Anime Reviews: The End of Evangelion
When fans clamored for a new ending to the Evangelion series, they should have been more careful with what they wished for.
Title: Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion a.k.a. The End of Evangelion a.k.a. Shin Seiki Evangelion: Air/Magokoro wo, Kimi ni
Production: GAINAX / Production I.G
Film Length: 87 minutes
Air Dates: 7/19/1997
Age Rating: 17+ (strong violence, mild language, strong suggestive content in really weird contexts)
Summary: With the final Angel defeated, NERV is ready to initiate the Human Instrumentality Project, which would unite all of humanity with Lilith and bring about the Third Impact, just as the members of Seele planned. However, Gendou has his own ideas, and when he begins to act on his own, Seele initiate a hostile takeover of NERV's Magi computer system. This plan doesn't work, and so Seele decide to take a more direct approach: Storm NERV Headquarters and kill everyone involved with the Eva project. This wouldn't be much of an issue, except for the fact that Rei's gone missing, Asuka has been comatose ever since her last battle, and Shinji is in a catatonic state due to Kaworu's death. Unless Gendou, Ritsuko, and the control bridge can pull off a miracle, NERV and the entire world are finished.
The Good: Spectacular visuals, action, music, and voice acting
The Bad: This film basically serves as a giant middle finger to the fanbase
The Ugly: Some of the imagery will keep you awake at night
And so, it begins. Or rather, began. A great prophet once said that, when the last episode of Evangelion finishes airing, there shall be a great cry in all of Japan such as never has been nor ever will be again! This is a totally true story, and just as the guy whose name and identity I will not reveal said, the backlash following the series finale was something of Biblical proportions. Anno Hideaki, being the smart guy he was, came forward and announced that, because there was just so much animosity towards the TV ending (which was a labor of love), they were going to produce a film that would retell the end of Evangelion and make things more clear, and it would be called (what else?) The End of Evangelion. But as fate would have it, Hideaki was just being a smartass.
Of course, The End of Evangelion solves all the problems with the original TV ending, right? Well, no, it really doesn't, but let's have a look anyway, shall we? First, we'll line up some of the common (and some I just plain made up) complaints regarding Evangelion's last few episodes and then analyze how those issues were addressed!
Complaint #1: "The last two episodes were so low-budget that it's pathetic! There was no animation at all!"
- Well, I'm glad you brought this up. You see, in The End of Evangelion, GAINAX was granted a large budget, and they decided to put it to good use! The visuals are slick, smooth, and detailed, providing a stark contrast to the washed-out and motionless final episodes of the TV series. On that note, this film was a huge success in that regard!
Complaint #2: "There was very little action in the TV ending! It was all still shots and psychological mumbo-jumbo!"
- Right you are! But never fear--there is a plethora of action in this film, as Seele sends the military into NERV HQ and sieges the building and the crew must fight back, and the mass-produced Eva units Seele has been pumping out do battle with Asuka! The action is fast, brutal, and above all, satisfying. You're in for an entirely different experience!
Complaint #3: "Those last few episodes didn't have very interesting music. It was all public domain stuff and washed-out orchestral tunes. Also, the voice acting sounded rushed!"
- Yes, yes, of course. It's hard to engage yourself with the situation if the audio's all wrong, isn't it? Well, those problems, too, have been addressed in The End of Evangelion. With a new and bombastic soundtrack, the action intensifies as the drama enthralls! The theme song of the film, "Komm, Susser Tod," is also spectacular. The voice actors also step up their game, delivering some of their best performances to date. Am I talking about the Japanese or English version, you ask? Why can't it be both?
Complaint #4: "The TV ending was very confusing and offered no real closure to the story. I want to know what happens to everyone, in a coherent manner!"
- I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of the money waterfall that GAINAX accumulated from all this money you shelled out for tickets to see this movie!
And that, right there, really sums up where this movie went wrong. The End of Evangelion was the end result of Anno Hideaki, who was brushing elbows with insanity at the time, wanting to slap the fanbase in the face for the sheer amount of bile and vitriol that was sent his way due to the TV series' ending. They may not have gotten the series to end exactly the way they wanted it due to the budget problems and the imminent cancellation, but dammit, they got as close to their original intent as humanly possible. The fan reaction pushed Hideaki over the edge, so to speak, and he wanted to give those who disliked the original ending the biggest middle finger he could possibly muster.
The result: The End of Evangelion, where Evangelions are disemboweled by birdy robots, giant naked Reis litter the sky, Shinji whacks off on a lifeless girl's body, and everyone melts into a worldwide ocean of orange Tang! Thanks for playing, folks! Next time, appreciate the ending they give you.
So then, where do we stand? The movie is excellent in all of its technical aspects, and it does answer a few questions, but its intent as a sucker punch to the fans makes it difficult to be objective in regards to the story and characters. Were the characters acting like they usually would, or were the writers screwing with us? Is the convoluted story meant to be ambiguous, or does it mean anything at all? I suppose that, if you want to accept this film as being canon or not, it's all up to you in the end. As for me, I was kinda miffed. I got a finger for you, too, Hideaki.
Final Score: 5.5 out of 10. Though The End of Evangelion is a very well-made film with some memorable action sequences and imagery, it inevitably suffers from being the product of a director's frustration towards disgruntled fans.