Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo – Video Review

by Miguel Douglas


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A video review of the 2012 anime film “Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo”. The film was directed by Hideaki Anno, Kazuya Tsurumaki, and Masayuki.

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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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  • Branko Burcksen

    It’s great to see your review up in this video. I finally saw the film for myself, and I understand what you describe a lot better now. The first time I watched it, I was intrigued and confused while enjoying it overall. The second time, I understood what was going on a lot better, raising my opinion of the film. And the third time, I caught much more of the subtle details, solidifying my impression that Evangelion 3.33 You Can (Not) Redo is a brilliant movie.

    Initially though, so many negative comments and mixed perspectives left me unsure about what to expect. From my experience, I take away two things: 1) Do not judge the film before you see it for yourself, and 2) come at it with an open mind, ask a lot of questions, look at multiply interpretations, and without a doubt, see it more than once before making up your mind.

    I agree with you on one point most of all that the movie is very complex. It has a lot of details that are easy to miss the first time. I have to thank Anno for taking such a route since so many movies targeting a large audience dumb down the story, so they do not have to think for themselves. The few recent American examples I can think of to buck the trend are Cloud Atlas, Inception and The Tree of Life.

    I disagree on a few points regarding characterization.


    I loved the characterization of Shinji and Kaworu. Compared to their development in the TV series, it’s much clearer and believable what’s going on between them.

    The piano sequences highlight how Kaworu sees the world and the way he uses it to open up to Shinji. He understands the need for people to change in order to grow and survive. Reality is messy business. Just when we think we have things figured out, events alter: friends have new attitudes and distance themselves, lifestyles and goals take a turn and just when you thought you knew someone (Rei), they turn out to be a different person. This has always been Shinji’s greatest issue, and Evangelion 3.0 throws a punch to his gut no one saw coming. Of course, it requires a whole movie for everything to sink in, and boy does it!

    Contrast Kaworu’s perspective with the piano to Shinji’s appeal of star gazing. He confesses he always enjoyed looking up at the night sky because he found the vast, empty certainty of space calming. Kaworu rightly points this out as Shinji’s preference for a consistent, infinite world over an uncertain and ever changing one. In one scene, Anno quantifies Shinji’s struggle in the clearest way Evangelion has ever shown. The boys’ opposing views make the film’s climax all the more poignant since Kaworu hopes to change the outcome of Gendo and SEELE’s plans while Shinji wishes to return the world to a place where everyone is not so hostile towards him. One wants to go forward, and the other to go back.

    They make their outlooks so clear to each other, getting along despite the difference. Yet in the end, Kaworu’s desire to help Shinji, and his desire to set things right bypasses what each wants for the other: Kaworu’s wish for Shinji to move forward, and Shinji’s wish to make things better for those he cares about.

    When Shinji goes to NERV, he does so because he believes the Rei that picked him up from Wunder is the one he saved. In all fairness, Gendo and Fuyutsuki are the only characters with the knowledge and the evidence to back up what to Shinji could only be an outlandish claim that Rei Ayanami is one of countless clones of his dead mother. At the same time, Kaworu is the one who reveals the truth to Shinji about him starting the Third Impact. The kindest person to him in the film confesses and shows the most devastating information to him. In contrast to those at WILLE, this makes sense.

    Kaworu wants Shinji to move forward. He understands the only way to do that is to accept reality. What do Misato and the rest want him to do? Nothing. They are focused on defeating NERV, and part of that is keeping Shinji out of their hands. They want to protect him from himself. They keep the truth about Third Impact from him, and of course they know the information would be devastating. Why would Misato leave him to wallow in guilt without a chance to redeem himself? They don’t know what he’s capable of, so the quickest solution seems to be keep him under watch and in the dark. It’s a temporary solution to a big problem. Kaworu is the one who wants Shinji to change.

    He is not the only one who cares about him though. Despite much less screen time, Asuka and Misato have nuanced moments that infer just how far they have come. Even though she knows what will happen if Shinji goes to NERV, Misato cannot bring herself to kill him. Watching him fly off, the trigger in her hand and the chance to foil SEELE’s plans going out of range, she faces the toughest choice she’s had to make yet. In spite of everything that has happened over fourteen years, forced into a life or death decision, Misato still cares so much about him regardless of the distance between them.

    Asuka also hints at the boiling feelings beneath her exterior. She admits she could not hold back, upon punching the glass dividing them, all the anger and grief pent up inside her, yet she tells Mari she went there just to smack his face. Opening his entry plug at the end of the film, she’s out of breath with a concerned look on her face until she confirms he’s physically unharmed and goes right back to her facade. She tells Shinji her eye patch is none of his business. On the other hand, in the opening as they fall back into Earth’s atmosphere, she calls out to him for help, and he answers.

    Yes, we do not know what’s happened to them in the last fourteen years. It is clear they’ve been through a lot. As much as they try to bury it though, they cannot give up on how much Shinji means to them.

    On the flip side, you have perhaps the most intriguing character in the film of all, Sakura Suzuhara. While Misato and Asuka act cold and distant toward Shinji, Sakura treats him in kind. However, much like his two former housemates standoffish approach masks the compassion they still have for him, Sakura’s politeness buries something dark, seething beneath the surface. She clenches her fist when he asks to pilot and tells him there’s no way they’ll remove his death collar with a troubling expression on her face. What her dichotomy means has yet to be revealed. If it is the polar opposite of Asuka and Misato however, it cannot be anything good.

    Much like the final episodes of the TV series, Evangelion 3.0 pushes Shinji to his lowest point where he is utterly disillusioned about piloting and incapable of doing anything. In that regard, the third Rebuild film does a far better convincing job than its television counterpart. The TV show relied in large part on the characters getting worn down by one Angel attack after the next without seeing any positive change in their lives as a result of successful battles. Asuka becomes incapable of defeating an Angel on her own. Rei is revealed to be a clone. Misato loses her emotional support upon Kaji’s death. And Shinji has no way of knowing how to understand or react to any of this until Kaworu shows up to comfort him and take his mind off these problems only to betray him and gode Shinji into killing him in the end. To top this all off, he’s still expected to pilot the EVA, at which point the whole cast has submerged themselves into their own private pools of suffering.

    By comparison, Evangelion 3.0 takes clear, dramatic steps to draw Shinji towards the absolute worst place in his life. The name of the game is clarity. Everyone apart from Shinji knows what happened during Third Impact. They know where they stand, and what they have to do. Without a doubt, everyone went through their own tribulations and came out the other end. That makes this Shinji’s journey to the dark side. Rather than everyone tapering off, like in the TV series, Shinji finds himself removed from the action because he is the one most at risk of melting down and causing the greatest destruction.

    The Rebuild movies really set themselves apart with the end of Evangelion 2.0 preempting Third Impact, so now everyone understands the score about Human Instrumentality before it happens and are motivated to stop it at any cost. Evangelion 3.0 sets it mark by showing Shinji first hand the devastation his choices cause. This revelation upends all the previous incarnations of Third Impact from the last episodes of the series, The End of Evangelion and the previous Rebuild film because Shinji learns exactly what it is that everyone is fighting to stop. And Evangelion 3.0 holds nothing back about Shinji’s role in these horrible events.

    He understands all this before getting back in the EVA. He, in fact, refuses to have anything to do with it until Kaworu decides to take the burden of Fourth Impact occurring on himself by taking Shinji’s death collar in order to gain his trust. However, trust works both ways, and Shinji, in his desperation to set things right, forgets that Kaworu bears the brunt of the consequences should anything go wrong. It is not just watching unparalleled destruction he cannot stop unfold in front of him. It is having to watch the one who trusted him sacrifice himself to stop it. Opposed to the TV series, Shinji betrays Kaworu.

    Evangelion 3.0 leaves us at a place we have never been before. The whole cast knows the truth now. (Presumably. I think someone would have to be in a coma not to know about Third Impact. Hell, Sakura was like eight years old when it happened, and she knows the score.) Shinji, just like everyone else, is all too aware of what happens when he gets inside EVA. We have never seen this position where the absolute last thing anyone wants (apart from Gendo) is for him to pilot again. And for good reason! They have reached a point where they cannot allow him to pilot under any circumstances.

    This is how Rebuild sets itself apart from its previous incarnation. In The End of Evangelion, it was all too clear Shinji needed to man up and pilot the EVA again no matter what horrible thing he went through. In Rebuild though, that is no longer the case. What can he do now? Sit by as WILLE attempts to stop Gendo? Can Asuka and Misato protect him? How far is Sakura willing to go to make sure he never pilots again?

    I’m sorry this post is so long. I know I have not touched on the Angels, Instrumentality and all that, but I guess that’s all beside the point really. Evangelion is about the characters. I care about the choices they make and what drives them. More than anything, I want to see the outcome of their actions.

  • Miguel Douglas

    Thank you for the highly insightful post Branko, it is much appreciated! Please don’t be sorry about your long post – it is really cool to receive such as great response.

    I have to say that you brought up some very interesting points about 3.33. It is definitely one those films that require multiple viewings to fully understand – and in many ways, appreciate – in regards to what this version of Evangelion has to offer.

    A thing I started to notice after watching the film several times is that Shinji is the youngest person in 3.33. Even Sakura is older than him now. This is something to ponder over and could lead to something bigger in 4.0. Secondly, Kaworu continually hints throughout the Rebuild film series that he knew Shinji before, which is also something to think about.

  • Lauren

    Could you do a video review of the live action movie Tomogui , please ? It comes out in a few months .

  • Miguel Douglas

    If I could get a copy of it, I would be glad to do a video review on it.

  • Lauren

    Could you do a video review of Puella Magi Madoka Magica , and the 3 movies , please ?

  • Miguel Douglas

    Sure I can, but only when they are released.