The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion

Title: Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion aka Shinseiki Evangelion: Air/Magokoro wo, kimi ni
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Gainax/Production IG
Format: Movie; 91 minutes.
Dates: 19 Jul 1997

Synopsis: In order to recover the two original Evangelions, Seele has mobilized all of Japan’s armed forces along with the entire line of mass produced Eva units. With Nerv being quickly overrun, the already suicidal Shinji is forced to fight for the sake of all of humanity.

The Highlights
Seiyuu: Spectacular.
Art and animation: Consistently superb.
Characters: Believably human.
Presentation: Neurotic.

For those satisfied with Evangelion’s original conclusion, there is no pressing need to watch End of Evangelion. While this movie does indeed have its merits, you will never be able to see the original ending the same way again. For those infuriated with the abrupt halt, and who wish to see the movie, prepare yourselves for a full-fledged punch in the face. All the emotional loops passed, all the friends made, and all the happiness Ikari Shinji ever experienced is shoved into a dark corner and brutally shot. End of Evangelion is a bleak alternate ending that shows what happens when humanity rejects a hollow Eden in order to preserve the present world.

Much akin to the original, there are many overt psychological and symbolic references made, but they merely serve as a foundation for the grandiose finale that the creators intend to draft. Unlike many other Gainax productions, money never becomes a noticeable issue as the animation, music, and choreography remain consistently superb. Once again, the seiyuu give a heartfelt performance and truly bring the characters alive. Like icing on a cake, the masterfully orchestrated Evangelion fight scene, flowing on the tune of Bach’s “Air”, is hands down the most beautifully choreographed battle I have ever seen.

Ikari Shinji may be the focal point of Evangelion, but he is the driving force behind End of Evanglion. No matter how you look at the movie, there is no doubt that this is Shinji’s story. Much of the franchise’s success is attributed to the fact that many of Ikari’s grievances ring true within the hearts of the viewers. His fears, uncertainties, and fallacies accurately reflect what it is to be human. While his actions in the movie may be utterly detestable, there is not a moment where his emotions are unbelievable.

Shinji’s severe mental breakdown, however, is where an irrevocable schism of opinion occurs. Quite literally, the vast majority of the second half is devoted to showing the inside of Ikari’s distraught mind. While some viewers may lament the lack of coherent storytelling, this is probably the only way to rip away all the pretentious buffers a Shinji-type character creates around himself. Using some freakishly phantasmagoric imagery, End of Evangelion performs a vivid psychological lobotomy on the mentally disturbed Ikari… and the results are not pretty. His deep, oedipal longing for his mother, his parasitic need for others, his destructive sexual frustrations and, most importantly, his escapist attitude towards life, absolutely everything undergoes extensive scrutiny. Yet, the movie never ends up sounding like a psychology text book. In a stroke of artistic genius, the movie effectively manages to hold up a mirror to the audience asking, “how are you any different?”

End of Evangelion is neither your conventional movie nor your conventional anime. While similar in style to Neon Genesis Evangelion, it assumes a completely different in tone. Due to the sheer amount of negativity, some may arbitrarily label the End of Evangelion as a pessimist’s movie, but I see it as a realist’s movie. After all, despite all the physical and psychological carnage, hope is left untouched.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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