I wanted to create a discussion forum about the last train station scene. The reason is because I think people are jumping to a lot of conclusions about what it is and what Anno intended it to be -- I won't go into that per se.
I wanted to know what people's takes were on what this scene is. Immediately preceding it, Shinji is ejected from Unit 01 by Yui and is theoretically stranded in Anti-Universe. Due to his choice, he says goodbye to all Evangelion as the souls fall to Earth and regain their life forms. Yui enacts Shinji's wish and destroys all traces of Eva. Shinji is lost, then Mari calls to him and he wakes up. We then immediately get the cut to the station. Shinji is sitting there, aged up (theoretically, age 28 implying he is no longer stuck in the age freeze due to piloting Eva in this alternative reality). He still has the DSS choker on. Mari comes up to him and they interact. He makes a joke back to her referencing a line she previously said, implying that he still has memories of their interactions in the past. He clearly recognizes her. She takes the DSS choker off of him, and he does not react, implying he understands what she is doing. This also implies that they jumped straight from Shinji's final act in Anti-Universe to this reality -- as opposed to another theory where the old reality is completely deleted and they relive their lives in the "real world" they have landed in. Mari grabs Shinji's hand and they happily run up the platform, embracing their new life without Eva and leaving Eva behind.
Broken down scene by scene, here are significant happenings:
- Evangelions are destroyed and disappeared from the world.
- Souls are dropped from the GNR head and land on the ground. There is a montage implying that people seem to regain consciousness, with footsteps in the village.
- Shinji and Mari rendezvous in anti-universe and the final evangelions disappear from existence
- Mari calls out to Shinji
- It cuts to Shinji "gasping / coming to" -- the background
- We see a cut showing Kaworu and Rei interacting, with Shinji facing them but not interacting with them at all
- Asuka sitting alone, as opposed to with Kensuke or anyone else
- The camera zooms in on Kaworu/Rei as the train passes in front of them
- Mari comes up behind Shinji and does the same "guess who" game with him as she has done before
- He immediately recognizes her and repeats back the same line she said to him previously -- he has retained memories of the prior events that happened
- Mari smells him and comments that he smells like an adult, possibly a reference to Shinji's prior inability to grow up and make adult choices which led to a schism between him and his father as well as those around him.
- Shinji is unphased and makes a flirty/jokey comment about Mari's cuteness and Mari responds sarcastically flirty back.
- Mari reaches for the DSS choker and Shinji does not flinch or react at all. She then removes it, implying he knows and understands what she is doing and what the object is.
- The DSS choker still being on Shinji implies, along with the gasp scene above, that Shinji and Mari have just "teleported" to this reality from the Anti-Universe as a result of the choice of eliminating all Eva -- no time has passed and remnants of that old reality still remain. Shinji/Mari at minimum remember everything in the old reality, and physical goods like the DSS choker have also translated over.
- Mari takes Shinji's hand and they run up the station platform into the real world, leaving the Evangelion world behind with no questions.
On why this scene may not be what it appears to be
I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on this and if I misinterpreted anything. I think there is a lot of implied information here in a very short amount of time, both in terms of lore as well as character interactions. I know people immediately saw this scene and are claiming various ships, but to me that doesn't fully make sense. First of all, Kaworu and Rei being a ship is just random and isn't foreshadowed at all in the movies -- I'm not denying it, I just don't see why it has to be the case. Further, Asuka isn't seen with Kensuke. It seems more likely that the people at the station have all "landed" in this reality at this station after being ejected from Unit 01. It is unclear if Asuka/Rei/Kaworu have retained their prior memories. Shinji and Mari are indeed flirty, but based on their interactions previous to this, they had no romantic connection. Shinji addresses Mari as "Mari-san" which is relatively formal, seconds before the station scene when she reaches him at the beach. I get more of an impression of Shinji showing off his grown adultness than a scene of actual romantic interaction. Also, if this scene were meant to be a shipping scene, then Asuka would appear with Kensuke.
The part that is confusing is that we see scenes where humans return to earth from GNR head. People seem to land on the ground and return to the world as seen here:
The escape pods from WILLE are also there (scene with pen-pen) implying that people are returning to the "same" earth that we see here, at the same time:
There are also clips in that montage showing that the remnants of Eva are still in the world -- an entry plug is shown near Kensuke's house:
And yet Shinji and co seem to "blip" to a reality that is completely clear of any devastation. It seems like he lands in the "real world" completely detached from any Eva reality. It's hard for me to comprehend how that goes together with the images above. It is my assumption as well that Shinji has no strong feeling of needing to interact with Kaworu/Rei/Asuka in that moment because he literally had just spoken to each of them prior to this event. So the 5 of them ejected from Unit 01 and landed in this "real world" place but the rest of humanity lands down from GNR head and rebuilds society, and both are happening at the same time?
It's also unclear to me what exactly happens with Mari and Shinji. Shinji is losing touch from reality. Mari appears and brings color back into Shinji's life as he is lost in the anti-universe. That's obviously some sort of metaphor, but if Shinji is lost here and Mari finds him, and then the Evangelion disappear, how do they blip to the station? Maybe this is impossible to answer, but it's interesting fruit for thought. I'm fully aware of the meta-commentary that the movie is making in this entire sequence, but I do still think it's interesting to try to understand the literal things happening on the screen.
Not sure what this all means. Still trying to figure it out in my head.