End of Evangelion (15)
The highly controversial 'end of evangelion', where Hideako Anno completed his near legendary anime series about bio-mechanical stomping robots and their highly neurotic teen pilots is one of the great debated endings of all anime series. The Angels are defeated, but NERV, the organisaiton that uses the Evangelions, is under attack from the rest of the world. The apocalypse is nigh, and the secret society SEELE is ready for the world to cease to exist. The third impact, the legendary apocalypse that the cast have been hugely afraid of through the entire series, is about to occur. This really is the end. To say it got a mixed reception is an understatement; half of the people who saw it didn't understand it at all, feeling that it went quite supremely up its own backside. The other half thought it had huge art-house value, and sensibly ended the series on a down note.
So which is it?
Its a bloody mess. Sorry, but to be blunt…this feature length season finale is a complete mess. It has a few strong moments emotionally, which really rip at the heart, and also one extremely stirring action sequence that shows Asuka going psychotic in Eva Unit 02 in a moment of love for her long dead mummy. Its a stunning, bloody and explosive sequence. Such a shame that pretty much everything else is a bit of a shambles. I will try and classify its precise problems, since I have tried in the past to sum up in one go what is wrong with EOE, but its problems are multi-faceted.
1) Ideology: A tip, Hideako-san. Complex religious allegories are NOT good plot points – the Wachowski brothers should really have seen this to realise how much of a truth this is. Gnostic Christianity can be obscure at the best of times, and the themes it tries to convolutedly work into an already confusing plot just makes the whole thing a nightmare to comprehend.
2) The death and angst: A 26 episode series that ends with all of its principal characters dead bar one doesn't half make the preceding 25 episodes feel completely pointless. Especially since the various deaths just seem to happen for the sake of 'we need 'em dead' rather than for any logical reason. They just…die. It didn't have to be a happy ending, but a bit more character closure instead of an almost insane (i.e verging on the ridiculous) level of angst would have been nice. I'm also at a loss to explain Shinji's issues, but I don't think 'Oedipal' covers it. The attempt to wrap up all of the series loose ends when they had only been touched on loosely had been made before – the web becomes more tangled than a blind grandmother's knitting pattern. Exemplum: Shinji hates his dad, who hates his son because he loves/hates his wife who loved her son and loved her husband but was hated by Ritsuko because she was clever and her clone was too, her clone being Rei who is loved by Shinji's dad who doesn't love Ritsuko who thought she loved him. And I haven't even touched on Asuka, Miato and Koji's role in this. Did you follow any of that?
3) The second half: Nearly 30–40 minutes of the film is basically a huge acid trip. I had had a spaghetti bolognese the night I first watched it, and was wondering if some sort of hallucinogen had worked its way into my meal such was the Shroom-tastic closing 40 minutes of EOE. The narrative, hardly cohesive at the best of times, at this point completely gives up all together and goes down the pub. Something to do with Shinji choosing whether to live in this world or an idealised world thanks to the world being reborn after Eva Unit 02 was crucified (honestly, this is true). I found it distinctly hard to pick out individual stories…or, come to think of it, any story at all.
4) Shinji's hand shandy: In Death and Rebirth (or the greatest hits of Evangelion, as I like to call it) towards the end we witness Shinji masturbate over the unconscious form of Asuka, who does seem to have unusually large breasts for a girl her age, but hey, its anime. The fact that this scene, which is physically painful enough to watch thanks to both the sound of Shinji grunting over the shot of an 'engaged' lock on the surgery room door, and is followed up by a shot of his semen spread all over his hand appears AGAIN in EoE beggars belief. No, I don't want to watch Shinji have a wank again. Does it have some sort of religious symbolism? The symbolism could be that it is grossing out the viewers by making them watch our hardly mature looking hero ejaculating over his own hand. Just…no. It looks bad enough when pornstars do it, so seeing it in this form makes it that much worse. The low point of the film.
I think I've covered it. The film just isn't good. Evangelion's end could have been SO cool. What we got was this. Shame.