The last EVA movie is out. Overall I’m quite happy with it.
Surprisingly, the most disappointing part was the robot fights. The emotional shit was on point and the last hour especially was phenomenally cathartic. Great ending. The airship fights were better than the EVA fights, and they weren’t great. The EVA fights were boring, poorly choreographed, indulgent, and visually difficult to watch because there was too much detail and no artistic direction. Think Transformers by Michael Bay except everything is red instead of gray-brown. The one good part was when whatserface literally bit the head off another EVA, that was cool. This is the first mecha anime I’ll ever rewatch with the intention of skipping the fight scenes.
Overall review of the rebuild movies in retrospect: I really liked the first two, but got a little worried Hideaki Anno was losing the plot after watching the third one. But the fourth one tied it all together very nicely, and I’m quite happy in the end. It was very gratifying to see Mari’s character turn out to be far more than mere fanservice, which was my only complaint about the second movie. That said, there were a couple of characters who didn’t need to be there, like pink hair girl, but that’s a very minor complaint now that the Mari thing is sorted out. Speaking of fanservice, my real complaint is there wasn’t ever a good shot of Misato in her plug suit. What’s the point of making everybody in the airship wear a plug suit if best girl is wearing hers under a jacket?
Anyway, I feel the need to address two potential criticisms:
1) It’s Jewish propaganda.
2) The ending is flippant and sappy.
Re: #1, I’m as paranoid as anyone about the weird Christian/Kabbalah symbolism at this point. I was raised by a dad who wouldn’t let us watch Pokemon because it was short for “pocket monster” and who didn’t want us playing Final Fantasy games because they had magic in them, which meant both things were Satanic witchcraft simulators. Then he got into Freeman Fly for a while, so I’m aware of all the Freemason symbolism in company logos and stuff. I’ve left those superstitions behind (mostly), but I’ve gone through the anti-Semitic coming-of-age process where you start seeing Talmudry in all pop culture. On top of that, there’s a very real concern about the enormous amount of money tied up in the EVA franchise.
Here’s what I think happened, and you can take this narrative or leave it:
- Anno got into psychology because he was super depressed from living the Otaku lifestyle. The original series was a warning to other Otakus about this.
- He started getting into religious stuff a bit, and started using some of the Christian symbolism without any real Christian meaning. (This explains the original quote about how they used crosses etc. because they “looked cool”.)
- Because he was really into Freud, etc., he started getting really into Kabbalah and Judaism, hence the ending of the original series. tl;dr- Shinji chooses The Melting Pot as depicted by Israel Zangwill, John Lennon starts singing “Imagine”, everyone claps (literally).
- Then Anno started realizing this ending was monstrous and portrays the Human Instrumentality Project a bit differently in The End of Evangelion, which retcons the ending so that Shinji rejects the melting pot and we see what a horrifying idea it is. This movie was where the Kabbalah symbolism was most strongly pronounced and probably explains why “Hideaki Anno Admits Some of Evangelion’s Religious Symbolism “May Have Deeper Meaning””:
Anno went on to explain that for years he and his colleagues had denied the allegations that Evangelion is anything other than a poorly funded mecha anime with Christian Imagery to draw viewers’ attention. Laughing, he said, “now people actually believe I only chose the name Evangelion because it sounds complicated. You know what else sounds complicated? Freundschaftsbeziehung, the German word for friendly relation.”
Anno went on a 45-minute tirade about the show’s many clear allegories and how they drive the characters and influence the show’s message. “It is not by pure chance that the Eva units are derived from an Angel named Adam,” he said, “any moron should be able to tell this references Adam and Eve. Evangelion Unit-01 standing as the final testament to humanity’s existence and Eve being one of the first humans in the Bible is not just coincidence. Then there is Lilith who is suffering on the cross pieced by the Lance of Longius, how much more obvious do I need to be?”https://www.animemaru.com/hideaki-anno-admits-some-of-evangelions-religious-symbolism-may-have-deeper-meaning/
- Then he retcons everything again in the Rebuild movies where a lot of the references are to German philosophy, e.g. “Wille”, and the Kabbalistic references are more muted and less important to the plot.
- The rebuilds could be interpreted as straight-up National Socialist but I’d want to look at it a bit closer before interpreting it 180 degrees in the opposite direction from normal.
What convinces me that the rebuilds are not Jewish propaganda, personally, may not be as convincing an argument to you, but here it is: There’s an absence of obfuscation in the psychological messaging. The psychological portions are very clear, concise, and direct to a fault. I mentioned that the last hour is the best part, and I thought a number of the character resolutions actually felt a bit rushed. I wish they would have lingered a bit longer on the Asuka and Rei ones (but the time limitations are understandable, and for a movie with this high of a budget you have to shoehorn the action scenes in). Shinji’s rejection of despair in the first half of the movie is portrayed perfectly and without any indulgence. All he needs are time, space, and concrete expressions of love until he sorts out his feelings enough to realize it comes down to a simple choice.
This brings me to potential criticism #2. The ending, where Shinji flips a switch and self-actualizes, could be interpreted as a flippant and oversimplified bit of Boomer advice for despairing people to pick themselves up by their bootstraps. If I’d watched it without any context that’s what I would have said, and without context I think that criticism would be correct. But the context is the original series, which got very dark and into the weeds psychologically, and Anno’s own life history. People who are depressed and need art that will help them sort through their feelings can still watch the original series. I think that’s why I fell in love with it originally, aside from the epic scope, special effects and catsuits.
One time I got drunk and was ranting and raving on a message board on the internet, back before that sort of thing would get you arrested as a terrorist. I was in what appeared to be a hopeless situation at the time because of the student loans and minimum wage jobs, so it was the sort of homicidal/suicidal rant you’d expect from a guy with nothing to lose except his sobriety and inhibitions. Another guy who was clearly familiar with hard times just talked me through it patiently, like a horse whisperer for psychotics. He wasn’t particularly agreeable (he’d been banned from this message board twice before) but somehow he understood what I was going through and took a couple hours out of his evening and spent them on me, a stranger he would never meet.
I think that’s what it feels like to experience great art about depression, or loneliness, or heartbreak, or whatever negative emotions you’re going through. Having someone like that around is like the difference between life and death in those situations, because even though you don’t feel like things will turn out okay it maintains your sense of connection to the human race to know that other people have gone through similar things and lived to weave it into our cultural understanding of the human experience.
I expect the iterations of Evangelion mirror Hideaki Anno’s own process of maturing through this process. In retrospect, as a grown-ass man, beating the badfeelz really does look like it boils down to a simple decision. But that’s not true, it’s often very complicated and there’s a lot of baggage you have to work through, a lot of memories you have to learn from (realism comes from reflecting on hardships, after all), and the decision to survive and thrive isn’t one you make all at once in one big epiphany. In reality, it’s a choice you make a thousand times in little ways until it’s a habit, not one big decision, and sometimes that decision doesn’t work out. Sometimes it’s like that scene where Asuka has her big breakthrough, then Just Does It like in the Nike ads, and gets skinned alive. It takes a lot of little victories adding up over time into an unspoken assumption of WINNING before you look back and it looks like one big victory.
And that vision, looking back and realizing it was one big victory, is what I see in the final rebuild movie. I recognize it the way one recognizes a fellow Traveler. It only looks simple because he captured the common essence of all the little victories one big visual picture of Shinji breaking his fast in an abandoned NERV building: It takes space, time, a sense of connection (AKA love), and the choice to live. And as you pick up speed, the choice to thrive So again, that reinforces why I don’t think these movies are Jewish propaganda. There’s too much psychological truth and not enough self-indulgence, contempt, or obfuscation for it to be Talmudic. All the obfuscation is in magical techo jargon that doesn’t matter, that serves only to create the sense that the story takes place in Faerie.