The only thing that really caught my attention at first was that big Gainax blog controversy back around episode 4, which made me snigger a bit and that was it. Then when episode 8 came out, I saw the spoilers and it caught me by surprise. Because man...killing off a major character so early on? Where would the story go after that?? It got me interested. Then Nia showed up and she was CUUUUTE. And Simon apparently turned badass. My interest in the show increased. And then I saw screenshots for the timeskip and I was like OKAY I FINALLY NEED TO WATCH THIS.
So yeah...the first episode I ever downloaded for this series was episode 17. XD And I've spent all day catching up on the earlier episodes. Right now I'm waiting for episode 14 and 18 to download.
As for the actual show- My favorite characters right now are Simon, Nia, Rossiu, and Viral. I ship Simon/Nia, which means the timeskip arc is making me squee and breaking my heart at the same time, but I think I'll be able to handle it as long as Simon continues to develop. Because what I really like most about this show is Simon's character growth. He starts out as a wimpy kid with hidden potential, always in Kamina's shadow, and as it goes along he finds strength and confidence in himself, growing to be the most badass character of them all. AWESOME.
And now that I see how great this show is, and how far the folks at Gainax had been planning when that controversy came up, I really feel for them. It must have felt awful to have all this EPIC stuff in store for the future and then everyone starts whining about the first few episodes. That only proves that you shouldn't judge an anime (or anything, really) too quickly, or you might miss out.
EDIT: Also, I just have to say that the Nyoro~n fansubs have one of the worst translation jobs I've seen. The subtitles were just distracting to me because 80% of the time they were wrong. I mean, you only need an elementary-school level knowledge of Japanese to understand this show. It annoys me because there must be a lot of people relying on those fansubs and they don't even know they're getting a shitty translation. >_>
EDIT 2: Episode 18...
;__; Simon searching all over for Nia....the whole conversation between them with him trying to describe the Nia he knows to her...it's so touching, but... ;___; NIA CAN'T BE HUMAN ANYMORE?! *HEART BREAKS*
Everything is just looking really, really BAD. Especially for Simon, oh my god. He's gonna get arrested and put on trial, oh my god. THE MOON IS GONNA COME CRASHING DOWN OMG.
D: Of course, before the timeskip they could just go WELL WE'LL JUST KICK THEIR ASSES TOO but it's not so simple anymore, is it? Not when the enemy has technology way beyond theirs and they've got a city full of people to protect and the very fact that they fought before has brought DOOM to the world. This is a rather depressing situation.
Still, I look forward to see what happens next! I believe that this anime as a whole is very positive, so hopefully things will turn out better soon. >:(