will’s review published on Letterboxd:
end of evangelion without the grand gestures; they're being saved for 3.0 + 1.0. i love this as an immensely tortured work that's so fatalistic in form; how everything comes at such a dense momentum, where each scene has already been over thought and overwrought, to the point that it's as if each character knows it, reflects it. surprise only comes at the end of chains instead of in action/reaction and usually at the hands of gendo, who sees beyond the film, and shinji, the only one left behind. shinji as a christ figure, if that's still something anno is interested in, is obfuscated -- his desire to save rei in 2.0 ends in an unfinished third impact, seemingly stopped by kaworu. this film then acts as an extension to the lasting image of end of evangelion, much of the world extinct: mass extinctions on this planet aren't uncommon, but nothing yet has been resolved. then, too, are the plans of SEELE and gendo pushed to a layer beyond the original. you can (not) redo.
kaworu as a metanarrative force almost seems to be an answer to shinji's narrative trajectory throughout the series in its entirety-- his sense of abandonment, longing for connection and not knowing how or in what way, these themes perhaps the most important in light of end of evangelion's emphasis on anti-escapism. kaworu's promise, "this time, i'll be sure to bring you happiness." then seems to be an intercession out of this stalemate; if shinji cannot reconcile with rei, then there may be a new interlocutor, and this relationship is the entirety of this film. kaworu's motivation, along with SEELE's, is largely left to ambiguity. SEELE is still an antagonistic force to gendo's desire to reunite with yui in eva-01, and kaworu is seemingly, as gendo implies upon his elimination, their "boy". kaworu's promise in this film is to restore the world together with shinji, in a role mimicking that of rei in end of evangelion. he even tries to reach through to shinji in a similar manner, with that reaching dialogue, only here beyond the scope of both the film and shinji.
even if your soul disappears, your hopes and curses remain in this world. your will roams the world as information and gradually changes. in time, even your very self is altered... shinji-kun, you just need to find peace and a place to call your own.
and shinji suffers the loss of the only person who tried to reach out to him after his awakening, already utterly lost in meta-schemes of the film, and is thus broken down to the deepest level yet. never before has the world been this antagonistic to him. it seems to hate his very being. yet again, in that same sweeping motion found at the end of end of evangelion, asuka's arrival is a counterweight to the soul of the series as shinji's perspective. here her return for him is both hope and a slap in the face -- 生きて!