"Air" is Episode 25' of Neon Genesis Evangelion. It is the first half of the movie The End of Evangelion with Episode 26', "Sincerely Yours," serving as the second half. It is also the corresponding "replacement" episode for Episode 25 of the television series.
After all of the Angels are defeated by NERV, Commander Gendo Ikari and SEELE end their turbulent alliance. Gendo intends to begin Third Impact on his own terms by merging Rei with Lilith. In order to stop him and start their own scenario for Instrumentality, SEELE tries to hack into the Magi computer. After Ritsuko defeats their hacking attempt, SEELE tricks the Japanese Strategic Self Defense Forces into ruthlessly attacking NERV Headquarters. Asuka awakens from a coma and finds herself on board Unit-02. Rejuvenated after learning her mother's fate, she defeats the JSSDF forces attacking NERV. SEELE deploys nine Mass Production Evangelions to attack Asuka. Misato rescues Shinji from JSSDF troops and brings him safely to Unit-01, but she is mortally wounded in the process. As an act of revenge against Gendo, Ritsuko reprograms the Magi to destroy NERV Headquarters using its self-destruct system. The Magi refuse to obey her order, allowing Gendo to kill Ritsuko. In a spectacular battle within the GeoFront, Asuka defeats all nine of the Mass Production Evangelions. As Unit-02's battery power expires, the automated Evangelions reactivate and eviscerate both Asuka and her Evangelion. Piloting a transfigured Unit-01, Shinji ascends above the GeoFront. He screams in horror upon seeing the mangled remains of Unit-02 below him.
End of Evangelion begins shortly after the end of the twenty-fourth episode of the Neon Genesis Evangelion television series. NERV has defeated all of the Angels foretold by the Dead Sea Scrolls. Shinji stands near the floodplain where Tokyo-3 once stood, still despondent over Kaworu's death. He goes to the NERV hospital to see a comatose Asuka, pleading for her to help him. Shaking her, Shinji accidentally removes her hospital gown, exposing Asuka's breasts. Shinji masturbates to the sight of a naked Asuka, and is filled with self-loathing over his deed.
Misato sits alone in her car above the ruins of Tokyo-3. She mentally reviews what she has learned using the leads given to her by Kaji before he was killed. The true purpose of the Human Instrumentality Project is to force a final evolution of humanity, a flawed and doomed race, into a single, perfect being. To that end, SEELE plans to use the Evangelions, rather than Adam, to bring about Third Impact.
Gendo and Fuyutsuki meet with SEELE for a final confrontation. SEELE blames Gendo for the loss of the Lance of Longinus, which renders Lilith useless as a medium to begin Third Impact. Evangelion Unit-01, the only Evangelion born from Lilith, is the last available medium on Earth. It is implied that Gendo refuses to hand over Unit-01 to SEELE, since using an Evangelion to achieve Instrumentality would deviate from their existing plans. SEELE believes that the extinction of humanity is necessary to achieve Instrumentality. After Gendo quips that death will achieve nothing, SEELE responds that as punishment for his betrayal, they will grant him his death.
Rei awakens in the middle of the night, glancing knowingly at the full moon. She leaves her apartment and heads to Central Dogma. Rei leaves behind Gendo's eyeglasses, which she has apparently broken into pieces.
SEELE resolves to prevent Gendo from beginning Third Impact on his own terms. The United Nations revokes NERV's special legal status. SEELE attempts to hack into NERV's Magi computer using the five other Magi systems located in Matsushiro, the United States, Germany, and China. At Gendo's request, the still-imprisoned Ritsuko erects a firewall to defeat the hacking attempt. With their bloodless takeover attempt foiled, SEELE tricks the Japanese government into attacking NERV by claiming that Gendo plans to begin the apocalypse. A full division of Japanese Strategic Self Defense Force troops mounts a large-scale assault on NERV Headquarters. JSSDF soldiers ruthlessly kill any NERV personnel they encounter, even executing non-combatants and those trying to surrender. As NERV's defenses begin to collapse, Gendo asks Fuyutsuki to take command. Understanding what Gendo intends, Fuyutsuki tells him to give Yui his regards.
It becomes apparent that the JSSDF intends to kill Rei, Asuka, and Shinji and capture NERV's remaining Evangelions. Rei is nowhere to be found. Misato has the comatose Asuka placed in Unit-02, which is to be sheltered within the waters of the GeoFront lake. Shinji ignores the order to retreat to Unit-01, and instead chooses to hide deep within Central Dogma, well beyond the reach of any NERV defenders. Misato asks Hyuga to take care of things while she goes to personally put Shinji in his Evangelion. The JSSDF deploy an N² mine to expose the GeoFront, rendering NERV Headquarters even more vulnerable to attack.
Misato finds and saves a sullen Shinji from an execution at the hands of JSSDF soldiers. She tells Shinji what she has learned: that humans are the progeny of Lilith, which makes humanity the eighteenth Angel. Despite their similarities, humans and Angels are incapable of coexisting on the Earth. Misato also explains that Second Impact was the result of human efforts to revert Adam to an embryonic state. She implores Shinji to destroy the entire Evangelion series in order to prevent the onset of Third Impact.
Asuka awakens from her coma, finding herself within an underwater Unit-02. She is startled by JSSDF depth charges exploding near her Evangelion. Asuka tells herself that she doesn't want to die. She begins to hear another voice within Unit-02 imploring her to live. Asuka has a revelation: the voice she is hearing is her dead mother's soul residing within her Evangelion. Armed with new knowledge that her mother has always been by her side, a rejuvenated Asuka easily defeats the JSSDF attackers. However, before being destroyed, the JSSDF successfully disconnect the Evangelion from its power cable. Enraged by Asuka's interference with their plans, SEELE deploys nine winged Mass Production Evangelions, all powered by S² engines. Misato calls Asuka over the radio promising to provide backup: Shinji in Unit-01. Asuka calculates that with Unit-02's remaining battery power, she only has about twenty seconds each to defeat all of the Mass Production Evangelions.
Misato brings Shinji to the backup elevator that leads to Unit-01, but is shot by JSSDF soldiers en route. She begs Shinji to make his own decision and pilot his Evangelion one final time. Shinji resists, haunted by the guilt of killing Kaworu and violating Asuka. A bleeding Misato passionately kisses Shinji and tells him, "That was an adult kiss. We'll do the rest when you get back." She gives Shinji her cross necklace, and pushes him into the elevator. Her mission complete, Misato collapses into a pool of her own blood. With her last breath, she wonders if Kaji would believe she did the right thing. A brief vision of Rei appears over Misato's body before the area is destroyed by an explosion. As the elevator takes him up to Unit-01, Shinji sees blood splattered on Misato's necklace. He sobs uncontrollably as he realizes how gravely his former guardian was wounded.
In Central Dogma, Gendo finds Rei staring at the tank holding the broken corpses of her clones. She glares coldly at Gendo as he tells her that the promised time has come.
Shinji finally arrives at Unit-01's hangar bay, only to find that the Evangelion has been encased in bakelite by the JSSDF. Dejected, he listens over the radio as an emboldened Asuka defeats all nine dummy plug-piloted Mass Production Evangelions. Asuka believes she is victorious until a heavy spear flies toward her and transforms into a replica of the Lance of Longinus. The replica Lance penetrates Unit-02's A.T. Field and impales the Evangelion's head. Asuka screams in agony as Unit-02 collapses, rendered powerless by its expended battery.
The automated Evangelions, though mangled by Asuka's attacks, all come back to life. Like a volt of vultures, they descend upon the lifeless Unit-02, tearing it apart and exposing its innards. As the Mass Production Evangelions fly away, a wounded Asuka coaxes Unit-02 into reactivating in berserk mode. As the automated Evangelions orbit above, Asuka and her Evangelion furiously reach towards them, only to have each of their arms sliced in two by a replica Lance of Longinus. The Mass Production Evangelions follow with their remaining lances, dealing a coup de grâce to both Asuka and Unit-02.
Gendo and Rei stare up at Lilith, the giant crucified within Terminal Dogma. Ritsuko appears, armed with a revolver. She tells them that she has reprogrammed the Magi to allow the self-destruct system to eradicate NERV Headquarters. Ristuko hits the self-destruct switch. When nothing happens, she discovers that Casper, the part of the Magi composed of her mother as a woman, has overridden her command. Distraught that her mother has chosen her former lover over her own daughter, Ritsuko is momentarily distracted, allowing Gendo to produce his own pistol. Gendo's parting words to Ritsuko are rendered in silence. As she smirks and calls him a liar, Gendo fires. Ritsuko's body falls into the pool of LCL as a vision of Rei appears overhead.
Over the radio, a yelling Maya tells Shinji about Asuka's gruesome fate. At a loss to what he can do with Unit-01 incapacitated, Shinji is startled by the sight of his berserk Evangelion bursting through its bakelite casing. The purple Evangelion extends its hand toward him. Shinji wonders aloud if his mother, whose soul is within Unit-01, is calling to him.
The A.T. Field created by the reactivation of Unit-01, with Shinji piloting, causes the top of the GeoFront pyramid to explode in the shape of a gigantic cross. The cross transforms into wings of light for the transfigured Evangelion. Powered by an S² engine of its own, Unit-01 ascends into a dark and swirling storm in the sky. Looking down, Shinji sees the disfigured corpse of Unit-02 below. Understanding the implications for Asuka's fate, Shinji screams in horror as the winged Mass Production Evangelions circle around him.
TO BE CONTINUED...
- The early drafts of Episodes 25' and 26' include some significant differences, like Shinji masturbating in his room alone, a cut farewell scene with Toji and Kensuke, and a final credits sequence presumably featuring Everything You've Ever Dreamed.
- SEELE member: "The fate of destruction is the joy of rebirth."
- Asuka: "I don't want to die..."
- Misato (after kissing Shinji): "This is an adult kiss. Let's do the rest when you come back".