Episode 25 cont'd:
It’s easy to ask, how could have Anno been happy with an end result as rushed and messy as this? Here we once again must step outside of the in-universe narrative and look at what Anno was hoping to achieve with Evangelion. Going back to Krystian Woznicki's interview with Hiroki Azuma
, the director's socially conscious motives are laid out as such:
In other interviews [mit einschlaegigen Animemagazinen] he says that in the beginning of making >>Evangelion<< he wanted to enlarge the number of otaku. It was some kind of master plan for "otakuzation" in order to break the closedness. But towards the end [of the production process] he had to break that pattern and to diffuse it.
This otakuzation plan will immediately ring familiar to anyone who has watched Otaku on Video
, but the 180 messaging swerve was something new and radical. And certainly, Eva's TV ending was a jolt to the system and definitely broke some of patterns in the anime industry at least. The controversy over it was still hot and fresh in 1996 when Anno did his "Too bad" mic drop. The End of Evangelion wasn't out yet, so as far as the confused audiences were concerned, these two episodes were it. From our vantage point a quarter century later these otaku-reforming pretensions look like a massive dud, and Anno of course went on to pick up his mic to do a fancier mic drop with EoE, only to later pick it up again and so on. But in its original context, "Too bad" makes sense - Anno got his thesis statement out and managed to say what he wanted to say, let the reaction be whatever.
These real world snippets are probably a major reason why this ending was perceived as so unsatisfying when it originally aired. They signal that the show hasn't yet abandoned its surface plot, but then in episode 26 real world remains completely absent even though Shinji's final wish is to return to it.
A confirmation that Reis II through III were unaware of their true nature, at least up until Kaworu.
Distilled here, the becoming real human storyline of every Rei clone since. Or, what if Pinocchio but moe?
Inkblots? Wait, is the show psychoanalyzing ''me''?
Rei III's fear of ceasing to exist packs more punch if the mind backup theory
is true and she's dealing with a genuinely lost a sliver of her life from the days preceding Rei II's death.
Was this self-destructive streak just a result of subconscious pressure exerted by Lilith's soul wishing to return to her true body? After all, the ascended, reunified Lilith-Rei, however you may call her, sort of sticks around after all is said and done, even if outside of linear time.
Despite her "yes" in cut 172, this cut feels like it's setting up Rei's betrayal of Gendo in 26'.
If you're into tracking event concurrency between the two endings, it seems pretty clear that episode 25 ends with tangification, and this earlier scene marks the beginning of the pre-Instrumentality mind-meld, starting from Yui's question "What do you wish for?". One scene in both endings - Shinji seeing Misato and Kaji's college sexy times - confirms that actual mind-melding is happening, because Shinji wouldn't know of that particular memory otherwise.
188 (after Tines):
It's either that or mind-meld shenanigans. Is this Misato learning the final truth about the Human Instrumentality Project while being dead and waiting for her soul to be collected?
One of Evangelion's cultural legacies was supercharging the popularity of humanity-merging villain schemes in anime. Instrumentality-like scenarios popped up in a lot things, perhaps most famously in several big budget omnipandering Sunrise shows in the oughties. Watching this scene again after many years, it feels oddly refreshing to see a vanilla version of it described in simple, blunt terms here, and again in the beginning of episode 26.
As Anno's originally envisioned deuteragonist, Misato still gets a fairly lengthy mind interrogation.
Although this "one's perception of others" thing has been well set up before
, it may at first seem like a weird complication to bring up when actual mind-meld/telepathy is already taking place. But that's what makes the ramp-up stages of Instrumentality, where AT Fields have broken down but soul unification is yet to happen, such a confusing and traumatic thing: you're stuck in your personal hell while it's crashing into and being invaded by other people's personal hells. I feel this is best visualized in cuts 305-306.
This recycled shot is here, I believe, to signify that tangification has happened, and Shinji too has again been reduced into a juice box fitting form.
In a more classically heroic narrative, this would be the protagonist's defiant "Speak for yourself!" moment.
065 (after Ursus):
The visuals are absolutely used to link non-existence through Instrumentality with suicide; see cuts 013 and 077
It seems to me these two cuts could spell out why Shinji and Asuka where the first two individuals in EoE to rematerialize from the soup. Was it partly driven by their rejection of a hated parent, now also in the soup? Does the confusing state of partial mind-meld persist in the sea of LCL?
Some remarkable sakuga cuts by Yoh Yoshinari, the man behind many a hype Studio Trigger moment.
223 (after Ursus):
This remarkable sequence illustrates a thematic parallel. It's about the individual's potential to remake themselves, and the visuals link it to the Angels' incredible shape-shifting abilities that seem only limited by their imaginations. This is humanity's version of the same power, and that's an almost starry-eyedly optimistic message.
A childhood friend? Oof, that can nullify even the First Girl Wins rule, especially now that we've genre-shifted from a mecha show into a teen romcom. Asuka is definitely being painted as the designated loser.
A familiar building, but now fully populated.
252 (after Ursus):
RIAO is the true creepy, uncanny Rei that Anno wanted. She's like a Rei skinwalker.
It's not an instant process, or even guaranteed to succeed, but the potential is there.
In the real world, it's the Giant Nude Rei that's cracking apart.
Curiously, Kaworu is not part of the congratulations crew. This is much rectified in EoE.
As much as I don't want to make a downer comment here, this is something that must be mentioned now at the end, as it relates to the Japanese audience's reaction to this original, first ending of Evangelion. The Aum Shinrikyo saga has been a constant background presence whenever we’ve talked about the show’s messy production, and this story ends with a pretty depressing twist, as originally discussed on the Evangelion Mailing list back in 1999. Many people in Japan supposedly hated the ending because "it smacked of the same kind of brainwashing seen from things like Aum", but there's an more disturbing dimension to this, as relayed by translator Bochan Bird, a famous name in the early English-speaking Evangelion fandom who had lived in Japan in the late nineties. Although the leader Shoko Asahara was convicted and ultimate executed for his crimes, that was not the end of the cult he had started, and Aum continued its activities under new management - and as part of these activities, ''it used Evangelion as a recuitment tool''
[...] they [Aum recruiters] did show scenes and episodes from Evangelion (introspective scenes, etc.) at recruiting/training seminars. In fact, that was part of the draw for the seminars -- the cult would distribute fliers saying that there would be an airing of Evangelion at a certain place and time (ie: piggy-backing on Eva's popularity), and then when unsuspecting (and mostly younger) victims showed up they would try to equate some of their teachings with the soul-searching in the show and 'recruit' them.
As ironic as it would be, could one create an Evangelion-based cult, even a new religion, by exploiting the otaku that have internalized all the wrong messages from it? Well, there was the Church of Nerv in India... And according to an interview segment
translated by the Evageeks forum member 1731298478, Anno has considered the possibility:
I really hate the fact that animation - or at least "Evangelion," the work I've been doing - has become merely a "place of refuge." Nothing but a place where one escapes from reality - by becoming deeply absorbed in it, [people] simply ran from the pain of reality, and from there was hardly anything that came back to reality. To that extent I feel like [the work] did not arrive [at reality]. Steadily the number of people taking refuge [in the work] increases, and if this keeps up, in the extreme case, it would become a religion. It would become the same [situation as with] the Aum adherents and Shoko Asahara. Perhaps, if I did things correctly, I would have had the potential to become the founder of a new religion, but I hate [that idea]. For clutching at straws [lit. "grasping at a spider's web"], one person is enough.
What is Evangelion these days? Reboot-sequels, spin-offs and truly depraved amounts of merchandise
, a cynic might answer. But at least Anno has enough integrity that we’ve been spared from an Evangelion-flavored Scientology.