The Sandbox - Formulating an Analysis

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The Sandbox - Formulating an Analysis

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Postby Amalgam429 » Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:43 am

Guys - this is one that's been nagging me for a long time.

The sandbox scene in Episode 26' is, well, hard to describe. It sits right in a series of confusing sequences that really define Eva as a show. While most of the utter nonsense in Eva has been pretty well analyzed / talked through, I feel as if this scene has really not gotten enough analysis, in some regards that is. There's a pretty decent analysis page on the wiki https://wiki.evageeks.org/Theory_and_Analysis:Sandbox_Sequence#Notes and it's a good starting read, but I feel like it only dives to a shallow level. A great starting point, but we haven't really reached an endpoint.

From what i've read, the primary conclusions that the wiki draws are:

1) The sand castle definitely appears very similar to nerv HQ, and it being destroyed is significant to when Shinji holds the Nerv HQ hostage, eventually damaging it

2) The swing and the sunset. This imagery actually appears more than once throughout this movie (and in the original TV series, although I might be wrong on that one) and a really hard definite analysis is hard to come by. The wiki provides a couple of good "maybes" as to metaphors and possible imagery, but nothing feels as if its very concrete. The wiki dives into a lot of sexual metaphors that I think are very out of place with the scene in question, doesn't make much logical sense as much as it makes image sense.

3) The "Set". The wiki describes the cameras and lights as "eyes" watching Shinji. I actually quite like this theory, but I feel like the "why" is missing. Why would the eyes matter in shinjis life. Who do they represent. Etc. The wiki does mention Yui possibly being the eyes, which is cool, but not really all that complete.

4) Rei, Asuka, and Misato seem to be the other people in the scene. I feel like this makes a decent amount of sense, but I feel like it could be contested. I really don't buy that the "mother" is physically Misato at the least, but more of a representative mother that could count for any number of people. Mothers are a huge theme in Eva and it wouldn't shock me for that person to simply represent the "idea" of a mother within the show.

5) There might be some other things here, but i'm not sure of their overall importance to my question :P but feel free to look and point out flaws in my logic

So the main question im getting at here is a why. What is the importance of this scene within the greater context of EoE and EoTV as a whole? How can these scenes affect what we know about other scenes within the greater Eva-verse? Why does some of this imagery appear in other places as well as here in 26'? What does the filter and coloring show about the purpose of the scene (and why does it feel like the train car introspective scenes)? And what the hell is up with that swingset. Thanks guys, I always love reading your thoughts and analysis. I feel like this is undertalked about and could use some more discussion.

Thanks guys
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Re: The Sandbox - Formulating an Analysis

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Postby The Divine Emperor » Sat Apr 27, 2019 8:18 am

It's gratifying to see someone else bring this scene up. It is one of my favorite parts of EoE (and I have a lot of favorite parts). I would largely agree with your synopsis of the wiki's take, and concur that 1) the woman is a symbolic representation of motherhood (and thus linked to, but not of one being with, the person of Misato), which is corroborated by the breast-like outline of the hills, which visually hint at maternity; and 2) the sandcastle is an effigy of Nerv, or rather the perception of Nerv in Shinji's mind: the "here" of which he speaks, the psychosocial milieu to which he is brought at the series' outset.

Amalgam429 wrote: What does the filter and coloring show about the purpose of the scene (and why does it feel like the train car introspective scenes)? And what the hell is up with that swingset.


My impression of this scene as a whole is that it is an oneiric representation of Shinji's childhood, and the emotions associated with it, with the visual allusion to Nerv HQ connecting his childhood to more recent events. I think that the similarities in palette and texture to the train sequences hint to the viewer that this scene is, like those, introspective and symbolic in nature (in case we hadn't noticed). This ensures that while we perceive the scene as a flashback-like reminiscence in Shinji's mind thanks to his voice-over, we also do not take it as in any way a literal memory of his past. If one reads the original, extended draft of the sandbox sequence, one can see that it was appended by what I interpret as actual memories.

"Shinji as an elementary school student, alone, crying at his desk.
In the background, music and announcements indicating the end of the school day.
Voice of a male classmate: Tch, he's obsessed with himself, just because he lives at the teacher's place!
Voice of a female teacher: What a depressing child.
Voice of a female classmate: Such a nuisance!
Voice of a female classmate: He can't do anything by himself."


I would be remiss in not noting that a parallel flashback is provided for Asuka. The omission of that and the above increases the focus upon Shinji, and further avoids audience perception of the sandbox sequence as a whole as literal recollection of actual events by Shinji.

I interpret the swingset and sandbox as accoutrements of childhood, emphasizing that this flashback concerns Shinji's early interpersonal development. (A Freudian would say that the swing's movement imitates that of sexual intercourse, but let's face it, that would be ridiculous. :wink: ) The script does not specify the music that plays in the final version: therefore, I think that rather than its lyrics being intrinsically important, it is merely intended as an aural cue intended to bring childhood, and kindergarten in particular, to the minds of a Japanese audience.

The playground-oriented imagery resembles the "monkey-bars" seen near the conclusion of Asuka's Arael-induced flashbacks in Episode 22, as does the filter applied to the animation; moreover, in that same scene, Asuka interacts with a doll (a potent and multifaceted symbol in her context), resembling the presence of doll-like "children" in the sandbox scene. Arael's interaction with the Second Child revealed that the origin of the latter's interpersonal dysfunction lay in early childhood, and specifically in her interactions with her mother: that was its purpose.

I think that, likewise, the sandbox scene contextualizes Shinji's psychology in childhood trauma, in his case chiefly abandonment by parental-and in this particular scene evidently maternal-figures, albeit trauma that is alluded to in this scene rather than directly addressed as was the case for Asuka. This childhood trauma endures, since what we see in the sandbox sequence is congruent with Shinji's psychology up through the present day: he still feels abandonment by others, and given the events of the show's penultimate episodes, his fellow Pilots and Misato more specifically (here putatively represented by the aforementioned doll-children and their "Mama"); as a young teenager, he is still neurotically persistent in his attempts to reconstruct his life from ruin that he feels is self-inflicted,to judge from his willful destruction of the sand-castle/Nerv HQ effigy.
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Re: The Sandbox - Formulating an Analysis

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Postby Reichu » Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:46 pm

The film script specifies that the woman in the sequence is Misato, calling her by that name both times that she appears (C-182 and C-184).

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Re: The Sandbox - Formulating an Analysis

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Postby Amalgam429 » Thu May 02, 2019 1:16 pm

View Original PostThe Divine Emperor wrote:It's gratifying to see someone else bring this scene up. It is one of my favorite parts of EoE (and I have a lot of favorite parts). I would largely agree with your synopsis of the wiki's take, and concur that 1) the woman is a symbolic representation of motherhood (and thus linked to, but not of one being with, the person of Misato), which is corroborated by the breast-like outline of the hills, which visually hint at maternity; and 2) the sandcastle is an effigy of Nerv, or rather the perception of Nerv in Shinji's mind: the "here" of which he speaks, the psychosocial milieu to which he is brought at the series' outset.



My impression of this scene as a whole is that it is an oneiric representation of Shinji's childhood, and the emotions associated with it, with the visual allusion to Nerv HQ connecting his childhood to more recent events. I think that the similarities in palette and texture to the train sequences hint to the viewer that this scene is, like those, introspective and symbolic in nature (in case we hadn't noticed). This ensures that while we perceive the scene as a flashback-like reminiscence in Shinji's mind thanks to his voice-over, we also do not take it as in any way a literal memory of his past. If one reads the original, extended draft of the sandbox sequence, one can see that it was appended by what I interpret as actual memories.



I would be remiss in not noting that a parallel flashback is provided for Asuka. The omission of that and the above increases the focus upon Shinji, and further avoids audience perception of the sandbox sequence as a whole as literal recollection of actual events by Shinji.

I interpret the swingset and sandbox as accoutrements of childhood, emphasizing that this flashback concerns Shinji's early interpersonal development. (A Freudian would say that the swing's movement imitates that of sexual intercourse, but let's face it, that would be ridiculous. :wink: ) The script does not specify the music that plays in the final version: therefore, I think that rather than its lyrics being intrinsically important, it is merely intended as an aural cue intended to bring childhood, and kindergarten in particular, to the minds of a Japanese audience.

The playground-oriented imagery resembles the "monkey-bars" seen near the conclusion of Asuka's Arael-induced flashbacks in Episode 22, as does the filter applied to the animation; moreover, in that same scene, Asuka interacts with a doll (a potent and multifaceted symbol in her context), resembling the presence of doll-like "children" in the sandbox scene. Arael's interaction with the Second Child revealed that the origin of the latter's interpersonal dysfunction lay in early childhood, and specifically in her interactions with her mother: that was its purpose.

I think that, likewise, the sandbox scene contextualizes Shinji's psychology in childhood trauma, in his case chiefly abandonment by parental-and in this particular scene evidently maternal-figures, albeit trauma that is alluded to in this scene rather than directly addressed as was the case for Asuka. This childhood trauma endures, since what we see in the sandbox sequence is congruent with Shinji's psychology up through the present day: he still feels abandonment by others, and given the events of the show's penultimate episodes, his fellow Pilots and Misato more specifically (here putatively represented by the aforementioned doll-children and their "Mama"); as a young teenager, he is still neurotically persistent in his attempts to reconstruct his life from ruin that he feels is self-inflicted,to judge from his willful destruction of the sand-castle/Nerv HQ effigy.


AAHH! This makes a lot of sense. Probably the most one of the most gratifying answers around when it comes to this topic. I agree with a lot of your points, especially those about the symbology. While EVA can sometimes lean into more literal analysis (what is this / how does this affect other things; theories) I feel like the sandbox is a perfect case where Evangelion can really exemplify its more analogous and metaphorical side of things. Representation in these things is always hard to decode, but I think this is a good spot where it can really be studied. NIce work.
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Re: The Sandbox - Formulating an Analysis

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Postby ErgoProxy » Fri May 03, 2019 6:09 am

Okay, because I feel I need to write something that at last won't be a miserable offtopic - here we go:

1) The sand pyramid that Shinji builds, then destroys it in anger, and then whimperingly begins to rebuild it, can be seen as an illustrative of the Christian concept of sin and atonement - at least this is my first impression (the second is, the Author is Dead, lol).

2) The swing and the sunset just build the impression of bitter loneliness in my mind. Also, the swing can be seen as a symbol of the beginning (or the youth) and the setting sun is an obvious symbol of the end (or the senility). It's like the whole Shinji's life is compressed and squeezed to distill the esssence, which is the sequence we're talking about.

3) The "eyes" watching Shinji perhaps make the biggest sense if we assume the whole NGE is some kind of the Truman Show, with some real-life Shinji being beholded by the Minions of the Set (heh). Since Shinji is, to the extent, Mr. Anno's self-insert, this brings an interesting topic, who's really the master and who's a slave in the relation between the Artist and the Art.

4) The other characters present in the sequence are most probably shown in the way Shinji perceives them. The most sexualized person in the whole show is suddenly forced into the role of an asexual figure and the other kids at his age are dehumanized to items. This, in contrast, makes Shinji an antithesis of a child - ie. an adult. (This also shows how fucked up he is.) And this takes us swiftly to...

5) ...the bed scene during the Instrumentality, when Asuka yells at Shinji that she can't stand him and he replies with a question: "because I'm the same as you?" With the sandbox sequence in mind we can see that Shinji, with his whole attitude and mindset, successfully undermines literally everything what Asuka values as her life achievement. Because you don't have to constantly reassure the whole world around that you're an adult, if you really are an adult; if you know this, if you feel it in your guts, this feeling is enough. But if you're doing that, this means you lack something and you still need to grow up.

My five cents added.
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Re: The Sandbox - Formulating an Analysis

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Postby SawItAtAge10 » Wed May 08, 2019 1:55 pm

Not sure about the other points other than that the two girls are Asuka and Rei and the "mama" is Misato...However, I also took the swing to be a kind of pendulum..And it goes still and "dies" much like Shinji's cassette player...This is EoE after all, and like the setting sum, we've reached the end. Whereas when Shinji met Kaworu, the sun was just about to set, darkness finally descends here.

The camera 'eyes" and the "breast" hills (along with the placement of the sandbox) give he indication that Shinji has been returned to the womb metaphorically. He's returned inside You and is being silently observed in a similar way that the phantom Reis are always silent observers.

These are just my interpretations...Beyond that, I kinda see it as a mix of a possibly memory and a wrapped reality via his induction into initiating Instrumentality...Possibly Shinji was left somewhere, a park just as he had been by Gendo at the train station. Maybe he even saw the pyramid at Nerv around the time Yui vanished inside Eva 01. (Assuming it had been built already) But with these and pyramid, the conceit of creation, death, and rebirth is definitely there, at least symbolically.

Asuka's "Enough already!" is another shout of disdain at what is basically a masturbatory effort on his part...It's futile to keep repeating the same cycle over and over again like that, crying and sobbing every step of the way in what Misato calls "a cycle of hollow joy and vicious self hatred." Thus symbolized by Shinji and Asuka in the midst of apparent sex in the next scene. In other words, enough of the masturbation/foreplay and let's get down to business, so to speak. But of course, she's the same as him and he calls her out on it...It's like Sisyphus rolling that stone up the hill over and over and over again. (Much like the things that Shinji tells himself repeatedly as pointed out as being "a kind of rosary" like what the shadow angel tells him in episode 16).

I dunno, I could be way off base, this just what I got out of it.
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Re: The Sandbox - Formulating an Analysis

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Postby Kendrix » Thu May 09, 2019 12:23 pm

It's probably a metaphorical representation of his emotional state and journey up to that point-

At first there are his feelings of isolation and of having no parents to go home with like the other kids

I wouldn't be surprised ifmuch of it is liften 1:1 from some actual event in Shinji's childhood with things from his present life plugged in where the actual details are hazy or unimportant - The mother looks like Misato because Shinji sees her as a parental figure, the other kids faintly resemble the other pilots because they are his peers in the present (though I'd read their doll-like look as representing the distance Shinji feels to them or how he wasn't able to get to know them or relate to them - He never got to know the actual kids or their mom so anyone could stand in for them. )

- The stage-like setup didfferentiates it from a simple flashback - when you're immersed in the "story"/"movie" you don't see the stage but it is there - like it both indicates that this is Shinji looking back at his life so far from a bit of a metaperspective, but also that what we see here is specifically his perspective and framing of the world

Another thing that clearly does not belong in the past/ is an insertion is the NERV pyramid, which is where we have the connection to the present, or what the present felt like to the part of Shinji that is still stuck as this lonely four-year old in a playground, and this is where it ties into being a metaphor for his stay at tokyo 3 - He starte piloting the work because he was encouraged to by others/ wanted to be less alone but in the end he still kinda was, and you get first the impulse to work hard anyways and build up something meaningful for himself (building up the pyramid by himsdelf in the darkness), but he also resents that situationand so the life thaz he built for himself in tokyo-3 came undone party due to his own frustrated actions (smashing the pyramid) and then he stands there, ashamed of what he did trying to piece the ruins back together.
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Re: The Sandbox - Formulating an Analysis

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Postby SawItAtAge10 » Fri May 31, 2019 1:03 pm

View Original PostKendrix wrote:I

Another thing that clearly does not belong in the past/ is an insertion is the NERV pyramid, which is where we have the connection to the present, or what the present felt like to the part of Shinji that is still stuck as this lonely four-year old in a playground, and this is where it ties into being a metaphor for his stay at tokyo 3 - He starte piloting the work because he was encouraged to by others/ wanted to be less alone but in the end he still kinda was, and you get first the impulse to work hard anyways and build up something meaningful for himself (building up the pyramid by himsdelf in the darkness), but he also resents that situationand so the life thaz he built for himself in tokyo-3 came undone party due to his own frustrated actions (smashing the pyramid) and then he stands there, ashamed of what he did trying to piece the ruins back together.



Like I said, a cycle that he keeps engaging in an repeating over and over and over again...
FROM EVANGELION:
"Acts of Man are greater than acts of God!"

"I'm saying that I love you."

NOT FROM EVANGELION:
"You are excrement. You can change yourself into gold."


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