Another anime with the trope of a young boy piloting a mecha and fighting alongside a group of peers, in this case Eureka.
While Eureka Seven isn’t as complex as NGE (and doesn’t want to be), there are interesting coming-of-age themes and fights against a large-scale threat.
What makes this anime different is the bigger care for environmental issues, nature and also romance, the latter being a key component in the plot.
The story follows Renton Thurston, a 14-year-old boy who dreams of joining the mercenary group Gekkostate for adventure.
His life takes a turn when a robot piloted by a young girl named Eureka crashes into his garage. As they work together, Renton becomes Eureka’s co-pilot, and they join Gekkostate on their journey.
The art and animation are top-notch, with beautifully designed mechs that are sure to impress. And while the sound may be forgettable, the acting is solid, with believable performances from the cast.
13. Nausicaä of The Valley of the Wind
This movie is a cult and one of the most influential productions ever.
Hideaki Anno owes a lot to his mentor Hayao Miyazaki and this movie is the perfect example, even though it would be more correct to mention the manga, the original source.
Anno himself worked on some key animations of the movie and NGE fans will notice that the humanoid weapons bear a certain resemblance to Angels and Evas alike.
Did we mention that it’s set in a post-apocalyptic world? The references don’t stop there and this anime should be mandatory for NGE fans, even better if you can read the manga too.
The main character is Nausicaa, the princess of the Valley of the Wind, a peaceful kingdom sheltered from the perils of this post-apocalyptic world.
One day, an airship from the Kingdom of Tolmekia crashes into the Valley, and the inhabitants discover a sinister pulsating object in the wreckage.
Suddenly, the Tolmekian military invades the Valley with the intent to resurrect a deadly weapon from the time of The Seven Days of Fire.
Nausicaa must fight to prevent them from triggering a catastrophe that could spell the end of humanity.
12.Puella Magi Madoka Magica
This anime is often compared to Neon Genesis Evangelion because it allegedly reversed the expectations of magical girl anime as NGE did with mechas.
We can tell you this is inaccurate because Puella Magi Madoka Magica wasn’t the first case ever but for sure the most vocal, like NGE.
Despite that, the 2 anime have some similarities in dark themes and in the mysterious creatures the main cast faces. Angels vs Witches, both are abominations with dreadful bodies and capable of endangering the world.
The protagonist Madoka Kaname is shy and indecisive and will quickly get dragged into a much worse reality.
Even though the plot starts as stereotypical, the atmosphere starts changing from Episode 3, quite early considering that it’s 1/4 of the length of the series.
The relaxed and playful atmosphere is just a facade, as the focus is on dark and deep themes. As the plot thickens, you will get to learn many gloomy details and the plot gets darker.
11. Serial Experiments Lain
If the discussions about oneself and identity struck some chords, then Serial Experiments Lain is a mandatory stop.
The loneliness of the protagonist and the progressive disconnection between reality and the virtual world are tangible themes and hit as hard as what NGE can teach you.
No robots, not too many interactions, just an enormous risk that paid off and gave birth to one of the strongest psychological anime out there.
It’s one of the most famous short original works due to its fairly deep meaning and plot complexity, with a raw story without power of friendship stretches.
The plot tells the story of Lain Iwakura, a rather peculiar little girl partly because of a less-than-ideal family situation.
Lain comes into contact with Wired, a global network very reminiscent of our Internet, where she will learn a lot of information regarding this mysterious world. But the Wired hides more horrific things than expected.
10. His and Her Circumstances
Yukino Miyazawa, the protagonist, is a model student who excels in all aspects of her life. She is highly popular and a talented athlete.
But her dominance is challenged when Souichiro Arima, who possesses equal skill and ability, enrolls in their high school.
This sets off a fierce rivalry between the two characters, which gradually evolves into something more profound.
Even in a romance anime, Hideaki Anno managed to leave his distinctive mark by infusing the second part of the work with a serious and introspective tone, diverging from the original source material.
This is why we recommend watching it even though it doesn’t look that much related to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
If you have liked the introspection and the analysis of individuals, His and Her Circumstances will be a great underrated gem by Hideaki Anno.
FLCL is another Gainax jewel that is not actually close to Neon Genesis Evangelion but there is a specific reason why it’s on this list.
This anime blew off some stream for the staff that worked on NGE back then and so we think this can work for you too.
Don’t expect anything serious or deep considerations, this is just for fun, pure wackiness!
FLCL is one of the most experimental and innovative anime ever that shines for its fast-paced action, pacing, and fantastic animations made by Gainax.
The series is set in a small Japanese town where the young protagonist, Naota, lives. His older brother has left for America to play baseball, causing Naota to feel lonely and abandoned.
But his loneliness is broken by his brother’s girlfriend, Mamimi, who develops a strange attachment to him.
Things will change when he makes the acquaintance of Haruko Haruhara, a bizarre girl wielding a bass guitar and with crazy psychopath behavior.
8. Code Geass
Code Geass is the ideal choice if you love the philosophical side of Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s a story that goes from politics to human nature while the main character Lelouch struggles with his personal problems.
The only downside is that it feels too edgy and melodramatic at times and the Season 2 starts from weak foundations but give it a try.
The mecha fights aren’t dynamic or flashy, much like in NGE, you want to watch Code Geass for the plot and the strategy instead!
The premise of Code Geass is simple but interesting: Japan has become a colony of the British Empire and is now known as Area 11.
The main character is Lelouch, a guy who gets caught in the crossfire after a normal day at school and manages to escape after receiving the Geass from C.C., a mysterious girl.
This power enables him to have absolute power over others simply by direct eye contact, allowing him to control their minds.
This is where his revenge against the British Empire begins, sparking a terrible war guided by rebels.
7. Mawaru Penguindrum
Both anime deal with complex psychological themes and philosophical issues.
The protagonists of the story are teenagers grappling with intense emotional and mental challenges, often portrayed through symbolic and surreal elements. Acceptance and grief are the keywords for this show.
The anime follows the story of two brothers, Shoma and Kanba Takakura, who lose their younger sister, Himari, to illness.
She suddenly comes back to life with the help of a penguin-shaped hat, which is being controlled by the Princess of Crystals.
The Princess requests the brothers’ help in finding the Penguindrum in exchange for their sister’s revival, setting off an adventure filled with psychological and fantasy elements.
While Mawaru Penguindrum is a detective and mystery story, Neon Genesis Evangelion depicts a different type of struggle in pilots fighting the Angels.
Before you actually watch this anime, we recommend having a look at the movie “Night on the Galactic Railroad” for reasons that you will understand at the end of the anime.
6. Gurren Lagann
Gurren Lagann is another Gainax production and a staple for NGE lovers (and non). If we had to give a simple explanation to this anime, it would be personal growth and mechas.
It’s a story of challenges, personal development and continuous struggle with some of the best animations and fights you have ever seen.
If you want to move to something definitely more action and flashy but with some depth, Gurren Lagann is the choice.
The story starts with Simon and Kamina, who are tired of living underground and dream of seeing the sky. One day, they discover the head of a robot called Lagann while digging underground.
After activating the mecha, they reach the surface and take possession of its body, leading them to war against mysterious enemies.
5.Mobile Suit Gundam 0079
Mobile Suit Gundam is the apotheosis of the mecha genre and you can trace a lot of similarities between Shinji Ikari and Amuro Ray, the main character of the 1st Gundam series.
Both are indecisive and conflicted, which is realistic considering they are barely teens. While Gundam goes in a completely different direction, it’s undeniable that Hideaki Anno admires Tomino (and for good reasons).
In the year 0079 of the Universal Century, Side 3, the farthest group of colonies from Earth declared themselves the Principality of Zeon and fought for independence, seeking to subdue all other space colonies.
That’s the beginning of a devastating war, that will forever alter the course of history in the universe.
Any Neon Genesis Evangelion lover should get into Gundam to see the real robot anime by definition and a conflicted main character.
The most recent Witch from Mercury is a great standalone entry point in case you want something more modern.
4. Ergo Proxy
Ergo Proxy is among the deepest and most complex anime to understand due to its intricate narrative structure that is all but straightforward.
It feels more like a futuristic dream that will make you think about your existence. If you loved the philosophy and the theory-crafting of NGE, Ergo Proxy is one the most challenging and complex anime out there.
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where survivors live under a dome city called Romdo, to get shelter from the lethal and toxic climate.
To help with mankind’s recovery, AutoReivs, humanoid-like robots, have been created to assist people in their day-to-day lives.
But these automatons have begun contracting an enigmatic disease called the Cogito Virus which grants them self-awareness.
Gunbuster is the father of Neon Genesis Evangelion as it allowed Hideaki Anno to hone his craft, as you will see while watching it.
The protagonist is once again a pilot who will save the day and has several doubts during her journey.
Gunbuster is set in the near future, Earth is threatened by an alien race, and Noriko Takaya, a girl living by the sea in Okinawa, enrolls in a military training school for robot pilots to combat this threat.
But becoming a pilot is no easy task, and the anime follows Noriko’s rigorous training, with the help of her Coach Ota.
Even if we ignore the direct connections to Neon Genesis Evangelion, this is the show that created the Gainax Pose and the Gainax Bounce.
This anime is a mandatory step if you consider yourself an Eva fan.
Devilman inspired Hideaki Anno to create the Eva Units (you can tell they look like demons) and the entire anime, as he is a big fan of Go Nagai.
One could say that Devilman is one of those manga that inspired pretty much an entire generation of the Japanese industry.
Crybaby is an avant-garde adaptation that makes the original story more modern with some changes, the most striking being the style of the anime.
The relationship between Akira Fudo and Ryo Asuka is one of the most iconic in the history of the medium and we could even make a comparison with Shinji and Kaworu.
But even without listing all the similarities, you must either read the original manga (1972) or watch Crybaby to expand your horizons.
The protagonist, Akira, is too good of a boy, always reasoning things out, which leads to him receiving the nickname Crybaby.
Not so with Ryo, his best friend who is more fearless and arrogant, and by whom he gets carried away. One day, Akira is persuaded to go on a Sabbath, which turns out to be a full-blown satanic ritual to attract demons.
Everyone is possessed, including Akira, who nevertheless manages to control the beast through his gentle spirit. The result is Devilman, a man-devil with supernatural powers dedicated to the protection of humanity.
1. Space Runaway Ideon
Space Runaway Ideon served as one of the main inspirations for Neon Genesis Evangelion. Many will probably know Mobile Suit Gundam by Hideyuki Tomino but not this hidden gem.
The similarities are striking in the final movie entitled Ideon: Be Invoked which feels similar to The End of Evangelion. Oh, and the sentient robot reacts to pilot kids… with depressing themes and mechas that aren’t actually what they look like.
Ideon starts like a normal mecha until the final movie, whereas NGE starts halfway through the main show to reveal its true colors.
It’s the year 2300, and mankind managed to expand its achievements to space outside the Solar System.
One of the discovered planets is planet Solo, where they will find 3 vehicles and a spaceship (later called the Solo Ship) through excavations.
Not everything goes smoothly and aliens arrive at the excavation site in search of this technology just as the protagonists are there.
They manage to escape entering the just discovered machines, which go on to merge to form a giant robot.
But the aliens won’t give up, as they regard the super robot as a true deity, naming it Ideon.