Shinji Ikari got in the damn robot and saved Rei Ayanami. Third Impact was about to happen, but Kaworu Nagisa descended from the heavens like the Angel he is, speared Shinji’s Eva Unit 01, and stopped Third Impact. Or so we thought. Fourteen years later, Shinji wakes up on the Wunder–a massive ship part of WILLE’s fleet. WILLE is an organization that’s at war with NERV in the post Near Third Impact world, and it’s led by former NERV members Misato Katsuragi and Ritsuko Akagi. Mari Illustrious Makinami and Asuka Langley Sor…Shikinami pilot Evas for WILLE, but thanks to the “Curse of Eva” neither has aged at all in the 14 years since Shinji triggered a near extinction-level event. Everyone’s hostility is driving Shinji into his old woe-is-me self until he’s liberated by who he thinks is Rei Ayanami and taken back to NERV where his father Gendo still just wants him to get in the damn robot. This kid really just can’t catch a break.
Don’t think I’ve gotten to talk about it here, but I love me some Neon Genesis Evangelion. I mean, it’s one of the first mecha shows I knew about other than Gundam Wing. The characters really stick with you. Say what you will about the effects it’s had on the industry in terms of Eva clones, Rei clones, Asuka clones, etc., but the original series is pretty good…mostly. Yes, the multiple frustrating endings are legendary by this point, but there’s a morbid fun to be found in how confounding they are. So, I very much belong to the camp that believes the Rebuild films take place after the End of Evangelion, and this is the new world with Shinji trying to make it right. The first film was good, the second film is amazing, and this one–Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo–is…well, it’s definitely Eva.
And that’s the biggest problem. I’m a seasoned Eva fan, and I have spent actual hours reading up on NGE lore to get ready for this and understand 3.0 better. I’m all for treating the audience like real, thinking people and not idiots, but you gotta throw some bones once in a while. What’s the Curse of Eva? How is the Spear of Cassius different from the Spear of Longinus, and why are they allegedly in Central Dogma with Lilith and Eva Mark.06? What are the “Vessels of the Adams?” Why does Asuka have an eyepatch? Who knows? Again, I love mysteries, but Eva has a history of giving vague answers, and that’s putting it nicely.
Other than that, I had a helluva time watching this movie. Even though I probably love making fun of Eva more than I love praising it, I do thoroughly enjoy seeing these characters fighting against what just might be unbeatable odds. After all, we’ve seen the end of humanity how many times now? Okay, I’ll stop with the jokes. Maybe.
Despite the majority of the movie following Shinji, Kaworu, and Rei Q, Asuka and Misato continue to be the highlights of the franchise for me. They’ve been my favorites since I was a kid, and they’re still going strong. I genuinely appreciate how Asuka’s rage really seems to have that “I’m a 28-year-old trapped in a 14-year-old’s body” edge to it. It’s not elaborated upon since we don’t see her too much, but I definitely felt like it was there. Misato, too, is visibly carrying the weight of her part in the Near Third Impact. At first, I hated how she was so dismissive and spiteful toward Shinji after they saved him from orbit (yeah, I may have skipped some stuff in the intro), but it makes sense when you remember she’s the one who essentially pushed Shinji into kickstarting the Third Impact. She even let the kid go instead of killing him when she had the chance. She’s still the old Misato, but there are layers of cold determination she’s had to put up in order to carry on.
Mari would probably be my favorite if she had more character other than glasses and, “I like to fight sh*t.” She’s basically Asuka’s sidekick now, so that was a bit of a disappointment. Rei Q is another character I wish they would’ve done more with with her whole being a clone thing. Maybe we’ll get some of that in the fourth movie that’s definitely totally for realsies gonna happen. I do actually like how Shinji and Kaworu were handled in the movie. For the first time ever, I understood Shinji’s…Shinji-ness. No one would tell him anything other than 14 years have passed since he tried and failed to save Rei. That’s it. Everyone treated him like a threat and a piece of crap at the same time. That’s what leads him to becoming fast friends with Kaworu. They’re both treated pretty much the same, so they find a bond in that. Kaworu seems more genuine here than he did in the original series. I think he’s still out to end humanity (maybe), but it does look like he really wants Shinji to be happy in his life. Good Angel.
As always, the music is simply fantastic, and the animation is some mighty fine eye-porn. Even though I love the characters and seeing them survive on in a truly horrific world, the immense lack of solid answers in terms of characters and plot leave this as probably my least favorite of the Rebuild films. Giving You Can (Not) Redo a 7 out of 10. Evangelion continues to be amazing. And frustrating. It’s frustrazing.