As mentioned, the film delves into areas Evangelion is not typically known for hope and positivity. Putting it simply, perhaps the most shocking revelation this film has to offer doesn’t come from solving the mystery of Evangelion, but rather the story’s tone, and its message. My jaw literally dropped on several occasions — not at any shocking reveal, but instead at the positive messages and vibes on display in this movie, both in its worldview and in its characters. Said characters make decisions that seem completely at odds, in a good way, with what we would expect of them.
Top 10 Most Anticipated Anime of 2021
Series protagonist Shinji Ikari, in particular, emerges in this film as a mature, level-headed person, who moves past the endless self-pity he is known for and is able to interact with his cohorts in a way we haven’t seen before. Contrast that with past Evangelion films or series, where Shinji tended to avoid interaction with others out of fear of being hurt or rejected. On the other hand, Shinji in this movie is able to take the initiative and attempts to mend broken relationships, particularly with his estranged father.
This ties into the film’s themes of growing up, moving on, letting go of your past, and finding the strength to forgive yourself. While we may primarily associate Evangelion with mental instability and psychological fragility, this movie is more interested in healing those wounds in a way that feels like a wonderful breath of fresh air for the franchise. Characters grow in perhaps unexpected ways and role reversals of several major characters take place throughout the film. For example, in one scene the infamous emotionally stunted Rei Ayanami teaches another character about how to feel and forgive. Such role reversals prove vital in several key character arcs.
While this film is very much a direct sequel to Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, the tone feels wildly different. The previous film was a harsh, cold, brutal shock to both the characters in the world of Evangelion and its fans. In that film, fans were suddenly and violently thrown into a new era in the Evangelion timeline, with almost no hope shown. Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 is a departure from that: We are shown positive, hopeful, life-affirming stories from the fallout of what happened after the apocalyptic events of previous films.
This is perhaps best displayed in the opening hour, where we are reintroduced to legacy characters not seen in the previous movie, who are trying to live life as best they can while working hard to pick up the pieces of a shattered world and move on from an apocalyptic tragedy. These themes of positivity and hope are handled with care, and surprisingly don’t feel the least bit incongruent with the infamously darker world we typically associate with Evangelion.
Visually, Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 showers us with a barrage of incredibly detailed locales, bursting with color, some of which so far unseen in an Evangelion movie, while others are intensely familiar to fans. While all these detailed visuals are certainly welcome, at many times, especially in action scenes, the frame can become overly detailed and cluttered. This can make trying to figure out what exactly is happening somewhat difficult. It’s a shame because we are treated to so many new and interesting locales, characters, and mecha we can’t get a good clear look at due to overly busy camerawork in an overwhelmingly jam-packed frame.
7 Essential Anime Every Fan Should Watch
Anno tells his story using multiple mediums. While the overwhelming majority of the movie is told through traditional 2D animation, we are also treated to several full-on CG scenes, scenes using nothing but rough pencil drawings (similar to later episodes of the original TV series), and even a little bit of live-action footage. All of these are welcome additions, and they certainly recall the freeform ending of the original Evangelion TV series.On the subject of endings, since this is the final release of the Rebuild series, you may be wondering what exactly this film offers in terms of closure — and the answer is somewhat complicated. The director is first and foremost interested in giving the characters a definitive ending, much more than he is interested in shedding light on the many mysteries of Evangelion. While characters are given resolution, this movie could likely leave the viewer with perhaps even more questions, which will probably never be answered. This is particularly apparent in the final act, where seemingly every few seconds a new idea or piece of lore is introduced, and never brought up again. (At my showing of the film, everyone in the theater was given a small pamphlet highlighting new in-universe lore and phrases introduced throughout the movie. They literally gave us homework!)
A long time coming, this finale is a fitting and satisfying ending to the world of Evangelion. The cathartic release from these beloved characters finding closure, self-acceptance, and adulthood is something Evangelion fans, both new and old, should enjoy.