'Evangelion' Asks Big Questions, But Doesn't Always Earn Its Answers

Patrick bailing on the characters and hoping for more lore dumps is… lmao. Godspeed.

Austin mentions something to this effect briefly, but I think Shinji being stuck in place in episode 20 after he finally seems to figure out some shit in episode 19 is actually justified, not only by how depression works, but by the ending of episode 19 itself. Him being stuck is, to me, a testament to the power of the “Eva-01 goes berserk” sequence: Shinji goes from his resolute break with Gendo and NERV, to a determination to work past that rejection and protect the people he care about, to, when the power of Unit 01 goes out and the Angel starts pummelling him, the same powerless, agency-less, terrified wounded teen he has always been.

The fight against the angels is a fight in a scale unfitting for humans, and this pair of episodes underlines the extent to which the point of NERV’s project was never to have confident, capable pilots: it was to create, to use terms previously used in the podcast, a matching set of locks and keys. The Unit 01 cockpit, for Shinji, will always be a place of trauma, a place of fear and frustration and loneliness, and basically nothing will truly get better for him as long as he has to keep returning to that.

6 Likes

Content Warning: suicide In the podcast, Austin says that Naoko “takes her own life, with a pistol. We hear the sound of a pistol firing.” There is no pistol, no gunshot. What we hear is the sound of Naoko’s body hitting the Magi after she jumps to her death. Quite literally throwing herself into her work, if you will. Later, there is a tracking shot from the command centre balcony down to the Magi, tracing the line of Naoko’s fall to her impact with Magi #2, Balthazar, the ‘Mother’ computer.

13 Likes

Hearing Rob pick up on the ‘Yui as the mastermind of the whole series’ theory sure makes me feel less silly for buying into it. I very much enjoyed that part of the pod!

I do feel like the phrase “child-wife” does a lot of heavy lifting in the later half of the pod though. I presume they’re saving the discussion of that for a few more episodes, but like, I’m not wrong for reading strong pedophilic implications there, am I? I always read that as having an influence in the scene with Naoko?

I find it funny that I was actually happy about Fuyutsuki being understanding of Yui possibly having a child because this is not the usual reaction from supervisors in academia.

Going to ask you to spoiler that content with an appropriate warning!

We’re getting a content warning tag added to the episode description, so I would ask everyone to be mindful and use spoilers and content warnings! Thank you!

3 Likes

Hey all, if you don’t know how to use spoiler text, here’s how!

On the Waypoint forums, we use spoiler text and hidden details for both spoilers and for content warnings. For more information on using content warnings, please read Rule 5, found under Goal B of the code of conduct.

Both of these can be found in the drop down options menu, and you can apply them to text by highlighting the text and selecting the option from the drop down menu, shown here:

In order to blur out text, put the [spoiler] at the beginning of the section you’d like to blur, and end the text with the text [/spoiler] (both unitalicized). Note that, if you are blurring text across more than one paragraph break, you must put this text at the beginning and end of each paragraph.

For a drop down of hidden details, put [details=“Label”] at the beginning of the section you’d like to hide, and then end the text with [/details] (both unitalicized).

Thanks for helping make our forums safe for everyone to participate in!

3 Likes

so I think Gendo falls into the show don’t tell trap. we are told he has this charisma with women but as far as I know we don’t see it ever in the show. in fact I’m pretty sure we never see Gendo in the same shot as Yui, which also spoils their relationship dynamic, but considering that we only see Yui from Fuyutsuki’s perspective I guess it understandable. Also am I miss remembering but when Ritsukos mother kisses Gendo he has his eyes open and is just staring off into the distance, making no moves to hold her?

1 Like

Understandably, it got buried under the whole “sect” translation controversy, but in that hospital scene we also hear the newscaster talking about the Spratly Islands. I don’t remember when, but something connected to this issue was also on the radio in the background in an earlier episode. Rob’s comment on extreme left terror in post Second Impact Japan not making much sense applies here too, I think; it doesn’t make a ton of sense to me that half of humanity is dead, we’re being attacked by big otherworldly beings, and we’re still locked in a dispute over some useless rocks. I guess it might be the reason they’re in a school, imposing some sort of sense of 20th century normalcy on everything?

Ultimately, I don’t think much of this worldbuilding is very important to what the show is doing. But this is one of the few references to international relations not having to do with Evas in the show, so it stuck out to me.

I’ve always read the Naoko-Rei scene differently than anything they discussed. My impression was more like this: Naoko is smart and she knows Gendo. She doesn’t get really upset until Rei starts repeating Gendo’s words about her being “no longer useful.” Knowing Gendo’s history, she then loses it as she realizes that she’s doomed, about to be betrayed by her lover. She kills that Rei as a way to lash out at Gendo. In her mind she’s breaking one of his toys, not an actual kid. That doesn’t stop her from being horrified at the sight of the aftermath. She then kills herself out of some combination of disgust at what she’s done, seeing no other way out, beating Gendo to the punch, and realizing how disposable she is to him.

Mostly I just feel that scene was more about her realizing that Gendo is done with her than anything else.

7 Likes

Anybody who’s seen “In Bruges” knows that if you kill a kid you only have one option, as a matter of honor.

1 Like

Given the ultimate themes expressed in eps 25-26, I think the show asking viewers to provide a lot of their own answers and head cannon context to “complete” the work is absolutely intentional.

I didn’t ever read Naoko’s actions as unearned, but by this late in the show I assume every character is, at a basic level, a basket case whether revealed of not. Likewise, I’ve always found Kaji being both a complete shitburger and a guy trying to do the right thing as consistent with the show’s overall viewpoint. Nothing about being a person is clean, simple or pure. It’s always a mess of contradictions.

3 Likes

I clapped in my mind listening to Patrick Klepk finally went full on negative on the mythology of this show. As someone who started to follow Mr.Klepk since his Giantbomb days, I share his eh, hatred towards Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty. During my first year of high school, I saw EVA then beat MGS2, both for the first time. I disliked both for similar reasons. Both felt preachy, pretentious and convoluted for no good reason. While I began to appreciate what the two did later, they certainly are not the masterpieces their respcetive fans claim they are.
Troop on, Mr. Klepk.

2 Likes

There’s a couple of things I was surprised to hear overlooked in this episode (tho considering the extenuating circumstances, understandable), top among them the look on Gendo’s face as Naoko kisses him. It’s not just disinterest, he’s a hundred percent over it. That shot actually made me burst out laughing.

There’s a really quick line as the salvage attempt goes awry that shinji goes pattern blue - just line an angel. I suppose confirming that Shinji is still contaminated after the Sea of Dirac incident, unless it’s indicating some other bridge between angels and humans (with broken egos). Also consider that the water flame shinji contacts in the cockpit is always shown as blue, the red version being some other entity. And then they also say Shinji goes pattern green after that, and I don’t think we’ve heard that before? (Actually I think this is just in the version I’ve been watching, which is the old ADV Perfect Collection)

When we see the bandage wrapped Eva, I always think it looks like when you see a building when it has insulation but no siding yet. That definite look of industrial under construction / repair. Whether it’s bandages, restraints, or synthetic skin graft beyond that doesn’t really matter I imagine.

In regard to Naoko's end

Glad to see the method of her death addressed. Even if it’s just a technicality, the throwing yourself from a balcony onto your own super computer is way more dramatic suicide, but more than that it’s matching level of impulsive for what she just did to Rei compared to a relatively more calculated method of turning a gun on oneself. Plus I will say that the details of specifically landing on the mother-module magi is a great detail I missed. Great spot!

and whether or not it's earned

I don’t know if Naoko’s break is totally justified, but I think it deserves more credit than it gets given. Rei isn’t overlaid with her older self, it’s cuts of Yui. Naoko already saw the connection between them, so she’s not just connecting those words to Rei and Gendo, she’s hearing them from Yui. Naoko already mentions bearing guilt for wishing Yui dead so she could have Gendo for herself, so not only is she learning the truth of what Genodo thinks of her, but the fact bearing the guilt and leaning into her own ill will didn’t actually pay off is getting rubbed in her face by the ghost of the one she wished ill upon. So the full combo of 1. Gendo is ready to be rid of her 2. She doesn’t get to have Gendo even after leaning into what she felt guilty over 3. she’s learning all of this third hand from a ghost who sounds almost like they’re reveling in her misfortune. That last bit is unreal enough that I can buy her sense of reality snapping in a manic panic and going off on Rei and then herself like that. Plus (and I know it’s just giving the creators license to not put in the effort, but) this is all technically Fuyutsuki’s recounting, which could understandably be abridged or flawed.

1 Like

Technical difficulties conspired to constrain this pod to just episodes 20-21. Thus, I am frustrated that I can’t talk about the differences between anime Kaworu and manga Kaworu that make the latter and his relationship with Shinji so much more real and earned. I will hold my tongue until next week.

4 Likes

Evangelion is definitely still a show that has a lot to say, but as mentioned in this episode, it is also important to note that sometimes it is just using the power of its mystique to handwave over issues that are really just poorly developed. It feels like a show that made it 75% of the way there on its own, and then because that 75% was inspiring to so many, it was handily propped up the rest of the way by people willing to cover its faults by patching up the rest of it themselves.

I was worse at expressing my critical opinions of shows as a kid, but I did always feel that sort of unease about the show even back then. I’ve always been hesitant to criticize it for a similar reason to something like a movie in the running for Best Film at the Oscars. I know that those films often have technically-interesting cinematography and some important social messages and thought-provoking Themes, so they become Art in a sort of sacrosanct way that make them hard to approach. I know that I liked Thor: Ragnarok and John Wick 2 better than a lot of the movies in the Oscars 2017 Best Film list, but I also know that in some way I’m not supposed to.

That’s how I feel about Evangelion. I thought it was interesting, and probably rate it about a 7/10 overall, but once you breach the first line of defence that “everything it does is meaningful because it’s Art” and give it a proper deep dive, there are some fairly meaningful concerns to address.

4 Likes

I was kinda sad to see Patrick lose the enthusiasm he had coming out of last week, but after sitting on it for a bit, I can see where he’s coming from. Similarly, I kinda chaffed at the discussion of whether or not things were earned. I think my feelings in this regard are very much related to how and why I interact with the media that I do, and also explains why it has been difficult for me to start taking an interest in engaging critically with it.

I unravel my brain in real time (TL;DR: I used to take pieces of media as a whole, which let me be OK with handwaves, but stopped me from being critical and advocating for better).

So, when I first watched Eva (6 years ago, I was 18), I definitely thought highly of it, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you why. Recently I’ve been realizing that I largely think of the media I consume like tone/mood pieces where the whole is necessarily the sum of its parts. There were still aspects of it I enjoyed more than others, but the whole was the experience, and any changes to a part would in turn change what the whole was.

For example: my perspective on Eva 6 years ago might have looked something lke “Evangelion would not be Evangelion if it did not do X,” where X is anything from “dealing with anxiety,” to “gloss over information again and again,” to “sexualizing underage girls.” Never saying that whatever it does is beyond reproach, and not defending the problematic material, but also never going so far as saying “I wish Eva did X better,” because that would make it a different show. Like a weird middleground between “it’s a product of its time” and “it was all intentional.” I liked Eva because of how it made me feel and the place it put me, irrespective/because of any flaws that it had.

The good was that it caused me to be, for the most part, unconcerned with inconsistencies, plotholes, handwaves, and remakes/reboots/adaptations. The bad is that it made me unable to judge things, prevented me from engaging with the work on any level below the surface, and I often miss out on subtext.

I’ve been getting better about the bad habits, but I’m still a work in progress, so rewatching Evangelion with this community (and things like The Shrieking Shack podcast) has been so helpful and so fun.

2 Likes

Okay, so I watched ahead to the end, and if Patrick thinks these two episodes were unearned… yowza. The last three episodes are the unearned Superbowl.

8 Likes

I might just be getting defensive about a show I like but I feel like the team is reaching for some of these criticisms. When Kaji showed up we judged him as a character, based on his actions and how we perceived his motivations. Austin sort of blew past the idea he may not have been written that way deliberately and seemed to believe the character on screen was more important than the writer’s intentions. Conversely, Ritsuko and her mother are being criticized heavily for how Austin and the crew interpret Anno’s intentions when he was writing the show. They seem to suddenly view the on screen characters as though they are simply avatars of Anno, which allows them to see the Magi as a reductive analogy for women and complain that the mother was underdeveloped. I never interpreted the Magi or Ritsuko as being analogous to all women (as Danielle and Austin seem to suggest whenever it comes up), especially when we consider Misato and Yui exist in the same show.

I’m not sure I understand Austin’s comment about the show “villifying” women for wanting sex either, since the Ritsuko stuff wasn’t lust oriented and the show doesn’t treat Misato as a villain. Maybe it’ll make more sense in part two.

3 Likes

I would agree, if anything male sexual appetites are, ultimately, far more negatively portrayed.

Yeah I tend to agree here, I thought Cado had the best take about how the Magi are supposed to be in constant conflict. Like women can obviously be more than those 3 things but its her AI and isnt it possible that explanation is less literal and more helpful in explaining the system to all the non-geniuses who work at NERV

1 Like