>Like these kids are the last best hope of mankind and they seem to be totally unsupported by anyone?
It's not uncommon for Japanese students to be living by themselves since the principle of independence is pushed on to the people.
>their emotional reactions seems somewhat understandable but also completely dull and uninteresting because the situation they're in is absurd
The whole point of these type of reactions is to add realism to the show and make it more believable. It's a needed contrast for the mecha fights since they're inherently unreliable even considering how the viewer has to play along with the idea to start understanding the story.
>The 'fights' are 10 minutes of foreplay for like 60 seconds of action if that, and while that's a common problem with anime, that doesn't make it excusable.
It's the beginning of the show, of course the fights will be short. The whole point is to demonstrate the dynamic of daily life and the fear of the angels. The fights do get to last longer, mostly towards the end and the movie.
>Almost nothing is explained which means I can't possibly feel invested in this absurd world in any way
Like what, the Angels and the Evas? Their believableness in the beginning is an irrelevance to why the viewer should be motivated to be invested into the show since the point of the show is to watch Shinji become a hero and his story on how that happened. They need to introduce the characters and their relationships first before getting into the main story.
>Though for context I also hated 'The Godfather' and 'No Country For Old Men' and thought they were pretentious overlong shit, so maybe I'm just a contrarian.
Never saw Godfather so I can't say anything about it there but 'No Country For Old Man' I have seen and it seems to be the same thing with you. The enjoyment is the interaction the psychopath has with the world, a famous example being the shop scene and the first confrontation. It's a great film that's only long since the scenes are dragged on to add suspense, if you're not invested into the movie then the drag is annoying to watch.
I doubt you'll have any enjoyment if you do go back to Neon Genesis since the initial investment that show needs you don't have it so it won't get better. If you do, try to clear your mind of all the comments that have praised it and just go in with a blank mind since you seem to be overly worried of being a "contrarian".