One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby TheCarkolum » Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:53 pm

Friends, Youtubers, critics... I've heard that complaint sooo many times over the years.

Some people think Eva fails as a psychological drama because it focuses too much in the problems of a teenager, and it's not coherent with the plot because there are millions of people who can die, and therefore the idea that the series prioritizes the problems of a single teenager against the entire world is ludicrous.

So why do you think? I think they're wrong, because they don't understand that the series goal is not make us care about the entire world. The series focuses on some people, the rest of the people is used as a context to the actual plot, which doesn't have to do with saving the world. In fact, the direction emphasises that.
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby Stillborn » Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:22 pm

I don't know...For example, I noticed that many users here blames Shinji for caring only about Rei and not giving a tought about whole world. So if Shinji is blamed for that maybe viewers are also wrong for caring about few selected characters we get to know instead of a whole nameless mass of people?

Maybe we should constantly think about bigger picture until faces we know become just another grains of sand in a desert of similiar grains.
Last edited by Stillborn on Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby TheCarkolum » Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:27 pm

Yeah, all these questions are the same. They come from a primordial one: "who cares about those people?THE WORLD IS ON DANGER!!" In that moment the "you didn't get it" sentence strikes!!
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby Stillborn » Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:49 pm

You'll have to get used to this if you want to stay here XD
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby Joseki » Fri Jun 23, 2017 3:45 pm

View Original PostStillborn wrote:I don't know...For example, I noticed that many users here blames Shinji for caring only about Rei and not giving a tought about whole world.


I'm not a huge expert, I'm only on my second year of philosophy's study at university, but Shinji's actions, in light of the knowledge he was given about Evangelions and angels, should be considered morally noble in modern western cultures.
Putting his own life on the line to save another life has always been something highly regarded. The most important thing a single human can have is life itself, and choosing to risk it for another human is something perceived as worth of the maximum respect.

The fact that he did it for a personal desire has to be considered irrilevant: Aristotle called the human specie
"zoòn politikòn" (political animal) because we need to have other people around to satisfy our needs to reach virtue, and this is what distinct us from the other animals.
The duality of human interactions as a tool to satisfy our selfish needs and at the same time as something beneficial for the others was noticed as soon as mankind started to ask questions about itself and it was since then accepted as part of our nature, not good nor bad, just encoded in our instinct.

What happened to Shinji is very topical of many greek tragedies: he did the morally right thing but due his naive nature fate/gods twisted his actions into a disaster, nullifying what he did.

I don't know if Anno or Khara see the scene in the same way, but from the moment the movie is out their interpretation is good as ours.
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby Reichu » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:22 pm

I wouldn't exactly call Japan a "western" culture...

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Postby Joseki » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:28 pm

I was talking about us western viewers obviously, it's normal to think that it was something good.
Anno, Khara and the Asian Fandom may have another interpretation having a totally different language and culture but it doesn't make it "more right".
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby Reichu » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:49 pm

Cultural considerations aren't "optional" when trying to interpret works that weren't made with your values in mind, unless you couldn't care less about the thing actually making any sense. Why bother with a Japanese work at all if the western POV is all you care about?

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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby pwhodges » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:52 pm

Of course, the DotA advocates (of whom I am not one) would disagree with you.
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby Reichu » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:57 pm

DoTA is perpetually being misused as a crutch for intellectual laziness of the highest order, and it can bite my shiny metal ass.

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Postby Joseki » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:27 am

Intellectual laziness is not considering all the possible interpretations and blindly accept your own as the only "truth".
The movies themselves doesn't provide any judgment on the choice Shinji made, they only provide a punishment for its consequences, which is slightly different.
The only time we saw any kind of reaction to the choice itself was when Misato cheered him before learning of the consequences it would have caused.
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Postby Reichu » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:42 am

The argument you seemed to be making is that because a viewer is western instead of Japanese, and because western philosophy informs their opinion in such-and-such a way on the film, any opinion they might form on the ethical or philosophical dimensions of a Japanese work is, somehow or other, just as good as what the creators have in mind. And I say to you that this is an incoherent perspective that smacks of DotA "any bullcrap my brain barfs up is as good as the most well-informed analysis" anti-intellectualism. If you want an educated opinion about something, everything won't begin and end with what you already happen to know. One must know their limitations, and one of the ones we're facing here is that there are things we'll miss if we refuse to see beyond our default cultural perspective. If all opinions, no matter how uninformed, are equal, why do you bother talking to other people about anything?

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Postby Joseki » Sat Jun 24, 2017 5:06 am

What I was trying to say is that a confrontational artistic product is intrinsically bounded to be interpreted based on the culture of the viewer and it doesn't make it wrong if the author intentionally leaves it open to interpretation, more so if the author has an history of highly valuing the desire and happiness of the single (and I also said that Shinji was "naive" or "reckless" or "stupid").

I think that both way of seeing that choice are valid until proven otherwise and the fact that one is usually "western" doesn't make it wrong.

Personally I think that this double interpretation enrich the movies.
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby TheCarkolum » Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:59 am

Joseki wrote:What I was trying to say is that a confrontational artistic product is intrinsically bounded to be interpreted based on the culture of the viewer and it doesn't make it wrong if the author intentionally leaves it open to interpretation


Yeah, all act of behavior can be seen through the cultural lens, and maybe that's the problem. Western people are frequently too influenced by the "hero saving the world" archetype (specially gringos :hahaha:), so they don't see morally correct that some teen is the series goal when the entire world is in danger.

Reichu wrote:One must know their limitations, and one of the ones we're facing here is that there are things we'll miss if we refuse to see beyond our default cultural perspective. If all opinions, no matter how uninformed, are equal, why do you bother talking to other people about anything?


I wouldn't say in this case it's a "limitation" really. It's just a moral archetype in Western media. In some cases, I admit you have to be aware of your cultural limitations and be able to break through them (even it can be really difficult or nearly impossible). But here you just have to take a broad view into media (anime helps sometimes).
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby Cybermat47 » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:29 am

View Original PostJoseki wrote:... more so if the author has an history of highly valuing the desire and happiness of the single.


Does Hideaki Anno really have a history of focusing on the story of a single individual?

In Shin Godzilla, the focus is on a team of people trying to save Tokyo, Japan, and ultimately, the world, from Godzilla. Individuals characters are shown, but their motivation is to save their city, and it's made clear that it's Tokyo's survival that we should be concerned about. In my eyes, one of the film's messages was that it's noble for someone to sacrifice themselves for the many.
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Postby Joseki » Sat Jun 24, 2017 10:09 am

But the "classical Japanese society" in Shin Godzilla failed hard and it was the main character's "reckless" actions that led to the creation of the task force (composed by outsiders). Neon Genesis Evangelion's message too was about the realization of self worth and the possibility of loving yourself as individual.
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby Kendrix » Sat Jun 24, 2017 3:14 pm

View Original PostTheCarkolum wrote:Friends, Youtubers, critics... I've heard that complaint sooo many times over the years.

Some people think Eva fails as a psychological drama because it focuses too much in the problems of a teenager, and it's not coherent with the plot because there are millions of people who can die, and therefore the idea that the series prioritizes the problems of a single teenager against the entire world is ludicrous.


How does the show in any way 'prioritize' them? The narrative doesn't cut Shinji any slack (quite the opposite) - it simply thematizes his issues because they are relevant. They are relevant simply in that there's a causal connection - in order to protect the world, Misato & co have to get him into the EVA.

The whole idea is that the world is so desperate, so pushed to the brink that they have to resort to unethical means such as drafting & cajoling a random teen & exposing him to soul-destroying lovecraftan bio horror - a regular one not the exeptionally heroic ones that - and they proceed to work Shinji & his fellow pilots until they break.

The thing with sacrificing the few to save the many is that sure, when it can't be avoided it's the most logical decision, but who decides how much can be avoided? also, the many are ultimately just a madeup concept to represent a ton of individuals. If you screw over people for the system you make it a worse place to live & less worth protecting, especially since it rarely ever stays at one sacrifice.

It's rarely just "throw one guy in the vocano and everything is magically solved". Of course the world is more important but that's where the whole drama of the show lies - the characters KNOW THAT, but they know it intellectually; They still have to fuel, motivate & sustain themselves somehow because that's how the human brain works, the sophisticated parts with reason & willpower are built on top of the simplistic mammal instincts & bonding mechanisms. Excluding hypnosis or high doses of LSD (& even those methods aren't reliable), you can't really talk to your subconscious. It doesn't understand words or logic.

Also, the people listening to the story are individuals society doesn't have ears - if it changes its through the actions of many individuals. So "how should I act in adversity" is anything BUT an useless question to ask - You can't influence everyone else ecept by convincing them.

You could tell a different, more big picture-ey story with a lot of politics & logistics in it & it would also be good, but Anno wanted to get to the meat of the human universals because that's what he was pondering about at the time.
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby Sachi » Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:01 pm

To an extent, the exaggerated bleakness of the post-2I world is to highlight the lens in which Shinji views the world. The Angels are often analogies for the personal struggles of our main characters, characterized as monsters in which they must overcome.

Ep 3 has the most on-the-nose example of this in the series, IMO. The episode shows Shinji's first few weeks of school and his inability to socialize with his peers due to the Hedgehog's Dilemma. He's a loner and keeps people at a distance in order to avoid getting hurt. He has a phone, but the episode is titled "the phone that doesn't ring" because he has no social connections. During his showdown with Shamshel, he is forced to let Toji and Kensuke into the entry plug, where they experience the true pain he goes through just to pilot the Eva. He literally and figuratively lets people in to see his real self, and as a result he is able to forge a friendship with the two. The episode ends with Toji calling Shinji's phone, thus ridding it of the title of the phone that doesn't ring.

So, while the series does primarily focus on the problems of a few people as the rest of the world is falling apart, it's probably more accurate to describe the world falling apart as an extension of the problems our main characters are facing. Going with the themes of depression present in the show: when one is experiencing depression, the world often seems bleak and hopeless. For the purposes of conveying the narrative, NGE creates a world of actual bleakness and hopelessness to thematically symbolize the depressing circumstances the cast faces.
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Re: One recurring complaint about EVA I've heard a lot.

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Postby Settie » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:56 pm

This discussion brings up something interesting, if a fictional work made by and for a Japanese society can't be completely 'got' by a western perspective, does the opposite apply as well. For example a western perspective on prejudice like Zootopia, would the core message of that film not resonate completely with a very homogeneous society with rather xenophobic attitude towards outsiders like the Japanese one??

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Postby TheCarkolum » Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:34 pm

View Original PostKendrix wrote:How does the show in any way 'prioritize' them? The narrative doesn't cut Shinji any slack (quite the opposite) - it simply thematizes his issues because they are relevant. They are relevant simply in that there's a causal connection - in order to protect the world, Misato & co have to get him into the EVA.


I think you are not getting the complaint. Of course Shinji has to have issues, and they MUST be portrayed, well it would be stupid not to portrait them! So yes, they are relevant and they must be. But the people complains about too much focus on their issues, to the point that 3 teenagers seem to be morally more important than the rest of mankind, who can be erased anytime (and that's like the biggest deal of all)
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