Animal motifs in 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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Animal motifs in Rebuild

Postby El Squibbonator » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:16 pm

We're all familiar with the Christian symbology in Neon Genesis Evangelion. But I've noticed a new kind of symbolism creeping into Rebuild, especially in the second and third movies. I'm talking about animals. Animal motifs appear surprisingly often in Rebuild, and there seems to be a basic consensus in the fan community as to which characters are identified with which animals. For example:

Shinji and Kaworu: Horses
During the piano scene in 3.0, we get treated to a rather trippy sequence of two white horses running. It's obvious that these are meant to be Shinji and Kaworu themselves, or rather their intertwined fates. It's worth noting that the "hero on a white horse" is a classic folklore archetype, and one which Kaworu seems to fill for Shinji.

Asuka and Mari: Cats
Between their cat-eared helmets, Mari's speech patterns, and Asuka's beast mode and pointy-eared hat, these two are strongly associated with cats both in canon and in fanart. Cats make an especially apt motif for Asuka in Q, being frequently seen as aggressive and aloof.

Rei (pre-Q): Fish
Rei compares herself to a fish in a tank, emphasizing the fact that she, too, is isolated in an environment alien to herself. Incidentally, the cloning chamber wher Rei's spare bodies are grown has been nicknamed the ReiQuarium by fans.

Rei Q: Bees/ants?
This Rei is a soulless automaton, with no sense of self-preservation. In that sense, she is much like a bee, ant, or other social insect. However, I have not seen as much support for this one as I have for the other three.

Once again, these weren't my ideas--I've seen them all in other places--but I'd like to know what you think of them.
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Postby robersora » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:37 pm

^
Huh, interesting. Never realised how many animalistic metaphors there were.
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Postby El Squibbonator » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:56 pm

What I find interesting is that the two most popular homosexual pairings (Kaworu/Shinji and Mari/Asuka) seem to be supported by this. Everyone finds love in the end, indeed!
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Postby airman4 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:23 pm

Nice touch but not sure about the homosexuality of Kaworu...

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:03 pm

But doesn’t Mari call Shinji a puppy?

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Postby Sachi » Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:09 am

View Original PostEl Squibbonator wrote:Rei (pre-Q): Fish
Rei compares herself to a fish in a tank, emphasizing the fact that she, too, is isolated in an environment alien to herself. Incidentally, the cloning chamber wher Rei's spare bodies are grown has been nicknamed the ReiQuarium by fans.

Rei Q: Bees/ants?
This Rei is a soulless automaton, with no sense of self-preservation. In that sense, she is much like a bee, ant, or other social insect. However, I have not seen as much support for this one as I have for the other three.

I would say that Rei Q would also hold the same association with Fish as Rei II. There's nothing concrete within the films evoking ants or bees; the closest thing would probably be the 12th Angel as it was escaping the Mark.06. Yes, the Angel does partially shape into appearance of Rei's face, but that can be explained away by Lilith's involvement in the situation. On the other hand, Rei Q witnesses an apparition of Rei II staring back at her while in the "ReiQuarium"; this evokes the image of Rei II staring and observing the fish in the aquarium of the earlier film. Rei Q is just another fish.

View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:But doesn’t Mari call Shinji a puppy?

A couple times actually, usually in reference to him being a pawn for Nerv. Perhaps that's what Eva is really all about: Shinji's identity crisis between being a slave puppy obedient to his master's will, or being free like a flamboyant stallion and able ride and be flamboyant with the other stallions! ;)

In an seriousness though, while I agree that horses are an excellent representation of Kaworu, I don't think it extends to Shinji. The dog metaphor works well for him though; on top of the imagery of obedience and "dog of the military"-type associations, Shinji is also eager for the praise of his peers and superiors; if Shinji were a puppy, imagine how excited would he be when Gendo congratulated him on his work for the first time. ("what? who's a good boy? i'm a good boy!? no way! i'm the good boy!!!" *runs around in circles*)
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Postby Chuckman » Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:16 am

Shinji will defeat Gendo by becoming fabulous?
the prophecy is true
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Postby ElMariachi » Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:47 am

View Original PostEl Squibbonator wrote:What I find interesting is that the two most popular homosexual pairings (Kaworu/Shinji and Mari/Asuka) seem to be supported by this. Everyone finds love in the end, indeed!

Keep in mind that the MariAsu pairing is completely fanon, there isn't any indication in 3.0 that they are anything more than teammates and friends, they don't even interact face to face once.


View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:But doesn’t Mari call Shinji a puppy?

I always got the feeling that the exact meaning behind that nickname differs between 2.0 and 3.0 : in 2.0 she calls him "NERV's puppy" in relation of how he's a pawn of NERV, like Sachi noted, but in 3.0 she calls him "puppy-boy", which probably refers to how he always looks melancholic and at unease, like a puppy. (her initial nickname in 2.0 probably also carried that meaning)
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Postby ChaddyManPrime » Sat Jun 07, 2014 10:06 am

^
Crazy Silly not-at-all-true Crackpot theory time!
SPOILER: Show
Puppy-Kun is a nickname that was created after Mari as a small child attempted to call him Papa-Kun :lol:
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Postby Kendrix » Sat Jun 07, 2014 12:22 pm

Note how Rei II calls the fishies 'kotachi'. I think this finally makes her vunerability to cute animals canon (In raising project, she delights in a red eyes white bunny, saying that it also looks like her. White rodents are, of course, also popular lab animals. Fishies less so, but the ones she was looking at were in a lab...)

See also her expression when the door opens and everyone else, sans Asuka, marvels at the random sea animals. She's not as vocal as the boys, but she's visibly floored/stunned into silence.


Would ReiQ like animals? I don't see why not, but there probably aren't any fish/bunnies etc left to test it. She might be the type to be afraid of cats/dogs, with how she seems to be easily cofused/startled, but this might be more due to her limited experience than personality. We'll see... From what we have seen so far, she tends to be scared/hesitant a lot (in contrast to the more straightforward Rei II), but has shown that she can be quite deliberate and determined when she wants to, in a way, she ironically resembles Shinji.


As for Mari, her scent fixation could also look like a more doggish trait (which are commonly perceived as simple and loyal), and she spends a while admiring/being moved to deep thoughts by a flock of birds. (who are often characterized as freedom-loving although Mari's expression might be due to the fact that she's missing her own parrots, or that they have a 'flock' and she doesn't), although the stereotypic folklore attributes of a cat (independent, mischeivously playful and following their own incomprehensible logic - unlike humans and dogs, they're solitary animals so their 'emotions' would work differently) also fit Mari quite well.
She sure has an 'animalistic' motif going on with her.
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Postby El Squibbonator » Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:08 pm

Would ReiQ like animals? I don't see why not, but there probably aren't any fish/bunnies etc left to test it. She might be the type to be afraid of cats/dogs, with how she seems to be easily cofused/startled, but this might be more due to her limited experience than personality. We'll see... From what we have seen so far, she tends to be scared/hesitant a lot (in contrast to the more straightforward Rei II), but has shown that she can be quite deliberate and determined when she wants to, in a way, she ironically resembles Shinji.

Admittedly, ReiQ was probably the hardest character to pin down a motif for, if there was even one in the first place. I've seen some buzz on places like 4chan about her being "associated" with bees, but I've never seen anything confirming it.
As for Mari, her scent fixation could also look like a more doggish trait (which are commonly perceived as simple and loyal), and she spends a while admiring/being moved to deep thoughts by a flock of birds. (who are often characterized as freedom-loving although Mari's expression might be due to the fact that she's missing her own parrots, or that they have a 'flock' and she doesn't), although the stereotypic folklore attributes of a cat (independent, mischeivously playful and following their own incomprehensible logic - unlike humans and dogs, they're solitary animals so their 'emotions' would work differently) also fit Mari quite well.
She sure has an 'animalistic' motif going on with her.

You're right about Mari being very attuned to scent, but I don't see her as "simple and loyal". She's way too enigmatic for that, and she doesn't really have any other characteristics that stand out to me as stereotypically dog-like. Not to mention, of course, that she does her little "meowing" song and that the fins on the head of her Eva look like cat ears.
It's worth noting that Mari's Beast Mode, rather than being based on an actual animal like Asuka's is, it just displays the raw unbottled fury and rage of the human mind. It's barely humanoid, but at the same time it doesn't look as "normal" as Asuka's Cat Mode does.
Also, I think the idea of Mari having pet birds was just an idea from the drafts, and never canon (It's certainly in my headcanon, though). Which reminds me--did Mari ever meet Pen-pen? They seem like they'd be great friends!
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Postby ElMariachi » Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:38 pm

^
But also keep in mind that she changed in 3.0 : instead of a vicious melee fighter, she's now an efficient sniper and support specialist for Asuka, so while I still see the cat trait, like her verbal tic (in my headcanon Asuka's cat-eared cap is a gift from her too! :D ), she seems more "tamed" that in 2.0, like a domesticated cat : still independent and ready to go outside for a good part of the day, but who will always come back to home, instead of her wilder and more solitary personality in 2.0, closer to an alley cat.
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Postby El Squibbonator » Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:52 pm

Interesting. Never noticed that. What do you think about the whole ReiQ/bees thing?
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Postby Kendrix » Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:08 am

View Original PostEl Squibbonator wrote:Interesting. Never noticed that. What do you think about the whole ReiQ/bees thing?


Well, the jars of the random Rei heads do looks like a honeycomb, but social insects would be far to cheap and overused a thing to go for here, give them ants/bees/termites a break.

If they really wanted to go for this, they could've made her humble dwelling hexagonal or something.
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Postby ElMariachi » Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:25 am

I wonder if the lack of a clear animal motif for Rei Q wasn't made on purpose to make her give a feeling of emptiness, increasing the feeling of uncanniness emanating from her during the first two-thirds of the movie?

That's it if there was a deliberate animal motif attached to the pilots of course.
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Postby ChaddyManPrime » Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:29 am

I think Kaworu should be a serpent, Shinji a Hedgehog, Rei should be an ant, Asuka should be a wolf, Mari a Cat, Misato a Penguin, and Maya a Pitbull.
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Postby Kendrix » Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:57 am

View Original PostElMariachi wrote:I wonder if the lack of a clear animal motif for Rei Q wasn't made on purpose to make her give a feeling of emptiness, increasing the feeling of uncanniness emanating from her during the first two-thirds of the movie?



Either this, or, more optimistically, her not having show/ manifested enough of her personality to classify her much.

She's only recently stopped being a meat-automaton/philosophical zombie, so give the girl some time. I think any motif she might get assigned will have more to do with whatever descisions she will make in final than anything alluding to where she came from.
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Postby ElMariachi » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:14 am

^
That's what I meant : in Q she doesn't have any animal motif because she didn't broke out of the closed and empty world of total obedience Gendo put her in, and she'll eventually gain one in FINAL.

It's probably strongly influenced by the 2015 calendar illustration of her feet in front of a cat, but I can picture her very well taking a liking to a cat, which would immediately make her a friend to Mari! :lol:
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Postby El Squibbonator » Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:51 am

View Original PostChaddyManPrime wrote:Asuka should be a wolf

I don't think so. As I said, she and Mari are both identified far more with felines than with canines.
View Original PostChaddyManPrime wrote:Misato a Penguin

Not all of those are necessarily motifs per se. Misato may have a penguin (Pen-pen) as a pet, but she's never really been identified with them at the symbolic level. It seems that this symbolism is reserved for the pilots.
View Original PostChaddyManPrime wrote:and Maya a pitbull

That one makes zero sense. Maya (and I assume you mean Maya Ibuki) is characterized as generally nonviolent, repulsed by blood, and barely willing to fire a gun to defend herself. I don't want to go assigning symbols where none exist, but if Maya had one it would probably be either a rabbit or a dove.
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Postby Kendrix » Sun Jun 08, 2014 12:00 pm

View Original PostElMariachi wrote:^

It's probably strongly influenced by the 2015 calendar illustration of her feet in front of a cat, but I can picture her very well taking a liking to a cat, which would immediately make her a friend to Mari! :lol:


I also considered this, mainly in the context of Asuka taking ReiQ under her wing.

"Rei, but raised by Asuka, her antithesis" seems like abit of a crackpotish idea, but the fact that, while she grew to appreciate Rei II towards the end, Asuka wasn't that attched to her/didn't worship the ground she walked on/had a partially critical view of her simply puts her in a good place to deal with ReiQ as her own person. With Shinji, his grief for Rei II would just needlessly complicate things, and similar things would probably apply to Misato. ("Rei doesn't exist anymore." You can tell it's hard for her to talk about it. If it wasn't, she'd just have said, "It's a clone", and the movie would've been averted. She was also shown being happy for her social developement/worried about her suicie bomb thing in 2.22.)

It helps that she[Asuka] had this sort of influence on her in the movie itself.
Although it hasto be noted that 'just flee and save yourself!' was an idea ReiQ got from Mari, who suggested it during their earlier battle.
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