My review of 3.0 (spoiler warning)

Discussion of the new series of Evangelion movies ( "Evangelion Shin Gekijōban", meaning "Evangelion: New Theatrical Edition"). The final instalment made its debut in Japan on March 8, 2021.

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Sun Stealer
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My review of 3.0 (spoiler warning)

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Postby Sun Stealer » Fri Nov 22, 2019 1:38 am

I watched 3.0 back when it came out in 2012, and it was an abortion. It was so awful that I abandoned the series for seven years. This is why I have been absent for so long. So I've digested it and here are my thoughts.

Hideki Anno is the Japanese George Lucas, except George Lucas had the integrity to not kowtow to filth-ridden otaku hurling their feces at him, but to lead his boat full steam ahead into the jagged rocks he wished to wreck his franchise upon. He had a dream for his franchise, to become sole owner of it and piss on it so that every one who worked on the original trilogy knew it was his and his alone, and he went through with it. Unfortunately, Anno lacked even that ugly courage.

As we all know, many on this forum did not care for 2.0, myself included. I will not rehash that argument other than to summarize my thoughts for those that weren't here. Namely, I thought the movie lacked verisimilitude and degenerated into cartoonishness, especially with regards to characterization. Apparently, 2.0 had caused similar controversy in Japan, namely that it did not pander to the Otaku hard enough. Production on 3.0 had already begun, but the outrage was such that it was delayed, the original script and story panels trashed, and the whole thing restarted from scratch. I genuinely would have preferred the 3.0 we saw in the preview at the end of 2.0, because what we ended up getting was pure s**t.

To start with, every hanging plot thread from the previous two movies is dropped completely by 3.0. Why was there a Third Impact even though Kaoru had stopped it in the nick of time? Why was Eva Unit 01 in space? Why did they reclaim Shinji from the Eva, but not Rei? Shut up. Anno felt the stubby, fat nerd fists rain down upon him like neetbux donated into Dream's abortion fund. He gave the worst fans what they wanted. They wanted bleakness? The entire world was now dead except for the people inside Misato's counterfeit White Base and Gendo's Clone Emporium. They objected to character development? All character development is frozen to the point that eva pilots no longer age, and every character is reduced to a complete caricature. Asuka is reduced to BAKA Shinji NO BAKA BAKA cat ears. Rei is reduced to a robot. Everybody hates Shinji, and everything Shinji does is wrong. The last one especially makes no sense as these were merely Shinji's false perception of reality based on his abandoment issues in the series and in the first two rebuild movies, but here they are made manifest. The homoeroticism between Shinji and Kaworu too subtle and ambiguous for you? We are very sorry, please have all the fujoshi bait you need. Ritsuko's haircut is terrible.

These are only the most pressing objections that I can remember, as I have no intention of watching it again. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk, I look forward to your comments.

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Re: My review of 3.0 (spoiler warning)

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Postby Derantor » Mon Feb 03, 2020 8:44 am

Ranty Rant  SPOILER: Show
Well, I can certainly understand your feelings, but my perspective is a little different.

Rather than pandering to Otakus, I think that Anno is too self absorbed for his own good - like many depressed people are. And it's clear that he wrote 3.0 in a state of depression. Everything in that movie goes wrong, from every angle. It's not even clear what he wants to say anymore, not that it was ever clear to begin with, because he himself doesn't know. Thats the whole point of NGE: Him being unable to come to terms with himself. That's why he didn't like the original ending afterwards: He felt like it was just another excuse for him to not grow up. "Just love yourself, accept who you are" - except that he can't.

So I don't see it so much as pandering but just pure pessimism on his part. No matter how hard he tries, he can not come up with a hopeful ending because that feels fake to him. The more he thinks about it the bleaker his vision gets. Considering the big time interval between 2.0 and 3.0, his perspective isn't even the same anymore. Whatever his original plans were, they are long gone. Thats why this all feels so directionless, because it is. And with 3.0 he has written himself into a corner, much like TLJ did to Star Wars. No matter WHAT he does now, he will never manage to come to a satisfactory conclusion. A happy ending will seem completely unjustified, given that Shinji, this time around, isn't just shy and insecure, he is downright stupid and vindictive. A bleak ending, on the other hand, will just alienate the rest of the fanbase that hasn't given up already, and an ambiguous end is neither here nor there.

Angst-induced audience apathy is a real thing. What's there to like about NGE anymore? Even if we divorce ourselfs from the notion that the characters in the Theatrical Release have anything to do with the original cast (which is frankly the only reason to care in the first place, since they get so little development), they are not likeable on their own because every single one of them acts in the most counterproductive way possible. Shinji just ignores everything he's been told. Asuka simultaneously wants Shinji to die and then complains "You didn't come to my aid". Great characterization. Misato hates Shinji so much that she doesn't even talk to him and when she does it is to tell him he is not needed and should do nothing, but she puts him on the bridge so that he can still see everything and FEELS important, instead of putting him in a cell or just drugging him. An unconscious Shinji does no harm to anybody, and he still seems important somehow (even though EVERYBODY tells him that he is NOT important), but no, that would be a sensible descision and 3.0 doesn't do sensible.

Then we have complete tonal whiplash, going from everything is FUBAR and super serious to Asuka and Mari chit-chatting like nothing of importance is happening to pointless nonsensical action schlock to an ending scene that makes less sense the more you think about it.

Only at one point in the movie did I sympathize with somebody, and that was when Shinji said "Fuck it, I am out." Everybody is putting all the blame on him, yet it is pretty clear from the end of 2.0 that it WASN'T his fault, and the people who should know best are the ones blaming him. Yes, he almost triggered Third Impact, but he didn't know that (because nobody tells him anything - like allways) and was stopped, and the world looked pretty normal when that happened. So there must be a reason for giving him the wrong impression and not telling him the whole story. Misato for example cheered him on: "Do what you want and do it for yourself, ignore the rest of the world!" He does exactly that, cue end of the world. So is it all just deflection? That just makes her an immature asshole. And it goes on and on like this.

In short, I couldn't care less what happens to the characters from this point onwards. NGE was interesting because it was based on broken people with good intentions fucking up, the basic human dilemma. NTE is uninteresting because everybody conciously acts counterproductive. Nobody stops to think things through and we have got no clue what the stakes are anyways because all the mechanics of the plot are completely unexplained. I mean, Ritsuko is surprised that NERV goes for Shinji because he is still a potential trigger. Wait what? That was the whole reason to put the choker on him in the first place, wasn't it? Otherwise, what where they afraid of? That he gets in the Eva and steps on their lawn?

They tell him his synch rate is 0, yet he activated unit 01, so that makes no sense at all. How do they even test his synchscore without him actually synching? Or are they telling him that to make him stop wanting to pilot? Making him believe that he can't anyways? Are they manipulating him? Then thats the worst manipulation ever. Seriously, just tell him: "Your father wants to initiate Fourth Impact, and he wants to use you! Your father is the evil bastard you thought he is. Thankfully, you can not pilot anymore. We will protect you, so please stay put while we sort this out." If Asuka is too immature to do that because Anno decided to give her a lobotomy, fine, have Sakura do it instead or "Violence is fun and I don't care about anything" Mari. Show him sympathy and warmth, the things he craves, and you KNOW he craves, instead of shunning him. Heck, just tell him "We will get Ayanami back for you, but that only works when you DO NOTHING." But no, no, we have to get the plot to the point where Shinji is completely broken so that he can have some half-arsed epiphany at the end, even though he is effectively beyond redemption at this point.

And I don't care for the Meta-Narrative either, that Anno did 3.0 to tell fans that they should stop watching Eva and grow up. Oh, you like ice-cream? Let me shit on your ice-cream, that will help you, trust me. Having fun once in a while is bad, stop doing that, LIFE IS PAIN AND EVERYTHING IS SUPER SERIOUS - but give me your money and buy that Asuka body pillow please. It's also ridiculous to assume that the curse of the Eva was put there because Fans do not let the characters grow up. They do, actually. The most common theme in fan fiction (worth reading) is to make them into healthy people. And they are fictional characters - they can not grow up in the first place. They will always be what they are because they are just paint on celluloid. The only person who CAN make them grow up is Anno himself, and he is also the one apparently unable to do so.

So there Mr. Sun Stealer, you got your comment, rambling as it is. Hope you enjoy my counter-TedX-talk.

Edit: Re-reading my post I noticed how it comes of as angry rambling on my part. I'll leave it up in the spoiler above. So let me put some more points to it to make it more clear.

I get what Anno is trying to do. He gives us 1.0 and 2.0 as bait: Here's Eva with all the stuff you ever wanted. I mean, Shinji saves the girl at the end. I didn't particularily like those movies because it was pretty obvious that they were "dumbed down" to appeal to a more general audience and when Third Impact happened at the end of 2.0 I thought to myself: Yepp, making Shinji have the same motivation as Gendo will fuck up everything, that was the whole point of Evangelion to begin with. Don't kling to the past and all that, you can not turn back time, etc.

I get what 3.0 tries to accomplish. It want's to be a meta-statement about communication, in this case, between author and audience. "You didn't get it the first time around, there are still children out there refusing to grow up, so this time, I will make you happy". This movie is all about the message and not the plot. The plot is nonsensical on every level. But, and thats why this movie is such a desaster: Making the plot overly complicated and nonsensical detracts from the message or messages. Instead of focusing on what it has to say, it forces you to think about everything besides that, because our brain needs to understand things. We need a frame of reference to gather meaning from anything. Thats why there are discussions about symbolism, metaphysical mechanics and minute details like "Asuka is wearing Misatos yellow Shirt, but it doesn't fit her, thus Asuka is not a fully formed woman yet". We tend to see meaning in things that are meaningless, and the more seemingly meaningful things there are, the more we obsess about them.

That's why this movie is so bad. Asuka, at one point, says to Shinji that he not only is stupid, but also a brat. Yay, I get it, he needs to grow up and has to accept that he can not change the past. But the same Asuka says "Just let me kill you already" and "You didn't come to my aid.", or, after Shinji states his purpose for piloting Eva, says: "Just mind your own buisiness". Well, he does that already. That just makes her completely irrational, and since we are in a sort of dialogue with the characters, I give no credence to anything she says because she constantly contradicts herself. Same goes for Kaworu: He is not a reliable source of information, and his motives are not clear, so we can not take anything he says as good advice, and so on.

Second part is, those messages are ... pointless. Everybody knows they have to grow up, everybody knows they have to DO stuff to actually achieve anything in life. Those messages are told every day, everywhere. People chose not to listen and bludgeoning them over the head with those messages again, especially if the messages are buried beneath layers and layers of fan service and nonsense, will not achieve anything. It is also completely irrational to tell people "Stop liking that! Forget about Eva, start living!", as people do not choose what they like or how long they like it. Sure, there is such a thing as acquired taste, but that doesn't touch the gut reaction we have. There is also a clear disconnect between what Anno percieves and what the audience percieves. It is pretty clear that Anno himself can not let go of Eva. Otherwise he wouldn't have come back. It is not his fault, of course, sine Eva is still so popular. But here's the problem: Most people DO get over Eva. It just seems like they don't because there is a constant trickle of new people introduced to the series, repeating the process over and over again, giving the impression that people never change.

Anno doesn't seem to get his own message. Eva is out there. It will grasp people and people will obsess over it, people will misunderstand it and not get what he wanted to say. "His own words getting lost." He can not take back Eva, the success it had, anything about it. The NTE can not redo Eva, nor can it supplant it or improve it. Even if the NTE exists solely to piss off fans so much that they give up on Eva as a whole, they can just go back and watch the original.

And finally, when the whole reason you are telling a story is to get your message across and every single plot point serves that message, the story suffers. If the story muddles the messages, thats doubly bad. It would then be better to just write your message down and hope that people understand. Adding to that, he comes off as a hypocrite. As far as I understand it, he has complete control over the rights to anything related to Eva. Just look at all the merchandise out there. You can live off of Eva merchandise, including drinks, food, razors, pillows, furniture ... It is completely ridiculous. Now, if Anno was serious about his supposed messages - would he allow that? Certainly not. So either he lives in a state of severe cognitive dissonance, wanting ALL the money for himself while simultaneously preaching his ghospel, or he doesn't have anything coherent to say in the first place.

For example, "You have to love yourself before you can love others" is reductionist nonsense. You can first love somebody else or an idea and use that to better yourself, using that to come to terms with yourself thus loving yourself in the end. It is also downright unhelpful in some cases. If I was rapist but I love what I am doing and love my spouse, this message helps me better myself how, exactly? Same goes for the Otakus: If they love being alone and not caring about anything, they will just continue doing what they do, loving others all the same (even if those others exist only in their head). The same goes for "You have to have pride in yourself." Nobody is proud of themselves just because. Pride is generated by interaction with the outside world, by outside validation, by referencing others. It is a product of the environment that you live in, it is shaped by how you grew up and where you see your world heading. If somebody truly has no love or pride for themselves, the only way to get out of that cycle is to turn to the outside world. Mental health professionals exist for a reason. "Only you can change yourself" falls into the same category. One of the first things done to help children in abusive families is getting them into a new, safe environment. They change because of outside influence, not rational inner discourse, and most importantly, without themselves noticing. PTSD for example is treated by EMDR, because no amount of rationalization can erase your trauma. Similarily, "Anywhere can be paradise as long as you have the will to live" is an outright lie. "To experience anything you have to continue living" would be the more accurate statement.

Anyways, wether 3.0 has a message, is just there to generate money or is just Anno masturbating over his ego/hating himself/everybody else, the fact remains that it is on the face of it a badly written movie full of bizarre choices. The only way it can make sense is in contrast and context of all of Eva that came before PLUS the discussion surrounding Eva, requiring you to become obsessed with Eva in the first place to then get "healed", and even then, the sense that it makes depends on the willingness of the viewer to give it meaning, but that can not be forced.

So yes, I dislike this movie because it is "Not Eva" and because it "Subverted my expectations". There is a certain quality to Eva that I like, and I wanted more of that. That's of course highly emotional and personal, so there is no way or need to justify this feeling, since Eva means whatever you think it means, right? This movie doesn't have that (Rebuild as a whole lacks that quite substantially). When I go to an icecream stand and demand vanilla ice and get something labeled "Vanilla" that tastes like salty peanuts dipped in Orang-Utang feces ... you get my point. If I wanted to experience something unrelated to Eva I would have watched something unrelated. And no, Anno does not decide what makes good Eva. He can only throw stuff out there and hope that it sticks. And yes, my expectations were subverted. I expected a movie worth watching and was dissappointed. Or to be more precise, I expected a mediocre movie and got a bad one instead. Maybe the movie does exactly what it wanted to do. Maybe it is the most perfect example of what it tried to do and is a masterpiece in that regard. That doesn't make it any better or worse, and it doesn't make me appreciate it any more or less.

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