Reminder that Neon Genesis Evangelion is just a worse version of Mobile Suit Gundam and Space Runaway Ideon. Everything Eva is acclaimed for was done better by the master Tomino 15 years earlier. Eva only got as popular as it did because it pandered to pervert pedophiles (most of the anime community, especially /a/).
Evangelion took inspirations from Ideon, I think Anno even mentioned Gundam being his favorite anime. That's not to say that Anno is a much more talented director than Tomino, Even Anno's live-action work is better than most of Tomino's work.
In Anno's work the visual direction matters, it's masterfull and it carries the narrative just as much as the characters and dialogue. While with Tomino his visual direction is rather plain and just follows the narrative not putting in much value by itself.
It's great that before Evangelion Tomino was one of the few directiors to create original anime, but that's because market-wise they were basically toy-commercials. Anno was able to create a work that cut off from that and was responsible for the massive stream of original anime series from the mid-90s.