Narrative structures are best done in 3s. Trilogies of books and films have been done for years and are a tried and true way of storytelling.
Go farther than that and you might risk delaying plot elements that could have been wrapped up in the third instalment, leaving the viewer questioning the creator’s choices and not the character’s.
For a franchise like Evangelion, bad narratives shouldn’t be done a second time. No matter how much fan service you promise.
Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo is the third film in the Rebuild Evangelion quadrilogy. The film is based upon the original Neon Genesis Evanglion series created by Hideaki Anno and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.
Eva 3.0 signals the biggest departure from the original series as the film takes place 14 years after the ending of the second film.
Shinji was locking in his Eva unit, stopping the looming third Impact that started after he merged with his Eva at the end of the last film.
Shinji wakes to find that time isn’t the only things that’s changed as most of his friends are no longer working for NERV but another unit called WILLE. The organization has been charged with the task of stopping NERV, lead by Shinji’s father Gendo, from trying to restart Final Impact and seemingly kill what’s left of the world’s population.
The new unit is lead by Shinji’s old guardian Misato and Eva pilots Asuka and Mari. While he’s happy to see his old friends the same can’t be said for them.
They all blame Shinji for the incident fourteen years ago and only saved him to protect themselves from another attack and to use his EVA unit to power their new war ship.
Before Shinji can take in this new information, EVA unit 00 piloted by Rei starts attacking the ship and takes him away to his father. Gendo tells him little other than he needs to pilot a new EVA suit with unknown pilot, Kaworu Nagisa.
Throughout the film Kaworu ends up bonding with Shinji and telling him the sad truth of what happened when Shinji merged with EVA 01, even if Shinji doesn’t want to accept it.
The film leads to a battle between both groups of young pilots for the power to destroy humanity.
EVA 3.0 continues the trend of excellent production values started with the past two films. The filmmakers one again use a mixture of 3D EVA units with 2D backgrounds, and much like the last film to mixture is almost seamless. The 3D also allows the cinematographer to create some good shots using a moving camera.
This is apparent during the films opening scenes where the new ship is being shown off and during the classical piano scenes.
It’s also clear that this movie is a lot more serious than the last two and that’s matched in the music.
While the last film had a diverse soundtrack that bounced from happy to dramatic, 3.0 mostly uses dramatic strings and classical music to back up the gloomy visuals. It’s loud but doesn’t really go into hammy territory, echoing the old trappings of the original series.
However, the real story about 3.0 is just how much it diverges from the original series.
The first film followed the original series to a tee and the second made some changes to the ending, but this time the film is a whole new affair entirely. The jump ahead of 14 years allows the creators to do something very different with the story.
While there are some elements reused, the film is ultimately a different product altogether.
The clear issue with the franchise was the ending of the story. It was too big to for it’s own good. EVA 3.0 ends up breaking the story down into its most important parts, leaving out the rest. Despite this, there are some interesting stories that could have been told but were killed due to the nature of a jump forward in movies plot.
One interesting by-product of these plot changes is that the plot shins a sympathetic light of Shinji and we start to feel for him.
While that might be seemingly impossible for some to believe, his lack of control or understanding of the situation is doubled by the fact he’s lost so much time of his life. Add on top of that the distaste that most of the characters have for him and Shinji has the grounds for a solid character arc, something missing in the original series.
The audience kind of feels for the guy and it helps us understand some of the choices that he ends up making, as all he wants is to fix the problems he thinks he caused.
Despite the changes there are still some issues with EVA 3.0.
Returning are the long winded sentences that only seem to make sense to the people saying it. Seriously there’s little explained in this film, and might leave some confused and angry about what they just watched.
In most science fiction the logic of the world (or it’s technology) is normally either explained or shown in a way that it makes sense in the world. Most of the concepts and technology behind the EVA Units are either alien to the viewer or just unintelligible techno babel.
While Star Trek didn’t really explain Warp Speed, we saw a giant engine and understood that it functioned similarly to a real world engine. However, in Eva the units are some kind of cross between machine and organic life and this isn’t brought up, question or thought about.
This lack of explanations extends into NERV’s motivations . Why do they want what they want? While fans of the original have an idea, this new series hasn’t even touched the confusing mess that is NERV’s justification for ending the world.
Additionally, while this isn’t really a complaint, there was little fan service in this film. I mention this due to the fact that all of the post credits previews promise fan service, but this one had little to none. So I guess it fail to deliver on that respect as well.
However, the biggest issue with Eva 3.0 is it’s ending. The plot leads to a large battle that ends abruptly and the film ends soon after.
The film feels like there’s an extra thirty minutes cut and saved for the next film. Additionally this extra half hour seemingly could of finished the series as a whole right then and there.
Instead we get two groups of characters more or less saying: “This must be good for now?” and the film ends.
In the end EVA 3.0 is a decent film. It features some flashy visuals and is different enough from the original that EVA fans should be surprised.
However, it’s story was left in limbo and the main character’s motivations are yet to be explained. Its frustrating to see the good things that are being done be weighed down by the rest of the series flaws. Here’s hoping it’s all made clear in Evangelion: Final.
Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo was produced by Studio Khara and distributed by T-Joy & Khara.
The film was licences by Funimation Entertainment (North America), Manga Entertainment (Europe) and Madman Entertainment (Australasia) in english markets.