Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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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Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby LightDragonman » Sun Oct 16, 2016 2:05 am

I posted this in Reddit, but I'd like to know what you guys think.

This is just something that I've seen swirling around several message boards and the like. Basically, they theorize that the reason Rei was portrayed as she is in Rebuild 3.0 is because Anno, because he apparently hates both Rei and her popularity, decided to try and undermine all that. Hence why Rei Q has basically nothing in common with the Rei Shinji and the audience grew attached to, why the original Rei is essentially removed from the story, and why Kaworu and Asuka were prioritized over her; because Anno wants viewers to like the characters "he" likes, and dislike the characters "he" dislikes. Not to mention basically giving a humongous "f*** you" to all of Rei's fanbase, since he hates the character and doesn't want her popularity to remain, since that's not how he intended people to react to her.

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Re: Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby Sachi » Sun Oct 16, 2016 2:17 am

I think another way to look at is was that NGE!Rei was widely misinterpreted and adored by audiences, and people missed the point that she's supposed to have a creepy uncanny valley thing going. Rebuild I think does a better job at this by first setting up a moe!Rei and then tearing it apart completely with Rei Q, emphasizing her creepiness even further.
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Re: Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby LightDragonman » Sun Oct 16, 2016 2:24 am

I don't know. For me, I liked Rei because she was a very tragic and sympathetic character, and her supposed creepy traits only made her all the more tragic to me. As a result, I really enjoyed seeing her character develop in the first two Rebuild films. Then Anno drops a bridge on all that and replaces her with a soulless shell just to get people to dislike her.

Really, Anno just seems to absolutely hate Rei and her fanbase all because the latter don't view her the same way he does, so he's gonna try to force people to feel the same as him. Meanwhile, Asuka and Kaworu get off scot-free.

Talk about showing contempt for your audience.
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Re: Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby Sachi » Sun Oct 16, 2016 3:39 am

Well, look at everything Rei represents (for the bulk of the series anyways). She's a submissive fantasy, with some oedipal implications to boot. We already know how NGE portrays escapism and the otaku-ism that Anno is critical of, and Rei kind of perfectly embodies all of that. Rebuild pushes that same bill much further, with much more focus, especially since the franchise has had a long history of interaction with its audience by that point. Rei in 2.22 plays to waifu-fantasies by cooking for Shinji and acting a bit moe (keep in mind that Rei never does anything for herself the entire movie), and then Rei Q exposes her as having been a creepy mommy-clone with no self-identity the entire time, simply taking orders.

To answer the OP question though, I do not think Anno is seeking to undermine Rei. Rei Q has shown great potential for becoming her own, unique character with a future of options and choices. While at first, she seemed to be even more creepy and escapist than Rei II, she is actually going to subvert the "submissive fantasy" by NOT being the same Rei and by forming an identity of her own where she does make choices for herself. She has the most potential of all the Reis, and is therefore the best Rei.
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Re: Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby LightDragonman » Sun Oct 16, 2016 6:03 am

Again, I don't know. I really enjoyed watching the relationship between Shinji and Rei in the second film, as I saw it as less of a "waifu-fantasy" and more of a simple budding connection between two similar individuals in a dark time, and I also saw the latter as becoming more than just an unfeeling clone due to it. If all Anno can see from it as an "escapist fantasy", then that is incredibly disappointing to me, as he basically dropped a perfectly good connection all for the sake of forcing a theme down the viewers' throats.
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Re: Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby BlueBasilisk » Sun Oct 16, 2016 8:07 am

If Anno is undermining anything, I think it's the submissive waifu fantasy that Sachi was talking about and possibly the idea of the self-insert power fantasy as an extension but not Rei herself.

Sachi wrote: Rei in 2.22 plays to waifu-fantasies by cooking for Shinji and acting a bit moe (keep in mind that Rei never does anything for herself the entire movie), and then Rei Q exposes her as having been a creepy mommy-clone with no self-identity the entire time, simply taking orders.


I think this makes Rei II a more tragic character. On the one hand, as far as she knows, she came up with the dinner party idea because she wanted Gendo and Shinji to bond with each other, which seems like positive development for her because she's taking the initiative on something. On the other, her big character moment is for the sake of the two men in her life as opposed to herself, and we the audience know that Gendo is carefully orchestrating this relationship for his own ends so it might not be her own agency at all. It makes for an interesting contrast with Shinji who is quite selfish.

The connection between Rei and Shinji is kind of cute when taken on its own, but there is a lot of stuff in the greater scope that has to be considered too. Rei being: recreation of his mother (which has always been true), the second in a series of identical clones, and a smaller aspect of a vastly ancient being. When confronted with the whole reality of what Rei is, Shinji balks and pushes her away. I've seen it argued by some of the more ardent Rei fans that revealing her to be a clone/reproduction of Yui in 3.0 somehow reduces her as a character, when that is what she has always been. Naoko immediately picked up on the similarity between them. And I think getting upset about that is rejecting the uncomfortable reality of Rei for the fantasy of her.

Rei Q is her own person independent of her...sister(?), and I think the audience reaction to her was exactly what Anno intended and is mirrored in Shinji's own reaction to her. He gets increasingly angry and put-out with her when she doesn't fit into the mold of Rei II as he expected her to, up to the point that he starts calling her "that other pilot" and a fake. Rei Q does follow orders like a good little automaton, but that's how everyone at Nerv treats her, as a disposable tool and not a person. Asuka confronts her as a person and tells her to make her own choices, which leads to her saving her own life for the first time.

So no, I don't think Anno hates Rei or anything of the sort. If you haven't, read his CRC interviews some time. He shows no contempt for Rei at all and compares her to Shinji as existing as a matter of course in his mind. I think what he is doing is pulling away the poka poka and making the audience confront the difficult and unpleasant truth of Rei's reality by saying it very bluntly in a way that can't be ignored. At the same time, I believe he's using Rei Q to remind us that whatever else the Reis might be, they are still people with feelings, and I think people get so offended by the former that they ignore the latter.
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Re: Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby Gendo'sPapa » Sun Oct 16, 2016 3:45 pm

No. Anno is just telling the story he needs to tell. I'm certain Rei Q will adopt more human qualities in Final - her journey has already started by the second half of 3.0 - & if Shinji steps foot in Unit 01 - practically a given - I'm positive he'll come face to face with the old Rei Ayanami.

But Rei Q is an intentional decision to heighten the disturbing aspect of her character. Her strange inhuman submissiveness that a lot of fans did launch onto. In NGE when Shinji visits Rei at her apartment & falls on top of her, hand on her naked breast & everything, the filmmaking of that scene highlights that we should find her non-reaction awkward, inhuman & just plain disturbing. Sadly, a lot of people didn't respond to that as such. The response was "Hot. She's DTF".

My thesis:
3.0 doesn't undermine Rei. Nor does it undermine Asuka. What 3.0 wonderfully does is it purposefully gives ALL the female characters a sense of personal agency. In 2.0, Asuka & Rei's stories essentially circle around Shinji. He is their sun. Their everything. Rei's entire awakening to her humanity is exclusively due to her growing feelings for Shinji. Asuka's softening & attempts to finally come out of her self-imposed shell are due to her growing feelings for Shinji. Both girls end up performing large sacrifices for Shinji - Asuka pilots Unit 03 so Shinji can go to a dinner, Rei faces the Angel & blows herself up because even if Shinji won't pilot she'll make that decision okay. Hell, 2.0 even purposefully changes the infamous ELEVATOR SCENE so it's not about Asuka's personal feelings of inadequacy due to being upstaged by her peers at what she felt was her identity - piloting Eva - & is instead turned into a scene about Asuka coming to terms with the idea that Rei loves Shinji more. 2.0 PANDERS to the male nerd fantasy where the women in their lives basically exist to want, think about, & cherish the men in their lives. While I don't think it's a qualifier for true success I don't even think Eva 2.0 passes the Bechdel Test. Until the plot starts destroying the world in the third act, 2.0 is the Evangelion for all the people who make joke threads + comments about how "This series sucks because Shinji is given a bunch of hot girls to fuck & he says his life is awful." In 2.0, if the world hadn't literally exploded it would be easy to see Shinji going on to have a romantic relationship with both girls in the immediate future. (NOTE - I love 2.0. It's a genius film.)

3.0 refutes that which 2.0 hypothesizes. Shinji is not the center of these people's universe. The world has moved on without him. Asuka has moved on with her life & her reaction when Shinji comes back into her life isn't met with a loving hug but a disdainful punch. Asuka's life is back to about being the best Eva pilot around & in fulfilling the mission of saving the world. Her life is not about a guy. It's her life. Meanwhile, Rei Q has never even met this guy before & her response to his immediate + needy reach for affection is disinterest. Poor Shinji. The only time Rei Q really starts to awaken is after overhearing Shinji's hateful comments she begins to realize she might be who she thinks she is. Her journey is one of self-awareness brought on by internal challenges (a desire to know who she is) & not by external forces (a cute boy who cooked her lunch). The character's all have their own stories going on independent of the central protagonist.

For people too myopic to look beyond that - Reddit in particular is a breeding ground for the simple-minded + sexist views of pop culture reading coming down to "If that bitch don't get wet for the guy then it's a fuck you to fans!", a common criticism also thrown at films like Mad Max: Fury Road because Furiosa didn't abandon her own story to blow Max - then it's easy to look at the story & action in 3.0 & say "Anno hates Rei & this sucks."

In short,
1.0: You Are (Not) Alone - We're given a story where Shinji is introduced to a new world & after many internal struggles he finds his place.
2.0: You Can (Not) Advance - We're given a story where Shinji has seemingly become the center of his world & then due to forces beyond his control that world is destroyed around him. (Note: Ironic that in the ending Shinji is given the chance to save his world when Unit 01 goes full lightshow & he foolishly decides to throw it away for a girl.)
3.0: You Can (Not) Redo - We're given a story where Shinji is introduced to the world he thought he knew but it's entirely different & he rebels against this new world in hopes of reattaining his old place. Not possible.
Final - Either Shinji will find his place in this new world, likely one that is a part of a team & NOT the center of things, OR he doesn't find his place.... and that'll suck for Shinji.

Anywho, nah. I don't think Anno seeked to undermine Rei with 3.0. I just think wanted to reaffirm Eva is a story about people & how different individuals with different personalities struggle to go through life & NOT a story about how being an average nice guy leads to being the center of everyone's universe.

In 2.0 everyone's story became Shinji's. In 3.0 Shinji's story was his alone. In Final... who knows?

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Re: Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby Rei IV » Sun Oct 16, 2016 4:33 pm

It should be noted that the "death"/removal of Rei II is something that is very consistent within Evangelion's mythos, meaning Rei in some form, always "dies". In the original series, she's brought back to life as Rei III, aware of who/what she really is and becomes Lilith, her true self in EOE. Evangelion Q has her returning albeit with in a new form, one independent of Rei II for while she may resemble her, that's the only thing they have in common. Rei Q is also the only incantation of Rei whose ignorant of her true nature and is horrified when she's confronted with the "dark" entity (the 12th Angel) that has taken her form. Rei in the original series NEVER went through something like that or even bothered to ask any questions about herself and identity. She's finally making her own choices, with the help of what Asuka said when Mark.09 had changed form, to do what she wanted and she also made the choice to follow Asuka and Shinji, something she's willingly doing. There's that bit with the Shinji's cassette player in the end that's rather ambiguous in that it makes one ponder if she picked it up or not, for his sake.

No, I don't think that Anno has undermined her character. I think he's been consistent with her depiction and has a created a Rei Ayanami that has no relation to the Rei we know. Someone completely different and distinct and that should be commended.
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Re: Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby BlueBasilisk » Sun Oct 16, 2016 5:10 pm

That was an excellent post, Gendo'sPapa! Very well said. :clap:

Gendo'sPapa wrote:3.0 refutes that which 2.0 hypothesizes. Shinji is not the center of these people's universe. The world has moved on without him. Asuka has moved on with her life & her reaction when Shinji comes back into her life isn't met with a loving hug but a disdainful punch. Asuka's life is back to about being the best Eva pilot around & in fulfilling the mission of saving the world. Her life is not about a guy. It's her life. Meanwhile, Rei Q has never even met this guy before & her response to his immediate + needy reach for affection is disinterest. Poor Shinji. The only time Rei Q really starts to awaken is after overhearing Shinji's hateful comments she begins to realize she might be who she thinks she is. Her journey is one of self-awareness brought on by internal challenges (a desire to know who she is) & not by external forces (a cute boy who cooked her lunch). The character's all have their own stories going on independent of the central protagonist.

For people too myopic to look beyond that - Reddit in particular is a breeding ground for the simple-minded + sexist views of pop culture reading coming down to "If that bitch don't get wet for the guy then it's a fuck you to fans!", a common criticism also thrown at films like Mad Max: Fury Road because Furiosa didn't abandon her own story to blow Max - then it's easy to look at the story & action in 3.0 & say "Anno hates Rei & this sucks."


This is what I wanted to say when I said Anno is breaking down the self-insert power fantasy. Shinji is the center of the universe in 2.0, culminating in a finale where people are cheering "fuck yeah, he grew some balls and saved the girl," and Anno immediately throws an ice cold bucket of reality on that by showing the people who aren't Shinji who are all suddenly in very extreme danger because of his own myopia.

LightDragonman wrote:Kaworu and Asuka were prioritized over her; because Anno wants viewers to like the characters "he" likes, and dislike the characters "he" dislikes.

Or it's just for plot reasons. 3.0 is Seele's final push. Kaworu is their representative and Asuka leads the ground forces of the opposition.
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Re: Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby Lennik » Sun Oct 16, 2016 7:01 pm

Anno isn't out to "get" anyone. Rei was never meant to serve the Dulcinea Effect power fantasies of Eva's male audience. She was always supposed to be kind of creepy, not a doll for male fans to fantasize about protecting. The developments in 3.0 further prove that, no conspiracies required.

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Re: Did Anno Seek to Undermine Rei with Rebuild?

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Postby Kendrix » Mon Oct 31, 2016 9:25 pm

That's just something cooked-up by butthurt fanboys who don't get anything and just seem to be blindly reacting to trigger phrases; Frankly, I don't think Anno's so... unprofessional as to try to do a shoehorned thing like this.

Not that the ones who claim to be the enlightened lectures about how we are "supposed" to see her are any better. But ppl have always widely run away with/twisted/misunderstoof the complex statements on this character, (or statements on the show in generall, really) which Anno has described as 'practically writing herself' and represening the 'purest, most core' part of him for all the weird detachment he has toward her - a sort of strange detached vagueness is quintessential to her character anyways, so there's a sort of internal logic in that.
In general he was never this troll or strict index finger guy fandom lore portrays him as and EVA is a very autobiographical work, in a thematic/metaphorical way. Like, I absolutely do not think there is any of this calculated quality to it, because I see no evidence other than that some people didn't like the movies; Everything that got translated suggests a very "gardener like" writing process, not one where whole films are squandered as 'bait'.

They talk about "tearing down submissive fantasies" when they're the ones reducing Rei to a trap for Shinji to fall into or a means to punish him. (and dismissing/reducing/ignoring everything Rei herself has ever said or done in the process)

She was always every bit as much an expression of parts of the author's psyche and fundamental bits of the human condition and experience as anyone else in the cast, she got a lot of mologues & music & associates aesthetics in the original series. and the REbuild has a vauely different storytelling style that people very much perceived in a biased way; For a character who was socially isolated and detached from her physicality, taking a step to bring people together and finding enjoyment in simple pleasures like eating is a hugely meaningful step, though it doesn't go that much beyond what we were beginning to see mid series; She's not an object but a subject in this, a victim of her cult-like upbringing and a growing person despite of it.

The idea that someone making some however feeble, hesitant and ultimately futile (at least in rebuild verse) attempts to reach out to her & treat her as if she's remotely worth something immediately makes her a "dulcinea power fantasy" or "based around him" anymore than anyone else the main character significantly interacts with is just incredibly skewed. It's the only break she gets in her short life and even that doesn't last.

The whole point of Rei was always that she's NOT Yui but a person looking for the meaning of her existence when she has almost nothing of her own;
Many people like her exactly because of her otherness and the philosophical considerations involved, because they emphasize with the isolation and social ineptness and message of faint hope of being able to forge a connection despite many isolating factors and a general feeling of not belonging;
That there was a sort of built-in doomed-from-the-start tragedy in the form of her origins in there just makes it more appealing & more meaningful despite it's briefness, that there was a however fleeting exchange of genuine communication & warmth amid the doomy circumstances.

The philosophcal tone as well as introspection on Rei's part were always present, little steps being noted like her musing on her motivations and saying 'Thank you' to people, her living conditions etc. and also, it should be pretty clear that Anno generally has no idea what's gonna happen in the next movie before he's finished with the one before (there was even one of the makers... Tsurumaki? Lamenting that there would be no 3rd Rei.); There was that whole earthquake disaster and Anno's first aim with EVA... and many other works really was often this depiction of civilization and desaster.

In my opinion, the contrast with doesn't undermine her as much as it validates her by pointing out the clear difference; Rei II is NOT equated with ReiQ, the difference 'symbolized' mostly but not exclusively by her books (which she had before Shinji came along); That's not mutually explicit with hammering down the horro on the whole 'artificial soldier' thing; Rei III never really milked that for full potential as she immediately turned against her masters and became 'special' in her own way, which was of course a cool plot in its own way but here we see one who's practically been kept like an animal with no imput whatsoever.
But the final conclusion is that Rei, as we first met her, could NOT be replaced as easily as she feared.

In a way they could not have fully explored that without killing her off and sending in another clone; The scenario was allused to so it's not surprising that they delivered on that dangling plot thread. Not that it was the only way, but, once the general decision was made that Q would be the kind of movie it is, it was a logical step to take.

As as much as it baffles me that people do not get that simple point and push the 'trolling' narrative unquestioned, (She was always a tragic character, the odds for a 'happy' ending were slim to begin with; They kinda yanked our chain with what seemed like the possibility for one, but a tragedy that seems like too much of a foregone conclusion is less efficient ) it does show that people liked her complex, philosophical aspects.

And heck, once ReiQ had served her purpose as a contrast figure she was sent on a self-discovery trip of her own, however rudimentary it may have been so far, and I guess we'll see how that will or will not turn out when final rolls around.
Like many of those butthurt fanboys are renouncing Rebuild as a whole rather than demanding more "moe" or whatever, as much as the whole "raising a trollfest over any ReiQ fanart" was kinda childish and annoying.

Milking the potential of the sci-fi stuff, treating Rei as a character and having her forge a tentative bond with Shinji is actually not mutually exclusive and you needn't sacrife either of these things for any of the other.
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