‘Evangelion’ Won't Stop Leering as It Explores It’s Characters’ Sexuality

Content Warning: Discussion of the sexualization of children, sexual violence, and child pornography.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/evywgp/evangelion-wont-stop-leering-as-it-explores-its-characters-sexuality

This set of episodes, more than anything, feel like Anno induldging in fanservice in every conceievable way. Its a monster of the week set where he can just put every super-robot, tokusatsu, and kaiju trope you can imagine in there, going into self reference with the Gunbuster’s mind-synced Inazuma drop kick in Episode 9.

Its also the most gross shit in terms of the more anime definition of fanservice and is completely gross toward every woman it puts on screen and that fucking sucks so much. Its… literally the worst the show gets from my memory and I think Patricks analysis of they just needed to fill 26 episodes is apt, but also Anno is also just a huge damn nerd and can be awful in a lot of ways that nerds can be.

EDIT: fwiw the “taking and buying photos of girls/crushes” is a common anime trope in the 90s/early aughts and it suuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks

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Roses are red
Violets are blue
Magma Diver is bad
Magma Diver is such a bad episode

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I felt the same about this stretch of episodes, some great moments here and there, like the ship combat sequence, the dance coordination, and the whole physical vibe of the city-blackout episode, but yeah this set felt like they were stretching for episodes while indulging in some real shitty leering anime tropes.
Suppose they wanted to introduce Asuka for a bit before continuing the story but there could’ve been better ways to.
Thankfully it gets right on track with the next set, hoo boy I am excited.

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I’ll just throw in that if the show feels creepy and weird that may not be entirely unintentional. If nothing else, the goal may be to put the viewer in Shinji’s shoes as a weird awkward kid who has no possible way to express his feelings or sexuality besides occasional leering. It’s also indulging that impulse in a fanservicey way, but given how the rest of the story folds back on that stuff I feel like there’s room to infer an indictment of the impulse.

Was looking forward to the reactions for when Eva becomes an obnoxious anime harem romcom in the middle episodes. There was a thread here for “love it but can’t recommend it” shows and this kind of stuff is what makes it hard for me to recommend to people who aren’t anime fans already.

Some parts of it are trying to make an artistic statement, but 3/4 of the examples I don’t think are trying to state anything, they’re just filling time with 90s anime romcom antics that are cringey looking back at.

I kind of feel the same way about another mecha anime, Gurren Lagann. I find it interesting thematically (a lot of similarities to Undertale actually) and it left a deep impression on me, but to people who aren’t already deep into anime it’s hard to justify a lot of the nonsense in the first 5-7 episodes in particular.

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It’s interesting hearing the crew talk about the gay panic jokes with Shinji in more feminine clothes. They’re 100% right in it being shitty as hell. However, thinking about those scenes and reading Shinji as more feminine when I watched it as a teen was an early moment of me questioning my gender which eventually lead to me realizing I’m trans.

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in a similar position where I can absolutely track me beginning to question my sexuality back to a certain late-3rd act character that maybe isn’t handled the best in the version I watched and might have been handled even worse by Netflix.

I am starting to see the translation as almost slightly lazy. I know in my own translation work I can have emails and WhatsApp messages going back and forth for hours, trying to figure out the best way to translate a particular sentence to ensure it’s conveying the correct meaning. The more literal way seems to avoid that altogether (and would be completely unacceptable imo if you were translating something like a book). I don’t know how much time he was given to do the translation though, the golden rule most translators seem to stick to is “fast and good enough for the person paying the bills to be happy with it”

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In all this I’m honestly curious why they felt like they needed a new translation?
Was the original one too far from the new dub? was it not deemed official? did they lose the rights and is that even a thing?

Overall I’ve got a milder stance on the translation, I don’t ultimately think it’s a travesty or that the lack of Fly me to the Moon is ruining the show, but considering nonsensical stuff like “Third Children”, choosing not to translate the interstitial text screens, and technical stuff like poorly syncing up lines with audio it all ends up feeling incredibly sloppy.

Like Austin mentioned on the last pod I don’t think this is the last English translation we’ll see of Eva, especially now that it’s readily available outside of Japan, but it’s disappointing that this is the splash it lands with.

The whole time I was watching this series over the past week (for the first time) I couldn’t help but think what my thoughts would be if I had first seen this show as a teenager instead of in my early thirties, especially this stretch of episodes. Teenage me would unfortunately probably not have realized just how gross the show’s sexual objectification of its female characters is, and definitely would have some extremely confusing and terrifying thoughts about gender upon seeing Shinji in Asuka’s suit.

As it stands, I am having a really hard time figuring out exactly how I feel about this show. It feels like it exists in a quantum state where it collapses into either an amazing show or absolute trash whenever I observe it. Over the course of this podcast based on whatever episode they were talking about (or even which part of a specific episode) my feelings about the series as a whole kept flipping from positive to negative. Is this what it’s been like for Evangelion fans for the last 20 years? Am I now in purgatory with all of you?

As someone who first watched the show as a teenager and has now rewatched it in my 30s, I’m all out. I don’t think it’s a great show. In the least rude way possible, it feels like a lot of people’s first bits of tablescraps of self identity were formed around it and that sort of boosts the show up for them. And art is allowed to grow and gain meaning outside of its original purpose or intent, but I can’t help but think that this is one of those instances where fans put more into it than what is there in a positive light? I felt like I was watching a different show than the positive one people were talking about. Listening to the podcast it’s like, people really want to take things away from the show and therefore do. Not that there is nothing there, but I feel people are reading intentionality into things that feel like complete happenstance to me. Or some things may be meant negatively but people latch on to. It feels like very classic tablescrapping.
We all do this with work we like. And the more formative a work is for us the more apt we are to pull meaning from it. I ride hard for Turn-A-Gundam (the one true robot anime of my heart) for similar reasons. I read a lot of positive stuff about gender and kindness from that show that probably wasn’t intentional or at best half thought out ideas.

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Rob’s karmic retribution for reading ahead through the Wikis before watching the series is that he’s forever cursed to pronounce terms from it like someone who read them in a Wiki before hearing them uttered out loud. (See: “E.V.A.” and “A-SOO-ka”)

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This could be apocryphal but ive heard around that Anno hates the ADV Films localization and is a personal friend of the guy who did the Netflix localization, who is well known in doujin scenes and did localization for shows like Strike Witches (yikes)

If that’s the case then …yikes

I mean they mention it in the pod but he’s employed by Khara, Anno’s company, and wasn’t hired by Netflix to do the localization. Khara handled it internally.

Honestly my pet theory is just that Anno is… old? He’s an old nerd in this 50s and while I’ve never seen Gunbuster, Evangelion, and Kare Kano as bastions of progressive thought I do think there are genuinely good messages about self reflection, the acceptance of reality, anti-escapism, and an interesting reflection on media and Japan’s lost decade. But that was also 15 - 30 years ago, and it seems as though in that time hes begun to feel much differently about his early work than I know I feel about his early work.

Or maybe it’s just me better understanding what I want to like and dislike about something idk! I’m still really into Eva and excited to finish it again but theres some stuff around this latest release thats just… yikes.

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A further bit about the “Wall of Jericho” line that didn’t get brought up.

The most famous story about the Wall of Jericho to me is the story in the bible where this famously impregnable wall utterly collapses due to divine intervention

The Israelites marched around the walls once every day for six days with the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant. On the seventh day they marched seven times around the walls, then the priests blew their ram’s horns, the Israelites raised a great shout, and the walls of the city fell.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Jericho#Biblical_account

I don’t know if it really matters either here or in the place where Rob originally heard it, but it’s an odd additional context that Asuka’s trying to set up this ironclad barrier and references a wall that famously collapsed. Considering the show likes to reference religious things willy nilly, I figure it’s somewhat intentional but not that meaningful.

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Not having the nostalgia glasses on, I do think there’s a lot of tablescrapping going on for sure. I do think that this show does do some really interesting things, but very few of them have anything to do with what the show has to say about gender or sexuality. Misato being amazing seems like it’s basically a total accident considering this show’s attitudes toward women in general and how it frames her relationship with Kaji specifically.

So I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but I do think I had an uncommon reaction to these episodes. I think this is where Evangelion really gets it’s Kaiju/Mech anime really right, and I enjoy those parts of the episodes immensely. Both as just a fun, easy going anime, and something where tension starts ramping up between characters. Maybe a hot take, but I actually REALLY loved the action in Magmadiver? Like, I felt tense, despite knowing exactly that was happening.

Of course, this is a tale of two animes, where the other half is a shit sex comedy with 14 year olds. While I want to give Anno some props for never really using his nudity scenes as a way to demonstrate vulnerability in his characters, so many shots are just there to leer at whoever on display, which most often is Asuka. Maybe Anno and his team thought they needed they stuff, make they’re big fans of this stuff. I dunno, but it does make me have to compartmentalize these episodes (and the series in general) to let me like Evangelion.

Hands up if you have an uncontrolled negative physical reaction every time Rob says “Ah-SOO-Ka”. What’s the reverse of ASMR? I think it’s Rob saying “Ah-SOO-Ka”.

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