Its one of the most common ways fans bash an anime. "That show is unoriginal!" You don't have to go far to hear this kinda stuff. Xenogears. Candidate For Goddess. Oodles of mecha shows from the 90's. Monster hunting type shows like Digimon. American TV to the extreme. What I don't get is how you can use this as a basis of an attack. It may be hard to accept, but if unoriginality is the measuring stick of quality, than Evangelion itself is just one in a line of many mediocre products.
Whats so special about being original? Well, something original is something new. Something unexpected. To be original takes a lot of thinking and innovation. Being original is great and always adds quality to a form of entertainment. But originality being good doesn't make unoriginality bad. Originality is a rare concept. Do you have any idea how hard it is to be original? Things are ingrained in people's minds since the day they are born. How a person thinks and what they think about largely comes out of experiences with other people and the products of other people. So it should be no surprise that coming up with new and rare ideas that no one's thought before would be hard. How would one come up with one in the first place if human existence is so largely shaped around ideas and interactions with other people?
Originality is even harder to come by in a form of entertainment like anime. Television and movies are copycat ventures down to the very core. There's certainly nothing wrong with that. But how a show is developed is largely influenced by the products of the same medium that came before it. Television programs being in either 30 minute or 60 minute intervals. Anime series tending to have episode counts that are multiples of 13. Each genre, from mecha animes to shoujo animes to martial arts animes comes from a distinct template. Sometimes templates are mixed. But at its core, 99% of the animes out there and nearly every single popular anime ever made comes from one. Evangelion is a perfect example. A mecha show in the vein of Mobile Suit Gundam and Gunbuster mixing various influences from all over the place. When it comes to originality, Evangelion isn't that far apart from any other show of the genre, whether its Candidate For Goddess, Gundam Wing or Gasaraki. Since everything is so close when it comes to originality, why bash something based on that? Have any idea how much of a hypocrite it makes you when you bash one of your so called 'Eva clones' for being unoriginal yet refuse to admit that Eva's just as unoriginal as that 'clone' is?
So please, stop taking the phrase 'Evangelion is unoriginal' as an insult. There's nothing wrong with saying that.