My Empire of Dirt: The End of Evangelion
Written by: Carl Horn
Source: Originally published on Viz Communication's website.
And what sort of ending is The End of Evangelion? Like everything about Evangelion, the answer is up in the critical slipstream. The movie won the Japanese Academy Award for "Biggest Public Sensation of the Year," but Animerica's Takashi Oshiguchi regarded it as more a product of the madness of crowds. The End, divided into the two acts, "Air," and "For You, My True Heart," is an extremely violent and surrealistic anime in this, and in its depiction of an apocalypse, it is comparable to Akira, although it certainly has nowhere near that 1988 film's budget. However, its violence and surrealism will not be new to those who have seen the TV show; neither will its view of a society of broken souls, where men and women are grains of flying sand, blasting each other to bone. Playwright Kenji Sato, who does not like Evangelion, compares it to Nine Inch Nails' album The Downward Spiral; it is an excellent comparison, and I agree, except that I like Eva. It's only a cartoon; it's only a life.
The End's main characters are a man and a woman, Shinji and Asuka, and director Hideaki Anno when he does not present himself through Misato, Gendo, or every other character in the series identifies with them both (gossip links him romantically with Asuka's voice actress, Yuko Miyamura). As Anno explained at the outset of the series, in an essay reprinted this month in Viz's collected Book One of the Evangelion manga, he began this because he felt sick, and the final line of The End, spoken by Asuka back to Shinji, could not put things any more plain. Some, envious of Shinji and Asuka's talents, may wonder why such people just don't pull themselves together, quit bellyaching, and give 110%. One can almost hear Asuka singing the cheerleader chorus of Faith No More's "Be Aggressive" to Shinji. I wish I had what you had. I wish I were what you are. If you think it sucks so badly, why don't you just quit?
This is The End of Evangelion. It is the same ending as that of the television series. It is told big-budget, stitched with bullets, limned with guts, and tagged with blood, in case it was too subtle the first time. But it is the same ending. You will see all this: a man, stunted in emotion, has a special gift within him. He can move his human hands and feet with the stride and reach of a giant. Because he knew love once, and lost it, he sketched one map on his floor where he stood and one in the sky above, until he had drawn between them a world of mysteries and wonders, a world of things to love and of those in love. But when they put their hands towards him, he drew away; when he put his hands on them, they were cold and still. In his frustration, he tightened his grip to take satisfaction by force: a load shot to nowhere, a stranglehold on beauty, clenched fists battering down his creation, until there was nothing left but himself again.
So, like so many of the sick among the pure, he's a broken god in his breaking world that he broke, and as an American fan, I can't help but think about the American way out: murder or suicide; rock n' roll syringe or semi-automatic rifle. Dead, but not dead, like Leonard Cohen, who reminds us, why, there is a crack in everything: that's how the light gets in. Fingers loosen, and compassion brushes his cheek, touching and tracing until his looking glass breaks at last, and falls in shining drops.The world outside is not like his walled stage of sets and wires; it's blue and green and you'll never come to its edge. Certainly I have an unanswered question for him: where, in this imitation, did this intimation of love come from? From himself, from another? And must it have come only after the end of everything? As an otaku, I want to know these little details; as a person who has asked himself the same question, I know that where it comes from doesn't matter, only that it comes; and to end neither a killer or a dier, but crying in the surrender of life.