Are congratulations in order as creator Hideaki Anno’s masterpiece anime franchise reaches the end of its 26-year journey?

After the controversial Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, fans had to wait nine years for Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, the fourth and final entry in the Rebuild of Evangelion film series that’s also the conclusion to the Eva animated canon. That was supposed to be only an eight-year wait, until the coronavirus caused six months of delays, so with much of Japan coming out of the government-declared state of emergency on March 8, Eva’s handlers wasted no time pushing it into theaters, with the strange result being that one of the most highly anticipated films in recent memory in Japan debuted on a Monday.

That meant most fans had work or school responsibilities to take care of during the first screenings, but luckily for our Japanese-language reporter and in-house Evangelion superfan Seiji Nakazawa, his work assignment for the day was “go watch the Eva movie,” so that’s just what he did, heading to the theater with fellow correspondent and Eva enthusiast Ikuna Kamezawa.

So without further ado, let’s turn it over to Seiji for his spoiler-free impressions:

“My youth is over.”

That was the despondent feeling I had when Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time came to a close. It was like Hideaki Anno was telling me “And now it’s time for you to be an adult,” and I don’t think there could be any better ending than the way this turned out.

Honestly, this was an amazing conclusion.

I’m 39 now, so when the original Evangelion TV series was airing, I was the perfect age for it to affect me. I was 13 when it started, and turned 14 while I was watching it, and it left a sense of emptiness, like a hole, in my heart.

It was two and a half decades when I first felt that impact, and it hasn’t lessened at all in the time since. Watching the Rebuild movies confirmed that hole was still there in my heart, and I thought it’d never be filled, but I feel like Thrice Upon a Time has filled it.

Looking back, I think a big reason I felt like that hole would never be filled was because there was never a final, definitive ending. In the original TV series and movies (Death and Rebirth and The End of Evangelion), the story that’s unfolding is one in which the world hangs in the balance, but their endings feel like the main character switched off the show before anyone found out what happened.

To me, that feeling of nothingness was a continuing characteristic of Evangelion, but Rebuild of Evangelion comes to a proper conclusion. It’s something we didn’t really have in Eva until now.

Evangelion was my youth, and now I’m 39. It does feel like it’s about time for me to grow up. That’s the thing Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time had me thinking as I left the theater.

But as we mentioned, Seiji didn’t watch the movie alone, so afterwards he compared notes with Ikuna.

Seiji: “Wow, that was just incredible, wasn’t it, Ikuna?”

Ikuna: “Well, I’d agree with you until part-way through the movie, but that ending…”

Seiji: “Wait, you though the ending was no good?”

Ikuna: “It’s not that it was no good, but I was like ‘Is that how you’re gonna end it?!?’”

Seiji: “I thought it was a really beautiful way to end it.”

Ikuna: “I think I probably just didn’t want Eva to end that way. It just didn’t feel Eva-like, and I was like ‘Seriously?!?’ Plus, knowing that this is really the end for the series makes me doubly sad. I wanted to keep watching it forever.”

However, there was one thing our two Eva fans completely agree on: they both want to watch the movie again. Not only does it have the longest runtime of any Evangelion movie ever, it’s an incredibly dense film, and Seiji and Ikuna concur that once wasn’t enough for them to fully absorb and appreciate all that Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time throws at the audience.

So without getting into spoiler-y details, we can say that Thrice Upon a Time is complex, hits different people in different ways, and is something that immediately triggers a repeat-viewing reaction.

So yeah, is seems like Evangelion is Evangelion right up to the very end.

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[ Read in Japanese ]