My high school anime club held one and only one contest, a fanfiction contest on a series we had watched. My mind had already been crushed a little by End of Evangelion, so I resolved to write something a little more light-hearted than that. I wound up winning and selected the 2-disc set of Ushio and Tora (we had watched the first 2 episodes and I thought it was almost as hilarious as Dragon Half). The president never delivered and so I never wrote part 2 - it remains juvenilia. I kept meaning to track him down to demand it, but eventually I gave up and just downloaded a copy. (The later episodes weren’t that good.)
(Standard disclaimers: I own nothing of Evangelion, or any other intellectual property used here. If dialogue happens to match up, it was all in a spirit of parody. Yadda yah… Don’t bother suing me or my descendants/ancestors/clones down to the fifth generation, don’t ask for my first-born child, my soul, my scruples, morals or ethics; I have none. The only thing I do have is my cute plushie doll of Pikachu. You wouldn’t take that, would you?)
It was a warm, muggy afternoon, that August. I was slumming around in my office, deciding whether or not to play Russian Roulette with my revolver. I had just received a visit from the old dame, who had danced on my spine, kindly reminding of my overdue rent. I needed a big score. Suddenly, my door creaked open, to reveal the biggest Empress penguin I’d ever seen. “Holy mama!” I thought. Her coloring was exquisite. Her eyes perfect. She was well-fed, yet sleek. My favorite kind. She took a seat in one of the chairs without any cognac or cigarette butts on it. “Are you PenPen, Private Eye?” “Yes ma’am. You have a case for me?” She inhaled deeply (which did most interesting things to her chest), and said, “GOOD MORNING PENPEN!!!”
Misato shook the penguin awake. “Wake up, sleepyhead! We’ve got a big day ahead of us. In fact, I’ve gotten Shinji and Asuka up early, too!” At those words, Shinji stumbled into the room, rubbing his eyes. “Um. Hm. Dis had better be good Misato, or when I wake up, there’ll be hell to pay.” “For once I agree with him. I need my beauty sleep too, you know!”
“Oh come on you two, cheer up, will ya? It’s the start of a beautiful new day! And besides, NERV’s got something special for you!” “If anyone says that the day is beautiful again, I will kill them.” “Asuka, by any chance, did you leave the caffeine pills out for Misato? There’s no way a normal human could possibly be this perky at the ungodly hour of… nine o’clock.”
As they sat down to a hearty breakfast of fresh Top Ramen, Misato continued blithely, “Last night, Ritsuko told me that Instrumentality was ready! Isn’t that great?” Shinji glared. “Have you somehow not noticed that we are tired & irritable? Could you maybe shut up for a moment?” “Instrumentality’s supposed to be able to solve anyone’s psychological problems!” After making her point, Misato waved a plastic keycard. “Sounds like the psychiatrists are out of business.” “Yes, well… That’s unfortunate, but we’ve taken security precautions. Besides, what could they possibly do?” (Strangely, Asuka murmured something about ‘last words’, but no one was paying attention to her anyway.) Shinji looked up from his noodles. “That’s great but you haven’t told us who goes first. It’s obviously not Rei, because she has no personality to fix, so that leaves just me and her. I guess I’ll go first, since I’ve got more crippling emotional complexes. And I really want to try out that ‘alternate worlds’ thinga-ma-jig I’ve heard about.”
Asuka stood up abruptly. "_What _did you just say, Shinji Ikari‽ You’ve got more problems than me! Did I hear you right?" Shinji suddenly grew a backbone and answered affirmatively. “That’s not funny at all! I should go first since I’m the wacked out weirdo here. What are your problems, huh? You can’t stomach killing yet can’t live without it; and also you were abandoned by your daddy. Oh, boo-hoo.” “Now wait a minute! I do too have crippling psychic pain!” “Alright Shinji, then what sort of alternate world would you have?” “Well, I’d have Misato, Asuka, Rei, (maybe even Ritsuko!) as members of my harem-” “That’s quite enough you sicko! I understand the ‘pain’ you’re feeling! Not a chance in hell you’re getting into that thing! You tell him, Misato.”
“But I can’t relate to others and am stuck in an infantile stage of development! I have horrible fears every night that I’ll die of cancer from being a scant few miles from a high-yield nuke explosion! I wake up screaming that my hair’s falling out! Doesn’t that all count for something? And what about those dreams, huh? Do you have any idea how many episodes my dreams are in and how long they are?” “At least you don’t feel that you drove your mother to insanity, to suicide, oh, and lest we forget, to attempted infanticide! At least you don’t suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome! At least your personality isn’t so completely subsumed in your EVA that you’d rather die than stop piloting with the subsequent loss of identity!” “Come here and claim you’re crazier than I am! C’mere and say it again!” Misato finally intervened. “Now, now you two. Maybe you’re both schizophrenic. Maybe Shinji does have a point about his social problems, sex issues and his self-hate & loathing, and maybe Asuka’s right about driving her mother to attempted infanticide and suicide as well as her upbringing & manic-depressiveness but that’s no reason-”
Just then the door bell rang out a familiar tune. “Is that… ‘Mental House Rock’?” Misato attempted to answer from her place on the floor but was reduced to sobs of laughter by the looks on the two children’s faces. She did manage to choke out something. “Yes.. he he… Isn’t it perfect?” The flow of laughter halted when she saw who was waiting in the hall. “Do the words ‘Order Of Protection’ mean anything to you, you jerk? I’d have you in what passes for jail here if I wasn’t full of so many unreconciled feelings! Now bug off!” Kaji passionately dropped to his knees and seized her hand. “Oh my darling, my one true beloved, surely you can’t mean those hurtful words! Let me prove my love for you! Here, as a toke of affection, take these roses and card!” “The roses are nice, and the card… Cute drawing… What the-?” The card read, “If you were a dog, I’d give you a bone.” “Um… That’s very thoughtful of you Kaji, now lea-” “What do you say, Misato darling, heartthrob of my life? Will you walk with me, be my canine companion, sniff each other’s behinds? Will you light up my life with the glory of your pure unalloyed presence? Will you be mine, Valentine?” Misato paused for a moment of quiet contemplation after she vented her anger on Kaji. Then she heard another familiar tune. “Shinji! Turn the”Nutcracker" off!"
“Two disputes… What to do, what to do?” After chugging a few brewskis… “Of course! It’s perfect! Why didn’t I think of it before? Everybody, gather around!” Around the table, Asuka, Shinji, PenPen, and Kaji wondered. Would they be put into a gladiator arena? Challenged to drinking contests? Be forced to watch movies based on (someone shrieked at this particular speculation) videogames? Perhaps a duel to the death on PlayStation 5? “No sillies! We’re going on the Jerry Springer show!”
Elsewhere, deep, deep underground, terrible experiments were being performed. Terrible experiments. With her usual reckless disregard of scientific ethics (and indeed, of any ethics), Ritsuko, bored, began experimenting in her lab/kitchen. She balanced precariously, with a spoon, a spork, and a knife in her mouth, a mixing bowl in one hand, a portable beater in one, and taking a step up a stool for ingredients. “Lessee… ‘Heat the pastry with 7.892 MeV of accelerated atoms (the ones previously prepared and cooled in the liquid helium freezer) for precisely 56 nanoseconds. Adjust by thousands of joules depending on local constants of vacuum energy, fluctuations, and sea level (see formulas previously)’. Alright. Here’s the mulberry pie, in the detector, partial vacuum… All ready. I’ll just start it while I prepare the quark-gluon plasma sauce. What page is it? I’ll check the index… Hm, hm, hm… Here we go! Page 3.456 x 104.”
The door hissed open, and Misato stepped in. Ritsuko stared in shock. “How did you get into my undisclosed location?” “Very simple Ritsuko. If that is your real name. It’s the will of Gainax.” “Hah! Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not given you powers to defeat the angels. Atheism is the only true faith. Repent! Now, why are you here?” Misato looked around. “You’ve been applying science to the culinary arts? You truly are sick. I should put you out of your misery, but I’ll spare your life because of your- Ooooh!! Is that raspberry?” “No Misato, it is mulberry as any university-educated idiot with a PhD could tell you.” “Well, then, thanks for the pie!” As she spoke this, she edged closer to the container. “What do you mean? I haven’t given you any- oh.” “Yoinks!” “You fool! Do you have any idea what yanking it in the middle of the process could do? It could somehow mutate into a monster!” Misato looked at her. “What’s the worse that could happen?”
As she opened it, the steady hum whined upwards, and a beam of light shot towards the hand and an deafening boom made everything disappear; the lab, the pie, Misato, Ritsuko, everything.
Outside, Shinji was worried. “She did say she was going to pick up something she left behind right?” Asuka glanced over from where she sprawled in the back of the car, being cooked by the sun. “What are you so worried about? She left the engine on, so we can listen to the radio.” “I’m going to go check on her. It’s been too long.” “Suit yourself! Sayonara sucker!” Shinji shivered at the cold draft coming from the door. He wished he had a requisition level as high as Ritsuko. Anything she wanted, she got. Even air conditioners. But him? Oh no. All his forms, all spat back at him that he didn’t have a priority level ‘high’ enough. Even simple requests, like junk food or dirty magazines. The least they could do was give him an allowance! He was out there in the thick of things, risking life, limb, and sanity, and he didn’t even get a salary. An idea occurred to him. What if, during the next attack, the three pilots staged a strike till they got a contract with decent benefits? They could ask for practically anything! His musings were interrupted by a scuttling sound that came from inside the door. A feeling of deep nervousness descended on him. I wish Kaji were here. Or even Asuka. A weapon would be nice, he thought. Screwing up his bravado, he jumped through the door.
“Stay away! I’ve got a bomb!” Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted movement. “Hey! You! Stay where you are!” Shinji lunged only to miss and catch a glint of what looked to be gold mylar. “Come here. Whatever you are, I promise I won’t hurt you!” He hopped over a counter and grabbed one surprised pie. “Hold…. Still!!!” The pie ceased kicking and Shinji held his prize up. It seemed to be wearing a Lincoln stove-pipe hat, white Mickey Mouse gloves over its ostensible hands, and black oxfords. Misato stirred.
“Hey Misato, are you alright?” “Who… who’s Misato? And where am I? What am I doing here?” “Omigod Misato, you’ve lost your memory!!!!!!” “Just kidding Shinji. You’re so gullible! Now where’s that darn pie?” “That used to be a pie? Well, whatever it is, pie it most certainly ain’t.” Ritsuko groggily picked herself up. “A pie that can walk, and presumably think. This has amazing military potential. Shinji! As your superior, I order you to hand that pie over.” “Sorry Ritsuko. I countermand that order, and we’re late for our show! Gotta jet!” Ritsuko ran behind them, yelling, “I’ll see the lot of you court-martialed! Bring back that pie!”
“Hello folks, and welcome to The Jerry Springer Show 2016. We’ve got a great one for you today! Exclusive disputes form those cool cats down at NERV! Their motto? ‘Saving the world in badass style!’ I have a feeling it’ll strike a… nerve with you! But wait! That’s not all! There’s another special guest, provided by our sponsors, Scientific Voodoo Inc. & Pine-sol Corp. They’ll bring back your loved ones perfectly! And smelling delicious! He’s Wise King Solomon! Resurrected from nearly 3000 years of sleep, this mummy’s here today, exclusively, as our guest arbiter! Say hello to… King Solomon!!!!” The audience clapped and cheered politely as a mummy lurched onstage. “Folks, let me tell you, it’s great to be back! You know, I’ve been busy catching up on recent events, and boy, do I miss legal concubines! And also, I miss my gold! Imagine, what with interest it’d be worth today!” Weak laughter. “Damn modern humor. I’ll never understand it. Let’s just go straight to the judging and executions. Anything for ratings, right?” “Alright folks, first up is the beautiful Misato, commander of NERV’s forces and Ritsuko, the scientist responsible for their breakthroughs. Directly from their undisclosed location in Tokyo-3, here they are!”
King Solomon seats them and asks, “Now then ladies, what seems to be the problem?” “Well Solly, it’s a pie I was baking this morning. She just waltzes right in and takes it! And after I’d spent all morning slaving over a hot cyclotron! We’ve been together through a lot, but nothing gives her that right! And then she sticks her hand in the particle accelerator and nearly kills us all!” “Misato, what do you have to say?” “She’s got it completely backwards! I was baking it, not her! Little liar.” “What? You could never bake that well Misato! And calling me a liar? You’re the slut around here!” “Slut‽‽ Oohhh!!! I should have shot you while I had the chance.” “Shoulda woulda coulda! Pthbbphhh!!” “I’ll strangle you!!” “Whoa! Ladies, calm down, calm down!” “I’ll calm down when I kill her!!” Jerry succeeds in prying them apart. “Let’s ask King Solomon what he thinks.” “Well Jerry, the only fair thing is this: I decree that the pie shall be cut in half-” “No!! I’m really hungry!” “NOOO!!! Have you any idea how valuable it is?” “- and given to me! Yum, yum. Oohh!! That really tickles going down!” Misato looked away and muttered, “I think I’m going to be sick.”
Jerry paced toward the camera. “We’ll be back after these ‘brief’ commercial messages. See ya in half an hour!”
Half an hour later, after the first commercial break- “Attention! We’re on the air in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, aw screw this. I’m gonna go get coffee. Anybody want some?” “Well, welcome back folks! Right now, we’ve another dispute from NERV! These two youngsters, believe it or not, are actually feuding over which is most deserving of special psychological treatment! Say hello to Asuka Soryu and Shinji Ikari! Which of you would like to go first?” “I believe I will Jerry. But a quick question. How old are you? It’s been like thirty years since you started this show and yet you don’t seem to have aged a day!” “Um. Uh. Enough about me, young lady. We’re here to see the depths of your depravity and sickness, not mine. So, spill it!”
“Well, alright. Shinji, I really should be put in first. Here’s why. I’ve no purpose other than piloting EVA, I never had a real childhood, I’m emotionally scarred from my mom going insane and attempting to kill me, I got a bad lesson that suicide is the way out from how happy she was when she died. I hate anything that smacks of love (Just look at my relationship with you!) or parenthood; I’m so confused about my sexuality that I may or may not be gay. Must needs I go on?” “Wow Asuka, that’s quite a list! But let’s reserve judgment until we hear young Shinji.”
“Well, Jerry, it’s like this. I was abandoned as a child, my father rejects me despite all of my achievements, I’m imposed upon by people more assertive than me (Which is everybody. Except Rei.), I can’t deal with my occupation of killing angels, I pilot EVA because of a weird Oedipus relationship with whatever of my mother is in that Eva, and to give me some badly needed masculinity; I also live with a nymphomaniac alcoholic-” Misato wakes up. “That’s not very nice Shinji! Take it back.” “- I can’t relate with others, and as an adolescent, I can’t choose between two girls. Oh, and I occasionally make out with Asuka at night while she’s sleeping.”
“That’s quite a doozy folks! But that last allegation, what Asuka, if anything do you have to say about that?” “That little bastard! He could have at least told me! But I’m still way more depraved than him! I… I… I know! I slept with his father!” “My god. You must be truly insane. Sleeping with him is like sleeping with a corpse.” Ritsuko looks up. “What the hell did you just say‽” “Anyway, Asuka, I… I, uh I slept with Kaji!!” “You slept with my Kaji‽‽!” Here Kaji wakes up. “Did I miss anything?” Asuka double slaps Shinji. He retaliates with a punch to the gut. “Take this!” “Oh, it’s a real fight you want, Shinji? Any fool can see I’ve more muscle on me than you ever will have! Hi-yah!” The camera pans back to show King Solomon. “The solution for this case really is simple. We cut the access card to Instrumentality in half, and give one piece to Shinji and one to Asuka. That way everyone is satisfied.” The two children look up from their grappling. “If that’s the case, I may as well give my piece to… to… to PenPen, for crying out loud!” “What the hell. I’ll give my piece to PenPen as well. Though what psychological problems could a fanciful, feckless, flightless waterfowl have anyway? Eeek!” Shinji had taken advantage of Asuka’s alliterating to slip out of her hold, flip her, and tweak her bottom. Misato stood up. “What a day this has been! At least that’s the end of that crazy episode!” Everyone agreed. “Boy, you said it!” “Amen.” “True, very true.” “Ouch!”
It seems Jerry was a little disappointed. “We didn’t even get to Gendo and Ritsuko! What a waste.”
Little did they notice Kaji backstage forlornly waiting for his cue…
Oh, and also a certain flightless waterfowl piecing together the access card on the stage…
To be continued…