Oh, my god I forgot to tell you all about GunBuster, which, if you enjoyed Neon Genesis Evangelion, I recommend you should watch immediately.
It's the same director, Hideaki Anno, their directorial debut in 1989, and it's got a fair few of the same themes as NGE, but is different enough as well to be worth the watch.
It's got a kind of hard sci-fi flavour to it, with high concept physics stuff being introduced to the story and the integrated into the world. The main character, Noriko, is a kind of predecessor to NGE's Shinji, as she's a similarly inexperienced young cadet who finds herself thrown into the heart of a futuristic battle to save mankind.
I loved it for a few reasons, one was the aesthetic is absolutely top notch, there's lots of beautiful scenes of planets and spaceships and stuff like that, and the retro anime style is really great. The drawing and animation is so nice.
Another thing is the story is really quite simple, but still manages to be poignant and very well told, and I found myself really empathising with Noriko as the story went on, especially with the way her whole world is turned upside down multiple times. The cast is fairly small as well but each character with the exception of one or two is memorable and plays a good role in the series.
It's got high-concept philosophical and existential themes and deals with them fairly well, but doesn't go completely over-the-top bananas with them like NGE did. Not saying it's a bad thing that NGE did that, just pointing out that GunBuster is a little more restrained in that regard, and it's still really good.
It's only SIX EPISODES long! It can be watched in a few short nights, and it's brilliant.
It does have two drawbacks which might put some people off, however:
1. Too much fanservice. I mean do Noriko and her friends really need to be naked for this scene? Does she really need to tear off her top during that one moment? Not really, but unfortunately it's a fairly regular occurence and you kind of just have to put up with it.
2. This one isn't technically a drawback of GunBuster, since it's to do with the 20-years-later sequel that was published by Gainax for some baffling reason (I assume to milk a beloved franchise for cash). The sequel, DieBuster, is absolutely dire. More fanservice, less interesting characters, and some garish 3D CGI mechs which stick out like a sore thumb. All that held together with a plot that more or less reads like some dodgy fan fiction with loads of shoehorned-in references to the original to remind the fans that this is supposed to be a sequel, and you've got a giant stinking pie of offal. I'd personally recommend skipping the hell out of it, but don't let it put you off watching the original GunBuster.
Anyone else seen it? I was inspired to watch it after I saw Infinity Review's video on NGE, and at the end he recommended it, without much explanation as to what it was. So glad I watched it, absolutely loved it.