Notes on Evangelion

Evangelion thoughts—anti-religion, pro-psychology, character development, otaku genre.
NGE, anime, criticism
2010-02-032017-05-14 notes certainty: likely importance: 1

Notes to­ward a pos­si­ble es­say on otaku­dom seen through sev­eral key ani­me.

’“It’s this planet”, Scy­tale said. “It raises ques­tions.”

“It speaks of cre­ation. Sand blow­ing in the night, that is cre­ation.”

“Sand blow­ing…”

“When you awak­en, the first light shows you the new world—all fresh & ready for your tracks.”

Un­tracked sand? Edric thought. Cre­ation? He felt knot­ted with sud­den anx­i­ety.

The con­fine­ment of his tank, the sur­round­ing room. Every­thing closed in upon him, con­stricted him…


“An­other night comes”, Scy­tale said. “Winds blow.”’1

“What is the door for, open­ing or clos­ing? What do you think? Don’t look at me like that. This is a very im­por­tant ques­tion for me. Es­pe­cially in here, the deep­est un­der­ground, there are so many doors.”2

"The vi­sions danc­ing in my mind

The early dawn, the shades of time

Twi­light crawl­ing through my win­dow­pane

Am I awake or do I dream?

The strangest pic­tures I have seen

Night is day and twi­light’s gone away

With your head held high and your scar­let lies

You came down to me from the open skies

It’s ei­ther real or it’s a dream

There’s noth­ing that is in be­tween…

Twi­light, I only meant to stay awhile

Twi­light, I gave you time to steal my mind

Away from me."3

Re­li­gious in­ter­pre­ta­tions are not even wrong.

Evan­ge­lion is a lot of things. It is a ro­bot romp. It is twists sug­gested by a lazy artist who watches too much TV and un­der­stood too lit­tle. Di­rected by a di­rec­tor who sees him­self in a boy too cow­ardly to die. It is an ex­cuse to copy old Amer­i­can car­toons and work in in­scrutable al­lu­sions, for the plea­sure of re­mem­ber­ing. It was a by-the-num­bers mecha se­ries by a man who had rev­eled un­apolo­get­i­cally in squalor and mecha se­ries but won­ders whether he should grow up­—or could. It is the bit­ter tears of out­sourced an­i­ma­tor wage-slaves lis­ten­ing to the cheer­ful phrase ‘sabisu, sabisu!’ It is the prod­uct of un­easy ten­sions at the heart of a busi­ness founded by ide­al­ist­s—­dreams for dol­lars, yearn­ings pure and im­pure for yen. Too, it is the sour con­vic­tion that mys­ter­ies must have an­swers, that the cre­ators knew more than the con­sumers, that au­thors do not play dice. Per­haps it is also the story of George Lu­cas, who dis­cov­ered that fame and wealth could be as much a trap as ob­scu­rity and pover­ty, that to feel ac­co­lades un­de­served is to feel them turn ashes in your mouth.

What are otaku anime?

My de­fi­n­i­tion of ‘otaku anime’ is pretty straight­for­ward: any anime that de­picts, tries to un­der­stand, and crit­i­cizes otaku and their pur­suits; bonus points if it is also very pop­u­lar among otaku.

  1. Otaku no Video: this falls un­der the rubric quite ob­vi­ously just from the ti­tle. More im­por­tant­ly, while the an­i­mated seg­ments show an ide­al­ized & fan­ci­ful his­tory of Gainax (a stu­dio founded by otaku to pro­duce stuff for otaku), the live-ac­tion seg­ments/in­ter­views show the dark side of ob­ses­sive in­ter­est­s—peo­ple walled away from re­al­ity and other peo­ple, for­ever ob­sessed even when they seem to have built them­selves a life, and deeply un­hap­py. I was even more hor­ri­fied when I learned that some of the in­ter­views were ‘non­fic­tion’.

  2. Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion is through­out a cri­tique of otaku­dom and the old mecha genre (in ex­actly the op­po­site way that Gur­ren La­gann is a mind­less cel­e­bra­tion). Anno has said that the char­ac­ters rep­re­sent him­self; Tsu­ru­maki has said that peo­ple who can live and com­mu­ni­cate nor­mally will not ben­e­fit from watch­ing Eva. If you don’t think Anno was crit­i­ciz­ing otakus, these in­ter­view ex­cerpts may help. There are many lines through­out the se­ries di­rected straight at fans: “We can’t weave our lives only out of things we like…”, and these have been high­lighted by staffers like Tsu­ru­maki as well as com­men­ta­tors like my­self.

  3. Se­r­ial Ex­per­i­ments Lain is sim­i­lar. Like Eva, SEL was do­ing a lot, but one of the things is a sim­i­lar cri­tique—the va­pid­ity and hol­low­ness of a tech-ori­ented life and its devo­tees. Lain can dis­ap­pear at the end with­out a trace, that is how mean­ing­less her life in the sim­u­la­tion is, how mal­leable it is. If there is any thing of value in her life, it was her rare friend­ship­s—ex­actly the sort of thing that an­ti-so­cial geeks shy away from, and ex­actly what Lain be­gan to sac­ri­fice by be­com­ing con­sumed with tech­nol­ogy and pro­gram­ming. (See also Eva’s )

  4. Wel­come to the N.H.K.! By this point, it should be pretty ob­vi­ous how NHK fits in. It is not just a ‘dark com­edy’—it de­picts a hu­man wreck. I’ve heard that the hal­lu­ci­na­tions in the first episode are drug-in­duced in the man­ga; our pro­tag­o­nist is the low­est of the low. He is sick. Fucked in the head. He is a hikiko­mori who throws him­self into every otaku pur­suit he finds, and dis­cov­ers their va­pid­i­ty. What does he get out of galges ex­cept end­less mas­tur­ba­tion? His nex­t-door neigh­bor is his own walk­ing zoo of patholo­gies, from just the tol­er­a­tion for de­riv­a­tive crap (the song play­ing end­less­ly), to his failed per­sonal re­la­tion­ships, and so on. And what about the MMORPG play­ing hikiko­mori who has lit­er­ally writ­ten the book on self­-help? No, to write off WTTNHK as just ‘dark com­edy’ is to will­fully ig­nore every­thing else that is go­ing on. It is not stretch­ing to call it ‘psy­cho­log­i­cal’, nor any of the oth­ers I’ve cov­ered.

    (A re­lated se­ries is ; its 10th episode be­gins with the pro­tag­o­nist de­fend­ing be­ing a hikiko­mori, and the time loop he is trapped in ends when he re­al­izes the value of love.)

(One could throw in Gen­shiken or Comic Party or An­i­ma­tion Run­ner Kuromi as rare otaku-fo­cused ani­me/­man­ga, but in these 3 cas­es, any ac­tual crit­i­cism seems to be non-ex­is­ten­t—if one were to judge from them, there’s noth­ing re­ally po­ten­tially bad about be­ing an otaku, just peo­ple may shun you for no good rea­son. Gen­shiken oc­ca­sion­ally al­ludes to prob­lems, but largely flinches away, as it just wants to cel­e­brate & rem­i­nisce.)

Otaku no Video

The bright side

the dark side

The re­mark­able thing about Otaku is that at the breaks, it switches from the anime to short filmed videos with var­i­ous otaku (Gainax staffers)

EoE & TV are the same ending

How does that make any sense? In the movies Shinji re­jects in­stru­men­tal­i­ty, in the se­ries he em­braces it. The two story lines are mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive. Or have I missed some­thing com­plete­ly? It has been a while…

I think you missed some­thing. I’ve al­ways re­garded the 2 end­ings as com­ple­men­tary, not con­tra­dic­to­ry.

Ob­vi­ously EoE is about ex­ter­nal events, ac­tion; and ob­vi­ously the TV is about in­ter­nal events, in­tro­spec­tion. But the TV’s ac­tion matches up with EoE’s ac­tion (the Mis­ato and Rit­suko bod­ies, for ex­am­ple), so we might ex­pect the in­tro­spec­tion to match up as well.

I won’t trou­ble you with ex­cerpts from the script (as this is an old Eva ar­gu­ment, it’s been done be­fore and bet­ter), but go back and look at the Episode 26 syn­op­sis. No­tice how the whole episode is about Shinji com­ing to grip with how it’s bet­ter to ex­ist, and ex­ist as a sep­a­rate per­son. The en­tire se­ries is skep­ti­cal about the value & de­sir­abil­ity of In­stru­men­tal­i­ty:

In fact, she and other char­ac­ters say, it’s true for all hu­man­i­ty, this weak­ness. It’s why In­stru­men­tal­ity is tak­ing place. Hu­mans can­not live alone, but yet they are sep­a­rate en­ti­ties: thus con­flict and pain is cre­at­ed. Hu­mans can­not live but in In­stru­men­tal­i­ty. “Re­al­ly?” asks the text.

Or the fi­nal mo­ments are quite telling:

After see­ing this, Shinji re­al­izes that there are al­ter­nate pos­si­bil­i­ties to his Shinji de­cides that he can learn to love him­self, and he wants to be “me” and to stay “here”. The dark world shat­ters, and Shinji is left stand­ing atop a coral reef un­der a sunny sky, sur­rounded by most of the other char­ac­ters. He is wished “Con­grat­u­la­tions!” by the hu­man cast (and a squawk­ing Pen Pen), and smiles, thank­ing every­one.

If he’s ac­cepted In­stru­men­tal­i­ty, then who is do­ing the con­grat­u­lat­ing, who be­ing con­grat­u­lat­ed, and for what?

Spe­cific plot points aside, why would the two end­ings be con­tra­dic­to­ry? Most peo­ple ac­cept that part of the rea­son for the TV end­ing’s ex­per­i­men­tal tech­niques (or crap­pi­ness, for some) was due to bud­get and in­ter­nal Gainax is­sues. Why would Anno have the bud­get and time to do EoE, and de­cide to do an end­ing ex­actly op­po­site the one they wanted to do but could­n’t? (Don’t say An­no’s re­venge; that is un­ten­able) If Shake­speare could go rewrite Ham­let again with an un­lim­ited SFX bud­get, would he sud­denly de­cide to rewrite it to have a con­tra­dic­tory end­ing (maybe one where every­one lives)? Of course not. There’s a par­tic­u­lar artis­tic view­point be­ing ex­pressed—it does not al­low for ca­sual flip-flops. If the TV end­ing re­ally is an ac­cep­tance of In­stru­men­tal­i­ty, then it ren­ders every­thing mean­ing­less, all the fight­ing and schem­ing and suffer­ing and at­tempts by char­ac­ters to come to grips with them­selves.

Or, In­stru­men­tal­ity is con­sis­tently pur­sued by SEELE—an im­moral group of pow­er­ful ma­nip­u­la­tive men. Should­n’t we dis­trust any­thing sought by the likes of them?

‘Run­ning away’ de­scribes In­stru­men­tal­ity ex­act­ly; are we sup­posed to think, ‘hey, Shinji was right all along, and not be­ing cow­ardly and im­ma­ture’?

See­ing both end­ings as re­jec­tions of In­stru­men­tal­ity and an em­brace of re­al­ity fit ex­actly with the con­stant mes­sage of the se­ries (‘We can­not weave our lives only out of things we like’), and fits ex­actly the ‘Eva-as-o­taku-ther­apy’ par­a­digm I per­son­ally sub­scribe to.

So: see­ing the end­ings as cov­er­ing the same end is what Oc­cam’s Ra­zor sug­gests; it makes most sense ar­tis­ti­cal­ly; it makes sense from a pro­duc­tion stand­point; it con­siles with what we un­der­stand of An­no’s in­spi­ra­tions and pre-Eva life; it’s what a straight­for­ward plot read­ing sug­gests; and so on. (We could ar­gue against or ig­nore all that, but I hope I’ve shown any such ar­gu­ment would be quite strained.) I feel if you re­watch with all these points in mind, you’ll change your mind as well.

Well, it seems you have to be alive to be in In­stru­men­tal­i­ty. Con­sider that in EoE, we don’t see Kaji or Mis­ato or Rit­suko or Rei or any­one we know for cer­tain to be dead after the end. We see Mis­ato’s cross nailed to a makeshift grave, sug­gest­ing Shinji is cer­tain she’s gone.

And the only other per­son to re­form out of the LCL is Asuka, who we last saw in­side a half-eaten Eva—but not dead for cer­tain. Eva are pretty tough, and the only pi­lots who die are ones who ac­ti­vate the self­-de­struct or whose cap­sules are pulled out and then crushed. It does­n’t seem im­plau­si­ble that the harpies munch­ing on Eva-02 caused Asuka ex­tra­or­di­nary suffer­ing but did­n’t ac­tu­ally man­age to kill her be­fore they be­came busy help­ing Shinji start Third Im­pact. (It is worth not­ing that we see most char­ac­ters be­come LCL, and that even char­ac­ters who don’t seem to be­come LCL prob­a­bly do. Mis­ato is vis­ited by a Rei ap­pari­tion a split-sec­ond be­fore be­ing blown up. Gendo is chomped in half by im­age of Eva-01 and not ap­par­ently turned into LCL, but is turned into LCL and ‘a par­ti­cle of red light’ in drafts of EoE.)

In the TV se­ries, we don’t see the ex­ter­nal re­sults, so we can’t point to the end­ing. But defi­nitely in the TV (and maybe EoE, I for­get), the im­ages of Mis­ato/Rei/etc. specifi­cally say that they are the pub­lic per­sonas, the masks, the ver­sions of them in­side Shin­ji’s mind, the Mis­atos that he knows—and not the ‘real’ ones. Hence, there’s no mys­tery how peo­ple like Kaji could show up at the Con­grat­u­la­tion­s!, as his mind can work off mem­o­ries.

(On a side-note, one of the in­ter­est­ing things about Eva is that there may not be any­thing like an eter­nal soul! Yes, sur­pris­ing­ly, for all the men­tion of souls, Eva/Anno seem to use the term more or less in­ter­change­ably with mor­tal minds. There’s never any real sug­ges­tion of an after­life for souls, and Yui’s de­sire to make an eter­nal mark or mon­u­ment to hu­man­ity does­n’t make much sense if souls were eter­nal. Fur­ther, the ad­di­tional back­story added by the ‘Se­cret In­for­ma­tion’ of the PS2 game is very athe­is­tic—Lilith and Adam are just projects set up by an­cient alien­s.)

So, who is be­ing con­grat­u­lat­ed? Shin­ji. Who is con­grat­u­lat­ing him? The per­sonas in his mind, per­haps, or maybe In­stru­men­tal­ity it­self, or maybe his mother (Yui is al­most al­ways off-screen, yet her con­cern that Shinji grow up and deal with his is­sues still comes through loud and clear in her char­ac­ter­i­za­tion), or maybe him­self in gen­er­al. It is­n’t clear & does­n’t re­ally mat­ter (none of those choices affects the mean­ing, I think)—the point is that Shinji has made the right choice, the choice that is­n’t run­ning away, the choice that will let him walk by him­self into what­ever fu­ture there is, the choice that is­n’t flee­ing into an ani­me-like fan­tasy world (a­gain, the Eva-as-o­taku-ther­apy the­ory works per­fect­ly), that is­n’t weav­ing his life only out of things he likes. Where is he be­ing con­grat­u­lat­ed? That’s pretty clearly in his head. The float­ing is­land is un­re­al, even if we ig­nore EoE’s de­pic­tion of a ru­ined bloody world.

Eva is meaningless

I’ll give you a sim­pler Oc­cam’s Ra­zor: Anno went off the deep end, and he ru­ined what oth­er­wise was a good se­ries; in fact, what could have been one of the great­est anime se­ries ever.

I don’t re­ally see how that’s a sim­pler hy­poth­e­sis: you’re propos­ing that a rad­i­cal one-time change (Anno go­ing off the deep end for just the TV end­ing) is sim­pler than the null hy­poth­e­sis (Anno tried to do the same thing in both work­s)?

And I don’t en­tirely think the end­ing makes sense on a plot lev­el. The whole An­gels busi­ness is ill thought out. The cre­ators are con­stantly danc­ing and in the se­ries and movies, try­ing to make the plot-level hold to­geth­er. And the plot is ul­ti­mately too shal­low to bear the weight peo­ple put on it; one is done an dis­ser­vice, al­most, by es­says and ar­ti­cles that lead with a plot sum­ma­ry. It’s not the An­gels or fights, as in­ter­est­ing and well-done as they may be, that are the rai­son d’être of NGE, but what hap­pens be­tween and be­cause of the An­gels and fights; they oc­ca­sion the events we care about. “..ul­ti­mate­ly, the plot of Evan­ge­lion was­n’t very in­ter­est­ing”, writes one fan.[^weise]

TODO: move this to the end: [^weise]: “Sav­ing What Counts: Re­flec­tions on the End of Eva”, Matthew Weise, 1999-11-16:

The sup­posed ‘real’ end­ing of Eva, the movie, is what it took to make me re­al­ize ex­actly what it was that the show did right. The movie gives you the labyrinthine plot that Evan­ge­lion was build­ing up to and iron­i­cally proves that, ul­ti­mate­ly, the plot of Evan­ge­lion was­n’t very in­ter­est­ing. The pop-the­ol­ogy and re­li­gious name-drop­ping that the se­ries liked to in­dulge so much in are brought to the fore­ground re­sult­ing in to­tal chaos, with the ide­ol­ogy of the se­ries be­ing splin­tered into a thou­sand pieces as char­ac­ters are bent and twisted to con­form to the plot which ends on a note of glar­ing philo­soph­i­cal pre­tense. In ret­ro­spect, the se­ries fi­nale of Eva seems wise to sim­ply forego its nar­ra­tive and opt for the ex­act ma­te­r­ial that the movies failed to ad­dress: the in­di­vid­ual anx­i­eties of the hu­man be­ings in­volved in a fa­mil­iar, real world con­text.

They fail, of course; the ‘Se­cret In­for­ma­tion’ plot data from the PS2 game even fi­nally ad­mits that some of the An­gels were headed for Lilith, some for Adam, and some had no plan in mind—which is a trans­par­ently failed plot. Anno had a good deal to do with the SI, so I take that sec­tion as him ba­si­cally say­ing ‘the ex­pla­na­tion is that there is no ex­pla­na­tion; stop ob­sess­ing about it’.

So in that sense it does­n’t trans­late well onto cel­lu­loid. The sim­ple ap­proach would sim­ply be to write an es­say on how it’s painful to ex­ist, quote some Bud­dhism, some ex­is­ten­tial­ism, and maybe Schopen­hauer on the Hedge­hog’s Dilem­ma. But would that speak to otaku? No, not re­al­ly. It might speak to philoso­phers, but they would­n’t need such an es­say. How do you an­i­mate those ideas, get peo­ple to re­late to them? How would you put those ideas into char­ac­ter form, what sort of story do you write?

“I am in­debted to Dr. An­thony Forge for a quo­ta­tion from Isadora Dun­can:”If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in danc­ing it."

Her state­ment is am­bigu­ous. In terms of the rather vul­gar premises of our cul­ture, we would trans­late the state­ment to mean: “There would then be no point in danc­ing it, be-cause I could tell it to you, quicker and with less am­bi­gu­i­ty, in words.” This in­ter­pre­ta­tion goes along with the silly idea that it would be a good thing to be con­scious of every­thing of which we are un­con­scious.

But there is an­other pos­si­ble mean­ing of Isadora Dun­can’s re­mark: If the mes­sage were the sort of mes­sage that could be com­mu­ni­cated in words, there would be no point in danc­ing it, but it is not that sort of mes­sage. It is, in fact, pre­cisely the sort of mes­sage which would be fal­si­fied if com­mu­ni­cated in words, be­cause the use of words (other than po­et­ry) would im­ply that this is a fully con­scious and vol­un­tary mes­sage, and this would be sim­ply un­true.

I be­lieve that what Isadora Dun­can or any artist is try­ing to com­mu­ni­cate is more like: “This is a par­tic­u­lar sort of partly un­con­scious mes­sage. Let us en­gage in this par­tic­u­lar sort of partly un­con­scious com­mu­ni­ca­tion.” Or per­haps: “This is a mes­sage about the in­ter­face be­tween con­scious and un­con­scious.”

The mes­sage of skill of any sort must al­ways be of this kind. The sen­sa­tions and qual­i­ties of skill can never be put in words, and yet the fact of skill is con­scious. The artist’s dilemma is of a pe­cu­liar sort. He must prac­tice in or­der to per­form the craft com­po­nents of his job. But to prac­tice has al­ways a dou­ble effect. It makes him, on the one hand, more able to do what­ever it is he is at­tempt­ing; and, on the other hand, by the phe­nom­e­non of habit for­ma­tion, it makes him less aware of how he does it."4

Why then am I so in­ter­ested in a fail­ure? Be­cause while it’s a fail­ure on the level of straight mecha—a se­ries like RahX­ephon is in­fi­nitely bet­ter as mecha, or the bet­ter Gun­dams are clearly su­pe­rior even if Eva can boast novel or­ganic mecha de­sign­s—it’s most defi­nitely not a fail­ure on the psy­cho­log­i­cal/philo­soph­i­cal lev­els. In my other com­ments I men­tion my Eva-as-o­taku-ther­apy the­o­ry. What Eva does so bril­liantly is di­ag­nose the otaku con­di­tion (the alien­ation, the ap­a­thy, the un­hap­pi­ness and pain of it), how it is the gen­eral hu­man con­di­tion, and the painful so­lu­tion. It does so through­out the se­ries, and does so thor­oughly while cre­at­ing char­ac­ters that last. (What other char­ac­ters from 1995 are so mem­o­rable and vi­tal 14 years lat­er? Why do Rei/Misato/A­suka cap­ture their ar­che­types so per­fect­ly?) The poi­son slides into the otaku stom­ach pleas­ant­ly, with plenty of fan ser­vice, un­til sud­denly the il­l-ad­justed otaku re­al­izes he is on the couch with Anno hm-h­ming.

Other Gainax se­ries are like this: Otaku no Video for ex­am­ple mixes its glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of otaku with dis­con­cert­ing video seg­ments; FLCL is an­oth­er. Out­side of Gainax, ther­apy anime are rare but often quite good; Se­r­ial Ex­per­i­ments Lain and Wel­come to the N.H.K.! come to mind. (Gen­shiken does not; it white­washes and glo­ri­fies otaku with only to­ken crit­i­cism­s.)

If your time was wasted watch­ing it, then per­haps you should feel glad about that—glad that you did­n’t need it. (Some peo­ple do; re­mem­ber the ‘Death threats’? Read the trans­la­tions and note how many of them speak of how the viewer saw them­selves in Eva; con­sider why they sent them, and why Gainax se­lected them to be shown.)

EoE: Anno’s Revenge


The ini­tial re­ac­tion to EoE is baffle­ment. The viewer is re­pulsed when Shinji mas­tur­bates to a co­matose Asu­ka. NERV staffers are butchered, non-com­bat­ants mas­sa­cred. The mon­tages are ex­plicit and dis­turb­ing. Mis­ato’s kiss of Shinji ei­ther in­ces­tu­ous or pe­dophil­ia. Asuka’s de­feat is gory & wince-in­duc­ing. Rit­suko sim­ply fails and is shot out of hand, the viewer de­prived of any clo­sure. (What did Gendo say to her?) Some scenes are sim­ply ob­scene—when Eva 01 thrusts out of the gi­ant Rei’s eye, with all the eye­bal­l-fluid spilling that im­plies, I sim­ply had to look away. The rot­ting Rei chunks that set the back­ground for the last scene are eery. The end­ing is fa­mously in­clu­sive; we know noth­ing of what will hap­pen to Asuka & Shinji now and it’s un­clear what con­nec­tion there is to the TV end­ing (which might have con­fused us, but the ‘Con­grat­u­la­tions!’ thing at least fits some sort of end­ing pat­tern).

We might be both­ered by other as­pects. The oc­ca­sional live-ac­tion se­quence with 3 Japan­ese wom­en/­girls star­ing at us, the enig­matic dream-play­ground se­quence (just to cite one), what’s re­ally go­ing on—all these seem to defy a co­her­ent analy­sis. Not for noth­ing has Eva its rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing a labyrinth in which fans are de­voured by the mino­taur of ob­ses­sion.

This al­most seems de­lib­er­ate. In­deed, any viewer could see this, so surely the man who con­ceived it and ex­e­cuted it must see how un­ac­cept­able this all is. But he did it any­way. Why? Anno must be de­lib­er­ately seek­ing to dis­please the view­er. Why? Well…

We search for a mo­tive, and we find that the end of the TV was greeted with a firestorm. It was noth­ing like any­one had ex­pect­ed, nor did they un­der­stand what they had got­ten. As the quip about acad­e­mia goes, the smaller the stakes the more vi­cious the fights. Even bet­ter, EoE sup­plies a ready-made rea­son for Anno to want to pun­ish view­ers: shots of death threat graffiti and email (“An­no, I’ll kill you!!!”).

Case closed, then? Death threats are quite se­ri­ous and from what I know of Japan, even rarer than in Amer­i­ca. One could for­give a man for be­ing dis­turbed and an­gered that his work could ex­cite homi­ci­dal ha­tred.

But then, the graffiti and email weren’t the only ma­te­r­ial de­pict­ed. There were a good 24 frames flashed, with about 11 or 12 differ­ent re­spons­es.

Con­sider let­ter 1. It is dis­played 3 times in vary­ing for­mats, and reads in part:

I’m a mid­dle school stu­dent like Shin­ji. First of all, I saw Eva and now it seems like I truly rec­og­nize my­self, and this feel­ing is be­cause of Eva. I want to say thank you for this. Why do I say this? To ex­plain it would take a while, but Shinji and I are alike; de­pressed and help­less and in­tro­vert­ed. I re­mem­ber watch­ing Eva and see­ing Shinji be­ing wor­ried and trou­bled and I felt the same in my heart. In “EVA”, there was an analy­sis that said how Shinji could­n’t run away from the pain or the un­pleas­ant feel­ings that were at­tached, and I have felt like this way too…. In the last scene on TV, Shinji ac­cepts every­one and they all con­grat­u­late him; that was a very nice end and I felt very hap­py…. I’m wor­ried about what will hap­pen to Shinji in the movie (but I like the last scene on the TV se­ries a lot). And thanks to EVA, I’ve started like my­self and that has made me very hap­py….Mr. An­no, please keep work­ing on EVA a lot more….and thank you so much for every­thing!!

Or the sec­ond let­ter:

I also felt in­side my­self the same ex­cite­ment that Shinji felt. The last scenes made me ap­pre­ci­ate my own ex­is­tence even more.

Let­ter three:

Thanks to Mr. Anno and all the staff for help­ing to lib­er­ate our hearts and souls, and for all of these feel­ings. Thank you very much.

An­other let­ter:

Shin­ji’s falls into de­spair and Asuka’s ar­ro­gance ap­pears to be some sort of es­cape from the dark­ness in her heart. These peo­ple have diffi­cul­ties in deal­ing with their feel­ings; and so in their own ways – Shinji by to­tally col­laps­ing and falling apart, and Asuka by let­ting her ar­ro­gance cover up her in­ner weak­ness – they each work to­wards the same goal: to come to terms with them­selves.

One last one:

I could feel the pain of the TV se­ries again. I could feel in­side my heart the feel­ings in­side Hideaki An­no’s heart. So in my heart, I sym­pa­thized with “I’m not alone. To feel lone­li­ness is bet­ter.” I still feel a strange sen­sa­tion even after watch­ing the movie, be­cause of these two op­po­site feel­ings mix­ing in my­self. I’m wait­ing for the sum­mer to see “End of Evan­ge­lion”, and I know that that will be even more painful, but I will feel happy and en­joy it. I don’t think that there are many peo­ple who feel this way, but in my case, EVA made me think about my­self and was like a mir­ror of my­self.

Think about what Anno chose to show. Of the many thou­sands of mes­sages they must have re­ceived, he chose to show 4 times one from a de­pressed stu­dent like Shinji who has come to feel bet­ter about him­self; an­other who iden­ti­fied with Shin­ji; a mes­sage of grat­i­tude sim­ply for the heal­ing; some analy­sis of the psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues of the 2 most im­por­tant char­ac­ters; an analy­sis & ap­pli­ca­tion to him­self; and some death threats.

Is it more plau­si­ble that Anno was so an­gered by the 2 death threats that he aban­doned what­ever vi­sion he had, than that the 2 threats were cho­sen to be con­trasts with the oth­ers?

Most of the mes­sages were healthy re­spons­es. The writer grew or learned in some way. Eva was not mere en­ter­tain­ment for them.

The death threats were patho­log­i­cal re­spons­es; to care that much about Eva, one must be deeply at­tracted to it, sense that it says some­thing about one­self. I could not care less about whether some se­ries goes off the rails, be­cause it says noth­ing to me; but if I were watch­ing a se­ries that I iden­ti­fied deeply with, that I felt ex­pressed the things I val­ued as no se­ries be­fore had, and by the end, it had called my life a crip­pled shell, my ideals hol­low and false, and urged me to be­come some­thing else en­tirely be­fore it was too late, some­thing I have spent years elud­ing—then a equally deep sense of be­trayal is to be ex­pect­ed. There is no ap­a­thetic re­sponse to such a chal­lenge. Ei­ther the viewer can ac­cept the di­ag­no­sis and strive for heal­ing, or he can re­ject it ut­ter­ly. A ther­a­pist is al­ways in dan­ger from his pa­tient.

Why the plot is unimportant

Let’s not mince words: Eva’s plot is in­co­her­ent. There is no get­ting around this. One of the most fre­quent as­sess­ments is that it is post-mod­ern in its eclec­ti­cism, or that it is “the remix anime”:

“Evan­ge­lion car­ries a large num­ber of quotes from and ref­er­ences to other anime pro­duc­tions, such as the mecha de­signs of Ul­tra­man, Space Bat­tle­ship Yam­a­to, and Gun­dam. The works of Go Na­gai—­such as Mazinga Z—and even the nov­el­ist Ryu Mu­rakami are also re­ferred to; in par­tic­u­lar, Dev­il­man is seen as a ma­jor source for the over­all plot. This was so ap­par­ent that Evan­ge­lion be­came known as ‘the remixed anime’”. pg 9 of Fu­jie 2004

It is com­prised of hoary tropes and de­vices from ear­lier mecha and fic­tion in gen­er­al; the sub­ver­sions have been often re­marked upon & con­sid­ered to be what is im­por­tant (eg. Napier), but even more were played straight (con­sider the list of iden­ti­fied el­e­ments by TvTropes­i/pmwi­k­­p/­Main/­Neon­Ge­n­e­si­sE­van­ge­lion and how many of them are not sub­ver­sions) Anno is ex­plicit about this re­cy­cling:

“There is no longer room for ab­solute orig­i­nal­ity in the field of ani­me, es­pe­cially given that our gen­er­a­tion was brought up on mass-pro­duced ani­me. All sto­ries and tech­niques in­evitably bring with them a sense of déjà vu. The only av­enue of ex­pres­sion left open to us is to pro­duce a col­lage-like effect based on a sam­pling of ex­ist­ing works.” Fu­jie 2004

The level of re­cy­cling can be seen in com­par­i­son with an­other mecha se­ries: RahX­ephon (2002). The sim­i­lar­i­ties are so nu­mer­ous that any­one who has seen them both and the sim­i­lar­i­ties can be traced down scene-by-scene (see http://e­vax­ephon.­com/ ) but many of the sim­i­lar­i­ties are draw­ing on com­mon sources: for the false Tokyo, for the alien in­va­sion, for the cos­mic con­flict and vague souls and hu­man­i­ty’s in­fe­ri­or­ity

“The over­all de­sign of Evan­ge­lion calls to mind Dev­il­man by Go Na­gai. In fact, the whole con­cept of the Evas, which are made from Adam, and har­bor the souls of hu­mans, can be con­sid­ered bor­rowed from scenes from Dev­il­man, where the soul of Akira Fudo is pos­sessed by Amon, the Lord of War. More­over, the heav­ily re­li­gious un­der­tones, the sug­ges­tion of con­flict with an in­dige­nous peo­ple, and the cos­mic view that mankind may not be the ul­ti­mate be­ing all owe some­thing to Dev­il­man.” pg 76 of Fu­jie 2004

and so on. Even an in­com­plete list of al­lu­sions & bor­row­ings runs into the dozens. In this re­spect, Eva is rem­i­nis­cent of the first Gainax videos, the con­ven­tion videos; the videos in­clude lit­er­ally hun­dreds of char­ac­ters and decades after their pro­duc­tion, many re­main uniden­ti­fied (see one at­tempt to cat­a­logue & iden­tify them by go­ing frame-by-frame http://www.ani­me-clas­­mod­ules/wi­wimod­/in­­p?­page=­Daicon­Wiki ) Who could pos­si­bly ap­pre­ci­ate such a work? Only a fel­low otaku. To have not seen the rel­e­vant pre­de­ces­sors is to be un­able to watch Eva ful­ly. It would be like read­ing Shake­speare or Mil­ton while ut­terly ig­no­rant of clas­si­cal his­tory & myth. Some­thing will come through, but how much? Many sub­cul­tures prize works that are ob­scure to out­siders. Shib­bo­leths keep the rab­ble out. By mak­ing Eva in­scrutable to your av­er­age TV watcher, Anno speaks to the otaku alone and re­ceives their at­ten­tion. If you think Eva was pop­u­larly un­der­stand­able, then why is Anno so con­cerned to ‘dumb down’, as it were, the Re­build fans?

“As the cre­ator of this pro­ject, [I as­sure you that] a very new-feel­ing Evan­ge­lion world has been con­struct­ed. For this pur­pose, we are not re­turn­ing to our roots at Gainax…. In clos­ing, it is also our job to pro­vide a ser­vice to our cus­tomers. Al­though it seems ob­vi­ous, we aim to cre­ate a form of en­ter­tain­ment that any­one can look for­ward to; one that peo­ple who have never seen Evan­ge­lion can eas­ily ad­just to, one that can en­gage au­di­ences as a movie for the­atres, and one that pro­duces a new un­der­stand­ing of the world.”5

The sub­ver­sion of tropes is not nec­es­sar­ily im­por­tant. Many of the sub­ver­sions or twists were al­ready done. Shin­ji, for ex­am­ple, is far from the first re­luc­tant or men­tally dis­turbed mecha pi­lot—­con­sider the pi­lots in Space Run­away Ideon, or in the 2nd Gun­dam—nor would he be the last (ev­ery other Gun­dam se­ries). The im­por­tant thing is that the au­di­ence knows where the cre­ator is com­ing from, that quotes like “His eru­di­tion in is vast, and can be seen clearly in his an­i­ma­tion work.” are not PR fluff. That he re­mains one of them.

“[An­no’s] Pri­mary diet con­sists of Sap­poro Brand Bar­be­cue Potato Chips and pizza with toma­toes as the only top­ping. After those comes beer. His eru­di­tion in tokusatsu is vast, and can be seen clearly in his an­i­ma­tion work.”—from the Gainax FAQ http://www.c­­dai­hist.htm

The plot ex­ists as a con­ve­nience to reach the nec­es­sary sit­u­a­tions, and to earn otaku cred. Once the otaku have taken the bait and in­vested some­thing of them­selves in the se­ries (think how hard it is to not fin­ish a book you are half-way through), it is un­nec­es­sary, and al­most aban­doned by the last 2 episodes.

The Un-Evas

We can con­vince our­selves fur­ther that the plot is­n’t im­por­tant by look­ing at RahX­ephon. RX un­ques­tion­ably had bet­ter an­i­ma­tion; its mu­sic is com­pet­i­tive with Eva’s; the crit­i­cal re­sponse uni­formly pos­i­tive; the plot well-thought out from the be­gin­ning (with some crit­ics specifi­cally prais­ing it as a “paragon of re­spon­si­ble sto­ry­telling (…) No loose strings are left; we see the con­clu­sion of every char­ac­ter’s sto­ry­line.” http://www.ani­me­news­net­work.­com/re­views/dis­­p?id=566 ); its Mesoamer­i­can style quite as ex­otic as the Judeo-chris­t­ian sym­bol­ism in Eva; its goals apoc­a­lyp­tic, and so on. In many re­spects, it is RX and not Eva which de­serves to be re­mem­bered and re­watched.

And yet—it was pop­u­lar enough to merit a qua­si­-movie & a manga adap­ta­tion, but no more. When brought up by fans, dis­cus­sion often cen­ters (just as here) on its re­la­tion to Eva. Its in­flu­ence on post-2002 anime in­dis­cernible. No re­vival seems to be in the cards. Why? Why does it not have a cult fol­low­ing, or even any mind­share? (I see on­line ob­scure se­ries like Texh­nolyze rec­om­mended long be­fore any­one dredges RX from the depth­s.)

An­other con­trast might be the later Gainax work Ten­gen Toppa Gur­ren La­gann (2007). La­gann is like Eva in be­ing a mecha se­ries fo­cus­ing on a young or­phan boy pi­lot­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nar­ily pow­er­ful mecha, but it shuns any think­ing deeper than slo­ga­neer­ing (“Go be­yond the im­pos­si­ble, and kick rea­son to the curb!”), and is con­tent with be­ing a col­lage anime which takes all the shonen mecha tropes and pushes them to their lim­its. I would call it satire, but that im­plies some de­sire for change, and the se­ries is done with such affec­tion & good hu­mour that it is only ever en­ter­tain­ing. La­gann was, of course, a mas­sive hit among otaku. (See also later Melan­choly sec­tion)

I sug­gest that Eva rep­re­sented a pe­cu­liar & per­haps unique mix of otaku cat­nip and psy­cho­log­i­cal ‘’—analy­ses that pierce an otaku’s heart, that he can’t for­get, that he cir­cles around and must keep com­ing back to again and again (“Eva is a story that re­peats…” http://www.ani­me­news­net­work.­com/news/2007-02-20/hideak­i-an­no-re­leas­es-s­tate­men­t-about-new-e­van­ge­lion-movies). La­gann pro­vided the cat­nip, unadul­ter­ated by any­thing else, and so is suc­cess­ful. RX passed on the cat­nip for a more artis­tic path, but it had no ear­worm, and so once gone, re­turned no more.

lain owes noth­ing to Eva? http://www.kon­a­ka.­com/al­ice6/lain/hk­in­t_e.html but note that lain was pop­u­lar among otaku

No Gun­dam owes any­thing to Eva? http­s://www.e­va­mon­key.­com/ask-john/has-e­van­ge­lion-in­flu­enced-con­tem­po­rary-gun­dam-anime.php

Eva not in­flu­en­tial on all sub­se­quent me­chas? http­s://we­­b/20081002015610/http://www.ani­me­na­­den-trend-in-re­viv­ing-clas­sic-mecha-anime/

ado­les­cent com­ing of age: http­s://www.e­va­mon­key.­com/ask-john/why-is-e­van­ge­lion-so-pop­u­lar-2.php


Even as con­tem­po­rary youth are en­cour­aged to be­come fa­mil­iar with in­for­ma­tion tech­nolo­gies (IT), the im­pacts of those tech­nolo­gies on their well-be­ing have been the sub­ject of in­creas­ing con­cern. Youth sub­cul­tures heav­ily en­gaged with IT have often been por­trayed as vic­tims of alien­ation, as hav­ing aban­doned tra­di­tional val­ues, and/or as be­ing more likely to com­mit acts of vi­o­lence. This study seeks to char­ac­ter­ize and de­mys­tify a youth sub­cul­ture of ex­treme/ob­ses­sive en­thu­si­asts known as otaku who are heavy users of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy and are fo­cused strongly on the ac­qui­si­tion and trade of elite in­for­ma­tion. http­s://www.ani­me­na­­sukas-fi­nal-line-mean/#­more-628

In fact, I be­lieve that this line is a di­rect ref­er­ence to a brief scene con­tained only in the Japan­ese home video ver­sion of Evan­ge­lion TV episode 22. In this se­quence that which was never broad­cast on Japan­ese tele­vi­sion and is not in­cluded in the Amer­i­can Evan­ge­lion DVDs, Asuka faces her­self in the bath­room mir­ror and says, in trans­la­tion:

“Ki­mochi warui. Who wants to bathe in the same wa­ter that Mis­ato and stu­pid Shinji have bathed in? Who wants to use a wash­ing ma­chine that Mis­ato and stu­pid Shinji have washed their un­der­wear in? Who wants to sit on a toi­let that Mis­ato and stu­pid Shinji have used? Who wants to breath the same air as Mis­ato and stu­pid Shin­ji?”

In this se­quence, Asuka es­sen­tially says that she is sick­ened and dis­gusted by the idea of shar­ing her­self with oth­ers; the knowl­edge that other peo­ple ex­ist and have an effect on her. In effect, with this tremen­dously im­por­tant se­quence, Asuka re­veals her­self as the an­tithe­sis of Shinji and the op­po­site the­matic pole of the Evan­ge­lion an­i­ma­tion. Through­out the Evan­ge­lion an­i­ma­tion Shinji is torn be­tween his fear of hu­man re­la­tions and com­pan­ion­ship and his nat­ural de­sire for affec­tion, ac­knowl­edg­ment and ac­cep­tance. Shinji wants to be­long. On the other hand, Asuka is dis­gusted by so­cial re­la­tions and other peo­ple. She tries to force her­self into in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ships by kiss­ing Shin­ji, but even that fails. While Shinji rep­re­sents the de­sire for com­pan­ion­ship; Asuka rep­re­sents the de­sire for iso­la­tion.

otaku con­trast with hikiko­mori? http://www.c­

Positive otakudom


This the­ory is ex­ten­si­ble fur­ther. One might won­der why Haruhi was so ex­tra­or­di­nar­ily pop­u­lar when it came out. One can ap­peal to sur­face fea­tures, which ex­ist in abun­dance. Haruhi is a well-de­signed char­ac­ter; her side­kicks are the epit­ome of moe or a fresh twist on the pas­sive Rei ar­che­type. The sto­ry­line is thought­ful, post­mod­ern with­out be­ing ob­nox­ious, and often fun­ny. The anime has a fa­mously ex­cel­lent open­ing, and the an­i­ma­tion in gen­eral is top-notch. The voice ac­tors nail their roles. The episode se­quence is unique, and rep­re­sents an in­ge­nious work-around the source nov­els (I ar­gue in [anime end­ings] that the ‘Haruhi’ ran­dom or­der­ing cre­ates a sen­si­ble dra­matic ar­c). Kyon is him­self a care­fully mod­u­lated nar­ra­tor, sar­cas­tic with­out be­ing neg­a­tive, rep­re­sent­ing the viewer yet not too close. There was an ex­ist­ing fan-base from the light nov­els; the sea­son had lit­tle com­pe­ti­tion. In gen­er­al, every­thing went right. One should ex­pect a fair de­gree of pop­u­lar­i­ty.

But there’s some­thing miss­ing there. When we com­pound our pre­vi­ous in­gre­di­ents, the stew is in­sipid. What’s the miss­ing in­gre­di­ent? It’s the op­ti­mism. It’s the sense of fun and won­der (the ‘sen­sawunda6 as put it). The world is stranger than you imag­ine, but not in a de­spair­ing Love­craft­ian way. The love of weird­ness for its own sake, the search for nov­el­ty, these form the core of ‘Haruhi­ism’. Haruhi’s club wears its mis­sion on its sleeve (or name, rather): “The Save the world by Over­load­ing it with fun: Suzu­miya Haruhi’s Brigade, ab­bre­vi­ated as SOS Brigade.”7

This is not the usual crit­i­cal otaku nar­ra­tive that we saw in Evan­ge­lion or in Wel­come to the N.H.K.. There, we re­al­ize the steril­ity of otaku pur­suits. Con­sider dat­ing games: the end­less per­mu­ta­tions of hair style and eye col­or, even the dou­jin­shi wearily pair­ing off the pro­tag­o­nist with each girl in the stan­dard vari­a­tions of sex, the fa­nart putting a par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter through its paces: in a yukata watch­ing fire­works, in a bathrobe at the on­sen, hang­ing out on the school roof, etc. The com­bi­na­tions are mon­strous. Where are we to find soul or mean­ing in the Li­brary of Borges?

A fan has an es­sen­tially closed uni­verse. He has ab­di­cated his free­dom to strike off on his own in new di­rec­tions. He is one of many, but still alone: the es­thetic ex­pe­ri­ence is still alone. He may hide his un­hap­pi­ness, may throw him­self into his pur­suits, but he is still emp­ty. The many cri­tiques of mod­ern man ap­ply to him in dou­ble mea­sure. He is no New Type.

This sad truth is­n’t al­ways the truth. There are fans who are em­pow­ered to do new things. One thinks of the early works of Gainax, the DAICON videos. There’s love in every frame of them, ex­cite­ment at some­thing new. Con­sider Otaku no Video: we can see de­spair in the live-ac­tion seg­ments, par­tic­u­larly in the seg­ment about the video col­lec­tor. But the an­i­mated seg­ments offer us hope: sal­va­tion through cre­ation. The 2 pro­tag­o­nists are not damned by their otaku life; they over­come it to be­come true fans, Otak­ings, cre­ators of a com­mer­cial em­pire, and if we take the end­ing lit­er­al­ly, they helm hu­man­i­ty’s ex­pan­sion to the stars—the dream of gen­er­a­tions.

In a way, com­put­ers were the worst thing that ever hap­pened to otaku. They made it tremen­dously easy to link up with other fans and plunge deeply into mul­ti­ple com­mu­ni­ties, sap­ping fans of the will to do any­thing in par­tic­u­lar. Is it an ac­ci­dent that the de­cline of the Space Age was just be­fore the rise of the Per­sonal Com­puter Age? If we had looked for­ward, we would have ex­pected com­put­ers to help us travel to Mars and be­yond. After all, as the old com­ment goes, we went to the Moon on the equiv­a­lent of a wrist-watch; how much more could we do with mod­ern com­put­ers! Yet we are no longer even on the Moon. The ISS is al­ready within sight of its fi­nal or­bit. We con­tract. We be­come ever more in­tro­vert­ed. Why bother with outer space, when we have in­ner space? An in­ner space/In­ter­net ex­plod­ing in de­tail, be­com­ing ever more so­phis­ti­cated and ad­dic­tive. If Gainax were founded to­day, would its an­i­ma­tors cre­ate whole shorts mul­ti­ple min­utes long, or would they be do­ing mashups of Lucky Star with Death Note to put on YouTube?

Haruhi wants the SOS-dan to go out and change the world. To make it more in­ter­est­ing—not to make a more in­ter­est­ing web­page. To have fun, and search for strange be­ings. That we are not gods who warp the world into pos­sess­ing strange be­ings does not make Haruhi any less in­spi­ra­tional. When one watches a video of Haruhi fans wait­ing on a line spon­ta­neously do­ing the dance and in­stantly stop­ping when a quizzi­cal po­lice­man walks by, this is the spirit of Haruhi­ism at work. When large red Hs ap­pear mys­te­ri­ous­ly, this is Haruhi­ism too. When Im­prov Every­where stages an­other mass even­t—they may never have heard of Haruhi, but that is Haruhi­ism too. When hack­ers dis­cover some vi­bra­tors hooked up to a com­pass grant one a 6th sense, is this not Haruhi­ism too? When SpaceX launches a rocket into space—and not a so­cial net­work site into an IPO—is this not Haruhi­ism too?


re: sui­cide; Shinji hangs out at a ‘fa­mous sui­cide site’? see also ‘what were we try­ing to make’, “A cow­ardly young man who feels that his fa­ther has aban­doned him, and so he has con­vinced him­self that he is a com­pletely un­nec­es­sary per­son, so much so that he can­not even com­mit sui­cide.” http://e­va­com­men­­l#­cut091

I think it’s just some­thing he wanted to ac­knowl­edge, the same way he ac­knowl­edges at var­i­ous points that this is an ani­me, and peo­ple are watch­ing this ani­me. There’s a scene in LOVE & POP with an ac­tor dress­ing as Anno fa­mously did, that is res­o­nant with the mas­tur­ba­tion scene in THE END OF EVANGELION, I think. http://e­va.o­­mail/e­van­ge­lion/2007-Jan­u­ary/003901.html TODO I re­ally need to watch that movie

http://e­va­com­men­ Shonen notes: Mis­ato: “Bor­ing kid. Your ex­pres­sion’s blank, so un­suited to your pretty face.” As you noted Shinji is­n’t into fash­ion and has a poor self im­age. In­ter­est­ingly Utada Hikaru’s “Beau­ti­ful World” fea­tured in Shin­ji-cen­tric Re­build trail­ers al­ludes to this with the re­cur­ring line: “Beau­ti­ful boy / You don’t even know how beau­ti­ful you are”

http://s­tat­s.­­est/­Neon_­Ge­n­e­sis_E­van­ge­lion_(anime) Wikipedia hit counter for NGE ar­ti­cle

http­s://we­­b/20110725191849if_/http://www.e­va­com­men­­ages_il­los/t­su­ru­mak­i_jss­d­f_re­birth-cov­er.jpg JSSDF with kit­ten, be­fore in­vad­ing and slaugh­ter­ing NERV—interesting point about shades of grey in NGE

http://e­va.o­­mail/e­van­ge­lion/2007-May/004172.html good point about bru­tal slaugh­ter at NERV—very Ideon (movie es­pe­cial­ly) like, such as when the child is shot through the head in Tsu­ru­mak­i’s movie­gelfire.­com/anime4/md­wigs/A­su­ka.html “The Case of Asuka Lan­g­ley Sohryu”­gelfire.­com/anime4/md­wigs/end­ings.html “An ar­gu­ment for the con­cur­rent na­ture of episodes 26 and 26’”

http://­fo­rum.e­vageek­­­p?p=125491&sid=1b777a70942f13bbbfd­b2a1f1ce­f0f6f#125491 some Asuka TV com­ple­men­ta­tion analy­sis

http://­fo­rum.e­vageek­­­p?p=125527&sid=1b777a70942f13bbbfd­b2a1f1ce­f0f6f#125527 Shin­ji/A­suka mir­ror­ing

In fact, I don’t think I’m read­ing any­thing about re­li­gion into Evan­ge­lion, so much as sim­ply point­ing out what the se­ries al­ready con­tains in this scene, and that scene, and…If Gainax was re­ally con­cerned about peo­ple mis­in­ter­pret­ing the re­li­gious el­e­ments in Eva after the TV se­ries aired, they had a strange way of show­ing it when they made EoE, be­cause the film ratch­ets these things up tremen­dous­ly. In fact, an in­ter­est­ing way of de­scrib­ing the differ­ence be­tween the TV and the film end­ing is that the TV end­ing not only lacks the ac­tion and apoc­a­lypse, it also lacks the re­li­gious tone and iconog­ra­phy of EoE. Cer­tainly Evan­ge­lion can be viewed as a psy­cho­log­i­cal analy­sis, but I would ar­gue from that per­spec­tive, the TV end­ing is the more “rel­e­vant” one, be­cause it re­lies more or less en­tirely on hu­man dis­cus­sion, re­flec­tion, and analy­sis, rather than apoc­a­lyp­tic spec­ta­cle. http://e­va.o­­mail/e­van­ge­lion/2009-De­cem­ber/005553.html

Among all 26 episodes of the TV ver­sion of “Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion”, Di­rec­tor Anno him­self wrote the scripts for five episodes, and is cred­ited jointly with other screen­writ­ers for the scripts of 20 episodes. The num­ber of scripts that were jointly cred­ited are the de­fin­i­tive drafts of scripts based on plots by di­rec­tor Anno writ­ten by screen­writ­ers and gone over di­rectly by di­rec­tor An­no. The only time where di­rec­tor An­no’s name is­n’t cred­ited for a script is episode 4 “Rain, after es­cap­ing (Hedge­hog’s Dilem­ma)” based on a plot by Mr. Sat­sukawa. Just by look­ing at these num­bers, you will un­der­stand how much di­rec­tor Anno pulled the se­ries to­gether by his per­sonal au­thor­ship. http://we­bc­i­ta­­owhERa (archive of; lo­cal copy ~/doc/eva/evangelion_original_1_intro.htm.pdf)

http://www.thes­e­cretof­blue­wa­ter.­com/­nadieva-i.htm how much NGE drew upon Na­dia

Misato & Shinji

http://­fo­rum.e­vageek­­­p?p=12541#12541 http://­fo­rum.e­vageek­­­p?p=66173#66173 http://­fo­rum.e­vageek­­­p?p=66402#66402 http://­fo­rum.e­vageek­­­p?p=125484&sid=1b777a70942f13bbbfd­b2a1f1ce­f0f6f#125484 http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/2001-Sep­tem­ber/040387.html pretty con­clu­sive ar­gu­ments that Mis­ato wanted to have sex with Shinji

Mis­ato re­ally did try to do Shinji in episode 23 http://­fo­rum.e­vageek­­­p?t=445 ’ it is a fact that this is a plot el­e­ment that was cru­cial to the story as a whole, and one that Anno set us up for, right from the get-go (the pic­ture Mis­ato used to lure Shinji in #01: “Look at this!” [ar­row points at cleav­age], and, of course, in #02, “It’s not like I’m go­ing to ‘put the moves’ on a kid!”) ‘Sec­ond­ly, it’s not like Mis­ato’s lit­tle self­-im­pli­cat­ing ’joke’ is the only time that Anno uti­lizes the ‘Ironic Fore­shad­ow­ing’ trick; there are plen­ti­ful other ex­am­ples, such as Toji say­ing “I guess only weirdos get to be Eva pi­lots” . EoE is a pa­rade of one bru­tally ironic pay-off after an­oth­er…’ ‘Want an ex­am­ple? I asked Takeshi Honda what work­ing un­der Anno was like at Kat­su­con 2004. He said it was very stress­ful be­cause Anno made nu­mer­ous last minute changes. For ex­am­ple, episode 24 was sup­posed to be about Shinji con­fronting Yui’s pres­ence in the Eva, not his re­la­tion­ship with Ka­woru Nag­isa. ’I was just think­ing that Aaron has a good point when he re­minds us not to view EVA as a per­fectly thought-out work. Gainax does­n’t think of its works as be­ing per­fectly thought-out–I say that be­cause a lot of cre­ators think they think things out thor­ough­ly–­Gainax knows they don’t. I’m re­minded of a com­ment Toshio Okada made at Otakon 1995 about GIANT ROBO, say­ing that it was the kind of anime Gainax would have made, but GR’s cre­ators “do not have our con­fu­sion.”’ ’ EVA is suffused in sex­u­al­i­ty, from fan-ser­vice teas­ing to the real thing. It was de­signed that way–­Gainax are otaku, after all (ac­cord­ing to Lea Her­nan­dez, in the late 80s head of their U.S. mer­chan­dis­ing di­vi­sion Gen­eral Prod­ucts, Gainax judged the suc­cess of GUNBUSTER by its dou­jin­shi). But I also agree that to iden­tify Mis­ato as a pe­dophile is a lit­tle strange, if only be­cause she does­n’t seem es­pe­cially ori­ented to­wards un­der­aged men. ’

Um… that par­tic­u­lar check­point at the bot­tom of New­type TV film­book #9 p25 has a big “maybe” at­tached. This is not the usual “ap­pears” or “seems”, but in­stead an ex­plicit “maybe” (ka mo shire­nai).

The lit­eral trans­la­tion is:

“Mis­ato stretched out her hand to Shin­ji. At this time she may have in­tended to offer her body to com­fort Shin­ji. How­ev­er, this was merely sub­sti­tu­tive be­hav­ior in or­der to as­suage her own lone­li­ness.” http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/2001-De­cem­ber/040760.html

Cardass cards

They seem to date from 1998, go­ing by the copy­rights in the rule­book.

Car­dass cards: http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/2001-Sep­tem­ber/040387.html > The gold foil side shows Shinji and Mis­ato dressed up and shar­ing cock­tails in a club. How­ev­er, the ti­tle is Mis­ato’s EoE line: “That’s a grownup kiss. We’ll do the rest when you get back.” and the info text is fairly straight­for­ward: > >> “While fight­ing the An­gels to­geth­er, the two be­gan to view each other not just as Tac­ti­cal Op­er­a­tions Chief and pi­lot, but in a spe­cial way. Older sis­ter and younger broth­er, mother and son, girl and boy… but the two did not no­tice/re­al­ize the word used to ex­press these feel­ings (this re­la­tion­ship?). How­ev­er, time would teach them, just as it had fos­tered the re­la­tion­ship be­tween them.”

Ideon ends with hu­man­ity dy­ing and merg­ing with “life/Id” to form a per­fect en­ti­ty—and in the fi­nal mo­ments of the fi­nal episode, they sing “Happy Birth­day”

The Eva Car­dass Mas­ters card states:

“In the sea of LCL, Shinji wished for a world with other peo­ple. He de­sired to meet them again, even if it meant he would be hurt and be­trayed. And just as he had hope­d/want­ed, Asuka was present in the new world. Only Asuka was there be­side him. The girl whom he had hurt, and who had been hurt by him. But even so, she was the one he had hope­d/wished for….”

Fur­ther, Car­dass Drama card D-88 states, “Shinji re­nounced the world where all hearts had melted into one and ac­cepted each other un­con­di­tion­al­ly.” The fol­low­ing presents the de­fin­i­tive an­swer to this ques­tion, as trans­lated by Bochan Bird -

Part II (movies) Drama card D-88

Ti­tle: “Ki­mochi warui”

Small print:

“Shinji re­nounced the world where all hearts had melted into one and ac­cepted each other un­con­di­tion­al­ly. His de­sire… to live with ‘oth­ers’ – other hearts that would some­times re­ject him, even deny him. That is why the first thing he did after com­ing to his senses was to place his hands around Asuka’s neck. To feel the ex­is­tence of an ‘other’. To con­firm (make sure of) re­jec­tion and de­nial.”

‘Al­though Maya looks up to Rit­suko as her “sem­pai”, there was clearly an in­ten­tion to por­tray Maya’s feel­ings to­wards Rit­suko as some­thing much more com­pli­cated with de­lib­er­ate gay over­tones. When the phan­tom Rei/Rit­suko em­braces Rit­suko dur­ing the film, The End of Evan­ge­lion, Maya lets a gasp of “ec­stasy” es­cape (as de­scribed by An­no).’ TODO: source? an­no­tated screen­play? sto­ry­boards?


orig­i­nal Bochan email http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/2001-Sep­tem­ber/040341.html

in­de­pen­dent trans­la­tion of Mas­ters: http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/2001-Sep­tem­ber/040366.html

Car­dass canon source for rei = Yui-body + Lilith soul http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/2001-Sep­tem­ber/040334.html

This is the H-11 Hokan card, and it is one that I had also marked. Un­like the reg­u­lar cards, these Hokan cards have im­ages+­text on both sides. The re­verse side is ti­tled “3rd Chil­dren Ikari Shinji”, and the text is:

“Nei­ther Yui, Rei nor Mis­ato could do as a woman for Shin­ji. Asuka alone was the only girl on equal foot­ing with him. So, Shinji de­sired/­sought after Asu­ka.”I’m afraid of Mis­ato and Ayana­mi." How­ev­er, Shin­ji’s crude affec­tion only hurt her. In the end, he used her as an ob­ject of lust/de­sire to soothe/­con­sole him­self…" http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/2001-Sep­tem­ber/040368.html

Cards are un­trust­wor­thy?

I think some clar­i­fi­ca­tion is nec­es­sary for peo­ple not fa­mil­iar with the card game. The dou­ble sided Hokan cards (trans­lated as “In­stru­men­tal­ity Cards” in the game rules I’ve read) have a spe­cial goal for the player to achieve. For in­stance, there is a “Asuka gets Shinji” card, a “Rei gets Shinji” card, a “Shinji rec­on­ciles with Gendo” card etc. These cards and the text on them could be seen as al­ter­nate pos­si­bil­i­ties of what could hap­pen. Like fan­fic­tion, the text in these cards seem to give a plau­si­ble jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for each end­ing. With that in mind, the char­ac­ter­i­za­tions in these cards should be taken with a grain of salt. http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/2001-Sep­tem­ber/040370.html

A dis­agree­ment: http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/2001-Sep­tem­ber/040379.html

Fo­rum threads: http://­fo­rum.e­vageek­­­p?t=3280 http://­fo­rum.e­vageek­­­p?t=8360

  • a TV-doc­u­men­tary was shown about “why did Evan­ge­lion be­come such a suc­cess”—they in­ter­viewed bunches of peo­ple (there were stu­dents fans whose teacher was even ad­dicted to Eva …), shown sta­tis­tics of how many Eva-goods were sold in the last year, etc.etc. (BTW they also in­ter­viewed Anno Hideaki) and the most sur­pris­ing fact they talked about is that Evan­ge­lion did reach not only ani­me-o­takus but other peo­ple who usu­ally don’t watch anime too … http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/1997-Au­gust/001086.html TODO: what was this doc­u­men­tary?

And now that I think about it, none of the An­gels were ac­tu­ally at­tack­ing peo­ple di­rectly un­less they were at­tack­ing them. All the de­struc­tion was caused by their some­what ruth­less way of try­ing to gain ac­cess to Lilith/Adam.

I don’t think any of them ac­tu­ally hated hu­mankind.. If they did, then they could’ve been at­tack­ing some other de­fense­less city, or in case of 4th Shi­to, it had plenty of chance to wipe out most of 3rd Shin Tokyo, but it did­n’t. So… I dun­no. http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/1997-Au­gust/001754.html

good tie-in with my Blue Christ­mas ob­ser­va­tions!

Soul of Eva-03

As for his sis­ter, I think NERV had al­ready put his sis­ter soul in EVA-03. Rea­son? Think of why Tou­ji’s sis­ter was trans­ferred to NERV’s hos­pi­tal? NERV wanted it so. Did you see all hu­man pi­lot re­quires his/her EVA to hold the soul of a fe­male who is very close to the pi­lot? Tou­ji’s mom was dead long time ago, who is the best can­di­date to “do­nate” the soul??? In fact, Rit­suko said some­thing to that effect when she men­tioned why Touji (whose name was not dis­closed at that point) was cho­sen as the 4th chil­dren. Mis­ato showed her dis­gust, but could­n’t help it.

Now you re­al­ize how DARK the Touji in­ci­dent is…….. http://e­va.o­­mail/old­e­va/1997-Oc­to­ber/006537.html

ep 04: Gen­do: Ac­cord­ing to the Mal­duck Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s re­port, the Fourth Chil­dren has yet to be found. ep 17:

Nurse C: Yeah. He never misses vis­it­ing twice a week. He’s a very good broth­er, think­ing so much about his sis­ter. … Rit­suko: The Dummy plug is still too dan­ger­ous. One of the present can­di­dates will be…

Gen­do: ap­pointed as the Fourth.

Rit­suko:Yes. There’s one child whose core will be ready im­me­di­ate­ly.

Gen­do: I’ll leave all of it to you.

Rit­suko:Yes. … Rit­suko: In the boot­ing test of Unit three at Mat­sushi­ro, we will use the Fourth as the pi­lot.

Mis­ato: The Fourth? The fourth chil­dren was found?

Rit­suko: Yes­ter­day.

Mis­ato: I haven’t re­ceived a re­port from the Mar­duk In­sti­tute yet.

Rit­suko:The offi­cial doc­u­ments will ar­rive to­mor­row.

Mis­ato: Dr. Ak­agi, are you keep­ing se­crets from me, again?

Rit­suko:No, noth­ing.

Mis­ato: Well, OK. And, who is the se­lected child?

Mis­ato: Wow, it’s THIS child?

Rit­suko:We had no choice. The can­di­dates have been gath­ered in one place, and are be­ing pro­tect­ed. … Mis­ato: I don’t care at all what peo­ple say about me. I’m not feel­ing very re­served at the mo­ment. The Fourth chil­dren was found just in time. What is the hid­den rea­son for that?

Ry­o­ji: I’ll tell you one thing.

Ry­ou-ji: Mar­duk In­sti­tute does not ex­ist. Nerv alone is pulling the strings.

Mis­ato: Nerv alone? Com­man­der Ikari?

ep 18: Mis­ato: Yea, I know… So, when will the pi­lot be called?

Rit­suko: It’s gonna be to­mor­row, since there are still prepa­ra­tions to be made.

Mis­ato: The pi­lot may tell him about it by him­self.

Rit­suko: That’s im­pos­si­ble. He was­n’t happy enough to brag about it. The con­di­tion he made was to trans­fer his lit­tle sis­ter to the head­quar­ters’ med­ical unit.

ep 19: Tou­ji: Why don’t you tell my sis­ter that there’s noth­ing se­ri­ous wrong with me?

Hikari: Uh huh. … Shin­ji: Tell me one thing; Why was it Tou­ji… the Fourth Child-REN…?

Mis­ato: The fourth level can­di­dates are all your class­mates. I just learned that re­cent­ly, too. It was all con­trived.

Shin­ji: Every­one, every­one in the class…

Note: there seems to be no in­ter­ac­tion be­tween Hikari & Suzuhara ex­cept for ep 22: ‘Hikari : Asuka too [is ab­sen­t]. Suzuhara is still in the hos­pi­tal.’ Is this ev­i­dence for or against Suzuhara’s lit­tle sis­ter be­ing dead?

Even more im­por­tant­ly, in Re­build 2.0, Suzuhara’s sis­ter is alive and well and sound of mind (with a dis­gust­ingly cute photo prov­ing it). At least there the mys­tery does­n’t ex­ist, im­ply­ing it’s a bloody hole in the plot or that they’re fi­nally aban­don­ing the moth­er-core link­age.

holes in Eva

Way to com­pletely give your­self an out there. Yes, you can hand­wave away any plot holes by ar­gu­ing ‘but it’s all about the psy­chol­o­gy!’

On the ob­jec­tive plot lev­el, Eva is holier than Swiss cheese.

The core-Chil­dren-soul sys­tem makes ab­solutely no sense and is vi­o­lated at a whim (whose soul is in unit 0? or unit 03? or the Mass Pro­duc­tion Evas?); the An­gels are ac­cord­ing to the Con­fi­den­tial In­for­ma­tion quite lit­er­ally act­ing at ran­dom; key mo­ments are sim­ply omit­ted (what did Gendo say to Rit­suko and why did Rit­suko be­tray him? We’ve been ar­gu­ing that one for decades.) such as ba­si­cally every­thing hap­pen­ing in real life in episodes 25 and 26; the whole back­story about Adam and Lilith and Seeds of Life and the First An­ces­tral Race is glossed over (as­sum­ing it even ex­isted at the time of the TV se­ries); the mo­tives be­hind Yui’s plot to use Eva 01 are un­der­ex­plained to say the least (if you want a mon­u­ment to hu­man­i­ty, shoot off some space probes!); ev­i­dence from Gainax in­sid­ers and deleted scenes sug­gest that some con­nec­tion to Wings of Hon­neamise was in­tend­ed, but noth­ing came of that; the 2 end­ings are so differ­ent that most take them as en­dors­ing the ex­act op­po­site things (tell me, if you were watch­ing a TV se­ries and a movie of Schindler’s List and one ends with Schindler re­al­iz­ing the great­ness of the Nazis and the sick­en­ing evil of the Jews, and the other ends with him hero­ically res­cu­ing a few hun­dred Jews and leav­ing with them, would­n’t you won­der at least a lit­tle about how co­her­ent the plot is?), Ka­woru is a com­plete ci­pher who goes from be­ing flatout gay in the drafts to be­ing a nonen­tity (from, of course, his orig­i­nal mon­ster-of-the-day de­scrip­tion in the Pro­posal as a hu­man-cat pair)—oh my god, I can’t go on.

At least I don’t have to crit­i­cize the re­li­gious parts be­cause you de­scribe them as ‘dodgy’ (an un­der­state­ment of Eva-sized mag­ni­tudes. In­ci­den­tal­ly, how big is an Eva…?).

Maybe the rea­son Eva does­n’t lit­ter the TV Tropes page is be­cause the er­rors and prob­lems are that unique to Eva—it’d be like go­ing through Hegel and try­ing to fig­ure out what ex­act fal­lac­ies his non­sense is based on: you could­n’t do it be­cause it’s non­sense writ large with so many prob­lems and unique patholo­gies that your usual ros­ter of ‘non se­quitur’ and ‘ad hominem’ la­bels just aren’t up to the job.

Be­cause I think writ­ing off all the plot holes as just an­noy­ing things is en­tirely wrong. I’m not rest­ing my case on con­ti­nu­ity is­sues like Shin­ji’s plug­suit in an en­try plug or Eva sizes vary­ing from scene to scene; these are fun­da­men­tal holes in the Eva world and plot. These is­sues leave char­ac­ters un­de­fined, act­ing in mys­te­ri­ous and in­ex­plic­a­ble ways. We don’t un­der­stand Rit­suko be­cause of these is­sues. We don’t have a full pic­ture of Gen­do. Yui and Ka­woru are ci­phers. Er­rors in the orig­i­nal mean that fans are con­vinced Mis­ato killed Kaji un­til Gainax­ers specifi­cally deny this, in­sert ex­tra scenes to re­duce the im­pres­sion, and Sadamoto length­ens Ka­ji’s death to make clear it was­n’t Mis­ato. Asuka gets a whole bunch of new scenes in the Di­rec­tor’s Cut/Death to make her closer to what she was sup­posed to be. The 2 end­ings ap­pear con­tra­dic­tory in the most im­por­tant and fun­da­men­tal way pos­si­ble. And so on.

If these are not plot holes, then I have to ask—what is? Would a hy­po­thet­i­cal scene in which Shinji walked onto the bridge and blew away the bridge bun­nies fi­nally trip your an­noy­ance cri­te­ria and be­come a plot hole?

If noth­ing in the se­ries does, and you can’t think of any changes which would, then I sub­mit that you sim­ply don’t want to see any plot holes and you are be­ing in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­hon­est in mak­ing a dis­tinc­tion be­tween plot holes and ‘an­noy­ances’.

I like Eva crit­i­cism, and I like most of yours, but in­tel­lec­tu­ally hon­esty is not op­tion­al.

Your the­ory why the TV tropes page on plot holes is in­ter­est­ing, if more com­pli­cated than the idea that the would be holes are less dam­ag­ing to a view­er’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion or en­joy­ment (un­less per­haps, the viewer is as dis­cern­ing as you).

Yes, well, the fact that I think there are plot holes to be found im­plies that I think there’s a co­her­ent plot to be­gin with, which a great many anime fans would dis­agree with! So if there is a co­her­ent plot to be found and I see it and they don’t, then I must there­fore be more dis­cern­ing than that mass of dis­lik­ing-fans.

Al­so, I’d point out that Gainax is old and ex­pe­ri­enced, and full of otaku; we should not ex­pect any ob­vi­ous, com­mon, already-named-by-TVTropes plot holes, no more than we would ex­pect to find an arith­metic er­ror in New­ton or Gauss or Ter­ence Tao.

Call­ing Yui & Ka­woru ci­phers is ridicu­lous when it was clearly pointed out through­out the show that she was the dri­ving force be­hind Gen­do’s ac­tion

No, that means Gendo is not a ci­pher. How is Yui ex­plained by point­ing out that Gen­do’s re­bel­lion against SEELE is prompted by a de­sire to unite with her in an In­stru­men­tal­ity (some­how) differ­ent from SEELE’s?

She is not. What were her goals? Was the out­come of EoE to her sat­is­fac­tion? (What was the out­come of EoE, is pre­sup­posed…) Why did she seek such an out­come? (Let’s as­sume that she did. She says so lit­tle she might be un­happy with it, but what­ev­er.) Did Gendo know? How does Shinji tie into it all?

It’s all a mess. Yui is left as this mys­te­ri­ous en­tity that helps Shinji and at­tacks peo­ple and things at ap­par­ently ran­dom times. She is ‘empty’ (the et­y­mol­ogy of ‘ci­pher’) of com­pre­hen­si­bil­i­ty.

All of these are mys­ter­ies about Yui. One of the rea­sons I look for­ward to Re­build 3 and 4 is that Yui’s goals and mo­ti­va­tions seem to be wrapped up with the First An­ces­tral Race back­sto­ry, and the FAR are strongly sig­naled to be di­rectly in­volved by 2.0.

Ka­woru defi­nitely had an im­pact on Shin­ji, how could he not when he crushed some­thing that ap­peared hu­man for the first time. Some­thing that had been more gen­uine and hon­est with him than any hu­man he’d en­coun­tered in his whole piti­ful life. Drafts have lit­tle bear­ing to most peo­ple once they’ve seen a fi­nal prod­uct. That’s why we proof­read & pro­fes­sion­als have ed­i­tors. Be­cause from your mind to pa­per to other peo­ple’s re­al­i­ty, things can re­ally get f*cked up.

And as with Yui—yes, he had an im­pact. I’m not com­par­ing Yui or Ka­woru to some­thing which could be com­pletely re­moved from Eva with no bad im­pact, like Pen-Pen. (As fun as he is, Eva could’ve got­ten his hu­mor else­wise.) I’m say­ing that his ac­tions and per­son­al­ity are mys­te­ri­ous and in­com­pre­hen­si­ble.

Why did SEELE send him in the first place? Why make him in the first place? Was a Ka­woru+Adam Im­pact ac­cept­able to them? Why did Ka­woru give up when he saw Lilith as op­posed to, say, turn­ing around and tear­ing NERV apart un­til he found Gen­do? (For that mat­ter, why does it mat­ter in the least that he found Lilith? He al­ready was told by SEELE that Lilith was there! Be­fore he went in, he was told by them!) Why did Ka­woru die for Shin­ji’s sake? Shinji is no more valu­able than Ka­woru. Was he sup­posed to tar­get Shinji the en­tire time? Was he in love or not with Shin­ji, and if so, Pla­ton­i­cally or erot­i­cal­ly? (See the point about draft­s.) What does it mean that im­ages of Ka­woru show up later in EoE?

And so on. As Ka­woru stands, he’s this bis­honen who flashes on screen for 10 min­utes, has am­bigu­ous so­cial in­ter­course with Shin­ji, then wan­ders around NERV un­til he com­mits sui­cide-by-Eva after ut­ter­ing con­fus­ing and flat-out con­tra­dic­tory vague state­ments. Nor do the an­cil­lary ma­te­ri­als help; things like the Ad­di­tion au­dio­drama lamp­shade (see TvTropes) things like his yaoi-ness, and lamp­shad­ing is just an em­bar­rassed re­ac­tion to plot fail­ure.

What’s go­ing on in his head? Noth­ing? He’s a ci­pher.

These ter­ri­ble plot holes you men­tion are re­ally just things left up to in­ter­pre­ta­tion. Just be­cause an idea is­n’t fully ex­plained or fleshed out does­n’t mean there can’t be a suc­cess­ful pro­gres­sion from be­gin­ning to end. Be­sides, I don’t worry too much about plau­si­bil­ity or con­sis­tency too much when kids are pi­lot­ing gi­ant walk­ing hu­mans by hack­ing their spinal col­umn and brain.

There is a differ­ence be­tween pro­gres­sion from be­gin­ning to end caused by mean­ing­ful plot, cause-and-effect, and a pro­gres­sion caused by the brute suc­ces­sion of 25 frames per sec­ond.

LoganPayne: Is it wrong to think I see a plot hole in ep10
LoganPayne: Here's a question
LoganPayne: Why did they have problems knowing WTF in ep10
LoganPayne: Ok 10 was magma diver
LoganPayne: and when Misato suggested they capture the angel
LoganPayne: Seele threw a hissy
LoganPayne: but allowed it
LoganPayne: They didn't even know if it would cause 3I
LoganPayne: I thought Seele at that time knew what would cause 3I
Sachi_13: Maybe if they just had an Angel fetus, it would cause 3I
Sachi_13: wouldn't*
RAyanami: how would capturing the angel with unit-2 result in 3i anyway?
LoganPayne: I had a question from the Jet alone episode as well..
  what ever became of Misato's discovery that the jet alone went FUBAR on purpose
Sachi_13: I was wondering the same thing
RAyanami: there's no union of Adam/Lilith there to cause hassle
LoganPayne: Ray: from what I understand they were capturing a live one
LoganPayne: Adam was live when he went boom
LoganPayne: At that point in the show they acted like 2I was an accident
Sachi_13: Adam's didn't cause 2I though, it was Lilin
Sachi_13: What exactly are you saying would cause 3I in that ep?
LoganPayne: They don't even know is the point
LoganPayne: Seele is supposed to know
LoganPayne: and yet they act like they don't
Sachi_13: Supposed to know what?
LoganPayne: Seele is supposed to know what caused 2I and what will cause 3I correct?
LoganPayne: Ok there's a scene in ep10 where Gendo goes to Seele asking for permission to
            capture Sandalphon alive
RAyanami: i think Misato always had JA in mind, and it fueled he suspicion of Nerv
LoganPayne: and in the meeting Seele acts like they don't know what causes 2i or 3i
LoganPayne: Ray: I think you're right but she kept it to herself rather than pointing out
            that observation to anyone
LoganPayne: Misato seemed to know enough to at like she didn't notice it was all bologna
Sachi_13: Logan: What exactly do you think shows that they don't know?
Sachi_13: Anyways, contact between Unit-02 and Sandy* wouldn't cause 3I
LoganPayne: well yes
LoganPayne: We know that
LoganPayne: but the question is why didn't Seele know that
Sachi_13: Seele knew that
LoganPayne: continuity error
LoganPayne: they didn't act it
LoganPayne: and this was in a meeting when they should have no reason to lie
LoganPayne: Gendo, Fuyu, and Seele
Sachi_13: By "failure", I think they meant that if Nerv failed in capturing an Angel,
          it would destroy everything and cause 3I
LoganPayne: they seemed to say "bring a big net or we'll all die somehow"
LoganPayne: I wonder if sandy will be in 2.0
Sachi_13: No, they mean if you fail, the Angel will be free to cause 3I
LoganPayne: oh
LoganPayne: they acted differently in my interpretation of the lines
LoganPayne: my bad
LoganPayne: when you see it...
RAyanami: they left Rei in the Geofront in case anything dodgy went down at the volcano IIRC
LoganPayne: they said that was because the prototype didn't have the outfitting to go in magma
Sachi_13: Unit-00 was still being repaired at the time, wasn't it?
LoganPayne: no
LoganPayne: unit 00 was fixed after Ramiel
LoganPayne: i thought
Sachi_13: Didn't make an appearance until Matarael
LoganPayne: not by the next episode

Not pac­ing rea­sons, or plot de­vel­op­ment—‘In Eva 1.0, Mis­ato tells Shinji that Third Im­pact would oc­cur if an An­gel came in con­tact with Lilith in Cen­tral Dog­ma.’ Eva 1.0 does­n’t cover Magma Di­ver!

Pe­ter Svens­son (pri­vate email):

There’s quite a bit of this. “Adam and Lilith can never touch with­out mak­ing 3rd Im­pact!” But then… why is Unit-01 cloned of Lilith? Man, that is such an ob­vi­ous after the fact ad­di­tion that re­ally does­n’t make any sense.

Heck, I’m reach­ing the con­clu­sion that Anno had­n’t yet fig­ured out what Rei was. The im­pres­sion that he was mak­ing it all up once he got past the halfway mark… I mean, Anno had the back­sto­ry. The big epic saga of the First An­ces­tral Race. But the lit­tle pic­ture, the im­por­tant de­tails of the plot? That was all in flux.


Yes, I’m fa­mil­iar with Bochan’s ar­gu­ment. But of course, he knows it’s not a com­mon view:

This is a largely un­pop­u­lar opin­ion of mine—so let me stress again this is in my view . How­ev­er, I think the ev­i­dence is very much there to sup­port the the­ory that there are two very differ­ent end­ings to the Evan­ge­lion sto­ry. But I do ac­knowl­edge that there is also per­sua­sive ev­i­dence to the con­trary. For the flip side of this the­o­ry, check out MDWig’s very well-put counter ar­gu­ment.

MDWig’s link is­gelfire.­com/anime4/md­wigs/end­ings.html

I find his analy­sis of the ac­tual episode di­a­logues to be much more con­vinc­ing than a vague link to 1984. I cer­tainly do agree that Brazil has a 1984-like end­ing, at least, the ver­sion that I saw.

(Anno ref­er­ences many many books in Eva, but usu­ally SF clas­sics like Hein­lein’s Door into Sum­mer, “The Only Neat Thing To Do”, El­lison’s “The Beast that shouted love at the heart of the world”, or Japan­ese works like The Fas­cism of Love and Fan­tasy—and never Or­well.)

Which is rather strange, de­spite Ep 25-26 mak­ing most view­ers re­call 1984 and Brazil.

Well, now you’re mak­ing a strong sta­tis­ti­cal as­ser­tion—that a ma­jor­ity of view­ers thought the end­ing was the same re­ver­sal as ei­ther 1984 or Brazil.

Leav­ing aside how few peo­ple have watched Brazil, 1984 is not cited nearly as often as one would ex­pect given a ma­jor­i­ty. I mean, only 15 hits on the EFML: http://www.­google.­com/search?q=1984+OR+Brazil+site%3Ao­ and most of those don’t even have to do with the film/­book but the found­ing of Gainax in the ac­tual year! But that’s bet­ter than the Eva wiki, with just 3 re­sults none of which are rel­e­vant: http://wi­k­i.e­vageek­­cial:Search?search=1984&­full­tex­t=Search

Lyrics by seiyuu

and the lines they say in the song are far too per­fectly picked for co­in­ci­dence, With Asuka in­ex­plic­a­bly get­ting the lines that seem to im­ply ro­man­tic in­ter­est (in my opin­ion at the least, coarse I could be wrong)8

It’s an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion. The line se­lec­tions are pretty am­bigu­ous, but can we see pat­terns in it…?

I ex­cerpted each char­ac­ter/­seiyu­u’s lines from each of the 3 marked up sets of lyrics by SSD. (In or­der, so it’s “Cruel An­gel’s The­sis”, episode 16 In­ter­lude, “Fly Me To The Moon”.)

  1. Rei:

     A blue wind is now
     knocking at the door to your heart, and yet
     that you can't even see your fate yet,
     But someday I think you'll find out
     that what's on your back
     are wings that are for
     heading for the far-off future.
     Sleeping for a long time
     in the cradle of my love
     Stopping time all throughout the world
     You held tight to the form of life
     Do you love me?
     Who are you?
     Who are you?
     Who are you?
     Who are you?
     Do you love me?
     Fly me to the moon
     And let me play among the stars
     Fill my heart with song
     And let me sing forevermore
     In other words, I love you
  2. Asuka:

     Something gently touching--
     you're so intent on seeking it out,
     Moonlight reflects off
     the nape of your slender neck.
     The sorrow then begins.
     People create history
     while weaving love.
     Even knowing I'll never be a goddess or anything like that,
     I live on.
     Why don't you become one with me?
     If you become one both in mind and body, it's a very, very comforting feeling.
     Do you love me?
     Let me see what spring is like
     On Jupiter and Mars
     darling kiss me
  3. Mis­ato:

     you are merely gazing at me
     and smiling.
     The morning is coming when you alone will be called
     by a messenger of dreams.
     So if two people being brought together by fate
     has any meaning,
     I think that it is a "bible"
     for learning freedom.
     You shine brighter than anyone else.
     Hey, you wanna kiss?
     Pleasure... Sky of reality... Cruel strangers
     Do you love me?
     You are all I long for
     All I worship and adore
     I love you

Asuka’s set of lines are pretty straight for­ward, es­pe­cially the last half. Could hardly ask for clearer ex­pres­sion of ro­mance, I mean, come on—“Why don’t you be­come one with me?” or “dar­ling kiss me”.

In­ter­est­ing­ly, Mis­ato’s lines are also some­what ro­man­tic with “Hey, you wanna kiss?” or “All I wor­ship and adore / I love you”.

This ties in well with the EoE kiss and with the com­men­tary on Mis­ato’s lit­tle at­tempt­ed-com­fort­ing scene in NGE TV, al­though I know I’m not in the ma­jor­ity when I see Mis­atoxSh­inji as a real pos­si­bil­ity (as far as Mis­ato is con­cerned).

One of the ways to guard against —‘oh yes, of course those Asuka lyrics look ro­man­tic, and Mis­ato is just be­ing affec­tion­ate’—is to not know in ad­vance who said what, to blind your­self.

If one read the Rei lyrics with­out know­ing whose they were, and said ‘yes that’s Yui al­right’ and Asuka’s lyrics ‘yes, that proud and lov­ing, Asuka al­right’ and then Mis­ato ‘yes, that’s pro­tec­tive and ma­ter­nal’, then one would have good rea­son to be­lieve that that’s how those lyrics were meant.

No, wait—I lied pre­vi­ous­ly! I swapped Mis­ato and Asuka! Did you think that these lyrics are a valid source for in­ter­pre­ta­tion, and ac­cepted the lit­tle com­men­tary above about Asuka? Then you need to be se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing whether Mis­ato’s view of Shinji was purely pla­ton­ic; not a pop­u­lar po­si­tion among Eva fans…

Now, tricks and re­ver­sal tests aside. As far as Rei goes, the se­lected lyrics make a great deal of sense if we think about Rei’s con­nec­tion with the Moon in the Pro­posal and with Yui’s char­ac­ter­is­tic­s—Yui en­cour­ag­ing Shinji to live on, Yui singing, I mean, ex­ist­ing forever­more. And if we stretch a lit­tle, some of the lines even look like they ap­ply to NGE events—‘Stop­ping time all through­out the world’ would­n’t be a ter­ri­ble de­scrip­tion of In­stru­men­tal­i­ty.

As far as Asuka—the only lines which don’t have any ob­vi­ous mean­ing are ‘The morn­ing is com­ing when you alone will be called / by a mes­sen­ger of dreams.’ Every­thing else reads well as a de­scrip­tion of her re­la­tion­ship with Shinji or her per­sonal prob­lems (eg. “Plea­sure… Sky of re­al­i­ty… Cruel strangers”).

So. My ver­dict? Ei­ther the se­lected lines do map well onto the char­ac­ters and offer fur­ther in­sight, or they’re so am­bigu­ous that you can read any damn the­ory into them and I’ve done just that.

Ob­vi­ously I pre­fer the for­mer, but I’m in­ter­ested in whether any­one can ar­gue for the lat­ter.

  • “Dharma Cats”: http://we­­b/20050620220522/http://www.­geoc­i­ties.­com/sephkhan/rants/d­har­ma.html

    • In­ter­est­ing idea: for God to ex­ist, it must nec­es­sar­ily be lim­ited and vul­ner­a­ble to change, or be lim­ited an un­chang­ing. Ei­ther is un­ac­cept­able. If God ex­ists, that is a truly athe­is­tic en­ter­prise.

    “What do I mean by this, Eva fans? Sim­ply that while there may not be any in­di­ca­tion that there is a God be­hind the world of Evan­ge­lion, such a lack is not sup­posed ei­ther. Al­ter­nate­ly, it may mean that there is a God, but that such a God, by virtue of ex­is­tence, is im­per­fect, and thus not the Ab­solute so many of us seem to take it to be. And con­sider Eva’s ad­di­tion of a first half of the un­der­ly­ing Fi­nal Lie of the 108. Per­haps the as­sign­ment of a con­crete God would be the most athe­is­tic project Eva could un­der­take.”

    • Note es­pe­cially the Con­fi­den­tial In­for­ma­tion’s lack of a god and ma­te­ri­al­ist con­cep­tion of the uni­verse.

Now as a writer my­self, I can tell you that writ­ing a char­ac­ter with a tragic past is HARD. I won’t be pre­ten­tious and say that I’ve ex­pe­ri­ence great tragedy in my past, be­cause I haven’t, and I’m sure the same ap­plies to many other writ­ers. For us, imag­in­ing such a char­ac­ter is diffi­cult be­cause we don’t re­ally have the in­con­ve­nience of per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence to draw from. What many writ­ers do then is the next best thing: cre­at­ing flawed char­ac­ters. It re­ally is very sim­ple rea­son­ing; if a char­ac­ter has­n’t ex­pe­ri­ence a nor­mal past, then they by de­fi­n­i­tion should be ab­nor­mal in some way. A great ex­am­ple of this is Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion, be­cause Shin­ji, Asuka and Rei are three clas­sic ex­em­pli­fi­ca­tions of flawed char­ac­ters with ab­nor­mal pasts; the emo­tion­ally in­se­cure, the emo­tion­ally un­sta­ble, and the emo­tion­ally de­tached.

The tsun­dere is an ar­che­type that fits neatly into the ‘emo­tion­ally un­sta­ble’ cat­e­go­ry, in fact there are some who be­lieve that the tsun­dere ar­che­type orig­i­nated from Asuka Lan­g­ley of NGE. We rec­og­nize that there is some­thing in­her­ently flawed about the char­ac­ter, and by flow of log­ic, some­thing is wrong with ei­ther the sit­u­a­tion they are in, their re­la­tion with other char­ac­ters, or some­thing in their past.

So again, we’re back to this idea of short­cut­ting and mak­ing things eas­ier for the writer in both the re­source and time sense. Re­sources in that the writer does­n’t have to spend as much time con­ceiv­ing an orig­i­nal char­ac­ter that re­lates to his tragic past, and time in that the au­di­ence al­most in­stantly as­sumes there was some­thing that hap­pened in the char­ac­ter’s past that caused them to be­come tsun­dere, so that the writer does­n’t have to spend time hint­ing at or ex­plain­ing this.

…A­ha! Now if at any point in read­ing these ex­am­ples you found your­self think­ing, “wait, this is­n’t right…”, then con­grat­u­la­tions! You are ab­solutely cor­rect; I was play­ing you, and the ex­am­ples above are NOT ac­tu­ally ex­am­ples of char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment. If you did NOT pick up on any er­rors in those two ex­am­ples, then I re­ally sug­gest you read the next part care­ful­ly. These two pas­sages I just in­vented are clas­sic ex­am­ples of char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment il­lu­sions. Now al­low me to rewrite those pas­sages, with REAL de­vel­op­ment.

When I met John last year, he was a very sim­ple guy. He loved watch­ing TV, fish­ing on the week­ends, and was con­tent with life in gen­er­al. How­ever he had re­cently reached his midlife just like the rest of us and was puz­zling if what he was do­ing in life was good enough. When I vis­ited him last week though, I was glad to see he was still do­ing well. He had ap­par­ently found a hobby in play­ing semi­-pro­fes­sional poker and he tells me it gives him a new found sense of achieve­ment.

Sarah had al­ways been on rocky terms with her par­ents, who dis­agreed with her care­free lifestyle. Leav­ing uni­ver­sity and join­ing the work­force though, has helped her ma­ture a lot. She’s still very out­go­ing and loves to par­ty, but she’s learned to com­pro­mise and act more com­posed and proper in front of her par­ents. She even heads over to their house for weekly lunches and tea, and I hear they’re on good terms again.

Every good story needs good char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment. That’s the first thing they teach you in the first les­son of Writ­ing 101. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, like all things es­sen­tial, there’s a way or short­cut around it. The rea­son why the two ex­am­ples I gave above may have seemed like char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment is be­cause it fol­lows the same ba­sic trend. This is how it goes in real de­vel­op­ment: One, we’re in­tro­duced to a char­ac­ter. Two, he is con­tex­tu­al­ized. Three, an event hap­pens which changes this char­ac­ter. Now the differ­ence lies in part three. In my first ex­am­ples, what changes is­n’t the char­ac­ter it­self, but our per­cep­tion of the char­ac­ter. John was al­ways a so­phis­ti­cated uni­ver­sity lec­tur­er, the fact that I did­n’t know that about him and only dis­cov­ered this much later does­n’t make it a de­vel­op­ment of his char­ac­ter, it’s es­tab­lish­ing it.

Does­n’t this sound a LOT like the mod­ern day tsun­dere? We’re in­tro­duced to a girl who’s ini­tially tsun tsun, but as the male pro­tag­o­nist gets closer to her, we dis­cover that she’s also dere dere. This con­trast­ing el­e­ment that is at the core of the tsun­dere ar­che­type makes it easy to pull of this il­lu­sion of char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment. All the writer has to do is with­hold the dere dere as­pect and slowly re­veal it as the story pro­gress­es. Be­cause of this, there is al­most no need for writ­ers to in­clude any sort of ac­tual de­vel­op­ment, and it’s be­cause of this that the plague of tsun­dere are be­com­ing such a prob­lem.

Short ver­sion? it’s EASY to fake char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment, and writ­ing ac­tual good char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment is HARD. There­fore, tsun­dere is the log­i­cal an­swer.

Again, I’m not go­ing to at­tribute this to writ­ers be­ing lazy. The prob­lem of tsun­dere not get­ting char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment is a symp­tom, of which the un­der­ly­ing cause is some­thing far more re­moved. Now re­mem­ber when I said the Wikipedia de­fi­n­i­tion of tsun­dere was out­dat­ed? Not in­cor­rect, but out­dat­ed. This is be­cause orig­i­nal­ly, tsun­dere WAS a form of char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment. I’m talk­ing waaay back in the Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion era of Asuka Lan­g­ley So­ryu when the word tsun­dere had­n’t even been coined yet. This was a time when char­ac­ters were all ‘tsun’, and through ac­tual de­vel­op­ment, be­gan to show ‘dere’ ten­den­cies, and this was a time where tsun­dere char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment shined bril­liant­ly. So bril­liantly that many writ­ers be­gan copy­ing this, spawn­ing what I like to call the mod­ern day tsun­dere. And that’s where the prob­lems be­gan.

The differ­ence be­tween the orig­i­nal and mod­ern day tsun­dere is that the orig­i­nal tsun­dere de­scribes a char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment process, while the mod­ern day ver­sion (also the ‘tsun­dere that we are all fa­mil­iar with) de­scribes a char­ac­ter. Writ­ers, in their haste to jump onto the band­wag­on, cre­ated char­ac­ters who from the get-go, pos­sess both tsun and dere qual­i­ties in or­der to ad­ver­tise: “Hey, come watch my ani­me! It has a tsun­dere char­ac­ter in it, see?” As ap­posed to char­ac­ters who are purely tsun, this is a pretty sig­nifi­cant hin­drance, be­cause it leaves no room for the char­ac­ter to ac­tu­ally de­velop dere traits, hav­ing al­ready pos­sess then. This is the point of differ­ent be­tween the orig­i­nal and mod­ern ’t­sun­dere’ and the gen­eral rea­son why mod­ern tsun­dere are in­nately in­fe­ri­or.

The differ­ence be­tween the orig­i­nal and mod­ern day tsun­dere is that the orig­i­nal tsun­dere de­scribes a char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment process, while the mod­ern day ver­sion (also the ‘tsun­dere that we are all fa­mil­iar with) de­scribes a char­ac­ter. Writ­ers, in their haste to jump onto the band­wag­on, cre­ated char­ac­ters who from the get-go, pos­sess both tsun and dere qual­i­ties in or­der to ad­ver­tise: “Hey, come watch my ani­me! It has a tsun­dere char­ac­ter in it, see?” As ap­posed to char­ac­ters who are purely tsun, this is a pretty sig­nifi­cant hin­drance, be­cause it leaves no room for the char­ac­ter to ac­tu­ally de­velop dere traits, hav­ing al­ready pos­sess then. This is the point of differ­ent be­tween the orig­i­nal and mod­ern ’t­sun­dere’ and the gen­eral rea­son why mod­ern tsun­dere are in­nately in­fe­ri­or.

“Anime 101: Tsun­dere Char­ac­ters (Part 1/2)”, Ry­hzuo

The main ques­tions Saito is try­ing to an­swer in this book are why the char­ac­ters he calls “beau­ti­ful fight­ing girls” have come about in con­tem­po­rary Japan and what this means to the otaku who re­late to them. Al­though the term may seem self­-ex­plana­to­ry, it’s worth it to go into a bit of de­tail about what Saito means by “beau­ti­ful fight­ing girl.” He uses the phrase to re­fer to hero­ines in Japan­ese pop­u­lar cul­ture such as Nau­si­caä, Sailor Moon, and Evan­ge­lion who are young, at­trac­tive, and often en­gage in some sort of com­bat. One of the key points Saito wants to make is that such hero­ines are unique to Japan and Japan­ese pop­u­lar cul­ture. Cer­tainly there may be strong women in Hol­ly­wood such as Rip­ley in Aliens and Sarah Con­nor in Ter­mi­na­tor 2, but these char­ac­ters are ma­ture wom­en, not girls. And in cases like Buffy the Vam­pire Slay­er, Saito says that they have been in­flu­enced by Japan­ese comics and an­i­ma­tion, so that the gen­eral premise could be con­sid­ered a Japan­ese im­port.

In the first chap­ter, ti­tled “The Psy­chopathol­ogy of the Otaku,” Saito aims to an­a­lyze these peo­ple who seem to be so en­tranced by anime and man­ga. He goes into the et­y­mol­ogy of the word otaku, dis­cussing its ori­gins in the early 1980s and how other writ­ers such as Toshio Okada, Eiji Ot­suka, and Masachi Os­awa have dis­cussed and tried to de­fine otaku. I think Saito is re­ally onto some­thing when he tries to de­velop his own de­fi­n­i­tion and dis­tin­guishes otaku from ma­ni­acs. Sim­ply put, ma­ni­acs are ob­ses­sive col­lec­tors who try to ac­cu­mu­late ob­jects and the knowl­edge about these ob­jects. Otaku, on the other hand, have “a strong affin­ity for fic­tional con­texts” such as those found in anime and then try to “pos­sess” them by cre­at­ing ad­di­tion­al, per­sonal fic­tions through cos­play, dou­jin­shi, crit­i­cism, and the like. This is be­cause anime are so im­ma­te­r­ial that they them­selves can­not be pos­sessed. Sure, you can own the DVDs and the mer­chan­dise, but the es­sen­tial qual­i­ties of the anime it­self still re­mains be­yond your grasp. As Saito puts it, “even if you owned every cel of an ani­me, this would not mean you owned the anime it­self.”

…Chap­ter four takes us even far­ther away from the Japan­ese case into the work of an Amer­i­can named Henry Darg­er. A soli­tary man who lived from 1892 to 1973, he lived alone and worked blue col­lar jobs in ob­scu­ri­ty. That is, un­til he had to move to a nurs­ing home and his land­lord, who hap­pened to be an artist and a pro­fes­sor of art, be­gan to sort through Darg­er’s be­long­ings. The land­lord dis­cov­ered an epic work, penned and il­lus­trated by Darg­er, span­ning over 15,000 pages, about seven young girls fight­ing an epic bat­tle against an evil slave own­er. This mas­sive man­u­script and other re­lated works that Darger had been work­ing on for decades in his apart­ment, led to his posthu­mous fame as an out­sider artist. In the themes and art style, Saito sees a con­nec­tion be­tween Darg­er’s work and the beau­ti­ful fight­ing girls found in Japan­ese pop­u­lar cul­ture. He spends a bit of time psy­cho­an­a­lyz­ing Darger in his works, say­ing that the in­sights we can gain from study­ing Darger will also help us to un­der­stand the otaku. It’s an in­ter­est­ing idea, but I’m not fully con­vinced that Saito’s Darger de­tour brings us that much closer to the beau­ti­ful fight­ing girl in the Japan­ese con­text.

…In chap­ter six, Saito gets back to dis­cussing in more depth the rea­sons for why Japan­ese anime and manga have beau­ti­ful fight­ing girls, but first he needs to stop for yet an­other com­par­i­son with the US, this time with our comics and an­i­ma­tion. This is key in his dis­cus­sion to differ­en­ti­ate a par­tic­u­larly Japan­ese space and con­cept of time used within anime and man­ga. In this fi­nal chap­ter, Saito weaves el­e­ments he has dis­cussed in pre­vi­ous chap­ters to­gether with his psy­cho­an­a­lytic the­o­ries to ar­rive at the con­clu­sion that otaku, far from be­ing de­luded nerds liv­ing in fan­tasy worlds, are per­haps the ones who are the best adapted to live in our con­tem­po­rary me­dia spaces. In his con­clu­sion, Saito writes, “I fully affirm the otaku’s way of liv­ing. I would never try to lec­ture them about ‘get­ting back to re­al­i­ty.’ They know re­al­ity bet­ter than any­one.”

–Brian Ruh, re­view of Beau­ti­ful Fight­ing Girl by Saito Tamaki

Roland Barthes wrote a short es­say in the six­ties that dis­cussed a lit­er­ary de­vice he called the “re­al­ity effect”, cit­ing a de­scrip­tion of a barom­e­ter from Flaubert’s short story . In Barthes’s de­scrip­tion, re­al­ity effects are de­signed to cre­ate the aura of real life through their sheer mean­ing­less­ness: the barom­e­ter does­n’t play a role in the nar­ra­tive, and it does­n’t sym­bol­ize any­thing. It’s just there for back­ground tex­ture, to cre­ate the il­lu­sion of a world clut­tered with ob­jects that have no nar­ra­tive or sym­bolic mean­ing. The tech­ni­cal ban­ter that pro­lif­er­ates on shows like The West Wing or ER has a com­pa­ra­ble func­tion; you don’t need to know what it means when the sur­geons start shout­ing about OPCAB and saphe­nous veins as they per­form a by­pass on ER; the ar­cana is there to cre­ate the il­lu­sion that you are watch­ing real doc­tors. For these shows to be en­joy­able, view­ers have to be com­fort­able know­ing that this is in­for­ma­tion they’re not sup­posed to un­der­stand.

–pg 78-79, , 2005

Shows like Se­in­feld and The Simp­sons offered a more chal­leng­ing premise to their view­ers: You’ll en­joy this more if you’re ca­pa­ble of re­mem­ber­ing a throw­away line from an episode that aired three years ago, or if you no­tice that we’ve framed this one scene so that it echoes the end of Dou­ble In­dem­nity. The jokes come in lay­ers: you can watch that 1995 Hal­loween episode and miss all the film riffs9 and still en­joy the show, but it’s a richer, more re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence if you’re pick­ing them up. That lay­er­ing en­abled Se­in­feld and The Simp­sons to re­tain both a broad ap­peal and the edgy al­lure of cult clas­sics. The main­stream au­di­ences chuckle along to that wacky Kramer, while the diehard fans nudge-and-wink at each Su­per­man aside. But that com­plex­ity has an­oth­er, equally im­por­tant, side effect: the episodes often grow more en­ter­tain­ing on a sec­ond or third view­ing, and they can still re­veal new sub­tleties on the fifth or sixth. The sub­tle in­ter­twin­ings of the plots seem more nim­ble if you know in ad­vance where they’re head­ed, and the more ex­pe­ri­ence you have with the se­ries as a whole, the more likely you are to catch all the in­sider ref­er­ences.

–pg 88, John­son 2005

Let us ex­am­ine, first of all, the ar­gu­ments against Shake­speare’s pa­ter­ni­ty. They may be sum­ma­rized as fol­lows: Shake­speare re­ceived a fairly rudi­men­tary ed­u­ca­tion in the gram­mar school of his home­town, Strat­ford. Shake­speare, as at­tested by his friend and ri­val, the dra­matic poet Ben Jon­son, pos­sessed ‘small Latin and less Greek’. There are those who, in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, dis­cov­ered or be­lieved they had dis­cov­ered an en­cy­clo­pe­dic eru­di­tion in Shake­speare’s work. It seems to me that while it is a fact that Shake­speare’s vo­cab­u­lary is gi­gan­tic, even within the gi­gan­tic Eng­lish lan­guage, it is one thing to use terms from many dis­ci­plines and sci­ences and an­other thing al­to­gether to have a pro­found or even su­per­fi­cial knowl­edge of those same dis­ci­plines and sci­ences. We can re­call the anal­o­gous case of Cer­vantes. I be­lieve a Mr. Bar­by, in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, pub­lished a book en­ti­tled Cer­van­tes, Ex­pert in Ge­og­ra­phy.

, “The Enigma of Shake­speare”, Se­lected Non-fic­tions pg464

…I said the end of the over­shad­ow­ing story would pro­vide an end for the fi­nal vol­ume. Per­haps I should add, ‘if you are lucky’. It must wrap up its own vol­ume, ob­vi­ous­ly. It must also wrap up the en­tire work in a sat­is­fac­tory way. In gen­er­al, it should not un­der­cut the end­ings of any of the ear­lier books, ren­der­ing them, in ret­ro­spect, triv­ial. Rather it must val­i­date them, as­sur­ing the reader that they were in­deed im­por­tant points in the over­shad­ow­ing sto­ry—that you did not cheat. Thus in The Book of the New Sun, Sev­er­ian leaves his na­tive city at the end of the first book, reaches the dis­tant city in which he is to be em­ployed at the end of the sec­ond, and reaches the war to­ward which he has been in­ex­orably drawn at the end of the third. At the end of the fourth book (when he re­turns to his city) I at­tempted to show that all that had been sig­nifi­cant, mould­ing his char­ac­ter and con­tribut­ing to his rise to the Phoenix Throne.

There is one fi­nal point, the point that sep­a­rates a true mul­ti­vol­ume work from a short sto­ry, a nov­el, or a se­ries. The end­ing of the fi­nal vol­ume should leave the reader with the feel­ing that he has gone through the defin­ing cir­cum­stances of Main Char­ac­ter’s life. The lead­ing char­ac­ter in a se­ries can wan­der off into an­other book and a new ad­ven­ture bet­ter even than this one. Main Char­ac­ter can­not, at the end of your mul­ti­vol­ume work. (Or at least, it should seem so.) His life may con­tin­ue, and in most cases it will. He may or may not live hap­pily ever after. But the prob­lems he will face in the fu­ture will not be as im­por­tant to him or to us, nor the sum­mers as gold­en.


Thoughts on death. Well, Kenji Miyazawa just so hap­pens to be the name of the au­thor of Night on the Galac­tic Rail­road. Co­in­ci­dence? I think not.

Ghosts is a lit­tle strong, I think. I take it as Kanba & Shoma be­ing lit­er­ally re­born—what they sac­ri­fice is their life with Hi­mari and their mem­o­ries and their re­la­tion­ship. They get pun­ished, the curse is sat­is­fied, and Hi­mari lives on—but they don’t get to live with her; stan­dard enough end­ing, eg. End of Evan­ge­lion, An­gel Beats, Wolf’s Rain, or heck, Utena. But I could un­der­stand if one thought they passed on to an­other life, given the Night on the Galac­tic Rail­road par­al­lels.

And ac­tu­al­ly, you missed some­thing. Be­sides the vi­sual back­ground of them against the galaxy, you missed that that scene was a con­tin­u­a­tion of a di­a­logue from the first episode that was also dis­cussing Ken­ji’s book.

Here’s the di­a­logue from ep 1:

  1. Like I said, the ap­ple is the uni­verse it­self! A uni­verse in the palm of your hand. It’s what con­nects this world and the other world.
  2. “The other world”?
  3. The world Cam­panella and other pas­sen­gers are head­ing to!
  4. What does that have any­thing to do with an ap­ple?
  5. The ap­ple is also a re­ward for those who have cho­sen love over every­thing else!
  6. But every­thing’s over when you’re dead.
  7. It’s not over! What I’m try­ing to say is that’s ac­tu­ally where every­thing be­gins!
  8. I’m not fol­low­ing you at all.
  9. I’m talk­ing about love! Why don’t you get it?

Now, jump for­ward to the end of episode 24, where we start over with line 5—but not quite the same:

    1. Sim­ply put, the ap­ple is also a re­ward for those cho­sen to die for love!
    1. But every­thing’s over when you’re dead.
    1. It’s not over! What Kenji was try­ing to say is that’s ac­tu­ally where every­thing be­gins!

A break, and the last lines:

  1. Hey, where are we go­ing?
  2. Where do you want to go?
  3. Let’s see. How about…

“Prometheus (2012)—­Calv­in­ball Mythol­ogy and the Void of Mean­ing”, Jonathan Mc­Cal­mont:

Sim­i­larly in­trigu­ing is the anger gen­er­ated by the sup­pos­edly un­sat­is­fy­ing fi­nal sea­son of the ABC TV se­ries Lost. Cre­ated by J.J. Abrams, Da­mon Lin­de­lof and Jeffrey Lieber, Lost tells the story of a group of peo­ple who sur­vive a plane crash only to find them­selves trapped on an iso­lated trop­i­cal is­land. As the group starts to ex­plore the is­land, they en­counter a se­ries of in­creas­ingly baffling mys­ter­ies that in­clude po­lar bears, time trav­el, sin­is­ter cor­po­ra­tions, magic num­bers and smoke mon­sters. The most strik­ing thing about Lost is that, while each new mys­tery com­pels you to keep watch­ing, there is lit­tle sense that these mys­ter­ies form part of a wider and more co­her­ent truth. This ap­proach to run­ning a se­ries can be com­pared to Calv­in­ball, the game played by whose rules are en­tirely made up on the fly. As the Calv­in­ball theme song has it:

Other kids’ games are all such a bore!
They’ve gotta have rules and they gotta keep score!
Calv­in­ball is bet­ter by far!
It’s never the same! It’s al­ways bizarre!
You don’t need a team or a ref­er­ee!
You know that it’s great, ’cause it’s named after me!

Calv­in­ball sto­ry­telling emerged at a time when ‘se­ri­ous’ Amer­i­can TV drama was at­tempt­ing to move away from the pro­duc­tion of stand-alone episodes and to­wards a fo­cus upon long-term sto­ry­lines (or ‘plot arcs’). Early pi­o­neers of ar­c-based TV sto­ry­telling in­cluded Twin Peaks and The X-Files, both of which pre-empted Lost by us­ing an open-ended mys­tery to pro­vide an im­pres­sion of nar­ra­tive co­he­sive­ness.

Calv­in­ball sto­ry­telling is a tran­si­tional ap­proach to show-run­ning in so far as it pro­vides an op­er­a­tional bridge be­tween treat­ing in­di­vid­ual episodes as self­-con­tained sto­ries and treat­ing in­di­vid­ual episodes as com­po­nent parts of much larger nar­ra­tive ta­pes­tries. Calv­in­ball sto­ry­telling al­lows writ­ers to fo­cus upon churn­ing out the best pos­si­ble episode they can with­out overly wor­ry­ing about how that episode will fit into the greater nar­ra­tive. As Twin Peaks, X-Files and Lost demon­strate, Calv­in­ball writ­ers throw a lot of ideas at the wall and only some of them stick. It is only when writ­ers of later episodes be­gin draw­ing on pre­vi­ously used ideas that the il­lu­sion of a deeper nar­ra­tive struc­ture be­gins to emerge.

One of the pe­cu­liar­i­ties of run­ning a Calv­in­ball TV se­ries is that the au­di­ence must never be al­lowed to think that the writ­ers are mak­ing stuff up as they go. The rea­son for this is that mys­ter­ies tend to en­gage our in­ter­est only in so far as they ap­pear to have so­lu­tions. By ac­knowl­edg­ing that none of their mys­ter­ies were de­signed with so­lu­tions in mind, TV writ­ers would effec­tively break the spell and so re­veal the mess of dan­gling plot strands and stand-alone episodes that lie hid­den be­hind the il­lu­sion of nar­ra­tive co­he­sive­ness. The au­thor once ex­pressed a sim­i­lar in­sight on his (now de­funct) blog, writ­ing about the chal­lenges of ‘world­build­ing’ he said:

The worst mis­take a con­tem­po­rary f/sf writer can make is to with­hold or dis­rupt sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief. The read­er, it’s as­sumed, wants to re­ceive the events in the text as seam­less & the text as un­per­formed. The claim is that no­body is be­ing “told a story” here, let alone be­ing sold a pup. In­stead, an im­pec­ca­bly im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence is play­ing in the cin­ema of the head. This ex­pe­ri­ence is some­how un­medi­at­ed, or needs to present it­self as such: any ves­tige of per­for­ma­tive­ness in the text di­lutes the ex­pe­ri­ence by re­mind­ing the reader that the “world” on offer is a rhetor­i­cal con­struct. All writ­ing is a shell game, a sham: but genre writ­ing must­n’t ever look as if it is.

The art of Calv­in­ball sto­ry­telling lies in the abil­ity to keep the shell game alive so as to not dis­rupt that sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief. In or­der to do this, TV writ­ers must man­age a vast num­ber of ac­tive plot­lines with lit­tle or no guid­ance as to how these plot­lines are in­tended to de­vel­op. Skil­ful showrun­ners keep the Calv­in­ball in play by know­ing when to keep a plot­line open, when to close it, when to com­bine it with oth­ers and when to bail on it com­plete­ly. The most suc­cess­ful Calv­in­ball se­ries are those that man­age to keep them­selves on the air for year after year with­out alien­at­ing or frus­trat­ing the au­di­ence and with­out hav­ing to re­sort to such heavy-handed ground-clear­ance tech­niques as crash­ing a plane into a vil­lage, trav­el­ling back in time, re­veal­ing that it was all a dream or re­peat­edly hit­ting the re­set but­ton. The aim of the game is not to pro­vide an­swers but to hold an au­di­ence’s at­ten­tion by ask­ing ever more evoca­tive and un­ex­pected ques­tions un­til the con­ti­nu­ity even­tu­ally be­comes so clut­tered and un­man­age­able that the en­tire en­ter­prise col­lapses in on it­self like a dy­ing star.­i/­post­­p?dis­cus­sion=13613719150A44764900&­page=0


ret­con­ning http­s://­dit.­com/r/e­van­ge­lion/­com­ments/1dg56w/he_duped_us_from_the_very_s­tart_that_­clev­er/c9qc9zi

SEELE in­con­sis­ten­cies: http­s://­dit.­com/r/e­van­ge­lion/­com­ments/1ech72/what_­does_seele_ac­tu­al­ly_wan­t_ive_on­ly_watched/c9z11g6

New­type USA March 2007:

While Tsu­ru­maki freely ad­mits that the first of the four film in­stall­ments–s­lated to hit the­aters in Japan some­time mid-2007–will run like a di­gest of the TV se­ries, em­ploy­ing key scenes to bring view­ers up to speed on the ba­sic story and set­ting, no one is very will­ing to spec­u­late on the con­tent of the sec­ond, third, or fi­nal films.

“Frankly, it just got too chaotic,” Tsu­ru­maki com­ments on the brain­storm­ing ses­sions that were ini­tially meant to pro­vide an over­all plot out­line and fi­nal res­o­lu­tion to the sto­ry. “We’re all work­ing from the as­sump­tion that we weren’t able to reach our des­ti­na­tion with the orig­i­nal TV se­ries, but the ex­act na­ture of that”des­ti­na­tion" is still un­clear to every­one on the staff. Since we’re go­ing to all the trou­ble of mak­ing these new pro­duc­tions, we’d at least like to take the story as far as we took it back then, but it’s been an up­hill strug­gle so far. I get the feel­ing this project is go­ing to be a very un­sta­ble pro­jec­t–in a lot of ways."


Tsu­ru­maki: The im­pres­sion that An­no-san mainly wanted to con­vey was that Gendo and Fuyut­suki were de­vis­ing a se­cret plot. Be­cause Shinji hap­pens to go to Rei’s room just after that, that was what they dis­cussed. When “se­cret plot” and “Shinji and Rei” were com­bined, it prob­a­bly ap­peared some­thing like “a strat­egy to bring to­gether Shinji and Rei”.

  • Rather than be­ing dis­ap­point­ed, I’m im­pressed. All the more, I have a pleas­ant feel­ing that things have be­come “Eva-esque”. The fact that this con­sis­tency is in­her­ent [makes it] ex­tremely valu­able; I am de­lighted [to think] that this may be the much-dis­cussed “live feel­ing”.86 In any case, there will surely be many view­ers who have the im­pres­sion that, this time, Gen­do’s Hu­man In­stru­men­tal­ity Project [some­how de­pends on] this “love love strat­egy”. Fuyut­suki also says some­thing like, “As we thought, ow­ing to those two Unit-01 has awak­ened”.

Tsu­ru­maki: And Gendo replies some­thing like “A lit­tle while longer, and our project is com­plete”. I had doubts sto­ry­board­ing that con­ver­sa­tion, and sent An­no-san a se­ries of ques­tions about it. “So Gendo knew this would hap­pen to Unit-01? Or was Gendo also sur­prised and trou­bled? Or was Gendo sur­prised, but pleased with the out­come?” I did­n’t un­der­stand the spe­cific mean­ing of the state­ment, so I strug­gled to in­ter­pret it. An­no-san replied that, “For now, we’ll say he aimed at this and things went the way he ex­pected”. I won­dered if that was enough. For my­self, I am still skep­ti­cal that even Gendo is­n’t re­ally pan­ick­ing in­side, but…

“Re­turn of the Otak­ing”:

When I talked to Mr. Anno a month ago, he said he could­n’t de­cide the end­ing un­til the time came. That’s his style. So, if I had made EVANGELION with him, I could­n’t do such a thing. I’d think I’d have to fix the end­ing, what would hap­pen with every char­ac­ter. Then, every­thing would fol­low: the first episode, the sec­ond episode…If I wanted to show a boy’s com­ing-of-age sto­ry, a bil­dungsro­man, the last scene would show the grown-up man; the first scene, a boy who hates every­thing about the adult world. That would be the struc­ture; I’m very care­ful about a reg­u­lar con­struc­tion.

But Mr. An­no’s style on EVANGELION was not so. He wants to put it to­gether episode-by-episode. It’s just like the style of a man­ga. In your typ­i­cal man­ga, the artist does­n’t have any pic­ture of the last scene, or the last episode. They just think of build­ing up on past episodes. And fi­nal­ly, the manga artist, and his as­sis­tants, and editor…[BURIES HEAD IN HANDS], they work out an idea about the last se­quence. If it’s a good idea, the whole episode is very good. If they can’t make a good idea, the whole episode is not so good. It’s an un­happy sto­ry.

And I think that’s what hap­pened with the last two episodes of EVANGELION. Mr. Anno and his staff could­n’t make a good idea for it. He told an anime mag­a­zine in Japan that he could­n’t make what he wanted be­cause of sched­ule or bud­get. But that’s not cor­rect. I talked with Mr. Ya­m­aga and Mr. An­no. They said, “It’s not only a prob­lem of sched­ule or bud­get. It’s a prob­lem of what the end­ing is go­ing to be.” Mr. Anno could­n’t de­cide. Mr. An­no’s and my own style of pro­duc­tion are very differ­ent.

  • Asuka: http­s://archive.­fo/i0dwC
  • Ken­suke/­Maya/Yui: http­s://archive.­fo/wuTrK
  • Mis­ato: http­s://archive.­fo/795tn
  • Rei: http­s://archive.­fo/vseq3
  • Kai­ji: http://qmisato.­tum­blr.­com/­post/88618003609/delv­ing-in­to-an-in-depth-analy­sis-of-ry­o­ji-kaji

Evangelion’s influence on RahXephon

  • Pa­per idea: “The anx­i­ety of in­flu­ence: RahX­ephon’s re­sponse to Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion” - . every artist makes his pre­de­ces­sors… Borges. RahX­ephon and Eva… (com­par­ison). Eva in­eluctably in­flu­enced RahX­ephon… RahX­ephon’s manga be­gun 2001, Evan­ge­lion’s TV 1995. mecha anime are remix­es… vari­a­tions. the plea­sure of watch­ing one is see­ing the vari­a­tion on the Truth, of try­ing to see each one get closer and closer to the heart of the mat­ter. “I’ve taken on a risk: ‘It’s just an im­i­ta­tion’. And for now I can only write this ex­pla­na­tion. But per­haps our ‘orig­i­nal’ lies some­where within there.” (Hideaki An­no, from his story treat­ment “What were we try­ing to make here?” writ­ten be­fore NGE be­gan be­ing pro­duced by Gainax, as recorded on page 171 of Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion Vol­ume 1, Yoshiyuki Sadamo­to, trans­lated by Fred Burke. Au­gust 2003. ISBN 1-56931-294-X). There is a deep re­la­tion here to Japan­ese po­et­ry, in which orig­i­nal­ity is not nec­es­sar­ily val­ued. every change in a mecha anime from its pre­de­ces­sors is a re­ply, an on­go­ing di­a­log back and forth. how do mecha change? where have they gone to? look for the RahX­ephon bibles. Evan­ge­lion used Greek in Evan­ge­lion… rahx-ephon - “-ephon” as a suffix for in­stru­ment. RahX­ephon’s cre­ators wanted to cre­ate some­thing new… track down ref­er­ences 2-5 of .

This mono­cul­tural view seems to have been in­ter­nalised and prop­a­gated by schol­ars who iden­tify as otaku them­selves, and as Lamarre notes, the works of lead­ing Japan­ese fig­ures like Okada Tosh­io, Mu­rakami Takashi and Anno Hideaki fuse per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences and re­search, writ­ing that “when they speak about otaku, they speak as otaku” (i­tal­ics my em­pha­sis) [La­marre 2009: 146]

Gen­shiken Nidaime re­view:

By this point, one knows what to ex­pect from a Gen­shiken and whether one likes it: the clu­b­room will be stuffed full of fig­urines and posters from real anime which the viewer can en­joy try­ing to iden­ti­fy; Ohno will be cos­play­ing all the time and try to get oth­ers to cos­play; Sasa­hara will be mild and help­ful; Kousaka will be pretty and not do any­thing; Ogiue will draw yaoi manga while look­ing like a paint brush; Madarame will be ca­dav­er­ously thin and live in his head (but be much more sub­dued and less of a de­light­ful eris­tic); Sue will be very blond and very blue-eyed as she oc­ca­sion­ally quotes some ani­me; and Kuchiki will be an ass­hole, who serves to re­mind us, as we rem­i­nisce about our anime club days, how there was al­ways that one guy who was ir­ri­tat­ing & ob­nox­ious; the club will at­tend sum­mer Comiket, buy­ing & sell­ing stuff; some­one will worry about grad­u­a­tion and go­ing into the real world (An­no: “I won­der if a per­son over the age of twenty who likes ro­bots is re­ally hap­py?”); etc.

…Episode 11 was the main high­light of the se­ries for me (e­spe­cially since I am older than when I first watched Gen­shiken sea­son 1 all the way back in 2006 or so): it fin­ished the Sak­i/­Madarame plot thread, the main out­stand­ing is­sue from the ‘first gen­er­a­tion’. Shut up to­gether in the clu­b­room, with fig­ures and posters of Ku­jibiki Un­bal­ance (and par­tic­u­larly the Sak­i-s­tand-in char­ac­ter) promi­nent in the back­ground, both fi­nally speak aloud what every­one knows: Madarame has a crush on Sa­ki. And Saki turns him down. As ex­pect­ed, as is re­al­is­tic. Their con­nec­tion is cut, un­fin­ished busi­ness re­solved. To their sur­prise, the re­lease of the ten­sion, even after be­ing re­jected & re­ject­ing, is far bet­ter than the re­jec­tion. Madarame sad­ly, wist­ful­ly, smiles one last time (and here I’m re­minded of An­no’s com­ment on Rei Ayanami: ‘At the end Rei says “I don’t know what to do,” and Shinji says, “I think you should smile,” and Rei smiles…After­wards, when I thought about it, I cursed. In short, if she and Shinji com­pletely “com­mu­ni­cated” there, then is­n’t she over with? At that mo­ment, Rei, for me, was fin­ished. When she smiled, she was al­ready fin­ished, this char­ac­ter.’) and com­ments “It re­ally was fun. It re­ally was… fun.” And we flash to an empty clu­b­room (from the ear­lier sea­sons, I think).

And with that, Madarame’s story is over. We can look back and see the whole arc, be­gin­ning to end; to quote Gene Wolfe’s crit­i­cal es­say :

The end­ing of the fi­nal vol­ume should leave the reader with the feel­ing that he has gone through the defin­ing cir­cum­stances of Main Char­ac­ter’s life. The lead­ing char­ac­ter in a se­ries can wan­der off into an­other book and a new ad­ven­ture bet­ter even than this one. Main Char­ac­ter can­not, at the end of your mul­ti­vol­ume work. (Or at least, it should seem so.) His life may con­tin­ue, and in most cases it will. He may or may not live hap­pily ever after. But the prob­lems he will face in the fu­ture will not be as im­por­tant to him or to us, nor the sum­mers as gold­en.

And even more with that, the world of the orig­i­nal Gen­shiken is gone. Each gen­er­a­tion is its own world, and the mem­bers be­gin sep­a­rat­ing. Saki and Kousaka are in­sep­a­ra­ble; Ohno & Tanaka are go­ing into cos­play busi­ness and mar­ry­ing; Sasa­hara & Ogiue are on the first rungs of the manga world; Kuchiki is (as we’re told re­peat­ed­ly) go­ing into fi­nance; Madarame’s des­tiny is not yet fixed but is away from the uni­ver­si­ty; like the orig­i­nal Pres­i­dent, they surely still ex­ist and will go on to other things, but the viewer has a defi­nite sense: they may (or may not) live hap­pily ever after, may or may not be­come fa­mous man­gaka or pow­er­ful ed­i­tors or pres­ti­gious busi­ness­men or wealthy bankers. But they will keep their mem­o­ries of the So­ci­ety for the Study of Vi­sual Cul­ture, and the sum­mer Comikets will never be as gold­en.

  1. ; ↩︎

  2. Ry­oji Ka­ji, 2015: The Last Year of Ry­oji Kaji(Every­thing2 copy); see also Horn’s “Eight Books of Evan­ge­lion”↩︎

  3. , by the , from ↩︎

  4. , pg 114, “Style, Grace, and In­for­ma­tion in Prim­i­tive Art”, Steps To­ward An Ecol­ogy of Mind↩︎

  5. http://www.ani­me­news­net­work.­com/news/2007-02-20/hideak­i-an­no-re­leas­es-s­tate­men­t-about-new-e­van­ge­lion-movies↩︎

  6. See also Every­thing2’s en­try or Book­slut’s de­scrip­tion.↩︎

  7. Chap­ter 2, The Melan­choly of Haruhi Suzu­miya (vol­ume 1)↩︎

  8. http://­fo­rum.e­vageek­­­p?p=258247#258247↩︎

  9. John­son refers to an ear­lier de­scrip­tion of al­lu­sions in The Simp­sons on pg 86:

    These lay­ered jokes often point be­yond the bounds of the se­ries it­self. Ac­cord­ing to one fan site that has ex­haus­tively chron­i­cled these mat­ters [The Simp­sons Archive], the av­er­age Simp­sons episode in­cludes around eight gags that ex­plic­itly re­fer to movies: a plot­line, a snip­pet of di­a­logue, a vi­sual pun on a fa­mous cin­e­matic se­quence (Se­in­feld fea­tured a num­ber of episodes that mir­rored movie plots, in­clud­ing Mid­night Cow­boy and JFK). The Hal­loween episodes have his­tor­i­cally been the most baroque in their cin­e­matic al­lu­sions, with the al­l-time champ be­ing an episode from the 1995 sea­son, in­te­grat­ing ma­te­r­ial from At­tack of the 50 Foot Woman, Godzilla, Ghost­busters, Night­mare on Elm Street, The Page­mas­ter, Max­i­mum Over­drive, The Ter­mi­na­tor and Ter­mi­na­tor 2, Alien III, Tron, Be­yond the Mind’s Eye, The Black Hole, Pol­ter­geist, Howard the Duck, and The Shin­ing. [See en­try ‘[3F04] Tree­house of Hor­ror VI’ in “Movie Ref­er­ences in The Simp­sons”]