So Neon Genesis Evangelion has landed on Netflix, an iconic anime that changed the game in terms of anime but it also had an effect on the Fantastic Four?
Yep, that’s right, Marvels First Family briefly dipped its toe in the world of awkward teenagers saving the world from giant monsters and unlike Power Rangers, they never had to fight a guy who tried baking them into a giant Pizza.
Our story begins back in the early 2000s as we saw a boom in manga and anime. Saturday morning friendly animes like Pokemon and Digimon were ruling the roost on the little and big screens with a tidy profit in merchandise as well.
Back then you kind of get the sense that Western entertainment giants were quite keen to cash in on this trend by trying to produce their own manga and anime projects. The running theme through these projects was to take a staple Western franchise and essentially manga them up.
For example, the Star Trek mangas that were published, Dark Horse Comics published translated versions of manga that re-told the Star Wars movies, and someone even published a CSI Manga. Most of these didn’t really catch on with most of these products fading into obscurity doomed to live on an eBay listing or buried in a dusty box in a comic book store.
Since Manga is essentially a Japanese comic book, publishing giants Marvel and DC Comics had a go of getting into the Otaku trend. Whilst DC published a few Batman mangas including a lost one from the 60s, Marvel went in a slightly different direction.
Marvel had a go publishing some manga style books like Sentinel, the tale of a young boy befriending a rouge giant robot used to kill the X-men. This book did not go onto much success.
Marvel also published the Mangaverse. A world where popular heroes were re-imagined into a Manga and Anime like versions of their selves. Good examples include Spider-man as a ninja and Iron Man as a giant mecha. Some re-versioning borrowed a little more heavily from popular staples of the Manga and Anime world.
This leads to how the Mangaverse Fantastic Four lead to the fusion of Neon Genesis Evangelion and Marvels First Family. Our setting follows the awesome foursome being members of an organization that battles giant mysterious monsters loosely based on Fantastic Four bad guy Annihilus, similar to NERV from you guessed it, Neon Genesis Evangelion but instead of being based on Toyko 3, they are based in the Baxter Building in New York City.
Though instead of fighting these monsters in giant robots, instead of three of the four heroes use power suits that turn up their powers so much that they can turn into giant monsters.
Ben Grimm AKA The Thing is re-imagined as Neon Genesis’ lead Shinji, a shy introvert who comes alive when powered up. Johnny Storm is re-imagined as a girl to resemble Asuka an obnoxious loudmouth live wire. Sue takes up the role of Rei as a quite cold outcast. Reed meanwhile plays the role of Ryōji, a sleazy ladies man who uses his stretching abilities to increase his brainpower.
As you may know, Neon Genesis has a theme that something bigger is going on in the background and it’s present for this Fantastic Four version, but since this was a one-shot issue and later appearances of these characters kind of swept a lot of the similarities with the anime, it never really gets explored.
Whilst the Mangaverse didn’t really take off you can find the digital versions of the comics on Comixology and if you’re lucky second hand. It’s worth a read if you’ve finished the anime and are looking for another tale of giant monsters and dorky teenagers.