The Point of Asuka

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The Point of Asuka

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Postby AbsentCross » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:34 pm

I'm still trying to process the point EoE is trying to make about Asuka- other than "let's tear her apart literally and figuratively".

After her suicide attempt and having her only real friend masturbate over her unconscious body, Asuka reconnects with her Mom in Unit 02. The insane parts of her mother's mind appear to have been incorporated into 02 in addition to the motherly parts- as you can hear a lot of the those same "die with me"-type lines.

She went into glorious combat saying "nothing can stop me, my mother is protecting me" and has an awesome looking battle that is ultimately frivolous and accomplishes nothing and then dies in the most violent way of any character in the show... Goes into Instrumentality and gets choked by Shinji and wakes up on the beach being choked by Shinji.

I am not trying to re-litigate the decade of discussion on the meaning of the ending. I am trying to decipher the point that is being made about her character specifically, because on it's face it seems profoundly nihilistic and almost cruel. If I had not done some due diligence on the world of Eva, although I am a new fan so maybe I've missed something, my cynical assumption in the void would have been that Anno had a girlfriend named Asuka who dumped him and he is getting revenge.

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Re: The Point of Asuka

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Postby Reichu » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:39 am

It's a difficult scene to make peace with. I know it gave me considerable trouble. Even now, I accept it completely, but it's still difficult to put in words how and why it "works". So I'll just make a crude attempt.

Reconnecting with her mother and then going down together on the field of battle gives Asuka's character, I think, a sort of purifying catharsis. The trauma inflicted upon her by Kyoko has dogged her for her entire life. It's given her a reason to exist and feel valuable, in the form of Eva piloting, but it's also been everything that's held her back. Due to Arael's attack, the trauma was forcibly resurfaced, and both Asuka and Kyoko withdrew from one another completely. But circumstances have forced them back together, and it's basically the last chance that the two of them are ever going to have.

I agree with the point that you mentioned, that both "halves" of Kyoko are inside Eva-02. (Maybe the Third Branch salvaged the rest of her into the core after her death. Who knows.) This of course lends an ultimate sad irony to where things end up, with mother and daughter dying together like Kyoko always wanted. But there's goodness, too. I think their reconciliation is ultimately more powerful if they're able to accept and love each other despite the presence of such a horrible specter as Kyoko's insanity. While Kyoko really should not have been using herself as a human guinea pig in the first place, getting her soul ripped in half was probably a thoroughly unpredictable outcome, and despite being selfish for putting science above the well-being of herself and her family, I doubt she intended any of that fallout to occur. If her halves are indeed reunited inside Eva-02, then there is the possibility of healing the damage that splitting her soul caused in the first place. But such severe emotional scarring requires love and understanding, which is not something you're going to get much of as an Eva. That's why Asuka's unconditional acceptable of her mother in EoE is so groundbreaking. Kyoko reached out to her, and their souls touched, and from then until their deaths none of that shit from the past mattered anymore. Only their connection did.

One thing about the sequence that I rather like is that Asuka's experience occurs in phases. When she reconnects with Kyoko, Asuka is at first very child-like. She's regressed, in a sense, but she's also symbolically reliving her childhood the way it was always meant to be, with a mother there who loves her and would never hurt her. It's rather purifying, in a way. Asuka soon advances beyond that, and is more like her normal proud, boisterous self for a while. But then, after that... she becomes increasingly bestial. She's acting much like an Eva would, in many respects. I think, here, she and her mother effectively become each other. Asuka continues to feel Kyoko's pain even when synchronization isn't powered -- something very strange is going on. Asuka is still active, alert, and fully in sync when Kyoko reactivates without power, which is completely unprecedented. And then, of course, the injuries that kill Kyoko transfer over to Asuka. Mother and daughter became one, and died as one.

Now, I agree that if things simply ended there, it would be incredibly depressing indeed. But this isn't that kind of movie. Death is merely a rite of passage for rebirth. Not in the way that Seele had intended, and well for the best. Asuka suffered spectacularly, yes, but she's also a warrior at heart. She put up the best fight she could, in the service of the human race, and she did it through the bonds of mother-daughter love, confronting the greatest demon in her life and exorcising much of that trauma from her soul. Even after everything she's been through, she decided not to stay down. Even after being hurt by the world as much as she's been, she decided to live. She's completely exhausted at the end of the film, as anyone in her position would rightfully be, but she's there, and she's going to keep on fighting the good fight.

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Re: The Point of Asuka

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Postby AbsentCross » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:30 am

@Reichu

It astounds me that every time I discuss an aspect of this show, I get wonderfully considered and articulate responses. Thank you so much for writing that- I really appreciate that interpretation. It adds a lot of depth and clarity.

I just love Asuka as a character and I wanted her to overcome her pain- in many ways she did.

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Re: The Point of Asuka

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Postby Reichu » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:11 pm

You're very welcome, AbsentCross! Glad I could help! :D

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Re: The Point of Asuka

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Postby Kendrix » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:19 pm

I think a significant arc there is that she had completely shut down and just given up on life/ decided that if she can't live up to her perpectionist standards she might as well be dead - but faced with actual death in the form of the soldiers and MP EVAs she comes to the conclusion that she actually wants to live.
To begin with her complexes and pride came from a perception that she would be destroyed if she allowed herself to depend on others, a defense mechanism.
When she first comes to she's all scared but being in a state where she is so averse to death that she'd rather cry for help, she's more "open" than she was when she was all closed off and unable to synch, basically Kyoko hears her and decides to help out.
And at this point she's not really fighting for pride or ego but so she can live so it's a no holds barred barbarian beat down as opposed to her earlier concerns about 'elegant' fighting.

That's sort of what she always kind of represented the 'eros' in the freudian sense the vitality and self-preservation drive which is an important counterpoint in an overall rather 'suicidal' movie and here we see that aspect in its purest form.

Alas, SEELE are cheating bastards and she had no S2 engine and no backup. She fights to the last with everything she has, she even gets the EVA to move without power, but the world is just unfair, and isn't that kind of what her story has been from day one - but she went down fighting for her life when everything else in that movie desintegrates on its own accord.

The instrumentality scenes largely say more about Shinji (or his POV) like I'd take the kitchen scene as also being about Shinji's frustrations with other people in general, where Asuka is the standin because shes one of the people that he finds it most difficult to get along with (due to both their differences and similarities as well as both attraction and repulsion; It would be easier if he just hated her and nothing else, you can dismiss someone whom you just hate. )
Also note that in the musical scene with the "rejection voice clips", hers is the last we hear("I'd rather die than do it with you!") like she resisted the merger the longest out of anyone precisely because she happens to know the guy at the epicentre.

As for the last scene it might be elucidating that Anno once considered "Id never let someone like you kill me!" as the final line but the final product has more zing and feels more organic doesn't it?

So that's her role, she's The Difficult Reality of Communication Fail but also The Self-Preservation Drive. I wouldn't say "will" to live as a considered decision thats more the space that Misato occupies
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Re: The Point of Asuka

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Postby AbsentCross » Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:33 pm

@Kendrix That all makes total sense to me.

The notion of her always wanting to fight alone, thinking she has to be alone, all of which stemmed from the trauma she was dealt from her mother culminating in her rejoining with the source of that trauma to charge into battle- it is all leading to something grand. I think the grandness is meant to be how epic the battle is and it certainly is epic.

After having a few more days to think about it, from a thematic and narrative standpoint, Asuka dying seems to mainly serve as motivation for Shinji to trigger Instrumentality in my opinion. I still don't quite understand what purpose just how much torture and pain she experiences serves, after having lived a life of torture and pain in her mind. Maybe that is the point, one begets the other in the end.

I just have not been able to fully square how it fits into her arc otherwise, though you do elucidate many great points.
This is my spectrum mind talking when it comes to this stuff but I think a lot of my problems stem from a lack of knowledge as to what happens to her during Instrumentality. Not knowing drives me insane. I've heard a lot of convincing theories that the Asuka we see interacting with Shinji during those sequences is not really her consciousness, rather the "Asuka that lives in Shinji's heart" as eluded to in the last episodes of the show. Not sure if I buy that theory, still thinking about it. Either way, I would have killed for a sequence showing her point of view, especially if that is the case, alas this is Shinji's story and there are only so many hours in the day.

I knew I should not have done it but today I rewatched her death scene and sent me back into a funk. I am not a person who gets affected by art like this- I've seen it all and nothing really bothers me like this. So, I apologize, this is a new experience for me and I appreciate you all humoring me.

I noticed a new detail during the battle- when her arm is cut in half, you hear her scream out. Which makes sense of course as I am sure it would be very unpleasant but here come those disturbed feelings rushing back. Again it makes me wonder, how much of this is Anno punishing the people who fetishized this character? Did his point really need to be driven home any more after the opening scene? By doing things like that it really catches the rest of us in the crossfire.

Some minor observations I'd love opinions on:

- What is the symbolism behind the kind of damage she takes, if any? Having her eye stabbed out: there must be something to that since she loses that eye again in the Rebuild series. Unit 02 being descended upon by bird-like creatures and being disemboweled feels like something out of opera or ancient myth.

- Asuka is frequently visually associated with the sun and light, Rei with the moon. Not entirely sure why. At her end when she and 02 are reaching towards the sun when their arms are split, that feels symbolic in a some way.

I suppose I keep wondering what Anno was going for with all this and I have to make peace with it being up to interpretation. Eva and Shin Godzilla are the only two works of his I've experienced- both of which are works of genius in my opinion, so I have to put some faith in him that he is not doing it just to be a dick. After the last Rebuild film and what he does to his characters there I think will be able to formulate an opinion on how cruel and punishing he truly is.

In the mean time, I just continue to re-read your posts which I have done several times already Reichu and Kendrix- you both have a great grasp and understanding of what this all means and I truly appreciate you sharing your thoughts :)

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Re: The Point of Asuka

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Postby Kendrix » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:24 am

View Original PostAbsentCross wrote:After having a few more days to think about it, from a thematic and narrative standpoint, Asuka dying seems to mainly serve as motivation for Shinji to trigger Instrumentality in my opinion. I still don't quite understand what purpose just how much torture and pain she experiences serves, after having lived a life of torture and pain in her mind. Maybe that is the point, one begets the other in the end.


If that's true then the same could be said about any other character. Misato was blown to at least two separate bits about two Minutes earlier

The whole JSSDF assault is extremly brutal, even before the MPs were in the picture. Some random nerv techies get torched with a flamethrower.
If it wasn't for Misato's great timing Shinji would've had his brains blown out quite early on.
From what one hears of his statements or sees in his various words Anno is just generally on the team that the world is a pretty brutal place and that it should be confronted not concealed. Clearly there's enough military nerdery going on that he would know of multiple examples where that sort of assault turned very ugly.

And in this particular fight, well the more it goes on the less it looks like a military conflict but rather a battle of wild beasts. The wild and primal and biological as a horror is an ongoing motif here another noteworthy moment being when EVA 01 eats Zeruel and does that thing predator animals do where they pause to look around while they are eating.

Basically Anno was going to at least temporarily kill the whole cast; Might as well do it in an artsy aesthetic fashion that leaves an impression, I don't think one needs to suppose any intention of "punishment" or "reverse fanservice" it's not like everything that Asuka does or that happens to her is a commentary on her boinkability. This show has tons of dark content because the director wants it to.

View Original PostAbsentCross wrote:- What is the symbolism behind the kind of damage she takes, if any? Having her eye stabbed out: there must be something to that since she loses that eye again in the Rebuild series.


This is probably something that goes the other way around - she loses the eye again to allude to the first time around. As for the first time, well, losing eyes is gross and painful, and the "wild beasts/ best-like nature as horror" motif.

View Original PostAbsentCross wrote:- Asuka is frequently visually associated with the sun and light, Rei with the moon. Not entirely sure why. At her end when she and 02 are reaching towards the sun when their arms are split, that feels symbolic in a some way.


Well the two of them are contrast figures and the sun and moon are an easy universal go-to example of what people consider "opposites".
In Rei's case there are probably also some allusions to The Mother Godess etc. tied up in there and connections to the mythological Lillith whos associated with some astrology concept known as a "black moon", but apart from that it's very straight forward. The night and the moon are quiet and mysterious, low key and associated with death, the sun is bright and attention-grabbing and associated with vitality. There is only one sun; When it shows up it drown out everything else in the sky. And it shines by its own light whereas the moon is illuminated by other light sources.
"Reaching for the sun" (as well as failing and getting burned by comming to close) is a common motif regarding ambition. I mean at that point she's half dead and probably can't beat the MP Evas, but she keeps reaching upwards going on about how she'll kill them; It's impressive determination but also futile - like trying to touch the sun.
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