Fine-Tuned: Silence used in Evangelion ‘To be Continued’ Cuts

One of the most subtle devices in Evangelion is its use of abrupt endings rather than having the ED music carry over into the ending scene or having BGM. This is a catalogue of the ending shots in Evangelion.

1. Ends on dramatic music cue, Shinji faces Angel.
2. Ends on silence, Misato tells a ‘sleeping’ Shinji to hang in there
3. Ends on silence, far away view through window of Touji hanging up phone, empty phone is left hanging for a few seconds before cut to credits, sound of rain.
4. Ends on silence, Misato greets Shinji at the train station
5. Ends on dramatic music cue, Misato screams Shinji’s name as his Eva is shot by the Angel’s beam
6. Ends on melancholic music cue, pans up to moon after Rei’s smile
7. Ends on upbeat music cue, Shinji’s face lightens up after Aida tells him Misato recognizes him as family.
8. Ends on upbeat music cue, Asuka joins Shinji’s class
9. Ends on upbeat music cue, Asuka and Shinji argue after destroying Angel
10. Ends in silence, crickets chirping, Asuka asks about Misato’s scar in hot spring.
11. Ends in calm music cue, pans up to night sky while Eva pilots are lying on grass
12. Ends in silence, background music from ramen store, Asuka tells Shinji he’s an idiot after hearing his reason for piloting Eva.
13. Ends with crashing sound from electronic brain returning to its original location, Ritsuko talks about her mother.
14. Ends with heavy footsteps from Rei’s Eva, Rei takes Lance of Longinus.
15. Ends on silence, Lilith’s body is revealed to Misato
16. Ends on silence, Shinji lies on hospital bed after being saved from the shadow saying he still smells like blood.
17. Ends on silence, Touji shoots a basketball at sunset into a hoop.
18. Ends on scream, Shinji sees the pilot of the third Eva unit.
19. Ends on dramatic music cue, the awakened Eva 01 howls.
20. Ends on silence, Kaji gives Misato his ‘last present’ to her during intercourse
21. Ends on melancholic piano music (actually more or less ends on silence since the piano is sparse and the end is abrupt), Shinji buries his head into pillow to block out Misato’s crying.
22. Ends in silence, Asuka screams she hates everyone
23. Ends in melancholic music, Misato talks about the tragedy of the Eva unit’s creation while Ritsuko cries
24. Ends in silence, Shinji calls Misato cruel after she tries to comfort him about Kaworu
25. Ends on music, black box letters saying “the human instrumentality project continues”
26. Ends on congratulations
End of Eva: Ends in silence on the beach.

The abruptness has the effect of making the last word or scene before the ending ‘linger’. It also generally emphasizes the existential unease of the characters. Silence isn’t exclusive to the endings though. Evangelion’s atmosphere throughout the whole series is mainly derived from its powerful placement of silent sparse shots (quiet moments in a lift, long slow elevators, empty roads in the summer except for cricket chirpings) in between moments of great emotional tension. Imagine if Toradora’s episodes ended in strange abrupt places rather than with the comic or emotional finalities it likes to end on (e.g. suppose episode 2 ends immediately in that silence after she got rejected without Takasu’s intervention, episode 3 ends immediately after Takasu made the comment that Minorin’s hand was shaking, episode 4 ends on the roof of the school without Taiga recounting Kitamura’s confessions [with all the standard emotional violin strings]). The abruptness also serves as a Brechtian distancing device to make one recognize the illusions of the medium. Think of how many possible generic romance dramas or romance comedies could be revolutionized if the episodes ended on the most uneasy notes instead of in their standard way.