My mind has officially been blown. Now, more than ever, I must say…
WHAT THE F@#$ DID I JUST WATCH!??!?!
I had to call my friend, a long-time Eva fan, almost immediately after watching END OF EVANGELION to get my head together. He was the one who was singing this show’s praises (to tune of “ODE TO JOY” probably) in college, and years later, he was finally able to break everything down to me in an hour-long discussion. Between that and reviewing a lot of spoiler-filled comments that you lunatics have left throughout this column, I have to say that I think I’ve got a good enough of a handle on this show's mysteries. It's all there! However, questions still linger and I want ANSWERS!
- I loved the ending (even more after it was explained to me.) How Shinji gets the power to make anything happen through instrumentality and the first (and possibly only thing?) he does is summon Asuka back from the dead. Her subsequent repulsion over him being so petty was spot-on and “Disgusting” is a PERFECT ending line. But… but… but… if Shinji desires Asuka so much, why does he strangle her? Is it a kinky thing?
- I’m still not 100% clear on what caused Second Impact. Did Seele summon Adam through some kind of occult ritual? And when do we actually see Adam’s embryonic form from which the Evas were supposedly cloned?
- What’s the significance of Gendo eating the angel flesh and getting a demon hand with an eye on his palm? Does it just mutate him the way it mutated Yui/Unit-01? And was there something lacking in Toji’s mother’s “soul” that allowed his Eva to get possessed?
With those questions out of the way, let me just say that the first 45 minutes had to be the most adrenaline-pumped segment of the entire series. This makes up for all my frustrations with the final two episodes (and it actually puts them in a better context as the individual perspectives of Human Instrumentality). Seele’s invasion of Nerv, Misato taking out the spec. OPs, Asuka’s last stand against the freaky mass-produced Eva… you couldn’t make this more intense if you tried.
There are two scenes I specifically want to comment on. First is that bit with Asuka muttering “I don’t wanna die” over and over again while hanging upside down in her Eva. THAT is what sets this apart from almost all adventure sci-fi. You have truly-damaged individuals…. AND I LOVE THAT! Also, even though it’s totally messed, the bit where Misato finally kisses Shinji was powerful stuff. One of the most powerful scenes, actually. It pretty much confirmed everything I suspected about their relationship throughout the show. I’m sure some fans have probably rationalized it as her just trying to motivate him, but get real… she French kisses him and, more or less, tells him they'll have sex when he gets back? That’s more than a few steps above a simple good luck peck on the cheek. She wanted him, and I called it.
I think the only portion of this that I wasn’t crazy about was that we got yet another over-long “introspection section” that came off as a little student film. Gainax even played with their filters like some kid just discovering plug-ins. I did like the bit about Asuka, Misato and Rei showing up in real life in the “meta” portion, but I really could’ve done without those overlong shots of the audience. I get it, we’re making reality, let’s move on to the batsh*t crazy imagery in space, because that stuff was astonishing.
Ha! And there actually WAS significance to “Fly Me to the Moon,” wasn’t there?
Let me just say that watching Eva has restored my faith in art, in a lot of ways. My imagination hasn’t been captured by a series like this in many years. I hate convention, I hate archetypes and I hate predictability. Most times when I watch a movie or a show, I have to almost play devil’s advocate and state how much I enjoyed it while qualifying that it’s still “been there, done that.” That definitely wasn’t the case for EVANGELION, at all. I have genuinely been wrapped up in this show's mythology and it's been fun to debate over the "deeper meanings" of a story with fans, once again. I feel like I’ve just watched the WATCHMEN of anime, here. Something that not only blazes new ground, but is also startling in its complexity and, more important, rewards you for paying attention.
I want to watch those REBUILD movies, now, just because I want more EVA! Comics, movies, novels, video games… I’m adding NEON GENESIS EVANGELION to my list of all-time favorites in any medium.