It all started with a little post like this one. I had been lurking the Evangelion subreddit for some time, just for kicks and giggles during a personal rewatch; but upon seeing this, I had the mind and haughty idea to contribute my love and passion for Eva.
The question is: ‘Do we really need yet another opinion of Evangelion on the internet?’
Hasn’t everything that will ever be discussed, nitpicked, or placed under the raving, fanboy microscope already been beaten like a dead horse? Not everything, but it is a valid point. I retort with a quote:
“We live in a box of space and time. Movies are windows in its walls. They allow us to enter other minds – not simply in the sense of identifying with the characters, although that is an important part of it, but by seeing the world as another person see it. François Truffaut said that for a director is was an inspiring sight to walk to the front of a movie theater, turn around, and look back at the faces of the audience, turned up to the light from the screen. If the film is any good, those faces reflect an out-of-body experience: The audience for a brief time is somewhere else, sometime else, concerned with the lives that are not its own. Of all the arts, movies are the most powerful aid to empathy, and good ones make us into better people.”
~ Ebert, Roger. The Great Movies. Introduction pg xv
Ebert goes on to mention in the introduction how he’s seen some movies “dozens of times”, implying to be that some windows are worth looking through more than once, and some we will always go back to. But let’s get one thing straight, it is impossible to completely ‘understand’ or ‘make sense’ of Evangelion. And to do so would be a tragedy. It would lose all of its magic, the thrill that keeps us coming back. Media is a very public and open thing, but what we take away from it can be personal. We only need enough (and should only want) enough to satisfy the criteria Ebert mentioned. That’s my intention in writing this, to go back and peer through the windows we all remember fondly.
One of my staples I cling too is the EvaGeeks Wiki. They have served as a good source for anything and everything Evangelion. As for my viewing preference, the ever so coveted Platinum Edition subtitles with the Japanese audio. There’s no analytical reason for this whatsoever, but I much prefer the voice of Megumi Ogata over Spike Spencer. It’s my inner weeaboo.
“Just like the cruel angel, young boy become a legend.” Good words for a show that has remained ever present for nearly two decades. And saved GAINAX.
The first images we are presented are the 3rd angel, Sachiel, and the JSDF. Iconic is the best way to describe it. This opening act does a wonderful job stating what will take place the rest of the series, as we watch multiple failed attempts in eliminating the oncoming threat. This scene, though a minor in the scope of things, does a few things that are rather important thematically.
The most obvious is the rule of three. Angels cannot be defeated by normal methods; it is a concrete fact, and this scene makes it so. One by one they sit on cue, a short line accompanying. The words they use aren’t so important, they’re all saying the same thing.This is the rule of three. A fact is stated, then stated again, then it is reenforced on last time. Look for these the next time you watch anything. It’s a strong method of storytelling, tried and true.
Sachiel has always been one of my favorite angels design-wise. I don’t know if it’s it’s shape, the colors, or it’s lumbering movment, something jst speaks to me. So when I learned of an interesting theory around the 3rd angel and the plugs suits exists, I raised an eyebrow. Character designs where done by the famous Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, (whom I am a big fan of) while Yoshitoh Asari handled the angel designs. If any coordination occurred between the two is unknown to me, cool theory though.
There is an ashtray that sits on the martially abused desk. There it sits, silent like Gendo, littered with more cigarette butts than a California highway. We’ll later see that the three adults, Ritsuko, Misato, and Kaji, all have vices; the cigarette-pincushion ashtray is one such vice. It’s meaning is still up for debate, but I will say I consider the lines that follow state the ensuing destruction the 3rd angel inflicts. One such quote is: “It’s no good! We’ll never get anywhere with the firepower we’ve got!” True; the AT field cannot be pierced. Hmmm…
This also touches on how the angels are more vehicles of character development than anything else. When a space for character
growth progression is present, an angel appears, plain and simple. It’s simple story telling. But this points out the nature of Evangelion as a character driven show, more than a plot driven one. The giant robots are secondary, much like one of Anno’s inspirations, Gundam.
Another interesting tid-bit I caught is the condition of the NERV ID Shinji hands Misato. It’s depicts so prefectly the relationship between Shinji and Gendo. One can most certainly can imagine Shinji’s reaction to the single word he was afforded, “Come”. More than likely he was thrown into a fit of rage, having his father’s callous treatment invade his life once again; ripping and crumpling the page, scribbling out Gendo’s name with red ink. But yet he obeys, and goes as far as to repair the paper that, again, contains nothing but his father’s name, and one word, “Come”.
Reenforcing this idea is the expression that flashes across Shinji’s face as Misato asks to see his ID. It’s almost as if he’s nervous, like a child being caught. This reaction would be unnecessary if the paper didn’t mean anything to him, it be a routine action of ‘here you go’. But that isn’t the case, the paper is the relationship had between a son and his father.This is a motif we see appear again, Episode 14 in particular when Ritsuko enter’s the Magi; Gendo portrayed in writing.
Pay close attention to backgrounds in this series, for a lot of clues and answers to some questions are found there. As well as some nice foreshadowing, such as this.
Eventually plans to have Shinji pilot Unit 1 are brought to light, giving stage to a Misato/Shinji parallel. Previously mentioned where similarities in their father complex, but here Misato has the external reaction that expresses Shinji’s inner conflict. To pilot or not to pilot, what would Koji Kabuto do? Misato argues with Ritsuko to the point where her lines are heard while Shinji is the focal point of the shot. But Misato isn’t solely a representation of Shinji, she also stands in for Asuka later on. Meanwhile, tension mounts by the way of the rule of three.
The climax of the episode presents a lot of interesting information completely missed by the uninitiated. Rei is wheeled in (and we know this is Rei 2) in front of Unit 1. When a blast causes the light fixtures to fall directly above Shinji, Unit 1 moves on it’s own accord, obstructing their fall with it’s giant hand. Shinji is saved by Unit 1, the body of Lilith, the soul of his mother, Yui. Shinji then holds the afflicted Rei, who is the cloned body of Yui, soul of Lilith. The hand used to protect Shinji: the right. Shinji’s bloddy hand shown after holding Rei: also the right. Shinji is protected by his mother and this protects his mother in return, in a metaphorical sense. One of the many parallels we will see in the series. Hell, episode 13 is one giant parallel.
Then the classic, “I mustn’t run away.” Anno’s whole drive to creating Evangelion. He didn’t want to run away anymore.The financial stresses and burdens of productions past, Nadia in particular, had worn on the man, to the point where it was brought into fruition. More on that later. To end the episode, Unit 01 is launched, triggering a very, very rare Gendo smile.
The last note I would like to end on is the religious overtone in the show. I honestly don’t believe it holds any baring on the show (save a few instances). It does, however, add cohesion and mystique; hinting that there is something deeper being presented. Evangelion, is, after all, Hideaki Anno’s Red Book in many ways.
But that’s enough for now.