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animepaperwallpapers_neon-genesis-evangelion_ned-suki16_2560x1600_89258I’m about to go home for a couple of weeks before departing for the exotic locale of Kyoto. Before that, though, it seems I’ve started rewatching some of the seminal classics of anime, starting with Neon Genesis Evangelion and Fushigi Yuugi.

You’d be surprised exactly how much an ending can make or beak an anime. As I began to rewatch Evangelion, I mentioned to my friends who I watched it with that how they felt about the anime would be almost completely colored by their feelings about its ending.They looked at me skeptically, as if I was telling them something kind of preposterous, especially since they were enjoying it so far.

But as the End of Evangelion ended last night at 2am, and Asuka uttered “Kimochi warui,” the looks on their faces said it all; they weren’t sure about whether they liked it or not. The truth is, they felt betrayed. They understood a good part of what was said, but on the whole, they didn’t feel like it provided the closure. This begs the question, though: is “closure” owed to us? Do all great animes even have “closure”?

persona3fes_01_1280_1024The answer here is probably “no,” not at all. I won’t tell you any spoilers, but many great, great animes have endings that could be considered “disappointing” or “unresolved.” Though, that isn’t the problem with Evangelion, is it? No, the problem with Eva is that we feel it’s superfluous. All we want is characters that fall in love and a superficially happy ending. Not a psychological breakdown, not symbolism, not the director’s vision of what a “true” ending should be.

And thus, “we,” the otaku fanbase, sent our hate-mail to Hideaki Anno. We watched the last two episodes of Eva and we got a headache. We want our quick fix, not something we need to sit down and talk about afterward.

Another story that has done this to me recently, once I think about it, is Persona 3. The ending wasn’t a mind (insert expletive), it was an emotional catharsis based on what you had done so far in the game and the connections you made. Having it any other way would have not been true to the game, and thus I argue that the ending of Evangelion was true to the show.

Don’t get bogged down in the symbolism, the angels, or even the side-characters. Evangelion was about Shinji Ikari and how he viewed the world. In fact, we have a couple of episodes where we just see Shinji indulging in his emotions, running away, or being scared. As much as we love Asuka and Rei, they’re just the musketeers to Shinji’s d’Artagnan. While we may love them for all their flaws and antics, they’re not the main story.

The main story is Shinji’s circumstances and whether he will accept them for what they are or, well, run away. If you view it this way, even the Angels are a side-story, as are all those awesome battles. I’m not going to explicitly state that this is an apt metaphor for life, because that would take too much time to do justice to, but I will, however, say that when you watch a show, try to think of what it’s really about and whether the ending truly fits it as it presented itself, or whether you were fooled into liking a show because of an ending catered to you.

riderwaitethefoolAnyway, here’s a shoutout to great endings, in no special order:

1. Here’s lookin’ at you, Mahoro.

2. I’ll always love you, Chise.

3. I’ve got a feeling.

And, of course, Eva.

One Comment

  1. Nice post, though I can’t yet relate to the feeling in anime so much as in other things (aka all things from the creative mind of Joss Whedon).

    Also, I’ve got a Japanese kid in my class, though I really haven’t learned much about him, as he speaks very little Chinese and absolutely no English (how is that even possible in the Japanese education system?).

    What I do know is that he’s from Kyoto and likes to play tennis…

    How much longer until your departure?

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