As I had been putting off watching Bennett Sage's Anime Abandon videos for some time, earlier tonight I broke down with a cup of Jack n Coke and enjoyed some of his reviews. I ended my viewing on his review (a half finished one I might add) of End of Evangelion...
And now I feel I must make something come to light.
As a fan of the series and the overall idea of Evangelion, I (as the cinical and anti organized religion guy) felt that EoE was, frankly, a pretentious slap in the face. Does the film offer any growth in characters, any kind of catharsis to which we the viewers and fans can take away when the film is said and done?
What you are left with is a hallow sense that you just watched 2 hours of pretty nothingness. Yeah. Visually it uses some of the most stunning hand drawn animation of its time, but there is nothing behind it. No motivational storyline, no real understanding of countless unanswered questions left by the series, no grand revelations of the intent of SEELA and the Human Instrumentality Project. What we are left with is the notion that you feel like you were supposed to come away from that movie with something but didn't recieve any.
I use this as a point that I want to use to address an issue seen if more modern films and shows in both the East and West, the issue of style over substance. End of Evangelion is a prime example that it doesn't matter what the story is you are telling so long as the visuals captivate the audiance to sit through something for two hours.
Stop and think on that for a bit. How many movies in the last 20 years use this to great effect? Well, EVERY film done by that aborted protoplasmic sludge Michael Bay, a majority of the recent films done by Speilberg, and even to some degree (and gods forgive me but I must despite my fanboyisms) Peter Jackson. Think of a ton of the cartoons available today that focus on flashy and over the top but don't convey anything for the viewer to walk away from (NOTE: I am excluding Gurren Lagann from this for the reason that the show was meant to be that yet somehow, though inadvertantly, conveyed a moral message).
It infuriates me that in this world we live in today we are treated to these visual treats that entice the eye and literally hypnotize us from the lack of creativity or story telling or character arcs and development. Anime can be notorious for this too, but I haven't seen enough "modern" anime of late to make that statement with earnest. Regardless, so many films and animation works are given critical acclaim and fandom simply for the fact they look so damn good.
Hell one of my favorite films, Prometheus, follows the trend of being this hyper realistic and visually stunning work, but where that film had a deep overall premis that only a fan of R. Scott's work can catch onto, other films like Transformers and Fast n Furious and blah blah blah have nothing in terms of underlying or overlying story to captivate the imagination or makes you take time out of your day to think about a message in it.
Getting back to End of Evangelion, the only redemptive qualities about the so called story is that, through a loving fan's eye, the story was better handled. What do I mean. I now submit to you the doujinshin "Evangelion: Re-Take" an 18+ (FYI it has literally 9 pages of graphic sex and it actually serves a purpose to the story. WOW right?) manga that spans 200 plus pages of making the story and characters evolve and make sense while still staying in touch with the source material.
My gods, it goes so far as to make Shinji develop from being the introverted and well hated emo into a character who takes action and learns from his mistakes! Asuka grows a sense of humility, Rei...well is still Rei...and the list goes on. Events seen in the series and movie are used as focal points to an overall theme of illusion and introspection that helps drive characters forward and give satisfaction to the ultimate fate of both characters and the world.
That is what EoE should have been: an ending that leaves you with a satisfying feeling as well as imparts ideals and concepts that let your mind branch out and ponder things it once never considered. And what's more, hardly any films today do this!
So few movies ever effectively take the medium as a canvas of artistic expression to convey ideals and thoughts or dreams to let the viewer impart themselves to that art and draw their own conclusions. What films that do try this often recieve scorn in the box office because of poor reception or improper handling of the material. Countless movies that faced this could have moved millions to tears had the right person taken the time and effort to properly convey such.
Instead we get movies like A Serbian Film which attempts to justify itself as an alagory of the sufferings of Serbians when the film itself is nothing more than a grotesque snuff film that happened to be made by a serbian and a few russians.
So what do you think? Am I just pissing into the dark with my notions, or are there others that feel the same? I would really like to know guys.