by Allan Fish
(Japan 1997 90m) DVD1/2
Found on the shores of the silver devastation
p Mituhisha Ishikawa, Tsuguhiko Kadokawa d Hideaki Anno, Kazuya Tsurumaki w Hideaki Anno, Shinji Haguchi, Kazuya Tsurumaki m Shiro Sagisu
VOICES BY (Japanese version) :- Megumi Ogata (Shinji Ikari), Yuko Miyamura (Asuka Langley Sohryu), Kotono Mitsuishi (Misato Katsuragi), Megumi Hayashibara (Rei Ayanami/Pen-Pen), Fumihiko Tachiki (Gendo Ikari)
Suffice it to say that when Hideaki Anno’s original ending to his magnum opus Neon Genesis Evangelion was released, it received a mixed reception. The final two episodes were the key to the business, for by the time it came to animating them the budget had run out, there were other problems behind the scenes, and what we really had was not so much an ending but a diptych of dream states. Two episodes with essences of Nietzsche and which could be said to have swallowed themselves with the same ravenous appetite with which Eva 01 ate one of the 17 angels let loose on the earth.
Immediately, there was talk of the real ending, and in fact I could easily have lumped this alternate ending in with the series as one entry, for they were in some ways meant to be. What we get instead of the mind business of the original ending is a real fight to the death against the effectively Biblical apocalypse. An ending to stop a new beginning or, as may be more accurate and appropriate, another new beginning to stop a worse one in which mankind was wiped out.
It’s impossible to talk about the plot without losing the unconverted. Gone is the typically annoying upbeat anime theme tune, along with the various karaoke renditions of ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, but the use of classical music remains, and if Beethoven’s 9th has gone there’s Bach’s ‘Air on a G String’. When JS Bach wrote it I’m sure he didn’t have a battle to the death between mechas in a form of ultimate smack-down in mind, but it’s a piece that fills one with a sense of if not despair, then futility, of trying in the face of the odds (remember the use in the library in Se7en?), which makes it bizarrely poignant.
The main character remains Shinji, and he’s just as dorky as ever, while Anno gets in a nudge in the ribs of the fan-service fanatics when he has Shinji masturbate when faced with Asuka’s bare breasts lying in a coma. It’s depraved, but he’s a boy in the depths of despair and, let us not forget a horny teenager. Yet it’s unnecessary, we already know that Shinji loves Asuka and she loves him, or loves to hate him, so Anno gets it out of the way in the first five minutes much like Hitch with his cameos. And while she is pretty much in the background here, it’s Asuka who somehow stays in the mind, again appropriate for one who so craved but rarely felt centre stage. On the surface she loves herself, greeting the others for the first time in the series on an aircraft carrier in a billowing dress and allowing the wind to cause it to rise and give the others a peep, purely to put them in their place like a boot on the neck. She’s like a Germanic combination of Hermione Granger and Tracy Flick, and if that sounds scary, add in a level of what turns out to be extreme self-loathing bordering on schizophrenia – after a horrific mind rape towards the end of the series where she yells out “don’t come inside me” in a way where the double entendre is doubly and sickeningly frightening – and you end up with a girl you want to give a good spanking to but also find someone who doesn’t abandon or reject her. Putting aside the moments of adolescent puppy love, what matters is that these are two people who belong in each other’s lives, one way or another. And it’s those emotions that are the tie that binds us for Anno; better to live and love than never to have loved at all. When the characters are in despair, note how they assume the foetus position, as perfect Freudian summation of the notion of returning to the primordial state. As for the child of the Silver Devastation, that was Gallifrey’s Master, but it could just as easily be Shinji and Asuka, together but not together, facing their future across a crimson sea. She says “how disgusting”, but one feels her thinking “he couldn’t even hold me.”