"Like watching an NBA basketball game for 3 quarters, only to have it suddenly change into a Golf game for the last 2 minutes, so Hideaki Anno and "Evangelion" have failed horribly in the aspects of Good Animation, as these last two episodes take a complete detour and turn the series into something totally off-course."
Certainly a point that can be used to split the fanbase is this issue. Which ending is better, the series or the movie? I'm surprised that not only are there people that prefer the series ending, but people out there who actually enjoy the series' final 2 episodes as an ending, period. Yeah, take a guess at which side of the issue I'm on.
As someone who knew the series ending would be 'out there' purely from reputation long before I saw Evangelion, I certainly can't relate to those who saw it unspoiled, or even worse those who watched the show on its original run. As much as I hate the TV ending, I'd probably dislike it even more if I was in that situation. Thus, I can't say the TV ending surprised me. It was a rather well known fact in April, 2001 when I saw the ending for the first time that it was so bad that it spawned a well known film.
How do I begin? The TV ending is flawed at every turn. Start with it technically. Episodes 1-24 were bad enough with the stock footage but it simply goes into overdrive here. They literally drown you with the stuff. I don't know what's worse, those ridiculous still scenes in the elevator or with Unit 01 holding Kaworu, or these episodes. It's the pure epitome of cheapness and lack of innovation. Pauses and flashing stock footage at the viewer is something a grade school student would do. But someone with as much talent as Anno? Perhaps I'm giving him too much credit. While I enjoyed the music during the so called 'weird' scenes, they tend to use the lesser quality ones too much in these episodes like 'Introjection' and 'Ambivalence'. Evangelion's soundtrack was never stellar to begin with, and it's unfortunate that they don't use the opportunity to use tracks like 'Splitting of the Breast' or 'Mother Is the First Other' a few more times. Contrast this with the movie. Excellent animation. Occasional use of stock footage from the series, as is to be expected in an ending, but unlike the TV ending it's not the entire show. As for the music... wow. From 'Thanatos' to 'Komm Susser Todd' the movie's soundtrack completely buries the dull monotone themes of the series that do little more than rehash the opening and closing themes. And never underestimate the use of a new ending track for the finale. It was great with 'Blue' in Cowboy Bebop and 'The Story of Escaflowne' in Escaflowne. In Eva, after the ending, something that I'd like to consider special considering it's the finale, all we get is the same old boring 'Fly Me To the Moon' garbage. I dispised the song the entire series for the pure laziness of using it. The TV ending keeps the tradition unlike the wonderful movie where we get not one, but 2 seperate themes for the 2 ending credits.
I suppose what perfectly defines the pond scum that the TV ending is the resolution factor. Evangelion has a million questions presented in the first 24 episodes. What are the Angels? Where do they come from? What's Adam? If it's not the giant on the cross, than what happened to it? What's Lillith? How is she relevant? What is SEELE's true objectives? Why are they in such conflict with Gendou? What's the truth behind the Eva's? What's Third Impact? And so on... And it's not just unanswered questions. As episode 24 ended each and every character needed resolution except for poor Kaji, who was dispatched a few episodes earlier (the identity of his shooter is yet another mystery presented...) So, we finally get the ending in the final 2 episodes. And what do we get? All the answers? Half the answers? A quarter of the answers? A few answers? Maybe just one? Nope. Squat. Zilch. Nada. Everything in the series is dumped like a bad date. Angels? Who cared. Third Impact? We may have mentioned that a million times but we'll just leave it unresolved. Eva Series? Bah, forget that was mentioned in practically every episode of the second half. Resolution is important. Without resolution something rightfully can't be called an ending. And in the TV ending of Eva we get no resolution. We get Shinji thinking about how he should act. Nothing else. Of course supporters of the TV ending would say that none of that stuff ever mattered, only Shinji did. Bullshit! If this was a series purely about psychological studies of teenage boys, thats all we'd get. There wouldn't be mechas. There wouldn't be hot anime babes. There wouldn't be religious symbolism and discussions about Third Impacts and Eva Series. Oppose this to the movie. All the resolution you could need. Third Impact, Eva Series, SEELE, Lillith, Adam, etc... are all given good resolution. Rather than just lazily flash us with shots of dead characters since we're too lazy to do anything with them, we get proper ends to Ritsuko and Misato. And a much better final scene. Endless 'congratulations' or Asuka and Shinji alone in a wasteland. No, I'm not a guy who wants Asuka and Shinji together, but Asuka complaining to me for a minute is a hell of a lot better than a minute of 'congratulations' repeated over and over again.
Another thing I couldn't stand about the TV ending is the final message. Shinji has worth as a person and doesn't need the mecha to find happiness. Hello!?!?!? Anno, where you watching the same series as I was during the first 24 episodes? If anything, episodes 1-24 prove without a shadow of a doubt that Shinji is a worthless individual that gets all his success and happiness from the Eva. Lets list them. Shinji gets to be with his father again because of the Eva. Shinji gets that all important congratulations from his father because of the Eva. Shinji makes friends with Touji and Kensuke because of the Eva. Shinji gets to live with a babe like Misato because of the Eva. Shinji no longer has a boring life with his teacher because of the Eva. Shinji meets the person he loves more than anything else, because of the Eva. Shinji is always portrayed as a pathetic person without the Eva. Look at episode 4. Shinji sleeping in the movie theater like a homeless person or sitting on the subway forever because he runs from the Eva. Then we reach the ending. And what does that tell us? That Shinji does have worth! That the mecha isn't important! Well if that was the case, then why the hell did you contradict it in every single one of the first 24 episodes!??!? Now the movie certainly doesn't portray Shinji in a good light, with him masturbating in front of Asuka or being pulled around like a baby by Misato. But at least he's in character in the movie. He's not running around being congratulated for nonsensical reasons.
Two endings versus each other. One is End of Evangelion. A great movie that resolves the TV series nearly flawlessly while also providing great animation and intriguing music. Personally one of my favorite anime movies. The other is the TV ending. A pure example of why Anno can't get it done when it comes to crunch time. Folding completely under pressure. Excuses don't cut it with me. Worst anime ending in the history of the medium in my opinion. Argument over.