Ok So, I just got through watching Evangelion in a blitz 2-day run movies included. I hadn’t seen it since I was 14 or so. For those of you who haven’t seen it, there are really three main age categories of the characters.
I have changed much since I last saw it and have learned a lot about animation and film and psychology since. I found myself stuggling with it much more now than I had before. Early on I saw it mostly as an interesting story about people who are generally rather whiny and not really sure of themselves. I didn’t personally identify with any of the characters. In fact, I still don’t. However my opinions about them have changed. Or rather, the fact that they are inept and complain a lot doesn’t bother me so much anymore.
Also I lied, their is one character I identify with and that is Ikari Yui, the wife of Gendo and mother to Shinji. It is eventually revealed that her whole role (which may seem minor, but is the driving force for all events prior to the first episode) is simply so that she can create a symbol or record of humanities existence that will outstrip the even the life of the sun. This is the ultimate dream of science combined with the baseness of being human. To create something that will outlast all else that we know proves our power, our intellect. As a scientist I can respect Yui for both her work and giving into this desire and admitting it openly. And after all, you’re a scientist for god’s sake.
As a story it had a moral and a point, like most stories. Furthermore that point was something that I have thought about occasionally within the years intervening my viewing and frequently within the past year. Though the telling is convoluted, Rei eventually reveals the ultimate decision that is placed in Shinji’s hands and also the choice he has made. My way of putting this decision is as follows.
“If one had the capacity to instantly and permanently (no chance of recovery) and without suffering erase all life, would you?”
I think the way that people answer that question tells a lot about themselves. It is an uncomfortable question for most people and the only two people I have formally posed it two tried to shift the terms around and declare that it was irrelevant. Eva is interesting in that they actually ask this question but do it in such a roundabout way that people don’t know that they are asking it until it is too late (end of last movie). What is even more interesting is that the character that is given that ability comes (or was predisposed) to the same answer that I have. This answer is that maybe such a state of affairs isn’t entirely a bad thing.
From here the moral goes a little soft and for some reason the characters life force is still around and is given a chance to reinstate life should he choose to do so, and of course he does…noting of course that everyone he killed has to resurrect themselves. This is rather lame but the point was made, they just cover it up so people don’t leave on such a downer.
Another thing that irked me this time that didn’t before was that the animation was so close to being just balls to the wall weird and out there and convoluted in terms of the story telling. What bothers me in all of that is of course that it *wasn’t* as strange as the makers clearly had the capacity to do. It felt like they were restraining themselves. It was almost like they needed it to be approachable to the masses rather than strange and invigorating. This consistently annoyed me. Whenever they went into some psychedelic state there was always a voice over walking the viewer through. I am smart enough to infer what is going on; let me, please.
Most of the pleasure I got out of this watching was from the neat things I would notice that the animators did that are subtle but poetic. My friend Justin noted when we were kids that there is a rather hilarious moment when the creators are trying to be funny in the first episode when the car is blown over by an N2 bomb explosion. He noted that this is the one and only point where the animator specifically added in things like that. However, there are in fact many more, right up to the end, they are simply less blatant. They relive the tension of the show with out the viewer even realizing it.
One of the real strokes of beauty however comes at the very beginning of the second movie. Misato has hacked into some NERV mainframe and is trying to discover its ultimate purpose, why she is doing the things she is doing. The document is flashed on the screen quickly before something else deletes it. I however, thinking I could divine some juicy fan trivia, went back and paused at the moment the document flashed on screen. The document happened to be in English. The document is actually a story that talks all about the creators of the anime and how they thought of this in college and then eventually got signed to big corporations etc. If it is not immediately apparent, I will explain how awesome and hilarious and cool this is. Here is a character who is trying to find the truth and reveal the truth. What is revealed to her is the full, unadulterated truth. To her point of view it might be considered a meta-truth. In explains, to us at least, in detail the whole reason why she exists as an animation in the real world. But it also explain it to her, which in some sense is forbidden knowledge in any “serious” story. Furthermore since the document is in English and flashed on the screen quickly, most of the original viewers would have not understood and simply believed that the character had found some truth within the story that she was proported to find and not the absolute truth that is given.
I think I liked it this time much more than before. Most of the characters are whiny bitches, but hey most of the characters are 14.
I really should stop watching media. My feelings afterwards are always mixed. Do I really enjoy consuming it or am I hunting the past?