After sitting through Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth, I’m glad I had the second movie, End of Evangelion ready to drop into the disc the tray of my DVD player. It becomes immediately apparent that the second half of Death & Rebirth is the start of End. Yep, that’s right, the material is repeated. In effect the second half of Death & Rebirth is a preview for End.
End of Evangelion, is the real meat, essentially providing alternate versions of the last 2 episodes of the televisions series. The conclusion of the television series focussed on Shinji’s paralysing introspection leaving many of external plot threads unresolved: What is Seele’s relationship with NERV? What is the Human Instrumentality project? Who killed Kaji Ryoji? – I could go on but I don’t want to appear more of a nerd than I am.
End of Evangelion has answers and action in spades. Be prepared though, it is a brutal ride. Anno seems to be saying if its answers you want, then there is a price to be paid. The violence here is plenty and fierce. Nobody escapes. Betrayals are emotionally and physically vicious. The camera lingers on multiple execution-style killings. Blood seeps, flows and splatters. There is blood on everybody’s hands both figuratively and literally. But this violence does reinforce Evangelion’s theme of Shinji’s struggle to embrace or reject humanity: If Shinji needs any more reasons to turn his back and retreat into himself then he has plenty of reasons here as self interest and greed seem to be everybody’s motivating factors.
Shinji’s introspection is again dealt with in End but in a different way to the TV series.
Anno seems to present it as a Freudian, ‘Choose Your Own Adventure,’ if you will. Whereas the television focussed on Shinji’s internal rebirth, End is something of a cosmic manifestation of the same theme.
Wilfully obscure, confused, dense or enigmatic or all of the above, End of Evangelion is probably all of the above. However, it does represent the power and emotional force of Anno’s singular vision and all the contradictions and inconsistencies that makes up a personality. Couple this with real world budget constraints and the resultant fragmentary kaleidoscope is probably the closest we’ll get to looking directly into our collective unconscious. But be warned, it is like staring into the sun. If you don’t look away, you may very well go blind.