“Tell Me? Have we done the right thing?” “How the hell should I know?”
– Maya Ibuki and Shigeru Aoba “End of Evangelion”
“The End of Evangelion” is designed to be the de-facto ending to the “Neon Genesis Evangelion” series. After receiving numerous death threats and having Gainax Studios vandalized after the ending of the original series, series director Hideaki Anno decided to go back to the drawing board and create a new, undeniably final ending to his creation. Mission accomplished. For better or worse, this is the ending that “Evangelion” deserved; final enough that there’s no chance for a sequel, but still slightly vague enough that it keeps you guessing. How did it pull that off? Was it the way the story was laid out for the viewer? Was it the way the individual characters met their respective endings…or beginnings? Was it the always changing animation styles and colors? Or was it the emotional performances brought about by actors on both sides of the Pacific? Lets dive into it and find out.
Who This Movie Is For – “The End of Evangelion” is the movie for you if you were not satisfied with how the series ended. Trust me when I say that this movie brings 99.98% resolution and closure. This movie is also for you if you are fans of Asuka and Misato as each of these characters are given stellar moments to shine throughout the movie. This movie is for you if you enjoyed the acting of the Japanese and English voice actors/actresses as both put on amazing performances.
Who This Movie Is NOT For – If you have any kind of issue with religious imagery, then “End of Evangelion” is not for you. Among other things, this movie features Evangelion Unit-01 being crucified complete with stigmata. I also recommend you avoid “End of Evangelion” if you have any issues with sexuality or nudity. It’s pretty paramount in this movie, but it’s not for arousal purposes. This movie is not for you if you have an issue with violence. The first half of the movie is pretty much blood and gore both within and outside NERV headquarters. “End of Evangelion” might not be for you if you have any kind of issue with profanity as this movie drops two “F-Bombs”, although, given the situation in which they’re used, it’s well warranted, and the remainder of the movie is “G – Rated” with regards to language [if not anything else…]. Finally, “End of Evangelion” might not be for you if you were satisfied with how the original series ended as this is a complete one-eighty from the original congratulatory conclusion.
Story and Premise – “The End of Evangelion” is designed to pick up immediately after the events of episode twenty-four of the series; Kaworu is dead at the hands of Shinji in Unit-01, most, if not all of Tokyo-3 is in ruins, Asuka is in the hospital in a catatonic state, Shinji is in complete withdrawal mode, Rei is off getting her hair and nails done for Third Impact [Kidding…] and Misato is coming to the full realization on what really happened during Second Impact and what SEELE’S plans are for NERV, the Evangelions and Lilith [that big thing on the red cross in Terminal Dogma…]. From this point, the movie shifts into a high gear as SEELE, realizing that Gendo has his own agenda, begins staging an assault on NERV HQ. “End of Evangelion” is a story telling roller coaster; it starts with a slow ascent, the tension mounts, and then all of a sudden, you’re flung downwards at a hundred miles per hour and taken through so many twists and turns it’s easy to lose your way. And then, just when you think it’s over…it starts getting trippy. It starts getting in your mind…it plays at your emotions like a piano, it picks at your brain like a dental instrument. And before you know it, before you think you can’t take any more…it’s over. (25/25).
Characters – The first half of the movie is pretty much a final curtain call for 99% of our characters with the second half being devoted almost exclusively to Shinji and his mental trip. I love the fact that everyone gets a chance to shine [albeit briefly] this time around. We see Asuka in fighting form one more time, we see the all-business side of Misato, even the bridge technicians, Maya, Hyuga and Aoba, get fleshed out more as characters, and we actually see things from their point of view. On the flip side, we see Gendo and Ritsuko at their lowest: Ritsuko still suffering as the scorned woman, and Gendo with his obsessive desire to seeing his late wife again at any cost. In hindsight it almost seems appropriate that these two characters meet for one final confrontation. With regards to Shinji…well…some things never change. If you thought Shinji was whiny before, then you’re gonna think he’s even more so now, and even through the ending, we see that nothing has changed. One thing that I liked about the original series ending was the fact that Shinji changed a little. We saw him come to the realization that he can love himself and we’re given hope that maybe he is a changed person for his experiences. “End of Evangelion” offers no such hope and we’re left with the same Shinji we started out with. (22/25)
Animation and Music – Much like the story, the animation is a blur of colors and shapes; sometimes blindingly bright, sometimes inky black. This is not the movie for you if you hate the color red, because it’s EVERYWHERE. What really catches your eye though is the places where they DIDN’T use animation. There are several parts during the movie where we see live action shots of areas around Japan, and even inside a movie theatre looking out at the audience from the perspective of the movie screen. It’s a little jarring, but on a weird level, it works, and works beautifully. With regards to music, “End of Evangelion” follows the tradition of using classical music in the most beautifully unusual ways such as Johann Sebastian Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major during Asukas epic battle against the Eva Series Units. By far, the most intriguing song used was “Komm, süsser Tod” [“Come, Sweet Death” in German] played during the climax of Third Impact. With its happy beat and anything but happy lyrics, it strikes the appropriate tone for the scene it’s used in as does all the other incidental pieces used throughout. (25/25)
Performances – If there is an award for best actor and best actress in a vocal role, I would be quick to nominate Spike Spencer and
Allison Keith-Shipp, hands down. While all the other characters did an excellent job in their respective roles, these two actors went
above and beyond the call of duty. Spike’s portrayal of Shinji in this film has got to be the best work he’s done before or since. He managed to capture and maintain Shinji’s self-loathing tone and maintain it throughout the movie. Also, the scream he gives just before the end of the first half is epic and matched only by the original voice actress Megumi Ogata. With regards to Allison Keith-Shipp…her acting in this really made Misato jump off the screen. She took that character to a whole nother level, which made it a joy to listen to. What wasn’t a joy to listen to was the little creative liberties taken by ADR Director Amanda Winn-Lee which I discussed in the angry letter the other day. This project would’ve been SO much better had some of those liberties not been taken, and it’s a shame because she is such an excellent director who was able to get magnificent performances out of all the actors. (21/25)
Story and Premise – 25 out of 25
Characters – 22 out of 25
Animation and Music – 25 out of 25
Performances – 21 out of 25
Final Grade: 93/100 = 93% (A)
Availability – Like “Death and Rebirth”, “End of Evangelion” is currently out of print by Manga Entertainment. Again, your best bet would be to check retailers that have a used DVD collection like FYE. Online retailers like Amazon and eBay are sure to have copies both new and used and for a low price depending on condition. There was also a special edition version that bundles both “End of Evangelion” and “Death and Rebirth” together, but you’ll be hard pressed to find that anywhere, save for online sources, and even if you do, prices could vary.
Lagniappe (A Little Something Extra)
- “The End of Evangelion” is actually two oversized episodes mashed together into one movie. Each “episode” has its own name. The first half of the movie, “episode” twenty-five is called “Love is Destructive” or “Air” and the second half, “episode” twenty-six, is “ONE MORE FINAL: I need you” or “My Purest Heart for You”.
- The information on Misato’s computer screen when she is hacking the system for info is actually a write-up about the history of Studio Gainax. The text mentions “Fushigi no Umi no Nadia” and “Otaku no Video”; both Studio Gainax productions. [What makes this even funnier is the fact that Misato says “So, that’s what really happened during Second Imact”…guess Jean’s inventions went a little too far…]
- During the initial invasion of NERV HQ, we learn that there are five other MAGI systems in operation; one located in Massachusetts, another in Beijing, two in Germany, and one in Matsushiro.
- Ritsuko, once again, finds herself working in MAGI CASPER, which represents her mother as a woman. This is also the MAGI that blocks her attempt to self destruct the system. [Mommy dearest anyone?]
- Immediately before the second half of the movie, there is a dedication from Hideaki Anno in which he expresses “heartfelt gratitude” to, among others, “the five women who helped bring this picture to its completion”. One could speculate that the five women were the voice actresses for Shinji, Asuka, Rei, Misato and Ritsuko as they were the five females predominately featured in the movie.
- In the scene after Shinji is seen strangling Asuka, [after the crayon drawings] there is a quick flash of Kanji against a black background. These are the twenty-six episode title cards from the original TV series. Also included is the title cards for “Death and Rebirth” and “End of Evangelion”.
- In the original Japanese, before transitioning to LCL, Maya calls Ritsuko “Sempai” instead of her first name as was recorded in English.
- After being chomped on by the apparition of a demonic Evangelion Unit-01, there is a shot of Gendo’s glasses on the ground. To the left and back is the remains of Gendo from the chest down. [I wonder how Gendo tastes? Maybe like jerky?]
- In the movie, we see three women standing in a crowd with their backs towards the camera in cosplay. It is reported that these three women are the voice actresses for Misato, Asuka and Rei.
- Immediately after Rei delivers her line that reality is at the end of your dreams, several pictures flash on-screen. These are various letters and screenshots of fan complaints and compliments regarding the series, and “Death and Rebirth”. Also included is a picture of the front of Studio Gainax after being vandalized by disgruntled fans.
- Although the DVD for “End of Evangelion” appears to be double-sided like the “Death and Rebirth” DVD, this is not the case. Playing the DVD wrong-side down will generate an error.