THE END OF EVANGELION: THE NEON GENESIS EVANGELION MOVIE (1997)
“Reality can be painful. But, it’s something you have to accept.”
In general, I find that anime movies made from series tend to be weak, because they reset most of the character development, However, in this case, at least it progresses the story, and gets rid of the final villains…it takes the form of 4 episodes, effectively becoming extensions to a series that could’ve ended 10 years earlier, no muss no fuss. But, the villains are using EVAs to back Angels to restart mankind. Plus, at least Shinji has Asuka’s death to push him back into doubt. It makes sense, but is no less annoying. Kitsuragi and the rest of NERV fend off the terrorists, but still Shinji won’t pilot the EVA, and needs a pep talk.
I wouldn’t think that Shinji would have a choice. But, here’s where things get a little crazy. Kitsuragi gets shot and dies in front of Pen-Pen, the lovable cyber penguin, just after she gives her talk. And it turns out Asuka wasn’t dead, and that she was being visited by the spirit of her dead (German, remember!) mother which activates her EVA. She fights the rest of the EVAs alone while Bach plays in the background. It is glorious, and the best scene in the movie…not only because it’s the only straightforward action scene, but because it’s Asuka!
Shinji’s father reveals that he was working with the Angels, and Rei (The 3rd pilot, remember!) tells him she won’t participate, but nonetheless she ascends a staircase to this weird looking giant Robojesus on a cross and becomes a giant spirit, an angel herself. Here’s where it gets weird. Rei approaches Shinji and asks if he wants to restart the Earth, and becomes blended physically to Shinji. The rest of the movie is Shinji reasserting his individuality.
So, it turns out that Shinji/Rei did destroy the Earth, but by choosing to be an individual…he saved it. Or re-created it? Is it recreated just how he remembers it? Does everyone continue on like before? What just happened? Doesn’t that invalidate the entire movie? So many plotholes to restarting timelines…wouldn’t Asuka still be dying in a hospital?
Overall, I liked this movie, but only because I get to see those characters from Neon Genesis Evangelion again. Though two out of three characters are in their worst philosophical forms. A siege is no time for philosophy. I mean, Evangelion had comedic moments, but is mostly action. But, you wouldn’t know it from this movie. I gotta give them credit though. One of the show’s main supporters, Sega, was on the brink of oblivion at the time. By 2001, they’d cease to develop hardware.
Hey, I’m always up for some philosophy…it just happens in awkward places throughout the episodes. The siege of NERV; Rei becoming an Angel; right before Shinji needs to defeat the last Angel, Asuka! Some of the manipulation of Christian imagery is nice, as well as German classical music during Asuka’s battle scenes. And yet, the message is slightly contradictory and detracts from the mind-blowing revelations of the series. Face reality…from a giant robot! On second thought…never change, Evangelion! 3 out of 5 stars for this one, despite a rocky start and tragic ending. Oh, and feel free to discuss the ending in the comments!