Is The End of Evangelion a Happy Ending?


Foul mood is contagious, that’s what life taught me. There is nothing worse than meeting someone in low spirits early in the morning and ending up like him. Sad people got an unenviable talent of sapping up someone else’s positive energy. Before you know it, you too are carrying their burden, even though you got nothing to do with their darn lives. That’s why I don’t understand why some people are drawn to drama shows. I mean I can’t understand their fascinations with mixing up with someone’s misery.

And speaking of which, what am I thinking back then when I bought The End of Evangelion DVD and watched it? But then, I love the original Evangelion TV series, and I don’t mind the gibberish sketch and the display of depression. What I like about the series is that they could show those realistic portrayals of mental illness without the excessive drama.

But as much as I love the original series, I was not too happy about the ending. I mean go ahead, kill Shinji if you must. Give us a tragic ending. Just give us any ending, please! Because as it seems, the original Evangelion series never had any proper closure at all!

And that’s why I bought The End of Evangelion DVD. I’m itching to see how the series will end now. But to me and my friend’s surprised, the film closed with me wearing this expression “what the hell did I saw?” And again, The End of Evangelion never got melodrama scenes, but believe me it was depressing to watch.

From the way I see it, The End of Evangelion was never made to please. But as some of my friend suggested, it was never a tragic story either. In fact, to my surprise, it counts as happy ending. We got a bit of chit-chat, but eventually it all boiled down to everything below on why it was never a sad ending.

But Firstly…

You guys probably knew this all along, and this article is for the newbies who need a bit of informing. But then if you got anything else to say, feel free to comment below. Just give me something constructive and we are cool with that.

Me and my friend have a passion for fiction writing. And before we delve into the very mechanics of The End of Evangelion, let’s first discuss what makes a tragic story.

In classical tragedy, the hero is often brought down by his uncontrolled flaws. He started with greatness, and gradually descent into self-destruction due to the weakness he failed to overcome. In his downfall, one might feel sorry and pity for the failed hero. The audience will learn to connect and relate to the downed character. Thorin Oakenshield from The Hobbit is a good example. And such story won’t be complete without the death of the hero.

And sometimes, we don’t need a tragic hero with deep convictions. Just kill off the main characters and we are good to go. Romeo and Juliet anyone?

And since we are always speaking of death here, a tragic story should also convey a strong element of melodrama. We need to make the viewers and readers cry, and the way to do that is to induce powerful emotions through exaggerated drama scenes.

The reason why we brought that one up because when we compare The End of Evangelion to the usual tragic stories, it lacks certain elements that qualifies it as a tragic, if not a sad ending.

Believe me. Though some people often pointed out that the Evangelion series got teen melodrama, I always thought that the scenes in the show isn’t enough to make someone gets emotional. Believe me, because I have seen melodramas before, and The End of Evangelion never even came close. Yes, we are seeing someone got murdered here, but it induced fear, shock, suspense and even arousal. The deaths work the same way as a slasher or horror film, and at some point, my friends claim that they felt little pity for the dying victims. They are just bodies going down.

The gore and tragedy with less emotional drama seem to express what manic depression is all about, as it goes even deeper than having a drive to cry. What we are talking about here is mental problems. When you got issues, you are not just being dramatic, and you need more than cheering up to get well.

It’s an unsettling (and almost comical) scene to watch. The Instrumentality began, and we saw NERV employees being faced by their deepest fantasy before melting into a puddle of LCL. And not only living people, but dead people as well. Everyone, from the employees murdered by the JSSDF commandos, to Misato after blowing to pieces and even the homicidal Ritsuko. Everyone is destined to become goo in the end.

But we did some digging into the far reaches of the net, and it was revealed to us that those who lived long enough to be turned into LCL never really died. It’s quite grizzly, but their body just reverted back to the primordial soup, as their souls collected together into a single lifeform. Even the souls of the recently deceased like Misato were preserved for such purpose.

In short, people never died when they turned into LCL. They just morphed into a different form of entity. And those who died will experience a new form of existence.

By the way, me and my friends just had a bit of shock after we see people melt into puddle as they dwell in their dreamworld. So crazy!

Instrumentality brought changes in the world. Everything changed from geography to atmosphere. Near the end of the show, we see Shinji emerging from the sea of LCL and waking up to find Asuka alive.

So, what does it means?

That after the souls merged into a single life form, Shinji basically gave the people the ability to escape from that state by rejecting Instrumentality. He found it to be a lonely form of existence, with only him and a mass of entity. He had a realization that despite being hurt by people around him, being with people really gave him joy. The people’s tendency to bring pain is just a small price to pay for real happiness of being with them. He then rejected instrumentality to give himself that chance.

And by rejecting Instrumentality, he also gave people the chance to escape from that state of being in one entity. With the realization of that joy to be with people, he also became aware that people never really meant to hurt each other, and he is giving them that chance to exist again.

Later after he rejected instrumentality, Shinji emerged from the sea of LCL, and we also found Asuka with him. This means that other people could also recover and reform from instrumentality.

The End of Evangelion stopped with only Asuka and Shinji in the horizon. But who knows that beyond the ending, we could see more and more people rising from the sea of LCL to repopulate the world? Humanity now got another chance.

The somewhat ambiguous, and bizarre closing scene where Asuka caressed the face of Shinji as he strangles her was indeed a happy ending. In fact, it is more hopeful than it seemed. In a tragic ending, we should see a destroyed, or worst a dead hero. In this case, we see Shinji alive and in existence, surviving the instrumentality with Asuka in his side. And for me, that caring touch by Asuka, and her remark “how disgusting” is a sign that Asuka is now fully mentally recovered. She was a total wreck before and seems to be back to her Tsundere self when she uttered those words. It seems that Instrumentality healed her.

And as a final note, do observe the promotional poster for the End of Evangelion and compare it to the scene in episode 22. Both mirrors each other, with Shinji standing, and Asuka sitting and their backs against the viewers. But in episode 22, we could observe how the body language of Shinji showed that he is more tensed and distant from Asuka, and a physical object divide them. Asuka is also shown to be bitterly crying.

In the poster of the End of Evangelion, Shinji and Asuka is closer, more relaxed, and as if at peace with nothing dividing them. As if hinting to the fans that there is a more hopeful outcome.

Overall

Despite of the “hidden” happy ending of the film, the fact that Anno was involved here means the fans will have a harder time noticing it. Anno did a great job presenting such a hopeful scene in a cynic way. Maybe the happy ending plunged in the sea of darkness is Anno’s way of expressing his desire to escape his own troubles. He had personal issues during that time, and he wanted to see that glint of hope. How the End of Evangelion mirrors his depression is another topic, but after realizing this, me and my friend now saw his film in an entirely new light.

Overall, we could say that The End of Evangelion is a happy ending because:

  1. It never had enough drama.
  2. People turning into LCL was never a death scene.
  3. Shinji gained enlightenment during instrumentality.
  4. There is the chance that people could come back.
  5. The closing scene itself.

But in the end, The End of Evangelion is not for the weak of heart.

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