*groans* i had a really complete reply ready to post here... and then my computer decided to restart.
well, i guess you're lucky, 'cause now this post will be much shorter than it originally was.
anyway, as a response to the initial question, i was going to say... yes, there have been many changes done to the characters. Shinji is the most obvious one, what with his new, shiny rebuild
!balls. also, they seem to have made him more of a "caretaker" in a sense, especially when it comes to Rei. it's not entirely out of the blue-- we could sort of see it in NGE, but since he was always all "you don't care about me so i won't care about you!" it never really went anywhere. interestingly enough, i feel like both of these changes come from the same place: people just aren't hurting him as much-- well, gendo did, but at least his relationships with Misato and Rei (and later Asuka) are nowhere near as messy as they were in NGE, and since they're not hurting him, he feels like he can let himself care about them. similarly, once he cares about them, he knows he has something to lose, hence the new backbone.
as for Asuka, she's clearly a lot less messed up than she was, and i for one like it. see, Asuka's always been my favorite character, mostly because i feel i can relate to her personality-- i have plenty tsundereish tendencies myself, so i could see myself reacting the same way she did in many situations. but then when i got to thinking about why
she became that way, wow, i just felt like such a poser.
it's like "okay, she's that way because her mother went crazy and killed herself right in front of her. so why are you
like that?" at points it was almost like you could just erase kyoko's memory from her head and, ta-da, Asuka would become a completely well-adjusted, sweet girl. fanfic writers certainly had a field day with that
idea-- i never liked that. i don't like insta-solutions; think EoE, she finds her mother in unit-02 and suddenly all's right with the world. NOT. that just never sat well with me.rebuild
!Asuka, on the other hand, seems like she doesn't have the kyoko backstory, but she's still arrogant, and proud, and puts up a front... because that's who she is
. she may have a completely different backstory, and she turned out much the same. so in a sense, that makes her a little more... relatable, i guess, to other people and to me personally. you may still have your issues, you may still be imperfect, and you may still have problems relating to other people, even if your moder didn't go and kill yourself in front of you.
so i really like both asukas: NGE!Asuka, because she taught me that my problems will never be near
as horrible as they could be, so i should be grateful for that. rebuild
!Asuka, because she gives me a closer image to relate to. and we still don't know if there's something bad in her backstory (it's certainly been hinted), so that also keeps us on our toes when it comes to her.
Rei genuinely surprised me. i never really liked her in NGE, i always felt she was a bit flat, and i really wanted her to want
to be normal, but she always seemed fine, or more like resigned to being who she was, or moreover what
she was. and she asked questions, and had meaningful interactions with other people, but later on it'd be like "oh... ok." i wanted her to want
to understand. i wanted her to take steps toward change. but she never really broke out of gendo's hold until way later into the series, when it became painfully clear that she was being used. what i like about Rei in rebuild
is that she seems to have this genuine curiosity about people and the way they interact. she wants to understand them, and she wants to be like them. she knows she can be replaced, but she seems to want to reach out, and actively steps away from just being... there. i don't know if i'm getting my point across, but it's that curiosity she has in rebuild that has surprisingly endeared me to her as a character.
as for Misato, i'm sad she didn't get as much airtime in 2.0
she seems to be taking on more of an older sister role, as opposed to the mess she had with Shinji in the original series. but then again, we haven't really heard much about her backstory save for a few moments here and there, so who knows. it's too early to tell if things will turn around.
i wish we could see more of the stooges and the class rep, but i guess with the time constraint they may not have seen much need for them. on the other hand, i love that we got to see more of super-spy!Kaji, because he's just awesome
and ironically enough, i'm liking kaworu a lot so far. i didn't care for him either way in NGE, but this time around, with his appearance from the beginning, he seems almost like he's teasing us on purpose, and i love that. he knows things, and he dangles that knowledge in our faces just for the lulz. i love it.
thing is, with all these changes, i don't think it's possible to say if they're "improvements" or not. i mean, they ARE improvements in the sense that mostly everybody seems better adjusted, but does that make them better than they were? i just think it's not comparable.
similarly, i don't think i can say whether the plot has "improved" or not. personally, i love the addition of mari-- it suggests that there's some other
faction involved in the conspiracy, which i find ver interesting. but other than that, it's hard to say whether this plot is better or not-- most likely it's impossible to say that, given how different things are. moreover, it's still early on in the series, and to be honest i'm still expecting anno to pull the rug from under us soon. so i think i'll reserve my judgment until all the movies are done.