Freaky might be going a bit overboard, but at least he's not ignoring huge chunks of the show to make his favorite ending work.
Traditionally speaking on this forum, hard congruency theory was never my "favorite ending." And honestly, I still may not subscribe 100% to the idea that EoTV and EoE are exactly the same endings, as there's still the fact that there are tonal elements and character developments in both endings that differ from one another. (Example: There's no masturbation present or even implied in EoTV, and its ending is much more overtly optimistic than EoE's ending. I believe that these differences are vitally important to the messages of both endings, and that it's possible that the inclusion of the masturbation scene directly ties into the reasoning behind why EoE feels less joyous than EoTV's ending.) However, with this more accurate translation in mind, it does seem that regardless of these differences both endings take place with Shinji returning to the real world.
It serves the narrative purpose of continuing to build the 'tampering with things beyond our ken' theme and raises questions about the evas that will be answered later. It also provides a useful reason to keep Shinji out of the encounters with Arael and (mostly) Armisael.
Having Unit 01 do something as drastic as eat an S2 engine while Gendo smiles deviously only to amount to Shinji sitting in the dugout during a couple Angel fights is a total narrative rip off. (I really
doubt that Gendo was smiling because he knew that Shinji would have to sit the next couple battles out. There's no reason for that kind of smile of that's the case.) That would be like Peter Parker acquiring all of those spider powers only to have him grow more fond of spiders and not include any crime-fighting in the story. While it's technically plausible that something like that might happen in that fictitious world, it doesn't work as a story and leaves the viewers wanting more. It's all wind-up and no pitch.
This part right here is a big assumption. I bring it up becuase I disagree with this:
"The only way for Shinji to get out of Instrumentality was by not being an Evangelion pilot anymore."
But either way even if I did agree it'd still be a big assumption.
I don't believe that it is a big assumption. Fuyutsuki explains that Unit 01 has obtained both the Fruit of Life and the Fruit of Wisdom, making Unit 01 become "like a God." He calls Unit 01 a "propagule of souls," then says that it dictates what course Instrumentality will take based on the discussions of Shinji. (He literally says "Our future lies in the hands of Ikari's son.") Right before Instrumentality begins in EoE, we see Yui -who is inside Unit 01- directly ask Shinji "What do you wish for?" Shinji responds with what he wanted, and Yui made it so in Instrumentality. This is Shinji piloting Eva Unit 01, even though its not through conventional means. The interface is different, but it the concept of piloting is still being accomplished. Shinji commands Unit 01, Unit 01 follows those commands. Add to that the fact that Unit 01 is currently also the propagule of souls that's dictating the course of Instrumentality, and you have Shinji commanding Instrumentality by piloting Eva Unit 01.
However, because Unit 01 is also still the "propagule of souls," the souls collected during Instrumentality are directly influenced by Unit 01's decisions. The only way for a soul to remove itself from those outcomes would be to remove itself from the propagule. In other words, the soul would need to remove itself from Unit 01. But at the time Shinji didn't want that. He didn't realize that he didn't want it until much later in EoE, when he tells Rei that he wants everyone to be separate again. The he says that, Unit 01 again follows orders, but it results in Shinji escaping Unit 01. His soul escapes the propagule, and therefore the interaction of the other souls, which is the very definition of Human Instrumentality. The only way for him to remove himself from Instrumentality would be to leave Unit 01. And since he's left Unit 01, he no longer commands Unit 01. He is no longer the pilot.
The reason why I say that this is the only way for Shinji to escape Instrumentality is because at this point Unit 01's only purpose was to be the propagule of souls. That was its defining role in the film. (The filmmakers didn't even allow Unit 01 to battle any Angels, further solidifying the fact that its only role in the film to be the propagule of souls.) Shinji couldn't have chosen a reality within instrumentality that didn't involve him piloting Unit 01, because even if he theoretically did, then he would still be in the propagule of souls, which is Unit 01 itself. And since Unit 01 would still be fulfilling Shinji's desires by allowing him to stay within itself, Shinji would still be piloting Unit 01 in this manner. It's a falsehood.
Therefore, the only way to truly escape piloting Unit 01 is to escape Instrumentality itself. And if Shinji said that he would reject piloting Eva Unit 01, and if that became an actual reality, then the only conclusion is that, by accepting a reality in EoTV where Shinji doesn't pilot the Eva, then Shinji also escaped Instrumentality, just like he did in EoE.
Now, again, I still believe that Unit 01 has an important role in EoTV's Instrumentality as it did in EoE's instrumentality. After all, if it didn't, does Shinji struggling with piloting Unit 01 carry any actual weight in EoTV? If Instrumentality doesn't involve Unit 01, then Shinji struggling with the need to pilot it seems like a worthless things to struggle with. He's in Instrumentality! Unit 01 isn't even there! Why would he be bothering himself with Unit 01 if it wasn't even involved with Instrumentality to begin with? If that's the case, then it's not only bad story-telling, but also completely illogical. Therefore, in order for the story to have even some remote form of logic to it, Unit 01 needs to have a role in Instrumentality in EoTV. If Shinji is in Instrumentality in EoTV, and he's still struggling with the idea of piloting Unit 01, then that must
mean that Unit 01 is still involved in Instrumentality in some way in order for Shinji to need to worry about it as much as he does. It's just plain and simple logic.
However, I still feel that EoTV is not a 1:1 tie in to EoE. There are character details in the beginning of EoE that end up changing the tone of the entire ending to something far less joyous than EoTV's triumphant "Congratulations!" That's a difference worth noting and considering. But, given the accurate translations and the fact that Unit 1 is involved in both EoTV and EoE, I feel as though the "real world in both endings" context allows us to better consider and discuss the tonal contrast and differences in character details between the two endings.