ScreeningNotes’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Then what is your hand for? Then what is your heart for? Why are you here?"
I've heard of Neon Genesis Evangelion but never seen it, so when I found out my second-highest-rated unwatched science-fiction film on Letterboxd was The End of Evangelion (right after Metropolis), my interest was piqued. When I found out it was a cinematic conclusion to the television show rather than a stand-alone film I was slightly disappointed, but I decided to check it out anyway. I'm notoriously bad at watching episodic narratives (TV show, mini-series, or otherwise), so the prospect of trekking through 26 episodes of a show just so I might understand the details of a single film was unappealing to me. But I figured I could at least give the film a shot, and maybe there would still be enough there for me to enjoy it on my own terms.
And then End of Evangelion took my tiny little brain and ripped it apart.
This movie is absolutely nutso-crazy in the best way possible. On the surface it's just another mecha anime, but underneath it's asking difficult questions about understanding the purpose of humanity on Earth, coping with traumatic losses, and finding happiness in an unsympathetic world. And then, halfway through the film, even the action-oriented surface dissolves, throwing the audience into a surreal, nightmarish dreamworld of unconscious desires and visual symbolism.
I won't pretend to understand everything I saw, but as a cinematic experience it was absolutely fantastic and everything I look for in film. I can't say it made much sense from the perspective of an outsider to the TV show, but I expected that going in and assumed both that I wouldn't be able to appreciate the full impact of certain elements and that I'd have to make a lot of inferences about characters' relationships, motivations, and backstories. I wouldn't recommend watching it to someone else who hadn't seen the show without the massive caveat that it's just not going to make sense.
But would I watch it again? Absolutely. I might even watch the show.
Bring on October! Time for some horror movies!