Shinji’s journey is a lonely one and boy oh boy, does Evangelion 3.33 take you on that soul crushing journey.
Just like Shinji Ikari, we’re thrown into a place we don’t understand. We come across new faces, changed people and a world destroyed beyond recognition. We’re forced to look at the world through the eyes of an equally befuddled protagonist.
From here on, Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo draws a definitive line between the original series and the Rebuild films while still sharing the same themes.Realizing that is a little depressing, it’s as if the film’s subheading speaks out not just to Shinji but to the audience as well. By having the unexpected time skip, it reminds that that yes, the original anime has ended and what has transpired in that series closes the fate of everyone in that universe.
It’s important to keep in mind that it’s been 14 years since Shinji and Rei were trapped in Unit 01, one can only imagine how much Misato and Asuka’s view of Shinji has changed since then. After all, it’s his actions that triggered the Third Impact which effectively wiped out most of humanity.
I may be over simplifying this but had they (Wille) dealt with the situation a little better and appealed to Shinji in a way that would’ve let him trust them then things may have been a little less chaotic than they are by the end of the film. But of course, that won’t happen because they’re human beings with tons of complexities and experiences that prevent them from doing so. Being forced to survive can change people, and this is evident when you see how Asuka and Misato interact with Shinji.
On the other hand, Kaworu’s presence in the film is meant to serve as a contrast to Wille, Nerv and even Rei. While it’s undeniable that he’s a character that has left a strong impression on countless NGE viewers, it wasn’t until this movie that understood what his role was in the series, aside from being the Christ-like figure that he is. He’s associated with music and the piano, he is also a representative of forgiveness and acceptance. And yet, not even Kaworu can change Shinji’s fate.
I think what needs to happen here is for Shinji to realize the kind of happiness he’s searching for. And after that, what does Shinji have to do to attain happiness? Him acting on his will has led to the creation of a nightmarish post apocalyptic world that condemns him. Him taking the course of inaction and allowing other people to decide for him led to the events of End of Evangelion.
This time around, Shinji needs to face the consequences of his actions if he believes what he’s done would bring him happiness. If he believes that saving Rei and being with her would make both of them happy, then he’d have to live with the aftermath and accept accountability.
It’s impossible to predict where Evangelion 4.44 will take us, but the Rebuild series’ latest offering did not disappoint. Evangelion 3.33 is uncompromising and hypnotic, befitting of the excellent Rebuild series despite boldly deviating from what the the first two films have established.