Friday, December 10, 2010
Review: Neon Genesis Evangelion-Part 4-episodes 16 thru 20
It happened a year ago, but it haunts me still. The day when I completely lost it over something impossibly minor, for just a moment. Things like this seem to happen in sets, so it happened again, until I could not look at myself the same way. Eventually it was forgotten, but I didn't forget. Then I found Evangelion.
In the beginning, it was like a refuge. The pilots (even Rei) were at times almost disturbingly real; they were like my friends in real life. I watched as they got braver and braver, coming out of their shells, just as I wanted to. My synch rate with Eva grew, I guess. Maybe to 400% (heh heh). To me, their adventures were as real as reality. And then it was just that. Real.
In episode 16, Shinji, like I, lost control, just for a moment. Before this, he was happy. Proud of his Synch Rate. Behaving brashly in battle. Then he lost control. Nerv watches in horror as Shinji/Eva tears the angel to shreds, as the world of Evangelion darkens for the first for the first time. Then begins the horror.
The fourth child appears on the scene, and his Eva goes out of control, possessed by an Angel. Shinji refuses to fight the eva/angel due to the child his age within, and allows the angel to beat him near death. Gendo does not like this, however, and deploys the dummy plug. Shinji sits there inside the giant that he was moments ago controlling as it beats a friend to death.This is not a scene showing how Gendo is jerk. This is a powerful metaphor of the fear and self-torture that I went through myself. Shinji does not learn who the fourth child is until after the fight, and the fourth child does not die. While some may consider this a cop-out, I personally found this aspect of the story a very brave decision on Anno and Studio GAINAX's part, despite some clunkiness in the story this leads to. It's easy to get shock value from an OMG I KILLED MY FRIEND plot, and indeed, the manga version does just that to a resounding effect, but is inaccurate to the reality of human emotion. The Absolute Terror, as it were, of moments like these, is the moment directly afterwards, not only the what have I done, but the realization of the impact the event has. No-one will forget. You can never run away. But of course you try.
This of course leads to episode 19, "Introjection/A Man's Battle", beginning directly after the previous episode's events, with Shinji attempting to destroy Nerv. This fails. Shinji is dishonorably discharged from Nerv personnel, a fate that Shinji happily accepts. However, the new angel shows up and of course Nerv fails to defeat it, and interestingly, the Eva does not work without Shinji. After a brief encounter with Kaji (who, I may add, is the one sane character on the show), Shinji bravely returns to combat. Then it happens again. I won't say how or why, but what happens next completely destroys Shinji. He goes completely insular, quite literally so in episode 20, losing himself and others in a wave of paranoia and fear. I know that wave. Perhaps it was not that extreme, but I felt as if what was happening to Shinji was what happened to me. This recognition of depression helped me get over my own brief depression, and I'm sure it helped Director Hideaki Anno get over the depression that he, quite famously, went though over the course of the series. This is the beginning of the grandest moment of the series, and not even the hero's lowest point. Am I the only one who gets this?