Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion Review: Psychological Disturbances and Evangelion’s Grand Finale
With the unusual conclusion of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime, I’ve been curious about the End of Evangelion film, as I had heard many times that the movie felt much more like an ending to the series than the last two episodes of the TV anime. Now that I’ve finally seen the movie, I can certainly say that this is true, although End of Evangelion is a movie that’s hard to be prepared for because of many reasons.
End of Evangelion takes place following episode 24 of the TV series. There are many different views on the ending, as some argue that it is the real-world take on the conclusion (with the TV anime’s ending occurring in the mind of Shinji and perhaps other characters), while others believe that End of Eva is an alternate ending altogether. In any case, End of Eva focuses on Seele’s invasion of NERV Headquarters and the chaos that ensues. This basically means a lot of shooting, intense Eva combat, and the buildup to the Human Instrumentality Project and the Third Impact. In the midst of all the destruction taking place, there are emotional clashes amongst the cast (both within themselves and with others) as well as psychological ordeals that must be overcome, primarily in the case of Shinji.
The first word that comes to mind when I think of this movie is trippy. Now Evangelion has always been an unusual series, and not everything is easy to follow, but this is particularly true of the movies, where things get really complicated and a lot of twists take place throughout. To be completely honest, there was a lot that I didn’t understand and End of Eva is one of the few cases in which I truly felt the need to research more into the story and themes so I would feel as if I properly understood it, at least enough so that I wouldn’t be too ignorant upon writing about the movie. Of course, after getting past how confusing everything seems, the movie has a lot to offer and is certainly a proper conclusion for the Evangelion series. End of Eva mixes bits of just about everything that defines Eva, from the intense action to the dramatic character development. Even the sexual tensions between the characters that were relevant to the main series are present in this film, in some ways much more blatantly so.
The psychological exploration of the characters that I loved in the TV anime remains crucial to the movement of the plot in the movie as well, and it’s captivating to watch how things play out. From the clash between SEELE and Gendo to the mental struggles of Shinji and Asuka, End of Eva retains much of the appeal of the original series in the peak of developments and twists. There were some emotional developments for characters such as Gendo and Ritsuko, and the sense of tragedy across the film was quite striking. But of course, just as in the TV series, Shinji takes the spotlight in terms of development. In particular, the latter half of the movie focuses on Shinji’s mindset and his emotional and mental breakdown, as well as the crucial choice he decides to make upon gathering his thoughts and reflecting on all of the tensions that have dragged him down throughout the series. There were times in the film where I felt Shinji seemed even wimpier and a tad more obnoxious than he had been in the TV series, but I felt that overall his development went the right way and that the ending was handled well as a result. The ending could be considered ambiguous, but it was played out in a way that was surprisingly satisfying and dealt with the emotional ups and downs of the cast quite well.
End of Eva was a very confusing experience at first, and I’m certain that it would help significantly to rewatch the movie as well as explore the other installments of the Evangelion series to get a better understanding of it all. Confusion aside though, I felt that End of Eva did a great job of concluding the series and was true to Evangelion as a whole, and for that I would give it a 9/10. I’m planning to watch through the Evangelion Rebuild films over the summer and I certainly hope that I enjoy those as much as I did the original Evangelion series and this film.