• Nick Prouten

Neon Genisis Evangelion Rebuild Series Review- You Can (Not) Make Sense


 

RATING: 7.5 /10 Ayanami Clones

 

Oh Evangelion, may you never change...again. Seriously, what is this the fourth time now? At last, with the newest release of Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time on Amazon, we now finally conclude with the re-imagining of the iconic anime series. The Evangelion franchise can leave you feeling like you're missing some big pieces for those who have never watched the franchise before coming into this. If you're a long-time fan of Evangelion, it will also leave you feeling like their things you are missing. Why can an Evangelion suddenly regenerate limbs in some instances but not others? Why is Shinji so frail? Who are the gods in question that are always being brought up that Gendo is determined to kill? Why is there suddenly an army of headless naked women flooding the screen? I am barely scratching the surface here, trust me. And that's the thing, trying to wade through Evangelion's plotline means navigating through plot holes the size of the third impact. It's hot garbage, even for anime, and normally this kind of hot mess is the kind I'm better not engaging in. However, Neon Genisis Evangelion is the exception. This is because (in my opinion) Evangelion is not really an anime in a true sense; it is a high art sci-fi opera, masquerading as an anime. It's not about the logical plotline. It's about expression, emotion and is a deep exploration into depression and feelings of helplessness. For those of you coming in blind, the show's creator and director, Hideko Anno, has a history of clinical depression. So much of what we see on screen is a direct reflection of his experience of this struggle. This depression is even cited as being at its darkest point during the production of the show's previous conclusion, "The End of Evangelion." When I finally clued into this, I understood the Show's protagonist Shinji Ikari so much more (not to mention Gendo's reveal of his motives is basically a shallow metaphor for suicide). Shinji's behaviors of helplessness and complete paralysis in the face of crisis and even lack thereof all make sense in the context of being him being a real person in an unreal environment. Everything around him behaves like a shonen series, the events of which he is experiencing as a real 14-year-old boy would. The audio and visuals also support this narrative, with overwhelming orchestral overtures, pounding drums, and melancholic piano interludes pitted against intense violence, graphic and often macabre imagery, followed by huge bouts of emptiness, help guide us as the viewer into the emotional state that wants us to feel. So why even make the rebuild series at all? The show's history is almost as troubled as its creator, which due to budget cuts, forced the show to originally conclude in an incredibly convoluted fashion taking place entirely within the minds of the show's two main characters. Later on, after the show gained monumental popularity, the conclusion movie "End of Evangelion" was produced, which painted a much more bleak and helpless ending, although mildly more linear. However, despite its many flaws, the rebuild series ends in a way that the others could not accomplish. While "Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone" and "Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance" essentially serve as faithful retellings that deviate very little from its original material, while "Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo" and the concluding "Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time" provide us with a whole new final chapter that manages to bring us closure. Sharing elements from the original ending and previous film 3.0+1.0 gives us something wholly new. Hope. Yes. Watching the final act, I was astonished to see that, at last, Shinji is able to acquire the closure needed to grow and overcome his helplessness. First-time watchers won't understand the gravity of this. Still, when matched against the show's previous conclusions, it paints a much more holistic finale, and healthier mindset, one that acknowledges resilience and that we can grow in the face of insurmountable despair. So is the rebuild series good? That's largely up for debate. Again, the coherency of this series is a dumpster fire that will likely leave most people scratching their heads. But, I ultimately found this series and its new conclusion very satisfying for a long-time fan like myself.

 

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