"But frankly, that's an extremely specific circumstance so I can see why people were upset that they didn't get something more genre appropriate."
Heh, maybe this explains something. I've never been particularly interested in the super robot genre.
"I mean, Shinji had a full-on Heroic BSOD after he was forced to kill the only person he really trusted, due to that person actually being a double agent trying to wipe out humanity."
Shinji had an ENTIRELY AND EXTREMELY JUSTIFIED Heroic BSOD (fuck you, Gendo!) when fighting Unit 04
(episode 18). And that stuck in my mind way more.
I don't get why people remember the Kaworu part so much more than the Toji part. I was unimpressed by the Kaworu part. Maybe that was because I'd read endlessly about it before. And I just didn't like it. It had too little drama.
See, funny thing is, my reaction to the Kaworu part is similar to the standard reaction to the Eps. 25-26 ending—that it was too philosophical and vague.
Perhaps I didn't mind Eps. 25-26 as much, because I somehow understood
it to be a "beyond the edge" segment. The plot, as much as I'd understood it, had mostly finished, and we were in what I'd call The Endgame
(a trope I'll launch later). (And I admit to not having paid much attention to the Third Impact conspiracy stuff.) Basically, I expected something weird to happen afterwards.
And yes, it wasn't a climax. But it was a relief. Episode 26, where Shinji basically discovers his own self-worth, is a relief, and a happy ending to a dreary series.
I personally advocate watching up to episode 24, then watching End of Evangelion, then watching episodes 25-26. In that order. Because that ties up the "external" plot, with an unfinished ending, and then finishes the "internal" plot with a positive (or positive-trending) conclusion.
"That said, that frickin' Evangelion movie was without a doubt the worst damn movie I ever watched."
Yep, I still dislike End Of. Unless you were talking a different Evangelion movie. (Rebirth?)