Alternate Reality in Episode 26

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Alternate Reality in Episode 26

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Postby Kenshin Sephiroth » Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:49 pm

Reading Hiroki Azuma's so far excellent critique of otaku and postmodernism, Otaku: Japan's Database Animals, I stumbled upon a page adressing the production of Evangelion and the subsequent craze it instigated in anime fandom. So far I'd found Azuma's approach to Evangelion rather simplistic and somewhat condescending (he argues that Gainax had predicted its eventual popularity, and aired the series as an "entrance" into an "aggregate of [moe-related] information without narrative" (p. 38); but nevertheless, a scholarly analysis of Eva, however terse and imprecise, is better than no analysis IMO, and it was all appreciated by my critical, purple eyes. Then came the following assertion (still p. 38):

In contrast to the Gundam director Tomino, Anno Hideaki (the director of Evangelion) anticipated the appearance of derivative works in the Comic Market from the beginning, setting up various gimmicks within the originals to promote those products. For instance, a scene from a parallel Evangelion world is inserted in the final episode of the television series. In that parallel world with a completely different history, an Ayanami Rei dwells with a completely different personality. But in fact the scene depicted there was already a parody of an image that had been widely circulated as a derivative work at the time of the original broadcast. That is to say, an extremely warped relation is interwoven into this work, where the original simulates in advance the simulacra.


This befuddles me. Are we to believe that Anno took some fan-made image and used it as a basis for a key scene portraying Shinji's struggle with Instrumentality in the latter part of the final episode? I know Anno and his team suffered psychological turbulence throughout the production of the series finale, but surely they could not have gone THIS bonkers? What is also really peculiar is that this sequence inspired the Girlfriend of Steel 2 spinoffs, making the game and manga spinoffs of a spinoff OFF A SPINOFF! Now that's postmodernism!

Although Azuma does a good job throughout his book of documenting his sources with footnotes, the lack of any evidence to warrant the claim that Anno used dōjinshi material (what is that, tier 6?) to conclude his oeuvre makes me wince. I wonder if any fellow Eva geek here has ever even heard of this assertion before, or is in the position to provide additional information to support or disprove it.
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Postby AuraTwilight » Fri Aug 12, 2011 3:07 pm

Whenever you ask yourself, "Is Anno really this bonkers?" The answer is always "He's atleast twice as bonkers as that."
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Postby gatotsu911 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 3:10 pm

Never, ever heard of this, though perhaps I wouldn't be the best person to ask to begin with. It wouldn't totally surprise me, although I think my interpretation of why it might be this way would be a whole hell of a lot less cynical than this Azuma fellow's. Then again, it seems to me like just about any view would be less cynical than Azuma's interpretation of the series.
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Postby 1731298478 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 3:48 pm

I don't know what work Azuma is referring to, but I'll just add Azuma's further gloss on Ep. 26 from the translated article on the same subject in Mechademia 2. The analysis here seems to differ slightly from the one given in the longer book.

Hiroki Azuma wrote:Not surprisingly, Neon Genesis Evangelion, which appeared in 1995, proves important. As with Aum Shinrikyō, this work also had dual implications, straddling the Era of Fiction and the Era of Animals. This anime is a work that initially aspired to grand narrative in a very straightforward way. As the title suggests, it is an evangelical narrative of human salvation. In any event, this grand narrative broke down spectacularly in the last episode of the TV series. Moreover, what appeared at the moment of its breakdown was the world of secondary or fan production. Specifically, what appeared in the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth episodes of the TV series Evangelion was the world of secondary production as already in circulation through the Comiket (comic market) and personal computer communications. In other words, its creators made a parody of the parody in advance. And, in their rather wonderful way, they pieced together an autocritique of their impasse.

In other words, in his effort to see this grand narrative through to the end, its director Anno Hideaki ultimately could not help but criticize the character industry, in order to preserve his status as author, as a matter of self-defense. Anno flirted with the impossible task of constructing a grand narrative in the 1990s, but in the end it proved impossible, and all that remained was Ayanami Rei as a moe kyara, that is, as an affective figure. In this respect, I think that the scene in the twenty-sixth episode of Evangelion in which Ayanami Rei appears running with bread in her mouth marks a turning point in otaku culture, the moment when the Era of Fictions became the Era of Animals, when the Era of Fictional Histories gave way to the Era of Affective Response to Characters (kyara moe). This is why Evangelion remains such an important work.

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Postby Kenshin Sephiroth » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:03 pm

Hiroki Azuma wrote:Anno flirted with the impossible task of constructing a grand narrative in the 1990s, but in the end it proved impossible, and all that remained was Ayanami Rei as a moe kyara, that is, as an affective figure. In this respect, I think that the scene in the twenty-sixth episode of Evangelion in which Ayanami Rei appears running with bread in her mouth marks a turning point in otaku culture, the moment when the Era of Fictions became the Era of Animals, when the Era of Fictional Histories gave way to the Era of Affective Response to Characters (kyara moe). This is why Evangelion remains such an important work.

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Postby Deepak » Sat Aug 20, 2011 5:50 pm

I can see why people would say that. the eva franchise has made a lot of money based on that small scene. Girlfriend of Steel 2 the game and Angelic Days the manga are solely based on that scene.

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Postby C.A.P. » Sat Aug 20, 2011 8:18 pm

So let me get straight...Anno was trying to make a simple grandiose series, and in order for that to be accomplished, the last two episodes were not only based on fan material, but it was a parody of a parody...of the character of Rei. Not only that, but Evangelion is responsible for the moe business that plagues the fanbase, and it's important because one era ended becuase of one scene in episode 26. Also, we should note that he payed attention to the comic market, and decided to parody it to preserve his status as an author in the industry, because he failed to keep his grandiose show simple.

...I don't get it. Does he has sources/footnotes for any of that (not that I'm denouncing him--the man knows what he's talking about)?
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Postby NemZ » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:25 am

I think it's more likely that Moe is the result of Eva tramautizing a generation of viewers who completely failed to understand the implications of the series' message and thus retreated even deeper into otakudom. The plot so completely broke their minds with a truth they weren't willing to accept that all they could say in response is "what the world really needs are endless derivative variations of Asuka and Rei doing cute things without all that emotional trauma making viewers uncomfortable."
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Postby MugwumpHasNoLiver » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:42 am

NemZ, my body is yours. Do with it what you wish.

While a lot of interesting assertions are being raised in this thread, I still think the infamous scene in episode 26 was a vicious mockery of a vapid style of anime that Anno loathed. It only became decent spin-off material later because Eva became a whore franchise, and that bit could be played bereft of irony for profit.

I eagerly anticipate seeing what all of you can dig up.
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Postby AuraTwilight » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:36 pm

View Original PostNemZ wrote:I think it's more likely that Moe is the result of Eva tramautizing a generation of viewers who completely failed to understand the implications of the series' message and thus retreated even deeper into otakudom. The plot so completely broke their minds with a truth they weren't willing to accept that all they could say in response is "what the world really needs are endless derivative variations of Asuka and Rei doing cute things without all that emotional trauma making viewers uncomfortable."


I want to sig this.
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Postby Deepak » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:55 pm

what happened to the good old argument "it showed shinji he could run away from his former life and create one without trauma"?

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Postby chaosakita » Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:10 pm

Do they have this sort of English lit-crit stuff in Japan too? Geez...
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Postby 1731298478 » Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:20 pm

View Original PostNemZ wrote:I think it's more likely that Moe is the result of Eva tramautizing a generation of viewers who completely failed to understand the implications of the series' message and thus retreated even deeper into otakudom. The plot so completely broke their minds with a truth they weren't willing to accept that all they could say in response is "what the world really needs are endless derivative variations of Asuka and Rei doing cute things without all that emotional trauma making viewers uncomfortable."

Certainly something resembling this happened. When Toshio Okada talks about the death of otaku, he means that the moe otaku generation are not really otaku. Eva stands at the point where the old otaku generation turns into the moe one. The book in question tries to develop the meaning of this transition.

There is a good discussion on this in an roundtable including Toshio Okada and Kaichiro Morikawa published in Takashi Murakami's "Little Boy." A partial version of it is online here. I think these are the most important parts from the remaining sections of the roundtable:

Takashi Murakami: I have to confess, I don't fully understand the moe sensibility.

Toshio Okada: The moe generation is mostly made up of otaku thirty-five or younger. I myself belong to the previous otaku generation, so frankly I don't understand moe.


Okada comments on Morikawa's moe-oriented definition of otaku as those who love what is dame for the sake of its being dame:

Toshio Okada: Otaku are bashful. They are intelligent but so bashful that they're more comfortable with children's anime than regular movies. They can shed their reserve if a serious idea is filtered through a "Made for Children" label ... At any rate, I have never seen an orientation towards the unacceptable among otaku. ... Well, then, do you mean from the mid- to late 1970s, things got progressively more unacceptable from Yamato to Gundam, and then Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind? I don't think so. An inclination for dame appears to exist because otaku have shifted to bishojo these past few years. Within this limited context, you may have a point, but veteran otaku have to disagree.

Kaichiro Morikawa: Generally speaking, I see a downward spiral. Aum Shinrikyo was influenced by Genma Wars. In the 1980s, otaku dreamt of Armageddon; they fantasized about employing supernatural powers to create a new world after the end of the world. But Aum's subway attack in 1995 thoroughly shattered the post-apocalyptic otaku dream of creating a new world in which they would become heroes. After their apocalyptic fantasies collapsed, they steadily shifted to moe. Before their Armageddon obsession, there was science fiction, which provided otaku with an alternative to the actual future. In the broadest terms, moe has replaced 'future.'


Kaichiro Morikawa: As I said before, the 1980s-era fascination with the apocalyptic was shattered by Aum. I think moe emerged as an alternative, to fill the void.

Toshio Okada: I see. To me, Eva was all about "Since I can't do anything about changing the world, I will do something about myself." Don't you think "robot anime" is all about "trying to change the world"? Morikawa-san, you talked about the apocalyptic. One step before that is "social reform" (yo-naoshi). One of the key concepts for understanding otaku is "a child's sense of justice." The reason grown-ups are enthusiastic about Kamen Rider and the "warrior team" genre (sentai mono) is because that basic sense of justice, which we abandoned in society a long time ago, is still meaningful in the world of these TV shows. Of course, there's also the terrific monster designs and pan-chira [the fleeting display of girls' panties], but that's not enough to keep the boys interested. That basic sense of justice worked until Eva. But with Eva, it became clear that no one could save the world. And Eva complicated the whole thing, raising issues such as "Maybe I should at least save myself" and "What's wrong with me, thinking only about saving myself?" Eva marked a turning point. Whatever we discuss today, we cannot avoid Eva.


Well, if one accepts this line of argumentation, the message "go back to reality," which was increasingly introduced into Eva following the Aum attacks, contains the deeper message "you can't change the world." What Anno didn't say was, "the world is good as it is, so please accept it." Rather he said, "We can't do anything but accept the world. Let's tear apart all our dreams." This message carried great authority because Eva was itself to begin with the culmination of all the work of the previous generation.

In this sense, I think the moe generation understood the implications of Evangelion correctly. I don't think moe anime could give rise to something like Aum. At the level of the deeper message, it is a perfectly valid response.

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Postby C.A.P. » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:03 pm

...there's GENERATIONS of otaku?
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Postby CJD » Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:11 pm

View Original PostC.A.P. wrote:...there's GENERATIONS of otaku?


There's generations of "Geeks" in America. We have the comic book geeks of the 50's, the Star Wars Geeks of the 70's, and the video game geeks of the 80's and 90's, and no doubt 5-10 years from now we'll be able to decide what the definitive "Geek" of the 00's were (I'm betting it will be either Anime Geeks or MMO Geeks).

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Postby NemZ » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:55 am

In the broadest terms, moe has replaced 'future.'


That's got to be one of the most depressing statements I've ever read.

What Anno didn't say was, "the world is good as it is, so please accept it." Rather he said, "We can't do anything but accept the world. Let's tear apart all our dreams." This message carried great authority because Eva was itself to begin with the culmination of all the work of the previous generation.


Tthat's a really odd message to take from eva when both endings show us that Shinji really could change the world... they just don't agree on how that change is going to turn out.
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Postby Deepak » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:29 am

View Original PostCJD wrote:There's generations of "Geeks" in America. We have the comic book geeks of the 50's, the Star Wars Geeks of the 70's, and the video game geeks of the 80's and 90's, and no doubt 5-10 years from now we'll be able to decide what the definitive "Geek" of the 00's were (I'm betting it will be either Anime Geeks or MMO Geeks).


I'm already all that geek so I can handle a little anno moe.

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Postby symbv » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:38 am

Someone invited me to provide my own perspective as an anime veteran (and one who actually watched Evangelion in real time - gasp :o )

View Original PostC.A.P. wrote:...there's GENERATIONS of otaku?


There are generations of otaku -- as anime evolved and style of story, art, animation and character design changed to fit the dominant taste of different generations of otakus. But I always consider dividing otakus into generations can be crude and contrived -- the overlapping between the so-called otaku "generations" could be a lot more blurred than, say, the divisions of rock music fans from 1960s to 2010s into generations. For one I do not really agree with the naming and division of those otaku "ages" by Azuma...

View Original PostNemZ wrote:I think it's more likely that Moe is the result of Eva tramautizing a generation of viewers who completely failed to understand the implications of the series' message and thus retreated even deeper into otakudom. The plot so completely broke their minds with a truth they weren't willing to accept that all they could say in response is "what the world really needs are endless derivative variations of Asuka and Rei doing cute things without all that emotional trauma making viewers uncomfortable."


While there may be some truth in it, Anno himself is also a flawed messenger -- otakus knew he gave that message in a stage where his life was very much in turmoil and they also knew that Anno was himself very deeply buried in otaku-dom and deep in his heart he wanted people to love his anime and spent time (and money) on it, and nobody thought that Anno himself would be able to abandon his otaku self unless he really got mad or something. I would say that a lot of otaku were indeed traumatized (myself included) but many also saw through Anno. At the end they just went on enjoying anime as they have always done -- there is no lack of new attractions coming year in year out.

As for derivative variations of Rei and Asuka, it is debatable how much of tsundere and cool-dere archetypes were sourced from Asuka and Rei alone. A lot of "traits" of tsundere in the current tsundere database are not there in Asuka for example. Besides, moe is not just about tsundere/cool-dere doing cute things. Nice girls doing cute things slice-of-life style is also moe -- the alternative reality in EoTV is one of the earlier examples but it is not like that kind of story (bread in mouth running for school etc) first came up in EoTV. It is just that the stellar fame of Eva made that episode a memorable one in anime/manga history.

View Original Post1731298478 wrote:Certainly something resembling this happened. When Toshio Okada talks about the death of otaku, he means that the moe otaku generation are not really otaku. Eva stands at the point where the old otaku generation turns into the moe one. The book in question tries to develop the meaning of this transition.


One thing I could not agree with some of these "old-timer otaku" is how they think of themselves as "true otaku" and look down on the younger generation of anime fans as "not really otaku". I have read some of their discussions and apparently they are nostalgic of the "good old days" when otaku were content to drill deep into the intricate details of say mecha design by himself and apparently did not ogle so much over cute girls. They prefer the old days before internet could link up the otaku and allowed unbridled communication among otaku and let them organize and go out to flaunt their otaku-ness in the open (apparently they believe otaku should just stay at their room and "study" anime on their own, only occasionally come together in some serious gatherings of "otaku workshop"). I think that kind of attitude is more about generation gap than real deterioration of otaku quality -- something akin to 60s rock fans lamenting the quality of rock fans nowadays that they do not take their music "seriously" enough.

When I took my leave from anime/manga scene after EoE in 1998 I had never heard of the word Moe and the first major work that was credited with starting the trend of moe manga/anime, Azumanga Daioh, started the manga serialization in 1999 and the anime came out in 2002. By then the word Moe was gaining popularity. The archetypal event of the Moe era, the Saimoe tournament, started from 2002. From timing point of view, Eva did put a relevant milestone just before all these happened, so I agree that "Eva stands at the point where the old otaku generation turns into the moe one".

View Original Post1731298478 wrote:Takashi Murakami: I have to confess, I don't fully understand the moe sensibility.

Toshio Okada: The moe generation is mostly made up of otaku thirty-five or younger. I myself belong to the previous otaku generation, so frankly I don't understand moe.


Perhaps I should count myself lucky because even though I am not from the demography of the "moe generation" described above, I really enjoy the new trend of moe anime very much -- in fact I now watch more anime than before. :p

View Original Post1731298478 wrote:Okada comments on Morikawa's moe-oriented definition of otaku as those who love what is dame for the sake of its being dame:
*snip*
Kaichiro Morikawa: As I said before, the 1980s-era fascination with the apocalyptic was shattered by Aum. I think moe emerged as an alternative, to fill the void.


Might as well add the fact that the bubble burst so completely and traumatically that it totally altered the pop trend of the 1980s, from music and popular literature to tv drama, manga and anime. But I am not sure whether the popularity of the apocalyptic is ever gone -- the apocalyptic still features very much from Eva to later "sekai mono" in moe age like Saikano to the recent big hit Madoka.

The moe-oriented definition of otaku as those who love what is dame for the sake of its being dame is interesting -- there is some truth in it although I would say not all moe traits are "dame" traits (is "class representative" moe or "twin tail" moe really loving what is "dame"?)

View Original Post1731298478 wrote:In this sense, I think the moe generation understood the implications of Evangelion correctly. I don't think moe anime could give rise to something like Aum. At the level of the deeper message, it is a perfectly valid response.


I think I can agree to this.
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Re: Alternate Reality in Episode 26

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Postby Xard » Mon Aug 22, 2011 10:53 am

View Original PostKenshin Sephiroth wrote:Although Azuma does a good job throughout his book of documenting his sources with footnotes, the lack of any evidence to warrant the claim that Anno used dōjinshi material (what is that, tier 6?) to conclude his oeuvre makes me wince. I wonder if any fellow Eva geek here has ever even heard of this assertion before, or is in the position to provide additional information to support or disprove it.


This is the difference between your old school creators and the creators of otaku generation.

Miyazaki, Tomino, Dezaki and their ilk had little to do with otaku culture in itself. Comiket, doujinshi scene etc. was not something they were conscious of while creating.

GAINAX though? Anno et al are/were neck deep in otaku culture and doujinshi scene. Anno was editor on various doujinshis sold at Comiket in early 90s and you can BET tons of scenes of Eva were put in there exactly to tiltillate the audience


Alt. reality segment being based on some fan doujinshi is also highly plausible because Anno and others at GAINAX did read doujinshi based on their work. And it does feel like fanfiction, which is the point (Anno is criticizing this sort of comfortable fantasy world in that scene so wouldn't using actual doujinshi as basis be brilliant move?)

For example one way they measured popularity of Gunbuster back in the day was, in addition to sales, to figure out how much doujinshi it had inspired.

I don't see why they'd cut their habits down when making Eva. And they didn't, I remember Number-kun translated some Anno interview a while ago where he was discussing one Eva doujinshi with its author (saying he could never depict Asuka's issues as a girl with mestruation as well as she did IIRC)


As for sources, Azuma has very high regard of Evangelion and has interviewed Anno on few occasions. I wouldn't be surprised if the source for this claim came from discussion with Anno himself.

Over time, the focus of otaku taste shifted from science fiction to anime to eroge15 [erotic games], as young boys who once embraced the bright future promised by science saw this future gradually eroded by the increasingly grim reality around them. I think they needed an alternative.


brilliant :lol:
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Postby AuraTwilight » Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:53 pm

In the broadest terms, moe has replaced 'future.'


*slits wrists*
J_Faulkner, be warned that some of your statements could be construed as ad hominem attacks. -- Priceless, eternal irony

Anno has perfected the side boob --Gendo'sPapa


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