Reflecting on Evangelion – A Personal Statement

Today I sat and watched the 10 minute and 30 second teaser for Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0. It left me with a lot of questions of what to expect in the final film, though I doubt the ones I have will actually be answered. Mostly relating to what they did to Paris at the end of the clip, and the logistics of having spare parts for Unit 02 just underneath Paris. But what it really got me to think about was Evangelion as a whole.

I discovered Evangelion in 2004. A magazine series run by Manga Entertainment here in the UK released a new anime DVD every few weeks. Early on in that magazine was a copy of Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth. A few weeks later this was followed by The End of Evangelion. To the best of my knowledge this was one of the only UK DVD releases of The End of Evangelion. I was ill around the time both of these made it into my collection, and without any knowledge beyond the 4 pages of text that came with the discs, I sat and watched them. I was 11 and had no idea what was going on. But I enjoyed it. it intrigued me. I watched them again a few times hoping that I’d eventually understand what was going on. I sort of did. I knew that the pacing and structure of End of Evangelion made a lot more sense that Death and Rebirth. The reason for that? Death and Rebirth was a cut down version of 24 episodes of a television series, told out of order with some new footage as a refresher for those about to watch End of Evangelion. The more access to the internet I got, the more I learned about the TV series that spawned these two DVDs. I managed to track down all seven of the Platinum edition DVDs for the whole series and watched them back to back, finally getting what the hell Death and Rebirth was trying to explain.

Not long after engrossing myself in this world, in 2006 that is, the franchises creator announced the Rebuild of Evangelion project. Hideaki Anno wanted to retell Evangelion the way he had always pictured in. Wanted to do it his way without the budget problems of the original series, or the backlash of the films. I loved this idea. Maybe it would give me some of the answers I was looking for. Originally, the four films making up the Rebuild series were to be released by the early 2010s. It’s currently August 2019, and I’ve just seen teaser footage for the final film. Which given the track record, even if it came out at the end of this year, it probably wouldn’t see a UK release until 2022.

It’s strange to think of the Rebuild series finally coming to an end. Originally this was supposed to have finished around the time I’d finish High School. I now have a Batchelor’s and Master’s degree, I’m a visiting Lecturer in media studies, and about to start my PhD. Thinking back on it, studying Evangelion as a kid influenced my research style as an adult. Because of Evangelion, and my attempts to try and decode the series. I found myself looking at problems from different angles. I learnt more about authorial intent and the creative process. The cultural history of media, theology and existentialism. Just from being a goofy kid wanting to know what this random DVD was trying to say.

I’ll happily watch Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0 when it comes out. It will be interesting to finally see an end to this series. While I’m not as invested as I once was, I still have to admire the impact it has in my life.

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