Miken: Seeing as I’m watching more and more old shows on top of my 10+ new shows per season, I suppose I should at least leave some comments on the older series that I’ve watched/caught up on. The first and hopefully not the last post will be of Neon Genesis Evangelion. I had seen an episode or two many years ago, but I never really got the chance to sit down and properly watch it. However, my boyfriend annoyed asked me into watching it in its whole glory.
The first half of the series is tame enough. You can see that each character has his/her own problems, but it isn’t really overt. For the most part, the episodes also follow a standard “destroy the Angel of the week” plotline. It was while watching these episodes that I finally decided on my preference in Eva pilots going: (1) Asuka, (2) Shinji, (3) Rei.
Amazingly, Shinji didn’t annoy the crap outta me as much I feared. Of course, after having to sit through Ambassador Asshat Luke fon Fabre in Tales of the Abyss, the Shinji of the first half was bound to be pretty likable by comparison. As for the second half, he did seem to hit a wall about 20 times, but I empathized with him more then, since NERV is nowhere to be for any kid his age. Problems that ‘normal’ kids would encounter, like parent/acceptance issues are put under a magnifying glass due to the stressful and dangerous nature of their jobs.
Rather than being angry at Shinji, I was more frustrated with Gendo Ikari. Seriously, his fathering skills are only marginally better than Rosa Ushiromiya’s in that he actually sorta-almost-not-really means some good and has a slightly better Freudian Excuse. It seems like nearly all the time, he’s really manipulating Shinji — using his kid’s inadequacies against him in order to guilt him into staying on the team, also taking advantage of Shinji’s very obvious need for his father’s approval. Of course, it could be him taking Shinji and almost caring for him through forcing him to grow a backbone, but his methods really aren’t doing his son any good. In fact, they’re pretty much ruining what’s left of his fragile mentality.
Speaking of fragile mentalities: the pilots…Oh goodness I felt so bad for these children. It really hit me when Gendo nearly had Eva Unit 01 kill Toji in the failed Unit 03. I mean, it’s bound to send someone into a near-catatonic state when his control over his giant robot is removed and he’s forced to see his friend nearly die like that, especially when the guy who removed control from you was your own father, who knew full well who was in that other Eva. Doesn’t help at all that the Evas seem to bleed when they’re injured. Afterwards, I really didn’t blame Shinji from wanting to run away from NERV and the Evas. Of course, he got guilt tripped/lectured into going back. Then there’s Shinji having to kill Kaoru. Sure, Kaoru really creeped me out and it was obvious that something was wrong with him from the start, but Shinji was starting to really develop a friendship [albiet a very strange and probably unhealthy one] with the guy.
At the very least, I like the current Rei better than this one
Surprisingly, I didn’t really connect to Rei despite knowing how huuuuge she is in terms of popularity. I call a difference in culture here. I suppose that the Japanese are more likely to like a character of Rei’s nature, while westerners like someone more active/riled up like Asuka or maybe Misato. Rei was never an eyesore, but she was just kinda there for me. I did, however, like the backstory leading up to the creation of the first Rei, since it was nice to see just how Gendo changed [and somehow didn't change] while he still had Yui. For one, he definitely seemed kind of nicer, but at the same time, very cunning and not unlikely to pull some underhanded tricks.
We’re very sorry, but we ran out of money
As for Asuka and Shinji…I could connect to them to a certain degree in terms of their acceptance issues, which is why I liked them a bit more. The mindscrew of the final two episodes brought all of Shinji inner turmoil to a head in which he finally got to realizing that he had to start liking himself. The whole imagery of the way each character is and how other characters perceive him/her was definitely nice. It really shed a different light on the characters as well: Rei didn’t seem quite as empty as before as she discussed her own concerns about her existence; Asuka lost her strong-girl edge and revealed her many faults and revealed why she put up so many walls and sought the attention of everyone; Misato lost the mask of the caring and composed mother figure and her problems with her father and the roots of her relationship with Kaji were explored; and Shinji battled with his father issues as well as his own lack of personal esteem, eventually realizing that he had to perceive himself as better for others to perceive him well even when he is not piloting the Eva. While not really very visually amazing due to lack of budget, it did a wonderful job of fleshing out the characters.
All in all, the last 2 episodes…I had heard much about them before, but I didn’t expect them to be that confusing. Okay, so it does present itself fairly straightforward, but it leaves so much to be inferred. It doesn’t help when Hideaki Anno himself is the master of the Shrug of God. I’ll head off to the movies later, but as for now, I’m still scratching my head a bit.
Congratulations, Shinji~ Now how’re you going to get off that big blue ball and back to saving the world?
Series Overall Score: 8/10
It was nice and I can definitely see why it’s lasted so many years and is still very strong in terms of popularity. However, having seen this after seeing so many series and without the influence of nostalgia, I don’t think that it really ranks atop my favorites. Sure, I’ll probably remember this series years down the line when I’ve forgotten the names of “amazing for a little while” series like Darker than Black, and maybe then I’ll look on this more fondly. However, it’s just sitting at above-par at the moment.
What’s up next? Well, it might either be something more recent like Seto no Hanayome or something older than I am, like the first Gundam series or SDF Macross. Or maybe finally get to watching Cowboy Bebop in order. I really haven’t decided. After all, this post was made on a whim and my choice of watching older shows depends on my whims too…
Note: Any of you who lost 5+ hours of your life to any of the TV tropes links up there, I’m sorry. Here’s a gift.