This is all quite fascinating... at some point I'd still like to put this on the wiki, but I'll need all the sources. Production is probably the single most common area that, ahem, births misconceptions since it's shrouded in lots of myths, like the ever enduring death threats once. Then again, to a lot of people the truth can never get in the way of a good story...
Some time ago someone mentioned to me finding an interview mentioning, for isntance, that the Director's Cuts episodes consisted of stuff they had to cut due to the time issues, not anything they truly thought of ad hoc. This would shut down the argument that they consist a form of retcon and maybe that they aren't the "original intention" - I can already see a sourced mention to that on the Common Misconceptions and What is Canon page. Alas, that person never returned to me with that interview...
Carl Horn#414765 wrote:
Tsurumaki has also said that the extra footage in the Director's Cut isn't all that important, and was mainly put in to apologize to the fans who waited for the video release--yet there are still plenty of fans who use that footage to help them understand the series. Tsurumaki also said that fans shouldn't "drag the past around" and become fixated on Evangelion
, and that we should "find the next thing that interests you." And yet, in 2011 here we are--and for that matter, here is Tsurumaki, still making new Evangelion.
I don't think he mentioned where Tsurumaki said this, but I trust him to be accurate.
It's selfish of me, but I'm resistant to this information being presented on the wiki due to its totally scuffed and unsourced state. A lot of it is accumulated corroborations from many sources to create a canon factual soup in my mind, and parsing everything back out again is tricky, but there's usually two or more sources from within the production team itself or something empirical. As an example, I spent a long time wondering about TV ratings and the existence of a "Rebirth isn't complete, sorry" announcement, and those were eventually found by something as simple as switching the Wikipedia page to the Japanese one (with the english one for example at times stating the exact opposite for some information), among other Japanese fansites to back it up and seeing various quirks of the cultural zeitgeist. (As an aside, Eva's 6:30pm run had high ratings and did better than every Gundam before and since with the exception of Zeta, which had the benefit of being advertised as the sequel to the hit movie trilogy Gundam, Eva is an original IP; the 2:55am reruns in the lead up to Death & Rebirth were lower but steady and good. And the press conference regarding D&R is fascinating because I found a Japanese Eva collector who acquired a press release with "Rebirth 2"; posters with "The End of Evangelion" on it despite it not being named that yet; a diagram showing how the TV series, Death, Rebirth, and Rebirth 2 are placed and overlap (Rebirth 2 stretches beyond EoTV hrm); and the runtimes of the movies showing that EoE was extended by 16 mins.)
Death threats are overstated and are mainly representative of the mainstream attention they received and attracted weirdos who weren't actually talking about Evangelion at all, and most/all of the material you see flashing in EoE are reconstructions by the production team. I don't doubt that there were some, but anyone can say they'll kill anyone over anything.
I'm extremely Japan centric for this information because it gets messy once we leave Japan, but we have to understand the quirks of Eva's Japanese release. There is no "Director's Cut" in Japan, those are the literal first and main versions released on video, with the "on-air versions" (not actually versions released on-air) coming later in collections. These versions primarily received animation fixes and redraws, and received a bunch of footage made for Death. Due to this (primarily trying to milk Death, why Death true exists as a TV edit without the new scenes so fans couldn't just record them and skip buying more videos or skip Revival Of Evangelion) there was a 14 month gap between the #18-19 videos and the #20'-#21' videos. They were originally monthly-bimonthly. I can't overstate how trash the home release was, if you started with VHS/Laserdisc you'd have had to consider starting again with DVDs halfway through or seriously buy dead formats to complete your collection in 1999.
For what it's worth, I found a 1998 interview between Krystian Woznicki and Japanese cultural critic Azuma Hiroki that features Azuma's take on the entire Evangelion-Aum situation. According to Azuma, it was the fear of being misconstrued and "lowering Evangelion's imaginative potential" - not sure if those were Azuma's words or Anno's, because Azuma had spoken to Anno about it.
Krystian Woznicki: So Anno changed the original plot of the story when he
saw the news about the invasion of Aum's hide out by the police. Did he
change it because it was too close to reality?
Azuma Hiroki: Yes, he said so.
It's from this site- https://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/ ... 00101.html
I also found this, which I remember reading AGES ago - http://www.ntticc.or.jp/pub/ic_mag/ic01 ... uma_E.html
Going by what Azuma said, your speculation seems to be entirely on the money about why Anno decided not to air something of the sort, especially around the anniversary of Aum getting raided.
Considering the stuff that's alluded to re: Misato, Ritsuko, Asuka, elements were clearly there, but the timeslot and immediate memories of that date were clearly the problem. The fact that they got away with it in uncut extended format twice over with Rebirth and EoE on the second anniversary shows that. Or rather, Evangelion was accepted and a phenomenon and not a theoretical that might fall apart before the end with the addition of that controversy.
We have to remember that despite knowing how it turned out, at the time everything ahead was uncertain. It's tempting to think the original #25 would resemble #25', because we know that retroactively and have a 25' to compare it to. But in reality, while it would have had Misato dead in a hallway and Ritsuko floating in LCL and Asuka in her plug, the circumstances would had to have been different. At least different enough that there wasn't an obvious #26 to be born of it.
I get the impression that everyone would be unambiguously killed without a tang analogue, and where the hell do you go from there? Set #26 in their minds and redo #25 to gloss over the apocalypse.
edit/addendum: A problem with a lot of Eva discussion is that there's a lot of talk of "original intent" and "true vision" with the implication of these things being compromised. Like most productions, ideas change naturally and the final product is created with these changes. As viewers, just because we see the final product first and hear news of previous/alternative versions, we like to think of that version as a concrete thing that had to changed due to outside influence, when in reality it's totally normal and all works in progress are fluid.
So Anno changed the original plot of the story when he saw the news about the invasion of Aum's hide out by the police.
Like many things, this sentence gives the wrong impression of the timescale. The gas attack happened while episodes 1, 2, 5, 6, and possibly most of the first half was in some stage of active production, and the raids happened in the weeks/months after that. But #25 wasn't changed until later, in fact #25 was rewritten after #26 had been worked out, from an Anno quote, and those two episodes were done in the last few days the schedule allowed. For context, that doesn't mean a few days before broadcast, it's the last few days of the writing schedule, which I believe is this repeated "3 month before broadcast" timing. I know this because despite quotes assserting that #24 was made in 3 weeks and #26 in 3 days and such, these quotes are out of context and not referring to the entirety of their productions, it's only a part of them. We know this because, from a quote about the VA's and animators having a party, #25 was dubbed and #26 was being animated in February. And Kaworu was decided to be important enough to be included in the OP storyboards by August 1995 despite 24 not being worked on proper until just before 25/26 were.