Is Shinji evil?

Discussion of the new series of Evangelion movies ( "Evangelion Shin Gekijōban", meaning "Evangelion: New Theatrical Edition").
The third installment debuted in Japan on November 17, 2012.

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Postby pwhodges » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:18 am

View Original PostSgt. Griff wrote:he's told many a time that it'll end badly and goes through with it anyway.

He's told that acting against orders is irresponsible (e.g. Gaghiel, Leliel), but that's usually a matter of failure of the specific mission, or personal danger. In Ha what he is told is that he will even lose his humanity (Ritsuko saying he won't be able to come back), not that he will cause any other problems, but he chooses to accept the possibility of self-sacrifice to attempt his aim of saving Rei (as he previously did when refusing to fight against Bardiel in order not to harm the other pilot - so his motivation remains consistent).
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Postby BlueBasilisk » Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:48 pm

It's the "I don't even care what happens to the world" bit that throws Shinji's motivations into doubt. I don't think he meant it in the sense that it played out, but in it's really not the brightest thing he could have said in the heat of the moment.

In his defense, there's no way Shinji could have known Unit 01 was a walking catastrophe waiting to be unleashed. We know it is thanks to End of Eva, but in-universe even Ritsuko couldn't figure out what the heck it was doing until it lit up. I doubt anyone below Gendo even fathomed that it
could.

I don't know if it has enough intelligence or awareness to call it "evil," but Unit 01 is certainly a malignant presence. That goes for the (other) Adams as well. Without them N3I and 4I wouldn't have been possible.
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Postby Reichu » Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:54 pm

View Original PostBlueBasilisk wrote:In his defense, there's no way Shinji could have known Unit 01 was a walking catastrophe waiting to be unleashed.

I maintain that a lot of bells should have been ringing soon as the Eva mysteriously reactivated and Shinji suddenly had access to previously unheard of powers, like eye beams. If nothing else managed to stand out, core-diving for someone who's been eaten and digested (in other words, is DEAD) sure as hell should have. For what happened to have happened, Shinji must be (A) malignantly stupid, (B) batshit insane, and/or (C) the Eva's little meat marionette. Some combination of the three seems most likely to me.

This whole thread raises the question of whether "evil" is really something people are, or just an adjective we've invented to explain away the actions of people whose thought processes and motives we don't (want to) understand.
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Postby Bagheera » Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:58 pm

He was fighting for his life and acting in the heat of the moment, so I don't think any of those things are necessary.
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Postby pwhodges » Thu Sep 17, 2015 6:20 pm

View Original PostReichu wrote:For what happened to have happened, Shinji must be (A) malignantly stupid, (B) batshit insane, and/or (C) the Eva's little meat marionette.

Those are suggested reasons for Shinji to behave as he did; there must be more (that we don't know) to cause what happened as a result. But those possible reasons are all eclipsed by his simply being carried away by his feelings (as I spell out in more detail by having him explain exactly that in my fic, ch19).
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Postby unz » Thu Sep 17, 2015 6:28 pm

I agree about that line. Still while we could look at impacts as bas things kaworu kind of explains in Q this is what the world of evangelion boils down in creating new life. According to Rits unit01 was granting Shinji wish and that was it, we get two levels of reading of life and death in which Shinji and Rei have ethereal intercourse while unit01 and giant bloody Rei merge into a god who kills the old.
It's all wrapped up in godlike mechas of fire but what rist&co are actually afraid of is this subjectivity which blends son/sister/mother that is unknown to anyone in a cyberpunk world that is about having total control of things.
So Shinji aquires a feminine power of creation, grows back limbs of light and gives birth to giant Ayanami; I can't call any of that malign, after all he thought Asuka died and attacked nerv hq, he just couldn't lose Rei too.

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Postby NemZ » Thu Sep 17, 2015 6:41 pm

I personally suspect that he wasn't tapping into something in the eva, but rather something buried deep down was acting through him. My theory is that rebuild Shinji isn't actually human but rather a clone of Gendo with the soul of one of the Adams. All the pilots are... Shinji, Rei, Kaworu, and Asuka + Mari are two halves of a single whole.
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Postby Reichu » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:05 pm

View Original Postpwhodges wrote:Those are suggested reasons for Shinji to behave as he did; there must be more (that we don't know) to cause what happened as a result.

When I said "what happened", I wasn't referring specifically to the end result, just to Shinji's involvement in it.

But those possible reasons are all eclipsed by his simply being carried away by his feelings

Can you explain exactly what you mean by this, in-thread? (I'd be more open to checking out a fanfic if it was presented as an optional, not mandatory, means of gaining insight into someone's opinion.)

How does anyone with even a single toe touching the fabric of reality manage to engage all the way in what began with Eva-01's out-of-nowhere reactivation? Shinji did not previously come across as so unstable that he would so easily be absorbed into a world of, for lack of better terms, illusion and magic. The ability to question what's happening is utterly gone. How is he participating so actively and willingly in supernatural events and powers for which he (to our knowledge) has absolutely ZERO conception?

"The heat of the moment" is a pittance of an explanation, since it seems to assume that anything goes if someone is riled up enough. I think most people, even at their most riled up, would notice if they suddenly started firing laser beams from their eyes and making shit explode with a thought! Considering how clueless Shinji is in 3.0, it would appear that he either didn't notice or he conveniently forgot... The argument for Shinji's innocence in 2.0 seems to rest largely upon him being a criminally unobservant git, besides.

Shinji's behavior during the supernatural events of EoE was painfully human. He gets freaked out, to the point of insanity, by the inexplicable shit happening all around him. In 2.0, he's been reduced to a shounen stereotype who goes right the hell along with it. In Eva terms, this makes him some kind of unfathomable monstrosity posing as human. :-p
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Postby Bagheera » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:16 pm

That seems way OTT to me. I didn't find him unfathomable at all. I can see how his actions there might be characterized as a psychotic break or something, but at no point did his mindset and attitude appear inhuman to me. Childish, perhaps, but not inhuman.

The question of why he would even attempt core-diving remains compelling to me; I mean, why would it even occur to him to try that? As far as he knows, Rei was eaten alive and is dead now. So why would the possibility of getting her back even be on his radar? But I suppose that's a question for another thread.
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Postby Rei IV » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:19 pm

There's always strong sense of déjà vu when reading threads like these. Like, it's jus another iteration of the same question we've been asking ourselves since Ha an Q came out. Or rather, it's the same discussion that frequently pops up occasionally in regards to ENT Shinji.

The question of why he would even attempt core-diving remains compelling to me; I mean, why would it even occur to him to try that? As far as he knows, Rei was eaten alive and is dead now. So why would the possibility of getting her back even be on his radar? But I suppose that's a question for another thread.

Maybe Gendo gave him the memo/idea but that's pure fanwank on my part. Makes a lot more sense to me, at least.

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Postby NemZ » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:29 pm

He did what seemed right at the time using abilities he was too distracted to remember to forget he could do all along. That's not evil or unfathomable... he just got out of his own way.

You ever notice how typing is way harder and slower if you actually stop and think about where the keys are rather than just hitting them? Shinji's been 'hunting and pecking' all his life and suddenly he's too fired up by what he has to say to worry about how the eyebeam button even got on his keyboard in the first place or what hotkey combination was involved in pulling Rei out of Zeruel through mindspace or whatever the hell that was. Exactly the same way much of the audience will get too caught up in the awesomeness to think about it, at least on a first viewing.
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Postby Reichu » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:05 pm

I agree that it's a strong possibility that Shinji is himself an Eldritch abomination (though I'm not going to commit to a lot of the details at this point, nor as yet relent that Yui had absolutely nothing to do with Eva-01's awakening). If so, this makes these threads even more pointless than they already are, since it means that Shinji's true nature is not human in any knowable sense and hence not something anyone in the audience can hope to understand. Since he appears human and believes himself human, it's all too easy for much of the audience to project onto him and think they have the low-down on things, when, really, they're as clueless as he is...

Continuing to assume this speculation has merit: it's worth contemplating why the narrative would make such a dramatic change to Shinji. In NGE, he was a boy who was, save for his circumstances, completely ordinary. In ENT, we instead (may) have a humanoid abomination with innate apocalyptic potential, who is being extensively manipulated to fulfill a purpose that was decided before he was even born. This more or less would dispel claims that Shinji is pretty much the same guy between old and new Eva -- when the fundamental details are so wildly different, how is it remotely possible for them to be the same person in any meaningful way? One might consider ENT!Shinji a suspiciously similiar substitute, a mere doppelganger, and one function he consequently provides well is to lower fans' defenses and get them to open their hearts to the Meat-puppet of the Apocalypse, all while mistaking him for someone they thought they wanted.

What will the actual point of this be, in the end? What purpose does it serve this narrative to have Shinji (and, quite possibly, all of the pilots) be non-Lilin with implied artificial or engineered origins?

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Postby UrsusArctos » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:39 pm

I'm thinking of the book Rei was reading in 1.0, which suddenly makes a lot more sense if all the pilots are Eldritch Abominations. The fairy tale of the Happy Prince ends with both the Prince and the swallow being taken up to heaven, which probably suggests some kind of sacrifice on the part of Shinji and Rei, both of whom are nonhuman, in return for some kind of bliss. But who knows - it really could go anywhere.
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Postby Reichu » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:55 pm

View Original PostUrsusArctos wrote:The fairy tale of the Happy Prince ends with both the Prince and the swallow being taken up to heaven, which probably suggests some kind of sacrifice on the part of Shinji and Rei, both of whom are nonhuman, in return for some kind of bliss.

From what you've described, couldn't it be said that this already happened at the end of 2.0? (With Shinji getting kicked out of heaven in the next movie...)

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Postby unz » Fri Sep 18, 2015 12:36 am

View Original PostBagheera wrote:That seems way OTT to me. I didn't find him unfathomable at all. I can see how his actions there might be characterized as a psychotic break or something, but at no point did his mindset and attitude appear inhuman to me. Childish, perhaps, but not inhuman.

The question of why he would even attempt core-diving remains compelling to me; I mean, why would it even occur to him to try that? As far as he knows, Rei was eaten alive and is dead now. So why would the possibility of getting her back even be on his radar? But I suppose that's a question for another thread.


If you are talking about the "plug" "going in" that's a matter of sync.
If you are talking about eva01 smashing the angel core I remember him actually carving it out, kind of forgot.
Everytime I think about this the thought of after credits kaworu pops up to stab Shinji and save the day -"nope;D"- feels such bummer after so much build up.:[


The plug dive thing begs to question mari's skills and workings as asukas extention so unless she's her mother clone I'll never know how things work...but the clone thing sounds stupid, even long lost sister sounds as a better pick.
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Postby pwhodges » Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:54 am

View Original PostReichu wrote:Can you explain exactly what you mean by this, in-thread? (I'd be more open to checking out a fanfic if it was presented as an optional, not mandatory, means of gaining insight into someone's opinion.)

Fair enough; but the thing is it's not a simple rational explanation, which is the point. Shinji gives his account in an interrogation by Misato, who is trying to be hard-nosed about it; I don't know how well it will come across without the full context, but give it a go:
Scene 19, Ending the world (part of) -   SPOILER: Show
Misato spoke this time: "Leave it, Touji. Shinji: I will be asking you questions about what happened when you attacked the tenth angel. Are you clear which incident I mean?"

Shinji answered: "Yes; but Misato!..."

She continued, speaking over him. "You had returned to pilot Unit-01, even though you had been dismissed; for that we were grateful. You then trapped the angel on the elevator, and we fired you together back to the surface of the Geofront. After that you engaged the angel, and destroyed it. I'd like you to describe how you did that, and what happened next."

"Misato, you were there! You saw what I did! But what I want to know is..."

But Misato cut him off: "Shinji, just answer the question. Start with your arrival at the surface and describe what you did."

Shinji's face fell: "Mi..sa..to...?"

She didn't respond, but just sat there watching him and waiting.

After a few moments he started his account, speaking hesitantly and almost inaudibly: "I'd seen the angel swallow Unit-00 and Rei, so I was determined to kill the angel and rescue her. But it was very strong, and Unit-01 had lost an arm earlier. So I hadn't managed to destroy the angel when the Eva's power ran out. But I was still determined to rescue Rei, so I called out, and the Eva heard me and came back to life."

"What did you do to awaken the Eva like that?" asked Misato.

"I didn't do anything. I just called out that I wanted Rei back, and the Eva heard me and responded again. It even got its arm back somehow, and I was able to destroy the angel at last. It was horrible! - it looked as if it was pretending to be Rei!"

"And after the angel was destroyed, what did you do then?"

"I went into the angel's core to rescue Rei. Don't ask me how I did that, I just did it. At first I thought I was reaching in, then the whole of me followed, and I was in the core where Rei was. She said she had to stay there, but I knew I could rescue her! So I took her hand and drew her out. I was hugging her, and was so happy..." He paused, and tears appeared in his eyes.

"Please continue", said Misato. "What happened after that?"

"I,... after,.... the next thing I remember is,... waking up surrounded by your soldiers. Why, Misato? What happened to my life? What happened to Rei? Vice-Commander Fuyutsuki told me that she's still in Unit-01. Why didn't you get her out? And where is Unit-01 anyway?"

Misato ignored his question: "Think back to the point when you started to fight the angel. You called out 'I don't care what happens to me; I don't even care what happens to the world' - what did you mean by that?"

"What did I mean? What did I mean? I meant that I was going to concentrate on saving Rei - and to hell with sync ratios or anything else! Saving Rei meant killing the angel, and that would help save the world, right? But that was not why I was doing it; I was doing it to save Rei. What else might I have meant?"

"Were you aware of Unit-01 becoming awakened as you did this, and of the starting of Third Impact? In fact, was starting the impact your intention?"

Shinji bridled at this: "What are you talking about? I was in the Eva, and I did what I've just told you. Aren't you listening?"

But Misato persisted: "Were you aware of the Eva awakening?"

"What do you even mean by awakening?" Shinji replied, his voice rising as his frustration came out. "The Eva enabled me to kill the angel and rescue Rei, as I said."

"Please just answer the question." Misato said, "Were you aware..."

Shinji couldn't take any more. He jumped up and leant across the table, shouting in Misato's face: "I don't know anything! Nothing! NOTHING! Why do you keep asking? I've told you! I rescued Rei, and then I woke up with guns pointing at me! What has happened? I don't know why the world is like this! What's it got to do with me? What has caused it? Tell me! Why won't you tell me?" Touji was on his feet, ready to restrain him; but, his passion spent, Shinji collapsed back into his chair and whispered: "Why, Misato, why? Please tell me what's happened!"
Quite simply, he was not considering anything other than rescuing Rei - he was as far from rational at that moment as someone at the height of orgasm.
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Postby NemZ » Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:09 am

View Original PostReichu wrote:Shinji's true nature is not human in any knowable sense and hence not something anyone in the audience can hope to understand.


On the contrary, it means that he's someone the audience can understand despite his being faced with things we can't really experience ourselves, and if so how much easier should it be for us to have sympathy for other people in much more mundane situations around us? Doesn't seeing someone so meek overcome such daunting issues make whatever might be wrong in out own lives feel more manageable? It goes to that old 'the message of the narrative doesn't have to be identical to the message for the audience' argument I've long made about EoTV.

In NGE, he was a boy who was, save for his circumstances, completely ordinary. In ENT, we instead (may) have a humanoid abomination with innate apocalyptic potential, who is being extensively manipulated to fulfill a purpose that was decided before he was even born. This more or less would dispel claims that Shinji is pretty much the same guy between old and new Eva -- when the fundamental details are so wildly different, how is it remotely possible for them to be the same person in any meaningful way?


If the person he thinks he is or that he ultimately chooses to be is essentially the same person as before that's still probably close enough. Not that we shouldn't still keep the various continuities separate in discussion though, of course.

Essentially this means that Shinji can adopt Rei3's questions of identity and need to assert that identity as an active choice rather than something dictated and thereby consolidate a lot of the former ending's ambiguities into a single conclusion. that's important as 1) the new moves are clearly Shinji's story even more than the original was, and 2) Poka!Rei probably isn't coming back beyond perhaps a short goodbye sequence.

What will the actual point of this be, in the end? What purpose does it serve this narrative to have Shinji (and, quite possibly, all of the pilots) be non-Lilin with implied artificial or engineered origins?


Probably the same things it's always been about, but with the characters more directly responsible for the final outcome rather than feeling like pawns in a bigger game with rules that are never explained. Besides, who says the Adams aren't (or at least didn't start out as) human too? We don't know for sure if the FAR even exist in this version.
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Postby pwhodges » Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:37 am

View Original PostReichu wrote:I agree that it's a strong possibility that Shinji is himself an Eldritch abomination. [...] If so, this makes these threads even more pointless than they already are, since it means that Shinji's true nature is not human in any knowable sense and hence not something anyone in the audience can hope to understand.

But that would destroy the apparent reason for Eva's existence... Only by Shinji being human can there be any hope of the audience learning a useful lesson from watching his experiences.
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Postby unz » Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:56 am

" he was as far from rational at that moment as someone at the height of orgasm."

"UURRRRGH Rei take my hand! Come! UURRRRGGGGH" *hug*

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Postby Bagheera » Fri Sep 18, 2015 5:04 am

View Original PostReichu wrote:What will the actual point of this be, in the end? What purpose does it serve this narrative to have Shinji (and, quite possibly, all of the pilots) be non-Lilin with implied artificial or engineered origins?


There is none, which is why it's a non-starter -- Anno has more class than that.
For my post-3I fic, go here.
The law doesn't protect people. People protect the law. -- Akane Tsunemori, Psycho-Pass
People's deaths are to be mourned. The ability to save people should be celebrated. Life itself should be exalted. -- Volken Macmani, Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra
I hate myself. But maybe I can learn to love myself. Maybe it's okay for me to be here! That's right! I'm me, nothing more, nothing less! I'm me. I want to be me! I want to be here! And it's okay for me to be here! -- Shinji Ikari, Neon Genesis Evangelion
Yes, I know. You thought it would be something about Asuka. You're such idiots.


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