Once More With Fury: Rebuilding Evangelion

Management: This one’s all about Eva and Anno’s relationship with his fans, so it’s a bit thornier than most. As such, the usual caveats apply – this isn’t an attack or an indictment of anyone, it’s just a personal take on some very strange fiction. Hope you enjoy![Coalgirls]_Evangelion_3.33.0_You_Can_(Not)_Redo_(1920x816_Blu-ray_FLAC)_[FC2091F9].mkv_snapshot_00.33.52_[2014.01.31_23.00.21]

“I started this production with the wish that once the production complete, the world, and the heroes would change.” – Hideaki Anno

In attempting to justify the existence of the Rebuild of Evangelion, Hideaki Anno offers an interesting defense. In the words of my handy statement-of-purpose booklet, “I do think, why revive a title that is over 10 years old now? I also feel that Eva is already old. But in these 12 years, there has been no newer anime than Eva.”

Bold words, eh? On a very literal level, this is obviously untrue – we are beset by scores of anime of varying qualities every year. On a more critical level, my pithy response would be, “that’s not true – there have been literally dozens of anime since Eva!” And there have been – I don’t think Anno’s intent here was to directly disparage stuff like Utena or Bebop.

But on a metaphorical, cultural level? Well, that’s a bit more interesting. I’ve heard people describe some period of anime production as the post-Evangelion era, where the lessons of Evangelion’s success were used to shift the direction of storytelling and the industry. On a commercial level, yes, this is certainly true – Eva was a watershed moment, and continues to influence the industry today. But what was the point of Eva?

Well, to make money, as is true of all commercial works. But let’s get more specific about what Eva had to say.


“There are too many painful things for people to go on living in reality. Thus, humans run and hide in dreams. They watch films as entertainment. Animation, as a means to enjoy everything in a pure, fake world, is a realization of dreams and has become entrenched in film. In short, it is a thing where even coincidences are arranged and everything judged cinematically unnecessary can be excised. The negative feelings of the real world are no exception.” – Hideaki Anno

Eva looked at the anime-viewing audience, and it didn’t like what it saw. Insular people, stuck in various fantasies, afraid of honest interaction. This isn’t (just) me projecting – Anno has stated repeatedly that he sees the anime-viewing public as a nation of little boys wearing man-suits. So what story did he create?

He created a story for them. One that didn’t reject them – that understood them, and attempted to provide positive messages. A story about depression and isolation and the pain of human contact, that stabbed deep into the heart of the problems he saw, acknowledged them as valid and true, and attempted to claw its way back out. And Evangelion wasn’t a purely reactive work, of course – it was largely reflective of Anno’s own struggle with depression, giving its portrayal of these struggles a ring of truth and sympathy that a distant indictment never could.

It was a biting satire in many ways, of course, as the central characters clearly display. Like Asuka, ostensibly a textbook version of the classic anime “tsundere,” whose outward hostility belies an inward vulnerability. Anno made her real, and in making her real, revealed that that fantasy is a broken person – not someone to be fetishized and lusted after, someone who needs serious psychiatric help. Or Rei, the cold, doll-like girl, who accepts your presence with the same lack of reaction she accepts anything else. Anno had all sorts of things to say about that fantasy – that she’s barely a person at all, that her very existence is designed to comfort and make you feel needed, and, finally, that what you really want isn’t a partner at all – what you really want is a mother.


“Characters in animation do not cheat. They do not let you go for another. Animation is on certain points, very close to the pornography industry. All your physical needs are met. You can watch different animations and find anything you desire.” – Hideaki Anno

And between them, the audience proxy – one of the most beloved and reviled characters in anime history. Shinji Ikari. The boy spurned by the world, surrounded by people too caught in their own issues to do anything but use him, he himself too afraid of rejection to seek out human connection. Shinji is certainly a pointed character, but not an unsympathetic one – in fact, the layers of humanity written into his character make him even today one of the most recognized figures in anime history. His fear and failure and continuous attempts to avoid that which might hurt him are a reflection both of Anno’s own humanity and the humanity he saw in those he wanted to influence. Shinji might as well be the human face of anime itself.

But again, Evangelion is not a cynical work. Though Shinji wallows in self-pity and fears human interaction, he does not live without hope. Ultimately, he chooses to reject the comforting fantasies of instrumentality – he chooses to live as an individual, one who must reach out and touch others even knowing it will cause him pain. Shinji ultimately grows up, and through his triumph you can see the underlying optimism Anno feels towards his nation of grown up boys.

The years have not been kind to Anno’s optimism.


“I don’t see any adults here in Japan. The fact that you see salarymen reading manga and pornography on the trains and being unafraid, unashamed or anything, is something you wouldn’t have seen 30 years ago, with people who grew up under a different system of government. They would have been far too embarrassed to open a book of cartoons or dirty pictures on a train. But that’s what we have now in Japan. We are a country of children.” – Hideaki Anno

You can’t blame him, really. Among the many accolades heaped upon Evangelion, it’s even been perhaps sarcastically called “anime’s Citizen Kane moment.” This is hyperbole, of course – everyone wants their Citizen Kane moment. But the comparison is actually a kind of interesting one, if only in a negative sense. Citizen Kane was important because it helped demonstrate the things only film can do – the structural power, the way the frame can be so much more than simply a window to a stage play (though obviously it wasn’t the first to demonstrate this). Evangelion does sort of do that, though it was hardly the first either – it certainly uses animation to tell a story that would otherwise be nearly impossible. But I think the more pointed comparison to make here is to what Evangelion actually did. Though its messages were largely concerned with opening the windows on the lives of anime viewers and casting a harsh light on their fantasies, did the works to follow reflect these themes?

Not at all. Creators saw the success of Evangelion and didn’t think “it’s time for anime to grow up and stop catering to these fantasies,” they thought “look how much people love these articulations of these fantasies! Look how much people like dark robot shows! Let’s make those!” It’d be like if directors watched Citizen Kane and thought, “what people really need are more stories about newspaper magnates!” No, even worse – it’d be like if they watched it and thought “what an inspiring story about a wealthy, successful man! If only we could all be so lucky!” They saw the tropes used in Evangelion, but didn’t follow through with the show’s indictment. And who could blame them? The fans certainly wouldn’t.


“Audiences have come to need a work only as an escape from reality, as a comfortable dream, judging everything on the criterion of moe, while creators’ intellectual paucity and the jumble of trivial touches have encouraged that structure. At the same time, TV-type mass consumption, which prizes instant gratification and simplistic results, laid the impoverished grounds of contemporary Japanese entertainment…” – Hideaki Anno

And so Evangelion became popular. Incredibly so. Perhaps it initially did resonate in the way that was intended – but in the years since Evangelion, anime has not grown up. Asuka and Rei are fetishized and copied again and again, not held up as the last gasp of their archetypes. In the years since Evangelion, works that you could truly call post-Evangelion have been the exception, not the rule.

And so Anno is mad.

Fortunately, Anno still has an ace up his sleeve – Evangelion itself. Though the original Eva casts a tremendous shadow, it is still a very polarizing work – it’s a “love it or hate it” show, it’s “great but flawed,” it’s “an interesting show let down by its weird ending.” And so on. But hey, Anno can fix that – he can rebuild it! New and shiny, with a fresh coat of paint and all those old, troubling wrinkles ironed out. He can make the version everyone can enjoy!


“…giving rise to masses that can only respond with praise for superficial details and technical proficiency; with tears, laughter, fear, or some outpouring of simple emotions; or with identifying and particularism. And here we are, in this stagnant state of affairs. I am stuck here myself. It’s embarrassing and frustrating, and I also regret that I contributed to it. I want it fixed. The sooner, the better.” – Hideaki Anno

Or, well, so I assume some people thought. And they had every reason to – the first Rebuild of Evangelion is more or less that. A condensed version of the first six episodes, with punchier pacing and a whole lot of polish. Yes, it certainly curbed the interiority – the psychological focus so key to both the love and the hate attracted by the original. But still, Evangelion! In HD! Even I (to enter this history lesson personally, as if this weren’t already all my questionable interpretation of the facts) was swept away by it – yeah, it wasn’t as good in many ways, but that ending! Even to someone who loved the original specifically as a character study, this felt something like fanservice – seeing the characters who still loomed so large in my memory wage war on a scale Gainax’s budget had never allowed.

Then the second Rebuild came out. This one was… different. Not like the original. Well, sort of like the original – like a very specific interpretation of the original.

Evangelion 2.22 was Evangelion as written for people who didn’t like Evangelion.


“Changing the tribulation of reality into dreams and conveying that to the people… is that what our work is? For the sake of people who forget reality until the bill comes due, who want to devote themselves to happy fallacies. I guess that’s our job in the entertainment and service sector.” – Hideaki Anno

Sick of that boring interiority and psychological focus? Toss it! Tired of all the kids being so emo all the time? Let’s make Asuka perkier… and give her a crush on Shinji! Hell, give everyone a crush on Shinji – he’s supposed to represent the audience, right? And that’s what we do to the audience – we give them what they want. Speaking of things the audience wants – explosions! And another female character – hey, let’s have her fall on Shinji’s face! What’s her backstory? Doesn’t matter. Explosions! And you know what, screw sad-sack Shinji – now he’s the hero! Let’s make him save the girl! EXPLOSIONS!

Evangelion 2.22 was very popular. Finally, the Evangelion people had always wanted! No more tempering your praise with caveats and troubled ellipses – Evangelion was pure! Everything the audience wanted, they received. Everything that had made Evangelion “difficult” was sanded off. It was grim and wacky and charming and expensive and pretty and full of big, dramatic setpieces – all that stuff the original was minus everything the original actually said. Evangelion 2.22 was the least post-Evangelion film imaginable – an Evangelion designed to miss the point of Evangelion. And boy oh boy were people excited for Part 3.

Part 3 was excited for them, too.


“Eva is a story of repetition.” – Hideaki Anno

If Evangelion 2.22 is Eva yanking the “give the people what they want” lever up to 11, 3.33 is Eva straining that lever until it snaps, tumbles through the air, and falls back to earth somewhere behind the couch or something. You want Shinji to get in the fucking robot? Well, so does he, too bad doing that fucks everything up. Because it was never about him being a sissy you goddamn idiot, it was about his troubles not being ones that could be solved through an external source of pride like piloting the Eva Unit. You’re the ones who wanted the robot – you’re the ones seeking a fantasy where the weak boy can triumph, because you’re the ones grappling with the issues Shinji actually has difficulty overcoming.

If I’m being a little too harsh here, I apologize – but Evangelion 3.33 certainly doesn’t. The film is that direct – rambling and disjointed and strange, it barely qualifies as a narrative at all. And I don’t think it’s really trying to. That ranting paragraph up there? That’s what Evangelion 3.33 is.

3.33 is a lecture. 3.33 is a conversation.


“It is a story where our protagonist faces the same situation many times over and determinedly picks himself back up again.” – Hideaki Anno

The film doesn’t work emotionally outside of the context of the original. The events that happen are too disjointed, the character journeys too divorced from immediate emotional touchstones. Well, aside from very specific touchstones. Like Shinji crouched beneath the stairs as the monsters attack (as he did at the start of End of Evangelion). Or Shinji visiting Rei in her sterile home (as he did when he first went to give her an updated keycard). Or Asuka standing in the sunlight, legs squared as she stares down on Shinji (as she did during her first appearance of the series). Or Kaworu’s entire presence, a strange cipher given resonance not by this film, but by the existing mythology this film is taking for granted.

3.33 only exists as a coherent emotional statement in the context of the original series. It moves from shot to shot, touchstone to touchstone, playing off the viewer’s familiarity with images and moments mythologized by the series’ legacy. And it doesn’t just reference these things – it warps them. As I said, 3.33 breaks the dial on fanservice. Shinji now actively seeks the Eva, but this confidence leads to no good end. Rei, always the exemplar of the mute, accepting, “safe” love interest, is now truly a doll – a non-person, the dead end of human engagement represented by the fantasy she once exemplified. It’s a cautionary tale – the most direct statement yet of Anno’s dissatisfaction with the self-limiting fantasies of anime, told through a broken movie that barely even works as a movie at all, reliant on the viewer’s familiarity with a series that enjoying the previous film almost required you to dislike.


“It is a story of the will to move forward, even if only a little.” – Hideaki Anno

So as a piece of cinema, it’s a rather strange production. But as a conversation? As a distillation of what makes Eva Eva?

It’s brilliant.

Evangelion 2.22 is Eva divorced from what gave the original its emotional and thematic power – Evangelion 3.33 is that emotional and thematic power divorced from all else. It actually digs deep on the messages of the original, using its 14 year timeskip and incredibly narrow focus to discard every single thing that doesn’t make Eva Eva. And instead of getting caught in the fan-pleasing trappings of the original, it focuses wholly on its core points – the futility of dwelling in the past, the pain and necessity of honest connection, and the need to find self-generated pride and your own way forward. No longer is Evangelion content to hide its human focus and strident message behind a sci-fi facade – this is what Evangelion is, and this is what it has always been trying to say. This is Shinji’s story – the story of a scared boy who isn’t sure how to move forward, and the story of every single person out there the truth of his journey reflects.


“It is a story of the resolve to want to be together, even though it is frightening to have contact with others and to endure ambiguous loneliness.” – Hideaki Anno

And it goes beyond the original, as well – instead of being content to repeat the message of the series, it makes it clear it is speaking to an audience that needs something more than that. While the audience clamors for Shinji to get in the fucking robot, Shinji himself questions whether getting in the Eva ever solved anything. His constant refrain through the film is “what am I supposed to do?” – but the answers he receives are not meant only for him. Kaworu claims he should practice piano – take up a skill, even if he seems clumsy at first, and keep working at it. Mari simply tells him to grow up a little. And Asuka gives Rei perhaps the most direct advice of all – ‘stop thinking about what some proxy version of you would do, think about what you truly want to do.’ No longer are these messages couched in terms of sci-fi melodrama – though there are still action setpieces, they are utterly divorced from the film’s thematic and emotional core. As Shinji himself obsesses over his meaningless sci-fi narrative, those who care about him give him (and the audience) the advice he actually needs to hear – quit thinking about the story and grow up a little. This is about emotional intelligence, not fighting in giant robots.

The fact that this film is intended for an audience raised on Evangelion is clear even in the title – You Can (Not) Redo. Revisiting Evangelion isn’t going to fix your current problems – only moving forward will do that. The tape recorder, one more classic touchstone of the original, is a neat metaphor for that – Shinji clings to it as a comforting relic of the past, and eventually asks his friend Kaworu to fix it, but it, like everything else, must eventually be discarded if a new future is to be gained. And of course, this all works on the meta level of the Rebuilds themselves being a revision – this version isn’t going to make you happier, and it’s not going to be the same as the original, but maybe a new Evangelion can at least do some good. Evangelion 3.33 consumes the fan reactions to Evangelion, distills their essence to gross parody, spits out the core message of What Shinji Must Do, and challenges the audience to do better this time.


“Evangelion is like a puzzle, you know. Any person can see it and give his/her own answer. In other words, we’re offering viewers to think by themselves, so that each person can imagine his/her own world. We will never offer the answers, even in the theatrical version. As for many Evangelion viewers, they may expect us to provide the ‘all-about Eva’ manuals, but there is no such thing. Don’t expect to get answers by someone. Don’t expect to be catered to all the time. We all have to find our own answers.” – Hideaki Anno

And so Evangelion 3.33 has earned itself some controversy. Which is almost certainly the point – Anno wouldn’t have baited the hook with 2.22 if he weren’t trying to tell people things they didn’t want to hear. But of course, in the context of the original, 3.33 is a clear progression – polished and sharpened, it’s Evangelion with the bones exposed, Evangelion with no room for misinterpretation. And personally, I think it’s fantastic – beautiful, focused, angry, and absurd, it’s one of the most passionate statements of purpose I’ve seen. It isn’t just a reflection of the original – it’s a reflection of the original as transmuted by the crucible of fan reaction, fan expectation, fan mythologizing. Given all the tools the original Evangelion provided, the fandom chose to stay in their sandbox, and Anno disapproves. “You’re not just an idiot,” Asuka spits at Shinji, realizing his failings go beyond just ignorance, “You’re a brat.” Anno has revised his estimation of the fandom, and this angry shaking of their shoulders is the result.

Yet in spite of all this fury, there’s no arguing that even Rebuild isn’t a deeply optimistic work. As angry as he comes across, Anno also clearly loves what he does – he wouldn’t make these if he didn’t, and he wouldn’t be hammering on these same messages in such strident fashion if he didn’t think there was still good to be done. 3.33 has spawned some very angry reactions, but so did episodes 25 and 26 back in the day – at that point, his actions were partially based in financial necessities, but those episodes still said what he wanted to say. Asuka might as well be Anno’s own mouthpiece at the end of 3.33 – though she yells at Shinji for his weakness, she grabs his hand and drags him towards the future all the same. Time may have tested Anno’s optimism, but it has not found it wanting – like Evangelion itself, the course of Anno’s career leading back to this project proves that no matter how dark it gets, someone will always be there to lend a hand. And whatever the future of anime may bring, as long as we still have writers and directors passionate enough to risk making their fans angry, I think we’ll be okay.


Granted, that’s certainly not a truth universally acknowledged. And in fact, one of anime’s other recent acts of historical revisionism makes a strong argument in the opposite direction. So perhaps I really should get around to reviewing that Madoka movie…

101 thoughts on “Once More With Fury: Rebuilding Evangelion

  1. Thank you for this post. I am really happy to see you put in words what had been haunting my mind since I watched 3.33 – and in a great way too. I would like to write a proper, purposeful comment, but now I need some time to put my thoughts back together. My every experience with Hideaki Anno, be it movies, series or insightful articles, blog posts or discussions usually leave me shattered for a day or two. I guess I must be what you would call his target group.. and I really have to get my shit together. Until some time soon.

  2. This is impeccably done. I never really considered Evangelion as a way of communicating with the audience. I consider it more a cathartic exercise, or at least it began as that. Anno used Evangelion to channel all his feelings of aloneness into a creative and progressive medium. It seems that now Eva is a work of outward aggression moreso than internal contemplation.

    • It’s both! I actually like Evangelion even more as an inward exploration/expression of personal truth and identity – it is an incredibly rich and empathetic set of character studies. But I feel the Rebuilds specifically are more concerned with its goals as a direct message to its audience.

      • You are probably right about Rebuilds. I still like the original better. Exactly because i really like its introspection inducing nature.

  3. I think you missed the point of 2.22 (though a lot of other people did, to be honest.) On one hand, yeah it’s a blockbuster, there are crazy action scenes, love triangles and actual attempts at communication–something that never happens in Evangelion! But the sneaky thing about the film is that per the title (You Can Not Advance) every attempt the characters make to move beyond their boundaries and change their lives meets with utter failure. Mari comes in guns blazing, with access to special technology all her own, but despite being a literal “Mary Sue” barely accomplishes anything and is wrecked both times by the enemy. Asuka reaches out to Misato and co. and is overtaken by an Angel directly afterwards, then horribly wounded by Unit-01. Rei tries to bring Shinji and his father together, but not only do her efforts fail (in fact, Shinji and his father are even further apart than before!) but she is literally eaten by Zeruel for her efforts. And of course, Shinji activates the latent power in Unit-01 to save Rei…but it’s an act of selfishness, rather than selflessness, and not only does he almost destroy the world but Kaworu impales him with the Lance of Longinus before he can even achieve his goals. The film feels much lighter than the original but in reality none of the characters escape unscathed.

    I think that 3.33 is definitely interesting as a piece of performance art (especially if you substitute Shinji for Anno throughout–we don’t need you to make any more Rebuild stuff Anno! b-but…I have to!!!) but it’s one of the few parts of the franchise I think utterly fails from the standpoint of proper storytelling. Shinji’s arc should be pretty compelling, but it’s bolted to the most over-the-top action scenes in the franchise and so little focus on the other characters the audience has no reason to care. You could justify this in any number of ways: Evangelion has always been about Shinji anyway, all the other characters are reflections/subsidiaries of him, the film’s SUPPOSED to be alienating and uncomfortable…and all of that is true. I just can’t help but compare the third Rebuild film to End of Evangelion (similarly a very, very angry film) and feel like at least the latter felt like an extension of the original that did justice to everyone. The fact Rebuild 3.33 still doesn’t find a use for Mari, disregards most of the foreshadowing from the first two films and generally feels cobbled together from who knows how many different itinerations or scripts doesn’t help either. I dunno, maybe a rewatch would change my mind? We’ll see.

    • I definitely felt that 3.33 wasn’t particularly impressive as a standalone conventional work. Of course it’s not a standalone work, so it’s not entirely fair to evaluate it that way (since it’s part of an as yet incomplete series of films and maybe the final part will make it retrospectively better), but still.

      Probably Anno doesn’t care about this. I’m just not that enthused about works that want to take a hammer to something without being in some way compelling and entertaining. We have plenty of examples of works that can make great points and great metaphors and explore parts of the human condition while still being interesting to watch beyond that, so it’s not as if it’s an either/or thing.

      (Admittedly not many of them are in anime.)

    • Hm. That’s an interesting read of 2.22 – following that line, what would you say the actual message is? Because that seems like an incredibly negative takeaway, and not one that seems to line up with the “you must reach out to others” final statements of EoE or 3.33. Or do you think that’s the point – that 2.22 by itself doesn’t have a positive takeaway, and is merely smashing the characters to set up the future films?

      As far as 3.33’s storytelling goes, yeah, can’t disagree there. As I said, it pretty much entirely fails as a conventional film, and can’t begin to be compared to End of Eva. I think the original Evangelion + EoE are one of anime’s legitimate masterpieces – I think the Rebuilds are an interesting but also flawed and aggravating experiment in storytelling.

      • Your second paragraph there – i absolutely agree and have nothing to add. Im glad I am (not) alone in thinking that way.

    • Allow me to expand on the movie titles
      It is clear now that each of the movies gives its own message and while still part of the quadrilogy they also try to make the movies able to stand on their own. I think it could be a result of not enough time to lay the whole story onto 4 movies. Maybe they chose to sort of ‘jump’ between movies in a way that each movie tells only the relevant part within the whole and gets across its own message. That way you could spare time by turning continuous plot into more disjointed form.

      1.11 You are (not) alone : It encompasses the key idea. Not of Evangelion maybe, but mainly its main character – Shinji. I found it to be a very good idea to stop the movie before Asuka appeared even at the cost of burdening 2nd movie with pacing issues, because the relationship between Shinji and Rei is central to what the title and the movie should be all about. Rei is good character (much better than Asuka) to support Shinji as a character in that respect – well, it was made to be that way.

      2.22 You can (not) advance: Yes 2.22 also tried to be faithful to its title as wendeego said. But i believe right now it manages to do that the least ouf ot the three movies. I too noticed the abundant attempts at communication between the characters i nthis movie, almost as if to contrast the original series. The scene with Asuka and Misato talking about the test operation comes to my mind. What was that about? I believe there should be more emphasis on making characters’ actions hopeless. For example Mari indeed lost both her battles, but remained mostly unaffected by it.
      The part where Shinji’s EVA activated dummy plug was also in my opinion needlessly changed by obstructing Shinji’s cockpit view there. I think the title of the movie was not as much present in its content – or rather it was the ending of the movie that carried most of its weight.
      Shinji showed excessive amount of determination there and i think that Rei somehow represents his own sanity in a way that she is his link with the world that doesnt really notice him. He is not the type to do things on his own, yet he did just that. My theory goes that he simply couldnt let the world impose another hurtful change on him, so he finally tried to prevent it. And he failed, hence the title. My point is that his failure is only evident now after 3.33 came out, which is interesting in its own way. This way the title makes more sense in the context of the other movies.

      3.33 You can (not) redo: I think the movie’s title here is obvious to anyone who have seen it. At least in the context of the story. I genuinely loved the feel of the movie, but i have major problems with it as well. Not only that, it directly hints that these problems were already there in the second movie. Of course im speaking about Mari. They managed to blend her in in 2.22, not so much in 3.33. I have to conclude that Mari has been a wasted character. The milk is spilled i guess. We can not redo. Personally i view the title also from the aspect of the quadrilogy that has been thrown full force into direction none of us imagined and not even authors themselves could picture well at the time.

      The original post certainly gave me a lot to think about and frankly it was great read. The idea of third movie being a stripped edition providing us more of the raw content of same kind as original series and reflecting ourselves this time not as a character in the story we sympathize with, but by taking away our guilty pleasures and leaving us enraged and feed us our own miserable image is very interesting one. I believe there is a lot of truth there but its never so simple.

      Personally, i also believe that Rebuild script got completely reworked right after 2.0 came out. They wouldnt tease us with ‘fake content’ at the end preview. Maybe its something similar to how ep 24’s preview shows content that was abandoned for the series and it actually appeared in End of Evangelion during Asuka’s battle. So maybe 4th movie will actually follow it, although i honestly believe it was simply abandoned forever. Random theory: they threw Maki in 2.22 to see what happens. When 2.22 was a success, internal arguments over story arose between ‘stay as was’ and ‘change it’ camps, the latter refueled by success of change and winning out for marketing reasons. Maybe Anno actually was in the first camp. Who knows.

      There is still one aspect that wasnt mentioned and that is the change in style. While not completely obvious and rapid change, it was unnecessary and unwelcomed (in my case at least). Simplified somehow, characters look much dumber, less realistic and they are only portrayed through tropes displayed in their looks. New Misato is at least interesting being quite bitter version of her past self. New Rei is – i dont even know, all i see is how it supplements her changed doll-behavior that im probably supposed to hate.

      Since im already at it: Ritsuko’s character was obliterated, both in relevance and consistence. The other Nerv personnel met similar fate. Those who have seen original NGE series and are conscious of its themes towards the end (eps 19+) know that even the side characters like Nerv personnel got some attention and were inspected to certain extend. Ritsuko alone was very mysterious figure during the whole series and i think her parts were simply brilliant.

      I feel 3.33 tramples on what original series stood for in certain aspects and sacrifices too much for what it does. That is probably true as far as we see 3.33 as another movie within the series and continuation of where 2.22 left off. If however 3.33 as opening post suggests is more like a tool for Anno to voice opinions, then characterization flaws, bad plot and other aspects could be largely ignored and should be commended for it.

  4. Actually haven’t seen movies because I don’t want to have to wait for the 4rth one. But I love the original series so this was a great read. Evangelion is pretty much the anime that made me the most think about what it was trying to convey. Though I never really did any research on Anno about the series so it was interesting to see what state of mind he was/is in.

    He’s right about a lot of things. There really seems to be a movement nowadays that glorify mediocrity and actively seek it and finds comfort in it. It reminds me a lot of people on /a/ who celebrate the loser lifestyle and ridicule any kind of efforts be it intellectual or social. It’s also present in a lot of groups in our society. It’s way cooler to not make efforts or seek intelligent works/discussions. It’s also easier to hate success then attempt it. The whole ”ironic movement” is also a way for people to flee rational discourse and easily justify said mediocrity without arguments.

    • I don’t really have a problem with people not seeking challenging media, but I completely agree on the philosophy of irony and distancing yourself from effort in general. Mocking others for actually committing passionately to something is despicable.

  5. First of all, thanks for the essay. Kinda didn’t look at Eva 3.33 from this point of view.

    Though, honestly, I want two Evas.

    On one hand, I want the original (though Sadamoto’s manga even more so, what’s with Rei shipping moments and all). Among other things I like the personalities, though I didn’t like the whole “people are really messed up beyond repair” message. But I still appreciate that meticulous preparation of the characters’ very souls.

    On the other hand I also want what was promised in 1.11 and 2.22 (or what I thought was promised, but oh well). I want basically your usual super robot show, with that original’s “make characters human” but without the “messed up beyond repair” part.

    That’s why I still feel 3.33 was a slap on a face. Anno, you said what you wanted in the original, we get it, you don’t have to repeat twice, thank you very much.

    • Anno cares not for your desires!

      But who knows. Maybe 4.0 will make everybody happy? 3.33 seemed to be all about what Shinji has to do, so maybe 4.0 will actually provide an optimistic future.

      …not likely, but we can dream!

      • Anno cares not for your desires!

        And, judging by these exerpts from his interview ere, also a self-righteous prick with a savior complex.

        …But that’s beside the point.

        • Honestly, I think a lot of what he says is also meant as an indictment of himself – there are plenty of pretty self-scouring quotes you can dig up, too. But yeah, he’s kind of a jerk

    • Watching Evangelion for traditional super robot narrative is sort of like watching The Dark Knight and expecting the Adam West TV series. You’re just flat out watching the wrong thing.

  6. That’s a good contribution here. I starded to watch the original Eva since december last year and jeah, Eva is a hard piece of work. And now, with the Rebuild-Films, we have something that seems at first like what “we” wanted, then with the latest film, “we” got stabbed in the back very hard, but at least “we” survived it somehow. And now, its up to the next and final film to finish this hellish fiasco for once and for all and having the ending that deserves. I’m always someone who expects the unexpected and Eva is exatly like this for me.

    • Yeah, the fourth film’s got a whole lot of work to do if it actually wants to pull this all into a coherent series. No pressure, Anno!

  7. It strikes me, given how Anno views Evangelion as an excercise in running in circles, that it is very possible that (a)the fan-theory that the Rebuild is a sequel to the original is correct, that (b)4.44 may easily end up being End of Evangelion 2, and (c)doesn’t really need to be plot-coherent.
    Which is, as far as I am concerned, would be a good thing.

    To be honest, even though Anno takes great pains to point out Shinji’s (and by extension, the viewers’) immaturity in consuming TV, I never got a handle for what he considered ‘mature’, and so never understood what he would call ‘a country of adults’.

    • The sequel theory seems pretty airtight to me – or at least, that it clearly doesn’t start over from the original point, and incorporates some elements of the prior reality’s events. I mean, the red sea, the shots they use, Kaworu’s lines… they only really point in one direction.

      As far as providing a positive role model, I agree, Anno’s been pretty quiet. He’s stuck pretty strictly to “you must struggle to expand your horizons and better yourself as a person” – the only character in Evangelion who seems at all well-adjusted is Kaji.

      • Maybe the point is precisely that he doesn’t paint a mature character because a mature character would be one that defines itself? In a sort-of-Nietzschean fasion. He can show what an immature (manchild) person is but won’t show a mature because only you would know what a mature version of YOURSELF would be.

        I mean, Hunter S. Thompson infamously hated his fans because they all wanted to follow his path, instead of realizing he was creating his own path as they should, too

        • True, actually getting to the far side would be kind of a betrayal of one of 3.33’s big points – that other people can’t tell you how to become a mature person, you have to figure it out for yourself.

  8. I feel a need to repost the following comment, seeing as it was deleted without being answered.
    Ignoring criticism is one thing, but deleting it from existence is another; and actually serves to strengthen the point the criticism makes as well.
    Having read this, I have to call into question the sanity of the writer and fans of the new work as a whole. I have respect for seeking out meaning in works, the process of looking and possibly finding something, and this isn’t limited to just fiction of course.

    But in this article, and for many fans of the new work, that is not being done. Not in the slightest. What I see here and in EVA fandom, is not attempting to find an answer or some meaning, but attempting to defend the notion that there is a meaning or an answer, or that there eventually will be.
    This is done without criticism, without analysis, but with near religious conviction in the franchise’s Lord and Savior, Hideaki Anno – a person none of them know, a person whom they never speak with, a person whom they can only guess at what intends. This is where the insanity begins, because it is at this point where the author of this article (and others!) stop thinking and criticizing, and starts instead starts spinning fantasy – from nothing.
    Strawmen, made up intent, and even entire fabrications of history as we know it. This article has every single one of these symptoms.

    Strawmen, that there is an audience (of which the article writer is not evidently part of, mind you, people who mention this “audience” never are!), that is to be criticized, because it has particular wants. You cannot lend a work correctness or even claim it has a dialogue based on a strawman like this. You can only manufacture a strawman that fits your desired conclusion, which renders the conclusion worthless.

    Made up intent, that there exists a particular intent that possibly validates every decision being made in the work. This cannot be confirmed, only suspected and this is being done poorly in this article due to lack of justification. It assumes the author (Anno) has the works best interests in mind, and worst of all – is infallible. Such a person does not exist, and it is proof of the lack of criticism to imply the existence of one in this case.

    Lastly, fabrications of reality to be presented as pseudo-evidence. While this ties in with the first two, this stands out because it’s not necessarily about people, but about what has already taken place. The writer of this article makes the claim that the second movie is different from Evangelion due to tone and lack of psychological interior – which couldn’t be further from the truth. Compared to the equivalent stretch of running time, the second movie proves itself to be more including of introspective scenes than even the original.
    This is a point, because so many conveniently “forget” that the episodes after six, is a non-ending journey of bravery, fanservice, action and pure enjoyment – without any deeper insights into any of the characters minds. That the second movie would include a scene or two of such introspective moments, is in all ways a movement towards the opposite of what the article writer claims.
    Then let’s not forget how much darker in tone the second movie is compared to the original in the equivalent stretch – death, injury or other destructive danger would be unthinkable in the original at this point.

    If the author of this web page knew Anno from what he’s said in interviews and statements rather than what he wants him to be for movies such as 3.0 to make sense, he might not have been as quick in assuming the intent behind this movie was as sincere and pure as suggested.

    The truth is, as any of the people who have commented on Anno the man has said thus far, is that Anno is to the very core – an otaku. A man with his own interests, desires, wants, needs, and of course with Evangelion – absolute authoritative power to emphasize whichever part he desires, negative or bad, even if only for his own enjoyment.
    Compare 3.0 especially to the original, think of what it means in light of the above, and ask yourself – is the Rebuild series really something that attempts to have a conversation with it’s audience, more than it tries to change the perception of all it’s components?

    Because you should find it peculiar, that everything Rebuild has amounted to in terms of change thus far, would serve the interests of Anno’s “otaku side” the absolute strongest.

    • I actually deleted it because someone else mentioned it was a copypasta, and honestly… well, it looks like a copypasta. But in case that’s not true, I’ll respond to your points anyway!

      Guessing at Anno’s intentions

      This is the main reason I assumed this was a copypasta – since I basically base my entire argument on Anno’s own statements as reflected in the original Evangelion, it honestly seems like you’re responding to some entirely different essay.


      If there’s a strawman here, it’s the audience Anno talks about in virtually every quote I provide – I’m merely extrapolating what I believe his argument to be. And even then, you’re not really making a counterargument, you’re just saying “strawman.”

      (of which the author doesn’t consider himself yada yada)

      As I said, the article isn’t an attack on anyone, so you don’t have to take it personally.

      Intent can only be suspected

      True! That is the purpose of this article – to present one possible interpretation based on a given read of the text combined with evidence from the creator.

      It assumes Anno was infallible

      What do you mean by this? I’m merely using the text and his own statements to extrapolate a possible intent – I’m not saying Evangelion is a perfect work because it articulates this message.

      The original didn’t have any deeper insights into the characters’ minds after episode 6

      …I’m responding in good faith because this might not be copypasta, but man. The series just gets more focused on interiority as it goes along, culminating in the completely internal explorations of 25/26 and EoE. This statement is just the opposite of true.

      The second movie was darker in tone

      I actually describe it as “grim” in the article, and it was – but it’s a superficial kind of “darkness,” violence without much meaning. The originals weren’t just about violence as grim spectacle, violence was a vehicle for character drama. And really, it’s not about the “darkness” of one versus the other either way – it’s about the focus on character interiority, something the second film largely trades for shock and awe.

      If the author of this knew Anno from interviews

      Wait, but I constantly reference his… crap, I knew I was getting trolled.

      • Weird about the copypasta, since you actually have to have seen it before to suspect it being a copy! But forget that.

        I could actually repost the whole thing in reply to your new comment since you commit the same mistakes!
        For all your guessing and attempting to present a possibility, there isn’t anything done in your post to show that it is indeed a possibility, rather than a desired reality. Do you understand the difference? You need to criticize and analyze as well. In short, there is a lack of mental exercise in actually delving into the work independently from it’s author.

        You say that your strawman, is also “Anno’s strawman”, but you can’t shift the responsibility over to Anno when you’re using it yourself. Use of strawmen doesn’t necessarily imply “attack on somene’s person”, so relax – it’s merely a tool of rhetoric that’s better not abused. It’s not right to base one’s argument around such a device.

        What I mean about Anno’s infallibility, is that you in your writing make the assumption that Anno’s decisions are based on a foundation that implies a strict correctness, and of course, is represented correctly as such through his work.
        It might be more palatable to consider the actual work in question, rather than what one specialized and ideal fictional version of a japanese man “might” be, whom neither you or your readers are likely to have met.
        To summarize, show some restraint in speaking for a person that’s not here, since in the end, it is you that is doing the talking. It’s easy to say Anno “does” or “thinks”, but you should ask yourself (and the reader!): “does he really?”
        Without doing that, Anno is merely your own, personal mouthpiece, and you render both the work itself and Anno as a person, irrelevant.
        The conclusion was made long before the essay was written.

        “Wait, but I constantly reference his… crap, I knew I was getting trolled.”
        No trolling, a little bit sad to see you suspect that. What you’re doing beyond intermittent quotes is called paraphrasing (at best), not referencing. Paraphrasing with a twist or an addition – which is what being done – is never a good thing.
        But this wasn’t what I meant either – Anno is known for not only those statements, but a fair amount, which upon reading, you’d get some insight into the man, rather than just the pretense of the man.
        Indeed, if your essay is seeking to talk about “Anno”, a person, and his relation to the fans and his own work – then he should be treated as a man, mortal, flesh and blood, rather than a figurehead.

        On the reply regarding episodes after six, perhaps you should lend others the same benefit of the doubt as you do Anno ? 🙂
        We both know how things change for the worse and more “interior” if you will even after episode six, and perhaps it wasn’t clear in what I wrote, but I meant the “equivalent stretch of running time”, which would be the more immediate episodes after six rather than everything up until the end.

        Then, the second movie – the interior of the characters has been preserved, as far as changes are not concerned. There is new things to consider. Perhaps moreso, since it makes more effort to show said interior than the episodes coming straight after six. It’s simply put, incorrect to claim that it doesn’t have psychological focus for instance – it does. Many would owe it to themselves to watch the ~5-6 episodes after six to compare in that aspect.
        While the tone isn’t everything, I felt a need to throw it in as a reminder that the second movie is indeed not as rosy as some would claim, especially when keeping in mind that there is argued for an audience that would clearly prefer a lighter tone only. Even for this nameless, strawy audience, it is not as rosy.

        I do apologize for the long reply. In short, I fear you’ve missed what I argued for in the reply. If you are going to assess Anno and the fans, then do so sincerely, by not leaving out any part of the person, and be critical in assessing whether or not this is the true intent, and not simply an extremely charitable interpretation.

        • I don’t think you understand what the author did in his post. Your answer does sound like a troll’s — no real arguments, mere restatements of what you originally said, with offensive language and implications throughout and no desire to engage with the author at any level, but merely to rant and rage about the author not having satisfied your personal desire for… what, exactly? Would you even know it if you saw it?

          Well, I hope you’ll give us, who enjoyed the author’s post, the benefit of the doubt. The doubt that your original message actually meant anything.

  9. I agree wholeheartedly with this article, but I think you’re underselling 2.22. Of COURSE part of the point was to set up the massive twist that 3.33 was, but it’s still a great piece of fiction on its own… with its own message(s). Think Shinji at the end, to go directly to the point. He doesn’t become a hero at the end 2.0 just to pander to audiences. He becomes one because he actually CHOOSES—he MAKES A CHOICE that there’s someone he likes and would like to protect, and by shifting his focus on something he wants in the world (for Rei to be there, alive), he escapes, however briefly, his own cycle of self-doubt and other melancholies (which comes from being focused on himself, for the most part). Even at the cost of another impact, ie the end of the world, because that’s the only way the world ever becomes your world; when you choose something in it, when you decide you have preferences instead of just watching it unfold from afar. It can be as simple as “I like rainy days” and as complex as “I like this person, therefore I want said person to flourish as the sole existence of him/her makes this world closer to one I love (ie to the one I wish to see)” and much more complex and not-personal than that, too.

    The recent masterpiece Oyasumi Punpun handles similar themes—the protagonist’s life goes to hell because he just floats through life and doesn’t ever make choices without even realizing it (if you’ve read it, the stark contrast is Seki). This is the point of 2.0, or at least of its Shinji-becomes-a-badass ending: make choices; even if they’re the wrong ones not choosing will always end up becoming the choice of not being able to choose anything anymore.

    Anyway, thanks for the excellent essay. I in fact agree with Anno’s optimism. “Everything will be okay in the end; if it’s not, it’s not the end.”

    • I actually do enjoy 2.22 – it kind of takes a beating in this essay by virtue of its place in the larger narrative I’m proposing about the series, but it’s definitely a fun film with its own merits. And I agree that the relationship between Shinji and Rei is one of the strongest things in that film (something helped by film-Rei being a much more emotionally expressive person than Rei II) – it’s really just most of the other characters that take a depth-beating in that film. Though I do think the lack of the show’s greater context makes Shinji’s story much less full-bodied too – I think the film’s attitude towards most of the characters is “you already sort of know how these characters behave, so we’re just gonna go from there.”

      I’ve heard very good things about Oyasumi Punpun, and that’s a pretty much eternally relevant theme, so I’ll have to check that out. And thanks for reading!

      • I wouldn’t say they take a depth-beating, most of the characters depth pops in after the second half (which would be after 2.0, which does set up), but that never comes to actually happen in 3.0 which actually makes any kind of depth at that point, fully impossible.

  10. I don’t have the time to dedicate to thinking out and typing out an exhaustive reply, but I’d just like to say that this is exactly the type of post that I wish I could write if I had any semblance of aptitude for thematic/contextual analysis. I love trying to piece together the metanarrative of the Evangelion franchise approximately as much as I love watching the actual narrative (indeed, they may not be so easily divorced), and you’ve got a lot of juicy and plausible speculation here. Awesome job on this one.

  11. You know, with all that you said here, I am strongly reminded of the video game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty. Mainly in the whole tearing down the audiences desires and wishes of being heroes, as well as misinterpreting the character’s personalities and the like. Heck, like MGS2, 3.33 also makes a lot of formal callbacks to the original series so as to force the viewer to realize that they may have been looking at it all wrong.

    Anyways, as for 3.33, I feel that its strengths lie not in its narrative, as I feel that it is flawed beyond belief in that sense, but in its formal developments. Mainly in terms of how, like MGS2, it plays with the expectations of the audience and all that.

    Also, on the character of Rei, I actually feel that her relationship with Shinji is essentially the whole driving force behind the entire saga. After all, she was arguably the first person his age that he made a conscious attempt to reach out to and care for, and she also began to develop as a person thanks to her friendship and possible attraction to him, culminating in the ending of 2.22. Even in 3.33, their relationship is still a huge part of the story, as her absence hangs darkly over the whole thing, and like Shinji, the audience is left despairing at the loss of her, and her replacement. Considering that Rei Q as she is called in 3.33 is basically what Anno intended Rei to be, it’s almost as though he realized that Rei’s popularity came not from her superficial aspects, but from her character, and this was sort of his way of testing that theory. What do you know, he was proven right.

    That said, Rei Q’s development also makes several formal callbacks to the Rei from 2.22. Heck, her being told to act how she wants to be Asuka mirrors Shinji’s assertion that Rei in 2.22 was irreplacable to him. In both cases, Rei realized that she was more than just a puppet, and began to act for herself. Heck, at the end of 3.33, she is looking sadly at Shinji’s discared SDAT player, a direct callback to the same scene in 2.22. This makes me wonder if Anno is truly angry with the audience, or if he is subtly communicating to us “Don’t worry. The hope and optimism I gave to you isn’t forgotten. I just wanted to lecture you about it first.” Remember that the last time Shinji lost his SDAT player in 2.22 was when he had effectively given up, and resorting to running away again. Rei retrieving it symbolized her devotion and love for him, in that she would always be there for him. Him retrieving both her and the player at the end was him reaffirming his existence and moving forward once again (albeit halted by the near Third-Impact, but the fact that he chose to return is the point). With that in mind, I can’t help but feel that Rei Q looking sadly doen at it is his way of showing that he does have sympathy for us.

    This is getting long, so I’ll wrap this up. I feel that Anno, despite how angry he comes across, does indeed care for the audience. He may get frustrated at them, but neither does he hold grudges against them. If Asuka forcibly dragging Shinji through the wasteland (formally caling back to Misato dragging a catatonic Shinji through NERV in End) is him forcing us to face his message and get it through our thick skulls, then Rei Q following them is his way of comforting us, and telling us that everything is going to work out, and that the joy we felt at the end of 2.22 was not misplaced.

    So yeah, pretty interesting. What say you?

    Also, I totally want to see your review on Rebellion, a film which, imo, did what 3.33 did even better.

    • That’s a very interesting read on Rei’s purpose – I hadn’t focused on her as much in the new series, so I’ll have to think about that specifically the next time I watch 2.22. I like how your interpretation makes his relationship with the recorder through 3.33 essentially a version of the grieving process – him being unable to let go of Rei, trying to recover her, and ultimately moving on. Which also works re: the comforting fantasies of the audience. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Anno’s sympathy for the audience is represented through Rei (I think the simplicity of relying on her presence is something Anno rejects), but I certainly agree that he is very sympathetic to the audience regardless.

      As far as Rebellion goes, I actually think the film that most closely mirrors is 2.22, so we may disagree there! I’ll try to put something together on that whenever the BDs get released.

      • I think you misinterpreted what I was saying. The SDAT player, from my understanding, isn’t a representation of his relationship with Rei or his grieving process. What it is is a representation of his inner soul. Remember that the last time he let go of it was when he decided to shut himself out from the rest of the world in 2.22. In a way, it’s the opposite of what it was in the original, mainly in that it’s treated as bad to throw it away, compared to the opposite in the original.

        Basically, Asuka dragging him, resulting in him dropping the player, symbolizes her treying to get him to grow up, but neglecting his actual self, only focusing on how he can change the world, not himself, while Rei Q sadly looking down at it symbolizes how she may ultimately be one of the first to actually understand him. I hope I made myself clear.

        At the very least, it does seem to hint that Rei and Shinji’s relationship isn’t done with just yet.

        • Ah, okay. I guess we’ve just kind of got opposite interpretations then, huh? I don’t see it as something worth clinging to, I just see it as part of the old self he must discard. I don’t really “trust” the lessons of 2.22.

      • Personally, if we go by how the Japanese do storytelling in a four-part series, than I see the next film as reconciling the hope and actions of 2.22 with the reality of 3.33. Like, I wouldn’t be surprised if the original Rei does return, but only after Shinji has matured and moved on, sort of like a rite of passage in a sense.

        Also, what is it that you don’t trust about 2.22 exactly, aside from it basically being what the fans wanted to see? Also, their is nothing wrong with doing that as far as I’m concerned, so long as the story is good.

        • In my opinion, 2.22 is a messy story told haphazardly that either throws away or undercuts most of the strengths of the original series. Shinji is simplified to the point of losing the specificity and insight that defined the original, and every other character is simplified to the point of just being standard anime characters. Rei and Asuka now really are just the kuudere and tsundere with crushes on the protagonist. I think the film succeeds as a fun action spectacle, but see it as an intellectual betrayal of the original’s strengths.

  12. This post literally encompasses everything I wanted to tell people about why Eva 3.33 is brilliant – from discourses on fandom to the meta-contextual Eva framework- except that it is so well done it completely crushes the putative explanations I had come up with.

    On another note, I two questions (because it’s so much easier to critique than it ever is to write something like this!).

    1) You make it very clear what Hideaki Anno’s stance on the current state of fandom and the industry is, and this sentiment is clearly echoed by others like Miyazaki. Personally though, what are your thoughts? Is the “post-Eva” framework necessarily “bad”? Do fans really need to “grow up”?

    2) I read the comments above, and wanted to get some additional clarification about how 3.33 necessarily “fails” (or at least doesn’t overwhelmingly succeed). I see a lot of people talk about how it doesn’t make sense or doesn’t “tell a proper story”, but I haven’t really seen someone sit down and point out how all these flaws really fit together (I, for one, was quite engaged, and was surprised when I discovered the overwhelmingly negative reaction – although that might have been because I hit upon the “meta-Eva” narrative about 1/3rd of the way in). So, since you paper over this a little bit in your post (because you can’t discuss everything lol): in your opinion, why, if 3.33 succeeds so well in this context, does it seem to “fail” so dramatically in a more traditional one?

    Also, here’s to a new follower! 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Regarding your questions…

      1) Outside of anime’s particular, potentially worrying financial situation (where it’s reliant on a dwindling in-group of core fans to sustain itself), I’m not so convinced – though I have to separate “fandom” and “the industry” here.

      When it comes to the industry, though I’m not a fan of the general use of the tropes Eva kind of accidentally propelled, I personally don’t see their ubiquity as being too different from any other medium – it’s just our version of popcorn entertainment. Most works in most mediums are designed to make audiences happy, not to attack them for being who they are, and that’s just how people interact with their media. Great or challenging works are always the minority in every medium, but even though they never represent the mainstream and rarely end up being hugely lucrative, inspired creators will keep making them because inspired creators couldn’t stop even if they wanted to. As long as people are still driven to create art because there’s a demon inside them they can’t get out any other way, art will never cease to exist.

      As far as fandom goes – to the people who really are sitting in their rooms consuming database culture and never seeing the sun, yeah, those people need a message like Eva. I don’t know if these people really do exist on the scale Anno seems to believe, and I think I’m more of a believer in “people can like what they like as long as it doesn’t hurt others” than he is, but yeah, the otaku deep end is definitely a dark, self-destructive place.

      2) For a decent number of reasons, at least for me. First, because basically no character except Shinji is developed, or given much of any context at all – it’s as focused as 25/26 for the entire length of a movie, and everyone else is just a cipher. Second, because even though everyone else is a cipher, the movie expects you to not see them that way – it expects you to give them the import of an entirely different work, and just take their personalities for granted (though even there, it doesn’t actually stay true to those personalities, it just uses them as convenient scaffolding). Third, because its narrative structure is completely wibbly-wobbly – it basically scoffs at pacing, continuously detours into lengthy explorations of sub-ideas, and doesn’t have a sense of rising action whatsoever – things just happen (including stuff like the Fuyutsuki monologue, which is clearly more relevant to the original series than a film series which has largely excised the significance of mother figures). Fourth, because “things just happen” really is pretty much the rule of all its action setpieces and narrative turns – it starts with a battle given no context, ends with a battle given no context, and has pretty much an entirely different movie sandwiched in the middle. On its surface, it’s a very strange film.

      • I think that the problem with 3.33 is that, while it succeeds on a formal level (the whole tearing down of the expectations of the viewers based on the original series and all that jazz), it gets so caught up with trying to put the viewer down and punish both Shinji and them for this that it forgets to make sure that the core story holds up. From a narrative POV, 3.33 feels very disconnected from the previous two films, so it is really hard to go into it understanding what the heck is going on.

        In addition, the fact that it is basically Anno slapping the viewers in the face over and over again, calling them out for their tastes and the like, makes the whole film feel extremely mean-spirited. I seriously haven’t seen a film that was as angry and frustrated with the viewer as this one. Due to this, I can’t really get invested with the story or characters, as it is essentially just Anno venting all his frustrations out on the screen. Not to mention that because it is so overwhelmingly joyless and without any sort of relief, I find it really hard to care about what happens. If all that is going to occur in it is nothing but doom, gloom, and despair with not enough of a balance, then why should I bother watching it?

        3.33 has also raised so many questions that the next film will have to answer (the original Rei’s status, the state of any other survivors, Gendo’s next move, etc.) that I’m not at all surprised that it’s taking so long to be finished. In addition, it has also essentially written the saga into a corner. If all Shinji is capable of is making things worse, regardless of whether or not he tries to move forward or not, than his whole situation is basically unwinnable. I’m not quite sure Anno realized this when writing 3.33, instead just venting without thinking about the story.

        So to wrap it all up, 3.33 fails to tell a satisfying story in lieu of just slapping the audience over and over again, and as a result, it comes across as mean-spirited and rather poorly written. It may work from a thematic standpoint, but as a narrative, 3.33 is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, while signifying nothing.”

        • My argument is not that it forgets to make a core story, it’s that it doesn’t care – that it wants to ensure the audience can’t avoid engaging with the themes by drowning themselves in the narrative, as so many did with the original Eva. I wouldn’t call it “mean-spirited,” though – it clearly still demonstrates a great deal of hope, and saying Anno is “mean” to do this seems like saying a parent is mean for scolding their child. It may be condescending, but it’s well-intentioned.

          I also don’t think he’s written himself into a corner at all – he’s simply demonstrated several things that don’t work. Kaworu and Asuka both pointed at the way out in this film – finding your own purpose and passion, without either falling into stasis, idolizing the past, or being told what to do.

      • See, that’s the thing. It seems as though Anno is so concerned with making sure that we “get” his message in 3.33, that he neglected proper character and story development. I can’t help but compare it to the last two Matrix films, which were so focused on the themes and messages that they allowed them to overtake the plot and characters, as opposed to the two latter elements naturally unveiling the former through actions and story.

        Due to this, I can’t help but see 3.33 as Anno going on an Author Tract. I’m sorry, but simply hammering in themes isn’t going to get me to buy his point. Give me a strong story and logical character and plot progression first. Then, he’ll be able to convince me of this moral that he thinks is so necessary for me to hear.

        Even if it is a good point, the fact of the matter is that, imo, he delivered it with poor execution. If the latter isn’t done well, then it doesn’t matter how thought-provoking the themes are.

  13. I’m sorry if this seems a bit unfair an harsh, but your entry is pseudo-intellectual drivel. Far too many assumptions that aren’t logical or insightful, and far too biased.
    The newest movie does communicate something to it’s audience, but in a very specific way compared to how the television series does it, it’s all best seen in that relation. Yes it’s a shortened down version, but some aspects of it aren’t shortened down, but actually lengthened. Examine what has been changed, and you’ll see that there’s specific portions of the work that benefits.

    The only thing that remains after 3.0, is a rough image of the various characters, some negative, some positive compared to the original character. Anno is not the only one making these movies, you see, there’s a lot of other people involved that have their own favourites and according to the interviews made on these new movies actually quarrel internally over who is to do what in this new show.

    It’s safe to say that if you think 3.0 is some sort of social commentary, or a dialogue (what dialogue has only one speaker anyway?), you’re mistaken. It’s a return to the franchise with carte blanche to do anything they want, and the people involved are taking advantage of that to get their personal, but shallow vision onto the big screen.
    It’s service before substance. A service to who? Themselves of course!

    • “You’re reading too much into it,” eh? Welp, my response is the same as it’s been since I wrote my first critical piece – I think my read is supported by the text, but if you’re not convinced, that’s perfectly fine.

      • It’s not that you’re reading too much into it, but that you’re reading into it with some bias and a ready-made conclusion. You’re reading too much “out” of it, if you will.
        The read seems anything but supported by the text and you address several texts from various sources to make up for that, which are again interpreted to fit a conclusion… the conclusion you want.

        So in terms of being convincing, no, it is not convincing to me. To convince a reader who is actually interested in finding an answer, you need to not simply present one view or alternative, you need to present multiple and pit them against the other. To show proof, if you will. It’s not enough to say “the work does”, you need to show how it does it and how it proves that it does it.
        Otherwise, you’d be merely preaching to the choir…. or people with no real drive but a vague conviction, hence why “they can’t put it into words” but stil agree….

        It’s also really poor practice to respond with a dismissive blanket statement you seemingly had prepared in forehand.

        • If there’s any specific statement you disagree with that contributes to my read, I could certainly elaborate on it. But a general “your read is wrong and based on assumptions I disagree with, my read is correct and based on the actual ‘conclusive’ evidence” doesn’t really give me much to work with. The main assumptions I make are largely based on ground I consider too established to require explanation – Anno’s perception of anime fans, the way the various characters of the original function, how 2.22 fails to uphold the strengths of the original, etc. Beyond that, I’m not sure what unsupported assumptions you’re talking about, and attempting to conclusively prove a speculative read of the series seems like a pretty hopeless quest.

      • It might sound general, but that’s because it applies to the entire thing. Although now that you mention it, the examples you mention aren’t exactly established, for instance your own opinions on 2.22, or external read of Anno is unique to yourself mostly, and I see some of them are challenged in the comments as well. It’s a stretch to call them established when they are as you call it, “reads”.
        So yes, barring the things mentioned above in specific, it is more of a criticism of the method used.

        Say, alone, without the distant wise-man-on-the-mountain Anno figure to guide your opinions, what exactly would the movie tell?
        I understand that this writing is about Anno and so you should include him, but for comparison, as criticism, it’s worth a more frequent mention since it could shed light on whether or not that truly is the intention of the movie/scene.
        But most importantly, for being about Anno, it’s missing a lot of….. Anno. There is only ever this one aspect of Anno discussed, his supposed relation to the fans. Now before you get upset and think “but that’s the point of the read!”, isn’t it even a little bit plausible that there might be more to these movies than that? If so, is it really that a meaningful topic if it’s missing the rest of what Anno might intend with these brand new shiny movies that has a lot of change in it’s setting and characters?
        This ties in with one of the ready-made assumptions I believe you have, namely the assumption that every bit of Rebuild exists because it is intended as a well-formulated criticism of his fans, whoever that might be.
        If you mean that you haven’t made this assumption, then I don’t see any proof of that in your writing. Perhaps, arriving at this conclusion would be better? Now that actually, might indeed be a hopeless quest, since the second you start taking into account that Rebuild isn’t Anno’s solo production, but a team effort with many conflicting desires and opinions, things get a little muddier. Even if it was his solo production, you’d be missing the aspect that detailed his own desires and interests in fiction that also influence what Rebuild becomes. With the presence of bias in the staff members of Rebuild looking back on the original which also represents fiction archetypes and elements they enjoy, is it truly such a “pure” work as you suggest? There is a lot of change made in the Rebuild series which can be objectively assessed.
        If you were to write an essay about the topic of Anno and his relation to fans through a remake, considering Anno himself as a person is absolutely necessary, otherwise it will really just be what I suggested it was in the beginning.

    • This. A thousand times this. This is what diehard evangelion fans do. They claim depth, they claim complexity, and all it comes to show is that their conclusions and claims are on the level of an average conspiracy theorist with a cork board and some red string with a few pins.

      Evangelion is an extremely shallow, plot-hole filled and directionless anime. It has nothing to give but some pretentious attempts at satire, many of which fail, only to sink into tried-and-true anime plots, like introducing a new, surprise-surprise, female character that has a wacky tsundere personality which is explained by them being foreign. Only to be later retconned and patched over by the claim of something deeper, only to leave gaping plotholes that make south american sinkholes look like kiddie pools.

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  18. I don’t think the writer of this blog has enough knowledge of Evangelion, Anno or even the anime industry to competently talk about the subject.

    It’s disregarding far too much of the original, far too much of the current industry’s context with the fans,far too much of Anno and his newly made studio, and worse, far too much of the actual movie itself to actually deliver an accurate evaluation of this newest movie.

    As it is, this blog entry is worthless as an interpretation. If you could produce a blog entry that seriously tries to understand 3.0 without resorting to preaching a pre-made conclusion, I’d read it.

    Because it’s not enough to merely half-reproduce a quote half out of context, the quote needs to be measured up against reality as well. It lacks criticism.

    • You kind of undercut yourself here – criticism is pretty much always made subjective by its personal basis and inability to account for all relevant variables, but then you seem to think there actually is a “correct” interpretation of the film that you have already arrived at.

  19. Stunning display of insight as always. I’d second the notion for you writing up Rebellion story- It’s my favorite work of the year and I’d like to hear what you have to say.

    • I’ve got a pretty ambitious piece planned that’ll definitely include a lot of Rebellion thoughts. It won’t be out for a little while (I gotta finish some research I’m doing for it), but I’m excited to get to it.

  20. I can’t explain how strong this show’s impact has been on me. I started sketching and painting because of this show and that was pretty much my identity when i was a kid. I was the guy who drew everything and everyone. Went on for more than a decade and that hobby almost got me to pursuing Architecture. I’m 21 now and have forgotten about cartoons for at least a decade but thanks to Attack on Titan, I was reminded of this part of my childhood and for me back then, Evangelion was just as great as Cowboy Bebop or Slam Dunk, if not better. I didn’t know they made anything after EoE until a few days ago and I didn’t realize how much more of a commentary it is than an actual show until i rewatched the series, Death and Rebirth, EoE, and RoE yesterday and today. This article pretty much covers the stuff i’ve been thinking about since i started rewatching. Great article! And thank you. I enjoyed reading this. So much for finding our own answers like Anno said haha but rather than making speculations about whether or not RoE is a remake or a sequel (like almost all forums about the tetralogy), talking about what the show’s really about is what can ultimately give people some peace of mind. Some people tend to focus on the specifics like continuity of the narrative or how ambiguous some scenes/motifs are. I know I did.

    • Glad you enjoyed the piece! Evangelion also had a massive impact on me back in the day, so I guess this piece has sort of been coming for a long time. And yeah, I’m not much of a narrative-arguing guy!

  21. Thank you for a very interesting read that prompted me to give the third movie a try after being left rather disappointed by 2.22. As I’m not a native English speaker, forgive me if some points might come across a bit unpolished.

    I agree with your assessment in many ways. 3.0 isn’t a narrative, it’s a statement. The problem with that is, for me, at least, that I am much more inclined to listen to and reflect upon said statement if it is presented to me through characters I got so invested in through good storytelling that I sincerely care what happens to them. If I just want to be lectured without being entertained, I might simply go for the non-narrative textbook approach instead.

    The following is just my opinion, of course.

    What made the original TV series so famous and special for many people wasn’t just the meta commentary and huge amount of WTF towards the end. Evangelion, to me, boasts some of the best written, most complex characters in anime, heck, anywhere in audio visual storytelling. While the first part of the series is often described as pretty straightforward and lighthearted in comparison, there’s brilliant storytelling at work here. Shinji, Asuka, and Misato are wonderfully crafted characters, who feel so whole and organic, both on their own and in interaction with one another, that it would be impossible for me not to get invested in them, not to be interested in seeing what they might choose to do when presented with all those impossible choices they have to face later on.

    I’ve never quite understood the “Shinji is a pussy” argument many people are making, as, for me, Shinji is one of the best written characters ever, and I wholeheartedly understand and share Kaworu’s fascination with him. He feels real and whole to me like few fictional characters do. The original Evangelion was great not only because it deconstructed it’s genre, or because it was so “deep” and “challenging” and tried to convey a message only clever people could fully appreciate (or, at least, pride themselves/ourselves on doing so). It was also great because it was an example of incredibly well written entertainment that had some of the most interesting characters, especially in the genre it’s place in, but also beyond that. And it was because it was so entertaining, thrilling, and engaging, that people listened to what it tried to say, which, in the end, cemented the legacy it has today. It was my gateway to anime, the first show I ever watched, and it profoundly changed my perspective on what I can expect from my entertainment. Would the rebuild movies have done that?


    Because, for me, they fail in the entertainment section. Well, the first one was entertaining from a blockbuster point of view, I suppose, so I should probably rephrase that as: They fail to find a balance between being entertaining and meaningful at the same time. Now, I am sure it is quite possible to argue that Anno does not care all that much if I feel entertained or not. But the very thing that made the original series so special for me in many aspects is painfully absent in the new movies. The character of Asuka might embody this change in the most poignant way, but all of the cast seem simplified to an extent that they do feel like, well, a cast, and not like people I can identify with or care about. Turning the blockbuster feeling from the beginning of the rebuild series around (clearly intended as a punch in the stomach) into the narrative mess that was the third movie and suddenly expecting me to care because “look, it’s deep now!” is just not going to work if I’m not invested in these characters and their fates. Where the series managed to force us to reflect upon our image, a painful image it was confronting us with in a carefully constructed mirror of great writing and storytelling, all I was left with feeling yesterday was a regretfully empty “OK…”.

    Was it a complete disappointment? No. There were some very nice, well crafted moments there. But without a coherent narrative or engaging characters tying those moments together, they just floated in thin air, unable to connect with one another – or with me. If that’s the point Anno wanted to make – alienate the audience the same way as the characters – good for him. The original series, however, did no such thing. It pulled me in, excited and engaged me, and got me invested in its characters. When it held up the mirror, I was able and willing to look at it, through its beautifully written characters, and it didn’t leave me alone to crash afterwards (the series didn’t, anyway, EoE might be a slightly different case). There’s nowhere I’m willing to go with the characters of the rebuild movies. Nowhere that personal.

    • I actually completely agree with all of this! I find the Rebuilds interesting, but they in no way compare to the original series for me. And I loved that original series for the same reason you did – how utterly human and carefully drawn its characters were, and how much the series cared about them. That’s actually pretty much all I talk about in my top shows list explanation for why I love Eva so much:


  22. I never know that the evangelion series is a form of critique toward anime viewer in general. Thanks 🙂

    But it does confuse me what is Anno definition for maturity

    • I think Anno believes it’s something you have to struggle to find for yourself. But who knows, maybe 4.0 will actually be a way forward this time.

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  24. I love the post, but still hate the movie.

    In fact, the whole post does have an underlying current that says this to people who hate the movie, “3.33 doesn’t suck, you just don’t get.” or “The movie is brilliant, you’re just not intelligent enough to realize why.” Probably not the writer’s intention, but the above quotes couldn’t be any more wrong as far as I’m concerned.

    I get this movie’s intentions, I just don’t believe that they’re warranted or that Anno conveyed his “message” the best way possible. The vehicle (the movie) with which he’s trying to convey his message to the otaku culture is so filled with plot-holes, people being unlikable jerks or idiots, a completely altered premise/genre/central conflict that’s changed right in the middle of a tetralogy whose first two installments were consistent with their tone/genre/conflict/story.

    Yes, the original series had it’s confusing parts and unanswered questions. But it still had a flowing narrative with clear perspectives, a clear genre, central conflict, character focus, and etc that you could follow. Hence. Anno’s deconstructive message there could be followed more closely, in addition to a great story with character’s you could follow and understand.

    All this movie did in my view as just take everything great about the first 2 rebuild movies and throw them out the window for shock value and because Anno believes that the Otaku culture needs to “grow up” or to “learn another lesson.” But this time around, he tried to tell his message first in the most depressing, convoluted and idiotic manner possible while neglecting to tell a damned story. A profound theme is not an excuse for terrible execution of a story or for dumb things to happen just so that the plot can advance.

    Even with Anno’s message in mind, I still can find any justifiable reason for the explosive collar. If the characters were self-consistent then they would never have done that to Shinji whether he’s actually responsible for Near-Third Impact or not. (There’s evidence and inconsistencies between 2.22 and 3.33 that leave this in doubt) Or why Kaworu would put the collar on himself whether than just throw it away. Or even how Shinji caused Near-Third Impact. (Why didn’t Zeruel cause Third Impact when it ate Rei? (since she has Lillith’s soul inside of her and Zeruel has an S2 organ))

    Again, I still think that the op is a great insight into Anno’s motivations. But it just doesn’t justify the mess that 3.33 put the Rebuild series into or how 4.0 has a next-to-impossible task ahead of it due to said-mess.

    • Let the ROFL-copters fly.

      “I love the post, but still hate the movie.”

      Remember this for the next part, LOL.

      “In fact, the whole post does have an underlying current that says this to people who hate the movie, “3.33 doesn’t suck, you just don’t get.” or “The movie is brilliant, you’re just not intelligent enough to realize why.” Probably not the writer’s intention, but the above quotes couldn’t be any more wrong as far as I’m concerned.”

      Wow, a contradiction right off the bat. You say you love the post at first then you bash the person for shoving his views down people’s throat. How egotistical.

      Also making assumptions FTL. XD

      “I get this movie’s intentions, I just don’t believe that they’re warranted or that Anno conveyed his “message” the best way possible.”

      “The vehicle (the movie) with which he’s trying to convey his message to the otaku culture is so filled with plot-holes…”

      Setting up for a sequel, what’s that? LOL

      “…people being unlikable jerks or idiots…”

      Says the guy who makes ridiculous assumptions about people (like here) and does not listen to criticism. LOL

      BTW, what you say here is completely subjective.

      “…a completely altered premise/genre/central conflict that’s changed right in the middle of a tetralogy whose first two installments were consistent with their tone/genre/conflict/story.”

      What if this was Anno’s plan all along? You never know. Don’t make assumptions you can’t back up.

      Also, 3.33 is quite consistent with the themes and character directions of EVA as a whole under Anno as characters are ending up in a similar place they were by the end of the original series. Shinji is an emotional wreck, Rei is replaced by a new version, Asuka is more abrasive, Kaworu is dead, I could go on. 

      “Yes, the original series had it’s confusing parts and unanswered questions. But it still had a flowing narrative with clear perspectives, a clear genre, central conflict, character focus, and etc that you could follow. Hence. Anno’s deconstructive message there could be followed more closely, in addition to a great story with character’s you could follow and understand.”

      I and others got this from 3.33 as perfectly as well, and we love 3.33 for embracing these themes to the fullest. 

      To me this destroyed 2.22 and is almost as good as 1.11 (my favorite).

      “All this movie did in my view as just take everything great about the first 2 rebuild movies and throw them out the window…”

      No, it took out all the superfluous elements and focused on what made Eva (including rebuild) shine, the mystery, the sense of confusion, the sense of loss, the sense of empathy for Shinji, the bleakness, emotionally dysfunctional relationships, the rays of hope and/or possibilities, & most of all, humanity.

      “…for shock value…”

      And the original did not have shock value either. (sarcasm)

      BTW, it is only shock value to you. I and others who like it do not see it as such.

      “…and because Anno believes that the Otaku culture needs to “grow up” or to “learn another lesson.” ”

      Well people like you who consider animes like Gurren Lagann to be the holy grail of anime certainly need to grow up and learn another lesson. XD

      “But this time around, he tried to tell his message first in the most depressing, convoluted and idiotic manner possible while neglecting to tell a damned story.”

      Correction (LOL), the message is told (to me and the fans) as the most compelling, entertaining, hardcore, understandable manner while remembering to tell an awesome story. 

      “A profound theme is not an excuse for terrible execution of a story or for dumb things to happen just so that the plot can advance.”

      Again, everything you say about a work of art (like this) is subjective, not fact. What you consider ‘dumb’ is considered brilliant by others, like myself, LOL. XD

      Do not state your opinion on a film as fact. It could make you bait for trolls online. XD

      “Even with Anno’s message in mind, I still can find any justifiable reason for the explosive collar.”
      Will-E making Shinji go through penance, what’s that!?! XD

      “If the characters were self-consistent then they would never have done that to Shinji whether he’s actually responsible for Near-Third Impact or not.”

      Oh, really, LOL? They blamed Shinji for the Near-Third Impact as he was piloting Unit-01 and even said that he did not care what happened to the world. So of course they would blame him for the mess they are in now. They had over a decade of pent up anger and grudges so of course they were going to take it out on Shinji by punishing him in the harshest possible way. Your ignorance is fully amusing, LOL. XD

      Basically what happens in 3.33 to all the characters is what the Joker outlined in The Dark Knight in that when the chips are down, people will start eating each other up.

      “(There’s evidence and inconsistencies between 2.22 and 3.33 that leave this in doubt)”

      Lack of proof and elaboration on your part kills your argument.

      “Or why Kaworu would put the collar on himself whether than just throw it away.”

      This just shows that you do not pay attention. Kaworu stated clearly that HE is the trigger to the Third Impact and that if he died, so would the Third Impact. Like in the original series he chose death in the end then being SEELE’s piece to end humanity, so humanity would live.

      You FAIL Evangelion. XD

      “Or even how Shinji caused Near-Third Impact. (Why didn’t Zeruel cause Third Impact when it ate Rei? (since she has Lillith’s soul inside of her and Zeruel has an S2 organ))”

      It was stated in rebuild that the Angels need to make contact with Lilith to commence the impact. Even in the original series Lilith’s soul needed a major physical form to begin Third Impact, either her original body or Unit 01. Again, paying attention really helps little boy.

      “Again, I still think that the op is a great insight into Anno’s motivations.”

      Yet you still whine like a little boy for justifying his enjoyment of 3.33, as you usually do elsewhere, you hypocritical man-child.

      “But it just doesn’t justify the mess that 3.33 put the Rebuild series into…”

      Again that is YOUR opinion, not everyone else’s and it is not a fact. There are scores of people who enjoyed it (like the blogger here) and even loved it like myself and saw the plot as excellent storytelling.

      Again, subjective. Now be mature for once and be respectful of other’s opinions like a civil individual.

      “…or how 4.0 has a next-to-impossible task ahead of it due to said-mess.”

      Just like you did on DeviantArt, trash talking a film that is not even out yet.

      Every post end review you make is a LOLs-fest. XD

      You are the AKnotholeResident of the Evangelion fanbase. Thank you for the LOLs.

  25. I would wish to articulate a better responde at the moment: But I dont have time. I also fear that I’ll pass as a derivative fan of your article, but I gotta be honest with my initial reaction: This is the best reflection on Evangelion I’ve ever read. You laid out and verbalized the ideas me and others have about it and the Rebuild but never found the way to order them as you did.

    Fantastic read.

  26. I really liked reading this. Sadly, I can’t help but think Meta can only take you so far. Narrative wise this film could have been much stronger as well as kept these themes building off of 2.0. EoE managed to take meta and roll with it resolving character and plot. It had a stronger foundation to build off of–and more time. I can’t help but feel 3+1 will be a very fascinating movie with an interesting message, but not a very good film. That’s a shame. Anyway! Good work!

  27. This post was fantastic. I had pretty mixed feelings about 1.0 and ended up quitting minutes into 2.0 after dismissing the entire thing as a pure and shameless cash grab. You’ve prompted me to give it another try.

  28. I’m still processing my thoughts on the film but I wanna agree with ya but something bugs me about this movie and the rebuilds in general.

    ba humbug, happy new years

  29. I’m so glad I read this, and I honestly have loved everything I have read by you thus far. I watched all three rebuilds a few weeks ago. I had pretty similar feelings about the 1.0 (Ramiel was just so awesome, I couldn’t complain that he was different!) but 2.0 and 3.0 bothered me. I guess 2.0 because of how completely different it was and that it didn’t include a lot of my favorite parts, but that’s to be expected. Now 3.0 I thought was just completely ridiculous, but I think that’s because I missed the point. I spent the whole time thinking about how weird it was that there was a time jump, pirate Asuka, and the fact that all the kids are the same age because of the “curse of the Eva”? I guess we’re watching Pirates of the Caribbean right now… But as you can tell, I didn’t really get much out of 3.0, so I think reading this essay has helped me realize that maybe I should give it another go before the final movie comes out and try not to be so put off by the whole thing, which is why I didn’t watch the Rebuilds until recently since I had set myself up to be disappointed.

    Anyway, thank you so much for explaining things clearly yet again!

  30. Wow, I am utterly amazed at your depth and angle of introspection. Due to the overwhelming nature of college and attaining the 4.0, I quite literally hide in anything available, with animes being my “drug of choice”. Thanks for giving me so much to think about! Being able to influence the mind beyond its comfort zone has never seemed as important as it does for today’s generation, keep up your writing 🙂

  31. I had just watched 3.33 with a friend and I couldn’t make any sense of it, it was so ridiculously absurd. So I came online to look for an interpretation and found yours. Half way through I just shouted “Oh my God, Anno’s a genius!”. 1.11 and 2.22 now make so much more sense and mean so much more to me. originally I just took them as fan pandering (which they are as you pointed out) but I assumed it was just for the money. So 3.33 really took me for a shock as being technobabbly and sad Shinji. Now it makes so much more sense and I love the films so much more now and can’t wait to rewatch them looking at them through this lens.

  32. Thank you a lot for this essay.

    You just explained to me why (the original) Evangelion never spoke to me. Because I was never that type of fan, I knew little or nothing about them, and I didn’t sympathize with them. I watched it, and very quickly I thought “Rei needs psychological help. Asuka is a stereotype. Shinji needs to grow up.” And because that was obvious and not interesting to me, the rest of the series seemed kind of… predictable, I guess. It didn’t go anywhere much with it. It didn’t give much of a suggestion for how to change, beyond “see a therapist for depression”, which is good advice of course, but kind of obvious to some of us…

  33. Probably the most interesting and compelling review of the 3rd Rebuild movie I’ve ever read, especially since I despised the movie when I watched it the first time. Still, perhaps it’s worth a rewatch. I doubt I’ll walk away with a sense of it being such a beautiful and artistic work, but perhaps with some sense of consolation about the whole thing. Anno has always generated this sort of polarizing reaction, but I’ve more often found myself agreeing with his decisions than not, which it why 3.0 has been so jarring. That and since 2.22 seemed to be going in a more optimistic direction, it made the change in tone all the more drastic.
    It’ll be interesting to see how the final movie fits into all this. I certainly have no idea what to expect.

  34. That was a great article, good sir. Your speaking skills are amazing and your analytical skills are equally top notch. I agree with the bulk of your arguments. Hideaki Anno really is a great storyteller in my view. His characters and themes always keep people like me drawn in. The 4th will be a great spectacle to see, I’m sure. I hope you enjoy it too.

  35. nicely written. i’ve somehow avoided watching the Rebuilds – i wanted to wait until they were all out, but i’ve been reconsidering lately and your post may have pushed me over the edge.

  36. It baffles me to no end that people retain to praise this pretentious, superficial nonsense. Evangelion has the depth of a puddle between the clamps of a steam press. It is “artsy”, in the sense that vapid, meaningless pop-art is “art”. It has no message, it has no meaning, and it is merely commercialized nonsense for people who get a kick out of pretending to find deeper meanings in where there are none.

    The makers of this dull, though thankfully short representation of a different take on mecha anime were more than happy to laugh their way to the bank, knowing that the empty-minded diehard fans would gladly worship it come hell and high water.

    Fans of expressionistic modern arts and drama queens are about the only ones who would ever find genuine enjoyment in this meaningless and directionless tirade.

    It’s a sad truth when the average Shonen Jump children’s show has a considerably more coherent and firm plot than something that pretends its absolute best to be in some manner deep… only coming across as incredibly vacuous and dull.

    • “It baffles me to no end that people retain to praise this pretentious, superficial nonsense.”

      “Evangelion has the depth of a puddle between the clamps of a steam press. It is “artsy”, in the sense that vapid, meaningless pop-art is “art”.”

      That is subjective, good sir. 🙂

      “It has no message, it has no meaning,”

      Again, that is subjective, and also, since when does an anime have an obligation to have a message to be entertaining. some do not have it at all, yet are still loved by many.

      “and it is merely commercialized nonsense for people who get a kick out of pretending to find deeper meanings in where there are none.”

      How so? Please explain.

      “The makers of this dull, though thankfully short representation of a different take on mecha anime were more than happy to laugh their way to the bank”

      They are most certainly laughing at manchildren like you who take things like anime way too seriously. I am laughing at you too, ROFL. XD

      “knowing that the empty-minded diehard fans would gladly worship it come hell and high water.”

      Way to make yourself troll-bait there, little boy.

      “Fans of expressionistic modern arts and drama queens are about the only ones who would ever find genuine enjoyment in this meaningless and directionless tirade.”

      Why don’t you look in the mirror, little boy. I believe you will see something that resembles this entire statement you made here, LOL. XD

      “It’s a sad truth when the average Shonen Jump children’s show has a considerably more coherent and firm plot than something that pretends its absolute best to be in some manner deep… only coming across as incredibly vacuous and dull.”

      Lack of examples and explanations kill your argumentation. XD

      • Depth isn’t subjective. Whether or not something has a deeper purpose than face value is clearly an objective thing, and it is clearly apparent it is trying its hardest to be deep, but only coming across as a shallow attempt of doing so. At best the depth is that of a soap bubble, give it an inquisitive look and pops and falls completely flat, because it is so riddled with holes it can’t contain itself.

        Evangelion is to anime in what Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup is to art. It’s not an exact comparison, as Warhol doesn’t have the gall to be pretentious about his product, which is what he calls it openly. Yet the fans of both try and find a deeper meaning, and argue that the maker is some sort of a savant or a genius. People often go to quote such things like “Warhol wants to show us that there is art even in dull modern day objects”, where his own note of the subject matter… amusingly enough, is that he painted a soup can. The difference of Warhol and Anno is that Anno claims there is depth and meaning where there is none.

        You do laugh often during teenage and preteen years. Cherish it. Just don’t try to rip humor out of other people’s backbones by acting stupidly. The only one you’ll hurt with that behavior.

        Perhaps you should check the definitions of words or terminology before using them. There is not a single reference to trolling, flamebaiting, flaming or troll-baiting anywhere in my reply, nor is it comparable to any of the above.

        Abductive reasoning needs only a few examples to lead said reasoning into a conclusion. The argument is proof within itself, as it explains itself very clearly, even to those who suffer from less capable minds. In the future, try refuting something instead of dismissing it, you might learn that your stance isn’t exactly very stable.

        I’m not exactly sure why i’m wasting perfectly good time to respond to you, perhaps i just feel sorry for you on some level. Enjoy.

        • Do you think what might be more important is that people can find meaning in these things? Who does it harm if Evangelion changes someone’s life? It doesn’t make either of you right or wrong. I hope I don’t step on any toes, but it seems like a very similar situation to religion. If one person finds meaning in a god and another does not, the only person affected is the one who has found meaning. Maybe you’re more upset with people shoving their beliefs on others, but this essay here is just a discussion of ideas, nothing meant to convince anyone of anything, at least that’s how I see it. If I had painted a picture of a plain old soup can and people found meaning in it, at first I would probably laugh about how stupid that seemed. But then I would be happy for that person who has discovered another part of themselves and of their life. That’s just how I see this though. Evangelion means something to ME, I don’t care what anyone else thinks because in a sense, it belongs to ME. Just like my favorite books and characters somehow feel like they’re connected to only ME. Obviously so many people have experienced Evangelion, but what makes it great to just ME is what I’ve found in it, not what anyone else has found.

          • A pursuit of folly is a time wasted. While entertainment is subjective, as is religion, preaching about it as if it were the best is not the way to go. It should be important to always retain a objective, and critical view on whatever you’re doing and saying.

            I cannot say that it can’t be enjoyed, but i can say that the grass is brilliant and glowing outside the confines of an overappreciated, and severely overmilked mismash of a cash cow. Had it been let die in peace it might’ve been something of intrigue, a cult classic. The constant beating of a dead horse is always an awful sight.

  37. I was wondering what you thought of this criticism of Hideaki Anno’s work? It’ll be a while before this film series is finished. So let’s have a chat. I recommend commenting on his site, should make for some neat debate.

    “Uh, for a guy who holds “disdain” for “otaku”, Hideaki Anno is 100% ready and willing to pander directly to them. Also, his commentary and writing is generally pretty garbage. He’s a lot like Spec Ops The Line; he’s just as bad as all the works he’s claiming to comment on, and people accept it because they want to feel smarter than everyone else.”

    src – http://exploringbelievability.blogspot.com/2015/01/reading-rorschach-or-responsibilities.html

  38. Excellent review. I’m still amazed how the fanbase can get the series so wrong.

    About 1.11. Even though it was put out as such, it wasn’t simply an HD remake if you were paying attention. There were subtle clues throughout the movie, certain events happening slightly differently, that spelled out that things were heading in a different direction than just a retelling. So the uncertain “get ready” was there, if you could see it.

  39. Rei apparently means something different to most people vs. what she means to me. I’m an introvert by nature. Rei is an exaggerated portrait of an introvert, and that’s the main reason why I love her, and have since seeing the TV series for the first time. I actually enjoyed watching Rei make advances (pun intended) into being a more social being in 2.22. So Rei Q, the complete cypher, the “doll” that moves and does things, the Homunculus, kind of hurt. She was the biggest disappointment in the third Rebuild film. Then again, the cypher nature of Rei Q might be the whole point behind this version they fished out of the cloning tank. Anno-sensei doesn’t care about my inner idea of what Rei is all about. Oh well.

    Then again, 3.33 is not really about her. It’s Shinji-kun’s show. Shinji does indeed become more compelling. The Fujoshi in me wanted to see more of Kaworu x Shinji, although I’m sure that if they had made their relationship more romantic it would have turned off the mostly male audience Anno-sensei seems to want to reach. The expansion of their friendship, with of course a little bit of unconsummated sexual tension, bwahahaha, makes for a much more compelling tale, and makes Kaworu’s suicide-by-Eva that much more wrenching than the perfunctory way it was handled in the series.

    Speaking of perfunctory: I guess we have all realized that Mari was basically created for merch. She’s another fetish type: the cute meganekko girl. She’s basically fap material…ahem…HEALTH material. She served no purpose other than eye candy in 2.22, and 3.33 was a missed character development opportunity. She got on all the march, including a very cute and very expensive Volks Dollfie Dream doll, although she was cheated out of a pink and pricy Itachari bike. But that’s it. She’s background. She’s a glorified spear-carrier. If there is any other message to her appearance, it is that Anno-sensei doesn’t give a crap about US Eva fans. The American Eva pilot, the Fourth Child, is irrelevant. The message of Eva is not for you, stupid Americans. It’s about Japan, Japanese masculinity, and Japanese sociology.

    So yeah, I am looking forward to re-watching 3.33 with what you say in the back of my mind. I had a (clears throat) less than legal version of 3.0 prior to getting the official Funimation BD release, and I’m looking forward to giving it a spin.

    BTW, also give a look at my FB page. I have a Rei-centric art bike…it’s not a full-fledged Itachari because I live in LA and I have to lock up the bike, so the wheel covers that are a common thing with Japanese Itachari are totally impractical. However, I am upping the ante with sound and light, and with reflective graphics. This has been a fun project.

  40. I loved your text! I have a question:
    is it true that the two last episodes from the very first season of evangelion anime was made like that cause they ran out of money so they put that final?
    and then when Evangelion was a succes and brought money back they did this “the end of evangelion# movie that was like the real final they intended to do?

  41. Wow, it’s a really nice review. It made me think a lot about the series, and I loved it. I would gladly read what you have to say about Madoka.

  42. I absolutely loathed 3.33 (and incidentally, absolutely loved the prior Rebuilds and the series) the first time I saw it. I swore off even watching 4.44, I was so mad. Some years later I stumbled across this site while trying to find good anime, and clambered my way into your Rebuild essay.

    You may have actually changed my mind. I will go watch the Rebuild series again and see if 3.33 strikes me differently.

    Well argued, and well written. Gratias ago tibi.

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