Ryan Kirby’s review published on Letterboxd:
I've been living with my friend this summer, and after we saw Pacific Rim we powered through the entire series of Neon Genesis Evangelion. He insisted that it was one of the best mech anime series of all time, and had already seen the entirety, but this was my first time. At the end of it all I can say in confidence that this is one of, if not my absolute favorite anime of all time.
A little background information about this movie; this is a retconning of the final two episodes of the series, which abandoned all narrative structure to provide the main characters with Shakespearean monologues them break down existentially, and doesn't offer a very concrete conclusion to the overarching plot of the series. I actually really, really enjoyed this ending, and if you use a little bit of brainpower it's not hard to figure out that the mishmash of everyone's thoughts and memories clashing into the final two episodes is just an abstract way to present the "Human Instrumentality Project" going into effect. Apparently, the public didn't like the ending though, and this was made as a response to the overwhelming negativity that stemmed out of the off-kilter conclusion to the main series.
In the beginning this worried me a little bit, as it seemed to be setting itself up to appeal to standard anime cliches, providing a more action-oriented and spectacular conclusion that would be reminiscent of a standard mech anime in the first half of the ending, and while the animation and choreography is beautiful, it didn't really pull the curtain back on the philosophical themes that run deep throughout the entire show. In the second half though, they essentially redo the ending of the series but just provide it with more obvious context. They even take it a little further than the original did in some really mind-blowing ways, making the show not just an examination of the human psyche at the core of the main characters, but also the creator himself, and the audience that watches the show.
Evangelion in it's entirety has to be considered the work of a genius, and the series in it's entirety gets an easy five stars from me, and is something I would not hesitate to watch again. The movie, while an absolutely fitting end to the series, is not at all something that you can just watch individually. It is absolutely required to watch the series before this, so the fact that I'm reviewing it as a stand-alone movie in the first place seems a little weird. As a movie, the reliance on information from the TV show is enough to knock it down a half star, as it makes it pretty inaccessible to anyone from the general public who wants to enjoy Evangelion but doesn't want to sit through the entirety of the TV show. But this really isn't a movie, and I would rather my score reflect my feelings on the entire series, and with that mindset there is no way I could not give it five stars. Maybe the first TV show, animated or not, that I would be willing to call a masterpiece.