“This is what an anime should be,” that’s what I thought while I was watching the first few episodes of NGE (22 to be exact, in two sittings). Oh boooy, so good. I’m totally relishing those beautifully drawn and animated scenes, the astounding level of detail, heck, I was shivering from so much excitement though my face looked so deadpan while watching it (must. act. adult). No episode was boring for me. Every episode had my panties in a knot and and my breath on hold. Can’t even blink, damn it.
The story is so ingenious. Though you might be dissing on the last two episodes, you cannot deny that this is an absolute work of art. The story, the pacing, the concept, the characters, they’re flawless. It’s a novel concept unheard during its time. Though the anime left me with so many questions (which I have to watch the rest of the installments for hope of understanding the ending, or maybe I’ll never will), I can truly say that I was satisfied overall.
That last 2 episodes eerily reminded me of ErgoProxy, another anime that left me stumped on my seat after (I still didn’t understand its ending until now, to be honest, and I’ve watched it like 4 years ago).
For those who are pissing on the animation (especially those who only watched a handful of new anime and acts as if they know everything about it lol), I don’t give a fuck if it looks old. Even Britney Spears and Madonna look old now. Everything will look old eventually. Including me and you. What’s the fuss? This one is aging oh so gracefully. You bet I can still watch it after 20-30 years (I will) and still be amazed by it, just like Akira.
Yes, it looks so 90s. But what the heck?! Try to watch any anime created these past few years and you will find only a handful of them that can compare with the story and the animation this one has. Maybe I’m a little biased since I’m a 90s kid, but to be honest, I think the quality of anime is so much better before compared now. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch anime today, though I tend to avoid 95% of them. Visuals are never enough for me. I’ve never been so critical when it comes to story compared before (but if it’s yaoi, I’m all for fanservice. That’s how I roll), so I’m only watching a handful, and most of the time prefer to go back to re-watch the old ones. Sigh. It’s really hard to watch anime as you grow older.
It doesn’t help that I prefer the old ways of animation (cel animation, is that it?) If you ask me, if you’ll do an anime with the help of CGI, better integrate it seamlessly, or make it 100% CGI so it doesn’t look wonky. I’m referring to you, Berserk 2016 remake (ugh, hurts so bad to see it looking like that). Or maybe I was far too spoiled with the handful of Final Fantasy movies and Space Pirate Captain Harlock movie that I saw. They look so delicious. But then again, making an anime is not an easy task. Office politics can make or break one. Budgets can drastically affect not just the number of episodes, but the quality of the anime.
But I’m steering away from my main topic.
Boy this was good. Episode 1 did a VERY good job of getting my attention. My god. The “camera” shots, the angles, and also the astounding details, which you rarely see in anime today. You’ll notice that the art style is definitely 90s–the shape of their faces, the hair, the clothes. But the technology–though definitely looks dated–still looks amazing as ever.
According to scientists, it’s difficult to create a robot that walks like a human; it’ll be clumsy and often fall, making it an easy target for enemies. That’s why robots being made are focused on having an upper body similar to a human, but with wheels as feet, or totally looking like a non-humanoid through and through. But watching this show allows you to suspend your disbelief for a while and admire those slim-looking robots (in contrast to chunky-looking robots like Gundams or Voltes V or Daimos) and watch how smoothly they move.
Since I previously mentioned that I totally have no background knowledge of this anime prior, all along I thought EVAs are just robots. Eventually I discovered that they’re not. No need for me to discuss everything, as this is an old anime and most likely you’ll find a shitton of reviews so much better and in-depth than my aimless ramblings.
The pacing of the anime and its monster of the week format is quite a staple in the anime world, but it never dawned on me that these Angels have a given number. Other than me checking the progress of the story based on how many episodes are left, this was probably the first time that I saw anime character/s anticipating the exact number of monsters they will face, though they never had an idea when it will appear.
Which brings us to the religious themes borrowed by the anime. The mainframes are Balthazar, Melchior, and Gaspar (Casper), aka MAGI. The name Evangelion comes from EVA, since Evangelions are created from Adam, the name of the first Angel that appeared on Earth. The Angel’s arrivals was expected due to the Dead Sea Scrolls possessed by Seele, the organization that handles Nerv. And let’s not forget the Kabbalistic images in the opening theme of the anime.
The image below is the Tree of Life as interpreted in the Kabbalah. I’m not an expert about this, but this is a religious/mystic concept in Judaism that tries to understand the nature of us human beings, the universe, and perhaps God itself. They look the same, right?
The incorporation of these symbols have something to do with the fact that they had tried to “create” another living being out of the first Angel that descended to the Earth, which was the EVAs. Of course, since it is a being with its own mind, they cannot control it unless they bind it. Hence, the armor the EVAs have.
Okay, I’ll admit. I cheated a bit. In order to find that Tree of Life image in Wikipedia I had to read a bit of information about the anime. And I have read that the religious allusions and symbols are pretty much gimmick-y, in order to hype up the anime and add up a bit of “deepness” to it. If this is really true, then I tip my hat off to them, because a lot of people had been attracted to these symbols and its possible meanings in the anime. And mind you, despite Anno claiming that he just added these symbols for kicks, it’s super effective! I mean, you can’t just use these without knowing the background or significance of these symbols. Even if he denies it, it takes a little research and digging up so he can use these symbols appropriately.
Even in mainstream Christianity and/or Judaism, these symbols cannot be found often. Only the most learned (or esoteric) of them knew about these. This is definitely not a mainstream thing (and don’t ask me why the fuck I knew about these and why I have been reading about this before).
Unresolved sexual tension
Goodness, this show has A LOT. It is obvious that Shinji is emotionally dependent on each of the three women (Misako, Asuka and Rei) to a certain degree. It does not help that Shinji didn’t have a mother figure for the longest time, and he’s emotionally shut in, so it becomes awkward in dealing with other people, and especially the opposite sex, hence the UST.
Not only Shinji is suffering in this predicament. Misato as well, with Kaji. Ritsuko to Gendo. Maya to Ritsuko. The glasses guy to Misato. Golly, this show has loads.
And Kaworu didn’t help either. He’s flirty as fuck.
So yeah, Kaworu
In such a short appearance (barely 1 episode), he had made enough noise. I even found a website dedicated to him, created on 2000(?) and still active until now. I was floored.
Never have I encountered an anime character aside from him that was able to capture the audience despite appearing in such a short time. Kaworu definitely takes the cake and eat it too. So far no one has beaten his record yet. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
Although my fujoshi senses are tingling during these short trysts, I decided that he, as the last Angel, he is speaking on behalf of the Angels as a whole. He is trying to communicate to humans–the previous Angels cannot speak (they’re too high-tech I guess). So he tends to speak in generalities, not how a human being would speak to another. He is speaking to Shinji, not just because he’s the protagonist here, but also as a representative of the human race. His sadness, insecurities, fears, needs and want for genuine human affection and acceptance is what every single human on this planet wants deep down inside. In the end, the ultimate act of Kaworu sacrificing himself, choosing to die and leaving the decision to Shinji will affect the humanity as a whole.
When he said that he loves Shinji, I don’t think it’s that kind of love we fujoshis and fudanshis are aiming for. It’s more of a general love–agape, if you will–towards humans. It was said that Angels have 99% similarity in DNA to humans, meaning, humans and angels are sharing the same things and components and therefore apples that fell from the same tree, though with drastically different capabilities and appearance. That despite these differences, Angels have learned to accept the humans as they are, and are leaving the decision to Shinji on whether he would like to keep things as they are or he wants to change it.
Therefore, a romantic involvement with Shinji is quite impossible. He does have a human body, and if you want to stretch the narrative even further to doujinshi territory, yes, they can do the deed, but the meaning of the act itself will be lost. And Shinji will never be truly happy either way.
All the poor boy wants is someone who can accept him–flaws and all–and be patient enough so he can take his sweet time to come out of his shell (or you could say AT field, lol) and express himself. And Kaworu is the only person who was kind and patient enough to do this. But alas, Gendo is here to ruin the day! Thanks Anno. You fucked up with your characters too much.
I have almost zero knowledge in Japanese, but I’m guessing that the word they both used was suki, as in like–not the very formal and rarely used aishiteru–which can be used for almost anything your heart desires. I guess it’s kinda impossible to develop such intense romantic feelings in just a couple of hours, and it’s their first and last.
So I’m guessing, with everyone away during that time–Rei was missing, Asuka was comatose, Misako was busy and in despair because of Kaji’s death, his classmates are away–any human interaction will do for Shinji. But upon meeting Kaworu, he only not felt relief, but also familiarity. Here’s a “person” whose patient enough to listen to him, not rude, has a certain mysteriousness and sex appeal (it’s a given, duh, this is Evangelion), while having a straightforwardness that was unlike Asuka’s. If you’re in your lowest point in your life and you meet such a stud, er, person, who wouldn’t be delighted? I certainly would.
His two male classmates are quite different compared to Kaworu. His honesty and confidence in approaching Shinji causes him to blush, as he doesn’t know how to react to it. If I were in Shinji’s position I would definitely have the same reaction. I cannot interpret this sexually: this is just an innocent, pure blushing, and therefore a natural reaction on Shinji’s part.
The last two episodes
Ooh boy, these two are super controversial. But there are a lot of people saying that these two episodes sucks. I beg to disagree.
I’ll admit that after watching it I was left stumped. I was staring to the laptop screen for like a couple of minutes, ruminating about the damn ending. Congratulations? What the fuck–?
But then again I realized that the ending–this one–happened inside Shinji’s mind. Finally, he has learned to accept himself, that despite all that has happened to him, he still wants to live with the people that matters to him. That he cannot survive alone, and the world is an awful place with him alone. That despite everything is going down the drain in the real world, his mind and heart is at peace.
I’m not saying that you should sacrifice everything just for the sake of your own, but we have to look at this in the eyes of someone who’s battling depression. Shinji is depressed. At first he wants everything to disappear, including him. He doesn’t want to do anything, he’s tired. He wants to end it all. So everything was in the process of ending, with people turning back into LCL and merging into one in the End of Evangelion.
But when he saw the what the world would look like at the end–white, blank, empty–he realizes that he doesn’t want this either. To lose everything and everyone would mean that there will be no one to accept him, open their hearts to him and interact with him–the very things that he’s craving for. To be alone in the world is to simply not exist, because there is no one to acknowledge your existence.
So he decided to go back, even though there is a possibility that he might get hurt again, he still wants to be with the people around him–his friends, colleagues, Asuka and her big mouth, and yes, even his father.
Criticisms and issues
There has been talks of budget issues, which was the reason why the two episodes looked like that. Well, I can say that it’s not the sole reason, but definitely it is one of the reasons as well.
My theory was this: the anime looked promising in the first few episodes, but eventually lost more funding due to the violent scenes in the middle of the series (remember this was marketed to the children and young adults). I’ve read that the budget was already depleted by episode 8 or 9, and so they had to make do with what they already have.
Plans for further episodes had to be changed in a short notice to stretch the budget, so they were rushing to meet the deadlines. Plus, Anno is depressed during that time, which explains the darker slant of the anime towards the end. And as the episodes unfold, they are running out of funds, they were catching up to the schedule and Anno is still depressed, the characters were so fucked up that they are hopelessly beyond salvation, and Anno doesn’t even know how to wrap things up nicely at this point.
And what do you do to a main character that is so fucked up depressed (just like Anno) that he wants to drag down the entire human race to despair along with him? You make him look inside him and do a self-analysis instead. You make him do a spiritual journey if you will, and let him see what will happen if his wishes come true. Ask him if this is really the thing that he wants.
And that’s how episodes 25-26 was born.
For someone who got absorbed and totally invested on the shounen action the show delivered that the start of the series, it is understandable to get disappointed. After all, though the internal conflict inside Shinji’s heart and mind was resolved, what happened to the physical world? I do believe that is was justified that the Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion was made, just to give the fans some closure they think they deserve.
As for me, I’d be fine even if the movies were not released. The ending did not make sense to me at first, but when I think about it, even weeks after I watched the series (I had a severe case of hang-ups because of this show), I felt satisfied. I was happy that at last, Shinji was at peace with his heart and mind. I was confident that whatever happens in the physical world after that, I’m sure he’ll be able to wing it.
So, to you dear reader, Congratulations!
These ramblings might make no sense to those who had fully understood what the anime is trying to say (I bow to you, whoever/how many of you are). I might be wrong on so many things, but this is my pure, untainted (lol) observations and interpretations. I tried my very best not to read other blog/review to avoid spoiling my opinions on the anime.
Maybe I’ll do a review on the Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion in the future. Maybe.