Reviews of yesteryear: End of Evangelion

It’s here, the one I really am not looking forward to. Yeah, I’m familiar with Neon Genesis Evangelion. I watched a good amount of it before deciding to just read the synopses for the remaining episodes to see if the characters ever stopped being unbearable only to immediately drop it when I learned that not only were the characters never going to improve but the plot was going to get really stupid really fast. I have since gone back and done a full review after watching all the episodes. It was even dumber than the synopses indicated. To this day the popularity of the franchise baffles me. My best guess is that a lot of people can’t tell the difference between depth and pretension so anything like Evangelion that puts on airs of intellectual merit can attract a lot of attention in spite of not actually having any. Now that I’ve pissed off all of Evangelion’s fans let me just say that I’m not trying to be mean or attack any of you personally. You can enjoy whatever you want to. I just don’t get your attraction to this franchise. Let’s look at End of Evangelion, an alternative ending to the series. Which is understandable given how absolutely idiotic the original ending was. Frankly, I doubt that this is going to be an improvement but I could be wrong.

Now, since this is an alternate ending for the series I can’t really go into plot details without giving spoilers. Instead, let’s talk about what the plot does poorly. I was going to start with the positives, but there aren’t any. I’ll start with the simple and easily explained issues. The first is that they can’t decide whether they’re referencing Christianity or Judaism with their self-important imagery and dialogue. Yeah, there’s some overlap but a lot of their references are specific to one or the other. The ending is also really stupid. Apparently they confused being deliberately obtuse with depth. Also, in one of the oddest production decisions I’ve ever seen in a film, they actually split it into two episodes. With credits and an ending theme between. I know this is supposed to be replacing the last two episodes from the series, but did they really think their fanbase is too thick to figure it out without making it painfully obvious? They should’ve just subtitled it “End of Evangelion: An alternative to episodes 25 & 26.” It would’ve been just as insulting, but at least it would’ve been good for a laugh. Let’s discuss how they attempt to introduce depth into this festering boil of a film. Spoiler alert, they fail. One thing that bugs me about both this film and the series that spawned it is that the mechs have organic internal systems, which are connected to the pilots in a way that causes severe pain to the pilots when they get damaged. They’re obviously trying to create a connection between man and machine, but it’s still a massive design flaw that would render these things useless in any semi-realistic context. If you want to see the idea of man and machine being connected handled well check out Eve no Jikan, Ghost in the Shell, or Battle Angel. Although I’m sure there are a lot more examples, those are the ones that readily come to mind. They also like to wax philosophical with the dialogue. Unfortunately, they never say anything thought provoking or witty in any sense of the words. It’s almost like Anno flunked his Philosophy 101 courses and wanted to prove that he could figure it out if he wanted to, only to flunk again. Not only that, but some of what they say is just demonstrably wrong. For example, they have one of those “humans are horrible because we’re the only animals that kill each other” moments. Which is complete nonsense. Dolphins, lions, tigers, gorillas and even horses will kill their own kind and that’s only to name a few examples. Anyone who gives you that rubbish about the horribleness of humanity is either an utter moron or deliberately lying to you. I suspect the former in this case. The symbolism in this is both trite and poorly done. A lot of it is just an attempt to obscure the meaning in order to disguise how paper thin the plot actually is. But it’s such a poor attempt that my dog wasn’t even fooled.

If there’s anything more wretched than the plot, it’s the characters. Now, it is possible to have a cast of horrible people and still have an interesting story. Frank Herbert proved it in Dune. Alan Moore did with Watchmen, and no, I’m not talking about the movies. The movies can fornicate themselves with something hard and sand-papery. Ohba Tsugumi did it with Death Note. A part of why those work is that the characters, although they have mostly negative traits, do have some sympathetic qualities. They’re horrible people, but they’re developed enough that you can understand their motivations and why they’re doing what they’re doing. In Evangelion the characters have one or two personality traits apiece and their motivations pretty much all boil down to them responding to some past trauma. It’s a real problem when most of your main cast have parent issues, it’s almost like someone was projecting their own parental issues onto the characters, and are only set apart from one another because they have a different predominant trait. Like Shinji being ceaselessly whiny, Asuka being a psychopath or Rei being largely a blank slate. All those “psychological” elements it tries to have don’t mean a lot when the personalities we’re trying to examine in-depth are more shallow than a thimble of water. You’d be better off trying to analyse your wall’s personality.

The art is… okay. Although it certainly has its share of problems. The facial expressions are really off. For example, there’s a scene where Asuka is caught up in the frenzy of battle and tearing things apart in rage. Her expression makes her look like she’s suffering from constipation and trying to get something out. The blood is also way off. The texture, colour, they’re all wrong. I’ll let it pass for the stupidly organic machines, but the same thing is done with human blood. This film is also far too fond of fan-service. So you get shots of Misato’s bum when she’s walking as opposed to, say, her face. Yes, it was very important that this scene focus on her bum. You also get random nudity. Rei spends almost the entire film naked for no adequately explained reason. Does she become a nudist at the end of the series and the synopses just failed to mention it? No, the real reason is that they want to divert blood away from your brains so that you won’t be intellectually alert while watching it. The computer screens in this are also far too busy. Seriously, no organisation is going to program their emergency signal as a bunch of hexagons individually displaying the “emergency” message. Why? Because it’s distracting and you want your people to be able to focus. They just thought it looked cool, which it doesn’t. Now, those issues aside, the art is decent. The machines look interesting. The fight scenes are intense. The gore looks appropriately disgusting. Although you might consider that a detriment if you dislike gore.

The voice acting is the best part of this film. Even if Miyamura Yuko butchers the only word she says in Deutsch. They apparently couldn’t be bothered giving her a pronunciation guide for a single word. Overall, however, She, Hayashibara Megumi and Ogata Megumi all give surprisingly strong performances, given how stilted the dialogue is and how one note the characters are. It’s still not good acting or even all that decent, but they did manage to take nothing and do something with the acting. It is an improvement to the series in that sense since they sound like they can’t act in that. The music, while not anything special, is pretty well done as well.

The yuri factor is going to be a 2/10. Just because of a scene later on in the film with Ibuki.

My final rating for End of Evangelion is a well deserved 1/10. It’s an imbecilic piece of tripe that insults your intelligence throughout with it’s laughable attempts at depth and obtuse twaddle. The characters are a group of terribly written twits without a sympathetic feature among them. I can honestly say that I’ve seen better written characters in bad fan-fiction. The only people I can really suggest it to are Evangelion fans since the problems are the same ones that plague the series and it obviously hasn’t caused them to turn away yet. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go read something that’s actually intelligent to recover from this film. I actually did too. I read through Watchmen, V for Vendetta and a god chunk of Gail Simone’s run on Birds of Prey. 

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