Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo is a very difficult movie to approach. The third of four movies in the Rebuild of Evangelion project, 3.0 drops a viewer directly into the middle of a rescue operation at the edge of the atmosphere involving everyone’s favorite unpleasant red head, Asuka Langley, and a large ship manned by agents of NERV, or former agents or NERV, or something like that. These agents-formerly-known-as-NERV are operating under the name WILLIE (though oddly enough their logo is not a coyote). The opening is very confusing to be honest, which is probably on purpose as this is very much the Shinji Ikari show, with Kaworu playing the major supporting role. Just like the audience, Shinji himself is very lost, having fallen into a state of suspended animation for a long time right after the end of 2.0 and revived right at the start of 3.0, only to be immediately sidelined and spurned by everyone he thought he could love and trust.
All of the great character stuff that we got with Shinji and Rei in 2.0 has been tossed to the wind and we’re right back to Shinji the emotional black hole and Rei the enigma. Outside of the first 15 and last 10 minutes the only other character that figures in the story much at all is Kaworu. As nice as Kaworu is to Shinji, he still has his own agenda to pursue as Shinji falls deeper and deeper into an emotional void, abandoned by his friends and family. Of course being that his only family is his father, being abandoned or embraced doesn’t really matter much either way since Shinji is nothing more than a tool to Gendo to achieve the ultimate goal of NERV existence.
If you haven’t seen 2.0 yet absolutely none of this will a lick of sense, as this is obviously part 3 of 4. However, usually even a multi-part series makes some effort to let you ease into each part of it. Not so much here. It’s basically four to the floor for the first roughly 30 minutes until Kaworu reenters the plot, having been seen briefly at the end of 2.0,and then things kinda stall out for a while. Since this fully Shinji’s story it makes sense in a way, but the very tight focus on him leaves the rest of the world feeling very empty. Obviously everyone in WILLIE is still doing something while Shinji and Kaworu spend a lot of time talking, and playing piano, and Shinji pines for Rei, who’s gone back to being very taciturn. Things get pretty slam-bang again at the end as Shinji melts down again and things get very ugly very quickly for what little is left of the world, but it’s very slow for a while it getting there.
Perhaps more so than the first two movies, 3.0 calls back to the original Evangelion series and movies most directly, with quite a number of shots and character moments lifted straight off, if not in the same order. Obviously the plot is different, but yet it’s also strangely familiar, kinda like seeing an old friend after 15 years. You know they are the same person, but yet they aren’t. 3.0 is much like that, and unfortunately there’s not much of a payoff to be found here. Hopefully 4.0 will round the story out so 3.0 makes a little more sense. Of course asking for anything related to Evangelion to make sense might be asking a bit too much, but maybe that’s what makes it so compelling.