Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon A Time: A heartfelt ending to the Evangelion series

Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Asuka Wakes Up

Whether you have enjoyed this rebuild of the Evangelion series or not there’s no deny that Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon A Time sends a very different message to the viewers. After Evangelion 3.0 You can (not) redo my expectations of this movie is that we were in the worst case scenario. How this movie unfolds has left me fascinated on how forgiving, understanding, and compassionate it is to its characters.

This post contains spoilers to Evangelion 3.0+1.0 and previous movies. Do not continue reading if you haven’t watched the movie. I believe that this movie should be experienced first before going into the reviews.

The rebuild of Evangelion movies would probably be one of my favorites “remakes” of the series. I don’t think in any way it was meant to take away anything from the original series, or that it was meant to retcon anything within the series. It is a sincere closure to the main characters, and perhaps closure to Hideaki Anno himself I dare say.

I feel like Shinji has been on a loop and that at some point perhaps he just decided to tear all apart and start again. This would be my interpretation of some of the elements in the movie. And honestly for me it would make sense, if you aren’t familiar with depression this is perhaps one of the recurring themes I would say is exhibited in depressed people where we would just to tear everything down and start from scratch and hopefully things would be better, because I know in my adolescence I did, many times as I struggled with this unknown entity known as depression later on.

Over fourteen years has passed since the events of Evangelion 3.0 where the Third Impact was hit off with Shinji’s attempt to save Rei Ayanami.

Fourteen years is a lot of time. I feel it was also the perfect skip. If Shinji was brought back the next day after the near Third Impact nothing would have changed within the characters. There would have been clear retribution, I feel. As to why Hideaki Anno decided to go for a time skip himself is something that had me intriguing but I feel the time skip is insanely meaningful to all the characters in the rebuild series.

They all grow through the hardships caused by the near Third Impact . Helping each other, trying to survive. Of course, not everything is sunshine and rainbows especially with Evangelion. However, there’s a clear understanding that while the near Third Impact was a direct consequence of Shinji they all understood the reasons. Most of them knew it wasn’t his fault. I think there’s a level of trust given to Shinji in this series that they believe in him. They know he has been suffering around, unable to speak to others. And weirdly he never does through the whole series itself when you start thinking about how Evangelion 3.0+1.0 has unfolded.

So there’s a lot of questions from my side if Shinji just decided to accept everything of himself. In a sense it is somewhat explicit he has but at the same time how far has he accepted himself is just up to the viewers interpretation of the movie.

But speak to who at the end of the day. I’m sure he could have had a heart to heart conversation with Misato. I feel like Misato would have still guided him if given the chance.

One of the things I noticed is Gendo’s arrogance in 3.0+1.0. Gendo knew Shinji and he used to be Shinji. How many days Shinji spent on that village is unknown, but it changed him. It gave him a new perspective, and a new resolve. I don’t think Gendo on his ongoing despair could have seen a different Shinji.

Despite my ongoing thoughts on Gendo right now. Let’s talk about the “first quarter” of the movie. Which for me is one of the greatest defining movies for Rei Ayanami (Ms Original Batch) and Ikari Shinji. If anything this new version of Rei is not only the most wholesome one but it’s also the first version that is treated kindly.

It was also the first shock for me where the characters are introduced to this hardworking village. It is bustling with energy, folks trying to rebuild everything they have lost and have a place to live moving forward.

How they handled this Rei Ayanami is so heartwarming. Watching her become more human, learning from the villagers on how to live. Everyday for Rei was just a new experience, new emotions, new things to learn. I love that she went back to Shinji telling the things she has learned. Of course Shinji was still going through a transformation himself but he was still receptive.

Asuka on the other hand didn’t know what to do. She was the same person, but she understood what went down.

Toji and Kensuke… were a big surprise on how caring and understand they were. I think Kensuke probably knew all that happened but an older version of them were more understanding. And I feel like I don’t want to touch them as characters right now because it just takes away the experience.

The way everything was executed and therefore the result of such execution and what went through Shinji’s mind at the loss of that copy of Rei Ayanami is still unknown to the viewers.

In a way this is where all things become a bit fuzzy with Shinji’s development for me. I don’t know when or where did he get the resolve to continue on. I don’t want to use the words “take responsibility” because what’s done is done. Fourteen years has passed. People have moved on. Taking responsibility for something that happened fourteen years ago doesn’t make sense. Thus, we are left with this Shinji that just comes back, but he’s different. He has a much calm expression.

In comparison to End of Evangelion and the original series. One where Shinji rejected instrumentality, and one where everything went according to Gendo’s plans. 3.0+1.0 has a different approach.

I feel I should make an interjection here and talk about how meaningless some of the terms are in Evangelion. You would hear things of “Key of blah blah blah” and “the vatican treaty”… and it all adds to nothing. There’s no exploration of those terms and words being used. There’s no intervention whatsoever of human written law. At times it feels the world has accepted its fate. Perhaps because they are powerless to do anything about it.

But it also feels like added noise to the movie. It’s meant to mean something to one of the characters in the movie but it certainly doesn’t mean anything to the viewer. The characters knows already the Eva series type whether because Magi-copy predicted it or perhaps they got intel. But intel where?

All the time we see Gendo alone. Automating things for fourteen years sure isn’t an easy task. But it also makes me wonder why Misato couldn’t pursue Gendo during those years. On top of that, why would anyone defend Gendo at this stage? The world surely knows he’s up to no good.

That’s one of the gray areas for me with the series is that while a lot of the things make sense with the movie it also leaves many more questions.

Moving on to the stage

The greatest mystery of Evangelion 3.0+1.0 would probably always be Mari. Her insertion to the rebuild series came out of nowhere. I think I have read she’s more “fleshed out” somewhere that’s not within the movies. She is the first bearer of the Curse of Eva and is also known as the “promised child” (If I recall correctly I’m trying to jog my memory on where I read it or saw it).

Honestly at this stage I don’t know where to go with Mari. We know she is interested in Shinji. We know she keeps asking questions about her doggy from time to time. But we have absolutely no background on her and what is motivating her.

What we know so far is that she’s a very cheerful person that loves piloting evangelions and doesn’t let her emotions get the best of her.

As things unfold in 3.0+1.0, as they enter the anti-universe, the way perhaps the voice actress decides to put in some emotion into Mari’s last lines to Shinji before he transport himself to the Rei version he tried to save shows that “this is it” she cares about him. She knows things about to go down but doesn’t know how. Ultimately tells him she will come for him no matter what.

As to what still makes her still well.. hopefully in the future we will know maybe in a different media format.

Back then Shinji, Misato, Asuka and who knows who else were subjected to this brutal deconstruction in episode 25 and 26 of the original series. Fast forward to 3.0+1.0 and it’s finally Gendo’s turn to be deconstructed as a character.

I like to think deep down we all knew his motive and to some length I might sympathize with him even though he’s just destroying the world for his selfish reasons. When put under the scope what Gendo did is insane. He went against humanity, society, and threw away his humanity in order to just be with that person that he loved. The despair of dealing with loneliness again after tasting love drove him mad.

There’s no question that Gendo, being one of the smartest character in the series, is also the greatest fool.

But here’s the thing about Gendo: What he said hits home.

If you ever been a person that has isolated yourself from others, or never had any meaningful interactions or find difficult blending in with society and dealing with the multiple and multitude of faces a person can have. Which one is true and which one is false. There’s no certainty of a person’s character. They could be telling you the truth or lies or just both out of enjoyment.

Everything Gendo said is true to some extent. You aren’t meant to take it as face value but you also don’t know how else to take it at times.

There’s no certainty while dealing with people in reality.

Gendo finally decided to let that layer of onions peel off until he came to his realization. The way the scene ended felt too abrupt… but what else could be told?

I think what I loved from Shinji in this movie is how he decides to just put everything in order. He couldn’t save everyone. Misato at the end of the day had to do what she had to do. Sacrifices needed to be made to get to that point. He couldn’t redo this. Even if he tried it would have failed, like going against fate.

The interesting thing is… it also comes off a bit weird but because you are in the anti-universe… I guess everything that happens afterwards is just pure interpretation.

Bringing closure to Asuka was the sweetest scene possible.

This is probably the sweetest scene for me because how simple and perhaps powerful it is at least for Asuka. Shinji answers her back that she liked her too. The indication that Asuka is all grown up and Shinji (mentally) is as well is on par of “I liked you as my first crush but I think we both moved away from that”.

Weirdly I think Asuka and Shinji could have worked out… but both would need an insane amount of healing… and I also think that it wouldn’t have been a health relationship after all. When you think that both of them went through some insane stuff to save the world. Asuka’s attitude to continuously “antagonize” or “taunt” Shinji of previous things he did wouldn’t have helped.

Now bringing this post to a wrap up.

I completely loved the fact that Shinji just gave everyone a chance. For Rei Ayanami to experience life. For Kaworu to find his own happiness. For Asuka to finally be accepted for who she is.

I wish I could untangle Kaworu’s and Kaji’s scenes but I feel I’m missing a lot of context in this movie. I honestly don’t know how it was put together. It was a bit confusing for me all the same.

Whether the rebuild series is a sequel or not. It gave closure to a lot of characters. It was forgiving. It was accepting. It was understanding.

It didn’t throw a lot of heavy punches. It wasn’t the perfect ending… but I beg to question what would be the perfect ending?

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