Episode 3: Evangelion 2.22 Review

by Miguel Douglas


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In this episode, we will be discussing FUNimation’s release of Evangelion 2.22. Taking a look at some of the intricacies of the film, we analyze the plot, character development and the future of the franchise given the outcome of the film.

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Author: Miguel Douglas

As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade now, Miguel is primarily concerned with establishing a critical look into both mediums as legitimate forms of artistic, cultural, and societal understanding. Never one to simply look at a film or series based solely on superficiality, Miguel has dedicated himself towards bringing awareness to Asian entertainment and its various facets.

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  • TheFoxshot

    hey guys awesome episode, i hope you guys make more of these pods, they are pretty hillarious =)

  • Branko Burcksen

    [Spoiler Alert]

    I have some thoughts on the Rebuild series so far, and after listening to your podcast review, this seemed like the best place to let them loose.

    I should start by saying that I did enjoy these movies, and have seen them multiply times. I also really loved the series. However, over the last several years of watching and observing the development of Evangelion, I made some striking observations.

    Upon finishing the original series, I was very moved to share it with close friends and family, most of whom’s exposer to anime goes little beyond Ghibli or Dragon Ball Z. Nevertheless, most of them enjoyed watching it and respected it for what it was. My parents, Dutch immigrants from the Baby Boomer generation, but more specifically my mother, liked it most when it focused on the personal drama of the characters. All in all, she did not care at all for the giant robot fights or what they had to do with the plot or the story overall. This disconnect was most evident during the fight against the Eva infected United 03 when she had no clue that Toji was the pilot. Albiet, Anno set up the connection in a very vague, semi-revealed fashion. Compared to 2.0, the movie held nothing back about who the pilot was. I do not think this was a failure to pick up on subtlety as much as it was a question of making the Eva battles relevant to the story. When I say story, I do not mean the thematic or symbolic importance of the Evas or the mythology and purpose behind the Angels and Instrumentality. I mean the immediate, gut level,essential importance of the characters facing their personal demons and trying to connect with others (which is what the drama of the series is really about), and the fact that the Angel battles on a fundamental level have nothing to do with this.

    To elaborate, after my family and I went to see James Cameron’s “Avatar,” coming out the theater, my mother told me the giant robots, piloted by the army fighting the Navi, reminded her of the Evangelions. When I asked her why, she said it was because they were giant robots piloted by people with the principal difference being that in “Avatar” the robots were on the side of the bad guys, and in Evangelion they were on the side of the good guys. Yes, she knew they looked nothing alike, and that the Evas were part biological and had the souls of the pilots dead mothers in side them. She also understood the concept of the Evas being the way the pilots shape their identity, but that is all it is, concept, backstory, aesthetic, much like the religious symbolism itself, it is all pretty much irrelevant to the actual drama: how these characters relate and open up to one another in order to heal rifts. In the series, the Evas principal function, drama wise, is to fight the Angels.

    To sight two recent examples, just consider the movies “Super 8” and “Midnight in Paris.” Both movies feature fantastical elements: an alien escaping captivity and a man traveling back in time to 1920s Paris. The principal difference is that in “Midnight in Paris” the time travel is relevant to the Owen Wilson character’s nostalgia for that time period and how it shapes him as a person whereas the alien in “Super 8” only has the superficial reason for existing in the plot as a foil and has no real relevance to the drama of a boy grieving for his dead mother with his estranged father while pining for the girl of the man responsible for her death when he and his friends make a home movie. Evangelion 2.0 basically turns the Evas of the TV series from the alien in “Super 8” to the time travel in “Midnight in Paris.”

    We know the Evas bear the importance of being the way the pilots define themselves even if they dislike piloting them, which makes them akin to a desk job in a drama about a lonely person who does it even though they dislike it so they can pay the rent (as opposed to doing a dangerous job to save humanity from destruction). However, what is really important is the people that person meets when they go to work and the relationships that form from it, bringing that person out of their shell and changing who they are. The desk job is merely the circumstance that sets up the situation for the drama. That is where the Evangelion TV series runs into a problem because it also establishes all this backstory and mythology behind the Evas that runs parallel to the drama of Shinji, Rei and Asuka but never crosses over into significant territory for their developing relationships. That is why it is so easy for the TV series ending to disregard the Evas all together in favor of a psychological analysis of the characters.

    This leads to what I see as the most significant change in “Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance.” The last time Asuka, Rei and Shinji step into the cockpit of an Eva, they are not thinking about saving the world or the pride they take in being a pilot. Though Asuka tells Misato she only cares about piloting, it is clear she decided to test Unit 03 so Rei could throw her dinner party with Shinji and Gendo and hopefully bring the two closer together. As Rei charges at an Angel with an N2 missile, she wants to destroy it so Shinji will not have to pilot again. Shinji goes even further, stating outright that he does not care about saving the world or himself, but is willing to risk everything to save Rei. The characters now have specific motivations drawn from the experiences they had with each other through the course of the movie. This gives the Evangelions dramatic weight and not simply being a foil for the plot.

    Veteran producer and Cannes attendee Pierre Rissient once said, “It is not enough to like a movie. You have to like it for the right reasons.” There are many reasons to like Evangelion, and they will be different for many people. Why I like the Rebuild films is different from why I like the TV series. The TV series marked the first time a story dealt with loneliness in a way that felt relevant to me. Rebuild pushed that original work and made it something that means even more to me now, telling a good story.

    I have some more thoughts, but this is all I can do for now.

  • Miguel Douglas

    Thanks for the comment Branko, you offer some really good insight into the role of the Eva within Evangelion. It’s great to see just how methodical the realm of Evangelion truly is, and with with the new film series, it continues to be. It would be great to hear more of your thoughts–if you can tell, we are certainly Evangelion fans here at iSugoi!