The story starts in a fairly disorienting manner and then moves quickly from there. After about 20 minutes of confusion, however, the anime soon finds its feet and I began to be able to follow what was going on. At around 40 minutes in I was actually somewhat interested... and then, the anime falls apart under its own philosophical weight. Apparently, the creators of this anime thought that they could substitute all semblences of plot with random scenes that supposedly have symbolic meaning. A quote from Roger Ebert's movie glossary comes to mind: "If you have to ask what it symbolizes, it didnt."
I have seen this movie several times, and still cannot enjoy the film one iota. I do not believe that it is because I didn't "get" the film; I believe that there is quite simply nothing to get. Certain Neon Genesis Evangelion fanboys have gotten a huge kick out of analyzing the show and attempting to fabricate some sort of interpretation of the events that transpire, but in my opinion this is a futile endeavor. The shows plot was deliberately made incomprehensible for incomprehensibilitys sake; there is no meaning to the show other than to have no meaning whatsoever.
The difference between this film and other virtually indecipherable anime (see: Cat Soup, Paprika) is that End of Evangelion pretentiously demands interpretation.There is nothing to entertain the viewer beyond the movie's pompous symbolism, and this is the film's downfall.
Generally, the animation is pretty damn good. Because of the film's obviously larger budget, End of Evangelion improves on the excellent original character designs with greatly improved fluidity and backgrounds. A sequence near the end, where iridescent crosses spring from Earth, is one of the nicer pieces of eye candy that I have seen. Another highlight is Asuka's central fight midway through the show, which oozes with perfectly stylized violence.
The awesome animation is marred, however, by two dreadfully awful sequences. In one scene, the "anime" is not animated at all. Instead, a person with a low budget camcorder randomly wanders around town, filming things like empty movie theatres. This comes as quite a shock midway through and manages to come across as exceedingly ugly. Many people I have spoke with have tried to defend the scene by citing its symbolic meaning, but all of them have given me different answers. Ultimately, the sequence is a jarring break from the continuity of the animation, and definitely hurts both the show's pacing and overall video quality.
In another scene, there is a horrendously long sequence in which thousands of still frames are flashed across the screen at a mind-numbing rate. Never before have I had to sit through such an obviously expensive, thoroughly pointless, and horrifically painful section in anime.
In general, I found the sound to be pretty much flawless. The music does a pretty good job of setting the mood even as the story is falling apart, and voice acting is still excellent. Sound effects, particularly in Asukas battle, are nicely done.
Some may disagree, but I thought the original characters of Evangelion were excellent. All of them were almost perfectly imperfect, and as a result managed to capture some of the darkest parts of the human soul. While none of the characters were particularly likeable, every single one was captivating in their infinite flaws.These promising characters, however, are pretty much destroyed in the treadmill of an awful story. By the end of the show, just about every single individual has lost his or her humanity; their actions no longer reflect any semblence of logic or compassion. Forget character development - this is an anime about action figures.Because of this, what was arguably Neon Genesis Evangelions greatest strength becomes End of Evangelions biggest fault.
I went into this anime genuinely hoping that at last I would find a little closure to Evangelion. Instead, I got this. Deliberately plotless, the creators apparantly assumed that they could pass off mindless and pointless scenes under the pretense of "art." A huge budget is wasted, a good storyline is desecrated, and one of the most promising animes of 1997 is put to shame. Pretentious and disappointing, End of Evangelion is certainly down there among some of the worst anime that I have seen.