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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Is Shinji evil?

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Postby unitM » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:12 pm

Before I begin, I'd like to bring out a disclaimer. The third Rebuild movie is undoubtably a factory of bad emotions for many of us. Our prized main character is bullied into doing some powerful things. The movie as a whole brings a complete turn of events, one that none of us could have really expected. And in spite of all the things it does to troll us, it's still not the end. Sending out a defensive reply to the titled topic is an organic response. I'd like to ask many of the readers here from relying on these instincts; the discussion I'd like to bring about this is not in any way trollish in nature. This thread can certainly garner a lot of hatred but I'd like the readers to know that(disclaimer) it is not my intention to produce anger. Thanks.

Now I'd like to start the actual discussion: after the third movie, is Shinji(morally, spiritually) evil? This is a thought that I drew up a few weeks ago. I think there is good substance to believe that Shinji is now corrupted by the dark side. There are a few reasons I think this, starting with the setting of the movie.

You Can (Not) Redo is a much darker movie than it's predecessors. 14 years after when Instrumentality should have happened, it didn't. Imagine an ordinary game of chess where, 3/4 into the game, one of the King pieces(arguably the most valued piece in the game) is given a different set of rules. Firstly, it is not allowed to move, forced to remain on whatever tile it currently rests on. Secondly, the frozen King piece is not allowed to be captured. Third, the game is not allowed to end. These conditions effectively extend the duration of the game, well past strategies that we'd see normally spring out from the individual players. Eventually, when the frozen King piece, and the other rules surrounding it, are lifted, the board looks a lot different. Other pieces have moved around. Some are lost from the board. If the King were conscious, having a blindfold lifted at the end of it's stasis manner would cause considerable confusion: what happened to my allies? My enemies? Why do I still fight?

This is You Can (Not) Redo in a nutshell. Shinji, inarguably the most important character of the series, wakes up to foreign territory. The veil is lifted from his eyes and he learns the world is not the same as it was. Further, things have changed since he was asleep. His lack of answers and confusion leaves a gap for others to step in and lead, and unfortunately, as many of us remember, he is led down a path that better's someone else's goals, while worsening his own condition.

I don't think Shinji's problems justify his actions and that, despite Kaworu's refreshing words of vindication, Shinji may now be evil. Though not thoroughly so.

You Can (Not) Redo(now being referred to as Q) is a movie wreathed in darkness. It starts in space. Shinji is awakened and ferried into a dark ship. The surface areas of NERV stand victim to massive splashes of blood. Rei's tank chamber is painted purple. Q is a dark movie with a dark theme. What's more, Shinji willingly chooses to be a part of this theme, though he is in part persuaded by a silver-tongued devil to do so.

And therein lies Shinji's contact with evil. Although he himself is not a servant of demons, he is surely a distributor of them. Although he isn't told "kill Lilith," he does so. He hops in a monster, even more terrifying than anything we've previously seen, and commits deicide - the killing of a God, and in fact, the God that birthed all of humanity.

Lilith then releases a black Angel - by definition the enemy of the Evangelion pilots - which then wraps itself around the vehicle that Shinji is in dominant control of. The Angel then allies with Shinji's biomechanical vehicle, even granting it additional strength, before bringing it to the sky, opening the Doors to the end of the world, and causing another catastrophic event.

This is all ignoring the previous events - that Shinji is supposedly responsible for the disappearance of much of the population of a given area(at the very least, Japan).

This is the setting where Shinji is placed into, and regardless of where this King sits on the board, it is Shinji who moves forward. The question is, are there consequences(of a higher power, naturally) for the direction Shinji has moved: is Shinji evil? Kaworu left us with a prophecy of sin-retribution, but the word sin still remains.

Shinji is cloaked in very dark attire when he commits the act of deicide. He descends into a very dark and confusingly-violent pit, even further down than anything we've seen in Evangelion thus far(Level EEE). He descends with another mutant vehicle alongside his own - a headless giant wielding a scythe. He attacks his previous comrade and is also in part responsible for the death of his ally, who is sharing the vehicle he's in. The message that Shinji and Kaworu exchange before sharing seats in Evangelion 13 may at first seem like an inspirational one - piano montages couples with messages of "try harder and you can do it" - but it is quickly revealed that this is a ploy to get Shinji to act recklessly. Further, the entire piano sequence was in part an act of escapism. It was in part a way to get Shinji to not look at the full picture but instead create an act of expression. This type of manipulation is wrong in itself, and the darkness in the setting presented certainly alludes to Shinji being a warrior of darkness of some sort.

Characters
Shinji's lack of consideration for the consequences of his actions is the cause of his trouble with some characters and ignorance in others. For instance, Rei continues to be surrounded by sorcery, with even less of a personality than before. Rei itself comes off as a darker character. Shinji pays no attention to this.

After being told through Fuyutsuki that Shinji's original Evangelion unit has the soul of his deceased mother in it, Shinji hops in another unit anyways. As if that somehow offers an alternative explanation. (It probably doesn't)

Shinji is throughout the movie in the palm of his father's hand, who is the closest thing to Satan right now, and accordingly probably even closer to committing deicide than Shinji was. Gendo is even implied to be Satan at the end of the movie, with the dark wiring looking like frames for dark wings, as a demon would carry. Shinji carries out the wishes of his dark lord; why should we not consider him evil himself? Mythological imps are stereotypically evil, yet most are also stereotypically too dumb to know of their deeds.

Asuka, in NTE, represents courage to continue moving forward, despite having battle scars. Shinji physically rejects this inspiring message, pushing her off a mountain of skulls. Misato is also packaged into a similar category; Shinji violently escapes from her out of childishness, into a land more morally corrupt than the previous.

Conclusion
Shinji, simply put, does the deeds of someone evil. He is, and should be considered, evil himself, regardless of his knowledge. His lack of foresight towards the consequences of his actions are not justifications or excuses for his unholy actions, which include one of the most unholy actions ever written about, the killing of God(and if that doesn't strike you, remember, Lilith is literally the mother to all of humanity, and Shinji is the closest responsible member for killing her).

Shinji is, in Q, a dark warrior: someone who is fighting for a cause he does not understand(the side of evil), but a cause that makes him sin in plentiful amounts. In EoE, Shinji's morality is ambiguous; he ends the world but only to fulfill a holy contract. He becomes one with Lilith, God in this case. In Q, he kills God, and although this seems like an amendment to the holy scrolls, he, regardless, kills God. Gendo outright says that this is what was committed. Although this could still be Shinji following a holy script, we do not know whether the amendment is holy or unholy - only that it is part of the scrolls and that Shinji killed god. And that Gendo still intends to initiate the Human Instrumentality Project.

"Where do we go from here" is an interesting question. Kaworu was rather ambiguous - he basically said that Shinji's will will continue to travel the world, altering through the passage of time. This doesn't tell us much. Prior to that, Kaworu tells Shinji that sins can be forgiven. True - but by whom? Lilith is dead.

This raises the biggest question of all - if Lilith isn't alive, who is to hear Shinji sin? God is dead. Sinning is the opposite of holiness, but with holiness out of the question, can one really be unholy? Kaworu's quote of Shinji's sins being lifted was from a time when he did not(assumingly) expect Lilith to die. How can a sin be forgiven without a higher power? If there is a higher power - where? And will that higher presence now forgive Shinji for his new sins - for killing a God?

Edit (I'm choosing to edit in a reply here, instead of putting it on Page 5, bc I'm concerned it will be buried)
I've read a lot of replies on here in regards to this post. I don't think any of them have really addressed the core of my argument here(although, to be quite honest, I haven't had a pure look at all of them). Rather, they hold a generalized response, which I already addressed up above.

I understand 100% that Shinji's intentions are not evil. If the third Rebuild movie expressed anything, it would be that Shinji was bullied into committing his acts of violence. I am very clear on that and I feel I established that point above.

But, again, that is not the type of evilness I'm speaking about. My aim is not to discuss Shinji being consciously evil; my aim is to discuss Shinji being evil of deeds. I will draw on my previous example again: mythological imps(those little critters with horns that come in packs, sometimes with magic-wielders that are able to draw on the powers of darkness) are often not conscious of themselves being evil. They are blind followers. But the context in which these monsters are placed in show them to be evil.

Someone in this thread told me that if I'm talking this way, I am condemning all soldiers to evil deeds. Although I am not necessarily in disagreement with that, let me roll with that punch and pull an Ad Hitlerum: Hitler is undoubtedly one of the most evil men to go down in history, yet a side of me finds it hard to believe that Hitler did not have at least a partial reasoning(regardless of how absurd it was) behind his madness. The man committed genocide, one of the absolute worst crimes ever conceived. I am in no way, shape, or form justifying what he did as, in any way, proper; I am simply stating that there was likely a personal justification on his part for doing so. Regardless, what he did was cruel, disgusting, and plain evil.

Does that mean that, because terrible people hold a justification for doing terrible things, we should forgive them? Not really. Fine, Shinji's just a young boy. Fine, he's just following orders. Fine, he's put into a position that provokes extreme levels of anxiety, and forces him to move forward in a way that isn't very thought through. Did he or did he not kill Lilith though?

On the topic of sins - someone here pointed out Shinji didn't sin, or it really wasn't a sin, or something to that effect - it is highly suggested, through Kaworu's words, that Shinji did indeed sin. Not only is it suggested before Shinji killed Lilith but after as well. The movie is laid out with messages of vindication and retribution for his sins. I don't accept justification for Shinji's sins as "they don't count" or "he didn't do it." Gendo may have loaded the gun but Shinji pulled the trigger.

Shinji may not have consciously sinned. Shinji may not have consciously committed evil acts. But regardless, he was in part responsible for them. I am not saying that Shinji gracefully accepted the title of evil, or that he accepted it in any way at all. But even if he refuses to accept it, his evil deeds forced the title of evil onto him. "He's just a kid" doesn't seem to address that. "Violent men are evil" doesn't either. The movie, through it's use of themes and messages, suggests that what Shinji did is bad. If you'd like substance to my argument, you only have to look at what Kaworu has to say.

The real challenge in discussion(or at least in thought) is deciding whether Gendo's change of the DSS plans affects Shinji's alignment. And in what way.
Last edited by unitM on Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:40 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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Postby BlueBasilisk » Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:12 pm

Shinji was working for the wrong side, but he's not evil. He's just a short-sighted, self-interested 14 year old who can't see beyond his own problems sometimes and doesn't have all the information he should before rushing into things. Nothing really unusual for a teenager. Unfortunately for him, the setting and his unique situation means the consequences of those actions are extremely dire. If he were actually evil, I don't think he'd have been so devastated by the things he learned.
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Postby Lennik » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:21 pm

Short answer: No, not even close.

Everything he does that ends up being harmful is done out of ignorance and stubbornness, nothing more. He even says in 3.0 that he's trying to fix all the damage he did for everyone else's sake. His actions are misguided, but his heart's always been in the right place whenever push comes to shove.

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Postby Sachi » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:52 pm

I don't think Shinji kills Lilith in Q. According to Kaworu, what they come across is her corpse. Lilith was already dead, but her body was being preserved there until the time was right. What had been lying dormant was the 12th Angel and upon awakening it absorbed Lilith's remains, which was in turn absorbed by Unit-13.
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Postby Ray » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:20 am

If by Evil you mean a fellow human being who's fallen from grace? Who have impure thoughts? Then yes. But by that broad definition we're all evil.

But is Shinji evil in the classical definition? I wouldn't say that. Evil implies intent to do harm. Evil implies lack of remorse for sins past. Shinji didn't intend for the destruction of the world. Not that that will matter to the rest of the world.

As for whether or not the rest of humanity sees him as evil after the the events of third and fourth impact? Killing off the majority of humanity? That's up for debate. You can't come back from the crime of genocide events if it was accidental.

But as for whether we the audience are supposed to see him as evil? Of course not. That's not Anno's intent in the slightest. He clearly wants us to see Shinji as an empathetic victim, not as a villain.

But. . . Honestly part of me wishes Shinji WAS evil. Because, after all the hatred all the violence all the pain weighed upon him. . . I wouldn't blame him if he renounced the world and became the monster that everyone thinks he is. You can only be hated by the world and treated like a criminal for so long before you start hating it back.

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Postby Na7e » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:24 am

He's not evil, he's just a dick.

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Re: Is Shinji evil?

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Postby pwhodges » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:00 am

View Original PostunitM wrote:Shinji, simply put, does the deeds of someone evil. He is, and should be considered, evil himself, regardless of his knowledge.

You have just condemned every individual soldier or civilian pawn in some of the greatest conflicts of mankind. Maybe that's your intention - but most people understand that compassion for the individual is a key part of human society. The very word "humanity" is even used to describe it!

"Judge not, lest ye be judged."

Shinji never chose to get into Unit-01 on account of his mother being in there; so why should learning that just now change his attitude to getting into Unit-13 when he is told it is the tool for his task?

As for Lilith, she didn't even have her head attached. We really don't know what led to her state; but (human knife wounds aside) pulling out a spear is not a classical way of killing someone.
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Postby AuraTwilight » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:42 am

Most of what Shinji did was basically an accident, so he can't really be held morally accountable due to being an ignorant pawn. He can basically only be held accountable for what he consciously and intentionally did in the heat of the moment of fighting Zeruel.
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Postby Stillborn » Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:50 am

Shinji is not evil but criminally stupid and ignorant.

The fun(sad?) fact is that if he WAS evil, less people would hate him, bercause what audience hates more than evil character is character who fails as a hero and fails even at being evil.
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Postby pwhodges » Wed Sep 16, 2015 3:56 am

View Original PostAuraTwilight wrote:He can basically only be held accountable for what he consciously and intentionally did in the heat of the moment of fighting Zeruel.

And the interpretation of that is highly contentious. What is the actual thought behind "I don't care what happens to the world"? Is it a statement that he will destroy it, or simply that he is not thinking about the (so far unknown) consequences while he does what he has to do?
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Postby unz » Wed Sep 16, 2015 4:48 am

I' m only skimming through so I missed stuff but I want to give a couple of cents on Shinji's character.
He's a tragic one, hence he's meant to make you realize the fantasy he's going through doesn't make up for his needs and by extention yours. So to answer the title yeah he can be lots of things but not as absolute, more like on a variety of degrees of grey because like every other character in evangelion he does things, over and over, to get satisfaction he loses most of the time.
Q was really Kaworu literally promising the world to Shinji who later snaps and won't accept having lost this last chance. The moral of the story is to learn to come in terms with our mistakes so we have Misato triggering the dss choker to kill Shinji, Asuka (and by extention Mari) actually saving Shinji after losing the eva(s) (wasn't amazingly played imho), Kaworu basically killing himself out of more hinted reasons and irony, Rei trying to make sense of things after causing a mess, Fuyutsuki and Gendo (I don't remember the name) aknowledging (I can't spell either) defeat at their own game (except Gendo wouldn't stop there just like Shinji).
And of course we have catatonic Shinji after facing things the hard way. /rubbish end of post




edit
" The third Rebuild movie is undoubtably a factory of bad emotions for many of us. Our prized main character is bullied into doing some powerful things. The movie as a whole brings a complete turn of events, one that none of us could have really expected. And in spite of all the things it does to troll us, it's still not the end"

Brb for reading in a third moment but you should know to expect some shit happening in evangelion, the rebuilds are still a bit short of agony compared to the tv show. Approximated might be a better word tho.

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Postby xyz346 » Wed Sep 16, 2015 3:15 pm

Shinji evil? No. Ignorant, but not evil.
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Postby Rei IV » Wed Sep 16, 2015 3:21 pm

:huh: at thread question.

No, he's not evil. He's just bratty.
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Postby xanderkh » Wed Sep 16, 2015 3:29 pm

Off all things, he's a selfish bratty prick, like most teenagers. But what makes him better than just being evil is that even as a selfish prick, he has a MUCH better chance at redemption than just being evil for the sake of being evil.

It's like the difference between Darth Vader and Palpatine. One was tragically broken into the life of a Sith Lord, while the other was ruthless and Evil from the get go, and which one was redeemed in the end after all the pain and suffering? Darth Vader. and Shinji falls into the former category and thus has a chance for redemption. :)
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Postby Reichu » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:46 pm

New movie Shinji definitely qualifies by virtue of how painful any thread about him rapidly becomes. This character exists for no other reason that to compel fans into an endless cycle of mutual destruction. :ninja:

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Postby xanderkh » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:00 pm

View Original PostReichu wrote:New movie Shinji definitely qualifies by virtue of how painful any thread about him rapidly becomes. This character exists for no other reason that to compel fans into an endless cycle of mutual destruction. :ninja:


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Postby ChaddyManPrime » Thu Sep 17, 2015 2:03 am

Well he is technically the Anti-Christ... so yeah, most likely.
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Postby unz » Thu Sep 17, 2015 4:25 am

Why the anti christ?...he has the top seats to witness some shit and find some sort of redemption for everyone in the end. Like that guy carrying the cross and begging god for mercy because everyone is dumb.
Of course there's a dual reading of love and death at play so the more he is rejected the closer he goes to condemn and kill everyone, I feel like we know how it goes since I assume we watched the tv show
Last edited by unz on Thu Sep 17, 2015 6:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Bagheera » Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:35 am

No.

Next question?
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Postby Sgt. Griff » Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:46 am

You have just condemned every individual soldier or civilian pawn in some of the greatest conflicts of mankind. Maybe that's your intention - but most people understand that compassion for the individual is a key part of human society. The very word "humanity" is even used to describe it!


One cannot go too far when using the excuse of "following orders", certainly normal and good people will be forced to do things they would never do, however this generates the possibility and the moral loophole of those who do genuinely evil things and are "evil" themselves passing it off as orders. I hate to be devil's advocate, but I would say although Shinji is unknowing of what he's doing, he's told many a time that it'll end badly and goes through with it anyway.

Now to say he's evil, or a dick, or stupid is going too far, instead I would say that he was dealing with immense internal conflict and like any teenager would be expected to do, he lashes out in anger at the world he feels has wronged him. He sees it as an act under his own volition, and although in this case it really wasn't -falling once again into line with a long string of his actions that, although seemingly self motivated, are predetermined by forces far out of his control- his own undertaking of what he thought was his action, with no regard for the consequences definitely indicates a loosening of his morals in the face of this internal conflict.

I'd say he's not evil, just troubled and a bit fucked up.
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