Nostalgic Nitpicks: End of Evangelion

On the last post, I talked about the groundbreaking Anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, and how it flourished throughout most of its run, but floundered at the ending.

The ending added heavy criticisms to the entire franchise. In response to fan and critic reaction. The production company behind the series, Gainax, released a feature film as a sort of interpretation of how they originally  intended to conclude the series, taking place as a canon divergent from the final two episodes.

The results were… mixed. To understand this though, we need to take a look at what this movie actually did. Sadly, I do not have the mental fortitude to do so. Instead, let’s have a plot summary, courtesy of Wikipedia.

!VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED! 

Summary of Saints

Teenager Shinji Ikari is the pilot of Evangelion Unit 01, one of several giant cyborgs designed to fight hostile supernatural entities called angels. Distraught over the death of his friend Kaworu Nagisa, Shinji visits fellow pilot Asuka Langley Soryu in a hospital and masturbates to her comatose body.

yuck

The shadowy committee SEELE has discovered that commander Gendo Ikari intends to use NERV, the paramilitary organization that deploys the Evangelion units, for his own plans. SEELE dispatches the Japanese Strategic Self-Defense Force (JSSDF) to seize control of NERV, killing most of the staff. NERV major Misato Katsuragi orders Asuka moved to the cockpit of Evangelion Unit 02 and placed at the bottom of a lake, then rescues Shinji from JSSDF troops. Determined to have Shinji defend NERV, Misato brings Shinji to Unit 01’s bay doors, but is mortally wounded in the process. Misato implores Shinji to pilot Unit 01, kisses him, and forces him into the elevator. Shinji discovers that Unit 01 is immobilized in JSSDF bakelite.

After concluding that NERV’s defeat is inevitable, Gendo retrieves the Evangelion pilot Rei Ayanami. He plans to use her to initiate Third Impact, a cataclysm which will kill everyone on Earth, and reunite with his deceased wife Yui. Attempting to stop him, NERV scientist Ritsuko Akagi sends a computer command to destroy NERV. However, Casper, a computer core modeled on Ritsuko’s mother, overrides her command and Gendo kills her.

Inside Evangelion Unit 02, Asuka overcomes her trauma and re-activates the unit. She destroys the JSSDF forces, but SEELE’s new mass-produced Evangelion units dismember her and Unit 02, leaving her for dead. Breaking free of the bakelite, Unit 01 ascends above NERV headquarters. From the cockpit, Shinji witnesses the mass-produced units carrying the mutilated remains of Unit 02 and screams.

Gendo attempts to merge with Rei, who has the soul of Lilith, an angel hidden beneath NERV headquarters, to begin Third Impact. Having merged with another angel, Adam, Gendo will become a god if he merges with Lilith; however, Rei rejects Gendo, absorbs Adam and reunites with Lilith, and her body grows to gargantuan size. The mass-produced Evangelion units pull Unit 01 into the sky and crucify it, beginning the ritual to initiate Third Impact.

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After several dreamlike contemplations, including a fight with Asuka, Shinji decides that he is alone and everyone in the world should die. In response, Rei/Lilith dissolves humanity back into primordial soup, reforming the souls of humanity into a single consciousness. Initially accepting this new state, Shinji feels that there is no happiness in the real world. However, he rejects it when he realizes that life is about experiencing joy, as well as pain. Rei/Lilith dies and Asuka and Shinji rematerialize in an apocalyptic landscape. Shinji begins to strangle Asuka, but when she caresses his face, he stops and breaks down in tears.

Analysis: The Madness Returns

Where to begin.

No really, where do I start with this? As Shinji says, this is really fucked up.

I guess the best way to go about this is to analyze all the most shocking moments in this feature, while delving into the profiles of the main three characters.

wtf_shinji

Let’s start with the masturbation scene. While it may seem out of character for the shy and reserved Shinji, it in fact is in character and further illustrates how far into mental instability he falls. You Kaworu, the angel/gay love interst of Shinji? He, as well as other characters pointed out that Shinji has never felt love. Kawaru was the only person that showed him unconditional love. But now he is gone, killed by Shinji’s own hand. At this point Shinji is desperate for not only love, but to feel anything else besides self loathing and despair. Thanks to his sisterly figure, Misato, he can connect the dots and equate sexual release to love.

While Kaworu is still on your mind, I would like to point out that Shinji does in fact feel love. When Shinji is having his break down literally as the world ends, the shape that calms him down is not that of his friend Rei, but of Kaworu. Seriously, look how this scene plays out:

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That relieved smile, those freshly made, yet calm tears, the way Kaworu leans in expectantly… yep, that’s love. But then, why doesn’t Shinji recreate the world with Kaworu as his companion instead of Asuka?

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Well, that leads us to Asuka. In the series, she goes from being a brash pilot to an inverted shell of her former self, because her entire worldview of herself has crumbled and former traumas (mostly relating to her mother’s death) eating away at her psyche. Her whose arc of this story stems from her regained strength that stems o her renewed belief in her mother’s love, all due to her belief that she (the mother) is always with her. But there is a second love in her life. That love, is Shinji.

While it is highly regarded that Kaworu is Shinji’s love, Asuka has developed feelings for our little protagonist. And Shinji in turn develops a mutual love for her, though his is more of a sisterly love that is made somewhat awkward due to the whole teenage hormones thing. Shinji, no matter what he has been through, NEVER puts himself first. He allowed himself to become a tool that was polished to save the world. And he is fourteen! Deep down he knows that Asuka is in love with him. He knows that the world needs to begin a knew with a new Adam and a new Eve. Out of all the females in the show Asuka is the best option. Not only does he make his friend happy, but he ensures the future of the new world. If you look at the translation what Asuka says in the last scenes, which are also the last line in the movie, it roughly reads as “I feel sick”.  According to the creator, this alludes to morning sickness. The world truly begins as it did in the beginning.

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Why Asuka though? The other female lead, Rei, would be a much better fit, right? She isn’t abusive towards Shinji, and also has a selfless nature by the end of the original series, and she to made a sacrifice. But then again, she is also Shinji’s mother.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that last time?

The Red Cross Book stated that Rei was created from the “salvaged remains” of Yui Ikari after Yui’s absorption into Unit-01 in 2004

Yui Ikari. Shinji’s mother. I mentioned that this series dealt with psychology, including the teaching s of Sigmund Freud. Well, here is the example. Rei is made up of parts of Shinji’s mom, but the rest is made from Lilith, much like Kaworu was formed from pieces of Adam. In Jewish folklore, Lilith was Adam’s first wife who was cast away due to being headstrong and not subservient to her husband. Well, Rei is the opposite. She cares not for her own life and follows her orders to the letter. That is, until Shinji comes along.

He teaches her the means to truly live, to be cared for. She loves him as a friend, and sees him as something that must be protected. That is why when the time comes for the world to end, where she is the key, she defies Gendo Ikari (Shinji’s father and her… kinda sorta husband guy) and lets Shinji decide whether the world should perish or flourish.

You probably noticed that I talked a lot about love here. Well that is what is important about this movie. It ties in so strongly into the religious parts of this story that the ending is all about love.

When the people of the planet “die” (long story, I don’t have the capability to explain) they see certain images before they pass. Loved ones, potential loved ones, fears, and triumphs. These are their last moments, their escape from the real world. It is their light at the end of the tunnel. Every single major character sees this. Except for Gendo Ikari, the antagonist and most disgusting character in the series. He sees nothing. He doesn’t get a light.

But there is more. If we look at the theme and topic of love, we se that it holds the most weight in the final moments of the film. Shinji’s love for the world out weighs his hate for it. That is why he decided o start over, to allow this idea of love to try its hand at creation. To see if their will never be such a thing as a Cruel Angels Thesis.

Spiteful Litany; Legends Abound

Young boy, like a cruel angel’s thesis,
Live up to be a legend…

Even though clear blue winds
Beat on the door of my heart,
You just smile, looking straight at me
Too involved in yearning for
Something to hold on
The innocent eyes still no nothing of fate yet.

But someday you will notice
On those shoulders of your
There are strong wings
To guide you to the far future.

A cruel angel’s thesis
Will someday fly high from the window
If memories are betrayed by
The overflowing, burning pathos (emotions).
Young boy, shine like a legend,
Holding the sky in your arms.

The cradle of love that sleeps within me
There will be a morining that
A servant of dreams will come for you.
The moonlight shines on your thin neckline.
I’d stop time in this world
And lock it away for myself, but…

If there is any meaning
In the fate that pulled us together,
Then I am, yes, the Bible
That teaches you of freedom.

A cruel angel’s thesis
And then sorrow comes forth
When the shapes of the dreams you hold in your arms
Come to life within you.
Young boy, who shines brighter than anyone else,
Rise to become a legend.

People weave together love to create history
And so I live on,
Unable to become a goddess…

A cruel angel’s thesis
Will someday fly high from the window
If memories are betrayed by
The overflowing, burning pathos (feelings).
Young boy, shine like a legend,
Holding the sky in your arms.

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