So I met up with my dealer Cheepork today. He passed me the stuff, and wanted an explanation for Neon Genesis Evangelion. I had recommended him the anime earlier and he had seen all 26 episodes of it.
Me: You want the story explanation or the explanation that works for me?
Cheepork: Either one. Why were they clapping at the end?
Me: Okay, after five years of reading after I first saw it, I can say that the whole series was just a backdrop so that Shinji can grow up. And at the end? He grew up. That's why they were clapping.
C: So, none of that even happened?
Me: Well, it did. As it happened, when it was very real to the characters, those things are real and really did happen. All Shinji had to do at the end was to process everything he saw and learned and just... grow up.
C: So what's with the angels and Evas?
Me: If you're gonna expect a manual for how the robots work or why and hows of each story element, I'm sorry - there isn't any. From the creator's point of view, it was merely a growth story. A personal growth story steeped in German psychology and philosophy as well as spirituality. That's it.
C: But... they did all this story about robots in the beginning.
Me: Which was Hideaki Anno's mistake. He created expectations about a mecha anime, but it's not a mecha anime. It's an existential angst anime about personal growth. Essentially, he misled the audience.
C: But... what was it, at the end?
Me: Well, Hideaki Anno shaved his head as an apology to fans. He was facing a death in his family and NGE was just an exploration of his personal journey.
C: No. In the story.
Me: Well, The Human Instrumentality Project happened. Shinji Ikari finally understood many lessons about barriers - why we need them to define ourselves and our world around us. He understood about Absolute Terror Field (AT Field), which is not a force-field-like projection, but a barrier created by beings pushing against each other because of their fear of being together. Hence, the song Hedgehog's Dillemma, which says that the more people want to be closer, the more it hurts - like for hedgehogs. But it's not.
Me: Sure, you want the story explanation now. Well, nothing happened, really. After Kaworu Nagisa was killed, there was nothing. As far as the series is concerned, of course.
C: Argh! I am never watching it again!
Me: Well. Yes.