If you're an anime fan who hasn't heard of Evangelion, then you've been spending far too much time under a rock. And while the reason the series has achieved cult followings is not its music, its soundtrack is still a great purchase. Possibly flawed, but nevertheless great.
Of the three basic NGE soundtracks, this CD is the best, focusing on the most commonly used and best known themes, those established in the early episodes. It opens with "Thesis of the Cruel Angel", one of the best opening themes of any anime out there. Unfortunately, it's the "Director's Edit Version" which, while the full version, also is not the same as it was in the anime. The singer's voice sounds a bit more hollow. Also unfortunately, the song is followed by the full version of one of the worst anime ending themes in history, "Fly Me to the Moon". If you actually happen to like this song, I question your taste, but there are two more versions of it at the end of the CD for you.
The rest of the CD is background music from the first few episodes, mostly coming in the order that you hear them in the episodes. For those who have never heard NGE's music before, the pieces tend to be moody and atmospheric, alternating between dramatic, eerie, or occasionally comedic. The predominant instruments in NGE music are piano and trumpet, which are used liberally in the best tracks.
Each piece from the series is reproduced perfectly, from the melancholy tone of "Rei I" to the determined inspiration of "A Step Forward Into Terror" and the out-of-control panic of "The Beast". They all loop twice, giving you plenty of time to absorb the feeling involved.
Altogether, this is a fine collection of music for Evangelion fans, and fans of orchestrated music in general, although you never get a full orchestra going on any piece. My only gripe, and it's a minor one, is that the producer of the series, Hideaki Anno, titled all the pieces instead of letting the composer do so. As a result, almost all the pieces have bland titles matching the episodes or characters they were taken from. But this has no impact on the music itself, which is the main selling point of any CD. When in doubt about this purchase, watch the anime - the first tape will give you a sufficient feel for the music. After that, jump in.