The End of Evangelion - Adults Only
If you’ve seen the classic anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, then you may know by now that it left behind a massive reputation for a reason. With its stylized animation, incredible action scenes, realistic characters, layered writing, and a head-on dive into the depths of depression, it made a splash in Japan and across the world for confronting topics usually never explored in anime before. Moreover, it became a game-changer thanks to the brilliant but troubled vision of Hideako Anno.
However, near the end of its run, Neon Genesis Evangelion ended on a pair of episodes that left audiences split right down the middle. Some people praised the episodes for leaping into the fractured minds of Shinji and arguably the other main supporting characters to arrange a more internal ending. But many others felt short-sheeted after expecting them to deliver on the thrills, action, drama, and closure fit for the show. So, for better or worse, many fans wrote to Hideako Anno saying that they needed a more definitive ending for the show, while plenty of others unwisely demanded it through death threats.
What we got out of this...volatile endeavor may very likely be Neon Genesis Evangelion at its most colossal, explosive, insane, nightmarish, graphic, mind-bending, jaw-dropping, and yet eerily poetic.
The story...I believe you would follow only if you’ve seen the rest of the show before this. It functioned as if it was just a random chapter of an overarching story.
The story continued precisely where Episode 24 left off, with Shinji feeling like he hit rock bottom after his run-in with Kaworu, the 17th Angel. Meanwhile, Misato was on the brink of discovering the true motives behind the Second Impact, those of Gendo Akari, Shinji’s father, and Lilith, who was kept in the underground chambers of NERV. For the past eight of the show’s episodes, Misato constantly wanted to get to the core of the conspiracy she discovered with NERV, starting with these clues uncovered by her. Meanwhile, everyone, especially NERV, wondered if things would’ve gone back to normal now that they had eradicated the Angels they fought for so long. However, they suddenly found themselves at the mercy of the invading Japanese government, who sent in armies and soldiers to execute the NERV personnel believing that NERV intended to jumpstart the Third Impact.
Frighteningly, they were half-right. Throughout the series, Gendo Ikari held on to the first Angel, Adam, which was reduced to its embryonic state after emerging and jumpstarting the Second Impact in 2000. With it, he intended to fuse it with Lilith, plus Rei as his guinea pig, and initiate the Human Instrumentality Project in the hopes of reuniting with his late wife, Yui. Throughout the series, he was subject to conferences and disputes with an organization called SEELE, only to split apart once Gendo and SEELE started having different ideas over their retaliation against the Angels and even the fruition of the Human Instrumentality Project. Gendo wanted to do so with Adam, Lilith, and Rei to see Yui again. In contrast, SEELE hoped to initiate it with EVA Units 05-13, or the Mass-Produced EVAs to guarantee a greater, more unified whole forged out of all of humanity. Otherwise, they would preferably have done so with the Lance of Longinus; last time this was visible, it wandered off to the lunar surface after being lunged forth to impale the 15th Angel, Areal.
Of course, NERV, its personnel, and soon, Shinji and Asuka had to rally up their battalions yet again to fend off the invading Japanese armies and especially the Mass-Produced EVA Units. Throughout the show, those were mentioned in conversation as having been in development overseas by NERV’s foreign branches. So, it became one frightened organization and two EVAS vs. the Japanese armies and their army of similarly shaped and invincible EVAs as their forces all dealt with one massive blow after the next.
At least, that describes the first half of the movie, or Episode 25’: Air.
The next half, or Episode 26’: Sincerely Yours, dealt with the aftermath of this earth-shattering showdown and, unfortunately, the ultimate cataclysm to follow. As Shinji prepared to face off against the Japanese armies and their EVAs, he found himself battling his inner demons and the demons from without. He struggled with it as EVA-Unit-01 was hoisted high up in the sky with the Mass-Produced EVAs to start a ritual, where all of them arranged themselves in the Tree of Life pattern with an Anti-AT Field—don’t ask—thus initiating the Third Impact. Meanwhile, Gendo also prepared to jumpstart the Human Instrumentality Project by putting Adam inside Rei III. But she not only disobeyed Gendo and took off on her terms but decided to do so after hearing Shinji’s screams of terror, feeling that he might have needed her help. For consistency’s sake, this Rei was different from the one who gave up her life to defeat the 16th Angel, Armisael, earlier. In so doing, Rei III merged herself and Adam along with her inside Lilith, fusing to rise again in a massive, deadly form of Lilith, also initiating the Third Impact. And, in the middle of all this chaos was Shinji, forced to decide what to do with humanity as every human being on Earth passed on (?) and transcended into Instrumentality, as SEELE wanted, and as Gendo unintentionally arranged.
And yes, the movie is as crazy as it sounds.
Looking at the basics and this movie’s structure, I feel like this movie played more like a straight-up continuation of the original TV series, only this movie meant to take the place of the controversial 25th and 26th episodes that aired a year and a half before this movie came out. It played out with some narrative transitions from the ending of Episode 24 into the beginning of this movie, which it did by emphasizing how Shinji was at the lowest he’s ever felt in his life.
I was genuinely perplexed by Shinji’s character arc in this movie. After putting up with one misfortune after another, culminating probably in being forced to kill Kaworu, Shinji’s general behavior here felt understandable but no less shocking. First, he visited Asuka, who was comatose in a hospital bed, and he became desperate to have her belittle him like he usually expected from her. In the process, he inadvertently tore half of her clothes off, revealing her in a half-naked state. And what did he do? He locked the door behind him, and he masturbated over her. That’s right, masturbated. We could even tell from the semen on Shinji’s hand. And, after witnessing the mangled remains of Unit-02, and, as Shinji sensed, probably Asuka, too, he went off the deep end, putting up with constant frights and terrors as the other Mass-Produced EVAs lifted him to jumpstart the Third Impact with their Tree of Life signals. And finally, when given the ultimate decision as to what to do with humanity, Shinji, out of frustration and the now-unleashed resentment he held inside of him, decided just to let humanity die as if to give them a taste of their own medicine. For someone who had to endure life situations that emotionally and mentally crippled him, it was harrowing to see someone so young be no longer sure what to do, how to do it, or whether it was the right thing or not.
Even then, however, Shinji was not without his moments of inner conscience. For example, after masturbating over Asuka’s hospital bed, Shinji, gazing closely at his semen-covered hands, softly whispered...
I’m so fucked up.
...as if he immediately regretted what he did over Asuka. He even mentioned to Misato that he did something terrible. He also had enough of a conscience to pull off one significant task in the ending that I’ll speak of shortly. So, even though he reached a point of complete mental collapse and psychosis, he still maintained enough of his sanity to know what the right thing was for him to do. All these levels of characteristic exploration in Shinji’s end felt as compelling to see as it was hard-hitting whenever he suffered.
In fact, for most of the movie, Shinji started as super submissive, feeling like there was nothing he could’ve done after all the pain he endured and after all it had cost him. But then, after Misato gave him a pep-talk about the necessities of destroying the rest of the EVA series, he was up to the task, especially after experiencing a spiritual connection and encouragement from Unit-01, which, as Shinji and the audience discovered, was inhabited by his mother’s soul all along. But then, Shinji only continued to face horrific discovery after horrific discovery, especially as he had to decide the fate of humanity as Instrumentality started taking effect. This was practically the true culmination of Shinji’s issues throughout the series. So having watched it before this movie, the movie still did an excellent job of having Shinji put up with constant mental beatings while still letting him maintain the dignity necessary to acknowledge the issues in front of him. Whether they were from the past, the present, or another universe, those issues helped Shinji decide what’s best for himself and all others.
You know, while I’m still on that subject, let’s look at the other characters in the movie.
Misato, who looked after Shinji, felt like a confident and determined leader of the EVA missions who upheld her position while digging up whatever dirt she discovered about NERV’s innermost goals. Her devotion to Shinji was something to admire as well. Deep down, she loved Shinji, and whether it was for his sake or that of humanity, she kept urging him to own up to the task and get into EVA Unit-01 to even the odds. However, I noticed some people online express uneasiness over the adult Misato’s kiss on teenage Shinji’s lips. Well, first of all, Misato told Ritsuko in Episode 2 after she took him in that she wouldn’t have tried to take advantage of him, even though she said so jokingly. And second, by this point, Misato and Shinji grew very close throughout the show, so I saw her kiss as an expression of love that Shinji would desperately have needed, no matter who he got it from. It was especially tragic because she ate lead trying to protect Shinji from the incoming Japanese soldiers. So watching her express her final departing words with Shinji, on top of asking her late boyfriend, Kaji, if she did the right thing, was heartbreaking to watch.
The last time she was active in the series, Asuka was also at her lowest, especially after her showdown with the 15th Angel, Arael. After that, she gradually and mentally started going downhill until she eventually succumbed to a deep coma. When she woke up, she wasn’t necessarily in the highest of spirits. Then, during her battles against the Mass-Produced EVAs, she mentally and telepathically discovered that her mother watched over her in her spirit form through her EVA Unit-02, just like Yui did over Shinji through Unit-01. Before then, Asuka loathed her mother for a long time for leaving her behind through suicide when she was a little girl. Miraculously, this discovery was enough to get her back on her feet and lunge ahead full speed at the EVAs, as if nothing terrible happened to her at all.
One of Misato’s closest friends and coworkers, Ritsuko Akagi, didn’t have as prominent a role here as in the rest of the show. But let’s say she prepared to settle the score once and for all with Gendo Akari throughout the last half of the show after being professionally and sexually subjected by him for so long, just like her mother, Naoko, before her. Ritsuko finally felt like she was at the end of her rope with Gendo and hoped to finish him off in a way that she thought would’ve given her and her mother closure.
Last time, when I spoke about Gendo Akari, I thought he was generally aloof and always looking like he knew the next chess piece to move in his advances against the Angels or even with whatever plan he had at NERV. And yet, his connections with either Shinji or his late wife, Yui, were such that the little devotion he had—or lack thereof—almost made him look like a complex character with varying motives but not the most consistent conscience. For the little time he had in this movie, he was as menacing as he was lovesick. On the one hand, he initiated Instrumentality, and he gunned down Ritsuko after she attempted to do the same to him out of vengeance. But, on the other hand, he came to grips with how much his desperation to see Yui again cost him so much, especially his son, Shinji. He even stated that he didn’t understand Shinji, like he wanted to connect with him but couldn’t have. By then, Gendo became the Gendo I wished to see throughout the show. Not a bad way to go.
Rei felt like the vaguest character in this movie. She didn’t have very much personality outside of being Gendo’s clone replica of Yui and even refuting Gendo’s orders to take matters into her own hands, especially if it was out of concern, if any, for Shinji. At least, that’s the general impression I would’ve had looking at this movie on its own. Knowing the series, however, Rei was a fascinating character because she proved herself to be a combative EVA pilot, whether she did it on her own or with the help of Shinji or Asuka. And, after Rei sacrificed herself to destroy the 16th Angel, Armisael, Shinji discovered that NERV and Gendo created multiple clones of Rei to use as backup dummy plugs for the EVA missions, and Ritsuko terminated them out of spite against Gendo. So, Rei III expressing some concern for Shinji despite not knowing why added a whole new level of mystery to her. It made us ponder whether multiple clones of the same person can inhibit numerous souls or just the soul of the original one. Besides, the fact that she bore the exact likenesses of Shinji’s mother Yui when she was still alive was one of the many obstacles and dilemmas that Shinji had to confront after she became part of Lilith. For that reason, whether in this movie or the series, Rei’s mysterious nature was what kept her so engaging.
At the time I’m reviewing this, I watched the English dub that reunited (most of) the ADV dub from the TV show. In general, the voice acting felt terrific, especially from the actors and actresses who voiced the main characters. You name it; Spike Spencer as Shinji, Tiffany Grant as Asuka, Allison Keith as Misato, Sue Ulu as Ritsuko, Tristan MacAvery as Gendo, Amanda Winn-Lee as Rei. They all hit their marks with their characters with the same rounded portrayals they gave throughout the show. Come to think of it, I ought to give a round of applause to Amanda Winn-Lee here. I didn’t realize until I’m writing this that she also did the voice of Shinji’s mother, Yui. And I believe, even compared to in the TV show, she expressed Yui’s wisdom and love for Shinji with the same amount of delicacy and tenderness as she did as Rei. On top of that, the multitude of her roles alone hit home how similar Rei was to Yui since Rei was cloned after Yui anyway. And it’s not just Amanda Winn-Lee; the original Japanese voice actress Megumi Hayashibara voiced both Rei and Yui, too. So, the closeness these two characters shared, down to their voice actresses, would tell you all you need to know about their likenesses.
However, surprisingly, the voice actors who played the NERV members, something about their voice acting felt too light, wimpish, and not as invested as they were in the show. I think it had something to do with how their voices had a slightly goofy undertone when wrapping their heads around NERV being bombarded everywhere by armed Japanese soldiers. Outside of Gendo and Maya Ibuki, the way Kozo Fuyutsuki (Gendo’s right-hand-man), Makoto Hyuga, and Shigeru Aoba reacted and expressed their feelings over the matter didn’t jibe well with me. It also didn’t help that not all the actors and actresses from the ADV dub were involved in this film’s dub, so some replacements had to be found to fill them in. That might explain the vocal inconsistencies throughout the movie. But they never diminished the more phenomenal acting I heard from everyone else in the film, so there you have it.
If you thought either the action or the animation was breathtaking in the show, then brace yourselves because they both outdid themselves here in the movie! Whether it concerned the sudden ambush and onslaught by the Japanese army or against the newly re-emerged Lilith, the action boosted the size and scope of what already made Neon Genesis Evangelion such a highly regarded series. The movie chronicling the events leading up to and occurring during the Third Impact also helped out. But even the action concerning the Third Impact was pretty inventive, though no less insane. What happened was NERV had to brace themselves and arm themselves after Japanese armies barraged into the headquarters and gunned down over 50% of the NERV personnel. And suddenly, despite their efforts to resolve the chaos by sending Asuka and Shinji to battle them, it may all have been for naught. As Lilith re-emerged and took over Earth, they found themselves all turning to LCL—Lilith’s blood, in other words—and their souls vacuumed into the spiritual sphere that was Instrumentality. Lilith also had a Moon-sized egg that rose from the depths of the Earth, and that was where all the abruptly departed souls dwelled as Instrumentality began. And let's not forget Shinji and Asuka. For all the mental battles Shinji had to face, it was unnerving but no less fascinating to watch Shinji react as such, as well as to see whether he would’ve pulled through and made his decisions on his own. Humanity was hanging by a thread, and their longevity rested in Shinji’s hands, so that added to the stakes Shinji endured. And after succumbing to a state of mental recess for the past couple of episodes, watching Asuka rise back to action to take down the Mass-Produced EVAs one by one, despite none of us knowing that they too would’ve risen again, was just incredible to see.
And the animation? Pfft! Knowing that this movie came out in theaters in Japan and had a high enough budget to match, I knew the animation would be amazing. The characters were all animated as nicely as ever, and the environments were as massive and, heck, apocalyptic as they could’ve been. And they were the partial reason why the action scenes were as huge as they were. The upgrade in animation was more noticeable in the character’s movements, but it was primarily apparent in their body language. The EVA robots, armies, inanimate objects, creatures, and spirits were all animated with more fluidity than in the show. The Mass-Produced EVAs were even as massive as they were intimidating. Unlike Units 00-03, where they looked humanoid and were unique in design, these EVAs were slightly humanoid but looked more like beasts than man, they all had wings with which to fly, and they all shared the same design and body structure.
Even in Episode 26’, where Shinji found himself trapped within Instrumentality, all the characters and environments were conveyed with more noticeable craftsmanship, atmosphere, and a moodier tone than I recall from the show. The colors looked nice, the linework was well done, and the fast-paced frame transitions added to its unnerving sensibility. It may have helped what would’ve been otherwise gruesome scenarios at least pass themselves off as bitter eye candy.
Of course, having mentioned the magnification of its animation, I should also point out what being a theatrically released movie of Neon Genesis Evangelion had done: it had permission to go all out there with absolutely zero restrictions in content. So, for example, we see more of the female anatomy from Asuka and Misato, especially Rei; she was primarily nude for most of the movie, nipples and all. And in the battle scenes, whenever someone had been beaten, shot, or ripped apart...man, the wounds and gashes couldn’t have been more graphic. However, I think the gnarliest part occurred during Asuka’s last leg in her battle against the Mass-Produced EVAs. Just when it looked like Asuka was about to reign supreme against them, she was unexpectedly pinned down by an incoming artificial Lance of Longinus, however the hell that came forth. And to add insult to injury, the other equally beaten EVAs, one of which had brains dangling from its head, rose thanks to their artificial S2 engines—that’s another topic entirely—flew up and tore her to kingdom come. Sometimes, the movie can play tricks on you this way. One minute, Asuka plowed her way through the EVAs like Paul Bunyan cuts down trees. And the next thing you know, those EVAs ravaged into Unit-02 like a flock of starving buzzards. And as soon as they finished Unit-02 off...hoo! It was just a mutilated mess.
Do you know what makes this even stranger? It’s not like Game of Thrones, where it generally felt spiteful with its ugliest of surprises. Instead, this movie dished them out to us with more lead-ins to them. It’s almost like it clued us in to what’s about to happen with battles of equal importance that were in the good guys’ favor before the rug was pulled from underneath us.
Shinji’s mental battles within Instrumentality felt very sobering, soul-baring, yet mesmerizing. Because the idea of the Human Instrumentality Project was to merge all the souls on Earth into one cohesive whole, as SEELE intended, it also meant that anyone could’ve peeked into the collective psyches of others. So, Shinji saw what Misato thought, Shinji saw what Asuka saw, the other way around, and so on. Shinji’s whole time in Instrumentality was just a mind trip into the characters’ psyches, as well as his own, as he continually was asked hard-hitting questions about himself, just like in the show’s last two episodes. At one point, Shinji even saw a live-action portion of life in Tokyo, complete with real people, real situations, and some surprisingly good shots of the location. This occurred as Shinji pondered the difference between reality and dreams. As if to support this claim, the actors and actresses who played their characters throughout the show in Japan cameoed as their characters in this segment.
This truly felt like a hardcore cinematic translation of psychosis, especially from Shinji. I’ll always respect the last two episodes for demonstrating it as simplistically as possible. Still, the movie pulled out the big guns on that concept and delivered it here through Shinji’s confrontations of his deepest fears, memories, and desires. And the surreal imagery, frightening as it can be, was still such where it invited you to partake in a mental self-examination of your own. And that’s a sign of a movie or show that works on every level, when it approaches you with so little showing of it and leaving you engaged in questions and life choices that were motivated by images you witnessed from what you watched prior.
But it doesn’t stop there. I’m about to get into massive spoilers here unless you’ve seen the movie, but here goes. Even though Shinji felt that Instrumentality was the place to be regarding freedom from all the pain anyone like him endured on Earth, he rejected it because he thought life without pain had no meaning. Pain, as much as it can hurt, can at least help shape you up into the person you either have become or can become, as Shinji realized. It was as if he asked, “who hasn’t gone through what I’ve been through”? If the pain was still there, he could at least have tried to overcome it, especially if there were others out there who at least cared about him. So, for that reason, he rejected Instrumentality. And not just rejected it but nipped it in the bud just before it reached its completion. And if that’s not enough, because Shinji acknowledged that countless others went through what Shinji did, Shinji gave them all an option. This option was to either remain in Instrumentality, where it’s free of pain and flaws, or return to Earth, where it’s full of pain but also full of possibilities of love and growth, on their own free will.
This led to the final image of the movie and the series. After returning to the decrepit Earth, he laid next to Asuka, who seemingly was the first after Shinji to reject Instrumentality and return to Earth. On the verge of losing his sanity, Shinji strangled Asuka, unsure if he was still fantasizing about things. He also did this because he unleashed all the frustrations he had of her onto her, just like he did earlier within Instrumentality. But then, Asuka rose her arm and stroked his face, calming him down, bringing him back to his senses, and leaving him a sobbing wreck. Then, Asuka quietly said, ambiguously and in her own Asuka-y way, “How disgusting!” And that’s the end.
For years, even before I voluntarily tuned in to the show, I always heard of how the show ended on an Apocalypse. So, I hesitated to watch it because of the trauma I feared to deal with from the sight of the Apocalypse’s fruition and the otherwise engaging characters suddenly dying left and right. But now? Having seen the series and this movie? Even though the Apocalypse did come forth and everyone except Shinji died via bullets or LCL transition, A: it was not what I imagined it would be. And B: what it did end on left me with a greater filling of hope than I ever expected after finishing this show.
For all its sci-fi elements and battles, there’s a solid philosophical element that gave it its brains. For all its lighthearted imagery and soft, crisp colors, it also lunged into the dark depths of depression and what effects that can have on whoever has it and onto others. And underneath the movie’s flashy shell of catastrophe and pessimism lurked a core of optimism that might have bulged underneath the series the whole time. So, I wholeheartedly commend the series for leaving viewers like me with such subtle, poetic, and intellectual empowerment.
And, of course, the show’s quote-on-quote religious themes were still prevalent here, too. Honestly, before I even saw this movie, I decided to prepare myself for it by reading the entire Book of Revelation from the Bible. Why? Because I suspected that that’s what the show’s and movie’s idea of the Apocalypse would have reminded me of. It’s the imminence of the end of the world while also paving the way for a new beginning that spurred the connection for me. And for what the movie came with, it inspired countless discussions and debates about its religious convictions. Whether they’re proven true or not, they tied into the show’s themes of loneliness, depression, and the human condition. Of course, the movie’s idea of the Apocalypse, or, in this case, the Third Impact, looked nothing like the Apocalypse I pictured from the Bible. However, it still gave its own, if also vague, ideas on it in a way that ultimately felt like its own.
And the idea of Shinji and Asuka coming back to Earth after their adventures in Instrumentality? There are two things to note here. One, many people rightly caught parallels between Shinji and Asuka and Adam and Eve. It’s almost like Shinji and Asuka would’ve become the ancestors of the next circle of life the same way Adam and Eve were the ancestors of the first one. And two, Shinji and Asuka returned by emerging from a sea of LCL, which happens to be red. Or, to describe it more obviously, a red sea. So, Shinji invited all of humanity to return to Earth by crossing through the Red Sea, so to speak. This is what I talked about earlier with Neon Genesis Evangelion; the religious imagery added multiple layers to the series, and if not for them, it wouldn’t have benefitted from the numerous interpretations it inspired.
But I believe the movie’s most immense undertaking in its religious views stemmed from the connections between the humans and the Angels. After discovering the real cause of the Second Impact, it was jumpstarted out of a complicated relationship between them that was... Well, as Misato laid it out, something like this.
There were plenty of things from the show that were intriguing and kept me invested but generally felt like they weren’t leading to something earth-shattering. But when Misato’s massive discovery alone was out in the open, suddenly, it all started to add up. I always wondered if the Angels kickstarted the Second Impact, but instead, the humans jumpstarted the Second Impact to hold them off. It also tied into my conclusions with the show when looking closely at its portrayal of Christian themes. I thought it was either a product of Hideako Anno’s imagination, the outcome of cultural barriers, a cautionary demonstration of the fallacies of humanity, or a question as to whether the deities themselves could be as misguided as the humans would’ve.
I also forgot throughout the show that the Angels also shared the same DNA as mankind. As the characters sporadically mentioned it in the show, I kept wondering how either the humans or the angels ever came about and why the Angels, of all things, shared the same DNA. But here, it’s made clear how: the Angels were what humans could’ve become unless they had a choice. In other words, the Angels that I thought would’ve come from elsewhere had inhabited the Earth all along. It was a trippy explanation to the whole ordeal, and it was a clever spin on how many likenesses angels can have with humans, regardless of their forms or even whether they have wings or halos.
And, the EVAs that NERV deployed against the Angels? They were nothing more than deformed humans fighting against other deformed humans. It ultimately tied into one of the most powerful take-home messages of Neon Genesis Evangelion: the biggest, most fearsome enemy humanity can ever face is not outward, from elsewhere, or even unrelated to it, but rather it’s itself.
So, taking Misato’s discoveries of the Second Impact to heart, now it feels like the series is making heavy leanings towards Conclusions #1 and #3, with a little bit of #4 and maybe #2.
But the religious parallels became even more compelling. Gendo wanted to initiate Instrumentality in the hopes of reuniting with his deceased wife, whereas SEELE wished to begin the Third Impact and the Human Instrumentality Project as a means of arranging a more unified consciousness amongst the entire human race, where everyone and anyone can be free of imperfections and be on the path to greater harmony. In a sense, these both were their ideas of reaching, if not inventing, Heaven.
While the result of both their goals, not to mention Shinji’s firsthand decision on the fate of humanity, did lead to the end of the world, it surprisingly demonstrated an apocalypse that guaranteed a new beginning instead of warning us of the calamities that came with it. And, when you look at the root of the word ‘apocalypse,’ that means ‘to uncover something.’ Its portrayal of the Apocalypse may have deviated from general perceptions of it, plus those of the Book of Revelation. But the movie did a sly job of staying true to some of the religious philosophies while feeling unlike anything remotely close to what we generally associate with religious portrayals of morals, ideas, and expressions.
Even Shinji’s ultimate decision on the fate of humanity, despite Shinji leading them to their deaths via LCL, was to give everyone now residing in the Human Instrumentality an option to return to the ordinary world should they desire. One, because Instrumentality shared some vague resemblances to Heaven—possibly—it can be misinterpreted as being invited to leave Heaven. And two, that ties more into the principle of reincarnation, except, in this case, it is to come back as the same person, as Shinji and Asuka both decided to do. If anything, this movie put its own spin on the idea of reincarnation, in and of itself an Eastern/Buddhist philosophy, just like the show did with Abrahamic philosophies up to this point. Regardless of where its true thoughts on such religions lay, rather than glorifying or mocking them, it took their fundamental principles and reinvented them into new, inventive, curious philosophies worth pondering over.
I was also fascinated by its structure. I’ve seen some films that felt like a thinly veiled attempt to start a show by ironing out its more episodic beats to make it work as a film. Just look at some of Disney’s direct-to-video sequels and how they felt more like multiple episodes compiled together to form a pilot movie. Come to think of it, look at the feature-length episodes of Young Indiana Jones and how they generally felt like two otherwise unrelated hour-long episodes stitched together. The End of Evangelion, however? It didn’t bother to attempt to streamline its episodic structures. Instead, it showed its two halves, complete with individual title cards, intermittent title cards, and even ending cards, as if they were each just regular episodes of the TV show. It even used its end credits to separate its two halves as its intermission. This is generally unheard of; you don’t usually see two-hour films, or even animated films, having an intermission to separate their halves. It’s even more bizarre to have the end credits as your intermission. Some movies either kept their credits at the beginning, like from the 1920s to the 1980s, or they had no credits whatsoever. The only other film I can think of that resembled the same uniqueness in artistry and structure was Fantasia. Of course, I like how it never did what it did to stand off from the other films of its genre. Instead, it did so in a way that still tied into the collective experience generally expected from watching Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Like the TV show before it, there’s a lot I picked up from this movie and yet a lot I have yet to grasp about it. It wrapped up the show in the grandest of fashions, the characters were as engaging as ever, complete with being sent off with the right closures, the animation became more massive as well as spellbinding, the action was immeasurable, and the levels of psychosis in this movie were potent, poignant, and haunting. And, in the traditional Evangelion fashion, it spiced up the entire experience, even concerning the end of the world, with religious overtones that are prone to evoke deep discussion on religious or life philosophies. The show was one of the most inventive and immersive shows I’ve ever seen, and this movie uncovered a hidden element of poetry that elevated itself, and probably the show before it, into a state of greater importance than I would’ve evaluated from them. The result is one of the most existential roller coaster rides of either an animated movie or a series finale that I’ve ever seen.
Glory, glory, hallelujah! Because hey, what cartoon of this caliber doesn’t deserve such a compliment?
A low A
You know, it just occurred to me. As everyone on Earth turned into LCL, I’m not talking about just everyone who was still alive. Everyone at NERV who was shot and killed, including Ritsuko and Misato, turned into LCL, too. Which means their souls also ascended into Instrumentality. I started to wonder, if even dead people can turn to LCL, go into Instrumentality, and be given a choice to be reborn on Earth, does that mean it applies to every single human being who lived, died and was buried on Earth for thousands of years? If so, then that makes the goals concerning the Human Instrumentality Project look well-intended but immeasurably flawed and Shinji’s ultimate invitation seem even more heroic.
Just to set the record straight, the way Neon Genesis Evangelion ended with this movie? That was never done in response to the outcries and vehement desmands the fans made to Hideaki Anno. It turns out this ending was what Hideako Anno planned to end the show on if it weren't for his and Gainax's budget cuts. It's pretty much a blessing that the proposed ending was held off for a bit because of that. It's especially fortunate that the show got its fans invested enough to warrant for a more proper ending that happened to match the artist's intended vision.