"The very first title card of episode 26, TV version, states:
It was 2016 A.D.
The thing that people lost, in other words, the complementation of the mind has begun. However, there is not enough time to describe the entire process.
Therefore, we will examine the complementation of the mind of a single boy named Ikari Shinji.
It is no leap in logic, or unsubstantiated interpretation, to say that this title card is basically explaining that Shinji is merely an example. There is not a shread of proof - at any point - during the TV ending that Shinji has the ability to halt Complementation. Throughout 25 and 26, we see the cases of Shinji, Asuka and Misato - their Complementation - concurrently. In the film ending, Shinji himself is the only person to truly begin Complementation. This opening title card immediately alludes to the idea that Shinji is simply the example of the process of complementation, and that he will be complemented - no choices, nothing. "we will examine the complementation of the mind". It's a very mechanical, sterile, opening. More importantly, it's very matter of fact. (Also, never mind that the TV ending is suddenly in 2016 while the EoE ending is in 2015.)
Finally - the quotation that I feel should be the final word on the topic, but people continue to challenge (if you're going to challenge the Newtype Filmbooks, then you might as well discount the RCB and various other materials. They all have errors in them in various ways).
The Newtype Filmbook description for the scene states (literally):
"Amidst the many words of congratulations, a faint smile starts at the corners of Shinji's mouth (and spreads across his face).
A happy face -- that is the figure of the Complemented Shinji. This conclusion is also one form, one possibility among many."
(Translated by Bochan Bird)
Note, "the figure of the Complemented Shinji". Pretty cut and dry.
Q) Which is the true end to Evangelion? The TV episodes or the films?
A) The End of Evangelion is the official ending to the saga. In the RCB it is stated that EoE was created from the original scripts for eps 25 and then a new script written to continue from that episode, but because of production errors they could not be used. However, this does not mean the TV ending is false, it is simply an alternate conclusion."Originally posted on: 28-Dec-2004, 23:32 GMT