‘Neon Genesis Evangelion‘ has become one of the most impactful anime shows of our time and over the years, many viewers have debated over it endlessly. Some claim that it has some deeply moving hidden messages all along and has been plotted out in the most thoughtful way possible; but then there are others who claim that it represents a very immature ideology of the world. Regardless of all the mixed reviews, the anime went viral and has been a trending topic for quite some time. Directed by Hideki Anno, the anime absolutely pushed the limits of mecha designs by introducing Evas and Angels that are far beyond what anyone could have imagined. The animation quality may not seem all that impressive today but considering that it premiered back in 1995, it’s quite fluid.
The entire first half of the anime is mostly about character development and a whole lot of typical mecha action. Although it is quite enjoyable, this half can get a little monotonous because of its recurring story. But along with this, it also keeps dropping hints about what lies ahead. As enjoyable as the whole mecha action may seem, it’s the conversations between the characters that actually build up to its ending. Speaking of the ending, many fans were not too impressed with its last two episodes that have way too much going on. One simple realistic explanation for it would be that the creators were probably running out of budget and were forced to slap everything into episode 25 and 26. But that kind of sucks the fun out of it, so we will be giving you a more “in-universe” explanation of these episodes. But before that, we will also be touching upon all the major plot points that lead up to the event.
First and Second Impact, Explained
A White Moon makes its way to the surface of the Earth and is soon followed by a Black Moon. But before the White Moon could start the process of progeneration, the Black Moon was already here. This incident leads to the formation of Earth’s Moon and later is referred to as the “First Impact”. After the First Moon turns dormant, the Black Moon releases all of its contents and leads to the creation of life on Earth. That’s how humans later became a dominant life form on the planet.
In the 1990s, the White Moon was discovered in Antarctica by the Katsuragi Research Team. A few months before this, even the Black Moon was discovered under the city of Hakone in Japan and its presence was publicly announced. But the discovery of the White Moon was buried as a secret. Within both of these structures, Giant entities known as Adam and Lilith were discovered. Later, experiments were conducted on Adam which involved bringing it in contact with an undisclosed human DNA. This is how Kowaru Nagisa was born and Adam was awakened.
Adam then attempted to reclaim the Earth by first eliminating the Black Moon and then beginning with the process of rebuilding itself from scratch. In an attempt to stop Adam, the Katsuragi Research Team uses Adam’s fail-safe, referred to as “the Lance of Longinus”. But before they can do this, the “Second Impact” ensues and destroys all of Antarctica along with all the marine life around it. Eventually, Adam is reduced to his embryonic state and Kowaru Nagisa becomes the holder of his soul. Meanwhile, except for Misato, Gendo and a few major figures, almost all the researchers are killed in this event. So the Angels in the present event of the anime are just Adam’s descendants who want to fulfill his initial purpose by reclaiming the Earth from mankind, which is also an outcome of the “seed of Lilith” (First Impact).
What is the Human Instrumentality Project?
Formed by the UN itself, Gehirn was the group that was assigned with the task of developing the Evangelions and MAGI computers. It was also publicly announced that these were solely being created to prevent the “Third Impact”. This is where the shadow council of SEELE comes in. It replaces Gehirn with NERV and only intends to carry out a forced evolution of humans through the Human Instrumentality Project.
The goal of the Human Instrumentality Project is to unite all the souls of mankind into one entity. This would not only remove all the differences between people but would also create a perfect world where a god-like creature exists with no feelings of sorrow or insecurities. Human Instrumentality can only be achieved if Adam and Lilith merge with each other. This will lead to the initiation of the Third Impact which will further result in Instrumentality. According to SEELE, humans do not really deserve to live on Earth especially after the Second Impact. But at the same time, wiping off all human population is also not an option. So they intend to create a world where all the humans get encapsulated in a god-like figure which will eventually allow them to live in harmony with Adam and Lilith.
This further explains Gendo’s idea of Instrumentality. According to him, Instrumentality will help him reunite with his dead wife. This is the reason why he even injects the embryo of Adam into his body to merge with Lilith and cause the Third Impact. But when he sacrifices his own son to the Angels, just for the sake of his shallow goals, his wife punishes him through Rei who is a humanlike clone of Lilith/Gendo’s wife’s daughter.
How are EVA Pilots Chosen and How Do They Sync With Them?
Shinji Ikari (Unit 01)
The main reason why Shinji is chosen to pilot Unit 01 is that his mother’s soul is present inside it. In the second episode, when he faces the third Angel, his Eva goes berserk. That’s probably the outcome of his own mother taking over to protect her child from the Angel. This has been explained in a much better way in the sequel movie, ‘End of Evangelion’. It’s Shinji’s desperation to get his father’s approval that allows him to sync with Unit 01 and his mother’s protective nature just makes it easier for him. To put it simply, Eva is actually a safe spot for Shinji where he’s away from his father. There is also an incident where his Unit rejects the Dummy plug and Gendo screams with anger saying, “Why do you do this to me Yui?” This is one of the many incidents which suggests that Shinji’s mother is trying to protect him from his father.
Asuka Langley Soryu (Unit 02)
Except for Rei, all the potential pilots who are chosen for the EVAs do not have mothers. All the EVAs contain the souls of the pilot’s dead mother. In Asuka’s case, she keeps dreaming about her mother’s death and much later when she is finally able to open herself up to her own Eva, she forms an emotional bond with it to reach a very high sync ratio. If we follow this chain of evidence, it becomes pretty obvious that even the fourth Unit (Unit 03) had the soul of Toji’s dead mother.
Rei Ayanami (Unit 00)
Now Rei has been created from the souls of Lilith and Yui Ikari, so for obvious reasons, she does not really have a mother. No direct implications have been made regarding Eva 00’s soul but a lot of events in the series suggest that it contains Rei I’s soul. The first Rei was strangled to death and after her revival, Rei II was formed. So in a way, since Rei I was a clone of Yui, her Eva has a part of Shinji’s mother’s soul.
In the last two episodes, we see Shinji going through a trippy mental breakdown that is unlike anything else in the entire series. He even finally realizes that his life is worth living and suddenly, he gets surrounded by all the characters who clap for him. This ending is apparently taking place during the Instrumentality process where humanity is actually becoming one common entity. All the core characters start facing their own demons as Shinji addresses his own feelings of abandonment; Asuka gets to face her constant hunger for perfectionism; and Rei starts to confront her very own identity.
The last scene is pretty much of a metaphor for Shinji trying to accept the world around him and also the world making an attempt to accept him. While he does this, he is able to accept that in the end, it’s the journey that matters more than the destination and it’s one’s flaws that make him/her who they truly are. But with this, Shinji ends up rejecting instrumentality and this causes the entire Unit 01 to stop powering the anti-AT field. All the human souls are then sent back to their bodies and Rei, whose purpose is complete, does not exist anymore.
The ending can indeed be quite confusing and what we have explained here is our own interpretation of it. ‘End of Evangelion‘ does make an attempt to fix the loose ends of ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion‘, but at the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to your own imagination. The series, overall, is one hell of a ride and once you’re done watching it, you would probably consider it as a timeless classic.