So here we are, the finale of all of Evangelion. It feels very Evangelion to call it 3.0 + 1.0 instead of 4.0, you know? Especially since the entire naming scheme of the Evangelion rebuild films completely breaks down here. It’s gone for the most part. None of that “You Can (Not)” stuff here or anything, just Thrice Upon a Time. If you have ever known what a Gainax ending is or what Anno likes to do with endings like Gunbuster where it’s suddenly dramatic and in all black and white, it makes sense. I also think there is the Japanese rule of 4 where 4 means death, but I also think that 3.0 + 1.0 has more thematic relevance in the show itself too. Especially since Evangelion unit 13 is a thing. I really do think these numbers matter more then we could think. Or I could be digging too hard if that’s possible with Evangelion.
Usually, I would post about the disc release of the rebuild film, but I can’t here. It hasn’t been physically released yet. Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time was dropped on Amazon Prime three weeks ago. What I will talk about is the dubbing behind Evangelion? There are officially 4 dubs of Evangelion now. The original ADV one, the Funimation rebuild dubs, the Netflix Evangelion redubs, and then what Amazon did with the rebuild series giving them redubs with as much of the original ADV cast as possible. Isn’t that rather wild? It is one of a smaller number of franchises where it has all of that messiness where everyone wants their own edition or stamp on it because of how insanely popular it was. I am not really a fan of all of these things going on because it belongs to Hideaki Anno, not western companies. It’s kind of frustrating in that way because it’s not their works, only the rights to distribute it to the west.
With all of that out of the way, I guess it’s time to just dig into the beginning of the finale film of Evangelion and its main plot elements. As the first reflection of 2.0, Evangelion 3.0+1.0 starts with Mari in an action scene in another piece of weird Evangelion structure and movements. This film starts with an amazing action scene in Paris with Mari fighting off Nerv’s Evangelion mass production units while Maya from the Nerv command center starts using technology to stop the lcl flow around them to reform Paris into what it was before hand. All with the help of the Wunder fleet. It’s a very good scene that not only explains technology for later but gives Mari some excellent scenes while Rei, Asuka, and Shinji go somewhere else to have their moody character moments. Mari really is so detached and different from the rest of the cast for good reasons.
So yes, almost immediately after 3.0 Asuka drags the emotionless Rei and the very broken Shinji to a village that uses technology from Wille to keep the angels and LCL away from them. In this scrapped together town made from train cars are Tohji married to Hikarri who help keep’s everyone healthy while Kensuke works hard to keep the town alive technologically. All of them are alive again. This is the place where we get to see these three interact there. Shinji slowly breaks out of his depression because everyone understands him, Asuka keeps away from the town because she is isolated but tries to keep Shinji alive in her own way, and the Rei clone slowly understands how humanity works through talking with people and manual labor. It’s very studio Ghibli like and it’s rather wonderful until Rei starts dying and cannot be kept away from her environment for so long until she disappears. Something which resolves Shinji even more even if he was much more angry with her before hand.
This is where I state my theory of the structure of these Evangelion rebuild films. It always seems to be shorter rebuild movie for set up with the second one being more explosive and powerful finale film for that time segment. 2.0 and 3.0+1.0 really are close to each other. There is the Mari action sequence in the beginning of this film here and then the maintaining life segments. In 3.0+1.0 replaces 2.0’s ocean treatment plant with future technology that keeps humans alive in a red area that will kill humans in the same kind of way. The last holds of life and humanity seem to be held together by all of this together. That is only one comparison to all of this. The second comparison needs a bit more built up to get there. Think of Shinji getting closer to Rei in 1.0 and then with Kaworu in 3.0 too. There are so many parallels of ideas and themes to all of this just like the weighted theme of conversation through all of it.
Following the end of the newer Rei and Shinji returning with Asuka to the Wunder to be locked away, a lot of big things happen. Finally, the last battle between Wille and Nerv is going to happen in some of the largest Space Battleship Yamato comparisons possible as well. The final mission before the real end of the show itself. Misato, Ritsuko, and the rest of the crew of the Wunder versus Gendo and all Nerv has to offer. It’s the small scenes in this sitautions that show off how off the world of this is. The pilots of the Evangelion units are locked away in chambers that can blow up if they were necessary, Misato is actually happy that Shinji came back, there is a bit of a relationship thing going on between Mari and Asuka just like there was something with Asuka and Kensuke. All sorts of settling down the crew for their suicide mission to save the world.
There is a lot of battleship action nonsense that I only sort of paid attention to in the final battle. I mean, it looked cool and it did confirm my theory that Hideaki Anno gave Misato and Ritsuko the same relationship that Okita and his second of command have in Space Battleship Yamato. Lots of cool ship fights in scenes that I don’t completely understand with three war ships gaining on the Wunder, Misato’s cool actions, an area of territory that I don’t understand along with Asuka having the angel she merged with released in order to power the seemingly defunct Unit 13. I never really cared much about the lore and nonsense in Evangelion because it’s the characters that I cared about. Just like End of Evangelion, Shinji goes out to save Asuka after Asuka fell. The difference is that here Shinji goes out to counter everything with a cooler head and Mari having his back.
This finale seen between Shinji and Gendo is the real corner stone of this film. This is another parallel between 2.0 and 3.0+1.0. 2.0 tried to have a conversation between Gendo and Shinji before everything went all to hell. Now, there is nothing but the conversation between Gendo and Shinji left. Shinji fighting in his unit 1 against Gendo’s god like powers and the unit 13 didn’t amount to anything. So finally, the cycle is broken. Gendo realizes all the horrors he has put his son and the world to for his chance to see Yui. That moment when Gendo, who was always sheltered and alone through out the show, finally opens himself up. After going through the many cycles of Evangelion in the rebuilds and their bad cg fight, Gendo finally realizes that Yui was in Shinji all along and it’s so good. It’s one of the many reasons why I liked this film. Other forms of the Eva ending where about Shinji and self reflect and never Shinji growing up like this to actually take on his father.
I have nothing to ad here besides I cried. I cried at Shinji being an adult and about to sacrifice himself more reassured then ever before. I cried seeing Gendo and Yui in the forms of Evangelion Units 1 and 13 taking that sacrifice out of love to give Shinji a future. That was Gendo’s first act of love ever and while it will never recover everything he did, at least it was something that Gendo truly wanted to do. A honest reaction means a lot. This happened after Misato sacrificed herself in the Wunder to give Shinji the spear to revert time and space to bring back the world to what it was. Lots of beautiful sacrifice of love and caring for this boy to finally get a future and not be dragged down by Evangelions. Finally, all the Evangelion units are gone and the world can move again.
Before and following Gendo and Yui’s sacrifice, we get a lot of conclusions to these characters. I do think that the second half of the rebuild films did Misato a bit dirty with shafting her a lot and giving her feelings and exposition from other characters and leaving her son at that village of trains, but everyone gets their own conclusion. Asuka finally gets her 28-year-old body and goes to the future (after finding out that Shikami Asuka’s are clones), energy Rei as in the one Shinji saved gets her future restored, Kaworu and Shinji have their conversation too. There were plenty of scenes that repeated a lot of elements from End of Evangelion and episode 25 and 26 through locations and art style just like the world of Eavngelion at the beach slowly disappearing in terms of animation frames until Mari shows up to save him. Mari, who is probably a Moyoco Anno analogue, was supposed to be the canon foriegner all along and in the end, her being their saves the day. I like her.
At the end of the day, Evangelion 3.o+1.0 is such a wonderful piece of cinema. It looks spectacular through the lack of normal storyboards and instead, using love action capture to get shots that wouldn’t be possible in anime otherwise. There was obviously some collaboration with other studios and people from the possible Studio Ghibli sequence in the beginning to generally good looking shots and animation by motion capture and rotoscope to the Asuka angel sequence by Hiroyuki Imaishi himself. Besides the intentionally bad scene, which is something Anno would make intentional because he is a meticulous man with what he creates, every action scene looks amazing and all the Eavengelion movements are beyond incredible. Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0: Thrice Upon a Time is a master work of animation and story telling on a visual and writing level that not many other series can hope to get to.
I mean, do I really need to say that Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time is a solid film? It’s a solid film, guys. My ranking of the Evangelion Rebuild films honestly goes 3.0+1.0>2.0>3.0>1.0. None of them are bad films at all, just that the ones with more meat and world building to them are the best ones. I am just going to say that. I can’t believe that Evangelion is over now. It ended on a note that feels right you know? Escaping that loop of time and space to end the series by self examining itself again. Evangelion is not a series that has taken up or formed my opinions of anime as I grew up, but it is something special to me to. It also is that meta that I see how Hideaki Anno has changed over the years. He’s become more mature and he’s also happier then he used to be. I’m sad to see this window of dialogue gone, but I am very excited to see what Hideaki Anno does as he moves forward.