Criticism of Evangelion: Accept, Reject, or Both?

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Criticism of Evangelion: Accept, Reject, or Both?

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Postby xanderkh » Tue May 09, 2017 3:37 pm

It's no secret that Evangelion is not only the most influential anime of all time, but probably the most polarizing anime to date, in either you love the series, or hate it to apathy.

Perhaps the most polarizing aspect of the series, is in it's characters, especially towards Shinji as the main character. But then again, as fans of the series, we've pretty much accepted the fact that this is the initial reaction that casual watchers will conform to, as Evangelion is a show that does take some rewatching and rethinking in order to get even the gist of, and appreciate in a new light. Plus, it also takes a considerable amount of empathy and experience to put yourself in the character's shoes, which is why Shinji resonates so well with people who have suffered from depression.

It can be especially frustrating when people polarize Shinji's behavior as him just being a "whiny-bitch who doesn't have a spine" or who feels he doesn't deserve a happy ending because the "status quo" of evangelion. Thus, we go on endlessly debating and trying to refute a lot of the criticism against Evangelion and its characters as we feel that others don't appreciate beyond face value, devaluing the work and characters as a whole, kind of like how Spoony devalues Shinji. A lot of us take a lot of pride and effort to defend these characters because we resonate with them so well. :)

But, allow me to as a question: Is there possibly some validity to such criticism? Now, before all of you call me a "traitor" and have me guillotined, let me present you an example.

It's no secret that you guys know me as an INTENSE Shinji Defender, in a sense that I would be called part of the "Shinji Defense Sqaud", cause let's face it, the kid has been dealt one HELL of a bad card in his life, to where it makes sense he folds with all the shit he had to endure in his short life.

That being said, there are still some faults of Shinji that I can't ignore, such as him being a obstinate shit-head of a BRAT, who can't see beyond his own selfish needs and inadequacies to help those around him that need help, who only sees others at first as who can benefit him without giving anything in return because of his low self-esteem (hence the "Doll" scene in instrumentality).

NOW, that being said, does that mean that I'm in the camp of the Shinji "Pussy whimp who deserves to die"? FUCK NO! But, also, does that mean I'm in the camp that feels that Shinji did nothing wrong? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Despite me becoming frustrated at the flack and criticism that Shinji gets, I can't help but agree with some of the faults that Shinji possesses throughout the series, both the original and Rebuild. But does that make me empathize and love the kid any less? Of course not! It just means that I recognize him as HUMAN, probably the most human anime character ever created, the same way I empathize with people in the REAL WORLD, despite them having views or faults that I disagree with, and possibly even REJECT.

It's easy to side with others and viewpoints that conform to a more "black and white" mindset when it comes to worldviews, cause it makes it easier to process and deal with. But when presented with contradictory information, it confuses us and in some cases causes us to lash out at those who have different views because they don't conform to our own standard. I empathize with Shinji and his pain that he endures through the show, but I do feel that some of the pain he endure was indeed self-inflicted through no fault but his own. Contradictory, isn't it?

But guess what, that's life, it's not just black and white, but a whole color of opinions and viewpoints that have some validity and some without. Even though I sometimes don't enjoy criticism that Shinji gets, it at least helps me to view Shinji in a different light, and helps me to appreciate him more. :)

......Of course again, this is just MY opinion, but what do you guys think? Do you think some criticism of Evangelion is worth validating, or rejecting? Do you accept criticism that conforms to your own, or are you willing to listen and adapt, and willing to give your point of view to others? What criticism is worth listening to, or just rolling off as "trolling"?
"You're na�ve, Cecil. Even knowing betrayal and despair, you would depend on the whims of others?" - Golbez
---------------------------------------
Sephiroth: "Do you miss the Light?"
Golbez: "Hmph...I merely have duties to fulfill."
Sephiroth: "Too close to the brightness, and you may get scorched."
Golbz:.............
Golbez: Your loss can strengthen you.

"NGE Shinji is broken, Manga Shinji is an asshole, Rebuild Shinji is an idiot. Which is best? Uh, can I get some other options? All of these really suck." -Bagheera

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Re: Criticism of Evangelion: Accept, Reject, or Both?

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Postby C.T.1290 » Tue May 09, 2017 4:46 pm

I think I can accept some of the aspects​ of the show, though it's certainly not easy to be able to.
I feel I sympathized with Shinji the most, because let's face it, we were all like him when we had faced depression. And at the same time, I tend to view the other characters as being against him(Misato for not being supportive enough, and Asuka for being aggressive towards him for almost no apparent reason.). And because of that, I didn't really bother to try and understand the other characters and their struggles as much as I should have.

Regarding Asuka, it took me a while to be able to feel sorry for her. At first, I thought she was some selfish brat incapable of feeling remorse. Mainly because I was so focused on her progression during the series and Rebuild(I know Shikinami is supposed to be different, but she does posses the same traits as Soryu does). Due to that, my knowledge of her was incomplete before even watching EOE. I got some spoilers so know what happened, but apparently, it wasn't enough to understand the characters more than I have before, in this case, Asuka. Now that I've actually seen what happened to her in the film and her aftermath of the Human Instrumentality Project, I think I can be able to empathize with her a little more. And at the same time, I began to feel more hopeful for her to actually become a better person than she was before.

Sure, some parts may be frustrating and hard to bear. But if we take our time to understand the characters more, we can learn to appreciate it, learn the lessons through the characters, and be able to get the message that Mr. Anno has been trying to deliver through his work for a long time now.
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Re: Criticism of Evangelion: Accept, Reject, or Both?

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Postby big_big_bozo » Tue May 09, 2017 5:03 pm

What's important to consider when determining if a piece of criticism is valid or not, particularly when it comes to Eva, is whether it conflates critiquing the characters with critiquing the shows overall quality. For instance, this is the thought process of many Eva detractors;

- Shinji/Asuka/etc are X or Y or Z
- I don't like X or Y or Z
- Therefore, Eva is shit because the protagonist/characters/etc reflect X or Y or Z.

This doesn't even begin to take into consideration whether or not this was intentional, how it works into the rest of the show, and what the creator was trying to get across with this choice of characterization. Fail to address any of that, and the criticism loses any semblance of validity.

If you take the stance that Eva was unpleasant for you to watch due to X or Y or Z, but still acknowledge the qualities that have led to the shows popularity and acclaim independant of your own taste, then that’s a different ballpark. If you give someone shit for expressing an opinion of this nature, then YOU’RE the one missing the point. It’s a two way street man.

Personally, the only way I could seemingly dislike a show for having characters I find distasteful is if they were unintentionally unrealistic, attempted to be relatable but failed miserably, or are just downright poorly written. And wouldn’t ya know, Eva rarely gets called out for any of this, at least when it comes to the characters. Wonder why ….
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Re: Criticism of Evangelion: Accept, Reject, or Both?

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Postby Geometer » Wed May 10, 2017 12:36 pm

I think there is a difference between saying you don't like Asuka or Shinji as person instead of saying they are bad characters. I simply don't believe that they can be consider bad characters by any rational adult who understands people at the basic level. They are well written and act as how they very much should given their backstory and the events that they go through. You may not like how Shinji acts in EoE, I sure as hell don't, but its the logical conclusion a writer would give to him given his childhood, what happened to him in the series and what is happening to him right now. Same goes with Asuka or Misato. I still sometimes have a hard time sympathizing with Asuka, I'll think to myself "would it kill you just to be nice to for once" but then I'll remember that to her it probably is hard for her to open up to people and being the best and letting people know it is how she would seek happiness even if from an outsiders perspective it seems like self destructive behavior.

I think there are more valid criticisms of eva, the middle arc can feel sluggish and a bit out of place, the monster of the week format, the whole 1st impact/FAR/ isn't even touched on and the lore is confusing, SEELE are simply villainous, it can be hard to even understand Rei's dilemma and she could be said to be underdeveloped once Asuka takes the spot light, and even the whole premise of eva is too crazy for the serious and deeply personal it decides it want by the end. But those are different topics and most of the are quite debatable if they even are that much of a problem or a problem at all.

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Re: Criticism of Evangelion: Accept, Reject, or Both?

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Postby Magneto » Wed May 10, 2017 7:39 pm

Are you asking if Shinji's criticism is valid? I do not think it's hard to understand Shinji, even for those who have never had depression, it's just about sensitivity, the show really strives to show that the kid's life is hell, his traumas are directly linked to the events of his life and his Mental training. I think in this anime what is less important to criticize are the psychological traumas, this I believe were well worked.

The only thing that really makes me think is if it was necessary for Rei to have such an extreme level of autism.

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Re: Criticism of Evangelion: Accept, Reject, or Both?

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Postby Geometer » Thu May 11, 2017 9:52 am

View Original PostMagneto wrote:The only thing that really makes me think is if it was necessary for Rei to have such an extreme level of autism


Autism doesn't just equal social ineptitude. Rei really doesn't show that many signs of typical autism. She does have a near complete social disconnect but this is because she is quite confused on what it even is "to be" in her strange circumstances. She is only a few years old despite being in an teenage body, she isn't fully human, she was essentially abused by Gendo, had almost no other human contact until she started school(and none of people of the same "age" as her), and had no positive relationships till Shinji came along. So I think it does make sense for Rei to act the way she does.

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Re: Criticism of Evangelion: Accept, Reject, or Both?

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Postby Magneto » Thu May 11, 2017 10:12 am

View Original PostGeometer wrote:Autism doesn't just equal ineptitude. Rei really doesn't show that many signs of typical autism. She does have a near complete social disconnect but this is because she is quite confused on what it even is "to be" in her strange circumstances. She is only a few years old despite being in an teenage body, she isn't fully human, she was essentially abused by Gendo, had almost no other human contact until she started school(and none of people of the same "age" as her), and had no positive relationships till Shinji came along. So I think it does make sense for Rei to act the way she does.


I understand, is that analyzing casually seems strange, but I did not want to discuss it.


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