5 years later and I still can’t believe how incredibly pissed off I am about Evangelion: 3.0. After so many years and one, Hideaki Anno directed Godzilla film later, we’ve finally gotten some news regarding Evangelion 3.0+1.0. in the form of a new poster.
The thing is, while I’m definitely going to watch 3.0+1.0 the second it becomes available, how the hell am I supposed to trust in Studio Khara after the backstabbing that was 3.0?! For those of you who haven’t seen the Rebuild films, here is a quick, fairly spoiler free, breakdown.
The Rebuild of Evangelion is a series of films which reboot the Neon Genesis Evangelion television anime. Evangelion 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone was released in 2007 and was a largely faithful adaptation of the first 6 episodes. Not much to say other than how pretty it is to and how nice it was to see the series get the budget it deserved. There a few minor differences and omitted scenes for the sake of time, but otherwise is a fantastic transition from television to film. 2.0 you Can (Not) Advance, released in 2009, is where things started to get interesting.
Eva 2.0 loosely adapting episodes from the latter half of the anime. The story slowly veers off course, culminating into one of my favorite finale’s I’ve seen in recent years. The Rebuild of Evangelion had suddenly become more than just a simple reboot. I’d soon found myself getting heavily involved with the Eva community. For the next 3 years, all the way up until the theatrical release of 3.0, I read the latest news, got involved in weekly discussions, and watched out for any new trailers. I couldn’t have been more excited, which only served to make the disappointment all the more soul crushing.
It was a painfully slow wait, but I believed in series creator Hideaki Anno; in Studio Khara. Surely they would deliver an amazing follow up to one of my most cherished franchises. If only I had the foresight to see my faith in Anno was misplaced. But of course, 3.0 would be this awkward and disorienting experience that pushes your buttons, until all you saw was red! Isn’t this exactly what Anno was known for? Pissing off fans? Evangelion 3.0 was a hot mess. Why the hell is it set 14 years in the future? What is Wille? What happened to Nerv? Jesus, why does everyone hate Shinji more than usual? It felt like watching the sequel to a film that never came out.
An incoherent plot, unanswered mysteries, and underdeveloped characters. I finally understood the pure rage fans experienced at the end of the original series. It wasn’t that what we watched was objectively bad, but that it was far too different from what we expected, that there was nothing we could have had other than a rage fueled knee-jerk reaction. You can’t pull a bait-and-switch and expect fans to graciously accept whatever bullshit you have to offer instead.
It was as if Khara had purposely screwed with fan expectations. The rebuilds all end with a preview, much like a television anime might. My critical mistake was trusting they’d stay faithful to these previews. 2.0’s ending preview took my hype levels to dangerously uncharted territories. It’s hard to imagine me having ever been satisfied, regardless if 3.0 had been a direct sequel or not.After some time and the initial wave of frustration passed, I decided to give the film another chance. And while not perfect, it was a lot more enjoyable than I initially gave it credit for. Or maybe I just really liked Asuka’s new pirate look. Ehh, probably.
Yet for how much I’ve eased up on the film, there are still so many things annoying factors at play. Why does Shinji continuously go against Kaworu, despite him being the only person who doesn’t want to kill Shinji on the spot? Or that the film would rather keep you in the dark to help you relate to Shinji, instead of any real sort of exposition or world building. Though I do have to commend Khara for delivering a visually stimulating and consistently flashy film. If you are looking a damn good looking film, Eva 3.0 delivers in spades. Just don’t expect to see fully developed characters or plot.
I want to believe in 3.0+1.0. I truly do. But it has such a heavy weight to carry. Not only must it deliver on a satisfying ending to the rebuild series, it has to justify the radical departure of 3.0. At this point, I don’t believe Khara is capable of delivering on both ends. So much of the characterization in the rebuild series is taken from your prior knowledge of these characters from the television series. It’s what makes 2.0 so enjoyable, as it plays with your expectations of what character might do.
Eva 3.0 doesn’t have that luxury. The time skips screws everything up, adding in a bunch of new faces all while leaving most of the returning cast unrecognizable. Am I expected to believe that characters like Misato, or Ritsuko, are going to flesh out in 3.0+1.0 when we still have no idea who the hell Mari even is? Yeah, I wouldn’t hold my breath. I bet Khara will deliver on another magnificently animated film. I just hope that isn’t all not all it is.