REVIEW: The End of Evangelion (Evangelion)
I’ve decided that The End of Evangelion is something so heinous, so difficult and so absolutely brilliant, it will take two articles to cover. Well, not take two articles to cover, but I’m gonna do two articles on it anyway. One of them–this one–is going to be a review of it as two separate episodes of the television series Neon Genesis Evangelion in the format of the episode reviews I’ve done thus far. Hence the spoiler-filler. The other is going to be a spoiler-free review of End of Eva as a movie. Hoo boy, this is not gonna be happy.
Love is destructive.:
Remember last week? That was the metaphorical representation of the physical realization of the end of this series. End of Evangelion is the literal, physical happening of the end of the series. And it starts with a fourteen year old boy masturbating himself to climax over the comatose body of his best friend.
I wish I wasn’t telling the truth. Because the truth is that by now, Shinji Ikari, the shy boy we met a year ago, has been through such deep and lasting psychological trauma that he is entirely and fundamentally broken. Asuka Langley Soryu, his best friend, has been on a downward spiral of depression and self-hatred and is now in a coma. Rei Ayanami has died and been replaced with a third Rei. All of the other clones have been destroyed. Ironically, this has freed Rei to do what she wants for the first time.
NERV is under attack by the JSSDF (good question). All of the Angels have been defeated since Shinji killed Kaworu, which he’s still feeling broken up about. It’s revealed in a needless expositional sequence that humankind are the eighteenth Angel. Kind of a long way to go for the metaphorical lesson, but I still approve. The jigsaw puzzle’s pieces are flying all around and no one can tell who or what are working for whom. Then, after being bombed to hell and having to kill dozens of soldiers, it gets worse.
Asuka. I… yeah. I love this girl. And this movie indeed holds her finest hour, when she kills nine pilotless Evangelion in three and a half minutes. With the help of the only motherly part of her mother’s soul, entombed in Unit-02, which explains why her mom went insane if you piece it together. Her synch ratio goes so high that she just has to move her body and Unit-02 does it. That also works in reverse. She… her arm is destroyed, her eye is reduced to spurting blood in a socket and she has to feel being devoured alive by nine Evangelion. They got better, you see.
So much of this episode is pain and suffering. Particularly affecting is the moment when Misato’s been shot and knows that it’s her last time seeing Shinji before he has to save the world or die. She finally tries to slap some sense into Shinji. And then, because she can’t relate to him as a mother figure, she tries to do it as a woman. In the elevator, after she’s out of his sight, Shinji tastes the blood in his mouth from their first and final kiss. Absolute wrong thing to do there, sending Shinji further into paralyzed fear and self-hatred. Sorry, Misato–I don’t think that boy is gonna come back for the sex you promised him when you were about to die.
Ritsuko, Misato, Asuka… dead. Gendo shot Ritsuko underground. Asuka’s been stabbed beyond death. Misato’s been blown up. The Japanese title for episode 25 in the series? A World That’s Ending. Roll credits.
Fourth arc, take two, overall: FOUR STARS. Awesome.
ONE MORE FINAL: I need you.:
Shinji has finally snapped, and the moment he does is the moment when Gendo attempts to merge Adam (the first Angel in his right hand) and Lillith (whose soul is in Rei) to initiate Instrumentality to meet his dead wife again. Seele’s Evas crucify Shinji in Unit-01 to initiate Third Impact. And this is where this series starts to get… a little weird.
Have I mentioned that Gendo and Rei have been hanging out in the basement this whole time? And that Rei’s naked? And that Gendo merges Adam with Lillith by putting his hand through Rei’s chest into her heart? Rei, for the first time in the series, refuses to do as Gendo orders her and goes to Shinji. Except she merges with Lillith first, becoming… you’re all fans right? The Giant Naked Rei. Rei is now taller than any mountain on Earth, and completely naked. And trying to comfort Shinji, the one person she loves in the world. But she’s half his mom. So that’s kinda gross.
And then, as the bridge bunnies and Fuyutsuki are pondering whether what they’re doing is right, it gets… a little weirder.
You remember my recaps of the last two episodes of the television series, right? Well, those weren’t a lie. The entirety of those two episodes is metaphorical. They present the process of Instrumentality from the mind of one person–Shinji Ikari. Instrumentality is the process by which we all lose our ego barriers and become one with each other. … LITERALLY. We all become LCL and merge with each other. This is not as frightening as what happens to our minds. And the last two episodes presented that process from beginning to end for Shinji Ikari. As this is a vital part of the plot, it all happens again here with fresh animation and five times the despair.
This is the sequence that really earns Eva as a whole its legendary status. When Shinji tells Rei, the personification of hope and comfort in his life, that no one in the world loves him and that therefore, they can all just die, you don’t hear it. You feel it, deep in your stomach. And with that judgment comes the most horrific death of all for everyone in the world: you see the person you love the most in the world one last time, feel the warmth of their embrace and explode.
And then it keeps going. I point to episode 20 when I say that you can get back out of Instrumentality. I’ll leave the rest of Shinji’s individual process and advise you to re-read 25 & 26 to know how it feels. But this is pure emotion, and it’s magical.
However, finally, two people have made it out alive from Instrumentality and are lying on the beach of the ended world. He turns to her, rolls over on top of her and begins to choke her, crying. She awakes to gently touch his face, lovingly and with understanding. He breaks down again. And Asuka’s last words to Shinji end the series.
“I feel disgusting.”