Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (1997)
The End of Evangelion
The End of Evangelion (Japanese: 新世紀エヴァンゲリオン劇場版Air/まごころを、君に, Hepburn: Shin Seiki Evangerion Gekijō-ban: Ea/Magokoro o, Kimi ni) is a 1997 Japanese psychological science fiction anime film written and co-directed by Hideaki Anno and animated by Gainax and Production I.G. It serves as a parallel ending to the Neon Genesis Evangelion television series, in which teenage Shinji Ikari pilots Evangelion Unit 01, one of several giant humanoid mechas designed to defend against the hostile supernatural entities called Angels. The film picks up where the television show's 24th episode ended.
Though The End of Evangelion initially received mixed reviews, it has been reappraised in 2010s and received numerous awards, including the 1997 Animage Anime Grand Prix, and is now considered one of the greatest animated films ever made, A 2014 Time Out poll of filmmakers voted The End of Evangelion one of the 100 best animated films of all time.
Teenager Shinji Ikari is the pilot of Evangelion Unit 01, one of several giant cyborgs designed to fight hostile supernatural entities called Angels. Distraught over the death of Kaworu Nagisa, Shinji visits fellow pilot Asuka Langley Soryu in a hospital where she lies comatose. Desperately trying to shake her awake, he accidentally reveals her chest, and masturbates in front of her unconscious body, chastising himself afterwards.
The shadowy committee Seele discovers that Gendo Ikari intends to use Nerv, the paramilitary organization that deploys the Evangelion units, for his own plans. Seele dispatches the Japanese Strategic Self-Defense Force (JSSDF) to seize control of Nerv, killing most of the staff. Nerv major Misato Katsuragi orders Asuka moved to the cockpit of Evangelion Unit 02 and placed at the bottom of a lake, then rescues Shinji from JSSDF troops. Determined to have Shinji defend Nerv, Misato brings him to Unit 01's bay doors but is shot by soldiers. Before her death, Misato implores Shinji to pilot Unit 01, kisses him and forces him into the elevator before dying. Shinji discovers Unit 01 immobilized in bakelite.
Concluding that Nerv's defeat is inevitable, Gendo retrieves Evangelion pilot Rei Ayanami. He plans to use her to initiate the Third Impact, a cataclysm that will kill everyone on Earth and reunite him with his deceased wife, Yui. Attempting to stop him, Nerv scientist Ritsuko Akagi sends a computer command to destroy Nerv. Casper, a computer core modeled on Ritsuko's mother's aspect as a woman, overrides her command, and Gendo shoots and kills her.
Inside Unit 02, Asuka overcomes her trauma and re-activates the unit. She destroys the JSSDF forces, but Seele unleashes a fleet of new mass-produced pilotless Evangelion units, which she defeats before Unit 02 runs out of power. However, the Eva units reanimate and disembowel Unit 02, killing Asuka in the process. Unit 01 breaks free of the bakelite and ascends above Nerv headquarters. From the cockpit, Shinji sees the mass-produced units carrying the mutilated remains of Unit 02 and screams in horror.
Gendo attempts to merge with Rei, who carries the soul of Lilith, an angel hidden beneath Nerv headquarters, to begin the Third Impact. Having merged with another angel, Adam via his embryonic form, he will become a god if he merges with Lilith; however, Rei rejects Gendo and reunites with Lilith, growing to a gargantuan size. The mass-produced Evangelion units pull Unit 01 into the sky and crucify it with the Lance of Longinus, which transforms into the "Tree of Life" becoming a God-like being.
After several dreamlike contemplations, including an argument with Asuka begging for her affection, Shinji decides that he is alone and everyone else should die; beginning a cataclysm called Third Impact. In response, Rei, as Lilith, begins the process of Human Instrumentality and dissolves humanity back into a sea of an orange liquid called LCL forming a conscious primordial soup, reforming the souls of humanity into a single consciousness. The Black Moon emerges from the Earth, held by Lilith as the unified consciousness of humanity begins to gravitate towards it. The remaining Nerv staff are visited by Rei, before dissolving into LCL. Gendo sees Yui and states he avoided Shinji because he would only bring his son pain, and has the upper half of his body bitten off by Unit 01. Once he realizes that his wish for this limitless existence where all are one comes at the cost of losing individuality and his friends, Shinji rejects Instrumentality, acknowledging that life is about experiencing pain as well as joy. Unit 01, seemingly moving on its own, breaks free of the Tree of Life, wielding the re-materialized Lance of Longinus to end Third Impact. Lilith's body dissolves, crashing to the surface of the Earth, and the Black Moon explodes, separating the individual souls of humankind. Yui tells Shinji anyone can return if they have the will to, and they bid farewell.
Sometime later, on a shoreline littered with the wreckage of Mass Production Units and the body of Lilith, Shinji is startled by the second human to return, Asuka. Shinji begins to strangle Asuka, but when she caresses his face, he stops and breaks down in tears.
|Gaijin Productions/Manga (2002)||VSI/Netflix (2019)|
|Shinji Ikari||Megumi Ogata||Spike Spencer||Casey Mongillo|
|Misato Katsuragi||Kotono Mitsuishi||Allison Keith||Carrie Keranen|
|Rei Ayanami||Megumi Hayashibara||Amanda Winn-Lee||Ryan Bartley|
|Asuka Langley Soryu||Yūko Miyamura||Tiffany Grant||Stephanie McKeon|
|Kaworu Nagisa||Akira Ishida||Aaron Krohn||Clifford Chapin|
|Gendo Ikari||Fumihiko Tachiki||Tristan MacAvery||Ray Chase|
|Kozo Fuyutsuki||Motomu Kiyokawa||Michael Ross||JP Karliak|
|Ritsuko Akagi||Yuriko Yamaguchi||Sue Ulu||Erica Lindbeck|
|Makoto Hyuga||Hiro Yuki||Keith Burgess||Daniel MK Cohen|
|Shigeru Aoba||Takehito Koyasu||Jason C. Lee||Billy Kametz|
|Maya Ibuki||Miki Nagasawa||Amy Seeley||Christine Marie Cabanos|
|Keel Lorentz||Mugihito||Tom Booker||D. C. Douglas|
|Ryoji Kaji||Kōichi Yamadera||Aaron Krohn||Greg Chun|
|Yui Ikari||Megumi Hayashibara||Amanda Winn-Lee|
|Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu||Maria Kawamura||Kimberly Yates|
The ambiguous ending of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion series, broadcast in 1995 and 1996, left some viewers and critics confused and unsatisfied. The final two episodes were possibly the most controversial segments of an already controversial series and were received as flawed and incomplete by many.
Gainax launched the project to create a film ending for the series in 1997, first releasing Death & Rebirth as a condensed character-based recap and re-edit of the TV series (Death) and the first half of the new ending (Rebirth, which was originally intended to be the full ending, but could not be finished due to budget and time constraints). The project was completed later in the year and released as The End of Evangelion. Its co-producers consisted of Kadokawa Shoten, TV Tokyo, Sega, and Toei Company.
Regular series composer Shirō Sagisu scored The End of Evangelion. The film prominently features selections of Johann Sebastian Bach's music throughout the movie. Episode 25' has the Japanese title Air, being named after the Air on the G String which is played during the episode. Among the other pieces included are Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major (I. Prélude), Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (transcribed for piano and later played again with string instruments in the end credits), and Pachelbel's Canon.
Among the other insert songs are "Komm, süsser Tod" (Come, Sweet Death), an upbeat song (which appears in the film at the beginning of Instrumentality), "THANATOS -If I Can't Be Yours", which is played in the credits that appear between episodes 25' and 26' (the song is based around "THANATOS", a background music piece used in the series). Another song, "Everything You've Ever Dreamed", was recorded for the film by the same vocalist (Arianne) as "Komm, süsser Tod", but was not used and was later included on the Refrain of Evangelion soundtrack.
The End of Evangelion was first released in Japanese theaters on July 19, 1997. The film was later distributed on Laserdisc in Japan. It also included the first release of the video versions of Episodes 21–24. The film was split up into two 40-minute episodes with brief intros (similar to episode 22'), edited credits (for each episode instead of credits for both between the two), redone eyecatcher-textboards (showing "Neon Genesis Evangelion Episode..." instead of "The End of Evangelion Episode...") and a next-episode-preview section in Episode 25'. The episodic version of the film was on the last two discs of the Laserdisc release of the series (Genesis 0:13 and 0:14 respectively), each containing 2 episodes (the original TV episodes and the new End of Evangelion episodes respectively), although the film was also released in its original cinematic form on VHS, Laserdisc, and later DVD. The script was serialized in 4 issues of Dragon Magazine from August 1997 to January 1998. The movie was released on Blu-ray along with Death and Rebirth and the TV series in a box set on August 26, 2015.
In 2006, The End of Evangelion was shown theatrically as part of the Tokyo International Film Festival in Akihabara.
Red Cross Book
The Red Cross Book (as it is unofficially known, for the large red St George's Cross on its cover) was an A-4-sized pamphlet sold in Japanese theaters during the release of The End of Evangelion. The book was written by Gainax and various production staff of the Evangelion TV series and films, with an interview with Tsurumaki, a listing of voice actors and brief essays written by them on their respective characters, short biographical sketches, commentary on the TV series and production of the films, a "Notes" section covering the setting of the films, and a glossary of terms used in the series, manga, and the two films. The Red Cross Book was left out in the Manga Entertainment release due to copyright issues. However, it was translated by fans of the series.
In North America, ADV Films, the license holder and distributor for the Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series, declined to license The End of Evangelion and the associated films, with Manga Entertainment "reportedly around 2 million dollars" for the rights. Rei Ayanami's English voice actress Amanda Winn Lee wrote the film's script for its English subtitled and dubbed adaptations, and produced and directed the dub. The cast consisted of mostly voice actors reprising their roles from ADV's English adaptation of the TV series, with several supporting roles recast because the original actors were unavailable. To accommodate voice actors living in different parts of the country, the dub was recorded in Los Angeles, Houston and New York City.
In discussing Manga's release, Mike Crandol of Anime News Network determined that "the remarkably strong performances of the main cast overshadow the weaker voice work present", though he criticized the script for being "slightly hammy" in parts. Crandol praised the final exchange between Spike Spencer (Shinji) and Allison Keith's (Misato) characters as "one of the most beautiful vocal performances to ever grace an anime".
In 2018, Netflix acquired the streaming rights to the film, as well as Death (True)² and the overall Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series. It became available for streaming on June 21, 2019.
On October 3 2020, GKIDS announced they had acquired the theatrical and home video rights to the film, Death (True)² and the TV series. They have announced plans to bring the series and two films to Blu-ray in early 2021
The End of Evangelion: Renewal
A new version of The End of Evangelion was released on June 25, 2003 in Japan by Starchild and King Records as part of the Renewal of Evangelion box set (which compiled "new digitally remastered versions of the 26 TV show episodes, 4 remade-for-Laserdisc episodes, and 3 theatrical features" as well as "a bonus disc with never-before-seen material").
This version of the film joins the "recap" film Evangelion: Death with End and omits the Rebirth segment from the first film. Also, on the aforementioned bonus disc is a previously unreleased deleted scene shot in live-action with voice actors Megumi Hayashibara, Yūko Miyamura, and Kotono Mitsuishi portraying their characters, 10 years after the events of Evangelion. In this continuity, Shinji does not exist and Asuka has a sexual relationship with Toji Suzuhara. The sequence concludes with a male voice (implied to be Shinji's, but voiced by Anno) saying, "This isn't it, I am not here," proving it is a false reality seen through his eyes. Manga Entertainment announced in 2006 that it was "ironing out the contracts" to release the Renewal versions of Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelion the next year, though their rights to the film have since expired.
Home media release
On June 10, 2002, Manga Entertainment had released Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion on DVD and it was presented in Anamorphic Letterboxed widescreen theatrical format and the audio presented in 6.1 DTS-ES Digital Discrete Surround audio and 5.1 Dolby Digital EX sound in both English and Japanese language.
Manga Entertainment also released the film on VHS on September 24, 2002, in both dub and sub.
The End of Evangelion won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize for 1997 and the Japan Academy Prize for "Biggest Public Sensation of the Year" and was given the "Special Audience Choice Award" by the 1997 Animation Kobe. EX.org ranked the film in 1999 as the fifth best 'All-Time Show' (with the TV series at #2).
In Japan, The End of Evangelion earned ¥1.45 billion in distribution income during 1997. The film had a total lifetime gross of ¥2.47 billion.
Manga artist Nobuhiro Watsuki wrote:
A little while ago, I finally saw the theatrical version of Evangelion (I'm writing this in August). It was obvious that the people who created it didn't love the story or the characters, so I'm a little disappointed. But the dramatization, the movement, and the editing were superb. When the story led into the self-improvement seminar, I was nearly fooled for an instant. I don't know if most people enjoyed it, but as a writer, I was able to take home something from it.
Newtype USA reviewed the film as a "saga of bamboozlement", criticizing its "biblical overtones, teen melodrama and bad parenting", and suggested that the film would frustrate viewers. Manga Entertainment CEO Marvin Gleicher criticized the Newtype review as "biased and disrespectful" and a "facile and vapid" product of "ignorance and lack of research".
Many reviews focused on the audio-visual production. Light and Sound wrote that "narrative coherence seems a lesser concern to the film-makers than the launching of a sustained audio-visual assault," an assessment echoed by critic Mark Schilling. Mike Crandol of Anime News Network gave the film an overall passing grade and described it as "a visual marvel". He described the DVD release as "a mixed bag", expressing displeasure over the "unremarkable" video presentation and lack of extra material. David Uzumeri of ComicsAlliance described the film as "a dark, brutal, psychedelic orgy of sex and violence that culminated in the mass extinction of humanity set to an optimistic J-pop song with lyrics about suicide."
David Uzumeri of ComicsAlliance stated that the series themes of "criticizing the audience for being spineless and lost in a fantasy world cranked up to eleven, as the protagonist Shinji basically watches everybody die around him due to his refusal to make any effort whatsoever to engage with other people."
In the final scene, Shinji and Asuka have separated themselves from the collective human existence. Shinji begins strangling Asuka, but when she caresses his face, he stops and breaks down in tears. Asuka utters the film's last line, "気持ち悪い" (Kimochi warui), which has been variously translated into English as "I feel sick" or "disgusting". The meaning of the scene is obscure and has been controversial.
In a 2008 article for Slant Magazine, writer Michael Peterson wrote that "it was not until the End of Evangelion film that Anno's visual strengths as a director really stood out". He observed that "Anno, like David Lynch, possesses a skill at framing his shots, and using the attendant color, to create visual compositions that stand out not only as beautiful in the story's context, but also as individual images, a painterly quality that he then applies back to the work. When Anno frames an image, the power of that specific image becomes a tool that he can later refer back to for an instantaneous emotional and intellectual response."
Carlos Ross of Them Anime Reviews compared the tone of the film to The Blair Witch Project in that it deconstructed the series while "cashing in" on it. He was especially critical of the film's entire second half, saying:
The second half of the movie is so incoherent and obtuse that it completely loses the mainstream audience (and in fact, virtually any audience) this series has attracted before. It goes beyond art film and beyond anime. And in doing so, it goes beyond the audience's capability to understand and be entertained, which defeats the purpose of something labeled as entertainment.
Schilling reviewed the film not as a deconstruction, but as an attempt at unification of mediums:
Despite the large cast of characters, decades-spanning story, and a profusion of twenty-first-century jargon, much of it borrowed from early Christian sources, the film is essentially a Power Rangers episode writ large: i.e., super-teens piloting big, powerful machines and saving the world from monsters. We've seen it all before. What we haven't seen, however, is the way the film zaps back and forth through time, slams through narrative shifts and flashes explanatory text, in billboard-sized Chinese characters, at mind-bending speed. It's a hyper-charged phantasmagoria that defies easy comprehension, while exerting a hypnotic fascination. Watching, one becomes part of the film's multimedia data stream. Shinseiki Evangelion is looking forward, toward an integration of all popular media – television, manga, movies, and video games – into new forms in which distinctions between real and virtual, viewer and viewed, man and machine, become blurred and finally cease to matter. O Brave New World, that has such animation in it.
Chris Beveridge of Mania.com described the film as "work on so many levels", but cautions that it is not meant to be watched without having seen the rest of the series.
The End of Evangelion is frequently ranked among the greatest anime films. Patrick Macias of TokyoScope ranked it one of his 10 greatest films, and the best anime movie of the 1990s; CUT film magazine ranked it third on its list of the top 30 best anime films.
In 2014, Time Out New York ranked the film at #65 on its list of the top 100 animated movies as voted for by filmmakers. Critic Keith Uhlich described the film as an "immensely satisfying" conclusion to the TV series, the climax as "an end-times free-for-all that mixes Christian symbology, Jewish mysticism, sexual paranoia and teenage angst into a searing apocalyptic stew," filled with "sights and sounds you'll never forget".