Last updated February 11, 2005.

September 29, 2002:

The much anticipated End of Evangelion region one DVD was released last Tuesday, but (somewhat appropriately) not without controversy. In a nutshell, Manga Video screwed up yet another DVD release. There's a disturbingly long thread on the Anime on DVD forums dedicated to the defects. The two most common problems are a menu bug (apparently present on every single DVD) and a serious lock-up on the layer change.

End of Evangelion region one DVD
End of Evangelion DVD cover

My copy has its share of problems as well.

I have the menu bug of course, but instead of a hard lock-up on the layer change, there is only a slight pause; it's something many people would not notice.

I've played the movie all the way through on a Sony DVP-S530D. The first layer played fine, but the second layer had numerous problems all the way through. The video frequently froze (for about a tenth of a second each time). Sometimes it continued to play, but sometimes it jumped to random areas of earlier chapters in the movie.

I wonder how Manga will handle the backlash? They've screwed their customers in the past, but I find it difficult to believe they'll ignore such a serious, widespread problem on such a high-profile title. But that's just me, the eternal optimist, eh.

Incidentally, the commentary track to 26' is far less annoying than its predecessors. However, their discussion is occasionally misinformed; they seriously discuss a number of Internet theories that have long been disproven.

September 30, 2002:

As I mentioned earlier, Manga Entertainment's End of Evangelion region one DVD is a disaster from a technical standpoint, thanks to a ridiculously high defect rate (i.e. 100%, with varying degrees of severity). Thankfully, the copy I got in exchange for my defective disk seems to play okay (except for the menu bug, of course) on my machine. There are also a few serious translation errors in the subtitles, but a proper English script is available from Bochan_bird.

The movie itself is a beautiful piece of work. (Although I personally think Third Impact is depicted much better in the original television ending than in the movie, but that's another take altogether.) I am particularly enamored with the beautifully inspired usage of the Air from Bach's 3rd Orchestral Suite in D major during Asuka's mecha fight. (Incidentally, this is a rather ephiphanal moment for the character. Probably more on this later.)

December 01, 2002:

Long overdue, I've finally decided to address some of the questions that typically appear when watching End of Evangelion. As always a massive [SPOILER WARNING] if you haven't seen the movie and the series.

Consider this Part One of a seemingly endless stream of Evangelion essays. Today, we ask "What the Hell happened to Asuka?"


Before addessing the movie itself, one must appreciate that Soryu Asuka Langley underwent drastic changes over the course of the series and movies. The Asuka of End of Evangelion hardly seems like she could be the same girl from her introduction in the episode "Asuka Strikes!" or the flippant and bossy girl from the blackout episode.

Asuka's life essentially goes steadily downhill once she gets to Japan. Skipping ahead a bit, she hits rock bottom as she's comatose at the beginning of End of Evangelion—zero synch ratio, and replaced as the pilot of Unit 02—filled with self-loathing and hatred for everyone else; oh yeah, and Kaji is dead. (Incidentally, there's a nexus of sorts as Ikari Shinji masturbates over her nude, unconscious form as he approaches rock bottom as well. Shinji's problems may be addressed at a later date.)

However, Asuka does get better once she's stuffed back into her plug suit and launched with Unit 02 into the bottom of a lake for safety as Nerv is, uh, dismantled. Back inside her Eva, things start looking better for her in the sense that once you've hit rock bottom, there's nowhere to go but up. Thankfully, her mom wakes the fuck up as well and Asuka remembers that she's a genius and quickly has her epiphany, realizing that the First Children was right all along and Shinji really is baka for not realizing the truth as well. (Incidentally, note that Unit 02 mimics Asuka's fetal position as they lie at the bottom of the lake. I find it interesting that Asuka apparently managed to synch with her Eva while unconscious, after stuggling so hard her synch ratio so recently.)

Reunited with her mother at last, Asuka goes ape shit and starts kicking ass wholesale. Her transformation is somewhat remarkable, particularly if one realizes that this five-minute melee represents the only time during the entire show when she's actually happy (well, other than the time she went shopping with Kaji for a swimsuit).

Cutting to the Chase

Why does Asuka sustain physical injuries during her mecha fight with the Mass Production Evas? Didn't they previously establish that Eva pilots only feel pain but aren't physically hurt when the Evas are damaged? Those of you who have only seen the Divx digisub probably missed it altogether, but on the DVD you can clearly see blood pouring out of Asuka's left eye after Unit 02 takes a lance in the face. (We'll ignore the question as to how blood can pour while she's immersed in LCL for now. And no, they didn't just forget; you can clearly see bubbles in the LCL at one point during her mecha fight.) Also, her arm is split in half as her Eva is speared while trying to reactivate.

The difference here is that these injuries were caused by reproductions of the Lance of Longinus. As the legend goes, the original Lance of Longinus can kill anything because it was anointed with the blood of Christ while He was on the cross. Here, when Unit 02 takes a mass produced reproduction Lance in the face, the (spiritual?) properties of the weapon and the (likely) very high synch ratio Asuka has achieved cause the Eva's injury to manifest itself on its pilot—a form of stigmata, if you will. (See also the actual stigmata that develops on Shinji's hands as Eva 01 is cruxified by reproduction Longinus Lances.) You'll notice that when the M.P. Evas disembowel Unit 02, Asuka feels the associated pain, but does not actually have her guts ripped out. But when Unit 02's arm is split by the second Lance, Asuka's arm is split as well.

So, does Asuka die here? Well, presumably. I suppose it is possible (although very unlikely) that she remained alive inside her entry plug as Unit 02 is ripped apart. (Hey, it worked for Toji, anyway.) Remember, though, she also gets skewered along with Unit 02 by the remaning Lances, so it's probably safe to say she's dead at this point.

However, it is curious that a Rei apparition does not appear to Asuka here. Everyone else in the End of Evangelion faced (the second) Rei as they died (or in the case of the slaughtered Nerv personnel, posthumously). It is possible that the First Children appeared to her off screen, but I prefer to think there's simply something different about dying while synched to an Eva. That is, since Asuka died in her Eva, she's only mostly dead and not all dead. See also Shinji's mom, Asuka's mom, Shinji himself (technically, anyway) and the second Rei (who shows up again to pay her respects to Misato, Risuko, Gendo, et al.) as support for this theory. This is still pure horseshit speculation, of course, and does not explain why Kaworu remains so chatty after getting smooshed, but it does seem to comport with what is shown in the show. As a caveat, one should recognize that ultimately there's no great unifying underlying truth to be found by parsing Evangelion to death, and that these types of exercises are performed strictly for their own sake.

So then how does Asuka end up on the beach with Shinji at the conclusion of End of Evangelion? Well, Yui explains to Shinji during Third Impact that essentially anyone who wants to return, could. Shinji subsequently rejects Instrumentality (digressing a bit, I never really bought this turnaround. It's explained better in Episode 26, but it's still a 180 that I wouldn't have expected from Shinji; Instrumentality would have been right up his alley) as does Asuka, apparently.

Now, it does make sense that Asuka would reject Instrumentality (assuming she was only mostly dead inside Unit 02 up until then). Seeing as how Asuka has made it perfectly clear that she hates everyone, I guess it's pretty unlikely that she'd want to be with them forevvvarrrrr. Furthermore, she was never quite suicidal, although she did lose regard for her own life once her worth as an Eva pilot (i.e. the sole measure of her identity and self-value during the series) started slipping. However, during her epiphany, it becomes clear that Asuka does want to live, as evidenced in her "I don't want to die" and "I'll kill you" mantras. To me, "I don't want to die" can be taken quite literally, and "I'll kill you" represents a manifestation of her utter contempt of the M.P. Evas (this contempt being the darker side of the unbridled hubric pride in her Unit 02 from her introductory episodes).

More importantly, this latter mantra also vocalizes an absolute unwillingness to surrender. However, the conviction displayed in End of Evangelion differs from her refusals to surrender to the "mind rape" angel or the ass-kicking, ribbon-armed angel that was ultimately devoured by Unit 01. In those two instances, her refusal to surrender was based on fear—she was afraid to lose because she was afraid of losing value as an Eva pilot and because she was afraid of being "inferior" to Shinji or the First Children. In End of Evangelion, however, her refusal to surrender represents an unwillingness to quietly shuffle off the mortal coil—and an unwillingness to join Instrumentality. So she's back. On a beach. Bandaged. With Shinji. Probably not her ideal scenario, but better than the alternative. And there you have it.

Incidentally, I think it's reasonable to believe neither Shinji nor Asuka really had much say in where they ended up after rejecting Instrumentality—or with whom, for that matter — but it's probably best to save this particular line of thought for a later time, if at all.


Anta nankani korosareru nowa mappira yo! Kimochi warui.