Hideki Anno’s final ‘Rebuild’ film, titled Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, marks not only the end of Shinji Ikari’s story but the end of 2 different eras. The original series (1995-1996) was a lightning strike, a short-lived series that had an intense and lingering effect on the industry, followed by two films (1997) that provided an ending that was met with a very divisive reception from fans and critics alike. Anno decided to try again, with the start of the Rebuild films in 2006. The four rebuild films took 15 years to complete, a slow saunter to the finish line that perhaps wasn’t initially sure if there even was a finish line.
Despite the somewhat troubled history of continuity in the franchise, the final movie has arrived. Here’s a breakdown of my thoughts on Thrice Upon a Time;
The Good: The voice acting and character writing shine, it feels like the ‘meat’ of the film. I have a slight preference for the original Japanese audio, but the English voice cast also returned and did a great job. Every cast member that was a primary focus in the series (Shinji, Rei, Asuka, Misato, Kaworu, Kaji, Gendo) is rewarded with a sense of closure, and the movie takes time to flesh out some of the supporting cast (Kensuke, Toji, Mari). Many themes from past iterations are continued with an added nuance- how different people respond differently to trauma, the concept of collective consciousness, what it means to be an adult, etc. While exploring a couple of new ones- the painful but important process of rebuilding yourself and your community, what children owe to their parents, and what they owe to their children. A complex ball of yarn that is equal parts hopeful, harsh, tragic, and beautiful.
The Bad: There is a solid half-hour of continuous ‘lore dumping’ that veers into brain melt territory. On one hand, I wish a published encyclopedia of terms and world-building existed, on the other, I respect the thematic approach to burying different pieces of lore in different offshoots (the series, the movies, the manga, the video games). However, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to grasp every piece of NGE lore to appreciate other aspects of the film.
The Eh?: There are a few designs and environments that are perhaps the most visually complicated thing(s) I have ever seen, they elude coherent description entirely. Perhaps it means something bigger, or perhaps it exists solely to flex on the amount of money the animation must have cost. I can see some people either loving this or absolutely hating it.
I feel that the Rebuild series stuck the landing. Even with the 4th movie being in ‘production hell’ for over 8 years, it felt incredibly topical. Overall, it scores about an 8.5/10 for me.
By Bree O’Possum (@agreeablepossum)