Part 2: A Violent Roar
So this is what happens when you refuse Eva’s embrace.
If Neon Genesis Evangelion was the stern yet loving embrace with the ultimate message of accepting understanding yourself in order to begin accepting understanding others, then The End of Evangelion is the much wilder, more apocalyptic, but equally passionate gripping and shaking of your shoulders that desperately roars to you of the dangers of running away from reality and that regardless of how painful we can be, we must face it in order for good things to even have a chance at happening.
Where NGE settled on a satisfying realization for Shinji despite the current and borderline unambiguously devastating outside circumstances we are made aware of via a line of text that lasts for but a brief moment, this one takes a more apocalyptic approach, effectively resetting things in the end with hope for the future where everything is restored. It is a violent rampage that lays waste to nearly everyone, and an exaggerated showcase of the type of results inflicted on other people when you decide to run away from reality and close yourself off out of fear and spite.
The violence is a wondrous spectacle to behold thanks to the teams at Production IG and Gainax. The final battle Asuka has is phenomenal and gruesome to say the least, and all sorts of destruction are beautifully drawn and animated. All sorts of magnificently vibrant explosions, and all the carnage of a more Lovecraftian and apocalyptic kind are vivid, imaginative, and horrifying. Everything is left mangled in an almost heavenly state, as if this film needed any more Christian iconography-based faux symbolism, among other relatively minor flaws that are carried over from the main series. For an inherently unique positive of the film, one few would really notice despite how long it stays there, we have the scene of the audience. Said audience was recorded at the screening of the initial film, intentionally, for it to be spliced a the last second as part of the mind-shattering real-life montage Shinji and all viewers witnessed. The only blemish is one short action-heavy rescue with shakycam and even then, if something so small and isolated is the worst the film’s visual presentation does, that is a testament to the film’s visuals.
Among the many new, fantastic pieces added to this film by series music composer Shiro Sagisu, is the phenomenal track that plays at the height of the film’s chaos and climax, is the track “Komm Süssser Tod”. A lovely, oddly fitting track despite its seemingly happy tone, with fantastic english vocals. There are other intensely emotional tracks that are around as wonderful as the best tracks of the original series, such as “Munashiki Nagare” and the end credits theme "Thanatos -If I Can't Be Yours-" by Loren & Mash, a lovely, soothing, and jazzy song that separates the two halves of this devastatingly brutal film. There are even tracks that blatantly remix old ones in ways that are around as great as said original tracks, adding to the praise this film’s music shall receive, on top of how some fantastic tracks from the original make a return.
The carnage hits hard, not just for viewers, but most especially for Shinji, broken and reduced to his lowest point mentally and as a human being by the events of episode 24 in the show. He and we know that everyone is in ruin, with everyone they admired or loved being dead before this film or dying early on, and the ruin and death continues because he cannot stop it, and he even wants it just so he can run away again. He ran away, and not only is no one in or out of universe having that, but the bulk of the climax is him being confronted by that and slowly cracking as he is convinced to accept the truth, the message, thanks to introspective versions of everyone in the show and film that were related to him in a major way, as well as Rei herself communicating with him. Throughout the series, he repeats the line “I mustn’t run away”, and he does thrice total, this being the third and final time, and we see what becomes of it. You must face reality, not run from it. That is the only way for you to find any hope or happiness in the midst of dark times, and the best way for you to not inadvertently hurt others. Much like last time, this is a lesson everyone should learn in order to deal with harsh times. The final scenes support this immensely in one of the most powerful “show don’t tell” scenes in anime, all whilst providing a sheer sense of hope for the future, knowing that closure has been given for every single relevant character in the series in ways so perfect for them it hurts to see them leave the way they do. Those moments were the most heart-shattering, soul-smashing in the film, and among the most impactful of this behemoth of a franchise.
Does it go too far sometimes? Admittedly. Are there problems with the narrative? Without activating an entire volcano of spoiler-heavy questions and answers and whatnot that analyzes justifies, and even criticizes both the film and the show itself, I’ll say that it does, even if they are relatively minor. But it is a truly powerful and challenging film with something important to say that justifies its existence when it didn’t really have to. Anno could have just ignored the abhorrently unwarranted backlash from people who hated the final episodes, but instead, he channeled his anger into another piece of art that in some ways, does the finale one better. It gives the closure some people wanted, even if it is nothing like what many expected, let alone truly asked for. It does so expertly in many regards, even if it may come off as self-important and unnecessarily unflinching to the point of discomfort and outrage on the part of some viewers. However, it fits almost perfectly with every character and ties up the themes of the original in a way that shines a new, more despondent and challenging light on them. The fact that it came away with an equally important message that the show itself left room for is just the cherry on top of this demented, awe-inspiring, and loving sundae, even if the controlled chaos may go too far and leave things more ambiguous or disturbing than it needed to. However, this is the culmination of everything Evangelion is and was, perhaps even more so than the finale of the original. For that and more, The End of Evangelion is something special, and worth cherishing, much like its predecessor. Thank you for reading this, and with all that said, I bid you adieu.
Part 1: https://anilist.co/review/3084