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A work of post-modern art
When it was released, The End of Evangelion was billed as the "real" ending to the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. The series original ending left many fans dumbfounded with it's highly speculative nature and sudden abruptness, leaving many issues and questions unanswered. Hideaki Anno, the series director, was pelted with emails from angry fans, many believing that the ending had ruined the series. However, there remains a small clique of viewers who enjoyed the original ending and actually praised Anno for his work. End of Eva attempts to address both camps by providing an action packed first-half and a surreal and psychological second-half. It is absolutely imperative that one watch the whole series before watching this movie as the majority of the character development happens in the series.
The movie begins where episode 24 of the series left off, showing what has happened to NERV and the rest of the principal cast. Shinji is disturbed and depressed from his forced killing of Kaworu and it shows. Within the first few minutes, the viewer senses that there is something wrong with this boy. Through use of a sickeningly perverted scene, Anno paints Shinji as a highly unstable person. From there, the action starts, spiraling Shinji into eventual insanity. The first half of the movie is straightforward action, punctuated by the deaths of many of the main characters. By the time the second half starts, we get to delve into the mind of Shinji Ikari and see precisely what is wrong with this person.
Throughout the early 90s, Hideaki Anno was suffering from a severe bought of depression and when he eventually came out of it, he translated what he had learned about the human psyche on-screen. The result is a twisting and spiraling analysis of one of the most well-developed characters in anime history. Coupled with surreal and shocking imagery and a disturbing look at the end of the world, Anno forces the viewer to think about what he or she is watching. His eventual use of live-action also enforces that it isn't just some cartoon, it's a complex analysis of human nature and psychology. By the end of the movie, the viewer is forced to come to his or her own conclusions about the ending and it's symbolism, reflecting Shinji's own speculation of his existence. Ultimately, it depends on the viewer's outlook on life or what he or she has experienced throughout life that will decide the outcome of the movie. Personally, I find I can relate to Shinji Ikari and I am puzzled by the amount of hate that goes towards him instead of Asuka. Sadly, it is this unique aspect of the movie that forced Anno to completely retire from the anime industry. Many simple-minded viewers take the movie at face value and are left confused by it. Yet again, Anno found himself pelted by emails from confused and angry viewers and began speaking out against mindless anime fans calling their mentality a form of forced autism. He eventually retired from the industry and resigned himself to live-action works.
To summarize, the movie's first half is catered towards fans of the series while the second half is the director's invitation to the audience to join him in his psychological analysis of human beings. Nothing should be taken at face value in this movie and the viewer should keep an open mind about everything. Keeping these things in mind, the viewer should enjoy this post-modern work of art.