Type: Can’t wait for the American live-action remake (You KNOW we will live to see that)!
Synopsis: But why beat on a dead horse when I can instead milk a decades old franchise thanks to nostalgia and a certain malaise that has stuck with people since adolescence. Thanks Netflix!
Pros: So I’m not ganna talk about any of the themes present in End of Eva. I’m not going to analyze the metaphors for depression, the Freudian sexuality, the commentary on Otoku culture, the depiction of misogyny, nor the numerous allusions to Christianity. Other people do that, and have been doing that since 1997. That’s all well and good, but what I think is the most fascinating aspect of End of Eva is it’s very existence. You see, during the original run of Evangelion, the production ran out of time and money towards the end of the series. This resulted in a controversial ending to the landmark series, with some fans praising it for it’s artistic merit, while others criticizing it for it’s confusing execution. The fan backlash and critic commentaries were enough for director Hideaki Anno and Studio Gainax to redo the ending of Evangelion through a movie released a year later. And in classic Eva style, the even the existence of the film can be interpreted in numerous ways.
One way to view it is as pandering to the Evangelion fanbase. The film does exactly what an Eva fan would want out of an ending. It shows NERV having one last stand against the mysterious SEELE organization. It has a kick-ass Eva fight with Asuka at the helm. It clarifies Gendo’s ultimate plan. It has amazing animation. It’s got a bunch of horrifying celestial body horror. It has Shinji crying for 90 minutes. Everything a Evangelion fan wants!
Another way to view it is as a criticism of the Evangelion fanbase. In a lot of ways, Shinji is used as a surrogate for the audience. In this film, Shinji is depicted as a weak, apathetic, immature being who literally tries to run away from reality through fantasy. Let’s not forget that during Shinji’s debate on whether or not to join humanity’s new form, we see live actions shots of audience members and actual death threats Anno and Gainax received because of the original Eva ending. Shinji actively tries to push other away out of a fear of rejection, and hurts anyone who gets close to him. He also likes to play the victim, and has a very disturbing lust/hatred towards women. The very first thing Shinji does in this movie, the very first thing we see, is Shinji masturbating over a comatose Asuka. This happens within the first 5 minutes of the movie! In fact, Asuka sums up Anno’s view of the fan base pretty well: Pathetic and Disgusting.
You can also view this movie as Anno’s through process while working on Eva. Anno famously battled depression during the production of Evangelion. So this film can act as a reflection on his feelings throughout the project. These are best represented in the scenes between Asuka and Shinji. In the first scene, Asuka is comatose and unaware of Shinji’s unhealthy obsession towards her. This represents Anno’s time actually working on the anime, unaware of exactly how invested the fan are in his work. The scene with Asuka fighting the angels while being annoyed as Shinji is basically Anno fighting either the critics, sponsors, studio executives while being annoyed at the fans. The next scene is in Shinji’s head, with Asuka giving Shinji some hard truths about himself and his own narcissism. Through Asuka, Anno is almost angrily pleading with the fanbase to move on, recognize their faults, and grow. But Shiji’s attack on Asuka show’s their resistance. This is Anno’s emotions after the end of the original series. The last scene, with Shinji basically rejecting others and perpetuating his cycle of isolation, represents the fan’s own stubbornness. Shinji choking Asuka again is basically Anno predicting the fans criticizing the End of Evangelion, even after Asuka/Anno’s hard work and the fan’s/Shinji’s supposed love of them. Asuka touching Shinji’s face is Anno again trying to reach out to pacify the fanbase, even if the final lines of dialogue show some lingering resentment.
Finally, you can view this movie for what it says it is: the ending of Evangelion. While Anno and is assitant director, Kazuya Tsurumak, stand by the original ending, it was not what they wanted. How could it be? It was an artistic compromise at best. They ran out of money and time to make their ideal ending. But now, they get to do everything they possibly could have wanted. The characters of NERV get a proper send off. Asuka gets one last grand fight. Gendo gets his. Rei finally ascends to her true form. The angels are given their proper showcases. Lilith, the mother of humanity, is shown. And the team even gets to explore the opposite spectrum of Shinji’s character. The original ending has Shinji choose to be with others, giving up some of his individuality and vulnerability in exchange for social praise and personal growth. This alternate ending has Shinji reject others, choosing himself over people, and actively choosing to repeat his mistakes. The movie also salvaged the franchise, allowing it to become and enduring and lucrative license for years to come.
Cons: Nothing is perfect. Even Eva. This film really is suppose to be the end of the series, so you need to watch the original Evangelion anime before you can watch this. The imagery in this can get disturbing, especially in the latter half, so viewer discretion is advised. And the last I’d say 20 minutes gets downright trippy. To break it down: The first 20 minutes are an action movie, the next 30 minutes are the ending of the anime, and the last 30 minutes is a psychological exploration of depression.
Watch it?: Even for a non-Eva fan like me, it was a good watch
If you see her as Anno, you get a whole new perspective on things.
Best Moment: The Eva 02 fight. (I was also ganna say Shinji jerking it, but that would be crass and silly, which of course has no place for such a serious anime).