I was twelve years old when I watched Evangelion. I was on holiday, laying in bed in a dark room missing home. Before leaving Wales, I “acquired” a lot of shows and movies I wanted to see. One of them was Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Obviously, it took me a few years to realise what the series was about. I was aware enough to relate to some characters; I related to Asuka Langley's quick-fire temper and tendency to push people I cared about away. I also wanted to be praised, held up, cared about, but I didn’t anyone to know that. Just like protagonist Shinji Ikari, I also cried a lot, shut down and hated myself.
That was almost half of my life ago, and I still haven't improved myself much. I crave praise and attention so much I'm writing about my deep-rooted attachment to a cartoon online. Sure, some of that's because it's a slow news day on a Monday morning at 10 A.M, but also because I'm quite insufferable. So as Evangelion and its creators move on, I don't think I'm quite ready.
The (True) End of Evangelion – Spoilers
This weekend I finally got the courage to watch the latest run of Eva films – the Rebuild movies. When I watched the original series, I watched everything back-to-back. It’s not the greatest way to parse an entire series and its genre-defining theatrical follow-up, but that's how I wanted to watch the films.
So, I waited a long-ass time. The first film released in 2007, but it wasn't until a week ago that the entire quadrilogy released over here. Over this past weekend, I dived back into Eva, watched four films and then laid on a sofa for an hour-or-so contemplating what's next.
At the end of the final movie, Shinji, the character many lonely, depressed boys inevitably relate to in some way, moves on. After 26 years of fans rewatching Eva, forcing the characters through the same events, not letting them go and grow up, Shinji escapes “The Curse of Eva. Unlike The End of Evangelion where he brought back the world that he doesn't quite like but is afraid to be without, he creates a new world. This new world doesn't have Evangelion.
“I'm going to choose a life without Evas as well. I won't rewind time or revert the world. I'm going to rewrite the world into one that doesn't have Evas. A new world where people can live. Birth of a new world. Neon Genesis.”
Shinji saves his friends, sets them free, let's them grow up and have normal lives. Meanwhile, he is saved by new character Mari, a character that looks very similar to director, writer, creator Hideaki Anno’s real-life wife. She helps to stabilise him, let him leave Eva, take him out into the world. Most importantly, she makes him happy.
I'm not quite there yet
“Bye, bye Evangelion” are words I can't quite say just yet. Maybe it's that ever-annoying hyper-focus that will keep me obsessed with the franchise for an undetermined amount of time. Maybe Anno isn't telling us to leave Evangelion behind, just tell us that he's happier now. Removing ourselves from a dependency on fiction is a goal, but it's not a goal that should be completed cold turkey.
I'm significantly younger now than Anno was when the first Eva episode aired. I have (hopefully) a large stack of years to get over my trauma and learn to like myself. Just like Shinji, I think I want to keep living, but unlike him I don't quite want a world without Eva yet.
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