*cues up "Komm, süsser Tod"*
Everybody thinks they understand Eva. (They never understood anything.) They thought it was supposed to be a world without copying... Without references. (That's because they thought that nothing else came before it.) He betrayed them! Anno betrayed their feelings! (They misunderstood from the very beginning. They just believed what they wanted to believe.) Nobody wants these "clones"... So they can all just cry. (Then what are their hands for?) Nobody cares whether or not they exist... Nothing ever changes. So they can all just cry. (Then, tell me, what is their heart for?) It would be better if Eva never existed... So it should just cry, too. (Then why are they all here?) ...Is it okay for them to be here?
Huh, looks like the "Evangelion discourse" from the Netflix airing has already long died out... Oh well, I might as well finish what I started. As I said at the beginning of Part 1, Neon Genesis Evangelion's influence went far beyond the world of mech anime. 1998's Serial Experiments Lain was touted as being "Pioneer's Eva" in terms of importance, and it was certainly an influential hit, in its own right. 1999's Betterman was more of a horror anime than a mech anime, though there were giant robots, but it definitely took some notes from Eva's handbook. And let's not forget the "sekai-kei" genre that people attribute Eva as having started, which found its own icon in the late 90s in the form of the Boogiepop light novel series. That being said, I've generally seen the term "Eva Clone" reserved mostly for mech anime, and generally as a quick & dirty way to deride a show, which if nothing else shows the shallow, vapid, & generally derogatory connotation it carries. For example, few would call Lain or Boogiepop "Eva Clones", but people have no trouble using it to describe something like Darling in the Franxx. I bring this up mainly to illustrate why I'm only investigating titles that can be called "mech anime", because that's where the term itself originates from. Also, I've already gotten 12 anime to look at, & I value my sanity; I want to believe my feelings at that time were real, & not simply an obligation.
Anyway, let's move on to the second half of this investigation, covering the rest of 2000 up through 2005, the 10-year anniversary of Evangelion.
Takt Kaneshiro is a space engineering student in Montana who's been quickly recruited to help with a mysterious project headed up Dr. Noguchi & his assistant Maki Agata, Takt's girlfriend. Said project is an attempt to revive a giant alien "robot" that crash landed on Earth not long ago; about five years prior, "Primary Aliens" attacked the Earth in an initial assault, devastating places like New York City. While they are successful in reviving the rough-shoddily rebuilt alien, which Noguchi names "Frank", the base they're in is also destroyed, killing Noguchi & Maki, while Takt is heavily injured & saved by the army later. Frank, meanwhile, runs off & eventually befriends Harriet "Hattie" Batholomew, whose parents were killed by the Primary Aliens five years ago, while her grandfather (who she was currently living with) is killed by a new Alien attack that Frank puts a stop to. Meanwhile, Takt is visited in the hospital by a man known only as "Mr. X", who promises to help Takt exact revenge on Frank, going as far as giving Takt the new identity of Ryu Soma. With revenge driving him now, "Soma" winds up joining Funeral, an anti-Alien army squad. He joins mainly because Funeral hopes to use Frank, known to them as "EX-1", to help humanity fight back the Primary Aliens, who are now returning for a second assault against Earth, creating a conflict. After all, what's more important to the young man who was once Takt: Helping save humanity by fighting alongside the monster that killed the love of his life, or getting his revenge & killing Frank, even if it winds up screwing over the safety of humanity?
To start off this second half, we have the "Eva Clone" that I'm honestly the least familiar with before starting this whole endeavor; all the others I had either seen all of, seen some of, or at least knew of by name or reputation. While I have heard the name of this anime before, I had no understanding of what exactly late 2000's Argento Soma (Greek for "The Silver Body" [&, yes, the anime messed up the actual Greek spelling]), the creation of director Kazuyoshi Katayama (The Big O, Sentimental Journey), was about, nor did I even know of its status as an "Eva Clone"; I only found out about that recently. In that regard, Argento Soma definitely has some slight Eva influence, what with the attacks by mysterious "aliens", secret intentions by characters, & the Primary Aliens definitely look like a slight variant of an Evangelion. However, this anime is actually best described, thematically, as an interesting mixture of three iconic novels: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, & Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. The first's influence is pretty damn obvious, right down to the "Monster" being called Frank, & Hattie being a direct homage to Maria from Universal's equally iconic 1931 film, minus the whole "dying in the lake" thing; Hattie could also be looked at as the Rei Ayanami equivalent, but only ever-so-slightly. As for the second's influence, a quick one is that one of the Primary Aliens' forms of attack is by locking on to a target with two green beams, followed by a beam that evaporates things, like human beings, instantly, similar to how the Martians' heat rays worked. Finally, the third's influence is easily the most interesting one of the bunch, as Takt/Soma is very blatantly Edmond Dantès, "The Count", whose original identity was "killed", only for him to take on a new one in order to exact his revenge against those who killed the woman he loves. The main difference, of course, being that the thing he wants revenge against is both a literal giant & a potential savior of humanity; one could argue this would also make him the Gendou Ikari of the anime, which is a neat concept. Similar to the likes of Gasaraki & Dual!, Argento Soma's very existence can be tied to Evangelion's success, but aside from some minor similarities here & there, Katayama instead created something that can truly be considered its own thing.
Also, the ED theme is something completely different. I'm sure it makes sense later on, but right now I love how much of a polar opposite it is.
Ayato Kamina just had a really bizarre day. First, the train he was on to school is derailed by an attack by "Invaders", the ones that destroyed the world, except for Japan, years ago. Then, while searching the city for help for his friends on the train, he comes across Reika Mishima, a classmate he hadn't seen for a bit. Then he's attacked by government officials who bleed blue, only to be saved by a mysterious woman who promises to tell him "everything about the world". Panicked, he follows Reika onto a train, which takes them to "Xephon Shrine", with the two eventually coming across a giant egg. Ayato passes out, only to hear Reika's voice telling him to awaken, which results in the egg cracking open, revealing a giant robot named RahXephon. He then wakes up in the hospital, which starts Ayato's eventual journey in which he finds out that everything he knew was a lie. The city he's been living in isn't actually Tokyo, but rather Tokyo Jupiter, which has sealed itself from the rest of Earth with a barrier. Not only that, but the Earth hasn't been devastated to apocalyptic status, but rather is in a battle with the Mu, who use giants called Dolems in combat. Finally, the year isn't actually 2015, but rather is 2025, as time in Tokyo Jupiter moves slower than the rest of the world. Eventually, Ayato & RahXephon join with TERRA, the organization that is fighting the Mu, with the woman that saved Ayato from the government agents being Haruka Shitow, a lieutenant for TERRA. Unfortunately, this puts Ayato up against his own mother, Maya, who works with the Mu & bleeds blue, like them.
While anime like Dinagiga & De:Vadasy are very much actual examples of what one can call a true-blue "Eva Clone", it's this anime in particular that most anime fans think of when they hear the term, and that's probably due to the fact it was given a bit of a push during its original English release by ADV Films... The company that also had brought over Evangelion a few years prior. Unlike Eva, though, early 2002's RahXephon has generally been available to watch, whether through home video releases (though the last release was back in 2009), or currently via streaming over at Hidive (both the TV series & its compilation movie). This anime is the creation of Yutaka Izubuchi, a mechanical/character designer who's worked on everything from Armored Fleet Dairugger XV to Patlabor to Gundam Wing to even Record of Lodoss War. In fact, RahXephon was the only anime Izubuchi ever directed until Space Battleship Yamato 2199 a decade later, in 2012. Now, to be fair, this anime really does ooze that Eva influence very, very strongly, so calling it a "clone" isn't completely without merit. Ayato does have some elements of Shinji, Maya is definitely similar to Gendou, Haruka slots into the Misato role very easily, TERRA pilot Elvy matches up well with Haruka as the Ritsuko of the series (the first time I've come across one in this investigation, actually), & Haruka's sister Megumi carries the Asuka position to an extent, while both Reika & TERRA officer Quon both fill in the Rei role. Where RahXephon differs the most, though, is in how it's meant to be a giant homage to one specific anime, whereas Evangelion was a giant hodgepodge of references. Specifically, Yutaka Izubuchi made this anime as his way to pay respect to Brave Raideen, Sunrise's 1975 anime that marked the start of the mecha genre's move towards more dramatic & non-episodic storytelling. Similar to Raideen, RahXephon also uses the legend of the lost continent of Mu for its story, with the RahXephon itself being the pinnacle of Mu technology, & Ayato being more than he thinks he is. Identity of also another major element, with numerous characters having second names, like Ayato being called "Ollin" by his foes, establishing a sense that characters may not truly know who they really are. Having played through Super Robot Wars MX, which features this series (alongside both Evangelion & Raideen, naturally), I am also know that RahXephon also pushes a love story for Ayato, with him having Reika, Megumi & even Haruka to choose from. Admittedly, it's neat that Izubuchi introduces an older love interest for Ayato in Haruka... Though, considering the timey-wimey weirdness that is Tokyo Jupiter, I guess one could argue that Ayato may actually be closer to Haruka's age, in reality.
Yes, RahXephon does have many similarities to Evangelion, especially when it comes to the character dynamics. Also, I do understand how international fans would have really pushed the "Eva Clone" label on this series, as there wasn't nowhere near the length of time between the two shows as there was in Japan. While that country had about five years between the finale of the latter & the debut of the former, Manga Entertainment's DVD releases for Death & Rebirth & End of Evangelion didn't come out until 2002, while ADV's release of RahXephon started just one year later, in 2003. Still, Yutaka Izubuchi's product still has more than enough of its own identity for it to stand tall, and it shouldn't be forgotten.
Kazuki Makabe is a high school student in a small village on Tatsumiya Island, which is off the coast of Japan. The same day his old friend Soshi Minashiro returns home from Tokyo, though, the island is attacked by a golden giant named a Festum, and Kazuki is brought by Soshi to Alvis, a hidden base located deep within the island. There, he's told to pilot the Mark Elf, a giant robot from the "Fafner" line that can combat the Festum, and though Kazuki is hesitant, he believes in Soshi's assuredness & manages to destroy the Festum. Kazuki then finds out the truth behind the situation: The Festum have been attacking the Earth for nearly 30 years, Japan has been wiped off the face of the planet, & Tatsumiya Island has actually been hiding from the rest of humanity the whole time, developing the Fafners from the "Arcadian Project" in secret; the adults have all known this & many even work for Alvis, hiding it all from their children. Not long later, some of Kazuki & Soshi's classmates are recruited as potential Fafner pilots, a second encounter with a Festum reveals Tatsumiya Island to the Neo U.N., & the students start to finally realize that they're all soldiers in a war for the safety of the human race.
At this point, we start to see an interesting aspect of the "Eva Clone": Franchises. Whereas every single "clone" prior to here wound up being a single overall production, these last four have gone on to become franchises of their own, to varying degrees, and it all starts with mid-2004's Fafner. The creation of now-controversial writer Tow Ubukata (Le Chevalier D'Eon, Mardock Scramble), who in 2015 was found to have possibly committed domestic violence against his wife (though the charges were dropped, & while Ubukata admitted to "quarreling", claims to have never hit her; we'll obviously never know the full story here), Fafner is essentially Xebec's take on Eva-style storytelling, with a heavy utilization of elements from Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle of music dramas to give it its own feel. Now, while Ubukata is a major part of the franchise, Fafner is really a passion project for Xebec, as a whole, as the studio itself is usually credited as the "Original Creator", not Ubukata himself. Regardless, "its own feel" is something that I think has been forgotten when it comes to Fafner, as it's really been hurt by the "Eva Clone" moniker, in my opinion, which in turn has resulted in most people not giving it the time of day. This is sad, because Fafner is similar to Gasaraki in that you can tell that its existence is due to the success of Evangelion, but when you really give it a chance, you realize that it's not really all that much of a "clone". Sure, there are similar elements to be found here, but if you try to find direct correlations between this & Eva, you'll either find it hard to make direct ones, or you'll constantly be adding in a "but", because the two anime overall aim for different directions. For example, while Shinji's classmates are pretty much only there to help with Shinji's overall development, with only Toji being given a moment in the "spotlight", Kazuki's classmates are all indicated to be given their own moments; in fact, Episode 6 is all about one of them, the sickly Shoko, giving it her all to protect everyone. I also find it interesting that Fafner actually calls back to a previous "clone", Platinumhugen Ordian, with Tatsumiya Island's "Core" holding inside of it a human, similar to the Ragnarok System in Masami Obari's series.
Really, Fafner's main focus is on telling a war story involving many young mech pilots, with the feeling that (mostly) anyone can die, all while eventually explaining why the denizens of Tatsumiya Island decided to hide from the rest of humanity. This is stark contrast to the kind of story Eva tells, which makes calling Fafner a "Eva Clone" a bit of an unfair misnomer. Personally, Fafner means a lot to me, because this was "My Eva" when I started becoming an anime fan. This was the series that hit me hard with certain character deaths, had music that has stuck in my mind to this very day (it's how I became a fan of angela's songs), is a major reason why I personally don't use the "Eva Clone" descriptor, and rewatching these episodes 15 years later makes me feel that the term has done its most harm to this series.
"Are you there?"
Aoba Tsuzaki is a giant fan of plastic model kits, especially those of robots. One day, though, she's suddenly kidnapped by people, along with all of her belongings, and taken to another country, only for her to find out that this was all because of her estranged mother Shizuka, who she hates for having left her years ago. Shizuka is the head of Angel (*Spanish pronunciation*), a squad within a larger organization that fights against mysterious giant robots known as "Ancient Jinki", with Angel (& other squads, like Heavens) having their own "Man-made Jinki", like the blue giant Moribito-2. While she hates what her mother has done to her, Aoba winds up becoming one of the pilots of the Moribito-2, especially when her own selfish interest in the robot results in Genta Ogawara, one of the original pilots, becoming injured to the point of being unable to ever pilot again. Still, why is this battle with the Ancient Jinki happening in the first place, and what do other female teenage pilots called "Cognates", like ex-shrine maiden Akao Hiiragi, have to do with all of this & the mysterious "Hachi Shojin"?
Interestingly enough, most of the anime I've looked at for this investigation have been anime originals, with any manga that also exist either being alternate takes of the same story (Brain Powerd, Gasaraki) or dealt with smaller details not covered in depth in the main anime (Platinumhugen Ordian: Oro). In comparison, this is actually an adaptation of a manga that predates most of the anime I've covered! Back in early 2000, around the time Ordian & De:Vadasy first appeared, mangaka Shiro Tsunahsima debuted Jinki in Enix's Monthly GanGan Wing magazine, where it ran until late 2001 for four volumes; conflicts between Enix & Tsunashima about the direction of the manga killed it. A few months later, in early 2002, a continuation called Jinki: Extend (Get it? Because it's an "extension" of the original manga?) debuted in Mag Garden's Monthly Comic Blade, where it ran until mid-2008, totaling another nine volumes; once again, differences with editorial caused the end. Luckily, there have also been numerous other Jinki manga since then, even running to this day, but we'll stop here. Anyway, in early 2005 an anime titled Jinki: Extend debuted on TV Asahi for 13 episodes, with direction by Masahiko Murata (Mazinkaiser, Corpse Princess), and was apparently overall a mostly original story that simply took from both Jinki & Jinki: Extend. For example, from my research, Aoba & her Moribito co-pilot Ryohei, Genta's son, are actually childhood friends who haven't seen each other in years, whereas in this anime they had never met prior to Aoba's kidnapping. Also, due to the magazine shifting & multiple manga series, this anime essentially features both Jinki leads, with Aoba being from the original GanGan series, while Akao is the Extend manga's lead; if anything, the anime may be trying to adapt the two manga simultaneously, which would be neat. Anyway, one would be forgiven for thinking this series would be an "Eva Clone", as the set-up sounds very similar to how Shinji Ikari is forced by his estranged father Gendou into piloting a giant robot for ill-defined reasons that are known only to the parent. Beyond that, however, Jinki: Extend really isn't much of a "clone", but rather just uses that similar set-up as simply one of many callbacks to mech anime of the past; for example, the OP sequence is an outright parody of the OP to Mobile Suit Gundam. I will give the anime credit, though, for trying to essentially adapt two manga simultaneously, with the OG Jinki story (or would that be "O-Jinki"? Oh, jinkies!) taking the primary focus, but every now & then a specific fade effect will happen to show off something happening in the Extend story, and by Episode 6 you realize that Extend is a prequel to Jinki. Once again, though, the "Eva Clone" moniker seems to be more of a straight-up misnomer here, as while Tsunashima calls back to Anno's seminal work to set things up, he otherwise tells his own story here; that being said, Jinki holds its storytelling cards intensely close to its chest, so things could change later on.
Still, Jinki as a whole does have one thing that's Eva-like that the other don't have, and that's alternate universe content that isn't anime or manga! Yes, similar to how Eva has had various "AUs" following its end, Jinki has 2010's Jinki Extend Re:Vision, a visual novel-esque eroge where all of the characters are re-imagined as school students & staff, similar to some of Eva's spin-offs, and you play as the voiceless original character, Akira Hyouno (because, you know... it's an eroge).
It is the Holy Genesis Era, 11 years after the Shadow Angels from Atlandia awoke from their 12,000-year sleep & started a second war against humanity. Since the initial attacks, humanity has found the "Mechanical Angel" Aquarion, which is formed by three units that can combine together into three different forms: Solar, Mars, & Luna. The organization DEAVA is then formed, which searches the remains of humanity for Elements, those who can use "element powers", as they're the ones who can handle the unification of mind, body, & soul when Aquarion merges together into one of its forms; certain ones are even the reincarnations of the legendary heroes who fought back the Shadow Angels 12,000 years ago. After a vision from DEAVA's Rena Rune reveals that the reincarnation of "Solar Wing" Apollonius, the man who betrayed the Shadow Angels & lead humanity all those millennia ago, is nearby, Pierre Vieira & Silvia de Alisia, the latter of which is the reincarnation of Apollinus' human lover Celiane, head out to check. They come across Apollo, an animalistic young man who shows no signs of being an Element, but when Aquarion is nearly defeated in battle, Apollo is seemingly possessed by the soul of Apollinus, allowing him to pilot the giant robot in ways no one even knew was possible. So Apollo is recruited into DEAVA, but this discovery also winds up in the awakening of Toma, one of the leaders of the Shadow Angels... And Apollonius' former lover.
Finally, we end with two anime that, in some regards, shouldn't really be called "Eva Clones", because they are a fair bit opposite from Evangelion, at least tonally. That being said, however, it's the tonal difference that makes them worth including here, because it shows how much had changed since Eva's debut back in 1995. First up is an anime by Shoji Kawamori, creator of Macross & overall the closest thing anime has to a downright tree-hugging hippie. I say that mainly because Kawamori values life, both human & the world we live in, very strongly & prefers conflicts to be solved through understanding each other more than through dominance; see: Macross 7 & Earth Girl Arjuna. Early 2005's Aquarion, in turn, has a heavy focus on spiritual unification, as the three pilots of Aquarion are "merged" together spiritually when the robot combines, taking influence from the Indian concept of yoga; not surprisingly, it's also a metaphor for sex, with merging generally described as felling "good". Likewise, as the name of the titular robot indicates, Kawamori also references Carl Gustav Jung's concept of the Age of Aquarius, which is all about love, understanding, & a coming together of humanity; it's in direct contrast to The Age of Pisces, which emphasized conflict. Finally, to no surprise, Greek mythology is also a heavy influence here. In all honesty, it's pretty damn incorrect to call Aquarion an "Eva Clone", with the only directly similar thing being that both shows are about humanity fighting giant monsters called "Angels", though it must be noted that Eva's Angels were actually written with the Japanese word "shito", or apostle, whereas Aquarion uses the word "(da)tenshi", which actually means (fallen) angel. However, in a twist, this anime is extremely similar to Eva in how it pays homage to its own old-school piece of media. Similar to how Evangelion is a giant homage to Ultraman, Aquarion calls back to old-school super robot anime of the 70s & 80s. Getter Robo is easily the most obvious, with the whole "three units combining into one robot" idea, but there are also bits & pieces of Brave Raideen, Tosho Daimos, & other shows of their ilk, and the anime itself feels very much like super robot anime from those decade, only done with modern technology, like CG.
That being said, one can certainly see Aquarion as a direct response to the general tone of Evangelion. If Shoji Kawamori's series represents the Age of Aquarius, where people eventually learn to come together as a willing whole for the sake of a better future, then Hideaki Anno's series (& especially End of Evangelion) most certainly represents the Age of Pisces, where people are eventually forced into coming together as an unwilling whole, because they've proven themselves to be unable to see beyond their own selfishness. I mean, Aquarion's first OP theme, which itself rivals "A Cruel Angel's Thesis" in being a truly iconic & classic anime theme song, is literally a song about how love is eternal & will live on forever; Eva could & would never do something like that.
Psalms of Planets Eureka seveN
Renton is the 14 year old son of Adroc Thurston, who is alleged to have saved the world from destruction years ago in what has come to be known as the "Summer of Love". Renton, however, feels that his life sucks, as he's stuck in a town that sucks, his mother died not long after his father, his older sister Diane left years ago in search of the truth about their father, & his grandfather just wants Renton to inherit the repair shop. All Renton wants to do, though, is ride the waves of Transparence Light Particles, or Trapar, that are now in the air & follow in the carefree lifestyle of his idol, Holland Novak from the group Gekkostate, even if said group is allegedly a terrorist organization. Everything changes, though, when a giant robot called an LFO crashes into his home, and a young girl named Eureka pops out, asking for repairs; said robot is the Nirvash type ZERO, the original LFO that was discovered years ago & became the basis for all man-produced LFOs. Through this encounter, Renton winds up becoming a member of Gekkostate & finds out the not-so-carefree lifestyle they live, all while eventually playing a major part in the future of the world. Still, as long he gets to be with Eureka, who he instantly falls for, Renton is willing to go for the ride. Maybe he'll find out more about himself, his father, & his place in the world... And if Eureka is truly the girl for him.
Let's just get this out of the way: Dai Sato (Ergo Proxy, Freedom) didn't appreciate people dismissing this anime as another "Eva Clone" when interviewed back in 2010. That being said, however, it's that very reaction that makes Eureka Seven, which debuted just two weeks after Aquarion, the perfect anime to close out this investigation, because in many ways it can be seen as a stark response to how Evangelion worked, but unlike something like Ordian, which still adhered to some of the same dour tone & feel as Eva, Studio Bones & director Tomoki Kyoda's Eureka Seven doubles down on being as hopeful as possible. Really, while Sato is the head writer of the series, the franchise as a whole is really Kyoda's baby, as every entry is essentially the only anime he's ever directed (minus the RahXephon movie, which was his first foray in directing), while Sato has only written for this original series & the recent re-imagined movie trilogy. As one can tell from the name of the incident where Renton's father saved the world, not to mention having characters with names like Stoner & Moondoggie (& the fact that all of the LFOs literally surf the skies), Eureka Seven feels much more loose & caring than the often strict & cold feeling of Evangelion, and while Eureka definitely has a visual style that reminds one of Rei, which is where Sato feels the "Eva Clone" moniker came from, she's immediately much more active & outspoken than Rei generally is; that being said, she obviously carries with her a mysterious past & origin that relates to the Nirvash. Not just that, but the world of Eureka Seven feels much more relaxed & "normal" than that of Eva; Renton hates his hometown simply because it's so boring & unexciting, and he wishes for more. Whereas Evangelion is a story about people at their worst & how they may not be truly able to rise up & be better unless things are at their absolute (& apocalyptic) worst, Eureka Seven immediately establishes itself as a story about finding something or someone to believe in more than anything else, and that when things get tough & impossible, it's those connections between people that allows humanity to get back up & shine, like the seven colors of the rainbow.
Finally, to jump ahead a good bit, similar to how Aquarion's first OP is a celebration of love & its never-ending power, Eureka Seven's last OP theme, "Sakura", is built completely around the legendary Christian hymn "Amazing Grace"; a song all about forgiveness & redemption by the grace of God, no matter the sins one has committed. It's the complete & tonal diametric opposite of something like "Komm, süsser Tod", which is all about how nothing can be forgiven & that it's better for one to be punished for their transgressions, if it allows others to be left in a better place. Ten years after Neon Genesis Evangelion, Eureka Seven shows a world that overall aims for tolerance & harmony, regardless of race or religion, that when things are truly at their worst, that is when one should double-down on love, because sometimes there's truly nothing more powerful. If anything, that makes this the perfect place to drop the "Eva Clone" moniker, because it has lost its luster by this point.
In Part 1 of this "Eva Clone" investigation, I jokingly used a picture of the Osomatsu sextuplets, because that's how one could interpret those first six titles that came out post-Evangelion; they definitely played "follow the leader" in many ways, even if the content itself wasn't always a "clone". These successive six, however, definitely tend to feel more like "responses" to what Hideaki Anno did back from 1995 to 1997, even if the intention wasn't there to do so directly. Titles like Argento Soma, Fafner, & Eureka Seven aren't really as "clone"-like as people once claimed them to be, but do (maybe inadvertently?) have elements that could be misconstrued as being done in direct response to Eva, whether it's twisting Gendou Ikari into the lead, turning NERV & the children into a much more militaristic & nomadic force, or contrasting Eva's dour & depressive tone with one of love & hope. Meanwhile, shows like RahXephon, Jinki: Extend, & Aquarion play closer to being identifiable as "clones" in some ways, but still manage to make their own marks by zigging where Eva tended to zag, whether it's adding in a strong Raideen influence, paying homage to mech anime of the past in general, or replacing the heavy Ultraman callbacks with that of 70s & 80s super robots.
After all of this, I fully understand why people were quick to use the "Eva Clone" moniker on these anime back in the day. Neon Genesis Evangelion was a strong, formative influence, and they wanted it to feel like a truly one-of-a-kind work. To them, seeing all of these johnny-come-latelys likely made them feel as though there was the possibility that Eva's impact & relevance could be lost, because it opens the chance that future budding anime fans may wind up being influence by these later works, not the one that they were influenced by. So they labeled these shows as "Eva Clones", because it both kept the focus on Evangelion, while also making it sound as though these later works didn't have any relevance to them; they were merely riding Anno's coattails. The fact of the matter, though, is that most of these "clones" weren't actually that, but rather were other creators taking advantage of new doors being opened to them through what Anno & Gainax did. Sure, similarities were there, and some were much more blatant about it than others (see: De:Vadasy), but that's only because there are only so many ways to tell a story; some even argue that there are only 7 or 11 types of stories out there. As those early Eva fans got older, even they realized how much Anno took from other works, which in turn weakened the "Eva Clone" moniker, and today it exists only as an occasional phrase thrown about without much weight behind it, unlike what it once carried. But, hey, if you've managed to get all the way here, then I only have one thing left to say...