I don't really get your question - Romantic interests in fiction aren't always supposed to be ideal & wholesome unless they're explicitly presented as role models - they're supposed to be interesting
& tell good stories
. Drama is interesting.
In the end I suppose it would depend on your definition of 'love', wether you mean 'romantic interest' in the general sense (in that sense there was a crush at least from Shinji's side & probably mutual lust), the intent to make the other one's partner or get each other's attention (that was there though little came of it), a deep connection/personal interest/ wish for each other's happiness (not there on either side) or like "quality caring twu wuw"/perfectly healthy relationship (probably not in this show anywhere
I'd like to note that sticking unrealistic or self-serving expectations into the relationship doesn't equal not caring at all especially if one is immature and the less than glorious moments occurred under extreme stress. For the most part he just tries to get along with everyone. "Don't know what love is" is a hard term like they had bad role models & developed some questionable patterns but it's very much physically possible for them to feel attachments or harbor godwill. It#s more a question of wanting something but not knowing how/ what to do & what not to do.
If you waited till you're a perfect person before you look for a partner you'd never get around to it. It's something that to some extent you have to learn through experience like everything else wether that experience is a mutual journey with one person or a series of sucessively better ones with different ppl.
Like I don't think that Asuka was right in her assertion that Shinji has no particular attachment to her, after they've been living under the same roof & workd together as comerades.
To begin with they're only ever 'potential love interests' rather than an outright couple & Shinji has at least 2 others as a part of the whole awkward teenage experience they're not really the 'go to offcial couple' the way some fans make them out to be, granted given their young age they're not gonna being doing much more than just be awkward around each other & maybe hold hands or something.
It's pretty much your standard anime love triangle setup with Kaworu coming along later except the cute romcom stuff stops wwhen everything goes to hell so nothing really goes anywhere, but even without the drama of the angel war such an outcome wouldn't be unusual for their ages.
IMHO the situation in canonland is more that they're mainly rivals (except Shinji being his nonconfrontation people pleasing self isn't much of a rival) but also both lonely & thus forced to rely on each other for comfort attention & human contact at times, with their close proximity & teenage hormones doing the rest, like, he obviously lusts
after her - Though there seems to be a bit of a crush from Shinji's side ("I want to be with you forever" in EoE)
Just from the show itself you could
plausibly construct a symmetrical case for Asuka ('You won't even hold me'), but AFAIK there was one this interview where Miyamura answered the question as to wether she really likes him with a clear no (like not even platonically. )
In the end this story is more about coexistence, they're both essentially obstacles for each other to deal with, & the fact that humans get attached to each other is just another thing that makes it hard. Her mockery would hurt less if he didn't give a rat's ass about her.
Impossible is a hard word tho, sure it would be unlikely but they're both still young & malleable.
I mean it's sure forced if you consider it objectively, why this person you can't stand when there's 3 billion other humans, but you gotta cut fanfic writers some slack tho - the most realistic scenario is that they end up married to some completely different person that they met in their 20s but most ppl who read & write fanfic want to do or read something involving most of the canon cast so as a fanfic writer you're probably gonna pair him with Rei, Asuka or Kaworu. And Asuka's the one who's confirmed to becanonically alive at the end & the whole 'enemies to lovers' thing does have its potential even if I personally don't see it in those particular characters.
Besides, rare as it is, some ppl DO marry their highschool sweethearts.
Mr. Tines wrote:
Shinji would come home from doing all the shopping to find her in bed with Touji
Though Asuka is petty enough to hurt someone by seducing their best friend, I doubt Touji would go along with it, he's more decent than that.
If you're referring to the Au sequence, Shinji literally didn't exist in that universe so no bro code block.
I mean they're certainly not very compatible.
"Opposites attract" is a long debunked fable (indeed AFAIK studies show such a strong tendency toward similar personality traits in lasting relationships that it was probably made up to explain why some partners have differences at all
) and besides simplistic - Ppl can be similar in some areas and different in others, & perhaps work around the 'different' areas because they understand each other so well in the 'similar' ones.
Same with this frankly hurtful idea that introversion needs to be 'fixed' preferrably by an extrovert; In fact a functioning introvert/extrovert pairing requires that both respect each other's nature. (ie, the introvert should let the extrovert get their people fix with their other friends & not deride their ambitions as shallow, and the extrovert should give the introvert their space & not talk over them)
Asuka is not in any way more well-adjusted than him just because she's an extrovert or a loudmouth; at most they're even, she'd need just as much work as him if not more, she's the one with the mean streak.
When it comes to similarities & differences, ppl often point to how they had similar bad experiences & how that should make them theoretically able to understand each other once the communication hickups are taken care of , but that disregards how their reactions
to said trauma are strikingly different aside from human universals.
Their reactions are what's actually indicative of their personalities - the trauma was externally inflicted. I mean they have problems in general but they get on especially
badly with each other compared to anyone else they know. Let's not forget that they both had some mostly normal friendships for most of the series.
What they have in common is hangups in initiationg communication (they kinda seem set up to push each other's buttons), what they don't have in common is everything else - They'd probably have very different life goals, Asuka can't stand any
of Shinji's friends etc.
Bt again, relationships in fiction are supposed to be interesting not good in an objective IRL sense and assuming they eventually became mature adults there's very little that absolutely cant
be made to work.
Well let's be honest, she doesn't need a friend. In fact, she already has a friend, Hikari. But she needs a closer relationship, she needs someone who can understand her, someone like her, and at the same time, someone who can give all of himself not just sexually, but the whole picture.
That's bull. No one "needs" a boyfriend and the whole idea is preposterous & toxic. Romance doesn't "fix" people. It can both provide support and additional challenges, but one way or another the way your romance (or any other type of relationship) goes depends on you. You go into it as you, you don't suddenly become a different person. if anything having your shit together would be a prerequisite for better romance but no one ha their shit 100% together & peoople still want boy/girl/datefriends so yeah.
Sure she could benefit from some genuine emotional connection
but that has little to do with wether they're a friend a lover or a surrogate family member and much more to do with Asuka being emotionally honest.
That she doesn't get the understanding she wants has less to do with the lack of willing people - She's super popular at school, Misato & Kaji aren't at good at this as they could be & not perceptive enough to see through her mask but they did try to parent her, she had this random date guy right there etc.
It's her attitude that thwarts it - which is not the same as saying it's all her fault, she developed these patterns as a response to trauma, but there's only so much another person can do about it, especially if they have their own problems.
Your "someone who can give you everything" sounds more like a father or slave than a boyfriend anyways. A lover is an equal who has their own life, a symmetrical & mutual relation. If you want to get
you have to give
She has to grow herself, see a shrink or revaluate her priorities & maybe THEN the romance she wants can happen. Heck, she could learn during/while
the romance happens providing a practical example but she would still have to do the learning & it would be the learning that makes her better.
She has the exact same hangup with Hikari - not as visciously because Hikari was never a rival, but when Hikari was all willing to comfort her & take her in when she was all her lowest, she could only read her comfort as unwanted pity. Like if Asuka had been able to open up, she could have spilled the backstory to her and I'm sure Hikari would have been supportive & helped her get better. On the other hand I if she wouldn't take comfort from Hikari why'd she take comfort from a boyfriend? A boyfriend, more so than a regular friend, would be someone you want to impress & seem appealing to.
But as for Asuka's attraction to Shinji, that seems rather unusual. What makes Shinji interesting to her?
He's there, readily available, at her hom where she's most likely to get pangs of loneliness/ moments of weakness. Also, he takes her mistreatment where most people would tell her to eff off.
Tellingly, he was just as antagonistic when he first met her (which in a way shows how much he'd grown since the prologue arc where he took a whack to the face & felt he deserved it/ just lamented his misfortune) but after he was stuck with her in close quarters he inevitably started caring what she thinks of him.
As for the status question, I think it makes more sense to look at their immediate microscopic environment at their school than the macroscopic situation, that's what their day-to-day experience is like.
At their school, Asuka is immediately established as a Popular Girl (TM) whom everybody talk about, makes friends fast, has no problem getting dates etc.
They don't really make her feel better because these are mostly superficial relations, but that doesn't mean they're not there - She feels alone because of her attitude & not showing anyone her true feelings, not for lack of wanting people or "status". She is anything BUT an outcast - and indeed readily & gleefully mocks
those who would be considered outcasts, such as Rei. Asuka (at least the original version Rebuild is more debatable) is very much shown to be popular at school, described as 'idol-like' by the writers & very much acts
that way, too: She expresses dissatisfaction and anger openly, touts her status and prestige, always demands special treatment & generally acts spoiled.
That she inwardly feels isolated & abandoned doesn't change any of this, also, though they're not really any good to her she does have her father & stepmon & seems to be in semi-regular phone contact with them & at least the stepmom has the prestige & education of a doctor. Also it's implied that the ppl at Berlin's NERV branch spoiled her & gave her lots of attention, she owns TONS of fancy belongings that don't even fit in Misato's appartment.
None of that is any substitute for real emotional connection, but it IS status.
There's probably a moral lesson in here about how archievement & superficial admiration alone doesn't make you happier or better than anyone else, b/c lets face it, truly happy & confident people don't feel a need to put others down. We don't see much of the date guy or non-Hkari friends because they don't really matter beyond stating that they exist.
Shinji may technically
be eminence grise but he doesn't even know what a big deal his folks are and neither do his classmates. (No one ever goes "oh that's the boss man's kid, lets smooze up to him") As for Gendo, he might as well not be there. He owns a fancy mansion but Shinji ain't seen the inside of it. He lives with a perpetually broke 29 year old. He basically grew up as a foster child & for his first few weeks in his class went unnoticed.
He's got a small group of genuine friends but they include the class clown, the local super nerd and that weird girl nobody really knows.
That said he's not exactly "un-popular" at least not after his classmates find out he's the pilot there seems to be some short-lived attention complete with some fangirls.
For most of the show's duration his placement in the class hierarchy is probably best described as 'average joe' though Shinji himself would probably rate it lower due to his doubt in relationships and nonassertive personality.
There's a limit as far as this goes because of clothes, healthcare etc. but to some degree social status is made up, people don't wear signs with their parent's incomes, on the one-to-one level status in small groups is still determined by a person's attitude & personality.
That said this "human nature" argument is BS - people of different status date all the time it's just less common.