The following is a closer look at the anime series ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’, now available on Netflix, as well as a podcast that analyzes and talks about some of the series’ deeper psychoanalytic roots.
Trigger warning: this article will be discussing psychological traumatization, childhood development, intimacy and sexuality, and religious themes.
I reviewed the series with a clinical psychologist for a special recording at TheWorkprint podcast. Available on iTunes and GooglePlay. The first 15 Minutes are spoiler-free.
Why Getting Evangelion on Netflix was Difficult
In a push to drive more anime content onto Netflix this summer, the redefining anime classic Neon Genesis Evangelion became available streaming for the first time in history after a decades-long period of unavailability in North America due to licensing issues.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Evangelion is highly regarded as one of the best Anime of all-time ever created.
The first fourteen episodes of Evangelion begin as a somewhat typical Mecha anime for young adults. There is a fourteen-year-old hero meant to save the world with his fourteen-year-old cohorts, a cavalcade of fun characters, some budding relationships, and various love interests, as the series was meant for older adolescent teens.
Coincidentally (or not, given the symbolism in this show), it’s at this episode fourteen cutoff point, that the series begins to shift in tone, as the lighthearted characters and epic robot battles give way to a more deep-seated and introspective journey. One that investigates the broken psyches of its main characters, their traumas, and motivations as to why they fight in the first place.
It’s in these final episodes, that we learn a lot about the deranged character histories and messed-up nature about the world of Evangelion. All while the series philosophizes about the nature of intimacy, what it means to be human, and the difficulty of achieving human closeness without fear of losing one’s self in the other.
Series creator Hideaki Anno admitted that he himself had been dealing with severe depression for four years, projecting his own frustrations and experiences into the series.
Most notably, episodes 25 and 26 look and feel separate from the series, as the animation is more arthouse style and less studio quality. These episodes focus more on stills and hand-drawings over voice-over work, though much of it is also because Anno couldn’t decide on the ending and ran out of time.
For years this polarized fans and due to backlash, a recut and a movie were made to finish the series. The film ‘Death and Rebirth’ is an organized recap of the series, and ‘The End of Evangelion’ is meant to be the series official ending.
Both were also made available on Netflix upon streaming release.
What Evangelion is About
In the futuristic year of 2015, humanity’s final hope is a mysterious organization called NERV who use giant robots to battle near-invulnerable kaiju-like beasts called Angels that keep attacking the Earth.
Shinji Ikari, the estranged fourteen-year-old son of NERV Commander Gendo Ikari, is called to Tokyo-3 in order to pilot the unique EVA Unit-01, a giant neon purple and green robot with special properties.
Though Shinji is hesitant to see his father who abandoned him, he also seeks his approval and acceptance and is surprised to discover that he has a natural talent and connection to EVA Unit-01.
Agreeing to pilot, Shinji soon finds that his father still wants nothing to do with him and so he falls under the care of the attractive, yet fifteen years older, Misato Katsuragi. She serves as both Shinji’s handler and as field commander of the EVA pilots during combat.
Shinji moves into Misato’s apartment, and as the series progresses, meets Rei Ayanami, the mysteriously silent and cold girl who pilots prototype Unit-00, and the loud and fiery Asuka Langley Soryu, pilot of Unit-02 — who also comes to live with Misato and Shinji.
Together, with the help of the staff at NERV, the three pilots defend the Earth several times in the fight against the Angels.
But what starts as a giant robot anime soon devolves into something much deeper. As half-way into the series, the story deconstructs everything about itself, looking into the darker sides of trauma and self-identity, and why having pubescent teenagers fight a war for humanity is a horrible idea.
All of this, while something sinister is amiss at NERV. As Commander Gendo Ikari holds secrets about what the Angels really are and what the final goal is for the EVAs.
What are the Evas?
Evas are the only weapon capable of stopping the Angels. They run on a five-minute battery pack unless plugged in and have the ability to utilize an AT-Field just like an Angel. Each Eva seems uniquely synched to its specific pilot and its synchronization rate heavily affects the Evas performance. As the series progresses, we slowly start to learn why this is.
At first glance, the Evas seem like giant robots created by NERV to defend humanity. They are much taller and lankier in stature compared to the more box-shape style of a Gundam. They were also inspired to resemble more of the Japanese Oni in concept and design.
Shortly by episode two, we realize that the Evangelions are a lot more than your simple giant robots.
Yes, they are big and metallic and use guns, but for some reason, they evidently bleed as well.
And by episode two, we also realize that there’s something that lies beneath the mask of the EVA… something slightly horrifying.
What are the Angels?
The Angels are mostly Kaiju-like creatures that for some reason keep attacking the Earth. Usually at Tokyo-3. They can take on unique forms and have a core which contains an S2 engine capable of an unlimited supply of energy, granting each Angel unique abilities.
The Angels are also often geometrical and symbolic in shape. Picture lots of golden ratios and lots of concept designs based on religious iconography. Every Angel is likewise nicknamed after classical Angels in Judeo-Christian texts. I.E. Ramiel and Arael.
Most importantly, Angels have control over their own AT-Fields that serve both as an impenetrable shield and deathly weapon capable of mass destruction.
The only way to kill an Angel is to take down its AT-Field and pierce its core, but the only thing capable of doing that is an EVA, which also produces its own AT-Field.
The Angels goal is to seemingly end all of humanity. Though as the story progresses, we learn more about how everything is not as it seems.
What are A.T. Fields?
A.T. Fields are known as ‘Absolute Terror Fields’ in the series. They’re an invisible forcefield that naturally emanates from an Angel or EVA to protect it, though it can also serve as a piercing weapon capable of mass destruction and capable of taking down other A.T. Fields.
In the most subtle fashion, A.T. fields serve as a living creature’s defensive mechanism. They represent the boundaries of the self that divides us from other people. Forms of preservation and differentiation meant to prevent total connection with another person (a common theme in the show).
For Angels and Evas, it’s most obvious in their physical battles how they use the A.T. Field quite openly. But in the series, we learn that human beings also have an A.T. Field. That’s shown more metaphorically and especially, psychologically throughout the series.
For one, A.T. Fields can be channeled and driven by powerful emotions, as evidenced in the Eva pilots’ and their Evangelions, various times throughout their battles in the series.
In a deeper and more philosophical sense, think of a force field except replace that mysterious force with absolute terror incarnate. What if a forcefield was powered by an individual’s feelings about their greatest terrors and fears? How desperate would that person be to keep these things a secret from another person?
This including, the shameful desires and hateful secrets that we kept private and away from sharing with others. In episodes 25 and 26, we kind of see the undoing of the A.T. Field psychologically during instrumentality.
The A.T. Field is an individual’s defenses from the other made physically manifest.
What is the Second Impact?
The events of Evangelion mostly begin with the ‘Second Impact’, a catastrophic event that occurred on September 13, 2000, which led to a longstanding period of climate change and civil wars.
Believed to be caused by a meteorite that crashed into and melted Antarctica, the impact caused a shift onto the Earth’s axis which created a cataclysm of typhoons and unprecedented weather disasters. All resulting in the deaths of billions.
It took 15 years for society to rebuild and recover. Though humanity was successful in its survival, many still suffer from the fallout. And most hold some form of traumatic history from their lives during that period.
After the Second Impact, SEELE, a mysterious shadow government organization that serves as an almost ancillary antagonist in the series, predicted that in 15 years (The present date of the story), the first Angels would appear and attempt to destroy humanity.
Which they have.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is available Streaming on Netflix
Despite its popularity as one of the best Anime’s of all time, Evangelion was incredulously difficult to market. As it had robotic figurines and battle elements meant for younger audiences, but also featured very dark themes and stories you couldn’t get away with telling in America unless pandered towards adults.
Yet, given the fan service and subjects, it would’ve had to be targeted towards young adults. Adult Swim, and eventually the Anime network, became its natural home.
The problem was that by later 2000s many people had watched the original American run and so the syndication would be sporadic. And after a longstanding period where the series became near impossible to watch legally, as the DVDs cost in the $100s of dollars to obtain, bootlegs were for a long period, the only way to watch Evangelion.
This all paved the way for the series’ release on Netflix. A perfect streaming location willing to pay for syndication without the worries of censorship that hits almost any and every demographic the show struggled to reach in its original North American release.
Atop of this, Netflix was already seeking solid Anime titles to add to their growing subscribers and paved the way for old and new fans of the series.
The Problems with the Netflix Version
Initial reports about the Netflix version haven’t been the best.
Original fans complained about missing the old dub. As many of the original voice actors held a nostalgic place for anime fans of the early 2000s version of the series on Adult Swim.
All of that was replaced for this new version to try and modernize the series, though apparently, in a bad way (Though to be fair, a lot of anime fans have a LOT of quarrels over what’s the proper dub as a lot of information gets lost in language translation).
A new translation was made with a new cast. Which was mostly acceptable, except for one major change that upset many fans. Kaworu Nagisa, a gay character introduced late into the series, had a few of his already limited lines in the series, changed. His very open expressions of gay romantic love for Shinji Ikari, the series’ main character, was made much more platonic in the Netflix translation compared to the original source material.
The outrage over this was that it cut into Shinji’s exploration of his own gender identity, especially because as we learn in the movies and the finales, he likewise held strong feelings for Kaworu — though to what extent is open to interpretation.
But perhaps the greatest travesty was Netflix’s cutting of “Fly Me To The Moon,” which was important in the 2000s run, as the series had always ended each episode with a karaoke version for the ending theme. They cut it from the Netflix version due to licensing costs.
Some mention of other changes covered by IGN
*WARNING, THE REST OF THE ARTICLE FEATURES MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUT THE SERIES*
What Were the First and Second Impact, Really?
The first impact was a different retelling of the Book of Genesis, which is why the title of the series is named Neon Genesis and perhaps why the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ is connected and considered a book of prophecy in the series.
The first impact was technically the fall of Lilith, the first Angel. She crash-landed onto Earth ages ago by accident while traveling on her own black moon (Which Tokyo-3 is based around in the GeoFront).
The impact caused the loss of Lilith’s Lance of Longinus, but more importantly, forced a chunk of the Earth as well as the Black Moon’s rocky exterior to drift into space. Creating the actual moon outside of Earth.
Yet Lilith’s arrival was an unforeseen accident, as Earth already had a plan with one of her kind on the White Moon, hidden in Antarctica. also trying to create life: Adam.
In these situations, a Lance of Longinus is used to end the other progenitor, as two of their kind were not meant to coexist simultaneously. Yet without Lilith’s Lance she was left to bear life unimpeded.
As a result, Adam reverted to its embryonic form and halted the production and growth of The Earth’s truly intended inhabitants: The Angels. The same creatures humanity keeps destroying, that are awakening from their slumber and attempting to take what’s rightfully theirs.
As a result, Lilith created the Lilin, who is referenced by Kaworu as us: humanity.
As for the Second Impact, much of its information is covered in government secrets. What is revealed throughout the series, is that the event was less about a fallen meteor landing in Antarctica and more about the human ‘contact experiments’ conducted by an expedition led by Dr. Katsuragi, Misato Katsuragi’s distant father (which explains why she’s close to Shinji. They’ve got identical backstories).
The Katsuragi expedition contact experiments had a group of scientists combine human (Revealed to be Lilin) DNA with the first discovered Angel, Adam, in its embryonic state. Though successful, Adam activated its A.T. field leading to the catastrophic event that killed most of humanity.
Out of this, a life was born out of the contact experiment. One who most believe to be, Kaworu Nagisa. The soul vessel of Adam.
Why are All the Evangelion Pilots so Messed Up?
The main character. Shinji is messed up as he has no meaning in his life. He’s lived most of it alone. His father never cared for him, and his closest friends he thinks are always going to leave him eventually, just like his parents had.
Shinji is emotionally disturbed though takes his issues out on himself through self-loathing and deep-seated self-disgust. He is utterly afraid of everything about the world around him and is rather withdrawn as a person. Getting by through doing what he’s told without a second thought of his own personhood or self-preservation.
Shinji rarely thinks for himself which annoys both Misato and especially Asuka, to no end.
Though this begins to change midseason, particularly after he finally gets closer to his fellow classmates and pilots. He eventually starts thinking about the wellbeing of others and even starts to notice his attraction towards them (especially Asuka) and what they think of him. He stops being a pilot just blindly following orders and thinks for himself, finally.
While some deem his reluctance as childish tantrums, I do see some genuine moments of self-actualization at times. As Shinji finally starts thinking about why he’s doing this, to begin with. Especially after he was assigned to murder his close friend Toji Suzuhara, a fellow pilot, whose Eva turned into a renegade Angel. While Shinji didn’t murder the pilot, he did cripple his friend for life.
Afterward, once Shinji’s father coldly dismissed his son’s anger and subsequent threats of hostility over the Toji situation as childish, Shinji then knew he had to leave. That his father was in fact: a monster. Yet out of responsibility to saving the people (as a devastating Angel attack happened during his exit), he stayed in Tokyo-3 and piloted Unit-01 yet again.
This same responsibility would eventually weigh heavily on him, as in no short time, he continuously carried on piloting, all while being repeatedly and severely traumatized. First by watching Rei kill herself in order to save him, and then by seeing Asuka, the girl Shinji long had affections for, get deconstructed, eviscerated in her Evangelion, and eventually mentally raped.
But none of this tops murdering Kaworu, yet another Eva pilot and the only boy to ever love Shinji openly. Just as Shinji has some semblance of hope in himself through the meeting of this openly loving friend, Shinji’s final act as a pilot in the series, one that puts the finishing touches on distancing himself from his humanity, is to murder Kaworu. His friend. Revealed to be the final angel. He does so with his own hands and Eva Unit-01 in order to stop the apocalypse.
This, of course, doesn’t even include the movies, where Shinji becomes an empty shell of a person who chokes and even masturbates to a topless and unconscious Asuka when he desperately sought a human connection. Also, Shinji had to watch everyone die in front of him yet again during the final battle over instrumentality… and by everyone, I mean literally: all of humanity.
The trick is you’re not supposed to like Shinji. You’re supposed to sympathize in his plight and see how pathetic of a hero he is, which is exactly how the series throws the heroic myth onto its own head.
Is a quiet but often fragmented person revealed to be a combination of the remains of Shinji’s dead mother, Yui Ikari, and a vessel for Lillith’s soul. Originally a means to try and resurrect Yui Ikari, once Gendo Ikari realized Rei could not become a recreation of his wife in her entirety, he orchestrated events that made Rei an important key for Human Instrumentality. Including using her for various means and scientific projects, including the Eva dummy plug system.
Seemingly emotionless, Rei is a person who is rather purposeless and replaceable in the depths of deep shattering existential annihilation. She’s comfortable in her physicality and nudity because she sees it all as fleeting, as she goes through life knowing she is a replaceable living tool. The reason Rei can do amazing things as a pilot, and a person, is that she is technically fearless. A drone and artificial being with no place in the world.
Her only attachment is with Shinji’s father, Gendo. Though it’s a questionably forced relationship, as Gendo has full knowledge of her identity and complete authority over the strange and younger clone of his dead wife. One imbued with the soul of Lilith, the mother of human life, in what I consider the most bizarre form of the Electra complex as they come. It also doesn’t help that had the Ikari spouses had a daughter instead of their son Shinji, they would have called her: Rei. Thus, reinforcing the idea that Rei is symbolic both as a mother and as a daughter figure to the Ikaris, and again reinforcing the Freudian complexes.
It’s confusing to see Rei and Shinji share these unspoken bonds of chemistry and connection because she’s technically his mother. Though it’s never stated, there are moments of intimacy that are blatantly oedipal, particularly during their first encounter when Shinji fondled Rei’s naked breast. Though we the audience, never establish until much later, the true nature of their entire relationship, as Rei is somewhat Shinji’s mother and sister. Like Luke and Leia in Star Wars but much worse and much creepier. It also doesn’t help that all the pilots are hormonal teenagers and so feelings of intimate connections can be construed as physical longingness.
Yet, her memories piloting with Shinji and Asuka, give her some semblance of meaning beyond her purpose of serving Gendo. One which could explain her self-sacrifice and eventual choice of choosing Shinji over Gendo in regard to instrumentality, as Rei reunites with her divided self and becomes the living embodiment of Lilith. Whom combined with Adam, creates the universal oneness that destroys the world.
Still, all the symbolism with Rei is represented rather sexually. Especially in ‘The End of Evangelion’ and most especially, given the Freudian influences. Remember that in Freudian terms, sex represented the ultimate intimate connection one can have in bonding, combining, and unifying the selves together. Let’s not forget there is also giant naked Rei during the End of Evangelion who asks almost everyone living persons on Earth to “come together” back into the primordial LCL soup as one singular being.
Asuka Langley Soryu
Asuka is strangely the most seemingly normal of the three pilots. She’s extremely talented, brilliant, and beautiful, though she absolutely loves to rub her success in just every person she encounter’s face, especially Shinji Ikari’s.
The reasons for her overbearing overconfidence are twofold.
First, is that she is incredibly traumatized from her past of watching her mother kill herself in front of her as a child. Asuka’s mother was a researcher working on EVA Unit-02, and just like Shinji’s mother Unit-01 — though to a lesser extent — it seems that a part of Asuka’s mother was absorbed into Unit-02 (Which is why it synchs well with Asuka).
This caused her eventual mental breakdown and replacement of Asuka, her actual daughter, with the girl’s red-haired doll whom she believed was her actual daughter. To make matters worse, the day that Asuka was selected as an Eva pilot, was the day she came to share the news and visited her mother, finding her dead body hanging from her suicide.
It’s why Eva piloting means the world to Asuka, and why she never fully moved on. Instead, she made striving for independence away from the need of a family her primary goal, vowing to never cry again after her mother’s funeral. Much like Shinji, Asuka’s emotionally repressed and suffers from intimacy and closeness issues. Though she projects her emotions and directs her issues outwards instead of inwards.
Which brings us to the second reason for her overconfidence: she needs to be seen as an adult.
It’s why she desires Kaji, to prove that she’s grown up. It’s also why she needs to prove to be the best at everything, and above all else, has to assert her dominance over Shinji. As everyone praises him as being the most naturally gifted pilot (though we learn that has less to do with Shinji and more with Eva Unit-01).
Asuka pilots to prove to herself she doesn’t need love. Yet, she also has a rudimentary understanding of it as she’s a child. One who doesn’t quite yet understand her emotions, nor is allowing herself to feel them. Her relationship with Shinji represents the hedgehog’s dilemma, as both are similar creatures needing each other’s companionship. Yet the more Shinji withdraws the more he becomes painful to bear, just as the closer Asuka gets into Shinji’s space, the more she hurts the person she seeks to get closer toward.
Still, it’s obvious she has/had some degree of feelings for Shinji, given her initiative in getting physically intimate with Shinji and her desire to exploring things with him like what kissing feels like.
This, of course, turns messy towards the end of the series. As a formerly confident Asuka, finds herself repeatedly failing as both a pilot and a person, with Kaji and those close to her growing more and more distant. To make matters worse, in a battle with the Angel Arael, the being rapes her mind and forces the girl to relive her worst experiences. Inevitably leaving Asuka an empty shell of a person in ‘The End of Evangelion’ broken only by her mother’s love and reaffirmation and her ability to break through her trauma on her own.
Hence, Asuka being the only put together person by the series end.
Though what happens between her and Shinji afterward, after instrumentality and seeing who Shinji is in his entirety, including his perversions and masturbation over her unconscious nude self, leads us to the end and with the infamous final lines of hers in the series:
Left to be interpreted as you will by the audience member.
I’m only mentioning Misato because she’s supposed to be mother and caretaker to all three of the pilots as their commanding officer, especially her roommates Shinji and Asuka.
She’s not very good at this. Though it’s mostly because a lot of her own issues are projected onto the kids too, which explains why she seeks to care for them but also is actually harmful to them.
Misato lost her father in the second impact though had a very distant relationship with him, much like the one Shinji has with his father, Gendo. She had gone mute for two years but eventually came together enough to move past her trauma to work for NERV, much like Asuka.
In her youth, she dated Kaji because he reminded her of her father (again, Oedipal/Electra complex, much like her pilots) and had apparently spent a lot of her youth being physically intimate, as this was her only means of finding a meaningful connection with a person.
This could explain her odd boundary issues with Shinji, which seems to accentuate to even physical intimacy, as she kisses the boy goodbye moments before dying herself (partially as motivation but mostly because again, Misato doesn’t understand that she doesn’t have to be physically intimate to be close with someone).
Why is Eva Unit 01 Special?
Unlike the other Evas, EVA Unit-01 is based on Lilith’s design. With some of the concept art even hinting that Unit-01 was possibly Lilith’s lower torso (the section where women give birth, symbolic of being the mother).
To make matter’s more confusing, during the initial contact experiment with Unit-01, Yui Ikari, Shinji’s mother, had her soul entirely absorbed into the creature in a tragic accident which permanently caused a rift between Shinji and Gendo, sparking the events that create the tragedy of the entire series (as it’s mostly Gendo’s plan to bring her back).
The reason Unit-01 is special has the best winning record of the Evas, and goes uniquely into berserk mode is that it desires to protect Shinji at all costs. Unit-01 represents the perfect synchronization of a mother protecting a son in its quite literal womb.
Again, it’s all quite psychoanalytical. Though the reason the unit is special is because the bond between Shinji and his mother allowed for such raw emotions and powerful A.T. Fields.
What’s with all the Religious Symbology?
Just as angels are children of Adam. Humanity was the children of Lilith. All again, in a different version of the story of Genesis for Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The Evas, pulling from Judeo-Christian origin stories, were templates created out of Adam, much like how Eve was created out of Adam in the original Genesis story. Their metal paneling and computerized armor are actually chains that bind the living Angel clones to the will of their pilots.
Atop of this, the pilots who control them are soaking in a tank of LCL, which is composed of the blood of Lilith, yet within the body of Adam (Body and Blood reference to Christianity).
Likewise, Lilith is a reference to the Jewish folklore of Adam’s original wife before Eve though was deemed as an equal. They find her crucified under a cross much like Jesus’ and pierced by the Lance of Longinus, the name of the spear believed to pierce Christ himself.
The Magi Computers are named after the three Magi who visited Christ during his birth in Bethlehem. The tree of Sephiroth (Tree of Life) is what Unit-01 converts into in the final instrumentality project during the End of Evangelion.
Finally, The SEELE logo is the seven eyed depictions of Yahweh, inspired by the Old Testament.
All of these are symbols and iconography taken as a retelling of a varied version of Genesis.
What Is Human Instrumentality?
The Human Instrumentality Project is the goal to return all of humanity into a singularity of being. Where there are no A.T. fields or individual souls, just one essence representative of the original state we had all originated from.
The human Instrumentality Project referenced in the show is this desire to begin the return of the species back into which it came…no more conflict, no more others, no more suffering in this hell of existence. Just complete oneness with all beings.
Seriously, what the hell am I watching and why is everyone having sex and turning into goo?
Yes, I’m being 100% serious as it’s the biggest question I had when I first watched the series.
It’s a reference to The End of Evangelion and instrumentality, as the final Adam (whose soul is revealed to be Kaworu) and Lillith (Whose soul is revealed to be Rei) combine to begin the end of all life on Earth.
Everything from this point on is seeing what happens when you combine all the subconscious minds together, returning to a collective conscious, though it’s told through the eyes of Shinji Ikari.
The reason that everyone turns into goo is that the “I” embraces the “we”, returning everyone to an original state of LCL. As a result, it’s what intimacy at its highest level would be like, as pure utopic bliss. A universe lacking constraints of divides and becoming all-embracing. All-loving. All represented by sex, as we see a Shinji and Rei lose the boundaries of where their self begins and forms and melts into the other, combining into a seemingly formless oneness as she straddles him towards the final moments of instrumentality.
It’s all very sexually depicted, through moderate just enough to not break the final censor bars. As such, despite this possibility of the future coital apocalypse of oneness, there were 2 who had the strength to resist such bonds of intimacy… Shinji and Asuka. The two who suffered from and probably needed it the most in the series.
Together, they chose to stay individualistic and pursue happiness not as a collective, but as themselves. That despite suffering, they’d rather figure out how to love and live as their own beings as themselves, representing hope for the individualized self.
As the last entities of human existence. Just as the titles Death and Rebirth states, the finale was about the death of all things, only to be reborn and again renew the cycle. Shinji now Adam. Asuka now Lilith. The last of their species but possibly the first of their new genesis.
Which Asuka finds disgusting.
But as we’ve learned to separate the different selves from the other, including hatred, loathing, and disgust, this means for a very good future for humanity. Away from the collective… Or so we hope.
*END OF MAJOR SPOILERS*
That Ending Though?
While I personally loved that ending, there are so many interpretations to it that I think it’s best to take away what you liked and hated about the series and accept a lot of it is left to interpretation.
For me, that final scene was sort of endemic of Shinji and Asuka’s relationship. That Shinji’s feelings with Asuka, whom he held conflicted feelings over throughout the series, could only be represented by pain as their ways of throwing up their defenses when getting intimately close to one another was by throwing pain at each other.
Asuka, through consistent insults and bullying, and Shinji through his eventual… well, psychopathic tendencies. Especially in End of Evangelion. Though let’s also remember all the really messed up things he’d gone through to that period. Which I’m not saying condones his behavior, but at least lets us understand it better.
That said, I’ll end by leaving you with some videos I found meaningful in writing this analysis of the series.
Dorkly’s take on the original Ending.
Here’s IGN’s take on the ending and Hideko Anno’s personal struggles with it.
Wisecrack’s look at the themes of Loneliness and The Psychoanalytic Roots.
If I haven’t stressed it enough the show is unique, dark, and introspective. I highly suggest anyone experience the anime for themselves, especially if you’ve ever suffered from depression. Though do so at a good place, as its an easy way to retraumatize yourself, and I personally needed a few days after to decompress from Evangelion.