Netflix's controversial English script for Neon Genesis Evangelion was actually written 25 years ago and rejected by ADV Films.
Amanda Winn Lee, the ADR co-director for the ADV Films Evangelion dub and the original English voice of Rei Ayanami, revealed this information on Twitter. Winn Lee has previously been under a non-disclosure agreement with Netflix, which recently expired.
that the script was ridiculous and too step off, we're using a script that actually makes sense. If only Netflix had had the balls to do that, I think the performances of the new crew would have been even more stellar.— Amanda Winn Lee (@amandawinnlee) March 28, 2021
"You know the crappy, awful script [Netflix] used? They tried to make us use that exact same script 25 years ago," Winn Lee explains. The script in question was provided by the original Japanese licensors (Gainax was the primary production company for the original Evangelion TV series, though rights for the franchise have since transferred to Khara). Winn Lee says Matt Greenfield, the ADR co-director for the ADV dub, "stood up to them and told them that the script was ridiculous and [to] step off, we're using a script that actually makes sense."
Winn Lee added that she believes Evangelion's director Hideaki Anno was the one who demanded the controversial translation, though she did not state this with certainty. Despite her harsh words for the script, she praises the new cast and crew for the Netflix dub, tweeting "They did an excellent job with what they were given."
I believe he’s the one who insisted that script be used— Amanda Winn Lee (@amandawinnlee) March 28, 2021
We love the new crew. They did an excellent job with what they were given.— Amanda Winn Lee (@amandawinnlee) March 28, 2021
Netflix's 2019 dub of Neon Genesis Evangelion became the subject of controversy because of its more literal approach to translation. Details like calling Shinji the "Third Children" instead of the "Third Child" offered a more direct translation of the Japanese but sounded unnatural in English. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the Netflix dub was how the translation made Kaworu's romantic feelings towards Shinji less direct than the ADV dub did.