Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo

Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo ★★★★★

Horror movie. Tides of blood, fields of skulls, ghoulish dismembered giantess corpse in the basement. A horror movie set in the cold light of day after you've lost control and done something unforgivable; desperately craving forgiveness but only making things worse for everyone.

Evangelion at its heart has always been about a level of self-hatred and despair so intense that it resembles borderline personality disorder. You Can (Not) Redo adds new dimensions to Shinji’s torment: guilt, remorse, and a wish for atonement.

There was a lot of debate after 2.22 about Shinji’s exact role in the Third Impact this time round. He was inside Unit-01 at the time, but how much did he really have to do with what went down? We still don’t have a clear answer, but it seems possible that once again Third Impact granted his (half-unconscious) wish for the world to just go away. Those conspicuous close-ups of his SDAT as the Third Impact was reaching its apex weren’t put in there for nothing. Plugging in his earbuds and listening to music was always his way of escaping reality, if only for a little while. "When I close off my ears, I close off my heart." Ritsuko, as Third Impact began: “[Unit-01] is transforming into an energy-condenser, spinning all of Heaven and Earth, all living creatures into its accompanying giant wave. All to grant the wishes of one person”. Kaworu to Shinji, while they’re stargazing: “Your feelings came through. Instead of seeking change, you prefer the void. A merciless abyss of a world.” So, whereas in NGE Shinji's assumption that everyone hated him seemed like it could be paranoid self-hatred (a hedgehog's self-defense mechanism) this time everyone really does hate him, and it's his own fault.

I’ve heard complaints about Shinji acting like an idiot during the climax of this movie. Well, yeah, he does, but that's the point of the entire movie, and one reason why it's so emotionally powerful. Seeing him clawing his way up a huge mountain of human skulls, half-mad with self-hatred and his need for absolution, so hellbent on turning back time with his own hands (“Maybe even Misato will forgive me!”) that he won’t even listen to the desperate cries of both Kaworu and Asuka telling him to stop. It sends shivers down my spine. We've never seen Kaworu has look frightened before.

The final scene between Shinji and Kaworu is Evangelion at its best, taking teenage despair and through alchemy transforming it into grand cosmic melodrama. And the score: has Shiro Sagisu ever been better?

(Also: very cool to see Nerv HQ as an almost-abandoned ruin. I remember reading about a planned-but-never-animated scene from NGE episode 24 where Kaworu describes the pyramid as a mausoleum Gendo built for Yui. It feels as though that is re-emerging now in this film. A mausoleum where his dead wife's giant severed head rots deep below the surface. Anime has a grand storied tradition of twisted romantic villains obsessed with their lost loves (Mikage in Revolutionary Girl Utena, Lord Darcia in Wolf’s Rain, etc.) and Gendo might be my favourite of all of them.)

One of the great movies of the new century.

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