If you want to watch Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0: Thrice Upon A Time, you will need an Amazon Prime subscription. In Australia, a monthly subscription will set you back AUD$6.99 a month, but it could the price of admission given that you get free shipping and access to a whole bunch of perks as an Amazon Prime member. Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0: Thrice Upon A Time manages to feel like a better End of Evangelion. I think in part the creator heard the backlash in the third film and End of Evangelion and didn’t want a repeat of the controversies. This film has so many parallels to the End of Evangelion film that it isn’t hard to spot the clear similarities between the two films.
One thing is clear for me, Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0: Thrice Upon A Time is much more coherent and satisfying story than the opaque story I witnessed as a young man in End of Evangelion back in the 90s.
This film also manages to resolve some of the concerns that long time fans had with the third film in this Rebuild series like the complete change to characters like Misato and Mari, the many unexplained events that occurred during the 14 year time skip (such as the disappearance of key characters like Kaji), and it was generally accepted that the third film’s narrative was hard to follow and understand – it may have been intentional but it wasn’t easy.
Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0: Thrice Upon A Time manages to answer a lot of these concerns by providing an explanation to why Misato had to change her personality, what happened to Kaji, and finally made it clear what the goal of Human Instrumentality Project is and the choices that Shinji makes at the end of the film. It also manages to give Mari more screen time, though her reason for being the films is still questionable, and more time to lesser characters. Plus, the start of the film manages to capture the ‘normal’ lives of Shinji’s childhood friends in this post-apocalyptic, Fourth Impact world.
Before the film starts, viewers are greeted to a summary of the first three films. This provides a good synopsis of the story so far.
Once the film starts, we see Mari in Eva Unit 8 take an a mission to reactivate Paris while taking on Nerv’s numerous Eva Unit 44As (whose aim is clearly to stop Unit 8 from succeeding in its mission). With what becomes a standard in this film, Mari is able to successfully take take the angels/evangelions with her usual theatrics. Once the Unit 44As a dealt with, a much stronger wave of units arrive to try and stop the mission. Here, we are introduced to the Eva Unit 44Bs which have the power to charge energy into a portable positron cannon attached to an Eva Unit 4444C. The positron cannon should remind people of the first Evangelion film where Shinji used the powerful sniper rifle, while requiring all of Japan’s energy, to take down the final angel, Remiel, in that film. Against the positron cannon, WILLE uses floating battleships for protection. Needless to say that these battleships don’t stand a chance, but manage to help Mari and Unit 8 find an opening to dispatch the Fuyutsuki and Gendo’s Evas.
With the battle over, WILLE with Mari’s help are able to unlock a well preserved Paris. Here the blood covered buildings on the surface are moved aside and replaced with buildings with a much a wider palette of colors. It’s a marvelous scene showing a distinctively well preserved city. Some buildings shoot up as barriers around the city with the Nerv logo along the buildings’ side. (But I can’t understand exactly why they undertook this mission and whether it was at all crucial to WILLE.)
On the ground, we are then shown Asuka, Rei and a despondent Shinji walk through a blood covered city. It is clear that they use this sequence of events to show that this film follows directly after the end of the previous third film.
The gang are eventually picked up and brought to a village. It is here that we are introduced an older Tohji, who works as a doctor in Village 3. We learn that Village 3 has around 1,000 people and it seems to be a working society thanks to the work of WILLE. Here, we see Shinji’s childhood friends all grown up and get a glimpse of ‘normal’ life in this post Fourth Impact world. During this moments, we are also given plenty of fanservice in Shinji visiting Asuka while she is naked and sleeping with just her underwear. At the same time, we see a different side to Rei, who learns to work and begins to appreciate the world around her. It was nice to see Rei enjoying her time while planting rice at a rice paddy with the farmers.
It is during this segment that we also see Asuka appreciating and understanding Shinji, who is despondent for most of the start of the film, and is actually one of few people who know that there is nothing to do except left Shinji mope it out until the spell breaks. It is an improved Asuka that shows that she has matured as a person and an element that I think long time fans will appreciate.
We learn that Village 3 is protected within containment seals around the village. Outside the boundary are roaming headless Evas called Wanderers. We are also introduced to Kaji’s son and learn that Kaji had a wish to try preserve all diverse forms of life.
But peace doesn’t long and the next epic battle has to take place. In the interlude, on board the Wunder, we manage to see the film use the opportunity to soften Misato and Ritsuko’s character in a nice way compared to the impression we were left with in the third film, where they were both quite cold and distant.
The final battle between WILLE and Nerv is slow and manages to take place across different segments, e.g. the introduction to Nerv’s headquarters, Shinji’s resolve to pilot Unit 01, Shinji versus Gendo and finally Shinki’s resolve.
In the final battle, at first, Shinji is forbidden from piloting an Evangelion for fear that he will start another Impact, so Asuka and Mari are tasked with stopping Gendo and his plan for an ‘Additional Impact’. Asuka and Mari have to take down the Eva Unit 7 series. Asuka manages to reach Eva Unit 13 and realises that she needs to transform using the Thirteenth Angel’s blood stored in her eye to power her Evangelion unit to be able to destroy the dormant Unit 13. Unfortunately for Asuka, the fusion between her and the angel causes Unit 13 to awaken and for all intents and purpose it appeared that the fusion was part of Fuyutsuki and Gendo’s calculations.
The final part of the film has so many parallels with End of Evangelion, but I won’t say any more. I think this version does a lot of justice to the story and by the end, I certainly feel better explaining what happened.
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