They say that changes is a form of death.
In a way they are. After all, changes is letting go everything that you know, not just about the world, but about yourself. Breaking free from all of that, to unburden yourself of something that you have intrinsically tied into your sense of self, can be a form of death.
The horrifying reality of change, however, do not just stem from the metaphorical death that comes with it. But also in the way it can affect others.
Changes doesn’t come in isolation. Wanting happiness for ourselves, for instance, may entail curbing the happiness of others. An unfortunate effect of living a scarcity-governed world populated by myriad of individuals with intersecting and contradicting wants as well as needs.
In the case of Shinji in Rebuild of Evangelion, the changes that he did brought literal apocalypse.
Shinji is a basically a poster child of depression. Afraid of taking actions out of fear for consequences. In the first film of Rebuild of Evangelion, Evangelion 1.0, he was ordered by his supervisor, Misato, to think for himself and figure out what he wanted to do instead of what other people wanted out of him.
In the second film of Rebuild, Evangelion 2.0, Shinji figured out what he wanted to do. He wanted to save Rei, the girl he came to care about. He doesn’t care what would happen to the world in the process. This assertation of agency, this act of simply wanting things, was a phenomenon that the movie portrayed as something so grandiose, with heaven and earth converging upon an angelic figure, as if to mirror how world-changing can changes be.
So of course, Evangelion also decided to make Shinji’s internal apocalypse an external one.
Because our agency ultimately doesn’t just affect ourselves.
Years after that faithful decision, Shinji spent the better part of Evangelion: 3.0 in a confused state. He did not know what is going on in the world and what happened to his friends. Why did Misato and the others betrayed NERV? What’s going on with Rei?
To his horror, however, the answer to all of those questions was less than pleasant. He found out his action triggered the Third Impact. Not only that, he was also told that Rei was absorbed into Unit-01.
This is perhaps the worst possible nightmare for Shinji. The one time he decided to want something for himself, not only he brought about horrifying consequences to the world around him, he also failed to get what he wanted.
After knowing the truth, Shinji is basically paralyzed. After all, what good can come from doing anything, knowing the result of his previous action? This is all on top of other people expectations of him, whom he can no longer trust.
Kaworu, Shinji’s co-pilot who was also the only friendly presence in Shinji’s life at the moment, claimed that the mission that NERV had set out for the both of them can fix the world once more. Unfortunately this was revealed to be a ruse. Shinji ended up almost triggering another impact, furthering his father’s agenda.
Much like what the film subtitle suggests, we can not redo.
We can not take back what we did. We can only move forward.
Making decision for ourselves, figuring out what we want to do, has always been a part of life. Unfortunately, the consequences of those decisions is something we can not always control, and we have to live by them.
In the end, we can only walk the path of life all the while wishing that we can make better choices down the road.