"A World That's Ending" is the twenty-fifth episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The Human Instrumentality Project begins, merging the souls of humankind into a single entity. Shinji, Rei, Misato, and Asuka struggle with their reasons for existence. Shinji discovers that he has created a solitary existence for himself, a world in which he alone can exist.
Shinji Ikari is tormented by his murder of Kaworu Nagisa, and they ask "Why did you kill him?", he answers that he had to because he is an Angel, and their enemy, even though he has the shape of a human, and he had no choice. And he asks everyone for help. He is asked again what he hates, and answers it is being hated by father and others. Shinji appears in a cloudy place and doesn't know where to go, and wonders if he still have to pilot Unit-01, even after killing Kaworu with it.
Shinji is asked again about his reason for piloting the Evangelion, and he answers that it is because everyone tells him to do so, and for the sake of mankind. Asuka appears before him and tells him that he is lying, because he pilots the Evangelion for himself, and that he is looking a false happiness. Rei appears and tells Asuka that she is no different.
The Case of Asuka Langley Soryu begins: Unit-02 is seen submerged, with Asuka inside it, saying that she is forced to pilot it, and refers to it as a piece of junk, and it became like that because she thinks that she is useless and nobody needs her. Rei asks her if she fears being alone, and child Asuka says that she pilots for the praise of herself.
The Case of Rei Ayanami: She asks herself about her identity, and asks the other Rei about who she is, and answers that she Rei Ayanami as well. Rei asks the other Reis about how could all of them be herself. One of the Reis tells her that she posses a false soul and a fake body created by Gendo Ikari. The Rei with the plugsuit says that she is herself, and became like that through her interactions with the others around her, and that is what created Rei Ayanami. Rei I tells her that she fears from returning to nothingness, but she replies that she is happy to return to nothing, but she can't because "he" still needs her, and she is waiting for the day that "he" will abandon her. Gendo appears in front of Rei, and says that her waited day has come, and the Human Instrumentality Project begins.
Returning to Shinji, and he feels like disappearing and feels nice, the screen says that the Instrumentality is returning to nothingness, and Gendo denies that and it is returning to the state of beginning, and the minds and souls and will become one, and thus attaining a supreme peace, and that is the goal of the Instrumentality. Misato asks Ritsuko if that is the truth about the Project, Ritsuko tells her that there is an emptiness in the souls, and it can't be filled as long as they are mere humans. Ritsuko tells Misato that she wanted that after all.
The Case of Misato Katsuragi: Shinji appears to Misato and tells her that he is Shinji Ikari that exists in her mind, and she replies the same. Shinji asks her about what she is wishing for. Child Misato says that she has to be a good child, because her father is always away and not to bother her mother, but she doesn't want to be like that, and adult Misato says that she hated her father and being a good child, and she wants to be dirty, and she slept with Kaji because she loved him. Shinji appears with a reluctant look on his face seeing Misato having sex with Kaji, Misato says that doesn't to show that to Shinji, and her child self tells that she wants to show it to Shinji and happy for that, and replies that it is a lie. Other characters tells her that she is impure, but Hyuga congratulates her on her promotion. Misato states the she is always running from the harsh reality.
Asuka's second case: Shinji asks her about her wish, She replies that she wants to live by herself and doesn't want to cry, but she is still crying. Asuka says that she doesn't want her mother to leave her. Asuka said that her mother was happy when she was hanged, but she hated her mother's smile, and she said that she doesn't want to die and disappear, and hates everyone, and hates being alone.
Shinji discovers that he wished for a world of total destruction in which only he can exist, and that whether he wants to live or die, depends on him. Shinji protests that actually no one saved him. But the others still insist that he did wish for this: a closed world, to protect his weak heart and few pleasures, and this was the closest thing to it.
- Most of the scenes in this episode are from previous episodes that were redone with different dialogue.
- Several scenes from this episode were also shown in The End of Evangelion, including Unit-02 submerged in a lake, Shinji and Asuka watching Misato and Kaji have sex in college, Misato bleeding from a shot and Ritsuko's body shot and floating in LCL.
- A copy of Misato's ID card before vandalization (i.e. before she presumably blotched out her age, weight, and measurements) appears in a flashback scene.
- In English, Instrumentality is a reference to Instrumentality of Mankind, from Cordwainer Smith's sci-fi novels. In the original Japanese, however, it is referred to as 補完 (Hokan). "Ho" translates literally to "supplement, supply, make good, offset, compensate, assistant, learner" and "kan" to "perfect, completion, end". translate literally to "complete" or "completion". In many early fan translations, it is referred to as "Complementation". This nuance can be understood as the separate, individual egos of humankind being complemented by others. Alternatively, it can also have a nuance of "perfecting" humanity into a superior being. The "tuning" metaphor present in Death & Rebirth is also appropriate.
- The English subtitle, “Do you love me?” is from the book of the same title written by a British psychotherapist named R.D. Laing (Ronald David Laing: 1927-1989). It is a work that is done in a distinctive style as a discourse between individuals, and the style in which this episode is advanced through conversations between the characters is reminiscent of “Do you love me?” - Platinum Episode Commentaries
- Seeing the remakes, Episode 25 “Air” and Episode 26 “A Pure Heart For You”, may in fact make the content of Episode Twenty-Five easier to understand. The depictions of Misato and Ritsuko being shot to death, Unit-02 hugging its knees in the lake, and Asuka likewise hugging her knees within Unit-02 all correspond to Episode 25.
Gendo says, “All souls will become one and find eternal peace”. His Instrumentality Project must have been for all human souls to be combined as one and to compensate each other for what they have been deprived of. In the story that follows from Episode 25 “Air” to Episode 26 “A Pure Heart For You”, he was not able to execute the scenario he had drawn up. It may be that it was in Episode Twenty-Five and Episode Twenty-Six that his wish actually came true.- Platinum Episode Commentaries