Sunday, January 1, 2012

Evangelion: Rewatch: Episodes 4-6

More ramblings ensue:

So Shinji's mindlessly riding the subway around Tokyo to keep his mind off things. I find it slightly unbelievable because I would assume that since he's supposed to have this acute social anxiety, he wouldn't find riding in a train packed full of people to be at all relaxing. I've got a mild case of agoraphobia myself and the few places where it really bothers me is when I'm in a really crowded subway car or bus. Even with headphones in, having strangers crowded all around me really gets to me. Maybe I'm just projecting myself onto Shinji too much. Anyways the movie theater scene is pretty funny, I never realized it was supposed to be the Third Impact, complete with Eva's own 'action music'.

So the name-dropping begins in this episode, with the Marduk Report. I'm not sure how I feel about these references. On one hand, it's an interesting exercise in tangential learning for those inquisitive minds who want to explore the themes of the show – Evangelion was the catalyst for my first encounter with Freud's work, and thanks to the show I was reading about the before Madonna made it cool. On the other hand, the way the show tosses around some of the terms can be almost irresponsibly flippant. For example, the Dirac Sea of the show, if I remember correctly, is some metaphysical realm that Shinji slips into when he's consumed by that one floaty black ball Angel. The real meaning is not quite as fanciful (by a small margin, some might say) but much more fascinating, at least for those who have a passing interest in physics, like myself. I guess you could easily argue that the religious and psychological aspects are butchered just as badly (look at poor Marduk), but since I hold Freudian psychology and religion in near equal regard as mere myth, I don't have a problem with 'adapting' them to the show's own mythology – and it really is more of an adaptation in those cases than a complete misrepresentation, as with many of the hard sciences references.

Well we're into Episode 5 now. While I'm on the subject of tech, it's always amusing to see how people envision technology advancing. I'm reminded of a quote from Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works, which Ive been reading recently: “The one prediction coming out of futurology that is undoubtedly correct is that in the future today's futurologists will look silly” (p 83). Look at those huge CRT monitors and those displays with 8-bit color that look like they're from the DOS era! This from the same organization that has a control room with a huge freaking holographic display and from a universe with buildings that retract into the ground and a non-nuclear weapon with the power surpassing even the largest hydrogen bombs.

So this episode begins the romantic/sexual tension between Shinji and Rei with our first nude Rei scene. eg one more reason why this show will never get a proper live-action western theatrical release. If the religious references weren't enough (look what happened to the Golden Compass film), the sexual aspects of the show pretty much assure that a western live-action film could never do the show justice. Ah the wonders of our Puritanical American culture... Seriously, though, at age 14, I was well aware of my sexuality, and that aspect of the show is one of the main reasons the show spoke to me so clearly when I saw it at that age. To remove that aspect would be to completely neuter the show (ho ho ho bad pun!).

Episode 6! This 3-episode thing has been working out pretty fortuitously so far. It got the first two-episode arc in, while breaking up the comparatively subdued third and fourth character drama episodes. And now the second set of three ends with another two-episode arc, against the blue octahedron Angel. In fact, this second set of three presents a a nice arc itself, starting with Shinji's malaise and insecurity, setting up his relationship with Rei, then culminating with an episode that resolves (for the time being) both those situations. I think it's also just a good fight, with the giant Evangelion sniper rifle. Though it always made me wonder why the Self Defense Force's prototype positron rifle just happens to have Evangelion-sized controls complete with handle, trigger, shoulder stock, and even a rifle bolt, when the JSDF doesn't have any Evangelions. Why isn't their rifle mounted on a big tank, or something? They show NERV's own rifle, and it looks nothing like the rifle used at the end, so it's hard to argue that they rigged up the JSDF prototype with the interface of NERV's Evangelion-sized one.

...okay what, a 1/1 scale Evangelion balloon dummy? That seems extremely impractical. Imagine the argument for getting the budget for that thing passed. And another name-drop, this time, the poor Magi.

And also, I'm a bit confused about how much the public knows about the Evangelions. We see Shinji's friends. Aida and Suzuhara, along with some other classmates, watching for the arrival of the Evangelions. When they arrive, they cheer and say something along the lines of, "Yeah, Evangelions! We know you can defeat the Angels!" I thought there was a media blackout on the whole situation? When we're in the shelters and we can hear the radio reports, they're very vague. And I thought the official report said that a meteor caused the Second Impact, so why do his friends know so much? Sure, his two buddies there hopped a ride in his robot, but you'd think NERV would serve them up with an NDA or something.

Oh and one more thing, Evangelion, Korea at night looks like this (from Wikipedia):
See that up north? Yeah. I know this post had been filled with trivial complaints and this last one goes beyond nitpicky but maybe the whole Korean Pride thing is starting to grow on me. Or maybe I just like to trash North Korea anytime I can. Seriously. Those bastards.

Okay, last trivial complaint, why did NERV build their headquarters directly under a bunch of buildings that are rather precariously suspended in an area that they know is going to become a battleground? Every time I see buildings break off and tumble down towards the NERV pyramid base, I have to question the soundness of that decision.

Anyways that's that. Shinji blasts the Angel, Rei saves him, we get a nice ending echoing the flashback events of episode 5 that's slightly disrupted by a sudden shift in character design and level of detail that makes them look years older and generally different from how we've seen them before... I even even noticed that when I first saw the series but watching it now, Rei's smile at the end creeped me out. What's with that sudden change in style? Whatever.

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