It’s that time once again, when we crack open the gates of hell and partake in Japan’s version of Star Wars, that’s right, good ol’ Neon Genesis Evangelion: Rebuild and it’s third act, 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo. I really had a tougher time with this movie compared to the first two because it drastically skewers from the original source material, and it got to be hard to follow in some places. I had read a little bit of spoilers back after the movie premiere in Japan, enough to question what was going to happen, but the end result of watching it. Woof.
Fair warning, spoilers will be ahead in this post, so if you have not watched the movie, find it yourself via your preferred method of acquisition and give it a watch. If you have not, your life is forfeit below.
The film opens up with Asuka and Mari attempting to recover Unit 01 and Shinji, which is encased in some giant black cross-shaped thing. All of this is post-Third Impact that was caused by his going berserk and trying to rescue Rei, but the impact was stopped by the Lance of Longinus piercing through Unit 01. It’s unclear how he ended up in space or any of that, but once recovered, he is brought to the Wunder, a large mechanical ship resting in the winter seas of presumably the South Pole. There, Misato, Ritsuko, survivors of NERV, and Toji’s younger sister, Suzuhara Sakura, are all part of an anti-NERV organization known as WILLE. While Shinji is cleared as not being an Angel or being a threat to the vessel and its people, it’s pretty clear that no one trusts him, or acknowledges him, and a choker is placed around his neck that will explode if he tries to pilot an Eva again. Unit 01, in fact, is discovered to have been converted as a power source for the massive vessel, which is capable of flight, generating an AT-field, and other feats previously seen by EVAs. This is put to the test immediately when more SEELE Nemesis series EVAs attack the ship, forcing it to go airborne and eliminate the targets.
The real kicker however, is that Shinji is informed by Risuko and the others, that he has been inside Unit 01 for fourteen years, and that by all accounts, he should actually be twenty-eight, but as it is discovered, all of the EVA pilots do not physically show signs of age, even if they are, by technicality, fourteen years older. Everyone else, sadly, looks that much older, including Toji’s sister Sakura, Misato, dressed much like Gendo was previously, and Ritsuko, who cut off most of her hair. Even though he is unable to pilot, and they have no desire to let him, after threatening to kill him with the collar, they return his walkman and plan to leave him be, but the ship comes under attack again, this time by Rei and Unit 09, who rescues Shinji and is nearly destroyed by Mari, but manages to escape. Misato activates the collar detonation system, but is unable to press the button before he goes out of range.
Rei brings Shinji back to what is left of NERV deep below Tokyo-3, which is largely gone from above Central Dogma below, exposing the sky to the large underground cavern everything once stood. Here, Shinji meets Gendo once more, and it told that he will be piloting the new Unit 13 alongside another pilot, Kaworu Nagisa. Although largely confused, he goes along with the plans, mostly after discovering Rei is alive, and convincing himself he succeeded in saving her. Unfortunately, she does not seem to remember anything about the incident, nor anything else about her that he remembered from all that time ago. Meanwhile, he meets Kaworu alongside his piano and the two play a little. He explains how he is confused as to what has happened these past fourteen years, and wants to know what became of Tokyo-3, his friends, and why Misato and everyone hates him. Kaworu takes him to see the ruins of the city and the result of Third Impact, which leveled almost all of the area and killed everyone. Unable to cope with the guilt and regret for what happened, Shinji vows not to pilot EVA again and confines himself to his room, but Kaworu convinces him that if they pilot Unit 13 and retrieve both the Spear of Cassius, and the Lance of Longinus, they can “reverse” the effects of Third Impact and fix everything. He comforts Shinji’s fears and even takes on his collar, willing to sacrifice himself so that Shinji may live. Shinji goes along with this plan and Unit 13 springs into action for Terminal Dogma, along with Rei in Unit 09.
It’s not long, however, before WILLE takes notice of Unit 13’s activation, and Asuka and Mari sortie to eliminate Unit 13 before it can do anything in Terminal Dogma. Despite their best efforts however, and against even Kaworu’s objections, Shinji unearths both spears, which turn out to both be the Lance of Longinus. The resulting acquisition of the spears and the Angel-ified Unit 06 absorbing into Unit 13, causes Fourth Impact to begin. Asuka engages Unit 09 and goes Beast Mode, managing to stop it, but not before convincing Rei to eject, and Asuka ejecting herself after activating Unit 02’s self-destruct. Kaworu tells Shinji that he is in fact the First Angel, and having come in contact with the Thirteenth and Final Angel, forces both spears into Unit 13 and terminates Fourth Impact, before being beheaded by the collar. With his plug ejected, Shinji winds up on the ground at the end of the terminated impact, only to be found by Asuka and Rei. The movie ends with him being dragged up the hill by Asuka, with Rei following.
I joke about how Evangelion: Rebuild is Anno’s response to Lucas’ Star Wars: Special Edition because it essentially is. We’ve been told time and time again that this is Anno’s “true story” that he was unable to tell because of financial constraints back in 1995, or because certain technology or techniques were not unavailable at the time. Having watched the original show many times as well as the first movies, I’ve pretty much digested and understood Anno’s original vision of Evangelion, that everything culminated in Shinji’s ascension to becoming God, and that everything else mattered not in the end goal. Rebuild stuck with most of that until we got to 3.33, and then everything went far fucking south.
The thing is, my major beef with this “new story” is the fourteen year timeskip, as well as Misato and WILLE. I’ve always seen the purpose of a “timeskip” in stories to act as a sort of “reboot” to a series or story, a means to essentially end the current arc and begin a new one, either with the same characters X years later, or new characters with references or cameos of the previous characters. In this instance, the timeskip essentially ends the original story of Eva as we’ve seen in the original TV show and skewers off into a new tangent, starring most of the core characters, hardened by fourteen years of something. Misato is ice-cold, so cold that she originally has no issue with killing Shinji, only to fail at pressing the button when she had the chance. Ritsuko doesn’t even try to stop her, and Sakura, knowing what Shinji did for her and Toji, tries to “protect” him, but is utterly incompetent at doing so. Asuka and Mari have not changed, thanks to a new plot device that says they do not age because they are Eva pilots, but Asuka has also hardened considerably, especially towards Shinji. WILLE’s purpose is obviously to counter NERV and Gendo’s plans, but as Gendo alludes after Fourth Impact, they’re well accounted for in his plans, even if he isn’t calculating it down to a tee.
Then there is Shinji. Poor Shinji. For eighteen years now he has been the butt of anime jokes in almost every major language, and rightfully so. He wrote the book on the beta male wussification of science-fiction mecha anime that spread to other genres over the years. We know his character is pure shit in any iteration of Evangelion, the Rebuild Series being no exception. But despite all of that, I couldn’t help but feel bad for him at the end of this film, because he is a character that exists to gain pity from others, and no one else will give him even an inch to work with. But when you think about it, his actions before Third Impact, however reckless they were, were his own, they were started by him, and he alone pushed his will beyond what anyone else in the show was capable of. He is desperate for attention, and praise, and affection, that he wholeheartedly bought Kaworu’s hypothesis that the spears would change the world, when in fact, they simply restarted what he triggered before. I ended up having pity for him in the end, because he is so incredibly naive and stupid about his surroundings and the people around him that it is no wonder everyone hates him, and that he winds up hating himself. But you know, a lesser man would have killed himself ages ago. Shinji can’t even manage that. That either makes him incredibly strong, or incredibly stupid.
Evangelion 3.33 deviated so much from the original source material that it’s hard for me to construct a clear picture in my head. I had figured upon a complete re-working of EoE and Death and Rebirth, essentially, and perhaps that is what the fourth film will do, I’m not sure. I don’t even know what the final film will do at this point, it’s hard to tell, even from the preview at the end of this film. I mean, we know all of the major players are still alive, but we also know whatever happens to bring about a conclusion to this saga, it has to go through Shinji, and right now he is a giant ball of emo fuck in a constant bubble of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. That’s what makes me dislike this piece of the overall Rebuild Series, because it really did nothing to explain anything that connects the first two films to the last film, it was pretty much visual effects porn with a heaping of Shinji angst, Asuka angst, Mari :3 face, and Poor Widdle Misato. But then I liked this film simply on the technical and visual merit alone. I’ve always loved the Rebuild graphics they use on the computers and visuals in the cockpits, and the Angel effects are also top-notch. But much like Star Wars, when you constantly re-invent the universe, you begin to re-write and re-write and re-write the characters and story so much that the fans of the original source material don’t even want to care anymore, it doesn’t need to be flashy, it doesn’t need to shine on you crazy fucking diamond, it just needs to be what it has always been, Evangelion, the crazy fucked up story of Hideaki Anno and his merry men (and women) of GAINAX.
Title: Neon Genesis Evangelion: Rebuild: 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo
Sub Group I Watched: UTW-Thora
Rating (1-10): 8
Also check out my prior reviews for Evangelion Rebuild. They’re a bit rougher, the result of my writing styles changing over the years, which may warrant me re-writing (LEL IRON-EE) these upon the conclusion of the Rebuild Series: