Concurrency: Do the series endings depicted in the End of Evangelion (episodes #25' and #26') and in the "End of TV" (episodes #25 and #26) represent the same events and outcomes?
There are essentially three main positions:
- No concurrency: The endings are completely distinct in their events and themes.
- Weak concurrency: The endings are generally concurrency, having several points of contact representing similar events. But they do not have the same overall themes or in particular the same outcome.
- Strong concurrency: The endings are concurrent in both events and themes, and both represent the same outcome from radically different perspectives.
To get some references out of the way:
1. An old FAQ by EvaOtaku supporting the position of weak concurrency. (search for "ending")
2. A short essay by MD-Wigs supporting the position of strong concurrency.
My own position is that of Strong concurrency. However, upon review, my feeling is that the most solid of these options to hold currently is the position of Weak concurrency.
Clearly holding that the episodes have no concurrency is not really tenable. We have several events and dialogue repeated between the two endings. To name but a few:
1) Asuka and Unit-02 in the lake bed.
2) Gendou and Rei's meeting "You have existed for this day"
3) Ritsuko and Misato's deaths.
4) Numerous identical dialogues between characters
It is clear that there is at least some similarity in the events occuring in both endings. Moreover, in both it is clear that the Human Instrumentality Project has been initiated. If nothing else, we can be assured that the endings agree upon this fact.
So, unless we argue that the TV endings are entirely abstract montages, we must set aside the position of No Concurrency and move to the next most logical position, that of Weak Concurrency.
In Weak Concurrency, we hold that the events depicted in the endings are similar, as evidenced above, but that the outcomes in particular are different. Specifically, weak concurrency holds that Shinji accepts complementation in EoTV, a much different outcome to his final rejection of it in EoE.
Supporting this view is the ideas surrounding complementation; that it completes people in some way, "filling the void in their hearts". Shinji's final entry into the world of smiling friends, proclaiming "Congratulations" is seen as representing Shinji's ultimate entry into complementation proper; he has joined the single being or consciousness (The Singularity in the words of Mr. Tines). This outcome is suggested by the intentions of Gendou seen in episode #25 and #26.
Moreover, it should be noted that the majority of evidence for concurrency comes from episode #25 rather than #26. In #26 we are largely left adrift in the dreamscape. This also occurs during EoE, but linking these two is more difficult than with the events in #25.
So, I think that Weak Concurrency is the most solid default position to hold. However, many hold the position of Strong Concurrency, that the endings are essentially the same one in both episodes, albeit from a different perspective. In particular, Strong Concurrency holds that Shinji rejects complementation in EoTV, a position clearly at odds with Weak Concurrency.
Then it can be seen that Strong Concurrency is not a simple extension of Weak Concurrency. In fact the two are very much opposing concepts when it comes to the ending. Simplistically, while they agree on episode #25, they disagree on #26.
Therefore, from the view that Weak Concurrency is the most solid default position to hold, it is clear that it is Strong Concurrency that must be conclusively demonstrated. And to do so, Strong Concurrency must show strong evidence that Shinji rejects complementation in EoTV, and moreover, his reasons for doing so are consistent with his reasons in EoE.
Before we move on to further discussion, does anyone have any thoughts on all of this so far? In particular, do you think that the primary distinction between Strong and Weak Concurrency should be Shinji's rejection or acceptance of Complementation?
EDIT: Changed thread title.