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End of Evangelion is an animated heart attack, but that's why I love it so much

The one occasion where you might enjoy a heart attack.

Asuka, a ginger haired teenage girl, is sat in a red suit on a beach, Shinji, a teenage boy wearing a white shirt and black trousers next to her. The ocean is red, and a giant, white head is sticking out of the earth in the distance in a poster for End of Evangelion.
Image credit: Toei Company

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a bit of an eternal anime. There are plenty of series from the 90s that people still talk about to this day, and are plenty influential themselves, but I think even after the heat death of the universe there'll still be a horde of figures and rotting VHS tapes floating about waiting for the birth of the next one. It's a little ironic that it would then, at least for a little while, wrap things up with a film called End of Evangelion, as if to say "yeah, alright, we've all had enough of this, haven't we?"

Maybe that's why the film is such a stressful one to experience, from the second hand shame and terror you'll feel from watching Shinji make a bit of a tit himself, to the literal world-ending stakes that make up the latter part of the film. Could it be that director Hideaki Anno, known for tying his deep feelings of depression into his work, wanted to fill us with so much dread, and misery, and fear that we'd be done with Evangelion forever? Possibly! But honestly, that's why I love the film so much, warts and all.

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You see, as I've gotten older I've found that I want to experience less and less comforting media, and embrace pieces of work that are difficult to view in some shape or form. Sometimes it's a game that's a strong 7/10, bogged down by ambitious ideas, other times it's a directorial debut that's free from experience, offering a rough presentation of authenticity you just can't get from a more seasoned creative.

It's not like Anno wasn't a "seasoned creative" though, he was an animator at Studio Ghibli after all, but still, End of Evangelion is one of the most raw films ever put to screen. Children's frustrations with existence laid bare, adults unable to connect to one another, a soundtrack so good it was reused when Anno finally got to make his own Godzilla film - it's all there, and it's all A Lot.

You (hopefully) will have seen the headline above where I call End of Evangelion an animated heart attack, because that's what it feels like to me. I think it might be because, even all these years later having watched it in my teenage bedroom late at night, it has such a tight grip on my heart. It pulls me back to worse times, when I felt worse about myself and everything around me, and weirdly, I find that to be a good thing?

The best thing a film can do is elicit a response so strong you can't help but mull over it, which End of Evangelion certainly does, even if it isn't always a good one. I get that I might sound a bit strange, but I think it's good to remember the bad times too, so you can look back and see how they're different. Funnily enough, I kind of think that's what the Rebuild films, the remakes of Evangelion that went on a new path, are in part about.

Of course, I can only really watch End of Evangelion in moderation - I don't want to suffer from an actual heart attack, after all, and there's only so many times I can hear Asuka scream the way that she does in a single year. But when I do, even if my heart skips a beat and has me questioning whether this is the end for me, when the next one comes, it feels all the sweeter.

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