*Abridged* V-Day Special!

Happy Valentine’s Day~! 💛

If you’ve been following my blog for even a year, you’ll know that V-Day is something I take quite seriously. It has become tradition for me to book off an entire weekend to marathon anime (usually a classic, or something with several parts, such as films, OVAs, etc.) and enjoy quality time with myself.

Well, in lieu of binging an entire series as a challenge to myself (as I’m quite short on time due to my M.A. exam mid-March), I’ve decided to return to Evangelion.

And I’m sure this comes as literally zero surprise to anyone.

I’ve got tasty treats, a comfy couch, and my Funimation Blu-ray of Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo. all lined up for me to enjoy this Tuesday evening! I always enjoy an Eva rewatch, but I’m especially partial to 3.33 during this season of love because it’s when I first watched it back in February 2016. Once more, time to relive the nostalgia and bittersweet promises that this title brings to me.

I hope you’re all spending V-Day doing something you love, whether that’s with someone or watching Eva for the hundredth time like me. I’ll be doing a TRUE marathon after my March exam, likely Trigun since it’s what people are talkin’ about these days (plus I’ve had the Anime Classics DVD for YEARS just gathering dust). Please look forward to it!

That’s all for now—stay sweet, and ‘til next time!

– Takuto

2022 Fall/Winter Book Haul | maids, mythology, & midnight musings


Hey guys, here’s all the non-graphic novel books I accumulated over the last few months of 2022! Let me know if you’ve read any of these titles. I hope to get back into reading more as soon as I graduate!! 😣

Interested in more anime, manga, or K-pop content? Subscribe to stick around 🙏

Thanks for watching~!

Where else can you find me?
Linktree | https://linktr.ee/takutoac
Twitter | @takutoanimecafe
Instagram | @takutoac
🌟NEW🌟 Bookstagram | @takutoreads
MyAnimeList | takutoac
Blog | https://animecafehost.wordpress.com
Business Email | takutoanimecafe@gmail.com

Overdue 2022 Fall/Winter Anime Blu-ray Haul


Hey guys, here’s all the anime I accumulated over the last few months of 2022! Let me know if you’ve seen any of these titles. I hope to get back into watching more as soon as I graduate!! 😣

Interested in more anime, manga, or K-pop content? Subscribe to stick around 🙏

Thanks for watching~!

Where else can you find me?
Linktree | https://linktr.ee/takutoac
Twitter | @takutoanimecafe
Instagram | @takutoac
🌟NEW🌟 Bookstagram | @takutoreads
MyAnimeList | takutoac
Blog | https://animecafehost.wordpress.com
Business Email | takutoanimecafe@gmail.com

Long Overdue 2022 Fall/Winter Manga Haul


Hey guys, here’s all the manga I accumulated over the last few months of 2022! Let me know if you’re reading any of these titles. I hope to get back into reading as soon as I graduate!! 😣

Interested in more anime, manga, or K-pop content? Subscribe to stick around 🙏

Thanks for watching~!

Where else can you find me?
Linktree | https://linktr.ee/takutoac
Twitter | @takutoanimecafe
Instagram | @takutoac
🌟NEW🌟 Bookstagram | @takutoreads
MyAnimeList | takutoac
Blog | https://animecafehost.wordpress.com
Business Email | takutoanimecafe@gmail.com

Just Stopping By! (Happy 2023!)

Hi there!

Did I catch you by surprise?

I know, it’s been over 3 months since my last visit. Terrible track record. But, I did promise that I’d be back to regular blogging once I graduated. Unfortunately, that won’t be for another 5 months, although I’m sure—like most semesters—it’ll fly by! 🙏

So until the spring, I’m merely stopping by to wish everyone a Happy New Year and a welcome to 2023! My resolutions? Graduate and get a job (adulting sucks 😭). I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday. I logged in HOURS of board games and caught up on LOTS of shounen favorites that I’ve missed out on due to school. Here is what I watched over break in case you’re curious:

Belle (great, rated 8/10 for the lovely l CG work and meaningful message here, but need to rewatch already)

Chainsaw Man (GRUESOME GOODNESS, only watched first 4 episodes, will continue at some point)

My Hero Academia 6th Season Part 1 (significant step up from S5, rating 9/10 for the high stakes, can’t wait to see how the battle ends in P2)

Millionaire Detective – Balance: Unlimited (way more boring than I expected it to be, rated 7/10 for at least the pretty character designs, and FYI don’t watch the dub, sorry fam)

Jujutsu Kaisen (MY LOVES, this revived my passion for anime recently, honest!! Both series and 0 Movie are 9/10 for me, and I crave more)

Sword Art Online: Progressive – Aria of a Starless Night (surprisingly enjoyed a lot, rated 8/10 for Asuna continuing to be more interesting than Kirito, tempted to recommend this over S1 to newcomers)

Demon Slayer Season 2 (the main fight of the Entertainment District Arc dragged on a little long, but potentially more enjoyable than S1, rated 8/10 for that incredible Ufotable animation!)

Dr. Stone Season 1 (stopped after 11-ish episodes, it’s fine . . . when do we get to see Senku’s old friends again, I miss them)

Blood of Zeus (a fantastic recommendation if you’re chasing after that Castlevania high, rated 8/10 for Greek mythology continuing to serve)

Link Click (I knew I’d enjoy this one but WOW was I taken by these characters, rated 9/10 for the thrills and the whole aesthetic, but needing that sequel ASAP)

Odd Taxi (this one also wins for being a backlog serve, rated 8/10 for an actually engaging anthropomorphic title, and that ending, Y’ALL GOT ME GOOD)

NieR:Automata Ver1.1a (my recent obsession as a huge fan of the game, the only simulcast I’m following this season, and I’m still so shocked that A-1 is proceeding with this 2D/3D blend . . . staying hopeful it’ll be a masterpiece)

Of course, I also rewatched Ghibli favorites like Howl’s, Kiki’s, and Ponyo this winter break. Just trying to reignite the anime passion after feeling absent for a while now. 🔥

My primary goal with this post was to update you all with what I’ve been up to. Going forward, I’ll return to simul-uploading my YouTube videos on my channel and my blog. I apologize in advance if Kpop isn’t your thing, and I hope the manga/anime content is at least to your liking. >.<

The next time we “meet” will probably be for my annual V-Day special. (Hint hint, the show I’ll be watching currently has a remake airing!) That should be lots of fun, so look forward to it! 👍

Thank you as always for sticking with me throughout these content-less months. Once I’m done with uni, I’ll be able to officially brush off the cobwebs and start new projects. But for now, I wish you all a healthy start to the new year!

– Takuto

Thank You for 8 Years Together!

Long time to see, friends!

It’s been 8 years since I first opened Takuto’s Anime Cafe!! 🥳 I’ve had all kinds of amazing opportunities throughout this time, including my latest ARC review for Bai Cha’s My Cat Hates Me that just went up. Never would I have guessed that I’d have more online friends than in-person ones, but it’s true—I am nothing without this community that has raised me and continued to teach me new things since I was a clueless sophomore in high school. Now I’m in my second and final year of grad school. I know, I can’t believe it either. Life comes at you fast, doesn’t it?

I owe you all so, so much more than this small pop-in, but I promise you that I’m still the same old Taku who’d rather catch up watching Call of the Night and Psycho Pass 3 instead of going out to the bars. (Yes, those are my latest watches. Both good ones, too!)

I hope you are all well, and I’ll try and make a big return to regular blogging once I finish school! In the meantime, it’ll be sporadic posts with the occasionally scheduled YouTube vid. We just hit 1k subs on the channel by the way!!! I was thinking of fun ways to celebrate—maybe a Q&A? We’re also getting super close to 800 cafe-goers. It’d be pretty cool to hit 800 during my 8th year, ya know?

Anyway, THANK YOU for all the support throughout the years, and special love to my WP aniblogger friends. 💙 I’ll try and stop in more often. ‘Til next time!

– Takuto, your host

Bai Cha’s “My Cat Hates Me” is a Manhua Must-Read for Pet Lovers || Review (ARC)

Do you ever imagine about what your cat might be thinking about you? As an owner of two thick and snooty tabby cats, I certainly do. Cats are known for their dismissive, snarky daytime personalities and cuddly, doting nighttime behavior. They showcase a range of emotions, much like you and I do. Young (and handsome) Chinese comic artist Bai Cha is the owner of one particularly haughty house cat. Perhaps because of his fiendish feline he decided to pen this purr-fect pictorial of Your Highness, the cat with a royal personality.

My Cat Hates Me chronicles the misdemeanors of Your Highness, an arrogant cat who believes himself emperor of the house, and his normie owner, “the kiddo.” The two share a mostly symbiotic relationship, except for the fact that Your Highness clearly gets more out of the kiddo’s benevolence than the other way around. In one moment Your Highness is affectionately posing for a photo, and in the next he’s pawing potted plants off the counter.

While he appreciates his owner’s charity, he finds love difficult to extend to a weeb who draws cartoons instead of bathes and frequently sniffs his own feet. And regarding Your Highness—who licks his own butt and cannot resist the occasional cruel joke—the feelings of both fondness and disgust between owner and cat are mutual. Of course, the only reason the moody, deadpan-faced cat keeps coming back is because, deep down, the loyal tabby actually has a heart of gold.

Life in Your Highness’ domain would be mostly quiet—were it not for the day the kiddo brings home a pug to also keep as pet. Bubba Boo, as he is adorably named, is but another dumb dog in the eyes of the kitty overlord. (No seriously, Your Highness went by the name “Overlord” in his stray days before kiddo decided to take him in.) Thanks to the scheming of Your Highness, Bubba Boo is led into one unfortunate situation after the next. Although a hilarious and caring companion, both cat and owner agree that the unassuming pug often invites more trouble on account of his own dull wit.

And this is what everyday life is like for cat and dog living together under one poor man’s roof. My Cat Hates Me is a memoir of all the teasing, chasing, scratching, biting, eating, sleeping, playing, etc. that could possibly go on—and go wrong—in a small Chinese apartment complex. Charmingly portrayed are the moments that make us go “aww” and “eww” alike, from cute, round-eyed pleads for treats to finding out the startling number of the places animal feces can go. (Like, we probably shouldn’t be kissing our pets, but we do it anyways.)

Part of the reason My Cate Hates Me is so effective as a relatable portrayal of pet ownership is its art style. Bai Cha gives life to these floofy fur balls via soft brushwork imagery and a sketch-style vibe. Whereas the detail of Your Highness’ fluffy gray and white fur is always brushed to the nines, the kiddo is drawn with noticeably fewer characteristics, giving his human vagueness a meme-like quality that is instantly humorous. The composite style of simple comics blends with classic Chinese art to create a truly unique tone. Your Highness’ expressions are also some of my favorite in comic artistry, from suspicious slit eyes to maximum pupil dilation. Every cat owner will recognize Your Highness’ signature smugness thanks to the art’s experimental yet universal appeal.

Bai Cha also knows how to structure comics to guarantee a chuckle or two. Like how comedy manga will sometimes utilize a 4-coma (or 4-frame) comic outline, Bai Cha wields a similar template but remains flexible to each comic’s subject and tone. Some “episodes” are a full two-page spread with six or eight boxes on a page. Others demand a single page or even a single frame that contains the premise, the buildup, and the punch in a couple lines of dialogue. The exploratory nature of the design is closely tied to Bai Cha’s commitment to express the wealth of emotions pet owners experience. My Cat Hates Me is about 180 pages long, but one can enjoy a flip through of the entire volume within an hour—until you want to read it all over again.

Furthermore, the comic captures that omnipresent feeling of feline superiority that I’m sure we all observe with our own cats. The kiddo does his best to appease Your Highness, and all the cat king does in return is promote him to “General of Poop Scooping.” He’s one cocky kitty, but I’m sure that’s exactly how my own orange tabbies see me. If our cats determine where we eat, how we sleep, and when we wake up, are we really the masters of our own home? Your Highness certainly doesn’t think so.

My Cat Hates Me is a five-star manhua must-read for pet lovers. Each crude little comic is short yet punchy, and it’ll leave you wanting to chase down your own cat to give them a good scratching behind the ears (and a rub on the belly if they let you). There is a sincere love for cats with attitude packed into every panel, and the messages of loyalty and friendship are long-lasting. Your Highness is already the next big-name cat in the world of comics, and the English debut of Bai Cha’s work ensures he’s not leaving anytime soon. Long loaf the emperor!

Photo from advance uncorrected proof via Brown Books Publishing Group.

My Cat Hates Me, the first volume of Bai Cha’s Cat and Dog graphic novel series to be internationally published, goes on sale October 25, 2022. The sequel, My Cat Really Hates Me, will be released December 6, 2022. Both volumes are available for preorder at popular book retailers like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

Bai Cha’s “Long Loaf the Emperorbrand was awarded “Chinese IP of the Year 2018” at the Licensing International Excellence Awards. Since then, his Cat and Dog comic series has been a consistent best seller, and it will now be available in English translation (by Jemma Stafford) thanks to the wonderful people at Brown Books Publishing Group.

My extended thanks to Adele over at Brown Books Publishing Group for reaching out and sending me an ARC to review. I’m itching to see what antics Your Highness, Bubba Boo, and co. will stir up next!

– Takuto

EVERYDAY EVA: Comprehensive Project Summary

From March 1 to March 31 (2022), Takuto’s Anime Cafe partook in the annual Mecha March aniblogger festivities. This year, I decided to write a post every single day dedicated to my favorite anime of all time, Evangelion. This project, “EVERYDAY EVA,” began as a daily reflection over the classic TV series, and it was eventually expanded to include the films of the franchise for the last week. This way, I covered the immense animated history of Evangelion in its totality.

Over the course of 31 days, 31 posts slowly yet steadily trickled in. By the last day, the collective word count reached well over 18k words (including this post), making it the longest project over a single franchise that I have ever done! Seeing all of the posts finished like this almost makes me want to collect them into a single publication for Amazon Kindle or some other easy digital publisher—just for fun, you know?

It’s not often that I have the time to rewatch a 26-episode series and its 5 sequel films, but I’ll always make an exception for Eva. It’s fascinating how I continue to learn new tidbits and gain heightened insight about the world, story, themes, and characters even after having see this series many, many times. I poured my heart and soul into each of these little reflections. While they aren’t always cohesive or even coherent, they are mine, and that’s something I can be proud of. (I do recommend reading them side-by-side with your own watch of the series as a kind of companion piece, though!)

I know I already said it, but special thanks to all those who read these posts live as I published them. Your continued support empowered me to see this project through to the very end!!

Below are links to each post of EVERYDAY EVA. Be sure to read each one if you haven’t yet!

EVERYDAY EVA & Mecha March Announcement

A whole month of Evangelion!

Episode 1: Angel Attacketh

A new series of posts to celebrate my love of Evangelion begins!

Episode 2: Tricky Structure and Trippy Silence

This is a weird episode—and it’s only the second one.

Episode 3: The Price the Pilot Pays

When Shinji is bullied for saving mankind, he doesn’t feel up to piloting again.

Episode 4: Wandering Through the Natural World

Shinji runs away, but to where does he go?

Episode 5: Eyes On Rei

As Shinji starts to grow more into his class, his eyes start to turn toward Rei.

Episode 6: My Most Nostalgic Evangelion Episode

The strength of all of Japan is placed in a single shot—and Shinji will pull the trigger.

Episode 7: Women in STEM, or Misato the Hero

NERV’s brilliant women jump to the forefront as man insists on a doomed hope.

Episode 8: Asuka Arrives, and My Life Forever Changes!

The Unit-02 pilot dazzles her way onto the scene, and Shinji’s world is dyed a brilliant red.

Episode 9: A Dance With Devils

Asuka is determined to prove her worth, but her partner is less than enthusiastic.

Episode 10: Existence is Pain (and so is Embarrassment)

Asuka turns up the heat as the star magma diver—and the humiliation is unforgettable.

Episode 11: A Fond Darkness, or How “Everyone Kicks Ass” in My Favorite NGE Episode

A total blackout threatens the safety of Tokyo-3. Thankfully, a little elbow grease saves the day.

Episode 12: Catch It With Your Bare Hands!

Shinji shoulders the secrets of Misato’s past to become a hero against their biggest threat yet.

Episode 13: Computers, Corrosion, Casper.

When a new kind of Angel hacks its way into NERV, only the good Dr. Akagi can secure humanity’s victory.

Episode 14: Recapitulation and Experimentation

A recap of the series’ first half is provided, followed by another pilot test that goes horribly wrong.

Episode 15: The Shadow Tells No Lies

Kisses are swapped and secrets are shared in this otherwise unsuspecting episode.

Episode 16: Dramaturgy and the Human Mind

As the 12th Angel swallows Unit-01 and parts of Tokyo-3 into its shadow, Shinji is pulled into the space of his mind.

Episode 17: Sowing the Seeds of Tragedy

The next phase of the Drama Arc rolls out over a trilogy of episodes, and this first stages the tragedy to come.

Episode 18: Shock and Horror

EVA-03’s startup test goes horribly wrong, and Shinji is torn between surrendering his life or eliminating the enemy EVA—along with the pilot inside.

Episode 19: The Decision We All Must Make

While Shinji vows to never pilot EVA again after his father’s betrayal, the 14th Angel carves a path of devastation to NERV HQ.

Episode 20: A Woman’s Lust, A Mother’s Love

As Dr. Akagi tries to reconstruct Shinji’s body from outside the entry plug, Shinji plunges into the world of his mind.

Episode 21: The Dark History of NERV

We travel back to the past to see how the world came to hang in the precarious balance that it does. Unsurprisingly, NERV’s history holds the answers.

Episode 22: The Great Toppling, or Asuka’s Fall From Grace

The first pilot to fall in the final act is none other than the girl who once stood at the very top of her game.

Episode 23: Tears, the Products of Love and Hate

The penultimate 16th Angel fuses with Unit-00, and, in Ritsuko’s tearful outburst, the truth of Rei Ayanami is finally disseminated to Misato and Shinji.

Episode 24: Worthy of My Grace

SEELE heralds the arrival of the final messenger. Shinji meets Kaworu, the fifth child. The destiny they share causes Shinji to rethink everything.

Episode 25: Absurdism, Allegory, and “The Theme Itself”

The Angels are finally gone, but Shinji is far from achieving happiness. While he grapples with the truth of his weakness, human instrumentality begins.

Episode 26: At the End of the World, There Is Love

Instrumentality continues to unravel Shinji’s narrative, weaving his consciousness with the minds and hearts of others. A discovery is made, and love is found.

The End of Evangelion – Fate and Destruction, Joy and Rebirth

The climactic final act of the original NGE plays out on the global stage as prophetic wishes come to pass. The end and the beginning are one in the same.

1.11 – The Nostalgia of Evangelion

The first epic film in the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy sets the groundwork for an entirely new story to come.

2.22 – The Spirit of Evangelion

Shinji Ikari’s story reaches a “break” in the path, and the added drama of new pilots and Angels alike snowballs into his heroic decision to protect the one he loves.

3.33 – The Tragedy of Evangelion

Following the cataclysmic pursuit of his desires, Shinji reawakens to an unfamiliar red world. The only shred of hope to be found lies with the boy from the moon.

3.0+1.0 – The Joy of Evangelion

Shinji, shocked into despair at Kaworu’s death, slowly starts to move forward thanks to friends both old and new. Finally, his nostalgia, spirit, and tragedy will lead him to joy.

Comprehensive Project Summary

A recap of this busy yet immensely satisfying Mecha March.

EVERYDAY EVA: 3.0+1.0 – The Joy of Evangelion | Mecha March

Welcome back to EVERYDAY EVA, the blog series where I aim to cover one episode of Evangelion every single day for Mecha March 2022! This NEW segment dives into the films of the hit sci-fi franchise.

Shinji, shocked into despair at Kaworu’s death, slowly starts to move forward thanks to friends both old and new. Finally, his nostalgia, spirit, and tragedy will lead him to joy.

Over the course of this long journey spanning almost three decades, Evangelion has traversed some of the rockiest terrain imaginable in an industry like anime. Personal struggles, conflicts between creatives, production issues like budgeting only scratch the surface of Eva’s rough past. Why someone would want to write a new ending for their work not once but twice more after completing the original can only come down to one primary influence—the fanbase, and oh boy does Eva also have a tough one of those. You won’t be able to make everyone happy with your work. But, people like Anno sure try to test that ideal. So here we are at the very end of a new saga for Eva with Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, a film has the rare challenge of attempting to tie up two daunting legacies with a conclusive third ending. And given the highly probable odds of failure, Anno really outdoes himself with the finale of the Rebuild.

Beginning with structure, 3.0+1.0 borrows much from 3.33 in its attempt to flesh out the bleak, red world that Earth has become since Shinji started the Fourth Impact. (I’ll skip the opening sequence because I already discussed the first 12 minutes of the film here!) Asuka leads Shinji and Rei to where they can be taken to Village 3, and for the next 45 or so minutes, we primarily shadow Rei Q as she tries to find purpose before inevitably “expiring” (which results from being disconnected to NERV’s life support systems). This entire segment of the film offers some of the most beautiful, wholesome moments in Eva. Rei explores the value of living in natural aspects like farming crops, working up a sweat, and raising children—efforts which she eventually reports to the boy she likes. Asuka, meanwhile, attempts to sustain Shinji’s nourishment and physical well-being by dealing with his depression in her usual passive-aggressive way. But it’s almost more like a mother tending to her pouting children, an analogy that Asuka herself makes when she says, “He doesn’t need a lover. He needs a mother.”

I think this dynamic is perfect for showing how much they have changed, too. Rei’s endeavor to become more human are contrasted by Asuka’s phasing off of humanity. After all, she’s part Angel now; she doesn’t have the same base urges and desires that the Lilin do, hence her lack of embarrassment for walking around half or full naked at Kensuke’s place. Speaking of, Kensuke, Tohji, and Hikari are back!! It feels super weird to interact with them following the timeskip, but their characters, too, seem more complete now that we see how they reacted to N3I and Fourth Impact. They were the ones who kept on rolling with the punches, who stayed optimistic even as the world ended, and now they’ve found peace in helping improve the lives of others. They’re a special trio, much like our pilots.

I say trio as if that doesn’t include Mari—worry not, she’s still here, and just as mysterious and horny as ever. Reuniting with Mari on the Wunder takes us to the next 40-minute segment, which includes happy reunions, some not-so-happy reunions, a space battleship fight, a free-fall dive into a swarm of scary Mark.07s, and Asuka’s transformation into an Angel. I wish more personal interactions were recorded on the Wunder, especially between the crew or Shinji and Mari. As for the battleship chase, I love all of it. This isn’t an opinion shared by many, but it has such a cool and upbeat energy to it (largely thanks to the musical score used) that I simply can’t say no. It would’ve been nice if Ritsuko played a bigger part, for a showdown between Ritsuko and Fuyutsuki would’ve been legendary. Ritsuko is so underutilized in general, and the Paris Operation, while still exciting, lacks the personal tension between both NERV officers.

This leads me to the actual fights between the EVAs, which are simultaneously badass and wasteful. I’m still torn. Asuka and Mari’s free-fall combat against a SWARM of EVAs goes to show the ridiculous proportions the Rebuild has gone to. At the same time, Asuka’s fight against the EVA Series in EOE is easily two times more intense and impactful. (Not to mention features a fraction of the number of enemy combatants.) When I watch a lot of the combat in 3.0+1.0, my eyes kind of glaze over. Also, I hate how Asuka’s amazing sacrifice to become an Angel to take down Evangelion 13 is so quickly shut down. It’s such a bold power move on her part—a noble confrontation of fate—and I can’t help but find that her bravery was overshadowed by Eva 13’s very abrupt reawakening. This scene, like many others in the Rebuild, just did not last long enough for me.

Over the next 40-minute segment (see a pattern yet?) Shinji finally confronts Misato and Gendo, ironically the two parental figures in Shinji’s life at NERV, on the Wunder’s stern. Misato’s farewell to Shinji is too short. I wanted them to talk about so much more together, to embrace in bigger smiles and bigger tears and cry out their misunderstandings together. But alas, their confrontation is short and bittersweet.

On the other hand, Gendo’s explanation of the prophecies contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls (WHICH WE ACTUALLY GET TO SEE, THANK YOU ANNO) kicks off the road leading to the “Additional Impact,” a horrific shock to all of WILLE. This is where the Human Instrumentality Projects reaches fruition, and the world is changed once more. I like the metaphor of the headless Eva Infinities and the floating Rei head—it shows how Fourth Impact started the instrumentality process but not fully completed it, hence only the “heads” have merged as one (and why they are missing). EOE’s instrumentality is much more elegant, but 3.0+1.0’s feels more . . . optimistic? Black space becomes radiant gold light, white beams become rainbow—it’s as if Anno is trying to show us an inverse of his previous apocalypse, one marked by a true elevation of spirit.

And CG Rei? Yeah, it’s crazy as hell. Thus, it needs to stay if not for the sole purpose of making us say, “If EOE’s giant Rei was weird, wait until you get a load of this.” I was secretly hoping the final film would have something just like this in it. Godspeed, CG Rei.

As for “moralizing Gendo,” I think his fate is finely met. I do find it humorous how Gendo immediately cannot handle Shinji’s newfound self-love once their minds start merging. Here, we see the struggle and pain of the first half of the film start paying off. Shinji’s real weapon isn’t Unit-01, but rather his own self-esteem. Had Shinji not realized the important things that he did in Village 3—and had he not had with him all of his friends, old and new—Gendo’s ambitions likely would have swallowed Shinji whole. It could have been a very different outcome.

The last 15 minutes of the film are where emotions start running high for me. Shinji basically has to tell everyone that they will be okay in the real world, and that they don’t need something like instrumentality to fulfill themselves. I loved learning about Asuka’s brutal efforts to become the best Shikinami pilot, but what I loved even more was returning to that beach in EOE. It is so fulfilling to see Shinji admit the words he always meant to say to her. For Kaworu, I crumble to pieces when he says, “Our names are written beside one another in the book of life.” Instant tears. Kaji’s reappearance in memory here also makes me crave another film to explain the time gap, though time will tell. “Well, you’re the only one left,” Shinji says as he faces a sad Rei cradling a baby doll. If I wasn’t already teary eyed, this moment makes my heart break. It is only Shinji’s determination to push forward with “Neon Genesis” that can mend the emotional damage dealt.

And finally, Mari returns to Shinji just as she said she would, and together they end the story. I like to think that Shinji and Mari return to their world of Village 3 in the brown train car, and that the two people leaving the station are just manifestations of them both from Shinji’s instrumentality. (Because technically, he also has to undergo the process . . . theorists will hopefully find us a concrete answer.) Regardless, the film leaves off on a note of hope—of joy to the world, for the end has come.

Evangelion is a story of repetition, one in which the characters fight over and over again until the can make things right. It is the tale of the struggle to connect, even if bonds can be beautiful, painful things. At its core, it is the hymn of finding love for oneself—of finding purpose and atonement for our transgressions. “There is hope, there is always hope,” an angel once told a grieving young boy. And so this boy followed hope, sought the ties that bound him to others, and was able to reach a joy that he himself had suffered for. Eva is the story of cycles, but more crucially how those who break them can sometimes be blessed by the universe itself.

I wanted to dedicate this longer post for Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time because I realize I did not write a review or reflection for it following my first viewing. I couldn’t back then. It was too soon, too difficult for me to say “Eva is over” even if that is, in fact, a very good thing. With this post and all the writing I did for EVERYDAY EVA, I hope to preserve some of my fleeting thoughts as record for future me to look back on and laugh and cry and smile about how much an anime can mean to a person. There won’t ever be another series quite like Eva in my life, and, in part thanks to EVERYDAY EVA, I’ve become happily content with that fact.

If you stuck out EVERYDAY EVA until the end, or if you just now joined for the franchise’s final bow, I want to thank you for stopping by and checking out my work. Blogging every single day of the month for Mecha March has been an immense challenge—and an even greater joy. I plan to collect some project statistics and brief reflective notes into one last post, so please look out for that! Until then, thank you very much for reading!

– Takuto

EVERYDAY EVA: 3.33 – The Tragedy of Evangelion | Mecha March

Welcome back to EVERYDAY EVA, the blog series where I aim to cover one episode of Evangelion every single day for Mecha March 2022! This NEW segment dives into the films of the hit sci-fi franchise.

Following the cataclysmic pursuit of his desires, Shinji reawakens to an unfamiliar red world. The only shred of hope to be found lies with the boy from the moon.

As I write this post, I realize that I could talk A LOT about 3.33, probably more so than any of the other Rebuild films. For visual design, the film’s focus on crafting large open spaces for its tiny characters presents us with some of loneliest imagery in the entire franchise. Eva’s use of colors has also never been this meticulous. The cinematic 2.35:1 aspect ratio tells us that this is a departure from everything we once knew, visually and narratively. Much has changed in the world since Shinji assimilated with Unit-01 over 14 years ago. Many of these changes are unnerving and unexplained, forcing us to side with the cowardly hero for once and really sympathize with him (if we hadn’t already). 3.33’s theatrical game takes Eva to an entirely new level—one that will usher a unique visual aesthetic that becomes emblematic of the entire Rebuild series almost overnight.

Evangelion 3.33’s opening fires off with one of my all-time favorite action cutscenes in anime—and not because of the actual battle waging between EVA-02 and the Mark.04 series. It’s the kinetic energy of their skirmish, the manipulation of machine through the foreign terrain of zero gravity, as well as the ducking, swaying, and swerving that accompanies an EVA jettisoned by rocket boosters and reeled by inertia. The scene does little to establish theme or expectation for the remainder of the film, but it serves as a masterful display of using CG design and quick directive reflex. I’d argue as far as to say that everything Studio Khara had been doing up until this moment was for the purpose of sharpening 3.33 into a wholly unique experience in Eva’s history. This is where the artistic and story risks taken in the previous installments start to reap their rewards.

That said, I think the Wunder lift-off scene is entirely too long. If we’re going to talk about “wasting time” on Anno’s obsession with heavy machinery, we should be pointing to this sequence instead. My guess is that not many Eva fans are particularly fond of the Wunder. Certainly, I am not, though I do appreciate the god-slaying ark slightly more thanks to 3.0+1.0. (I’m still waiting for an official source to confirm for me that it is, in fact, a domesticated 11th Angel that was cloned three times, please and thanks.) Anyway, I still wish (as I do with the final film) that less time was wasted on flexing the Wunder’s combat capabilities and more was invested into precious character interactions or world building, both of which are sorely sparse beyond 3.33.

What I would also like to commend 3.33 for is its structure, however; the film charts out really well as a tragedy in three acts. The first 30 minutes are all action and reawakening which attempt to re-welcome us to the world we thought we knew. In the next 30 minutes, Shinji develops his attachment with Kaworu to replace his growing disillusionment with Rei. Finally, the last 30 minutes, Shinji revives his drive to pilot the EVA in the name of hope, encountering Asuka, Mari, WILLE, and Kaworu himself as he vows to change the world once more. A friend and lover is lost in the falling out of the climax, and all of Shinji’s previous resolve vanishes. In a kind of microcosm all to itself, 3.33 tells the entire rise and fall of the protagonist. Structurally, it’s a very sound film.

In building upon my opinion on Amazon Prime’s English dub, I should comment that the script Amazon offers is a near-perfect duplication of the script Funimation used! I remember part of the reason this film didn’t get released to the global audience until 3 years after its initial release in 2012 was because Khara was so stingy with the translation. (This makes sense, though, given how fans raged for years over the meaning of certain lines in EOE.) While I’m GRATEFUL that much of the same crew Funi used is back for the Amazon dub (including Sakura’s VA, wow!), it’s a shame (and an honor, I guess) that practically the same dub crew had to reopen old wounds and replicate their own work after all these years. Eva continues to have THE most convoluted production history, from developing the story and animating it to releasing the finished product into the global market.

Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo is a tragic experience not only because of how things turn out for Shinji, but also because, for nearly a decade, this was where the Rebuild story ended. Fans were left alongside Asuka, Shinji, and Rei wandering the red Earth until Misato and WILLE (“the Lilin”) eventually come to rescue them. The somber cry of Hikaru Utada’s “Sakura Nagashi” echoes into the black abyss of credits, and finally a [super shitty] CG preview with THE ugliest EVA designs attempts to hype us up for the finale that never came. To add insult to injury, we never got the satisfaction of seeing the 3.0 preview content at the end of 2.22 actually happen in this film. Although we imply the events still occur, it is frustrating that Anno gave us a preview for the final film that is significantly less true to the artistic vision it ended up being. Hasty preview work happens all the time in the entertainment industry, but again, THIS WAS THE ENDING of the great Rebuild of Evangelion for almost 10 whole years. That’s 10 years too long if you ask me.

By the end of 3.33, many questions still linger about the 14 years that transpired prior to. What we do receive, though, is one of the most fraught and sorrowfully resonant arcs in all of Evangelion played out on an extraordinary, high-budget, theatrical stage. It is, to me, the most artistic film in the Rebuild, and the one I always come back to whenever I think about the new films. Come the next and final installment, Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time will conclude the third retelling of Shinji Ikari’s fate—and the grand drama that has been unfolding for the past 26 years. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you at the end!

– Takuto