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

EVERYDAY EVA: 1.11 – The Nostalgia 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.

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

God, I love this film.

For the longest time, this movie was not only my favorite piece of the Evangelion franchise, but also my favorite film in general. It came to me at a time when I was at a low in life, and the rewarding sensation of unwrapping the plastic of the Blu-ray immediately after finishing The End of Evangelion for the first time remains one of my most cherished memories. It retells Shinji’s origin leading up to the intensely charged fight with Ramiel, and I remember reeling in the surprises that the Rebuild was setting up for this new groundwork—the different numbers for the Angels, Misato’s showing of Lilith to Shinji, the world eroded by mysterious damage (presumed to be fallout from EoE, but more on theories later), and the crimson sea that now covers the Earth. If you go straight into Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone. from NGE (like I did then and always do now), you’ll find yourself in a world freshly redesigned—yet still charmingly Eva.

However much of a masterpiece I still think this film is, I have resigned to the fact that, compared to the films that follow, the pacing errs on the slower side. (And that’s really saying something, given that only ~20 min of content are cut from making this a 1:1 rehash of the first FULL 6 episodes!) Really, I only notice it lagging when I’m watching it with other people, specifically right before and after the fight with the now designated “5th” Angel fight. (My consciousness wanders to overthinking about others’ own perceptions . . . does this happen to anyone else?)

All of the prep work leading up to the climax remains stellar, though. Watching the lights fade across Japan as the ludicrous amount of heavy machinery whirls away to the faint purple aura of the night is truly a sight to behold. I like Eva when it obsesses over technology like that. You definitely can tell where Anno has left his mark, as 1.11 especially is saturated in his signature style. Cloaked in the darkness, Misato and Ritsuko pray that the operation goes smoothly, and Shinji and Rei share a unique exchange with one another. The rest, then, is history—but not before Anno decides to make Shinji muster his courage to fire that positron rifle a second time. He’s already shaping up to be more heroic than NGE ever allowed him to be.

As the start of Shinji Ikari’s new theatrical story, 1.11 harnesses all of the cherry nostalgia and glowing fondness that I still cherish from my first experience with Eva in 2015. In fact, it was the striking logo of the film that initially caught my attention so many years ago, the title itself shrouded in curious mysticism. I’m forever thankful to 1.11 for inviting me to Shinji’s world.

By the way, for the EVERYDAY EVA, I decided to pursue the recently distributed English dubbed version on Amazon Prime since it’s the only version of Eva that I’ve yet to watch through in its entirety. My initial thoughts? Not a huge fan. Misato is more chipper than ever (which could be a plus for many), but everyone’s dialogue comes across as awkward—no thanks to Khara for sending the dubbing team their uber stilted script. Still, it’s the reality we must unfortunately face. I still dream that Funimation would snag the final film and complete what I personally find to be THE best dub (casting and scripting) of Eva, but with their licenses to the other films not being renewed—PLUS the entire company shifting around with all the Sony/Crunchyroll business—I’m not sure it’s even feasible anymore. At least most of the old dub crew is back in the cockpit one last time.

The plot picks up significantly in Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance, which is somewhat ironic given the title. “New” characters are introduced, including Asuka, Kaji, and a strange pilot from NERV’s Euro branch, Mari. Shaking up Shinji’s life, their combined presence ushers in what I like to call the “true spirit of Eva.” More action, drama, and mystery await, as well as several novel departures from the classic story we know and love (or hate—I won’t judge). Thanks for reading, and ‘til then!

– Takuto

EVERYDAY EVA: The End of Evangelion – Fate and Destruction, Joy and Rebirth | 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.

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.

As we have now fully realized, Eva, historically, is a story that is *officially* thrice ended. For the longest time, however, The End of Evangelion and its counterpart Death and Rebirth served as the true ending to the franchise. Like all things in Eva, EOE is comprised of a pair of “episodes” coupled together for one theatrical viewing: Episode 25 “Air” (subtitle “Love is destructive.”) and special Episode 26, “ONE MORE FINAL: I need you.” (Emphasis here on the word more.) These two parts offer the amazing satisfaction of filling in the story aspect otherwise lacking from the series’ ending. What makes EOE a true masterpiece, though, is its conviction to relaying the story’s themes while also bringing everyone’s story arcs to a close—all while still utilizing the experimental visual techniques from the series’ finale. And unique is the optimistic way of putting it. EOE is downright weird.

First, I should mention that Death and Rebirth is still worth watching today. When I first reviewed the film, I pretty much tore it to pieces (save for the newly added quartet scenes, which I still value as some of THE best Eva content). NGE is a series that often likes to recap itself. Yet, despite the repetition, the lore aspect of the plot remains difficult to parse even after a third, fourth, fifth viewing. (And I have watched this series through at least seven times. Yes, it’s my favorite. Get over yourself.) SEELE’s schemes, Human Instrumentality, and the ancient secrets encoded in the Dead Sea Scrolls only finally start to make sense in the latter half of Death and Rebirth, AKA the “Rebirth” part (since “Death” is just an hour-long series recap). It just so happens that Anno decides to recycle THE ENTIRE SECOND HALF of this film to make THE ENTIRE FIRST HALF of his next, The End of Evangelion. No wonder fans were done with this guy back in the 90s.

The first time I watched EOE, I distinctly recall being put off by the changes in character design and the aspect ratio change. Now, I realize that these are actually the on-model designs at their peak, meaning that much of the series is visually inconsistent. (Like we didn’t already know that.) Also, the old Manga Entertainment DVDwhich was sadly the best way to watch EOE for an unfairly long time—suffers from horrible compression issues. Instrumentality really starts to look like red soup instead of the individual rows of ascended souls, which, I guess, also somehow feeds back into the main point of it all.

I bring this up because watching EOE in gorgeous HD Blu-ray quality (and GLORIOUS full screen) is an entirely different experience from what I first had. Seeing everything so clearly for the first time helped make Anno’s intent and direction make more sense—new sense, too. I already thought Asuka’s triumphant last stand against the EVA Series was the most impressive animation battle sequence ever made for its time. Now I think its the most impressive animation sequence ever made, PERIOD. The same glowing things could be said about world-shattering climax in the film’s second half—the appearance of giant Rei and the transcendence of all humanity. Like, the live-action footage during Shinji’s vision actually looks GREAT here. Also, did y’all know that Unit-01 had BLUE HAIR just like Rei? Crazy how fuzzy memories become elucidated truths in this latest HD rewatch. “Ah, so this is how Anno intended for us to watch the end of his Evangelion.”

As far as story and character drama goes, I think this is the first time the ending didn’t make me tear up. Maybe it’s cause I was in awe of Blu-ray magic. Who knows, emotions come and go like that for me. I do think this is still an incredibly satisfying ending for Misato, Rei, Asuka, Ritsuko, Gendo, and especially Shinji. The NERV staff get to play such prominent roles, too, and I appreciate the film for that.

Having seen this with both English dubs and the original Japanese, I will say—and this will be controversial—that Netflix’s EOE dub is my favorite. There. I said it. Please don’t hurt me. The script just makes SO much sense here, and while the JP will always be king, Netflix really crushed it with this one. The Netflix actors for Asuka and Hyuga especially impressed me, and perhaps that’s because they took 26 episodes warming up to their parts. (JK, they were great since their debuts, I just thought they knocked their delivery out of the park with EOE.) And they should, you know? EOE is an innately climactic film.

I could default to my usual summarizing and commentary about Shinji’s decision, but we already did that with Episode 26. The added ending here, then, is the beach scene. “Oh dang, we’re here again,” is what I used to think whenever I got to the end. This time, however, I only felt complete satisfaction, both for Shinji and myself. It’s a fantastic and memorable ending, a conclusion so bleak yet so sincere and hopeful at the same time. As the journey of Evangelion reaches a resolute place to moor, we at last realize that fate and destruction really can lead to joy and rebirth.

I couldn’t be happier with how this rewatch of the classic Evangelion series and its mesmerizing final film turned out. Likewise, I’ll somewhat miss reading from the production notes that were included in GKIDS’ Ultimate Edition Information Booklet. If you own the set, it’s a nice companion piece to the discs—an “art book” that is actually useful pre-, mid-, and post-watch. Give it a flick through when you get the chance. I’ll be closing the book on NGE and turning to the Rebuild in the next post, so until then, feel free to drop your thoughts on the classic Eva down in the comments. Thanks for reading!

– Takuto

EVERYDAY EVA Episode 26: At the End of the World, There Is Love | 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!

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 second half of Human Instrumentality, and the “Third Case” presented by the series finale: “The Story of the Boy Named Shinji Ikari.” The Unit-01 pilot confesses to living for himself, yet he bases so much of his identity on what he believes to be the opinions of others. Shinji assumes others think he is worthless (because he runs away from piloting), and thus projects his self-worth onto EVA. If he stays and pilots, his worth is confirmed. If he runs away, however, he’d be better off not existing at all. No one ever directly states they hate Shinji, yet he thinks others are thinking this anyway. Consequently, EVA starts to define him precisely because he lets it. Same goes for Asuka, though. Value must come before happiness for the two of them. Thus, they never become happy because they fail to recognize their own value.

This special Episode 26—“FINALE: take care of yourself.”—is comprised of live film stills, paper animation, and illustration among other artistic methods. It is perhaps one of the most experimental episodes in anime, and certainly one of the most unconventional. As the series’ themes are dissected and displayed, visual shape and form are broken down into their most essential components. The only “normal” animation cuts are found in the “other possible world” presented by instrumentality to Shinji. It’s a cartoonish, foolishly ideal world, the kind one would totally expect in any anime series that wasn’t Eva. “If it’s possible to have other versions of me, then there must be a world where I’m not an EVA pilot!” Once Shinji realizes this—that life is all about interpretation and that assumptions should not be taken as truth—the opportunity to love himself finally presents itself.

Still, “this ending must be happening only in the world where it was told,” according to the production notes. Once Shinji becomes aware of his own existence and feelings, the fog beneath his feet dissipates to reveal a giant coral reef. We must assume that everyone wishing Shinji congratulations—including Shinji himself—have become part of the “sea” residing on top. (This was an observation I never fully realized until this latest rewatch!) With this epiphany, we instantly realize that although we’ve reached the end of the series, the story still needs a proper conclusion. In other words, Shinji still needs to leave the collective behind to become an individual once again—to leave the lake of souls behind and return to the shores of nascency. Even though the “theme” has been completely developed, the “story” will only feel complete once Shinji has rejected instrumentality . . . We need one last scene before we can kiss Eva goodbye . . .

This officially marks the end of the EVERYDAY EVA’s original mission—to visit one episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion every day of March 2022 as per the Mecha March celebration. We did it, we really did it, and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of this project. “Congratulations” for making it this far. 🙂

However, with five days to go in the month, I’m thrilled to announce that I will be EXTENDING EVERYDAY EVA to cover Death and Rebirth and The End of Evangelion, as well as the entire Rebuild of Evangelion film tetralogy!! I’ll group D&E with EoE together for the 27th, but each Rebuild film—1.11, 2.22, 3.33, and 3.0+1.0—will have their own post. In other words, we’ve still got A LOT more Eva to go, and I hope you’ll be joining me on the final stretch of this journey as we see how Anno ends Eva twice more. Thanks for reading, and ‘til then!

– Takuto

EVERYDAY EVA Episode 25: Absurdism, Allegory, and ‘The Theme Itself’ | 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!

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.

– Takuto

EVERYDAY EVA Episode 24: Worthy of My Grace | 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!

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

Asuka’s descent opens this pivotal, groundbreaking episode of the series. Misato pieces together SEELE’s plans for the apocalypse. Ritsuko confronts Gendo about her dead cat, her killing of Rei’s clones, and her rejection of his touch. Shinji, with no one else to turn to, encounters Kaworu Nagisa, the Fifth Child, on the flooded sands of a Tokyo-3 lakebed. It’s an episode of fated meetings, tragic partings, conspiracy, and pain. Truly one of the highest points in the series—and the immediate drop afterwards plunges us to Eva’s lowest. From this episode on, paying special attention to the classical scores selected as part of the soundtrack will yield immense insight about the themes at play.

Kaworu meets up with Shinji again after his tests. He’s seen listening to his SDAT player, which instantly reminds me of a similar shared encounter in 3.33. From Kaworu’s intimate stares to Shinji’s anxious smiles, the ties that bind them are obvious. The bath scene gets straight to the point: Shinji’s underlying fears and his inability to connect with others. Kaworu’s directness is charismatic. I love this scene. Misato’s parting with Pen Pen immediately drives home the bittersweet sorrow of this episode. Her suspicions of Kaworu (no doubt her “woman’s intuition”) end up being just as dooming as Ritsuko’s forecast.

Suspense continues to amass as Kaworu, Unit-02, and Shinji in Unit-01 plummet to the lowest depths of Central Dogma. This is the closest any Angel has come to “Adam,” and just as Misato and Hyuga prepare for the worst, a new identity is detected. “Adam” is actually Lilith, implying that humanity (SEELE) does not seek the power of destruction, but rather the rejoining of all mankind into one body—reunion, harmony, order. We don’t realize this in its fullest clarity just yet, but Kaworu’s allusions and well wishes to mankind leave Shinji with a horrifying predicament. “That was the first time someone told me they liked me,” Shinji tearfully mumbles to Misato. “Kaworu should’ve been the one who survived.” Misato’s remark that Kaworu sought death instead of life is too cruel for Shinji.

Kaworu’s lyrical musings on the human mind open Shinji’s heart and wound him gravely. “Humans can’t permanently be free of loneliness. Because man is ultimately alone.” The drama and themes, as outlined in the production notes, are fully explored in the final episodes to come. Herein, the story homes in exclusively on the solitary mind of Shinji Ikari before unfolding to show the world around him in the film. Shinji’s decisions will yield prophetic and catastrophic consequences, many of which fans find difficult to interpret. We’ll try to unpack what we can, together. Thanks for reading, and ‘til then!

– Takuto

EVERYDAY EVA Episode 23: Tears, the Products of Love and Hate | 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!

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.

Kaji’s dying message opens the dismal Episode 23: “Rei III.” Misato’s sealed herself off in her room, and with Asuka’s retreat to Hikari’s house, Shinji and Pen Pen are left to fend for themselves. The only thing that can bind the once happy family now is an Angel attack. Fortunately or unfortunately, the 16th Angel arrives, but its immediate contact with Rei and Unit-00 catches everyone off guard. Fusion with others reemerges as one of the motifs deeply connected to the greater themes in Eva. This episode, as the previous was for Asuka, must be about her. It’s finally time to crack into the mystery of Rei Ayanami.

Try as she might, Rei is unable to completely contain the 16th Angel within Unit-00’s body. Thus, Unit-01 is launched to protect her. Asuka’s realization that NERV didn’t send out Unit-01 (AKA Shinji, the savior) when she was in trouble is immediately a poignant one. As Unit-00 ascends into its final angelic form, a burst of light from the halo shining above its head reveals Unit-00 quickly shift into the form of Rei herself. A “vessel of hope” for Gendo—that’s what Rei represents. What her sudden return “to life” does, then, is force us to challenge Rei’s existence. Does she serve a greater purpose in Gendo’s plan?

Speaking of replacements, Ritsuko finds out that she was sent to SEELE as just a proxy for Gendo himself. This is also upsetting news. Ritsuko has been the lynchpin for the entire Evangelion project, and her removal from power allows her to detach herself from the bindings of the organization. In the process, she exposes all of NERV’s darkest secrets to Misato and Shinji and destroys all of Rei’s soulless clones. Ritsuko cries, having realized she could not compete with “property,” and that she had fallen for the same trick of Gendo’s affection that her mother before her did. “This is the tragedy of those associated with the EVAs,” Misato remarks. “And I am no different.”

The women in Shinji’s life have all but crumbled in their individual hubris, self-loathing, and jealousy. Thankfully, love still has one final chance to bloom for Shinji with the arrival of a saint in Episode 24: “The Beginning and the End, or ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’” Thanks for reading, and ‘til then!

– Takuto

EVERYDAY EVA Episode 22: The Great Toppling, or Asuka’s Fall From Grace | 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!

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.

For the longest time, Asuka has been my favorite character in anime. Episode 22: “Don’t be” spells out much of her past, and the discovery that she’s from just as messed up a family as Shinji’s and Misato’s and Ritsuko’s and everyone else comes as little surprise. Her interaction with her stepmother over the phone—that is, her German speaking—kicks off the beginning of a bigger rift growing between her and the rest of the world. In a phenomenal breakdown, Asuka curses the bath, the washer, the toilet, and the space she shares with Misato and Shinji. She hates them both, but she hates the Rei even more. She hates her mom. She hates her dad. But the person she hates most of all is herself. Across the hall, Misato is unable to do anything to remedy Asuka’s situation, and so she continues to decline. Asuka’s pride is in shambles, and her toppling from such a high position is utterly heartbreaking.

Rei is a doll, Asuka declares, but Unit-02 is supposed to be just that. “I hate you! I hate all of you!” She screams before the elevator door seals Rei inside. Asuka’s last chance is coming, and she feels it too. For the entire world to fail her—for her EVA-02 to crumble under the 15th Angel’s power—is to reverse all the fortifications she walked into the series with to fall in one go. Anno’s use of rapidly flashing black, white, and red Japanese and German text showcases the stunning realm of Asuka’s psychology. Fear, anxiety, and severe distress form kaleidoscopic visions of suicidal ideation, rejection, and isolation in her heart. What she needs most of all, despite her own claims, is touch and affection. Shinji’s refusal to give her anything is revealed to have only furthered her suffering.

With the 15th Angel having “defiled” Asuka’s mind—and to the classical melody of Handel’s “Messiah,” no less—EVA-02 and its pilot are rendered completely useless. Gendo calls upon a weapon of the apocalypse, the Spear of Longinus, to salvage a victory, much to Misato and Fuyutsuki’s passionate disapproval. EVA-00 takes aim and vaults the spear, and as the 15th Angel destructively funnels inward, Longinus is left adrift in lunar orbit. What appalls the fallen Asuka most of all, though, is that it was Rei who had to save her. The curtain closes on her screams and shouts.

Asuka’s “mind rape” (as it has been called) and subsequent fall from grace strongly parallels the death of the 15th Angel itself. She’ll have another chance to redeem herself in the film, but like Misato, all we can do for now is helplessly watch. More cries are shed for the pilots in Episode 23: “Tears.” Thanks for watching, and ‘til then!

– Takuto