Anime of Tomorrow
Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo (preview)
Autumn 2012 (alternate title – Rebuild of Evangelion: 3.0, Evangelion: 3.0 Q Quickening) (more info)
What a turning point for the Evangelion franchise. A true revolution I must say. As I sat awestruck in the theater after the movie finished, something crossed my mind that I knew I had to share with you. “This was necessary.” With the third movie, this revisit of the story first told back in 1995 has found its own identity and will not live in the shadow of its predecessor.
To avoid spoiling anything, but still giving you a taste of what to expect, I’m going to focus on the powerful transformations the characters have undergone that shape the story in new and exciting ways.
Asuka has given up the mantle of depression and tsundere indecisiveness and become a true soldier. The degree to which she has matured contrasts most strikingly in her relationship with Shinji. Where before she had trouble tolerating his naivety, she still had a modicum of sympathy for him and respect for his talent. But now she sees Shinji as an irreconcilable child who has no business trying to save the world. He’s no longer “stupid Shinji,” he’s become, “bratty Shinji.”
One of the things I was disappointed about in the third movie was how small Mari’s role is. After her stunning battle with the tenth angel, Zeruel, and the stirring words of encouragement she gave to Shinji, I thought she would have a bigger influence. But I will admit that she wasn’t necessary to most of Eva 3.0 and the primary reason for my disheartened feelings come from my love of Maaya Sakamoto’s acting, which hasn’t been so active lately. Maybe in Eva 4.0…
Misato’s character has undergone what’s possibly the most drastic change. Her softer side melts away to give rise to an icy, authoritarian woman who is large and in charge; she has to be for the sake of everyone around her. She never fully trusted NERV and that serves her well as she finds herself facing a world balanced on the edge of a razor.
Gendo always sought control of things no man should hope to control. Before, he was a villain whose motives could not entirely be called evil. He now goes about pursuing his ideals with single-minded purpose and will stop at nothing to achieve those goals. Any shred of humanity he had before is lost and nothing will satisfy him short of his personal vision of perfection.
As always, Rei is an enigma. I don’t know what to think of her and neither does Shinji. The distance between them is painful at times, but all things considered this is a story about Kaworu and Shinji.
Kaworu’s kindness in the face of so much strife is the hope of this movie. He’s a genuine young man and becomes seemingly the only person Shinji can truly call a friend. Once a schemer in the TV series, he becomes an unwavering pillar of wisdom in a world gone mad. He goes from mysterious shadow to the voice of reason and motivation—even when Shinji loses himself in despair and then loses himself again in delusion. His importance cannot be undersold and is probably the most likeable character in 3.0.
And then there’s Shinji. At times ready and willing, at others lost and ashamed, his rollercoaster ride of emotions is palpable. To some degree, Shinji has always allowed himself to be a tool of the authority figures around him, but his inability to find his will is understandable. Lacking a full view of the big picture, he’s unable to form sound decisions so what would you expect? Additionally, his source of support in Kaworu is also compromised when both become misled by the powers that be. It’s not that Shinji is weak—far from it. Perhaps he’s merely too trusting and too confident that his own good feelings and positive attitude will lead to the best result.
And that’s a valuable lesson. It’s reminiscent of the old phrase, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” It’s not that Shinji is unlikable—more inevitably pitiable. Trapped by his circumstances, it’s a rail path that’s doomed to end in a crash. When he does his best for the sake of everyone but ends up hitting rock bottom, you feel for him and want to encourage him to get back on his feet and keep trying. But ultimately, it’s about accepting the consequences of your actions and moving forward instead of dwelling on the past. Focus on the “will be” instead of the “had been.” After all, as the subtitle suggests, you cannot redo.