Welcome back to EVERYDAY EVA, the blog series where I aim to cover one episode of Evangelion every single day for Mecha March 2022!
The Angels are finally gone, but Shinji is far from achieving happiness. While he grapples with the truth of his weakness, human instrumentality begins.
With Shinji’s killing of Kaworu, all of the Angels have finally been eliminated. Yet, Shinji is utterly distraught at his decision. “He was an Angel, an enemy!” He shouts in defense, but nothing can quell the regret tearing at his heart. Shinji finds himself wandering alone through the inner world of his mind, a foggy swamp with nothing grounded in reality. He pilots the EVA because everyone tells him to, but even this is a lie. Asuka is the one who tells him this. His real reason for piloting is because he depends on being sought out by others for piloting. “You’re waiting for false happiness.” Anxiety, fixation, fear, rejection—he has a lot to sort out, and, unfortunately, not much time life to do it.
Before we know it, we are trapped in Unit-02’s entry plug submerged deep underwater. Separation anxiety. Attachment behavior. These are Asuka’s deepest afflictions, the problems that she fails to deal with. For Rei, she has realized that her identity has been formed by her interactions with others. Connections are what construct us. But, even Rei is afraid of vanishing, disappearing from everyone’s hearts once she dies. Misato is the first to return to the void of nothingness, to experience the torturing joy of instrumentality. Then Asuka, and then Shinj. Oh boy, here we go.
Many people complain about the final two episodes of the series. They say that they can’t understand the story, or that the presentation is too experimental, allegorical, or absurd. While the later is certainly true, the former can be argued as such: Episode 25: “Do you love me?” and FINALE: “Take care of yourself.” do not focus on “story.” Rather, they instead fully exploit theme itself as the primary visualization. This idea comes directly from the production notes, which also perfectly summarize how both the final two episodes and the film, The End of Evangelion, are reflections of one another, all presenting the same themes in different ways. A radical way of watching Eva, then, might be to watch both Episode 25s before watching both Episode 26s. Maybe this is an experiment worth trying sometime.
But these are, without a doubt, the most introspective episodes of Evangelion. With Gendo’s Human Instrumentality Project underway, we start to see the devolution (or transcendence, depending on your view at this point) of mankind. Outside, a much larger battle is being waged. Internally, however, our focus is on defining “the end of the world that Shinji himself brought about. Where it takes him and what he decides, the final episode holds all the answers. See you there soon.