Often I avoid discussing a lot of popular works, because they’ve been explored so much by so many others for such a long time that I don’t feel like I’d have anything to contribute to the discussion. Neon Genesis Evangelion is one such example, but more specifically I’m here to unravel the experience I had watching it’s conclusion: End of Evangelion. Perhaps I’m not as intimate with this series as many others seem to be, but I do find it both very fascinating and incredibly frightening to watch and talk about. So, I’m going to assume you’ve watched both and in reading this, already have a greater understanding of them than I do. If not, spoilers.
Even from a glance I can tell this movie alone is dripping with symbolism and oozing in its pathos of its characters. Known for its religious symbolism and psychologically (as well as emotionally) damaged characters, the movie decidedly opts for an apocalyptic ending that’s brewing with horrifying imagery left and right. I cannot even begin to describe how visceral and unpleasant a lot of the violent and gory scenes are, let alone how painful it is to see these characters express genuine human emotion as if they’re real people afraid for their lives. It may be animated, but damn does it do a tremendous job making everything feel real.
Speaking of animation, the choreography and hot-blooded action sequences with Asuka in her Eva are both awesome and terrifying at the same time. She’s gone berserk and isn’t holding back her attacks here. Doesn’t seem to matter to her or cross her mind at all that while her main targets are other Evas, she is killing humans as collateral in the process, yet remains unfazed. Understandably, she has been through quite the ordeal, and clearly has a lot of pent-up aggression, but here she is such a force to be reckoned with, even I’m a bit shaken by her. And I have a feeling I’ll be seeing her in my nightmares someday… Or not, considering how she gets utterly destroyed by the Spears of Longinus (ouch), screaming her head off as she endures the excruciating pain in her eye. My sympathy jumped through the roof and soared into the sky from where it could look down on her and feel sorrow for her misery here. Bad enough she gets impaled in the eye, she then has the even more gruesome and hard to stomach experience of being eaten alive by the other Evas. Poor Asuka. I’m so sorry.
Misato, bless her heart, is devastatingly strong in this movie. She holds it together while trying to keep Shinji together, and I’m sure if I’d watched this when I was Shinji’s age I’d have fallen in love with her. However, my experience is different in that Misato is more relatable than anything, except when she’s being a badass saving Shinji and taking gunshots. Her speech to Shinji is direct and true to the human condition, and makes her all the more endearing (I have a feeling I’ll only grow to like her more and more as time goes on). Though, her parting words “If I’d known it would have ended up like, I would have changed the carpet like Asuka suggested.” are a little cryptic to me. My instinct tells me it’s Misato humorizing her dying moments, but could easily be a notable scene from the series that escapes any relevance to me.
Shinji survives, and Misato dies. The world is cruel indeed. But I don’t hate Shinji, and yes I can relate to him, even if the more potent side of that relatability is of the retroactive kind, I’m still able to understand and sort of identify with him. I hate ambiguity too, Shinji. It’s really frustrating, isn’t it? However, Misato died saving you, and I’m really trying not to play the blame game here or anything, but you’re making it really hard when you’re subsequent action leads to the extinction of all humanity except you and Asuka. Just shoot the bullet that pierced Misato at me, why don’t you? Sorry, Shinji. I know you have it rough too.
At least Gendo got what he wanted. He finally became reunited with Yui, and let out an excellent last few words of explanation and apology regarding how he (mis)treated Shinji, lamenting that it might’ve been better for him to have continued ignoring his son instead of dragging him into even more pain alongside him. Oh, and around the time this conversation is happening, everyone is experiencing Rei hallucinations where they see the person they love the most right before they become liquified. Absolutely brutal, but it’s done so beautifully that it’s hard not to applaud the lengths gone to make this movie as horrifying as possible. Have I mentioned the screaming? Because there’s a LOT of it, and it’s also frightfully well-performed.
Do I even need to go into detail on what happens when Shinji’s Eva gets hijacked by all the other Evas and Rei? Because I’m still trying to wrap my head around all the visuals and symbolism those scenes (might) entail. It’s truly a mind-bending experience. Which given how Shinji is presented to be feeling, strangely feels like the appropriate reaction. Honestly, I can’t even begin to describe what’s going on here, but it’s some eerie, unforgettable shit. And the final scene with the head in the sea of blood and Shinji choking Asuka is going to be hauntingly memorable as well, I imagine.
Can’t wait to rewatch it all again!