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Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time Review

★★★★

Directed by: Hideaki Anno

Written by: Hideaki Anno

Starring: Spike Spencer, Tiffany Grant, Amanda Winn Lee

Film Review by Robert Stayte


 

 

After the success and controversy of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series in the mid 90’s, creator Hideaki Anno came back to remake it with the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy. The Rebuild series has been an interesting exercise in redoing the original anime, but the results have been mixed. 1.0 was too similar and 2.0 still didn’t live up to the original’s standards despite a great ending. 3.0 was far from the original series as well as the most dramatically compelling of the films. Does Evangelion 3.0+1.0 make this mixed series worthwhile? Yes.


Set not long after the events of 3.0, Shinji, Asuka and Rei Q are in the remains of the world after 3rd Impact. Shinji is still torn up about Kaworu’s death and Rei Q is dealing with how to be a proper human. Soon they have to return to organisation WILLE, led by Shinji’s former mentor Misato and deal with Shinji’s father Gendo, who attempting to start another apocalyptic event known as 4th Impact to finish the Human Instrumentality Project, which will bind every soul into a joint collective.


3.0+1.0 finally justifies why these films were made. Anno was in a terrible mental state when he did the original series, which absolutely showed as the 26 episodes acted as a perfect allegory for the cycle of depression. The Rebuilds were made when Anno was in a better place, and although 3.0 did cause a relapse in depression (fitting given that film’s emotionally heavy story), 3.0+1.0 is Anno using his creation to reflect a full recovery and say goodbye to this franchise at the same time. The themes of recovery, moving on and rebirth are reflected in the character arcs and the story. The final scene is utterly perfect for these elements.


The first hour is slow and grounded, perfectly continuing where 3.0 left off with a lot of compelling drama. The next hour launches full throttle into a bombastic series of action scenes and revelations, with the final 40 minutes containing so many sequences that are bonkers, meta, satisfying and heartening. It can certainly be confusing, and its long length does need a lot of digesting, but it is never boring, and the length gives the film opportunity to fill in empty gaps from the prior films as well as give them the pay-off they deserve.


Characters like Shinji, Asuka and Rei Q all undergo significant evolution and certain supporting characters are given more expanded roles to good effect (Toji and Misato especially). Gendo specifically is used in a manner that feels cheesy and OTT to begin with but culminates in a brilliant character reveal. Even Mari, the worst character of this series, is given an ultimate purpose, even it could have used more setup.


The animation is great. The action scenes are bombastic and well-drawn (if at times overly busy), with a lot of creativity on display in how they are presented. It’s the pinnacle of Anno using the budget that film offers to do things even more out there visually than a TV budget could provide. He even uses obvious CGI to intentionally uncanny effect. The musical score and soundtrack are the most memorable of all the Rebuilds so far and giving this film a unique identity from the other Rebuilds.


Evangelion 3.0+1.0 is an unwieldy and complicated yet satisfying and excellently done conclusion to the Rebuild series and Evangelion as a whole. As an epic sci-fi anime film it succeeds, and as a personal statement from its creator, it shows that Anno has most likely finally won against his depression. Congratulations, Anno.

 

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