So...wanna talk about 3.0+1.0 (NGE Thrice Upon A Time)? Warning: Spoilers abound.

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Kemuri07

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#1  Edited By Kemuri07
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It's so weird finally getting what is apparently the end of the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise as a whole. I also have a rather complicated relationship with the show. Like for years all I ever heard was that NGE was the greatest anime of all time, and oh boy the loud assholes who shout down anyone who speaks ill of the franchise. By the time I watched the series itself, I was pretty much determined to hate it. Particularly its central lead, Shinji Ikari, who even today is very much the passive nerd to end all passive nerd.

The only think keeping me from completely writing off the series was watching End of Evangelion. It was like a completey different experience. Suddenly I "got" NGE: It was terrifying, absorbing, frustrating, and exhausting. It was everything I felt people claimed about the original NGE distilled into one nightmarish movie, and some of that imagery will never leave my mind. It's because of that that I eventually gave NGE another shot. The joke I make is that, when you're a kid you hate Shinji Ikari because you're convinced you'd do all the things he'd never would do. But as an adult you know the truth:

We are all Shinji Ikari.

We don't want to admit it, but we'd all freeze in dire situations. Shinji an already broken character is forced to take the mantel as an Eva pilot. And the experience breaks him down further to the point that he's practically comatose. But the second time I watched the series, I understood. All that responsibility being thrusted on one kid's shoulder--it's too much. But what I recognize at the time is how more complex Shinji actually is, and the series goes through great lengths to build him back up to a scarred individual who nonetheless is capable of making healthy relationships.

And then NGE decides to do all it can to outright ruin Shinji. I think that's what's so heartbreaking about his character arc: He really tries, and is so close to finding the connections needed to confront his trauma, and then it all falls apart.

The Rebuilds films have long been rumored (and in my opinion finally confirmed) to be Shinji remaking the world following the events of EoE. The Shinji in the Rebuilds are what fans claim to want: a more active character. Of course in teh span of three films, Shinji makes things even worst. It actually provides context to Asuka's final words in the ending of End of Evangelion:

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(yes I recognize this is a meme pic)

Shinji ends up making the wrong choice. Instead he thinks by doing things over again, that he'll somehow save everyone. That he'll lead a better life. And he doesn't, because he doesn't actually confront his trauma. You know the funny thing about insanity is....

Which is where Thrice upon a time comes into play. My opinions on this one is a bit complex. I think I appreciate it more than actually liking it. I think it suffers from a lot of issues that have plague the REBUILD films entirely. Mainly that part of what made NGE so memorable is because they clearly had to work around using a severely limited budget (which of course led to the infamous final two episodes: おめでとう!!) and because of that, certain ways that allowed the show to save on money also became memorable moments of character development. That's not the case here: It's clear that this has ALL OF THE MONEY being thrown at it, and while it is technically impressive, it's all so weightless. Like the movie opens up with Mari kicking ass, and the camera is twisting and turning as the fight gets ridiculous. But something is loss here. Like think of the fight scenes in the original NGE or EoE and there's a weight to them that makes them so memorable. Here? Because so much of it is CG, that it all feels like nothing really matters. Don't get me wrong, it all looks good. Anime has come a long way since starting to regularly adopt cg, but Anime hasn't yet figured out had to give it the same impact that traditional 2d anime can provide. But because the budget is so much bigger than the original series, a lot of the ambiguity just doesn't work. Especially when it goes into its final act where it clearly feels like the big budgeted version of the last two episodes of NGE, and it doesn't work as it should. Some of it is out ridiculous, like when Gendo and Shinji are fighitng and there's a mometn where it's clear that it's just two actors mo-capped fighting. I was legitimately laughing the entire time.

I get the impression that some of this is intentional, especially as it goes completely abstract. But it takes away from the weight of what it's trying to do. And this is where, despite my issues with the movie, there' s a part of me that remains appreciative of what its trying to do: This is the golden ending for both Shinji Ikari and series creator, Hideaki Anno. It's a film that serves both as a final and as a meta-commentary for the franchise as awhole: The only way to truly move past pain is to walk away. To not obsess of the past and look towards the future. That final shot of a grown up Shinji smiling and for the first time running towards an undefined future made me be all in my feelings. This is a character who has been tortured for 30+ years and finally he's allowed to let go of that burden. If you have that kind of history with the show, then it's hard not to get teary eyed. I just wish how we get there was just as impactful. Despite being nearly three hours, it feels like so many of the more complex ideas roaming about the movie is told in the most uninteresting way via exposition. The moment we've all been waiting for: Shinji and Gendo finally trying to sort their strained relationship by way of a empathetic conversation doesn't work when it's largely just Shinji sitting quietly while Gendo goes over how he got to that point. It's telling rather than showing, and what should be a fantastic moment feels kind of dry.

But I'm happy that we finally get an ending to this series. I'm happy that Anno can finally let the burden of this show (as well as his battles with depression) go. And I hope fans understand that. There will be people who are disappointed by this, and that's fine. Be critical of the material--just don't take it out on Anno.

edit: Oh I guess I get the meaning of the title. "Thrice Upon a Time." So if we look at it as sequel to the original Evangelion.

Once Upon a Time: The original series

Twice Upon a Time: The REBUILD series

Thrice Upon a Time: The golden world in which Evas never existed.

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spacemanspiff00

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#2  Edited By spacemanspiff00

I spent Friday to Sunday rewatching the first 3 and watched Thrice last night. I don't have as much to say but I'll start off by saying that some of that CG (in the 2nd half especially and oh boy that Gendo/Shinji fight) looked awful. It was like watching toys in a strange diorama sometimes. I actually quite enjoyed the slower paced first half. Especially with Rei. It was nice to spend some time seeing those characters live life a little bit. However the transition from the first half to the second felt very abrupt. There were some interesting avenues to explore with characters that just get skirted aside so we can get into the more bombtastic finale.

One of my biggest gripes is how inessential Mari ends up being beyond showing up and shooting stuff most of the time. Especially with how Asuka and Rei are treated, although even then I don't think they get all the time they deserve either. I definitely wish we got a bit more Asuka considering the reveal in the 2nd half(Which I'm not sure I actually liked compared to her story in the series). Mari never really has much to say or do beyond being an instrument to be set on task throughout the whole rebuild series. She just kind of comes off as "the other Eva pilot." And then seems to end up with Shinji in the end which is great for him and all but sad that she isn't a more developed role. Chiefly because she is a new character specific to the rebuild series.

I think, like you, I appreciate it more than like it. Certainly a lot more with the context surrounding the film and Anno himself, for sure. Funny thing is that while it was a long movie I might have actually liked an extra 30 minutes or even 2 90-100 minute films to flesh out more of what was going on. As you also mentioned its a bit too tell rather than show. After sitting through the series, and all the movies, listening to Gendo just talk about it was pretty underwhelming in spots. However I definitely want to watch it again to see how I feel since I've watched the others at least 2-3 times at this point. Maybe not right away though. Maybe let it marinate for a year haha.

All in all though I came away satisfied and feeling good. Which is what I think this film and Anno were going for. And I'm happy about that most of all

Chins up :)

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FacelessVixen

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So... Blu-ray when?

Did Google. Only got speculation and old roadmaps.

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93The_Ace

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#4  Edited By 93The_Ace

I really like your write up, great analysis of the movies!

I want to say my peace about why I believe the fight between gendo and shinji looked so bad toward the end of the movie. I believe this is 100% intentional, for a couple reasons.

I agree completely, that when I was watching it initially I thought, wow this looks extremely mo-capped and not blended in the scene at all, and they aren't even fighting in the way Eva's typically do - this was more of a giant monster fight than anything seen in the show before. Then, it's revealed the Evas are are on a movie/tv set. This is a reference to the end of the eva tv series, where the motif around all the characters confessions at the end is via a tv or theater set. Then we transition to Shinji reversing his role from the original ending of the series, and helping everyone better understand their own characters flaws so to speak

Anyway, that's at least why that particular scene worked for me.

As for the Gendo and Shinji talk and why it sort of fell flat. Well, I think a sort of unique aspect of 3.0+1.0 is that it not only is finishing the story of evangelion, but I believe it is also adding additional context to the whole series. I know that the story of the original series differs quite a bit from the movies, but I think the way both narratives work together is quite fascinating. So, when Gendo and Shinji are talking, we don't just have the context from the movies, but also the original show. We know quite a bit about the relationship since we learned a lot about it through Ritsuko and other characters. However, I *think* this is the first time Shinji and Gendo talk explicitly to each other about the reasons why Gendo did what he did.

To me all three endings of the show essential are different ways of coming to the same conclusion. But, 3.0+1.0 offers us an Additional Ending (Impact???): the one we finally see where Shinji and all the characters are free.

Hopefully at least a little of this makes sense lol. I watched all the movies over the course of 2 days, and I probably need to watch them again if I want to get any deeper meaning out of them.

There's some really great moments in the last movie (the whole first half is phenomenal). And I'm glad this is all over and we can finally say: Goodbye, All of Evangelion.

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infantpipoc

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If Shinji and Mari can go back to Village 3 then Anno and crew would have the following feat.: a speed run of both Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy. Alas, he just had to show us that drone shot of his hometown...

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clagnaught

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3.0+1.0 is some of my favorite Eva stuff. The opening hour is truly remarkable. The absurdity is done with such a glee (Evangelion Imaginary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) that it just sort of washed over me. I liked how they didn’t just end the Rebuild series with yet another interpretation of Human Instrumentality. There’s some really good action scenes in it. Having Gendo and Shinji have their one-on-one moment after all this time was a nice way to wrap up that story.

My feedback is honestly more in terms of the larger Rebuild series than with Thrice.

—1.0 is a rushed retelling of the first three episodes, minus some character building moments, like the early dynamic between Shinji and Misato.

—2.0 is a much better retelling of the Eva events, while changing enough to make it more interesting than just a pretty remake.

—3.0 is interesting with how hard of left turn the story takes, but it is also the shortest Rebuild film.

As a collection, I enjoyed the Rebuild series. For me, 2.0 and 3.0+1.0 do the heavy lifting, particularly with how 3.0+1.0 fleshed out the world established in 3.0. Apart of me wishes they were more bold with 1.0. On some level, I’m not sure the Rebuilds will ever replace the original series. Instead it will be a thing where I watch the original series, End of Eva, and the Rebuilds as one long collective work.

I think the only loose end is I’m not sure how much I need to read into Mari, or if her background is intentionally so vague that we’re supposed to infer what’s going on their character. That seems to be the case, since there wasn’t really any jargon I noticed regarding who they are supposed to be. Another way to phrase it, it doesn’t seem like I’m missing a dozen bread crumbs that explains it all, but rather I just need to accept they don’t explain her background.

But yeah, overall I thought 3.0+1.0 was great.

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Tactless

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#7  Edited By Tactless

After all was said and done? It's clear to me that Anno is a much happier person these days.

I just can't excuse the sub-par Kojima-esque exposition dumps.

I was young enough when I first saw Eva that I had never experienced it anything like, End of Evangelion specifically.

This movie by the end just felt hollow to me. Like at some point it was just going through the motions because it couldn't remember why it even exists, and not in a self indulgent way... I guess I'm still working through it.

...I'm glad that the character of Shinji gets a happy ending.

Also to 93The_Ace's point about that final showdown with the Ikari boys.

If you pay attention to the designs of the Eva's, it looks like they ARE guys in suits. The problem in my mind is that the Team behind this movie were trying to outdo themselves metaphorically. And they just ran out fresh visual allegories.

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nicksmi56

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#8  Edited By nicksmi56

I haven't watched it, but as a big fan of how Eva originally ended (End of Evangelion), I'm more than a bit peeved to hear that Shinji is allowed to just wish up a happy ending for everyone.

One of my favorite parts of End is the fact that even after his self-discovery, he isn't absolved of the consequences of his actions. No, you're not forgiven for killing everyone just because you felt bad about it afterwards. Take some responsibility for your actions and work to improve yourself, even though it's hard. It's a raw and powerful message and one I think more people need to hear than "Believe in yourself and everything will be fine!" Hearing that this movie ultimately backpedals on it makes me dread getting to it, even if my curosity will probably win out.

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Kemuri07

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@clagnaught:that's not a bad point. Again..."How disgusting" is aptly put. Shinji is doomed to make the same mistake (and is more than implied that that's exactly what happens) because he's stuck in this cycle. This is what trauma is. And it's such a strong note to end the series on.

But I think REBUILD is more of Anno trying to find his own way out rather than build a more satisfying conclusion to the franchise.

I figure that a lot of what is going on is intentional. And I think you make a good point that it's in line with the third act no longer being about the "text" but instead the meta-text surrounding the franchise. So breaking these things down to simply two mocapped dudes is in line with recognizing that NGE is a television show. It reminds me of a point in comic books, largely Heroes in Crisis (yes I know that one is just as controversial) in which a bunch of heroes reveal how the constant problems in the comic book world has caused psychological trauma in its characters. But it also serves as one long meta-criticism of the fictional world at large: These characters suffer for our entertainment. In order to get our attention, comic book creators have to invest in event style storytelling featuring tragedy and deaths that no real person could ever deal with. NGE can only exist if Shinji Ikari never learns from his mistakes. No one wants Happy Shinji because then there's no tension in NGE. So the only way that Shinji can have his ending is if the show no longer exists anymore. Hence the final shot being the real life Japanese city: The story is done, over with, now we have to move on to our own golden ending.

But ilke I said, I appreciate what it's doing more than actually liking the execution. And the problem lies with trying to marry big budget blockbuster action with the subversives of an art film. And I found that a lot of the imagery the film tries to settle on, takes away from the major points the movie trying to make rather than add to it. It's basically EoE cranked up to 11. But it loses a lot of what made that movie so nightmarish.

@nicksmi56: eh I'd say watch the movie. The movie certainly does not let Shinji off the hook. Especially the first half of the film where he's basically catatonic after the events of the last film. It's more that Shinji ultimately recognizes that he is doomed to do this over and over again and so he actually does the one thing he's good at--he walks away.

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Kemuri07

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@tactless:

Absolutely agreed. Remember how horrifying it was to see that giant Anayami/Shinji's mom? You were right there with Shinji. But in 3.0+1.0, the visuals are so fucking ludicrous (how could you not laugh at bug-eyed, 3d Anayami) that it becomes over the top. That includes the Mo-capped suits, or Shinji and Gendo battling their way through out the entirety of NGE. It's, I get what it's doing, but it feels less inspired and more like fanservice for people who have been through the entirety of the series.