For anime buffs all around the world, Neon Genesis Evangelion is simply a must-see. But by the time you're done, you might be left with more questions than answers. Not to fear! There's a movie, too, called The End of Evangelion. Surely, that'll answer more questions, right? Well, not exactly. In fact, people have been trying to analyze this movie for decades now, and there are some areas where nobody has ever gotten a straight answer. This has given rise to a ton of strange, unique, and downright terrifying fan theories about The End of Evangelion.
One thing we know for sure is that both the show and the movie are steeped in religious commentary. Many End of Evangelion fan theories are centered around that. But there's even more to delve into. Between the Eva souls theory, deities, references to dating sims, and the inner workings of creator Hideaki Anno, you can be sure things are about to get weird.
So if you're a fan of conspiracy theories, particularly End of Evangelion conspiracy theories, then this list is for you.
This one's got some interesting, and vaguely distressing, background to it. Rather than showing two different endings, some fans theorize that both the end of the TV series and EoE are exactly the same. The only difference is our point of view. This means that, even during the TV version, Misato is still dying, Asuka is still curled up and semi-lucid at the bottom of a lake, Gendo is still being super creepy with Rei and Lilith, and Shinji is still having a mental breakdown.
The TV version simply takes place as internal dialogues and thoughts in the individual characters' minds. We see glimpses of the grim reality actually going on through brief, sometimes seconds-long shots that show things like Ritsuko's body floating, Misato shot and dead, and Unit 2 in a fetal position under water. The idea that the TV version is all a happy fantasy for our characters is both intriguing and still kind of hard to believe.
This theory has gained more support as of late, mostly because of the Rebuild/Sequel version of NGE that's come out more recently. This theory holds that the NGE timeline is fractured, looping, and we only see a small part of it at any given time. This is backed up by the fact that Kaworu seems to know who Shinji is, and that Rei has a sense of her life restarting multiple times. It also explains the vast differences in the sequel, the original series, EoE, and even the manga.
What this means for the EoE movie is that this ending is just one of many, and that Shinji might actually have a sense of that. This is also supported by occasional scenes going back in time, like Shinji and Asuka yelling at each other over coffee. We know these scenes didn't actually happen during the original series, so where else would they have come from except for alternate timelines? Which timeline comes first, however, is still widely debated to this day.
Instrumentality is a key theme throughout the series, and some say that, in the end of the TV series, Shinji finally accepts instrumentality. He doesn't make a choice, he doesn't fight it, he doesn't even really question it that hard. He just gets a huge dose of self-love and acceptance and acknowledges the new world he's been brought into and realizes he can live there comfortably.
The movie, on the other hand, is all about Shinji making a choice. He doesn't just blindly accept a new world made for him, full of sunshine and rainbows. Instead, people around him die, he loses many he cares about, and he never really hits a point where he loves himself at all. As Asuka points out, he doesn't even really like himself. Many fans think this indicates that the TV ending is all about acceptance, while the movie is all about rejection.
When it comes to art and in-show visuals of Rei Ayanami, you might notice that we often see images of the moon. It's shown behind her in the final moments of the movie, She's often seen staring at it, and it's even the last thing she looks at before she goes off to test for the dummy plug. This also ties in with the female menstrual cycle, which moves in a similar cycle to the moon, and is seen in brief images concerning Rei throughout the series. In other words, Rei is a representation of the cool, quiet moon.
On the other hand, Asuka is the polar opposite of Rei in so many ways, indicating that she is the sun. She's fiery, she's always shown in daylight, as she seems to actually go out of her way to oppose Rei at every turn. In EoE, her last moments alive even involve her reaching up into the sky, towards the sun. Beyond just contrasting the two girls, the significance of this supposed symbolism is still up for debate.