If you ask any seasoned anime enthusiast the question, “what is your favorite anime of all time?” Probably the answer that you might hear quite a bit is Neon Genesis Evangelion, and for a good reason. Even though this show masquerades itself as any other typical anime drama with giant-robots fighting otherworldly creatures to save the planet from dire calamity, it’s a lot more than what it presents itself to be. This series centers around Shinji Ikari and his internal search for self-acceptance, validation, and meaning in his troubled life. This show explored a concept known as, the Hedgehog’s Dilemma. This is an idea that some individuals want to form close and genuine bonds with other people in their lives, but they’re afraid that they will end up hurting each other emotionally if they get too close and intimate, so they keep each other at a distance. It’s not just Shinji going through vast turmoil and anxiety, most of the other characters in the Evangelion universe are also psychologically damaged in their own unique ways, and also in search of contentment and reasons for living.
Unbirthday. The End of Evangelion (1997). Digital image. Taringa. Wiroos, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.
One thing to keep in mind about End of Evangelion, is that this movie came to fruition because of the (mostly) negative reception that the last two episodes received when it first aired. If you ask me, I was honestly fine with how it ended, since it allegorically shows Shinji finally coming to grips with who he is as a person, realizing his self-worth as an individual, and not being afraid to open himself up to others. With that being said, I can understand why a lot of the fans might have been frustrated or confused with how the show ended. Leading up to the conclusion of Neon Genesis Evangelion, it becomes glaringly clear to the audience that Gainax was working on a shoe-string budget and had to cut corners with the animation quality; they even resorted to crayons and minimalistic line art at some points. These budget constraints possibly might have caused some compromises to the conclusion.
Another gripe people had with the last two episodes was that it didn’t really clearly explain what happened to the Angels, Evangelion robots, and everyone else within the convoluted narrative. It all appeared to take place within the inner machinations of Shinji’s fragmented mind, at least that’s what I think. In other words, End of Evangelion serves as an alternate ending to the original show. So, if you haven’t seen Neon Genesis Evangelion yet, I strongly urge you to stop reading this review for now, and come back after watching it since none of what I’m about to say will make any sense. In addition, I’ll also potentially be delving into spoiler territory. You’ve been warned.
End of Evangelion takes place somewhere after episode 24 in NGE. Another Angel (I’ve forgotten which one) that has been wreaking enormous havoc in Japan has been eradicated and taken care of, but most of the Eva pilots are now physically incapacitated and emotionally distraught. The conglomerates that were once backing NERV, decides to cut their ties with them, and wipe away any clues of their existence. What arises from this is an hour and 30 minutes of gripping, unrelenting, and horrific acts of bloodshed.
BLEEPS FROM OUTER SPACE. End of Evangelion. Digital image. Tumblr. Anicastes, 7 Dec. 2013. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.
The first part of this movie carries itself with intensely enthralling action, and is teeming with a dizzying degree of gratuitous violence. There is so much going on that is encapsulated within a fairly short time frame, that I felt overwhelmed at some moments; I’d describe this feeling as sensory overload. But it’s the second part of the movie that truly leaves a long-lasting impression. This half of End of Evangelion is filled with prominent symbolism. Kafkaesque, macabre, and religious imagery saturates the screen and will leave you perplexed and at a loss for words. Through the god-like powers of Instrumentality, Shinji is given the harrowing choice of either permanently destroying the world and all who inhabit it, or create a world where some others get to live and keep their sense of individuality, but will still be able to inflict mental pain and anguish towards him. In the end, he decides to reject Instrumentality after some careful deliberation so he can savor the beauty and gratification that comes with establishing human connection with others and waking up alive everyday. Whether you consider this a good, bad, or bittersweet consummation is entirely up for debate and a matter of opinion.
“Anywhere can be paradise as long as you have the will to live. After all, you are alive, so you will always have the chance to be happy. As long as the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth exist, everything will be all right.”
― Yui Ikari
As for the animation, I think this is hands down one of the best animated features you will ever watch in cinema. The only notable works within the anime genre that rivals this movie in my opinion is Akira, films by Studio Ghibli (of course), and Cowboy Bebop. Even though it came out back in 1997, I think End of Evangelion has aged incredibly well, and can go toe-to-toe with all of the best present-day anime being produced and churned out in recent years. The animation quality is crisp and incredibly fluid, and it also utilizes very unique lighting and camera work that heightens the ambience of each scene, and truly personifies the craft and ingenuity of animation as a true work of art.
Ando, Hideaki, and Kazuya Tsurumaki. The End of Evangelion. Digital image. Mubi. Mubi, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.
To conclude, End of Evangelion is a marvelous and thought-provoking finale to an excellent series. If you were disappointed with how things were wrapped up in the TV show, End of Evangelion is an anime movie that shouldn’t be missed under any given circumstances since it shows Hideaki Anno’s original and unrestricted vision of how it all played out in the grand scheme of things. It is not only visually captivating, it’s also a great achievement in the realm of storytelling since it really tackles and delves into hard philosophical and moral questions that most films would either beat around the bush or instantly shy away from.
Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear your overall thoughts on Evangelion as a whole since this anime is incredibly divisive with a wide array of differing opinions. And are you team Rei or team Asuka? I hope you have a great day, fellow inklings. Stay fresh!