I felt that NGE 1.01 was better than the series, thematic wise. It emphasized more on the relationship between Shinji and Touji and Kensuke. They always say Shinji only pilots as he is told; but, I love how Gainax really showed how Shinji decided to fight on his own each time. The first, he only fought for Rei. The second, "I fight for my friends". The third even when he was shot down, he still stood up and fought. And that scene was especially emphasized by the discussion between Misato and Gendo on whether or not to use the Dummy plugs. Shinji = Shinjiteru, or to believe. I think he's living up to his name. The series was more on the basis of lonliness and being hurt and having the theme of self dependence on the side. Now since Shinji is slowly choosing to break those barriers and "making a decision" towards the Hedgehog Dilemma, he's pragmatically working towards self independence. Instead of waiting til' ep 25 and 26 and EoE, he's growing up as he goes along.