I’m so glad I ended the March with this trilogy.
Before I go into any sort of review mode for the film itself, I’m gonna do something very spiteful and mean. From my perspective, the fans’ outcry towards this film, the temper tantrums thrown, the negative reviews written, the “NOT CANON” cries; putty in Hideaki Anno’s hands. Based on the events of this film, the drawback I’m sure Anno would’ve expected from the complete 180° he took with the time skip, and the characters’ interactions with Shinji, I’ve drawn a horrifying conclusion: Shinji is the fans.
“The first two films pandered to how (this is an amendent) detractors thought Shinji SHOULD behave, and here we have Anno bringing the truth out again; we have absolutely no say in the Rebuild’s will develop; and that the first two films were a pretense, a power fantasy.” – Emptystomach
The above quote (for those who won’t click the link) is an excerpt from the top-liked review for this film on Letterboxd. It also framed the perspective with which I watched this film, and now I’m near certain that my theory holds some weight. (It’s Hideaki Anno. Do we really know anything?) I also have no idea if I’m the first person to note this; I’m likely not, but hey, I promise I didn’t plagiarize.
Shinji is a vague representation of the audience, hot off the heels of an incredibly emotional and strenuous final act from the second film, where Shinji does something completely bonkers to save a single life. Based on the high reviews for the second film, I feel Mr. Emptystomach’s interpretation of the audience’s expectations of Shinji were realized. In comes the third film, likely hyped to fucking Jupiter, and Shinji has been unconscious for fourteen years, and when he wakes up everyone hates his guts. The entire planet is near extinction. The soul he “saved” shows little sign of being the person whom he wished to save. Everything he did has led up to absolutely nothing; he inadvertently caused more chaos than justice.
Anno is giving the audience a middle finger the size of the blasts from an Angel’s destructive demise.
On a more pragmatic level, Shinji is constantly berated as a “baby,” a “brat,” a “selfish” little kid who only thinks of himself—all from the people whom he used to trust. About halfway through the film, there’s a powerful few scenes between Kaworu and Shinji where Kaworu tells him, “You’re suffering because you can’t stand these changes.” It works because Shinji’s essentially alone once again and he fucked up most of humanity, but it also works because Anno is snickering behind that line as he directly addresses the audience. Shinji is a defensive, hasty, selfish brat who does reckless, stupid things in the face of danger. He believes and naively trusts anyone who even shows the minimal basis of kindness and hope, only to have that hope smashed over and over again. Everyone in the film knows it, and this film is so obnoxiously upfront about it that I can’t help but want to laugh. Almost as if Anno is saying, “You wanted something different? Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.”
And this brings up a hole ‘nother rabbit hole for what fans expect from re-imaginings. It challenges the idea that people can accept real change, that people are far too emotional about the fiction they cherish and throw themselves into. People shit all over The Last Jedi because it was different. Because it dared to make something of itself through the sullying of a beloved, already-established character. This isn’t the only reason, but I’m sure it’s one of the big ones. Evangelion 3.33 is the same in the sense that it tries to be something completely unexpected, to bridge the gap between films through a different approach. While TLJ was relatively optimistic and progressive, 3.33 is basically just arrogant. The question then becomes: is that a problem?
I’m certainly within the category of people who believe this film is rated lower because people are MAD. People are giving this low scores because they feel insulted, because they don’t believe in the direction the franchise is going. Are they rating is low because it’s bad? Is a film that makes one mad, disgusted, insulted “bad”? What if that was the intention? What if it wasn’t? What if people are reading too much into it? What if I’m reading too much into it? Whatever any sort of “truth” may arise out of this, 3.33 has succeeded in being the most interesting film of the trio, both for its content and the impact it caused within the anime community.
This is just thinking-shit, though. What to say about the movie! Well, it’s a mess.
I mean that in both a good and a bad way. First of all, it makes so little sense that I’m almost tempted to go to a Wiki of some sort and read fan theories just to get some sort of closure. Things are finally revealed that are harrowing facts—revealed in a strangely straightforward fashion—which push the plot along to the closest its ever been to some sort of conclusion. At the same time, the ending feels very similar to that of the second film, except it comes closer to total destruction and leaves a teeny bit more optimism for the next film. Unlike the second film, 3.33 was entertaining all throughout, with the beginning and ending scenes being the unquestioned high points. Animation was fantastic, music was very fitting, and everything was a constant state of “OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!” The intrigue of what the film wanted to kept my full attention, and the epic atmosphere of the beginning and ending portions served as a satisfying display of power.
Yet everything felt a little too in-place, too within the realm of characters mindlessly frolicking along for the sake of the script. The point, maybe, but I simply didn’t care for its robotics. Shinji being the beaten horse for the sake of rousing the audience was fun while also problematic. There’s a certain point before the director or writer or whatever goes too far in their own quest for self-satisfaction. It drags what could’ve been accomplished within the timespan of the film (only about 90 minutes) into strict competition with Anno’s desire to laugh at his own symbolic whimsy. Everyone outside of Shinji, Rei, and maybe that random new character are simply statues for the new contempt for Shinji and his actions—no more.
It also did little to truly answer any long-standing questions despite revealing some damning information. Rather, it raises even more questions to replace the ambitions of various characters. It reveals some, very bluntly as said before, then makes some odd character choices to leave for later. Wait, but why did he… When did this become important? Wait, hold on, huh? I’m gonna go onto that Wiki real quick.
Hilarious. That’s a good word to describe this film. Hilarious because it’s superbly trying to piss everyone off. Hilarious because everyone really is being pissed off. Hilarious because it ends on a cliffhanger almost of the same magnitude as the second film. Hilarious because Shinji’s a little shit and gets stepped on the entire film. Would I consider this film the worst of the trio? Absolutely not. The best? A little harder to consummate. The first is the most consistently good, with a straightforward line of goodness from beginning to end with little bullshit. The second has an above-average 75% followed by an amazing final 25%. The third is hilarious. I think they’re all truly about equal when everything is properly organized in my mind. But as a personal favorite, well, the inner troll sleeping in my soul can’t help but find this final installment ravishingly satisfying, even if the genuine narrative is the least satisfying of them all.
Thanks for reading for the past month! Until next year!
Final Score: 8/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!