What the frak did I just watch? Potential mind f*ck warning if you do watch this!
When I was much younger, I loved anime. One of my favourite in the genre is Neon Genesis Evangelion, where specially selected children are jammed inside giant bio-mechanical robots to fight and destroy Angels that are bent on destroying mankind. What appeared as a science fiction fighting robot post-apocalyptic action series was actually hiding an abstract, psychological, mind warping philosophical study into depression. It’s not what I would call a particularly kid friendly show. This was only apparent if you watched past the half way point in the series where the main character gets trapped in his giant robot of destruction by one of the eponymous Angels. The entire appeal of the series was never the in your face action or outwardly spoken words of characters, but the symbolism hidden behind it.
The original series ended with two episodes that were strange and abstract in tone, a series of internal dialogues between the main character, Shinji Ikari, himself and the myriad other characters in the series. Watching this as a kid really made me wonder what drugs the creators had taken (it turns out to have been anti-depressants) to make the endings the way they were. The movies that were released afterwards (Death, Rebirth and End of Evangelion) to try to give viewers a more thorough understanding of the supposed outcome of the series. What ensued was quite visually stunning, but also mentally disturbing, although I suppose that was the point of it all.
Then, after a hiatus of about ten years, a reboot of sorts was released titled the Rebuild of Evangelion 1.0, the first of a four part series. The first two follow the original series quite closely up until the final battle in which the apocalypse comes prematurely compared to the original. It is stopped, but not before everyone is pretty much dead. Of course, this is never really revealed until the start of this movie, but the devastation is quite obvious, as is the fact that the characters have lived pretty desolate lives. Rebuild 3.0 starts fourteen years after the near apocalypse and everything’s different. Pretty much everyone on Earth has died, transformed somehow into weird humanoid objects. NERV, the organisation tasked with destroying the angels has suffered a schism and the two sides are at war with each other. This is all well and good, and poor Shinji, depressed, friendless Shinji is drawn right in the middle of it all without context or explanation as to orders he’s given or why he has a bomb attached to his neck. I mean, really, putting a bomb around someone’s neck probably deserves some context don’t you think?
In fact, the whole plot of the movie is kind of without context. We don’t get told why NERV split into two disparate organisations or their motivations, where they got their fancy new flying fortress and nor how all these new Evangelions are built since…everybody is kind of dead. It almost feels as if the entire thing was done with some lip service to the previous plot but it was subsequently thrown out with the baby and the bathwater. Knowing that there’s a fourth movie still to come, it might be the one to clear up the huge questions posed by this part of the reboot. Or, in typical Evangelion style, it will leave its fans hanging and debating for years to come.