IMHO Evangelion is not the greatest of anime, nor is it the worst.
That being said:
(BTW: Do NOT go by the dub. I heard the dub, and it was painful. The subtleties of the original voice acting were completely lost in many a scene. I’m not one of those people who hate all dubs-- I can appreciate a good one when I see it. But this one wasn’t that good)
Eva starts off like a cliched giant robot show and then changes rather radically.
The director, Hideki Anno was going through some psychological problems at the time, and he chose to work them out through the anime (hence all of Shinji’s issues)-- he pulled a bait-and-switch on the audience, because they were expecting just giant robots duking it out and instead they ended up with a (somewhat torturous) examination of the human psyche.
I liked Evangelion for the following reasons:
1- The premise of the Eva Control system was novel in that it was the most “realistic” to date. (I’m talking about in mechanical terms)… 5 minutes of power, tethers, a support infrastructures… they weren’t like Gundams that could seemingly go forever on tanks of jet fuel.
2 - The Heroes were not “heroes”. They have real, painfully crippling flaws, be it self-doubt, lust, or jealousy. They aren’t super action types who always come out on top. In fact I think some viewers dislike them because they are too real in this regard.
3- The metaphysical, occult, biological and technical detail slipped in. (For instance, everything in NERV is named after a term in biology-- it’s not all meaningless Engrish or technobabble-- I was surprised to find a lot of the terms defined in medical texts.)
Now… I will not say it is wthout flaws. Anno basically jipped the fans with the last two episodes of the TV series, and the half-movie Death and Rebirth that aired before End of Evangelion came out. And he doesn’t explain things all that clearly…
But THIS is why Eva will be discussed and appreciated forever. I call it “Xadium’s Law of Immortality through Obscurity”-- basically, the more tantalizing hints and half-finished threads you can leave dangling, along with rich symbolism that begs to be interpreted, the longer people will argue about your show trying to figure it all out.
But this is all IMHO… you have to judge the series as a totality first, because the first few episodes that you have seen are cliched, and not representative of the total Evangelion experience (due to the plot shifting as it does).
This is what I reccomend: Borrow the DVDs or fansubs from someone, and watch the episodes in this order:
(21-24 are also available in a director’s cut which adds some more footage, but it’s not out in DVD yet, try to see the fansubs of those-- if you can’t, then watch Death and Rebirth which has the footage in it, otherwise skip D&R, it’s largely redundant filler)
Watch End of Evangelion
NOW Watch 25-26. They made little sense on their own, but they chronicle what’s going on in in Shinji’s head during the middle of End of Evangelion, (without spoiling anything, let’s just say he has to make a choice, and those episodes explain how he came to making his choice)-- they can be understood in the context of the movie.
I have found this to be the easiest way to gain a full understanding of Evangelion.