The final way that this movie screws over it’s general audience is with it’s incredibly nonsensically written and structured plot. This movie features so many moments and methods of taking the viewer out of an intense moment of action and make them ask themselves why something happened the way it did or how it was decided that a particular scene even needed to exist in the first place. In fact, this problem is apparent as soon as the movie’s opening action scene comes to a close. However, I feel as if I have stalled on showing everything that this movie does wrong towards the fans of the original series as well. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to go through the entire movie chronologically and point out not only everything wrong with it’s nonsensical plot but also what it does that makes me, as a fan of the series, hate it so much.
After the waste of an action scene that I described in Part Two and the title card cuts out, the movie goes straight into Gendo and Shinji visiting Yui’s grave. This, of course, made sense in the context of the original show. It had been built up for a little while before hand and had a legitimate reason for happening in the context of the narrative. It served as greater support for the dynamic between Shinji and Gendo’s characters in the upcoming episodes and gave more of a logical basis for Gendo’s actions in later acts of the story. It was dramatic. In Evangelion 2.22, this scene carries none of this weight. The way the film handles this scene causes it to feel as if it comes out of left field, first of all. It was given no foreshadowing at all, let alone an actual mention. The reasoning for Gendo visiting his wife’s grave despite his incredibly busy job that he won’t sacrifice anything is never provided at all, so the entire thing just ends up feeling like forced exposition to reveal the fact that Shinji’s mom is dead. This isn’t ever even brought up again in the story despite there being ample opportunity for it to do so. It’s generally another waste of a scene that the fans of this movie ignore simply because they allow their knowledge of the original series to fill in the blanks without ever thinking critically about weather or not the rebuilds, the movies that are their own entities have their own canon, actually make sense on their own.
From here, the movie transitions into several scenes of pure mediocrity. The first of these is what appears to be an attempted heart-to-heart between Shinji and Misato that wouldn’t be that bad if it didn’t make Shinji seem as if he honestly cared about what his father thought of him. At this point in the story, Shinji has no reason to really trust his father given all that he has forced him to do thus far, and can’t possibly reasonably expect praise from him either considering that he hasn’t been praised my him for his past actions. In the original series, (to be filled in when I have access to the original series). Also, the scene is the first in a series of many moments where Misato acts as if she isn’t really taking the emotions of others that seriously and is just kidding around with them.
The film then shifts into another high-intensity scene on a dime with serves as the audience’s introduction to Asuka, and in all honesty this would be a great standalone scene to introduce the viewer to Asuka as a character if it was placed at a better time in the movie. The fight is snappy, the circumstances are dire and the fight shows off Asuka’s personality and skill simultaneously. This scene fails, however, in several key was. First of all, the scene poses several distracting questions to the viewer that are never answered. Where did this Angel come from? It must have been known about for some time in order for all of these ships to have gotten in position, so why is Misato just now being notified of it? What are these ships shooting at the Angel? Are they lasers? I thought lasers didn’t exist in this universe. The state of emergency was declared three minutes ago? Why wasn’t Misato notified immediately? Why weren’t the ships, which had proven to be completely ineffective in the past, ordered to retreat to save on losses? Where in the world did all of these aircraft carriers come from? Why didn’t they make sure Unit 02 was holding it’s rifle before they dropped it off? How did Shinji know the pilot was female? How was Unit 02 not enveloped in the explosion of the Angel’s core? Questions like these completely break the immersion in the scene to anyone paying enough attention to realize that the rebuilds never explained any of this. And secondly, there was another action scene in the same vane as this one (gigantic fight scene against a new Angel between a new female Eva pilot who is partially insane and adores piloting their Eva making an incredibly extravagance entrance into the story afterwords) literally five minutes before this one. In general, the fact that this fight is shorter than the previous one makes this feel not only excessively similar to, and thus less emotionally involving than, what just preceded it but also care less about the character it’s introducing due to having had less time to see what they are like.
Where did Unit 00 come from?
The “official” introduction to Asuka’s character that comes after this waste of a fight, and it effectively gets the audience acquainted with her in the same way the series does: It shows her skill through how she physically gets to the area where she meets everyone, it shows that she is a respected part of the military by showing that she already knows Misato, it shows that she is arrogant and disrespectful of others through her treatment of Shinji, and it shows her pride through the way she talks about her Eva. It isn’t as good as it was in her introduction episode in Evangelion, but for a movie with limited run time it’s a great way of establishing the basics of what the viewer needs to know about Asuka quickly. We’ll see how well this movie works with Asuka’s established character later on, though.
Unfortunately, Kaji does not get the same treatment in his introduction. But before I explain why, I need to explain why Kaji worked so well as a character in the original series. As a person, Kaji is possibly the most collected and together person in the entire show. He has no mental issues, he is completely reseliant to the stress ordinarily caused by a job of his magnitude and he completely okay just doing what he likes and lightheartedly teasing others at almost all times. This is the Han Solo archetype, and it works great when the character has both time that he’s on-screen and does things that are relevant to the plot. In NGE, Kaji was all of these things. His character was established over a long period of time, with all of the aspects of him from his late night drinking to his treatment of everyone around him to his attitude suggesting that he was a cool dude doing cool things. He wasn’t a perfect person by any means, but because of him acting the way he did the audience was able to adore him and his stark contrast with the rest of the characters on the show.
This kind of character doesn’t work in the time-restricted medium of a single film, and Evangelion 2.22 is a fantastic example demonstrating why. Right from the first scene he’s in, Kaji makes very little impact on the viewer. He establishes the relaxed, carefree aspect of his character well when he meets Shinji and Ritsuko, but the coolness that he would get from being a part of a secretive military organization is completely lost in this movie due to the fact that Nerv isn’t really built up as a secretive organization in the Rebuilds. Neon Genesis Evangelion had episode seven to make the viewer recognize how little they knew about Nerv and it’s intentions, and demonstrated through that episode that Gendo was pulling the strings and working towards a greater goal the entire time. Since this episode outright has no adaptation in the Rebuilds, the effect that it had on the viewer’s impression of Nerv is completely gone, and the idea of what people who were working directly with Gendo in-person were like was significantly less informed. The entirety of Kaji’s character goes from Han Solo to a depth-less version of The Woodsman from Over the Garden Wall simply based on the exclusion of what essentially boiled down to a near-filler episode that would be a complete waste of time in an hour-and-a-half movie.
Oh god, I’m not even twenty minutes into the movie. Continued in part four.