Finally, We Have an Excuse to Explain Evangelion


#43

I didn’t get the impression Anime was looking for arguments but I could be wrong. I understand the urge but I don’t think I could argue against anyone’s issues with the series. It struck me super hard when I first watched it (late 90s, mid highschool), and put a lot things in my life in perspective. If I encountered it now for the first time I doubt it would resonate the same way.
But yeah, I loved that about the pilots being capable based on circumstance or manufacturing rather than some innate specialness - or trained ability. In some instances training hard proves to be a block to piloting even.


#44

To step away from Eva for a moment, which I’m assuming will be a nearly impossible task…

Pardon the long diatribe as I’m still trying to hammer down my thoughts, but the whirlwind of the article/counter-article about the Stanich burger joint has me feeling extremely personally conflicted. Iit’s a situation where a lot of things are thrown into direct contrast with each other and I’m really struggling to sort out my feelings on it.

I feel like a lot of the idea behind the first article, or at least what I took away as the idea of the article, was kind of lost in the general discussion at first and then more or less trampled over by later conversation. It felt like people were reading into it as some sort of ego piece, as if the whole message was only “I, and I alone killed something.” Yes, there’s and under current to that, but I what I took away from it was the question of what responsibility does anyone have in the sharing era where something can explode violently and have much larger repercussions. The author turned it into his own personal hair shirt, but the more compelling stories to me were the anecdotes of other similar places being crushed under the pressure of going viral.

It’s why, to me, the follow up article and Steve Stanich being a garbage human being makes me feel profoundly uncomfortable. I do not want to undermine how terrible the things he has done are, this is in no way shape or form an attempt to downplay those things. This guy is, however, just a random guy who owns a burger shop which will probably not re-open. He is not a political figure, someone of any real import, a person who will influence policy or general behavior, he’s not even a public figure. I don’t see any real benefit to declaring from the mountaintops the exact nature of his crimes to the world, especially in response to an article about his burger shop closing.

The original author was far too lenient with how he phrased his keeping those details out of the story, and in no way is it possible to describe choking your terminally ill spouse as the kind of trouble any family could find themselves in. That is straight up bullshit wording no matter how you cut it. At the same time however, I feel like this follow up article absolutely misses the greater discussion and raises a whole host of other, much harder questions.

It’s really hard for me to find comfortable footing on this topic because on the one hand you have the eternal problem of abusers and problematic people skating through life without consequence, and then on the other hand you have the incredibly destructive focus of the internet and what that can do to people. Stanich has been in constant legal trouble ever since, it’s not like the law has failed or done nothing, and I really can’t seem to find a net positive for putting all of this information out there for the world to consume.

I don’t know, the whole thing feels weird to me. Is anyone else struggling with how to feel about this, or is it just me?


#45

I love how big of a mess that it is and how it conflicts with itself. The double endings. The strange conflict between character design and the message of the show. It is beautifully crafted and has amazing design. The Evas are monstrous and creepy, defying the design conventions of most mecha shows.

I also never thought of this, but it is a valid read. I do question if the show thought that much about. But the idea that Gendo would employ such a crass approach to “motivating” his son is completely in character. Even Misato has a weird level of commitment to NERV, even though she doesn’t seem to know everything about NERV.

Gendo’s intent in the show is one of the more interesting parts of the series. The show tells you nothing about that man, how he feels or his motivations. You only get to see why he “use the elevator” during serious battles during the End of Evengelion. The man is a close to a villian as the show gets and even then it is hard to put him above everyone else that is facilitating giant robot child abuse.


#46

I think your point is valid, but the show expressly states that everyone in Shinji’s school is a potential pilot. I think the heroes are the best pilots available, but the show implies that all of the kids in the school have been groomed to be potential pilots. I always got the impression that the entire city and surrounding area was just a system to feed in potential child pilots and support the Evas. That they had tried with the Rei clone and found that to be to unstable, so they developed a less unstable system.

Also, I do not believe EVA 00 and EVA 01 are hybrids. I believe they were the first and second Angels. But they could have retconed that out. But I like my theory better, because it explains why Asuka can’t pilot EVA 00 or EVA 01.

@ Pearlmania That dog is very good. I believe it is a golden doodle, which is my wife’s second favorite breed.

All my VHS tapes of EVA did not survive my college years. Which is fine because they would look like trash on an HD TV. My wife is excited to finally see the series. I have described the series as “Terrible People at the End of the World”. I’ve always felt it was an accurate description of the series that doesn’t really spoil anything. But she was then baffled by the Cruel Angel Thesis jazzy fun theme.

Edit: This forum system is very nice and I enjoy the helpful tips it provides.


#47

I really want to dig into this, but I keep deleting my sentences. I feel like I’m in a similar boat as you in that I see giant landmines all around this topic. With that in mind, I think the podcast did a pretty good job of not stepping on a lot of these. My personal take away here is that there is a tremendous and unpredictable power to casting a lens on any individual. The responsibilities of journalism are real and important, as much as the instant media era would like us to forget that. It’s also a reminder that abuse is real, and sadly common. I get why Rob looked so upset about it that it had to be the opener of the show. There’s something deeply infuriating about the way this story was initially cast once you know the rest of the story.

For me, I don’t think there’s much to be said about “should this story have been told?”. I think it’s inevitable that stories like this are going to happen in an information culture. The pressure to publish, the economic incentive to entertain and manufacture ‘angles’, runs up against real human behaviour. The question for me, is “How should we respond to them when they do come up?” and I really don’t have a comfortable answer to that.


#48

Not looking for them, but happy to be presented with new information, and to be wrong. I’d hate to characterize discussion as argument. :-p

It’s certainly been a while since I’ve seen the show. I mostly have vague memories of Asuka pushing real hard to improve sync rate or whatever, and it not working, which was not so much the case. If it is, as suggested, parental love based, I take even more issue with it, and it’s even less interesting of an idea than “hard work or over-work might be bad.” (Which in fairness, was also not my initial takeaway. (Of what may be a very bad memory of a show I’ve tried to forget most of.))


#49

Given that I think the Evangelion has been the lightning rod for discussion here, I just wanted to say that I made a thread for discussion about Fighting in the Age of Loneliness following watching half an episode on Danielle’s recommendation. Definitely listen to her part about this on the podcast, no matter how keen you are to get into the Evangelion juice!


#50

This was a GOOOOOOD episode.

The whole opening is “Wow, we almost missed this Viral Burger Joint (VBJ) news but it is here now and we hate it”. That’s the sort of thing that gets my blood bump.

THEN Danielle gets to talk MMA which she loves which is dope. The doc series feels light on new-er information but the presentation is cool so that’s fine. Wish they would have talked more about how the Gracie’s actually didn’t see the UFC as this potential cash cow directly, but that it was an incredible commercial for BJJ. Recommend the 30-for-30 on UFC 1. Telling how the Gracie’s essentially created and changed the ruleset to benefit them.

I have no idea what this anime is about but I look forward to watching it in the Spring. Wild that a re-release (not updated) of an anime is getting the buzz it is. V cool.


#51

tl;dr: If you actually care about journalism, or just about not giving cover to an abuser, there was no other choice.

The original article made Stanich out to be some sort of sad, rambling grandpa figure who didn’t have his shit together. It made him sympathetic by leaving out the abuse. That is a particularly egregious kind of omission which erases his victim. (A victim who, BTW, was also the manager of the restaurant, which is … I dunno … maybe relevant?)

But Alexander didn’t stop there. Nope, it turns out Stanich is the actual victim, because of some dumb review Alexander wrote. Never mind all the debts, lawsuits, and drinking which maybe, quite possibly, had more to do with the closing. Even when Stanich explicitly tells Alexander that he doesn’t blame anyone else for what happened, the author is too busy gazing at his own navel to fucking listen.

So yes, all these things needed to be shouted from the mountaintops, because that article had already gone completely viral, and outlets like NPR had already fallen for it. If you don’t, then what you’re left with is a lie of omission and a pile of sorry myth making that actively provides cover for an abuser. Even with the correction, it’s not as if everyone who read the first article would’ve necessarily been aware of the errors – so somewhere, the myth of Stanich as listicle victim is still alive and well.

If you’re going to blame anyone, blame Alexander for fucking up this badly.


#52

To me, it sounds like you understand exactly why it resonates with people, it just doesn’t with you. That’s okay.

Also, damn this episode was good. I listened to it on my commute and then got a bug up my butt to watch the series for the first time in 10 years so my girlfriend (who hasn’t seen it) and I watched these first two eps. Everything that was said in this podcast is on the mark. It holds up really nicely and I’m finding a lot more depth then I did when I saw it in high school and thought “oh hey weird robot show”


#53

That’s awesome!

This is the one thought that keeps circling the drain in my head on the show… I wonder if I’d appreciate it in a new way, now, as an adult, who has a solid grasp on depression and self hatred, and whatnot… but I’m just…

Nervous about itching some old wounds.


#54

I’m not defending the original piece as being well written, I kind of think it’s a concept in search of an anchor point. People in the area blamed the author for closing the place down, he had the thought of writing on the concept of internet infamy and the consequence of attention through journalism, and he shoved the facts in to fit with his original plan even when truth got messier. I think the concept, divorced from its execution, is an important one and something that really needs serious inquiry.

I fully admit the original article has problems, I just don’t know how fully comfortable I am with the solution to those problems being the wide scale spreading of the other information. What definitely doesn’t help me in this regard is, unless it’s very poorly alluded to, no one ever seemed to reach out to his ex-wife and see if she was particularly comfortable with her cancer diagnosis and injuries being broadcast to the entire world. The most confirmation you get is that her doctor confirmed the diagnosis, but it’s unclear whether the doctor did so through court filings or to the paper which would be… problematic. Now, granted maybe this has more to do with what I do for a living, but someone alludes to personal and legal problems and I immediately leap to substance abuse and domestic violence, so the revelation wasn’t surprising in any way other than scope.

I don’t know. It just feels uneven in a way I can’t describe. On the one hand, glossing over the guy’s many and profound sins is certainly bad, but I guess I don’t see how making millions of people intimately aware of them is somehow the solution when that means invading the privacy of others. The first author made some bad choices with the framing of the topic and the subject, but in a way I feel like the follow up overcorrects and drags in people that quite possibly did not want that additional attention. Maybe this was all passed through the ex-wife and the son and that’s just never mentioned in which case I’d be far more comfortable with this, but there’s nothing to indicate that’s what happened.

Again, I’m having a hard time explaining why exactly I find this so uncomfortable, so apologies if this comes off as rambling or half baked.


#55

Gunbuster is always my go-to answer when asked my favorite anime. But god I wish that bathroom scene wasn’t in it. It’s just so unnecessary and has really become a thorn in recommending it to none anime watching folks.


#56

Well … shit. You’re right.

Yeah, I can see where this could cause way more problems for the ex-wife than it would be worth for her. My assumption is that Willamette Week probably didn’t talk to her, and just pulled from publicly available court documents, given how the article has no quotes from her or any indication that they reached out for comment. (This, despite explicitly getting new quotes from Stanich and Alexander.)

So yeah, they should’ve tried to contact the ex-wife before moving forward, in the spirit of trying to do the least harm. I’ve already explained all the reasons why I think the original article needed to be challenged, but ultimately it should be up to the victim to decide how to proceed. I’m glad you pointed that out, because I was blinded by how egregiously bad the original article was. (I still can’t read that sentence “the type of serious things that can happen with any family”, think about what actually happened, and not have my blood boil.)

As it stands, Alexander’s article has been edited to include a link to the Willamette Week story now, with the statement “We missed a very important part of the story, and we deeply regret and apologize for our error.” Since you can’t unring a bell, I have no idea what the path of least harm looks like going forward.


#57

Honestly I just don’t recommend it to people who don’t watch a lot of anime. There are other, more approachable robot shows that don’t play so hard into the tropes both Gunbuster and Evangelion do and also don’t have stuff like Gunbuster’s bathroom scene.


#58

I think I can recognize that Evangelion is important while simultaneously thinking it’s not that great. The ending was terrible and The End of Evangelion made it worse (intentionally I guess).

I can understand liking Eva’s weirdness and spikiness, but I still think RahXephon is a much better executed version of a similar story.


#59

oh god i still have a penpen avatar here >_< gonna have to change that if i’m not gonna feel horribly embarrassed talking about eva…

That said, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself from trying to explain how eva is really about how anime fans become vulnerable to MRA ideologies. So I guess I’m looking forward to that watchalong podcast too…


#60

Everyone in Shinji’s class is a potential pilot, but if you notice none of them mention their mothers. When we’re introduced to Toji, we’re told that he lives with his father and grandfather, who work at the lab and so can’t take care of his sister while she in hospital. Where is his mother? Kensuke explicitly tells Shinji that he’s the same as him - his mother is deceased. All of the human Eva pilots have dead mothers.


#61

Yea, I’m not out to bat for Eva or anything - there are things in Eva that are 100% indefensible. I just felt like pointing out that as someone who has a deep attachment to Eva, the way in which is deals with the parental issues is a core part of the emotional appeal for me.

Shinji is basically stuck with an abusive, controlling father and a mother who is trying to protect him, even though her soul has been absorbed into a giant cyborg. That really speaks to me. Asuka’s situation is that her mother killer herself after a contact with Unit 02 made her delusional, but that experiment meant that a part of her mother remained in Unit 02. The moment during End of Evangelion where Asuka understand’s that there is still a fragment of her mother remaining, and that her mother’s suicide wasn’t her fault just resonates with me even today.

So, I think it’s that part of the show that means why I’ll probably always have an attachment to Eva, despite the very many things that are quite deeply wrong with it.


#62

Many here have brought up Rahxephon in comparison to Evangelion. While both shows share a lot of similarities on the surface, fundamentally they are very different. At its core, RahXephon is a love story with subtle character interactions while Evangelion is a character study of deeply troubled teenagers.

Like some of you I found myself enjoying Rahxephon more as it is a more consistent story with a likable protagonist and a satisfying ending, even though it doesn’t have nearly as much lasting impact and probably wouldn’t have been made if Eva didn’t come first and showed that there was an audience for psychological mecha.

Evangelion was a groundbreaking show that undoubtedly changed the landscape of not just mecha anime but the anime medium as a whole, but it was a show that I had a very difficult time actually watching, particularly towards its end. It started with a problem of expectations as I went in only knowing that it was highly regarded and for many people their absolute favorite show. I probably would have better understood and enjoyed the show at some level had I went in knowing that the creator and director Anno was in a deep depression throughout the show’s production, a fact I would not learn until after watching End of Eva.

Listening to Austin talk about Evangelion almost makes me want to revisit it with a fresh mind and with the knowledge I have now about the circumstances surrounding the show’s production, but whenever I remember how excruciating the last stretch of episodes and the End of Eva movie were for me I instantly turn away.