1:12:30 - Kaworu: Those aren't our spears!
This line, spoken in 3.33/EVA NTE Quickening has bugged me since I first saw it, and after thinking about it, I have a theory for why Kaworu said this and how it could have massive implications and/or backup some other NTE theories.
For setup, there is a knowledge base that we have to accept which comes from 2 prominent fan theories for NTE.
Theory 1: The Pilots Are Reincarnations Of Adam's Soul, Split 4 Ways
The first theory is Reichu's "The Children (Pilots) are reincarnations of Adam's split soul" theory, which she goes into great detail on here
It is definitely worth a read (as is all her stuff), but in short...
Funnily enough, Reichu only published this theory earlier this year (2019), but a blog post made on tumblr in 2014 by user ambiguous-anonymous, which I also recommend a read through of (linked here), had made the deduction (albeit in a much more simplified and less explained post) that...
Now I would like to note that ambiguous-anonymous makes the claim that Kaworu is assigned a Spear of Longinus (similar to NGE), while Shinji is assigned the Spear of Cassius. I'll go over why this could or could not be true, and what each scenario would mean later on, so bear with me for now .
Theory 2: NTE Is (Or should I Say "Was") Stuck In A Time Loop
I'd like to clarify, I DO NOT think that NTE is a sequel or continuation of NGE (phew, crisis averted ). I believe NTE is its own universe/timeline that has been stuck in a loop.
My basis for believing this theory is a great set of responses on the r/evangelion subreddit here by user Telefragg. Since the questions and responses are kind of spaced out, and Reddit's overall layout isn't amazingly organized, I'll copy-pasta the important bits/parts that I agree with here, with some grammar edits so things make more sense [grammar edits will be in square brackets]. Don't worry, this will all tie back in at the end and I'll backup this time loop theory with some quotes from the movies and my own justifications after the reddit copy-pasta.
Original question by user jazzmusique2002:
Do you believe in the "Rebuild Continuation" Theory?
Response by Telefragg:
I used to think that way, but now I believe that this cycle is happening only within Rebuild storyline and it doesn't involve classic series. The blood on the Moon appeared during the Second Impact of Rebuild and happens to resemble what is seen in EoE as a visual callback (I can't recall exactly where this is stated though).
The way I see it is along the lines of the "Endless Eight" from the Haruhi Suzumiya books. Shinji was actually reverting the damage of the Third Impact with the two Spears successfully, only to go back to the events of 1.11 and he was doomed to repeat it again and again (You Can (Not) Advance). Kaworu was the only supernatural constant aware of this rewind, which explains his lines about Shinji. He was some sort of guardian angel for him that could help to undo the mess that Shinji eventually played a major part of (You Are (Not) Alone). Somehow Gendo (but not Seele, apparently) was able to figure out that something was keeping from the conclusion of Human Instumentality and at some point he forced the breaking of that vicious cycle by replacing the Spears. Kaworu was too late to realize why the Spears were different and understood that this time Shinji will not [be able to] rewind the world to it's previous state, but [instead of letting 4th Impact fully happen, he'd rather] stop the Impact at the cost of his life and let Shinji proceed with his current reality (You Can (Not) Redo). Again, it gives some sense to his goodbyes in 3.33 - Shinji is basically forced out of his "comfort zone" of familiar repeating events, he is completely on his own without any supernatural guardian that will tell him how to go back anytime he wants.
Classic Evangelion was about relationships with other people. Every character had issues sharing their lives with others. Rebuild is probably themed with one's ability to let go, to make mistakes and deal with consequences. Kaworu, on the other hand, shows the struggle of letting others go and overprotecting them, causing harm despite their best intentions.
deleted user asks:
That's crazy. I mean the multiple coffins have to mean that...but what's with that? How is he able to keep coming back and shit?
Why does he just turn into Adam? What IS a Vessel of Adam? But if...but why wouldnt people remember?
Response by Telefragg:
And what do you think Kaworu meant by "restoring the world" in 3.33? What was pulling the spears from Lilith's body was supposed to make happen in the first place? The ultimate rewind seems restoring enough. But Shinji hasn't changed no matter how many times he is starting over, that's what Kaworu sees across every loop and comments upon. The only way for a human to progress is not looking back, but moving forward. Kaworu realizes that in the end - he says that his attempts to make things right for Shinji have failed and the only way for him to find happiness is to make peace with himself and his deeds instead of running away or undoing them.
On the other hand, Gendo confronted SEELE in 3.33 and took matters into his own hand. Seems like he found a way to go out of the loop while SEELE were just following their plan which has them stuck in the Groundhog's day. That's probably what Kil Lorenz realized for himself and [why he] agreed with Gendo's actions when he unplugged them all. After all, their goal have stayed the same, no matter the means.
deleted user asks:
But why does he tell him to stop and he has a bad feeling and [shiz]? It's cuz he's gonna lose control and it's gonna be pushed forward?
He says time can't flow backwards though, he says so much cryptic [shiz] but..I don't know how would you make Shinji-boi forget everything and everyone else?
Response by Telefragg:
Yes, it seems like it. The correct Spears probably were a reliable "rewind" button for him. Kaworu and Shinji might have used them for who knows how many times, which is why the sudden switcharoo surprised him so much. He delayed the inevitable for as long as he could, each time was the time he was going to "make Shinji happy", but ended up going in circles.
Well, Kaworu is an Angel, while Shinji and others are humans. Superficial beings [like Kaworu] probably stay above the "restoration" process in some way. Rei might be the same, but we're yet to know whatever even happened to her after 2.22.
This theory has a major issue though - how exactly Gendo might have come up with his plan. What influenced him to break the cycle, how could he know what was going on, what had to be done and how he kept it in secret? In "Endless Eight" Kyon had an accumulated memory in the back of his head from hundreds of thousands of cycles which gave him more and more deja vu moments until he finally realized how to end it (with some help of a supernatural character who was aware of the time loop). I don't think this is the same for Evangelion, but I don't have abetter explanation.
To back some of this up, I want to spotlight some quotes from the movie which have a big emphasis on time and repeating, and also want to point to the title of the NTEs, "Rebuild". Now of course, this could simply mean that NTE is a retelling of NGE "rebuilt" for the new generation, and that's likely part of it, but we all know how Anno loves word play, and with him the simplest answer is almost never the (only) correct one. The definition of "Rebuild", according to the Oxford dictionary, is "build (something) again after it has been damaged or destroyed". Anno could have used any number of words to officially denote NTE, maybe "New" or "Retold" or "Alternate", but he chose "Rebuild" along with its definition and what it implies. I believe "Rebuild" not only describes the new retelling of Eva, but the nature of the universe in the movies themselves - constantly being built (Rebuilt) again and again after being destroyed or not having a favorable outcome, supposedly by (knowingly) Kaworu and (Unknowingly) Shinji. Kaworu's time related quotes in the movies seem to line up suspiciously well with this idea:
From Movie 1.11 - 1:35:12 - Kaworu: Not the Third again... You never change, do you?
From Movie 2.22 - 1:51:24 - Kaworu: Now, the promised time has come Shinji. This time I will definitely... make you happy.
Note that, as Reichu said in her post, it is possible that these 2 previous lines could tie in to the possibility of Shinji's soul originally being the "bad" Adam who willingly accepted/partook in Lilith's "forbidden fruit" (her core during the contact experiment) causing the 4 Adams to split up, and Kaworu (one of the good Adams) is referencing how Shinji (the bad Adam) has bonded deeply with Lilith (in the form of Rei) again.
I agree with all this, but I also believe it could be word play alluding to the cyclical nature of their universe, further backed up by these lines said in Movie 3.33:
0:45:09 - Shinji: Well, I want to produce music that feels even better. How can I do that?
0:45:14 - Kaworu: Practice and more practice. Repeat the same thing over and over again. Keep going until you're happy with it. It's the only way.
0:57:12 - Fuyutsuki: Destroying the world is only too easy. Rebuilding it is not so simple, however. The world lacks reversibility, just like time.
1:01:05 - Shinji: Nothing good ever came out of piloting EVA! I've had enough!
1:01:08 - Kaworu: And nothing good comes from replaying your painful memories either.
Now whether Kaworu's true intentions were purely to protect Shinji is debatable, but it doesn't change the fact that he knew how to use Cassius and Longinus in combination to "fix/change/rewind" the world, and that he did indeed need both separate spears, NOT 2 Longinus spears (which is what was implied to be there).
1:02:29 - Kaworu: Your only hope lies with the two spears left in the Impact epicenter at Dogma.
1:10:26 - Kaworu: Cassius and Longinus. We need both spears. But the two spears here are the same.
As some have deduced, it seem like Gendo might have his own plan separate from Seele's, so maybe when Kil Lorenz was being shut off, Gendo was still lying to him and he (Kil) still believed Gendo was following their plan. It doesn't change the outcome either way, but just something to note.
Origin Of The Spears
Remember how I said we'd come back to whether Shinji was assigned the Spear of Cassius or not? IT'S TIME
So, we know for a fact that, regardless of how exactly Adam split into 4, or whether Adam even came as 4, that each of the Adams had its own spear. Assuming Adam's white moon only came with 1 spear, does the spear (being a sentient being) have the ability to duplicate itself as needed in case something like this were to happen? Does the white moon come with a large number of spears that destroy themselves as needed to match the number of Adams? Did Seele somehow find a way to make their own spears as per EoE? An answer would be nice, but again, all we need to know is that there are 4 spears.
Now we get to 2 different possibilities regarding Cassius' origin, and the origin IS important for the overall theory.
Origin A: Cassius Is Lilith's Spear
As far as I understand, we are never told that Lilith's spear was destroyed on impact in NTE, meaning Cassius could be Lilith's spear. This would explain why it is different from Longinus in both aesthetics and physical (metaphysical?) properties, and (therefore) why you would need both spears (of differing properties) to initiate the time rewind. As for why we see Lilith speared with Longinus instead of Cassius in 1.11 and 2.22, its up to anybody's guess. Maybe the Dead Sea Scrolls called for it, maybe it was somehow more efficient to spear Lilith with Longinus rather than Cassius, who knows.
Origin B: Cassius Is Shinji's (The "Bad" Adam's) Spear
In the image above showing the 4 spears emerging from the second impact in 2.22, we see that 2 of them are definitely Longinus, while the other two are oh so very conveniently off screen (darn you Anno!). It wouldn't be a long shot (given Anno's reputation) to say that at least one of these would be Cassius. But why would one of the emerging spears not be Longinus? Well it might be to cope with Shinji's Adam's unique position. Assuming Reichu's analysis of Shinji's Adam as being the uniquely bad one to merge with Lilith is correct, maybe a spear of Longinus, which has traditionally been shown in NTE as only subduing Adam or Lilith, never both, is not enough to deal with a combination of the 2. A different type of spear, Cassius, is needed. And if you think about it, what is the ONLY other time we have seen Cassius used in NTE? Yep, to take down Unit 01 which had both Adam and Lilith at the end of 2.22.
This could also explain why, if you want to assume NTE is some kind of parallel universe/alternate timeline to NGE, we never saw a spear of Cassius in NGE. We never had a situation where a part of an Adam was fused with a part of a Lilith and split off, thereby requiring something other (stronger?) than a spear of Longinus.
I personally believe Origin B is more likely, as it loops around to backup Reichu's original theory and requires (just a little) less guesswork than Origin A.
Kaworu's Paradox: Lilith's VS. Adam's Impacts
We finally get to the title of the topic.
1:12:30 - Kaworu: Those aren't our spears!
So Kaworu and Shinji have been using the spears to rewind time back to the start of 1.11 (or maybe even before then) over and over. This line by Kaworu goes a long way in backing that up, and gives a good bit of credence to Origin B for the spears. By "our" spears, he not only means the spears they've been using to rewind time, but he literally means "their" spears, the spears originally designated to them as Adams. So why were things different this time? How did Gendo finally figure out to switch the spears of Cassius for a spear of Longinus in this iteration of the loop? We can rule out that Kaworu told Gendo or Seele, given he liked to keep the spears in his back pocket whenever things didn't pan out (which was basically every iteration thus far).
As mentioned before, when Kaworu first emerges from the coffins in 1.11, he says these lines:
1:34:53 - Kaworu: Let me guess - The boy has awakened. Now we move to the general phase of the plan, yes?
1:35:12 - Kaworu: Not the Third again... You never change, do you?
Both of these lines, along with the rest of Kaworus demeanor in the movies, show he has a great familiarity with the current situation. He knew when he would be awakened, why he awakened, that Seele would immediately come talk to him, and what happens next. This, along with all the other evidence for the time loop theory, can only lead me to believe that Kaworu somehow retains his memories after each rewind. Why and how exactly is unknown, but it probably has a good bit to do with his very unique composition. He is an angel, with the form and intellect of a Lilin, born from the soul of an Adam. Now the angel bit sticks out more so than the other two, since all of the other pilots are a combo of Lilin form and intellect with an Adam's soul, but none of them remember the loops.
At this point, I could just say "oh he's an angel so he has special powers, that's it problem solved", and given how much guesswork we have to do for all the other theories I'd say that'd be fair, but I have another explanation for this: The Doors of Guf. In the Rebuild series we see 2 variations on the Doors of Guf's looks. We have the rainbow one which corresponds to the Second and Fourth Impact (it is still open over the Second Impact sight), and the Red one which we only saw during the Near Third Impact.
What if the colors stood for something? Well lets think about how the doors were opened in each instance.
For the Second Impact, a part of Lilith (the core) came in contact with a full Adam, causing Adam to split.
For the Near Third Impact, Shinji, a Lilin with an Adams soul, is controlling Unit 01, which uses an Adam's body and Lilith's core as a base, and forces open the Doors as a byproduct of trying to save and thereby absorbing Rei (Lilith's Soul).
For the Fourth Impact, Unit 13, which likely uses an Adam's body as a base, consumed an Angel (a child of Adam) which had likely absorbed some of Lilith's essence, and had Kaworu, an Angel with an Adam's soul, and Shinji, a Lilin with an Adam's soul, on board.
You see where I'm going with this? A rainbow impact is an impact governed largely by Adam, while a red impact is an impact governed largely by Lilith. This could also explain why the Near Third Impact (a red/Lilith impact) was much smaller in scale than the rainbow/Adam impacts. Adam is the Fruit of Life, giving its children ridiculous power, while Lilith is the Fruit of Knowledge, giving its children close to no power but superior intellect.
"But in the Near Third Impact, Shinji awakened Unit 01's Adam side, so wouldn't that be an Adam governed impact?" Well not exactly. Shinji might have the soul of an Adam, but he has the body and mind of a Lilin, and Unit 01 awakened its powers in response to his conscious desires as a Lilin to save Rei. In essence it was Adam serving Lilith. Along with that, Unit 01 (likely) contains Lilith's core and only began to ascend to a being of light when it started to absorb SGNR (Smaller Giant Naked Rei ) who has Lilith's soul. If we go off the assumption Reichu made in her post about the core of an Adam having more influence than the body of an Adam (in reference to Mark.09 attempting to steal control of Wunder from Unit 01), we could apply the same logic here and say that the full core of Lilith, coupled with Lilith's full soul (Rei), is able to exert more influence than a split off part of Adam's core (Unit 01) and a split off part of Adam's soul (Shinji). As Ritsuko says in 2.22 when Near Third Impact is happening:
1:42:01 - Ristuko: It's doing that to grant the wish of one human being.
Extending this logic to the Fourth Impact, it is governed by a now more complete Adam because it essentially was 5 parts Adam (Split Off Adam's body and core, Eating Angel 12, Kaworu - an Angel, Kaworu's Soul - Split Off Adams Soul, Shinji's Soul - Split off Adams Soul) to 2 parts Lilith (Angel 12 absorbed part of Lilith's essence, Shinji's Lilin body), and continues the impact despite Shinji's wishes to stop it.
So what's all this have to do with Kaworu remembering the rewinds? Well, we can safely assume that the Fourth Impact as it appears in 3.33 never happened in any of the previous time loops two fold. Firstly, because it is something Kaworu greatly wanted Shinji to avoid by begging him not to pull out the spears once he realized what was wrong (Those Aren't Our Spears!). Secondly, because, as Reichu notes in her analysis, what is unique about this iteration is that Gendo managed to force Kaworu to fall from being the First to the Thirteenth Angel (which Kaworu is greatly surprised by), thereby raising Unit 13's metaphysical status and allowing it to ascend to, again, a more complete Adam.
1:15:46 - Kaworu: I didn't think that I, the First Angel, would fall to become the Thirteenth Angel...
1:16:00 - Kaworu: I should have expected no less from the King of Lilin—your father!
Essentially, Gendo forced the Fourth Impact in this specific time loop to be an Adam Impact and that is how he changed things. BUT, in previous time loops, Shinji and Kaworu, using "their" correct spears, were able to have controlled, Lilin Impacts. How? Well there's no more 12th Angel, so get rid of that Adam part. So what we have left is a Split Off Adam's body and core (Unit 13), 1 Split Off "Good" Adam's Soul (Kaworu), 1 Angel (Kaworu), 1 Split Off "Bad" Adam's Soul (Shinji), and 1 Lilin body and mind (Shinji). And What else do we have, assuming everything went as Kaworu planned? Cassius and Longinus. Kaworu could use Longinus to, maybe not fully seal off, but suppress his Angel side, Split Off "Good" Adam's soul, and Split Off Adam's body and core, and use Cassius to completely seal Shinji's Split Off "Bad" Adam's soul (if it could completely halt the Near Third Impact when Shinji was in Unit 01, it should have no problem sealing Shinji's bit of "Bad" Adam). You would be left with Shinji's Lilin mind and body dominating a mostly sealed Adam's power, allowing a controllable red/Lilin impact to happen and reverse time.
Back to Kaworu. Since the Fourth Impact in past loops was a smaller, controlled red/Lilin impact which would, by extension, govern over Lilin beings, Kaworu, an Angel with an Adam's soul, would still be thrust back in time, but without having his soul and memories wiped. This could be because Kaworu, a being based entirely off the Fruit of Life, is too powerful for an impact generated by a Lilin with the Fruit of Knowledge to have complete influence over, so the most that can happen is he can be sent back to where his soul physically was before. The Doors of Guf from a red/Lilin impact cannot fully absorb and alter his soul like a rainbow/Adam impact could.
This could also tie in somehow to the Failures of Infinity. Although we don't really even know what they are, what if they're somehow related to being stuck in the time loop? Time is only supposed to move forward, infinitely forward. By failing to reach infinity, Kaworu could mean that the time loops, cutting off time and stopping it from naturally moving infinitely forward, have halted them from continuing/evolving to their intended existence. It's a bit of a stretch, but just a neat thought I had.
What's In The Booooooox (well, coffin)
Now those coffins, hooo boi. At the end of 1.11, we see 4 coffins opened, with Kaworu, all knowing, emerging from the 5th in line. What if those coffins are where Kaworu's soul goes after every rewind and lays dormant until either Shinji bonds with Rei (bad in Kaworu's eyes because now he has to perform cleanup) or Shinji awakens Unit 01 as an Adam governed being (good in Kaworu's eyes because that gets him closer to re-uniting with Shinji as a whole Adam, as Reichu described).
As for exactly how this happens, I'm not too sure. My best guess would be that each coffin contains a body for Kaworu, and in the process of a red/Lilin Fourth Impact his Angel body is destroyed so his soul can be controlled more easily and sent back. Since his body was destroyed in the previous loop, he has to go to the next suitable body, i.e. the next coffin. This would mean that in 1.11 he has gone through 4 time loops and is on the 5th, but who knows if that is still the case in 3.33 or if there have been more loops (we never see the coffins again after 1.11). This does raise some questions though, and I'll give my best answers to them.
How did Kaworu know to make enough coffins, what if he only made 2 or 3?
He IS working with Seele, maybe they are the ones who constructed the coffins and bodies based on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Heck, the Scrolls might not even list an amount, but might just say that time loops are possibility, and so Seele constructed as many coffins as they saw fit. There could be more coffins opened and closed than we were shown. This would also explain why Seele says to Kaworu that the Scrolls Apocrypha has become part of the Book of Law. According to Oxford dictionary, "Apocrypha" are: biblical or related writings not forming part of the accepted canon of Scripture/writings or reports not considered genuine. The Scrolls saying something like "Hey, a time loop is possible but it will probably never happen" could be considered Apocrypha because it is not part of the standard Dead Sea Scrolls plan, but it became a part of the Book of Law because, well, it happened.
From Movie 1.11 - 1:35:01 - Seele: The Dead Scrolls Apocrypha have been fulfilled up to the Books of Law.
How come the coffins themselves aren't reset each loop (the lids re-closed)?
The coffins could be made from some special material, maybe a part of the White Moon Adam came in which we've never seen, making them immune to a red/Lilin Impact's effects. It could also just be a visual/narrative decision to help us understand something (the time loops). Don't really have a great answer for this.
How Did Gendo Know To Switch The Spears?
And this is what it all comes down to, the thing that caused this whole mess in the first place: Gendo switching the spears. And the easy answer that I've been leading up to is.....he saw the opened coffins on the moon. Even if you don't believe that the coffins show exactly how many loops they have been through, the coffins could at least somehow symbolize a loop has occurred. It's some pretty great symbolism too, the cycle of death and rebirth except flipped, distorted in an unnatural way caused by the impacts. Kaworu "dies" at the end of each loop by having his body reduced to nothing in the impact, and is "reborn" not as a baby surrounded by family, but as a developed teen emerging from a coffin, alone into a new world, a new "time" he has never seen. You gotta feel at least some pity for the dude.
Anyway, Gendo and Seele have both seen the Scrolls, and while Seele is a group of powerful religious fanatics dating back possibly thousands of years, Gendo is a man steeped in science. Seele likely believes that strictly following the Scrolls will eventually produce the outcome they desire (and in a way they're right because they leave Gendo with all the work in the end to (supposedly?) finish Instrumentality) while Gendo sees that they just keep looping based on the coffins and a change must be made. So how does he decide to switch the spears? Well I have to say lucky guess work on his part. Assuming he knows about the spear of Cassius and its unique tie to Shinji (which is safe to say he does given he understands the relationship between all the Split Adams and how to lower Kaworu's metaphysical status and raise Unit 13's), he could eventually figure out that the most powerful component in existence which could alter his plans would be Cassius. So he tries swapping it out and, lo and behold, it works. Kaworu does refer to Gendo as the "King of Lilin" when he notices the switch, likely in recognition of Gendo using the full power of his thought (from Lilin's Fruit of Knowledge) to make the connection between the coffins, time loops, and spears despite also having his memories wiped each loop.
1:16:00 - Kaworu: I expected no less from the King of Lilin—your father! [Shinji's father, Gendo]
If I'm dead wrong and the coffins have absolutely nothing to do with it, it doesn't really matter because the outcome is the same. Gendo, one way or another, realized they were stuck in a loop OR at least made the connection that the spears could halt his progress, independent of any knowledge of the loops.
In the end, Kaworu is bamboozled, rainbow/Adam Fourth Impact begins, and Shinji shouldn't have gotten in the darn robot.
Welp, that's it! This was my first post ever, so it'd be great to hear everyone's thoughts on all this, and if you have any better theories please post them. I'd love to discuss! Thanks for taking the time to read it!