Welcome to part three of my deconstructing piece on Evanglion. I ended part two which you can read here http://chaoticdemon9809.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/deconstructing-the-masterpiece-that-is-evangelion-part-two-2/discussing how viewers were going to be given a second chance at having that satisfying conclusion.
Enter “The End of Evangelion”; a movie which give us an alternate ending to episode 25 and 26 of the television series. Alternate ending is probably not the best word to use here as the word implies that it is not canon, but I would not know what other word to use due to the ambiguous nature of the film. The film can be seen as the true ending to the series serving as the controversial series conclusion’s replacement or it can be seen as complementing it depending on how you analyze it. As if there was not enough of that going around in this series. Regardless of whether you think the End of Evangelion is the definitive ending or not, it is a masterpiece of the highest order achieving where few pieces of visual media have ever done and taking the series to an even higher echelon of greatness.
These are quite the bold statements but I completely stand by them. The End of Evangelion showed exactly what the series was capable of being. The film pushed the envelope further by bumping up the series to an R rating which allowed it to explore the series more mature and dark themes without the restrictions that a lighter rating would have imposed. One of the more impacting scenes occurs in the very beginning of the film where Shinji is trying to find comfort in a comatose Asuka because everyone else has either abandoned him or he is afraid to confront them. Asuka’s breast becomes expose as Shinji tries to wake her and he masturbates to the site of this to which he replies that he is fucked up. A scene like this could not be possible with the television series and yet it feels very much like Evangelion.
Some of the questions that we were dying to have answered from the series is finally addressed and there is finally a plot that is actually concluded. With the defeat of the final angel, Seele reveals their true intention by planning to start the end of the world through the hijacking of the evangelions. Shinji’s eva specifically holds the key to human instrumentality; a project where all souls would merge together to transcend current human existence. Seele and Shinji’s father successfully initiates the project and Shinji is left with the choice to decide the fate of all human beings. In the damaged state that he is in, we see Shinji choosing death for everyone. It is at this point where the End of Evangelion truly shines. The film’s beginning acts addresses the plot that was missing from the series while the remaining final acts return to what Evangelion was always about, the psychoanalysis of characters.
In one of the most disturbing and chilling scenes in the entire series, Anno takes us deeper into Shinji’s mind trips. The setting mirrors a previous scene where Shinji an Asuka have their first kiss, but this time he more or less confesses his feelings for Asuka telling her that he needs her and wants to stay with her. Instead of returning his feelings however, she rejects him, accusing him of only wanting her because he needs comfort and there is no one else to give it to him. He loses his mind further and begins to strangle her played to a montage of beautiful but somber imagery. It is here that he arrives to the conclusion that nobody wants or needs him, so everyone should just die and all souls begin to merge as one.
Luckily, not all hope is lost and it is perhaps only in this dark hour that one of the show’s prevailing themes could be communicated effectively. When the world merges into one, Shinji realizes that all he was doing was running away. He was afraid of making that connection with others and accept the pain that inevitably comes with making connections. But knowing this, he accepts that pain and the knowledge that he will be hurt because he also knew that his happiness was real as well. With this, he rejects instrumentality and chooses to return back to the world where people are separate and where it takes effort to understand one another. It is only Shinji who appears to be back in this world, but his mother reassures him that anyone has the possibility to return so as long as they have the will to make it happen.
The very final scene deserves some discussion as it is probably one of the most talked about and controversial endings of all time. We see Shinji lying by himself surrounded by a sea of LCL. He turns over and sees Asuka lying there besides him and begins to strangle her mirroring what happen earlier to which Asuka simply caresses him and Shinji breaks down and stops.
The brutality of it all does distract from the fact that it is perhaps one of the most tender moments between the two. But it would not be Evangelion if things were that obvious. Asuka’s caressing of Shinji is significant in that they are finally able to express their feelings to one another in a way that both of them understood. Lets try to make sense of what I mean. Shinji rejected the world offered by human instrumentality; a world where everyone’s hearts were as one and with no suffering. He desired a world where there was pain and where people could hurt him. He strangles Asuka to confirm that it was that world indeed. Shinji hoped to feel the presence of another person and hope that she in turn would hurt him like she always did. Instead she gently caresses him affirming that she loves him. Asuka was the girl whom he had wanted to see. She was the one who had hurt him and whom likewise have been hurt. But even so, he accepts this pain because it also brings happiness. This was what Evangelion had always been about. The difficulty of communicating our hearts with others and the pain that such a contact could bring. Underneath all the symbolism, psychoanalysis, and dark and gritty content, this was what Anno was trying to communicate.
Clearly Evangelion has a lot to say and few anime or all of visual entertainment have dared to be so ambitious and for that alone, it deserves to be commended. Evangelion does have its critics and there are a good number of them. Some of these critiques point to the characters that do not develop over the course of the series and the negative traits that Shinji possesses. To them, Evangelion is one of the most overrated anime of all time. I think these critics miss the point however. I disagree in that the characters do not have any development. In fact, they are developed so well that there is so much to analyze as I have done here. No doubt they cite that the characters are all still messed up by the final act and they have not improved themselves. But they fail to pay attention to the journey in between. Each of the characters do develop. Shinji becomes less of an introvert and opens up to his classmates; a change from the boy who was so unsure of himself from the start. Rei also slowly becomes less introvert and starts questioning her loyalty to Gendo. These are flawed characters whom we can see some aspect of ourselves in. We go through up and downs in our lives never staying forever happy or sad. We live through good times and bad times. Anno was trying to portray the characters in that light. They experience ups and downs and the final act was merely a time where they were all messed up from something.
As I said before, Shinji is not the typical protagonist in that we do not aspire to be him. He is flawed and human and perhaps that is why people hate him so much. One of the big critique is that Shinji is too much of a whiny wimp and not to mention he brings the world to an end. But Shinji is just a fourteen year old boy who has been forced into an extraordinary situation. How many of us could truly say went through the things he have and not come away harmed in some way. When all is said and done, Evangelion will forever be one of the more unique shows out there. How many who have seen it can actually walk away and say that it was a show like so many other. In conclusion, Evangelion is an absolute masterpiece that will forever go down in history as one of the finest pieces of visual entertainment.that you owe it to yourself to watch.
And that’s it for my first deconstructing series. I hope you enjoy the long read. I admit I got carried away and did not expect to write so much. This won’t be the last piece I do a deconstruction on so stay tuned.