Evangelion 3.0+1.0 was a mixed bag for most people. While it was nowhere near as bad as Eva 3.0, it still suffered from a lack of a clear vision. Most of what was shown, such as Hikari and Toji being married and Misato and Kaji's offspring, just felt injected into the film to please longtime fans who wanted to see it happen.
These characters were not developed enough in the previous three movies to make it feel like it was deserved. Sure, fans of the original series might have been happy to see it, but for those who only watch the rebuild movies, them being together doesn't mean much because we hardly ever saw them interact with each other.
This whole four movie rebuild series just felt incredibly rushed as it only seems to exist to provide a happy ending to the fans of the original series by showing them what they want. However, it fails to establish itself as its own thing and doesn't earn any of the character moments it wants you to pay attention to.
The whole point of adapting something is to make it stand on its own. If what you are adapting needs to have extensive knowledge of the source material to understand it, you've failed to adapt it properly.
The first Evangelion Rebuild movie was good, though it was essentially just a retread of the original series's first six episodes with a more modern color pallet.
The second movie is still my favorite of the rebuild franchise, as it did a great job of being its own thing while staying faithful to the source material. It also did an excellent job of exploring these characters in different scenarios.
The third movie was a mish-mash of clumsily structured ideas and glued together with a shorter runtime than the previous two movies. It offered us a glimpse of a new world, but it barely explored said world.
The fourth movie is nothing more than fan service, plain and simple.
With a runtime of over two and a half hours, you would think that the writers would focus on exploring the world and characters but guess what, they didn't.
While it is nice to see certain characters be together and behave in specific ways, very little of it felt natural.
Asuka comments about how Shinji has grown and matured and can respect him more, but it feels incredibly forced considering that she spent the bulk of 3.0 and the first 20 minutes of this movie blaming him for everything.
As I stated, Hikari and Toji, being married and Kensuke working as an engineer, don't get much time.
It's as though the writers were just marking off a checklist of what they knew that fans wanted to see.
Here's the thing, though; despite being two and a half hours, it still feels too short for the type of story that they wanted to tell.
If this had been a hexology, six movies instead of four, maybe the writers would have had more time to develop these things, and the story would have felt more like a natural flow of progression rather than something to show to make longtime fans happy.
I will attempt to fix this by giving my take on what would make EVA 3.0+1.0 a good movie.
After the first 20 minutes of 3.0+1.0, everything would have all been a dream, and Shinji wakes up to find out that he was in his Evangelion since the end of 2.0 and that everything in 3.0 was all in his head.
That, in my opinion, would have been the best way to fix it; present Shinji and the audience with a worst-case scenario of what the world would look like if he actually did give up on life and once he gets pulled out of his EVA after 23 days just like in the original series, he is filled with a sense of purpose and drive to help others. This would also give the garbage 3.0 a reason to exist.
The rest of the movie would be about Shinji and his friends realizing how much they need each other; Gendo and Shinji slowly mending their relationship. Also, Asuka is coming to respect Shinji after hearing about how much he sacrificed for her.
They also could have given more time to Hikari and Toji's relationship instead of just shoehorning it where they are just married to give the fans what they want and not make it feel rushed. Add to this, Nagisa joining Shinji's group of friends only for Shinji to have to kill him in the end, but this time he has friends who are there to support him emotionally.
After Selle invades Nerv and the events of EOE play out similarly here, Shinji, Rei, Asuka, Mari, and possibly Toji, since in this reboot series he wasn't injured, manage to hold off Selle.
Selle is almost defeated, but then they manage to attempt to instigate 3rd impact at the last minute. As the third impact begins, Shinji, this time having a better mental state as a result of his supportive friends, can confidently say no to it, even with the promise of seeing his dead mother again.
As third impact is negated, and Selle is defeated, Shinji and his friends all throw a dinner party that they wanted to have in EVA 2.0. After a fun night with his friends, Shinji and the other EVA piolets look up at the stars and talk about what life will throw at them next. They are unsure, but they know that no matter what comes their way, they will face them all together.
Asuka manages to give a warm, confident smile to Shinji, and he tells her that he's never seen her this happy before.
She can finally smile not out of spite, bitterness, or smugness but out of the genuine feelings that she has for Shinji and her friends.
Hikari and Toji's relationship could remain a platonic one as we see them mature over the course of the film; Rei acknowledges that even though she was made using Yuri's DNA, she is still her own unique person. Misato and Kaji get together, and the film ends with everyone congratulating Shinji as he feels at peace and thanks everyone for all they have done for him and for god's gift: Life.
I love EVA, and I hate how Anno keeps screwing it up. I heard that 4 of the six main storyboard writers for EVA 3.0 were fired for disagreeing with Ano. How much of that is true, I'm not sure. Anyway, I'm just going to stick to fanfiction from now on. My personal all-time favorite EVA Fan Fiction is one called 'Scar Tissue.https://m.fanfiction.net/s/5334678/1/Scar-Tissue It is incredibly well written and was made by someone who you can tell genuinely cares about EVA. It is long, though at over 500,000 words. But the story is so good that once you start reading it, you can't stop. I hope that one day Gainax, Khara, Anno, or anyone with a passion for EVA, can all sit down at a table together and write a cohesive story that feels like it comes from a group of people with respect for the lore.