I'll show you what I've done so far, along with the ideas I have in mind. I'd really appreciate if y'all could do something to help, and I will credit you for your assistance in the final essay. Here it is so far, and thank you.
ESSAY SO FAR
Released in 1997, Hideaki Anno’s animated film End of Evangelion acted as the proper conclusion to his highly renowned, yet controversial, TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion when its staff lacked the time and budget needed to make its original ending.
Though no less contented than the finale aired on TV the year before (which mostly consisted of recycled animation from earlier episodes accompanied by overly verbose monologues on mankind’s existential drama), End of Evangelion nevertheless proved itself to be a fine conclusion to the complex series and a prime example of Hideaki Anno’s skill as a visual director and a storyteller.
There are many aspects of the film that could be given an in-depth analysis. But in this case, we’ll discuss how uses bookends (repeating images/phrases/actions at the beginning and end of a work, or story/character arcs) to tie up several points of the series and how it furthers one of the messages implied throughout the entire show.
“Eva is a story that repeats…” - Hideaki Anno, director of Evangelion
Part 1. Weaving A Story ~ A Recap of Evangelion’s Story
(WARNING - Contains spoilers for the plot to Neon Genesis Evangelion and End of Evangelion. Please watch both of these before reading any further if you don’t want to spoil them for yourself.)
In the year 2015, Earth is under attack from mysterious creatures known as the Angels, who seem intent on wiping out whatever humanity survived the ‘Second Impact’ cataclysm that occurred fifteen years before. Man’s only defence are the biomechanical beings called Evangelion (designated in Units; Unit 01, Unit 02, etc.), which can only be piloted by 14-year old children such as the perpetually uneasy protagonist Shinji Ikari, the arrogant terror Asuka Langley Soryu and the almost lifeless Rei Ayanami.
As the three pilots endure physical and mental strain to fight against the Angels, all the while failing to find a purpose in life and experiencing a downward spiral into misery, the people around them try to uncover the truth behind the ‘Second Impact’, what caused it and why. By the beginning of End of Evangelion, all the Angels have been defeated, leaving the door open for a mysterious organization by the name of SEELE to commence the Human Instrumentality Project, which plans to evolve humanity to its final form.
They send the military in to take the Evangelion Units & their pilots by force, tearing apart a base never meant to fight other humans and its employees within hours. With the so-called promised time finally at hand, the fate of all life on Earth now lies in the hands of Shinji, Asuka and Rei. But when none of them have a reason to live for themselves, will they still try to save everyone, or will they throw away something they see as utterly meaningless?
Part 2. Haven’t I Seen You Before? ~ Visual Repeats in Evangelion
During the later stages of the TV show’s production, time and money was running low and the staff had to get creative in how to tell the story they wanted to tell without resorting to pencil tests (which eventually did happen by the very end of the series). Among the many techniques they used, which included obscuring the mouths of speaking characters so they wouldn’t have to animate lip-flaps, pans of backgrounds, and resorting to characters standing still if it was convenient for emphasizing the tension (episodes 22 and 24 were infamous for this); one in particular was recycling animation from earlier on in the series.
It was a way to save money better left towards the beautifully animated Angel fights, but it became useful in calling back to events from earlier on in the series or mirroring certain moments or actions. So, even with a big budget movie liked End of Evangelion, they still used this technique of visual call-backs to reference events from the movie itself and the TV series in general.
The most iconic of these call-backs occur at the very beginning of the show and the very end of the movie, where Shinji sees an apparition of Rei for only a moment. It is definitely an apparition in both cases, since it was impossible for her to be physically be in either place, and is implied to tell the audience that the story has now begun/ended:
(Shows Rei-pparition in episodes 1 and 26')
-Sachiel catching missiles in ep 1, Eva-02 catching missiles in ep 25'
-The room with the NERV logo/red thing between Gendo and Ritsuko in eps 24 and 25'
-Misato's cross on her chest/on the grave in eps 25' and 26'
-Shinji's hand being covered in blood and semen in 1 and 25'
-Spreading wings as 2nd and 3rd Impacts begin in 12 and 26'
-Kaworu's head and a headlight splashing into the water in 24 and 25'
-Possible meaning: human nature will repeat itself and people will continue to make mistakes if they stay ignorant of that or choose to repeat those mistakes deliberately. Shinji ending Third Impact gives humanity a chance to change this
-The plot of the series begins and ends with an Impact
-The pilots resembling their parents (Asuka's Attempted Suicide echoes her mother's death; Shinji & Gendo aren't good with people)
-Shinji strangling Asuka before and after Third Impact
-Kimoichi Warui (apparently, Shinji says this line when he's first in Eva-01; not just Asuka)
-Both Misato and her father get swallowed up in their work, to the detriment of their personal relationships and their families
-Misato saves Shinji from being attacked by an Angel (Sachiel in 1; the JSSDF in 25')
-A survivor of the latest impact is left to bear the cross of their parent, quite literally in this case (Misato gets the cross from her father; Shinji gets the cross from Misato)
-A longing for a missing parental figure (Misato sleeps with Kaji, who is similar to her absent father; while Shinji fantasizes about Misato, a foster equivalent to his missing mother, on some level)
-A giant creature towers over man before setting off an Impact, and is compared to a religious deity (Adam, name aside, is called the First Angel; Eva-01 is seen by one of the soldiers as the Devil himself)
-A powerful monster holds a young boy in his hand (Sachiel grabs Eva-01 by the head in 2; Eva-01 holds Kaworu within its grasp in 24)