The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo

Title: Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Studio Khara
Format: Movie, 96 Minutes
Dates: 17 Nov 2012 

Synopsis: Ikari Shinji wakes up 14 years after third impact in an unfamiliar world. Earth is in ruins, and his once friendly companions are now completely against him. He finds himself in the hands of a new organization named WILLE, whose sole purpose is fighting NERV. Realizing that the battle is not over, Shinji befriends the mysterious Nagisa Kaworu and continues his struggle against the angels once more in what could possibly mean the end of mankind.

The Highlights
Context: Nonexistent.
Style: Completely divorced from the previous Rebuild films.
Characters: Poorly developed.
Animation: A visual feast to behold.

Eva 3.0 marks the first real departure in story from Neon Genesis Evangelion in the Rebuild of Evangelion movie series. Whereas the events of Eva 2.0 and Eva 1.0 roughly covered the same ground as the original television series, Eva 3.0 is firmly entrenched in completely new territory. No matter what one felt previously about the merits of this franchise reboot, Eva 3.0 is the first real chance to peer into the intentions of director Hideki Anno in his revisit to this all-time classic franchise. Unfortunately, Eva 3.0 only provides more questions and almost no answers in what ultimately is nothing more than a disorienting mess.

Paradoxically, Eva 3.0 is simultaneously an eventful and uneventful film. From the get-go, there are massive changes throughout the setting including an entire new organization, WILLE, and a slew of new characters who greet both Shinji and the audience. But while there are several new elements introduced into the story, very few things actually transpire in Eva 3.0. Moreover, there is little explanation of the film’s ongoing events and why the characters are acting as they are. Although this helps immerse the viewer into Shinji’s point of view, the severe lack of context only serves to bewilder.

Especially disconcerting in Eva 3.0 is how it is completely divorced from the style of the previous Rebuild films, much less the original television series. This is not simply a tonal shift or mere direction change, but a complete reimagining of the entire Evangelion universe itself. It is perplexing just how detached Eva 3.0 is from the events of Eva 2.0, both in narrative purpose and in literal storyline flow. The Rebuild series is now at a point where stuff happens more because the plot demands it rather than it being a sensible outcome of what preceded it.

Above all else though, it is the strikingly weak characterization that is most disappointing in Eva 3.0. Almost no character other than Shinji gets meaningful screen time, which is puzzling given the many additions to the cast. Not to mention that the previously very rushed Eva 2.0 left most of the already present cast extremely underdeveloped to begin with. The epitome of this is represented by Mari, who despite being a new, prominent character in Eva 2.0, still has not been developed or been given any role not previously fulfilled by another character. Eva 3.0 only exacerbates the issue by focusing all of its attention on Shinji, whose development in Eva 3.0 is frustratingly contrived and nonsensical.

About the only aspect of Eva 3.0 that is genuinely exceptional is its sheer visual spectacle. At providing simple-minded popcorn entertainment, the film definitely delivers. Now call me weird, but I never wanted to be entertained in a classic fun manner when it comes to anything Evangelion related. Rather, I want to be pulverized into my chair and have my emotions violently played with, something that Eva 3.0 ultimately fails at with the lack of depth presented in its characters. Evangelion never built its dynasty on just being a mindless action-fest; it is compelling because of how its broken characters with dysfunctional relationships handled the very fate of mankind itself.

As a consequence of the creative decisions made, Eva 3.0 leaves the Rebuild series in an unenviable position – directionless and generic. It is a poorly written film, and even poorer sequel. The general lack of scale in the film is appalling, and its lack of exposition is disastrous. Anno’s reasons for revisiting this franchise remain as confusing and elusive as ever. Sadly, given the continual and immense commercial success of the franchise, the reason is probably more cynical than we would want to believe.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Reckoner

Top of page