Bokurano: The Darkness Within Our Hearts | Review

A brief spoiler-free review of the 24-episode spring 2007 anime “Bokurano: Ours,” animated by Gonzo, directed by Hiroyuki Morita, and based on Mohiro Kitoh’s manga of the same name.

***MINOR SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST COUPLE EPISODES ARE PRESENT***

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How Would You Spend Your Last Day on Earth?

I’m sure you haven’t given it much thought; to which, neither have I. None of us do, and yet here’s an anime where kids are told when they will die, how they will die, and that whatever they do with their final day is up to them. There is no running away from fate, it’s do-or-die time. However, I suppose my words would have more weight if I told you why. Allow me to backtrack . . .

Fifteen children are enjoying their youth together at a summer camp. It’s sun, sea, and, what’s this? A mysterious grotto by the shore? The kids explore the creepy cave only to find a strange setup of computers and monitors, along with an even creepier old man calling himself Kokopelli. Supposedly, Kokopelli’s been developing a game, one where the players pilots a giant robot to defend Earth against 15 different alien invasions, and all he needs now is willing players to test it out. Sounds fun, I mean, what could be the harm? By individually placing their hand on a scanner, the kids complete their contract and suddenly blackout.

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They awaken back on the beach. Other than the fact that night has fallen, everything appears normal. Normal, EXCEPT for the impossibly high 500-meter-tall giant robot now towering over them! In a horrific twist of fate, the children must now take to their seats to pilot Zearth one at a time in hopes that they have the physical strength and mental fortitude it takes to defeat the bizarre enemies. But Kokopelli’s abrupt disappearance leaves the afraid and confused kids with harsh truths they must discover on their own: What exactly is Zearth, and what is the giant robot’s energy source?

Before I rip into the fantastic story of Bokurano, I wanted to address my biggest issue with the show right off the bat: the “antagonist.” Surely, even just by reading the synopsis something seems fishy. Where did Kokopelli go? Will he reappear later as the antagonist? It’s tricky for me to explain much of anything without ruining the surprise, but I can imagine that you, too, understand that there’s something else at play here. And here’s the thing: that “something” doesn’t really make much of an appearance. When director Hiroyuki Morita brought over the story from Mohiro Kitoh’s manga, even he felt that some of Bokurano was just way too damn sad (sources are all over the web confirm this).

So he changed it, and I think that the force that moves the anime along was “left behind” in the process, either because it didn’t mesh well with Morita’s new story, or that there wasn’t enough time to explain it all (as is what often happens in anime). Don’t worry, this anime adaptation is still one of the most depressing things you’ll ever watch, but if the ending feels somewhat incomplete, it’s because *frustratingly* this is not the same ending intended from the start.

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The Saddest Soldiers for the Saddest Anime Ever

Systematically, we bear witness to pilot after pilot fight their battle and depart from the scene. Where do they go, what happens to them? Ready for a dose of reality? ***SPOILERS for the first couple episodes, but they die. That’s all there is to it. There’s no glory, and no reward. Once you’ve served your purpose in prolonging the planet’s safety, no longer are you of any use to Zearth and Koemushi, a cruel and sadistic ABOMINATION whose job is to circulate this cycle of death and inevitably select the next pilot.

Each episode or two, we center our narrative focus on the next pilot chosen. From family and friends to one’s most carefully guarded secrets, we quite literally see all of it. The darkness in our hearts can seem infinitely deep, regardless of one’s age, and the fronts we put up can’t always mask it all. We see kids break, physically and emotionally, and although we know that they’ll die at the end of the episode, it can still be dramatic and utterly heartbreaking. Honestly, I wish they had more time . . . I won’t go into further details for real spoilers, but watching others suffer is . . . well, “Pain is addictive.”

Bokurano is thrilling up until the very end, even if it is hard to watch these poor kids undergo psychological torment to no end. Either it was super interesting to watch or, subconsciously, I wanted to quickly put them out of their misery, but I just could not put Bokurano down for a second.

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Oh, and be prepared to have your guesses as to who’s next get smashed, as even the seemingly “main” characters are not spared from Koemushi’s wrath.

Lost Iconography: The Circle of Chairs

A lot of early 2000s anime don’t hold up very well in today’s day. Bokurano is no exception from this. The show’s characters can look pretty rough on the eyes, and other than the robot fights, Gonzo’s animation is kept to a minimum, resulting in too many dialogue scenes and conversations that don’t seem to end. On those robot fights though, man—Bokurano’s got some of the most engaging, exciting, strange, and truly colossal mech fights that the genre has to offer! Unlike a tedious game of “My gun is bigger than your gun,” a real amount of strategy is required to pilot a robot that essentially has no controls—just your mind. Sync with Zearth, tell it what you want to do, and it will likely perform the feat even if its mechanical structure has to be reconfigured entirely. Just as how we know more about the cast as we go along, we come to see Zearth’s true range of abilities, and understand why it is able to put up such a good fight.

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I wanted to briefly mention the chairs, though. You know, that eerie circle of unique chairs inside Zearth’s pilot chamber. The chairs are how the pilots enter and exit Zearth, and without their genius iconography, works like Madoka Magica may not have that extra special “Shaft” touch. A single object or location can tell an entire story—and these chairs encompass both of those categories. Whenever I see Daiichi, Komoda, or Chizuru’s chairs, I immediately recall their struggles, their emotions, their story, which is absolutely wild given that they’re ultimately just furniture. Where do you spend most of your time sitting? How does that area represent who you are as a person?

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While the main OST doesn’t offer much in the way of me thinking, “Oh yeah, that’s Bokurano!” Chiaki Ishikawa has absolutely dominated the sound department with her amazingly addictive OP and two excellent ED themes. “Little Bird” and especially “Vermilion” are rich with a somber quality to them, but “Uninstall” ranks up there as one of my favorite OPs of all time for its epic melancholy, sorrowful lyrics, and ability to call to mind all of the beauty and tragedy in Bokurano. 

The Pain of Letting Go

Could you put enough pain on a single person to change the human heart? Short answer, yes, but the road to such change can be messy, frustrating, and completely exhausting. Bokurano‘s main interest comes from the constant curiosity of where the story is headed next. What will ultimately stick with you, however, are the hearts left behind along the way, and the stories that succumbed to tragedy—or the few that ended with a glimmer of hope.

As characters exit the stage one by one, their vacant seats are left to inspire the next chosen hero. At one point, these chairs had a warm body that sat in them, that thought about their place in the world, and that struggled to come to terms with their fate. Although its visuals are dated and some of its background plot points could’ve been fleshed out better for the finale, Bokurano still holds fast as a gem of its genre, reminding us that everyone suffers—but we that can still be saved.

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An awesome reality came to meet us from beyond. It came to laugh at how simple our existence was. Even when I covered my ears, the truth slipped through both hands and confounded me . . . I have no choice but to act as a warrior who knows no fear.—from “Uninstall,” the opening theme


Bokurano‘s been sitting on my backlog ever since I watched Evangelion, and now that I’ve FINALLY seen it, I can confidently recommend it to fans of that other popular abstract mecha anime. Their distorted premises may be different, but the stakes of the game are the same, in that a group of kids must pilot giant robots against the wrath of the heavens—or face the destruction of their world. Similarly, both stories feature a very human cast dealing with issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses to sexual frustration and an inferiority complex. Both series handle these themes with extreme care and realism, which can be appreciated immensely. If it isn’t a surprise by this point, then please, let’s honor Bokurano: Ours as a “Caffe Mocha” title, a rating reserved for only the best!”

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Because of its clockwork death count and endearing participants, I found this smartly written survival game to literally be The Saddest Anime I’ve Ever Seen. Despite being full of nothing but misery and grief, the suspense of hope that releases at the very end feels immensely satisfactory. If you’re up for a bit of a psychological challenge and don’t mind a throwback, you ought to give Bokurano a try (Crunchyroll’s got it for FREE)! Already seen it? Let me know what you thought about Bokurano or this review down in the comments and we can reminisce together! Thanks for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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“Orange” is Sweet & Sour, Yet All The More Beautiful | OWLS “Treasure”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s  ninth monthly topic, “Treasure,” I decided to incorporate what would have been my standard review of the Orange manga into a cautionary yet hopeful look at the realm of teen suicide, and how, as an outsider, it is okay feel unsure when warning signs are observed.

There are moments in our lives where we lose our sense of self-worth and value and as a result, we find ourselves deep in darkness or drowning in the ocean. However, every person in this world is a treasure—we treasure ourselves or we are treasured by others—and at times, we may need to be reminded of that. We will be exploring characters who have suffered from mental illnesses, depression, and/or suicide, and then discussing how these individuals cope with these issues, the reasons for their emotions, and how they handled the situations they were in.

For as long as I’ve been avoiding it, alas, there’s no going around the major theme of suicide in Orange, so thanks for the prompt, Lyn! This is also my first manga review, so wish me luck!

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A brief spoiler-free discussion on the 5-volume 2012-2017 manga “Orange,” localized in the U.S. by Seven Seas Entertainment with story and art by Ichigo Takano. 

Death, Divorce, Drugs, Depression

Today, teachers will advise students to omit these four things when it comes to important college, scholarship, or job essays/interviews. This is likely because your employers and admissions offices do not want your pity; they want to hear about your strengths, a time you overcame tough odds, or maybe a moment of positive character development in your lifetime—NOT about the pitiable setbacks along the way.

But if these four items have become such crucial parts in the great cycle of life, why mightn’t you want to write about how you didn’t let the divorce of your parents or attempt at suicide ultimately stop you, or convey how even though drugs might’ve ruled your past that they would not own your future?

Ok, real talk. Depression is, well, depressing. Drugs are weird. And let’s face it, having to console someone about their “recently late” Aunt Susie can be extremely awkward, both for the you and the other party, rest-assured. It’s hard to talk about suicide and say “just the right thing” at “just the right time.” When is that time? Is it my fault for not knowing? It’s all just so . . . pressuring, so time consuming, and your boss probably doesn’t have the time to seat you on the sofa and listen to you express all your life’s troubles.

As much as I hate to say it, business and education are professional. Save your need of counseling for the counselor.

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I’ve Been Running for So Long

All this and more is why I avoid the Four D’s, both on my papers and here on the most informal of blogs. I try not to talk about specific real problems—negative aspects, terrible people, worrisome events—we face daily, but instead offer to celebrate the good that can come from something, even if that bit of positivity is ultimately (and knowingly) insignificant or greatly overpowered. Death and depression are hard to talk about for many, and the last thing I want to do is try consoling someone when I’d probably end up making things worse.

We don’t always get to make that decision, however, as entertainment has integrated these kinds of issues into their stories and characters. I might hear that a certain manga or anime is a “masterpiece of emotional conflict,” yet as soon as I hear “mental illness,” I won’t lie, I get turned off.

This brings me back to Orange, a brief tale about THE WORLD’S GREATEST GROUP OF FRIENDS and their willingness to alter time—risking the wonderful future in store for themselves—in order to prevent the inevitable suicide of a troubled young boy, their newfound beloved, treasured friend. It’s a story so short, powerful, and highly regarded of that it just couldn’t be ignored anymore, and descending into darkness proved well-worth the risks.

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To You, in the Past

The start of Naho Takamiya ‘s junior year in high school was unlike any other: for the first time, Naho overslept, which was also her first mistake. That morning a letter made its way to her, but she was too busy trying to make it to school on time. When she finally arrives, her teacher announces a new transfer student by the name of Kakeru Naruse. According to the letter (which she now has some time to scope out), he’ll sit next to her. And just like clockwork, the teacher seats him in the back right next to her.

To her disbelief, Naho realizes she stumbled upon a letter from herself ten years in the future, which chronicles her everyday emotions and actions for the next six or so months. It’s not until shortly after Naho and her four other friends invite Kakeru to walk home together after class that she, again, violated the letter’s requests: her second big mistake.

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Naho is tasked by her future self to get to know Kakeru Naruse better—to make him feel welcomed, loved, cherished, and understood—for ten years from now, Kakeru no longer walks among the living, and his loss was her greatest regret. Now unfolds a fatalistic love story that spans across time, a tale full of many emotional ups and downs.

Everyone Needs Friends Like These Guys

I find myself in the same boat as Naho; depression is hard to talk about, so she often skirts around the issue by using the excuse of “making him smile.” I suppose both technically work, but clearly, Naho has no idea how to make Kakeru happy. While I can relate to her frequent indecision and lack of self-confidence, C’MON GIRL, JUST SPIT IT OUT ALREADY. I love Naho’s cute and considerate character to death, but man, telling a guy that you have lunch for him shouldn’t be that hard. I guess it adds to Orange‘s drama, and that some social anxiety can be just as stressful as depression.

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Orange is only complicated on an emotional level, concerning itself almost exclusively with Kakeru’s depression and Naho’s inability to act the way she truly wants to. The relationship between the two of them is such a focal point that I couldn’t help but wish more of Naho’s friends played a bigger role. There’s the ever-teased soccer “giant” Suwa, a real team player, and he’s just about the best friend you could ever ask for. I’ll avoid spoilers by merely saying that he’s a funny guy full of heart, and that if anyone’s willing to take one for the team, it would absolutely be him. (Props to creating one of the most challenging love triangles ever.)

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But there are others: the girls, including the loud and cheerful Azusa and the cool, strong Takako. These two are almost always up to no good, snooping around whenever and wherever they can, but their presence makes me feel most at ease. They’re both overly caring, and despite how bratty Azu can get, or scary Takako may seem, they only mean to stick up for their friends.

Lastly there’s poor, poor glasses-kun Hagita, who likely would’ve been my favorite character had he been more than just the team’s punching bag. He’s picked on and ridiculed for nearly everything he does, but his logic and reasoning, no matter how pessimistic, often lead to the solutions everyone’s been looking for. Several times throughout the series he’s hinted on having a huge involvement with the finale (which could’ve led to something really cool), when in actuality, he’s just as equal in importance as the other girls.

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*gulp* Here We Go

It doesn’t take a second glance to see that Kakeru is dealing with his own demons. His smile may be pretty and sparkly, but underneath that shine is a whole lot of self-doubt, trauma, and shitty memories from his previous school. On top of it all, his parents are divorced, and he blames himself for his mother’s sudden suicide early on, which is what triggers the events of Orange! Well geez, it’s no wonder he’s thinkin’ about offin’ himself all the time!

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Suicide is big. It can be hard to stomach and awkward to talk about, I covered this. But because it can be so off-putting for some people, odds are that they will have a difficult time with Orange. It doesn’t help that Kakeru comes across as particularly frustrating and ungrateful. But we gotta help the guy out, that’s what we do, right? With these kinds of people and situations, we need to get as close as we can to hear them out. From there, we can only go with our gut and advise them, appreciate their efforts and tell them that  it’s almost always never their own fault, and that they are never alone.

In my opinion, Naho did what was right by involving all of her friends in on the dilemma. She took her sweet time, but thanks to plot convenience (and a neat twist), everyone becomes gung-ho about saving Kakeru. Take things slowly, sincerely, and whole-heatedly, for if you can save the life of a friend, then it’s always worth the time. You may not get it right the first time, but at least you tried.

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Regret and Happiness

I boast that one of Orange’s winning features is its short 5-volume run, but maybe that’s because I can’t take +10 volumes on suicide. Suicide plays a big role in the story, I’ll admit, but it’s not the real enemy here—regret is. As if all of the characters play supporting roles, Regret is the main antagonist (Guilt his henchman), whilst Satisfaction and Happiness work together to calm not only Kakeru’s mindset, but everyone else’s regret-filled future, too.

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It just sucks when you have to give up what could have been your dream life all because you felt a little guilty for having that blessed life in the first place.

To You, in the Future

Like the titular fruit flavor, oranges taste so sweet and delightful. That is, until you notice that subtle sour tinge. Once it stands out to you, that’s all you can taste, and the fruit no longer becomes desired for its sweetness.

Naho lives one of the coolest lives ever imaginable, surrounded by her dearest friends and caring family. But as soon as Naho experiences Kakeru’s false smile, the sourness just punches her in the gut and pushes her to the brink of tears and exhaustion. That’s when she remembers Kakeru’s value to not only herself now, but herself in the future: “Ten years from now, I’m still regretting Kakeru’s death and the fact that I didn’t even notice how he truly felt.”

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At this point, she makes a desperate call to fate, the ruler of this timeline, wishing to keep the treasure that she found—that they all found—in Kakeru’s heart. And if fate didn’t grant her this treasure, then she’d take it by force. I’m no love expert, but that’s pretty cool of Naho, and I’m glad that this sour story found its sweetness once again by the end—it just makes it all the more beautiful.

“Kakeru . . . is my greatest treasure. Please let us change Kakeru’s future . . . I will not let this be his last day.” – Naho Takamiya


What’s the moral of the story? Well, you could say “Never give up,” but I rather like the sound of “Live without regrets.” The author Ichigo Takano herself, in the epilogue, hopes that our future is a happy one, and that years from now we are still living without regrets. “If you have someone like Kakeru in your life, please find a way to save them. Every life is precious. Please treasure each and every day, the present, the moment, and yourself. Thank you very much.” 

If we notice someone displaying potential signs of any mental illness, don’t feel afraid to step out and let them know you’re with them. Never expect to know EXACTLY what they’re going through, but be prepared to get them the right help just in case. I’m excited to watch the Orange anime now, and with a LTD ED release coming this fall thanks to Funimation, I know what’ll bring my wonderful experience full circle! For now, the manga receives the “Caffe Mocha” approval rating!

A very special to Gigi (Animepalooza) over on YouTube for gifting me with the first volume as per her giveaway—without you, I would not have been allowed to experience this endearing story of romance and very attractive artwork, so many thanks again~!

This concludes my September 19th entry in the OWLS “Treasure” blog tour. Prior to me, Hazelyn (ARCHI-ANIME) wrote about reasons for living in the otome PS Vita game Collar X Malice, and just tomorrow the 20th, Crimson (Crimson is Blogging) will walk us through the Katie Green novel Lighter Than My Shadow! Thank you so much for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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THIS IS WHY WE CAN (NOT) REDO | Comprehensive Review

Here lie my thoughts on the 2012 anime film “Evangelion: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo,” also known as “Evangelion Theatrical Edition: Q Quickening,” produced by Studio Khara and Gainax, original story by Hideaki Anno. Specifically, this is a bit of a review, analysis, and diatribe . . . thing . . . over FUNimation Entertainment’s February 2nd, 2016 release of the prolonged English dub and translation. Be forewarned, we breech SPOILER TERRITORY, and this post will be rather lengthy and out-of-the-ordinary in comparison to my typical reviews. This compilation will (not) be for everyone, clearly, but if thus far you have enjoyed the musings of Takuto the host as a person, do consider taking the time to carefully read. I would greatly appreciate it.

While my Eva celebration concluded a week ago, I held off on this review. It’s not only hard to talk about from a statistical standpoint, but difficult to pass judgement on an emotional level. I think I’m finally ready to wrap this up, though. No spoiler, I enjoyed myself. However, my voicing of CONCERN for a franchise has NEVER been stronger than what is contained below – And I watched PMMM: Rebellion! For both of us to navigate this wasteland of crushed dreams and abundant thoughts, I’ll be dividing this into sections. Read parts of it, all of it, just the end, none of it – Whatever you’d like.

CG Evas never weighed so little! Also, best soundtrack to date!

This’ll be the easiest area to cover, as the quality of the Rebuild continues to impress. The dynamic perspectives in space, the desolate tone of old NERV HQ, the unbelievable action sequences, that godly piano scene, oh my!! I only hope that the last film (whenever it gets here, *sigh*) doesn’t rely so heavily on CG mapping because seriously, the entire first third of the series (which really feels like its own episode) is all CG, save for the characters. It’s not a bad thing, per say (the Mark.04’s last form looks like a shitty CG fan blade and the Wunder, Misato’s flagship not only lacks explanation for its abilities, but also looks dorky), I just remember when the Evas had so many moving CG parts and details, and now just a black line down the middle can replace that? Um, no. Also, not sure how I feel about the sharper face designs.

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Yeah . . . ten-year-old me might have been a fan, but now . . . 

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Unit-08 in the trailer in 2.22

 

What we actually got in 3.33. Yeah, it sucks.

This was from the trailer (not that we should trust them anymore) for the last film. Doesn’t it look kinda ugly?

And why are they now weightless?? Giant robots are flyin’ all over the place towards the end looking like sprinting drunk fools. Also, do you remember when beast mode was a special thing only Shinji could do in NGE and 1.11? Well, not only can Mari do it (2.22) but so can Asuka now *facepalms*. Is best mode just a gimmick now, because it’s not even cool, neither does it make sense. The animation otherwise is absolutely stunning, and I mean that with every sense of the word! I still hope Khara is saving the good stuff for last . . .

Shiro Sagisu has done it again, that is, knock the atmosphere of EVANGELION OUT OF THE PARK!!! This was probably my favorite part of the entire film, his epic and otherworldly soundtrack elevating the stakes on every scene. While I love the reprisal of his old stuff, his new pieces, full orchestra or melancholic piano, are not something to cast aside. “The Ultimate Soldier,” “The Wrath of God in All its Fury,” “God’s Gift,” and “Scarred and Battled” are all bone-chilling masterpieces. They add SO MUCH to the movie! While at first I was very disappointed with Hikaru Utada’s new ending theme “In the End (or Sakura Nagashi), as the anticipation from the first two blew me away, I have come to delight in this change of pace. As for the English dub, it too is excellent! Not sure why a translation took so long, but hey, the acting is wonderful, and it’s so great to hear Allison Keith as Misato and Tiffany Grant as Asuka once again.

Not the world we thought we knew: Reintroduction and Basic Summary

Following the cataclysmic Third Impact initiated by Shinji Ikari at the end of 2.22, 14 years of undefined strife have passed, leaving the Earth stained red. SEELE, revealed to be nearly crippled by mysterious attempts behind the scenes, has entrusted “World’s Best Dad” Gendo Ikari to carry out the remaining mission of returning mankind to a world free of human suffering and sin: Instrumentality. But Dr. Ikari has anticipated this, and instead proceeds with his own selfish plan of using the Evas to eradicate God in return for a reunion with his wife, Yui, who is revealed to be “trapped” inside the purple Unit-01.

Not all of the adults were very pleased with NERV’s true motives, however, and as a result Wille was born out of the crimson fires of rebellion. Headed by Misato, Ritsuko, three familiar NERV faces, and some new recruits, this “Will” is the only remaining organization fighting for the People.

While a decade and a half has transformed everyone around him (the “Curse of the Evas” preventing Mari and Asuka from physically aging, though), Shinji remains the same old idiot brat. He clearly still hates himself, and, upon hearing that he is no longer useful to anyone he loved AND that he failed to save his beloved Rei, fleets in anguish and rage.

Upon returning to old NERV headquarters, the third child encounters SEELE’s boy, Kaworu Nagisa. The majority of the film develops their intimate relationship, but when even more lies and secrets sneak their way out, Shinji once again mentally teeters on the brink of destruction, setting the stage for the beginning of the end of humanity.

The first ten minutes were fascinating – that space battle entranced me and left me dazed! What was so promising, however, became unexplained motives just for SHOCK VALUE. I wasn’t digging the Wunder or any of Wille’s musings at all simply because I don’t recognize anyone there! I can’t sympathize with something that has no feelings for its viewer! After, when we return to Shinji at NERV, things get a little more interesting but continue without regard to us watching. It was a deadly cycle of WTF after WHY?

This is how felt.

3.33 is set in a world gone to shit. Our favorite mentally-disturbed NERV-lings now grit their teeth and point guns at each other. I understand wanting to shock the individual through Shinji’s dusty reopened eyes, but there is a difference between sudden character development and dun-dun-dun PLOT TWIST. The tonal shift is absolutely effective, but everything just feels wrong with this movie. It’s as if I’m stuck in the worst dream of my life, yet waking up is impossible not because I’m trapped, but because this intangible hope still fascinates me; an urge to scratch an itch.

Despite my love for its previous “Angel of the week” setup and watching the robots fight, Evangelion has always been more than that – It’s an assessment of the human condition, how we cope with loss, and the relationship between troubled individuals . . . With the Rebuild, I almost have to discard both of these beliefs because, after reading the pamphlet the set came with, it read:

“Volume 3 plunges headlong into unknown territory as it presents the viewers with unconventional plot twists that they never could have imagined. At the same time, it brings together all the story elements as “Shinji Ikari’s Story.”

That second bit could possibly explain the entirety of this new direction. It’s “Shinji Ikari’s Story” now, not necessarily being about the others. Shinji’s new development is much less noisome compared to the original. That might be a plus for some, but for others (NGE fans) the choices he makes and the unexpected backbone grown feels even more disconnected than before. He’s suddenly able to save chicks and initiate Third Impact just by going berserk, which makes NO SENSE considering that Third Impact is a ritual of sorts contained with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then you want us to believe that Third Impact was prevented, yet it still managed to destroy the world?? What the hell?! 3.33 is more emotionally invested at the cost of its linear storytelling built by the first two films, and that investment is totally dependent on ridiculously high stakes timed with over-the-top action sequences – NOT character mentality. I want my real characters with real problems back, not heroes saving princesses.

Familiar faces . . . or are they?

I’ll get right to it. I hate this new Misato. The Misato that we’ve come to love from the previous two films would have understood Shinji and tried to comfort him like a mother. At the end of 2.22, she even remarks that he shouldn’t care about the rest of them or the world. “Do what you think is right” coaching. The only subtlety of her kindness is when she refuses to detonate the DSS choker around Shinji at the end of the first third. That part makes sense, but THAT’S ABOUT IT. It doesn’t help when she, being a main character in the first two films, gets a combined 5 minutes of screen time, if that. I despise those who keep comparing this series to the original, but we were cheated out on the beautiful relationship between Kaji and Misato. It was one of my favorite moments from the show that dives into the complex mind of NERV’s bossy gal.

And Ritsuko, HOLY GOD WHERE IS YOUR HAIR?!?! Like Misato and the rest of the crew, no explanations as to what occurred during that 14-year gap were given. In the original series, this would’ve been the point when Ritsuko fought with her past – her mother. While the absence of Misato and Ritsuko’s stories isn’t world-crushing for fans of the original series, it would be such a disappointment for someone who only knows of the Rebuild. At this point, Misato and Ritsuko are just hot husks for shock value, and that makes me cry.

Don’t even get me started with Asuka and Mari. At this point, they’re both in it just to say they were in it. Asuka is mad at Shinji and continues to bring the best fights in the entire franchise. Wow, that’s new. Had I only watched the Rebuild, I wouldn’t have even thought that she suffered from acceptance issues by her mother, and that the Eva is the only way of showing how awesome she is. Want to know why? BECAUSE WE DON’T KNOW IT! It’s that stupidly simple!

And Mari, oh poor Mari. She gets 2 minutes of screen time standing in the background sniping things that DIDN’T MATTER IN THE SITUATION. She’s clearly back up for Asuka at this point, but god is she unappreciated. Also, her psychologic state receives zero background, adding nothing new here. It only adds fuel to the fiery debate that Mari is pink fan-service that serves no purpose in the Rebuild. Is it sad that I’m starting to side with them? I feel disoriented with the Rebuild’s characters, much like Asuka spinning around in the dark loneliness of space.

As for Touji’s sister Sakura and the other old/new recruits? Either give us more than 10 minutes of Wille interactions or don’t add them at all. To quote the new Misato, “You do nothing.” Interestingly, for as much that explodes in our faces, 3.33 is the shortest film in the series. Would 20 extra minutes of integral building on Asuka, Misato, Mari and the others have helped the movie? You bet your sweet ass. This is yet another reason why I feel so cheated on by 3.33.

. . . Rei fans? Not anymore . . .

Ignorance of the hedgehog

SHINJI IS FOR ONCE A RELATABLE CHARACTER. If you woke up after a 14-year-long coma and everyone wanted to wring your neck – yet not tell you why – How angry and disoriented would you feel?? Shinji has every right to storm out of the Wunder. Wille did NOTHING to better the situation. By leaving Shinji in the dark then getting mad at him and scolding him, of course he’d be sick of it all! He didn’t intend to destroy the world, let alone do it a second time at the end. Why doesn’t someone inform him? Kaworu tried, but he’s too cryptic for Shinji to understand. Fuyutsuki told him about his mom, but this information only explains Gendo’s motives – NOT what he has done “wrong” as a human.

Finding love in a war-torn world, A “fanfiction come to life?”

Sittin’ in the cock . . . pit.

That’s right you KawoShin fans, here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. The film takes on the emotional side of the franchise, especially the pinnacle of Shinji’s depression: The rejection of others and the loss of a dear friend. 3.33 invests more emotional build up through this pairing and the opposition that Shinji is once again faced with, though this time feeling more artificial. In a world where no one will accept Shinji for whom he is anymore, seeking refuge with a new-found friend was the happiest thing for me. I was ready for the movie to end when they were tangled up in the magic of music, THE MOST beautiful scene in the entire movie in terms of emotion – I dare say of the entire Rebuild. I fangirled HARD. Kaworu filled the holes (in more ways than one *wink*) left after everyone’s betrayal and gave the first child a purpose for still living. More than that, he gave Shinji a friend. He needed that. The DSS choker, bearing the weight of sin, is taken by Kaworu, which signifies that atonement can be achieved through hope. “What was caused by an Eva can be fixed by an Eva.”

The HOPE for rebirth is out there . . .

I read a comment on YouTube a few days ago:

“Don’t worry Shinji, Rei’s got your Walkman, Asuka’s got your hand, Mari’s got your back, and between them they’ll eventually talk Misato around.”

The only problem with this is lovely statement is that in order for Shinji to cope with his depression in this route, the radio has to be left behind. It is, in short, the unwillingness to open up; the grudge against a cruel world and his father; a pact with solitude. I have a strong feeling that we won’t be hearing the next track in that same old player – It’ll be something new and full of hope because it HAS to be. 3.33 leaves us with Shinji, Asuka, and Rei (no Mari, see, even Anno doesn’t care anymore) ready to traverse the bloodstained wasteland. By themselves. No one else. This is very exciting!

The Rebuild has given up on coping with issues like depression and loss. That much is clear. Instead, it goes for a more conventional theme: Hope. 3.33 ends with neither closure nor satisfaction, and that is very frustrating. If EVERYTHING is explained and built upon in the fourth installment, then cool, this is a masterpiece. But that is highly unlikely. The Rebuild doesn’t need to look back at this point. The stage is set for the final act, and its heading is definitely fixated forward. In its third chapter, we were thankful that the ROE was focusing all of its energy on cohesively developing its main character, “Shinji Ikari’s Story.” Sadly, this comes at the incredible cost of its other leads and a cohesive plot. I fear more than anything that these great sacrifices and risks won’t be worth it.

Consider me shocked and impressed, but I’m not at all comfortable with these new developments quite yet. The Rebuild of Evangelion is still in the closet (with this film, in more ways than one). Not a whole lot was accomplished, as yet another step in Gendo Ikari’s ever-expanding, world-deconstructing plan was fulfilled, and it only leaves us on another verge as to what will ‘impact’ us next. Though it has blinded us with myriad shades of red, it has yet to show us its true colors. What will unfold? Only God knows.

– Takuto, your host