Let me start off by listing down some of the analyses I’ve watched that I also respect:
EM = Extended Metaphor
Episode 1 – Angel AttackThe first thing that catches people off guard is the disappearing Rei in the street. Considering we see Rei is still injured later on in this episode this should make no sense. Rule 1 of this analysis: If it doesn’t make sense, note it down because it will later on. After this we are given a conversation between Shinji and Misato where we are told that they both have daddy issues (EM1). This doubles for Shinji when we learn that his father only brought him there to use him for a pilot. During this same scene we see the Eva improbably activate itself in order to protect Shinji from a falling object (EM2). Thanks to puberty and a skimpy plugsuit, Shinji decides to play white knight for Rei and gets in the Eva (EM5). In the visuals we are shown the entry plug doesn’t go into the Eva’s spine but all the way down the core and is then filled with LCL similar to embryonic fluid and it also has an ‘umbilical cord’ attached to it (EM2).
Episode 2 – The Beast
Each Angel battle represents a stage of Shinji growing up. The first battle represents his relationship with his father and where Sachiel injures the Eva is significant (EM1). We see it’s left arm being broken. In Biblical/Kabbalah myths the left side is the side of shields, defense and your past. The left eye is then pierced, the side of swords, attack and your future. This is fitting considering Shinji’s past with his father and having nowhere to go but blindly forward. The Eva goes Berserk, blindly attacking the Angel like a mother trying to protect it’s child (EM2). The flashback for this is brought about by parallel imagery in the shots. An example being the shots used when Misato grabs Shinji’s head and Sachiel grabs the Eva’s; both of them attacking his metaphorical and literal protective shells (EM3). Shown by the Eva breaking the same arm as it had broken itself and then striking the Angel’s heart, it hints at Shinji’s anger and desire for revenge against his father (EM1). Instead of being destroyed, Sachiel attempts to take everything down with it by self-destructing, just as someone might do after a failed relationship, suicide essentially allowing it to ‘run away’ from it’s problems (EM4). Note that this episode is also the first time we hear of the Human Instrumentality Project from Seele.
Episode 3 – A Transfer
The second Angel battle represents Shinji’s relationship and conflicts with other peers of his own sex. This is shown visually by Shamshel itself essentially being a giant cock;
By Shinji having any pride taken away by getting beaten up at school and how he simply runs blindly into the fight, we can assume that this battle represents a misled test of manhood (EM3). If the Eva’s armor represents Shinji’s protective social shell then by letting Toji and Kensuke into his entry plug it allows them to see how much he is truly suffering inside. This represents him opening himself up to them as one might do when trying to make friends (EM3). Shinji defeats the big dick representation and lo-and-behold after seeing this it allows Toji and Kensuke to understand Shinji more which makes them start to care more about him.
Episode 4 – Hedgehogs Dilemma
Remember what I said about someone trying to run away after a failed relationship? Taking into account Shinji not having seen the boys after his fight with Samshel and his fight with Misato in this episode, we can see this idea clearly take shape (EM4). However, when Toji and Kensuke show up to make amends, Shinji comes to realization that, having shown these people his inner-self and understanding consequences for them if he does leave, he cares for them enough to remain so he can protect the relationships he’d created. The icing on the cake for this being that Misato shows up also.
Episode 5 – Rei I
This episode has foreshadowing for what is to come. Some things to remember for later are Unit 00 trying kill Gendo when going Berserk, Gendo’s relationship with Rei, the motif of Gendo’s glasses and the fact that the Angel’s composition is a 98.89 match to humans. After the flashback Shinji says, ‘So this is what the enemy looks like up close’. Although referring to Angel, being that it’s on the same episode where the boys are perving at the girls in the pool and seeing Rei naked, I think it’s clear that the hidden meaning behind this episode is Shinji’s developing ideas of the opposite sex (EM5). This transparently sets up what the next Angel battle represents.
Episode 6 – Rei II
Not only is a complex strategy needed for Shinji to cut through the armor of Ramiel (EM3) but it’s also a pretty Angel that from the get-go cuts straight to the heart, like many girls tend to do for boys during puberty. This also clearly relates to Rei’s emotionless shell and the fact that she just slapped him before this event occurred. In a sense Shinji needs to find a way to piece the shell so she would open up to him but it isn’t until they are both put into a situation where Shinji understands her, if only a little, that he succeeds in getting ‘in her pod/inner-self’ like his father can (EM5).
Episode 7 – A Human Work
The title of this episode, like the episode itself, foreshadows a lot and has so many double meanings and red herrings it’s crazy. Note that Shinji’s report in his book shows the cover up and references the first impact that created the moon for later on. Also remember the ‘sample’ and the production of Eva Unit 08 from Gendo’s conversation. Shinji’s development and the episode’s plot is a lot more transparent in this episode also, literally being spelled out in Ritsuko and Kensuke’s final lines of dialogue. Although this episode pretty much tells the anime’s surface plot outright, it still doesn’t scratch the service of the ‘Why?’ subplots.
Episode 8 – Asuka Strikes
Once again the Angel’s battle of Gaghiel represents the development of Shinji’s ideas of the opposite sex but to the other extreme. Instead of understanding Rei to get into her entry plug, Asuka forces Shinji into her’s and even dresses him up for the occasion (EM3). Ritsuko commenting that Asuka and Shinji both broke their synchronization ratio records while ‘open with each other’ hints their compatibility/attraction if Shinji ever lets his shell down (EM5). Once again this builds up to the representation for the next Angel, essentially being act that comes after understanding the opposite sex, being the act of sex tiself. From what’s revealed at the end of this episode it’s also clear that the dots of ‘the sample’, ‘Adam’ and ‘Second Impact’ are beginning to connect.
Episode 9 – Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win
In the battle with Israfel they need to learn to dance. If you want to link that to the high school social or whatever, do so. Dancing, especially with a partner, for the longest time has essentially been seen as a metaphor for sex. The fact that Asuka and Shinji are compatible doesn’t stop the fact that he and Rei sync up perfectly and yet Asuka has to be one paired up with him (EM5). Remember what I said about noting things down that don’t make sense? Note down Asuka calling for her mother in her sleep while crying for later. Anyway they must synchronize their bodies and, visually, two become one until there’s a big bang and they find themselves laying tangled with each other in the mess of the after mass.
Episode 10 – Magma Diver
The battle with the Angel Sandalphon portrays Shinji’s growth in coming to trust another person more, in particular, Asuka (EM6). We can see this through Shinji’s surprise that Asuka got the mission, through Asuka attempt to flirt with him and getting his attention but also by Shinji saving her in the end, showing that trust must go both ways. At the same time this episode develops Asuka’s character by her claims to have graduated college at such a young age and, when relating to her pride of being an Eva pilot, shows how important her self-worth is to her. The reason for this is revealed later and something to remember to look for in later episodes (EM4).
Episode 11 – The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still
It’s at this point of the series there’s enough understanding between them that a balance between Shinji and the other characters is created. This is shown by how they work together seamlessly to defeat Matarael even during a time when it should have been impossible to do so. This essentially develops Shinji’s growth in how he can trust a group of people and work in a team (EM6). This also begins to bridge his hatred with his father for being the leader of the people he was trusting and who trusted him to be there on time to pilot the Evas (EM1). Despite Shinji’s trust in them it is the rivalry that now starts up between Asuka and Rei because of him that creates more of the conflict.
Episode 12 – She said, ‘Don’t make others suffer for your personal hatred.’
This team work and trust is also built into the battle against Sahaquiel where Misato and the three pilots must trust each other in order to survive (EM6). The idea behind being trusted by his father is also extended upon when Gendo praises Shinji, giving him meaning to continue piloting (EM1). The balance between the main characters creates a comfortable norm that is very important to remember for later, it also allows the series to focus on the other important characters. In this case Misato is the focus where her desire to defeat Angels brings the past of her own daddy issues and how she must trust others to deal with them (EM1). We see through her an eyewitness account of the first impact and the brief appearance of the original Adam as well as the first time we see the Lance of Longinus.
Episode 13-14 – The Lilliputian Hitcher/Weaving a Story
Once again the message that these characters have come to know each others’ inner-selves is pushed clearly in this episode where they are made to sit in each others entry plugs (EM3). The fact that Rei is the one who gets invaded by Iruel shows that she is still the only one that they don’t fully understand or trust, something that, through her enigmatic personality, the audience can easily relate to (EM6). Like the last episode did for Misato, this episode gave a lot of foreshadowing for Ritsuko’s character in relation to her mother and the Maji computers (EM2). We are given the idea that magi are Ritsuko’s mother and are there to protect them but instead the magi are corrupted and it ends up being corrosive to them instead (EM2) (EM4). Rei’s monologue foreshadows a lot for her character, especially from the line ‘a woman who does not bleed’ and ‘the entry plug, the throne of the soul’. We also see Rei going into the terminal Dogma with the Lance for what the big reveal in the episode 15.
Extended Metaphor List:
EM1 – Father Issues
EM2 – Mother Issues
EM3 – Opening up
EM4 – Failed relationships
EM5 – Sexuality
EM6 – Trust
Episode 15 – Those Woman Long For The Touch of…
Anyone who’s watched The End of Evangelion can tell me why this episode is so important. For those who haven’t, imagine what the kissing scene would be like if Shinji and Asuka actually spoke their minds. There’s mummy and daddy issues and foreshadowing galore, reinforcement of previous themes of Gendo’s protection for Rei, Shinji’s tenaciousness in learning the Cello and Misato’s man problems, but that’s all obvious. My objective for this analysis is to point out what’s not so obvious. For instance, Kaji’s mission in Kyoto. Who was the old lady feeding the cats and how did Ritsuko and Misato find out about his job as a spy so quickly? Remember, if things don’t make sense, note them down. What Misato calls the crucified Angel is also a pretty neat red herring as well.
Episode 16 – Splitting of the Beast
Liliel is the Angel of the Sky that really grounds you. A fitting analogy for an episode where Shinji’s head blows up like a balloon in his arrogance of beating Asuka in the sync test and then by the end of the episode he is so grounded he’s almost killed in the process. Note down that this is the first major shot to Asuka’s self-confidence. Considering this, and what’s mentioned in Shinji’s mind, you can really see how this put Shinji’s ego back in its place by the end. Maybe a little too much, but just remember Shinji, even if no one else does, ghost mummy will always love you. Although this was of the first of what I call ‘mind-fuck’ episodes of the series, it is also the last of the standalone character episodes for now, considering how all of the episodes from here on link together in easily identifiable arcs.
Episode 17 – The Fourth Child
Like the quality of the animation in this episode -_-, it seems the characters have reached a plateau in their relationships that can only descend after the events of this next story arc. It’s all downhill from here. Shinji and Asuka are experiencing sexual frustration and the downside to puberty (*cough* periods) like most teens do, Misato and Kaji are dating again and even the minor characters of Toji and Hikari have their own little romance going on. It has all come to this natural point, now let’s watch as ‘it all comes tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down.’ (Inside EoE joke)
Episode 18 – Ambivalence
For the character’s at least this is the tipping point of this series. It all starts with Eva Unit 03 riding through a lightning cloud. It gets possessed by an Angel with Toji inside and Shinji is forced to watch as the dummy system inducted by his father bashes the shit out of it and nearly kills him. Not only does the Angel battle with Bardiel represent the breaking of all of the trust Shinji gained for his father up to this point but the battle also takes another big hit to Asuka’s ego when she’s defeated by it. For Shinji, hating his father and no longer caring about his praise, it takes away any reason for him to continue piloting the Eva. He realizes just how little control he had over this monster and this is the reason he won’t get in the bloody robot!
Episode 19 – Introjection
Now that Shinji doesn’t care about his father’s praise he has no reason to pilot the Eva, yet by the end of the episode he pilots the Eva anyway. Why? Because he finds his own reason to pilot it and in turn takes one step closer to becoming a man. But the Angel Zeruel shows him that it’s a premature evolution for Shinji and in the end he fails, once again his mummy coming to take care of him when he gets in trouble. In this episode we learn the first “why” for the plot of the series, stop the Angels from reaching “Adam” to save the world from the Third Impact. But what are the Angels and why do they want to reach Adam? More importantly, why does the Angel just pass by the other Evas after they disarm them but was so keen to go after Eva Unit 01’s core to kill it?
Episode 20 – Weaving a Story
Note that after the previous battle Asuka has taken a third blow to her ego. Everything that has been foreshadowed in the Eva battles and little bits of dialogue about Shinji’s relationship with his father is revealed in this episode; ‘This time I was actually going to tell him that I hate him!’. In the end Shinji gets sucked into the Eva, we learn that this has happened before with someone else and it’s revealed that Shinji had actually seen the Eva as a child. Despite all it’s psychiatric portrayals this is really just a segway to a flashback and what could be the most important episode of the series. Also remember that he’s stuck in the Eva for over a month which triggers an atrophy or decay in the relationships between the characters.
Episode 21 – He Was Still Aware That He Was Only A Child
I like to call this episode ‘the plot’. Secrets that are only touched on before are now shown blatantly. In the beginning of the director’s cut version we learn that the cause of the Second Impact was human DNA intentionally being inserted into Adam. We see first hand how Fuyusuki, Gendo and Yui all met, how the Maji and the Eva were created and that Seele was behind the Second Impact to limit the disaster and also control the outcome of the Third Impact. We learn that Yui’s soul was sucked into Eva Unit 01, that Gendo and Ritsuko’s mother were having an affair, that she committed suicide and that Rei has died once before as a child. Considering she is alive in the present, Rei dying doesn’t make sense but then again there has been a clear link hinted between Rei and Shinji’s mother for a while now. The secret of who killed Kaji was never successfully divulged other than he was killed by someone who worked for Seele.
Episode 21 – Don’t Be
One-by-one, the next 3 Angel battles trigger the downfall of each Eva pilot and it will be these episodes where the notes from Part 1 of this analysis will come in handy. The first one on the chopping block is Asuka. Remember how Asuka graduated college at such a young age, how she called out ‘mama’ in her sleep and takes great pride in her competence of being a pilot and her self-worth in general? Well, this episode reveals why; After a contact experiment with Eva Unit 02, similar to Shinji’s mother’s experiment with Unit 01, Asuka’s mother went insane. She began believing that Asuka was not her daughter, replacing her with a stuffed doll. Asuka was forced to live with foster parents, doing anything she could to get her mother’s attention. On the day she was chosen to be a pilot, she ran home to tell her mother and found her hanging from the ceiling, the head of the doll that her mother thought was her, ripped off. From then on, Asuka wanted to be self-sufficient enough not to rely on others and each failure she suffers, such in this episode, reveals her desires for this are fruitless. This hit is the final nail in the coffin for Asuka’s downward spiral, four hits, four eyes.
Episode 22 – Rei IIIAt the beginning of this episode Ritusko talks about cats when on the phone with her grandmother. Now who else was seen with cats in the series and who else was researching the Marduk institute with Kaji? By the title of this episode it’s not hard to see that Rei is next on the chopping block. Not only this but this episodes title says a lot about what happens and reveals what has been hinted at for her character throughout the series. Why does Rei say, ‘I think I might be the third one’? Remember how she died in a flashback in episode 21? Considering she died yet again in this episode and comes back to life, this now makes sense. What about always relating her to a mother and Gendo’s over protectiveness over her? Bring in the clones for the reveal. Rei is a clone created from Yui and Lilith and her extra minds were used as the dummy plug system. The clones are destroyed by Ritsuko, revealing that, like Rei, the Evas were clones of the first Angels. This makes it so there is only one Rei remaining. Also remember that the explosion from Rei self-destructing her Eva essentially destroyed Tokyo-3, the dominant setting for most of the series.
Episode 24 – Knocking on Heaven’s Door
This is the last comprehensible episode of the original series. The city is gone, Asuka has become reclusive, the Rei he knew is now dead and Misato shuts herself away to decrypt the secrets behind what Kaji uncovered from Seele and Nerv’s secrets. Shinji is now alone and desperate for anyone he can talk to. Kaworu arrives and fills the gap like a homosexual fills his partner’s… No gay jokes Lazarinth, this is serious! Shinji has finally come to the point that he’s willing to open himself up to someone and it just so happens that the person he decides to open up to is the last Angel, Tabris, leading to yet another emotional betrayal for him. Kaworu states that he’s like Rei; an Angel-Human hybrid, which is some foreshadowing to note down for the film. Through Kaworu we learn some very important things for The End of Evangelion film; 1. That the A.T. field the Evas and Angels can use is actually the wall of the soul that separates all living things and is the cause of all loneliness and desire; 2. That the Angels come from Adam and if they join with Lilith, just as the human DNA was inserted into Adam created Second Impact, it would cause the Third Impact and 3. That humans (the Lilim) come from Lilith, so vice versa applies for them if they ever fused with Adam. Either way, Kowaru decides the humans (the Lilim) should inherit the planet and Shinji kills him. Now begins the two episode existential guilt trip that concludes the series.
Episode 25 – Do You Love Me?
For the series at least, this marks the end of a coherently animated narrative. If you want more original animation, watch the End of Evangelion film. This doesn’t mean that these episodes don’t make sense. I would even go as far as saying that these episodes are my favorite parts of series simply because the story works as a kind of plot-puzzle, where you must piece together your own answers from the information you are given. It makes the audience work for the story and triggers your creativity to make your own personal interpretation. A lot of people don’t like this because they want the story handed to them on silver platter but those people must be averted by the act of thinking. I’ll save my literal analysis of the ending for the more literal version of the Instrumentality Project in the End of Eva film.
As for this episode and the next, you really need to make up your own mind.
Episode 26 – One More Final
Saying that… I don’t see why I shouldn’t give you my own interpretation of this ending. Personally, I think everything in the series has led up to an analogy of Shinji, Asuka, Rei and Misato all going to a mental hospital to fix the trauma of what they went through in the series. I think this for a multiple reasons such as the characters mostly looking over their memories and relationships from the series. Another reason is that the director Hideaki Anno went through psychiatric treatment during the production of Eva which inspired these scenes, shown by the literal Rorschach paintings in the episodes, intervention style lectures from the other characters and the group therapy session when everyone is congratulating Shinji for a major breakthrough in his recovery at the end after seeing and considering a way in which his life can be different. And finally, because I worked in a mental hospital for a few years and what I saw drew some pretty obvious parallels, showing perfectly what I was mentioning before about having to make your own personal interpretation.
A Final Note On The Series
I think the ending shows the true beauty of this series, you draw your own conclusions of this ending from your own personal experiences and because you can only draw upon what you know (or like some, give up and make no conclusions at all) it really says a lot of about you as a person. That’s what makes this series “Great”, not it’s story, characters or even plot elements like giant robots, but the fact that through its abstract nature it allows for serious self-reflection and I haven’t yet watched an anime that’s done better job at this.
The End of Evangelion
The first we see Shinji he’s wet and at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d tried to drown himself. The thing falling into the water emulates the animation of Kaworu’s head falling into the pool of LCL when Shinji killed him. Then we have Shinji’s lowest moment. Interestingly the shot of the hand goes parallel with the shot of his hand covered in blood and Gendo’s hand when fused with Adam;
Misato is then giving exposition for the audience sake and there’s a shot of the Instrumentally Project in the computer panel she’s looking at if you can make out the writing. The attack begins and Asuka is launched into the bottom of the ocean, not just for claustrophobia’s sake but to show how deep she had gone into her depression. The first we see of Rei we also see Gendo’s glasses, now completely broken. By what happens in the film we see this motif represents her relationship with Gendo. She is next seen floating in the area where the Eva graveyard was in the series and we can see that what was left of them had returned to LCL. Gendo meets up with Rei and we have one of the few connecting lines of dialogue from episode 25 and this film. “It’s time Rei, this is the day for which you were created.”
Misato saves Shinji from getting killed and it’s not hard to see how pitiful he is at the moment, representing how, with Asuka’s depression and Rei’s blind obedience, that each character has reached their lowest point, note the maggot filled corpse, meaning there’s only one way to go and that’s up. Asuka’s comeback goes first when she learns that the reason her mother lost her mind in the contact experiment was because her soul went into Evangelion Unit 02. With the awareness that her mother had always been with her, she starts kicking ass and taking names. Two main characters then get shot, Misato after a long speech to Shinji, note the Rei just before the explosion. Then Ritsuko tries to blow up nerve to kill Gendo, Gendo says an inaudible line we will see hidden later in the film and then shoots her. Once again note the Rei, and note that it’s the exact same Rei that disappeared in the street in episode one. At this point Asuka is fucked up by the mass produced Evas and Lance of Langinuses, for the brief instance we see their entry plug at the beginning of the fight we can see it says Kowaru on them, Seele having used him as their own dummy system. Remember how they sent Kowaru to create the Third Impact?
When Eva Unit 01 awakens and Shinji gets in you’d think that it’s time for his comeback. Seeing his reaction to Eva Unit 03, we can see this was premature. Not quite, this time it’s actually Rei’s comeback as she betrays Gendo, takes his hand with Adam’s body and then reunites with Lilith; “I’m home.” Now remember that if an Angel, the offspring of Adam, infused with Lilith, the mother of humans, it would create the Third Impact similar to how human DNA was infused with Adam caused the Second Impact. Well, what do you think will happen if the mother, the rib of Adam, was to return to Adam, making him complete? What is the point of life when you’re complete, you might as well be an inanimate object, or in this case, a pool of primordial soup. And this is the gist of the human Instrumentality Project. The god-like Rei rises from terminal dogma and, with the Eva Units, creates an Anti-AT field. Remember how Kowaru mentioned the AT field was the thing that separates us? Well what do you think an anti-AT field would do? People start turning to LCL. In this scene we see everyone’s desire come before them, showing this completion to their emptiness. When Ritsuko shows up for Maya she types out something on her computer. We see on the monitor “I really did need you” which were Gendo’s last words to Ritsuko. To reinforce the motif of Gendo’s glasses, when he dies, the three Rei’s pick them up.
I’m not going to go much into the Eggs/Seeds/Fruits because they are only relevant for the ritual and the Geo-front. All that’s needed to know is that Lilith needs them to begin and end all human life. Now this is when it gets fucked up. Shinji goes into an eye vagina, representing a reverse birth of the world and then relives the memory of him building what looks like Nerv Headquarters from memory in a sandpit. When the other children leave him there and it zooms out, with the hills and outline of the trees, we see can the shape of a woman with Shinji in the womb. Recall the scene from episode 15. Now we see Asuka and Shinji’s true thoughts and Shinji’s woman troubles before it breaks into reality and we get a conversation between him and Rei about dreams not being real. Through their conversation Shinji starts seeing the value of reality and both the pleasure and pain that comes with life. Just like at the end of the series we see this breakthrough in a more internal light. He decides to return and, breaking the Lance that returned to complete the ritual, the people are given the option of returning to life if they wish. Despite this, the first people to return are Shinji and Asuka, showing a portrayal of Adam and Eve after being thrown out the Garden of Eden metaphor. This only makes sense considering the Instrumentality Project was also called the ‘Eden Project’.
This last scene is very interesting. We see the final disappearing Rei, representing the end of the timeless god from the first episode. After everything the audience has been put through you’d think we’d get a happy ending. Wishful thinking but, despite how it looks, it could easily be seen as a happy ending. Shinji is choking Asuka, just as he tried to during his vision. If we have learnt anything from Asuka’s insecurity, it’s that she shows affection by insulting people and considering her touch emulating Yui’s when Shinji returns to the world, we see Shinji is being given this affection by her once again.
Now with all this in mind I think this video, sums up this analysis perfectly;