The Satire of Evangelion

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The Satire of Evangelion

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Postby OtherNigel » Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:46 am

I feel like this should really be addressed, that being the apparent satire of NGE.
I feel as though the show picks apart mecha in many ways, with some of these ways utilizing irony and other satirical mechanisms.
For example, the mere character development pokes at the notion that a 14-year-old would deal with unimaginable burdens in such a way that is mature and brave. It is utterly ridiculous, and Anno makes fun of it by having angst-ridden teenagers complain and have nervous breakdowns.
What do you think about Eva's satire of mecha and anime?

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Postby Nahash » Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:10 pm

It is often said that Evangelion is a deconstruction of the Mecha genre. The connoisseurs will say rather a deconstruction of Super-robot. The Mecha genre is divided into 2 great genres: The super robot and the Real robot. Evangelion would be a deconstruction of the first genre.
However, this theory has a big problem:
Evangelion borrows from both genres, both Super (over-powerful robot, big aliens villains) and Real (pseudo-technical ubiquitous language, robot that has virtually no autonomy, geopolitical intrigue, personal and psychological problems of the pilots) I wonder if the elements which some see as a deconstruction simply would not be those borrowed from the Real robot.

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Re: The Satire of Evangelion

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Postby silvermoonlight » Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:50 pm

I really like it because it could have been just another big robot show and I think in the episode Dance Like You Want To Win it is brilliantly done even to the point that the show knows its taking the piss out of its self, I also like the clever balance between dark and light tones.
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Re: The Satire of Evangelion

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Postby peripateia » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:41 pm

This is gonna sound like yet another glossy fluff piece praising NGE to the high skies, but oh well:
Deconstruction is definitely the word that comes to my mind to describe NGE's distinct role in 90's mecha anime. The word is thrown around a lot, so I had to actually review what it means. Here is TVTrope's pretty succinct definition of genre deconstruction:

"Basically, the heart of the genre is laid bare, warts and all. It is not solely done to denote how unpleasant a genre or trope is, but to break away from the clichés and stock themes said genre or trope has acquired." source: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M ... nstruction

Shinji Ikari, protagonist extraordinaire, fails time and again to live up to high expectations in a harsh and confusing world full of amorphous enemies. And yet it's director Anno's sympathetic take on a weak boy's journey to maturity that has caught on to fans time and again, who cite him as one of the most relatable characters in all of anime. There's something really fallible and human about Shinji, about the entire cast as a matter of fact, that has given me a great deal of comfort over the years.

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Re: The Satire of Evangelion

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Postby Cybermat47 » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:33 am

The AU sequence in ep. 26 certainly seems like a satire of "slice of life" anime series, specifically the context in which it's presented - an ideal but fake world, in contrast to the flawed but real world.
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Re: The Satire of Evangelion

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Postby OtherNigel » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:51 pm

View Original PostCybermat47 wrote:The AU sequence in ep. 26 certainly seems like a satire of "slice of life" anime series, specifically the context in which it's presented - an ideal but fake world, in contrast to the flawed but real world.

Yeah, that was good satire because in the context of the show it gives you a completely different feeling, specifically a quite sad feeling.

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Postby TheCarkolum » Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:59 pm

To me Eva is not a mecha. EVAS are not mechas, and they are not even the focus of the show. So no, it's neither a deconstruction nor a mecha show.

"A deconstruction of the super-robot genre." What do you understand by deconstruction? Does this word mean "the same elements but different"? Well that's a vague definition. In Eva the elements differ so much from a Super-Robot anime that almost can't considered "the same elements". When do we mark the line? The only thing that might resemble a Super-Robot element is the fight between a humanoid thing and an ugly thing, but that scenario is a broad, ancient science fiction concept that can be referred to many different situations, so...
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Re: The Satire of Evangelion

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Postby Sachi » Fri Jul 21, 2017 10:55 am

View Original PostTheCarkolum wrote:To me Eva is not a mecha. EVAS are not mechas, and they are not even the focus of the show. So no, it's neither a deconstruction nor a mecha show.

The Evas not being true mechas are part of the deconstruction. In the first several episodes, the series is presented very much as a mecha show, and other than a few clues here and there, it's not until much later that the audience is informed of anything otherwise. More deconstructive elements begin to show as the series progresses, but one of the most upfront subversions to the genre is having Shinji as a non-traditional hero and his continual existential crisis over being a pilot. We eventually learn the series isn't really about Shinji's struggle against the Angels, but that it's more about his struggle with himself. The apocalyptic and exaggerated imagery of the outer world becomes window dressing for the bleak reality of the inner struggles of human characters. Eva is a deconstruction because it presents itself initially as one thing, but subverts that expectation by taking familiar elements and doing something completely different with them.
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Re: The Satire of Evangelion

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Postby TheCarkolum » Fri Jul 21, 2017 7:21 pm

View Original PostSachi wrote:The Evas not being true mechas are part of the deconstruction. In the first several episodes, the series is presented very much as a mecha show, and other than a few clues here and there, it's not until much later that the audience is informed of anything otherwise.


So, if the Mechas are not but seem like real Mechas, is a deconstruction of the Mecha series? That's like saying Sakamoto Desu Ga would be a deconstruction of the school genre if it's confirmed that is not a real student, when that doesn't affect the manga/series enough to be a deconstruction. Moreover, in episode 2 we already have several hints that the EVA is NOT a robot (like the eye ball), we have internal struggles of the characters. To me, barely reminds me to a mecha series. The only way I could consider something a deconstruction would be something that fits within the genre, but the events take so unusual routes that may revert the tropes in the genre. EVA is not the case. Take the show as a whole. Look at EoE. Does it look like it belongs to a mecha movie, like at all? "No, because of that it's a deconstruction". But not one element of a Mecha show is in the movie. Then, I can't take the show as a deconstruction.

View Original PostSachi wrote:one of the most upfront subversions to the genre is having Shinji as a non-traditional hero and his continual existential crisis over being a pilot. We eventually learn the series isn't really about Shinji's struggle against the Angels, but that it's more about his struggle with himself.


Shinji, when pilots the EVA, doesn't subvert so much. He almost all the time wins, he's like the pilots from Gundam, or Macross, or Ideon. The only difference is, when he doesn't pilot the EVA, the plot becomes what it's really about: character interactions. EVA is a psychological anime in a sci-fi setting, not a Mecha. Ideon is more deconstruction than Eva is. It's fully a Mecha, but takes a route so fresh and "spiritual" than turns the genre around, but still being 100% mecha.

View Original PostSachi wrote:Eva is a deconstruction because it presents itself initially as one thing


You're talking like Eva it's totally disguised from its gist at first, but it's not. Several people have told me like Eva seems like a monster of the week show at first, but that's horseshit. The show is just being subtle. Even the first time I saw the first two episodes of Evangelion I knew that it weren't like a regular mecha show. There's always that human, visceral, existentialist tone around the show, and it's like that from beginning to end. To me the show has the same goal, even from the get-go. And it's not like the battles are forgotten, there's always battles in the show, it's not like at first you think "Oh, it's Gundam!" and at the episode X "Tada! This is what the show is about, we have fooled you!"
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Postby Sachi » Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:15 pm

I'm not sure I understand your black and white approach to these things. I'm not claiming that the show is totally disguised at first; I even made of point of saying there are clues throughout the beginning of the series. It's a slow burn, not a complete table flip. Using the mecha genre as a vehicle, Anno explores other ideas, but the series still falls firmly within the mecha genre. Taking the fact that they're not "really robots" is splitting hairs on a grand scale, and is not enough to disqualify the show from the genre.

Regarding the eye, which we don't actually see until episode 02: yes, that is the first clue the Evas are not simply robots, that there is "more than meets the eye" so to speak. And other than Unit-01's berserk mode in that same episode, as well as its bare hands in the next episode, this mystery is largely put on the backburner until later in the series (IIRC, not until Leliel, episode 16). Between then, it's easy for the casual viewer to forget those clues and believe they're watching a normal mecha show. The idea the the Evas are more than just robots is not explored until much later in the series. As far as the pilot episode of the series is concerned, though, they're just robots.

Also, no mecha themes in EoE? What about the single greatest "giant robot" fight of all time? Asuka's famous last stand. (Inb4 "not real robots")
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Postby Reichu » Fri Jul 21, 2017 10:53 pm

Eva-01's exposed head appears again in episodes 07 and 14, as if to guard against the possibility of the audience forgetting. (Pity it's drawn so poorly and hard as fuck to know what we're supposed to be looking at...)

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Postby Sachi » Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:25 pm

I suppose the question is whether or not the Evas not being actual robots disqualifies the series as a whole from belonging within the mecha genre.
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Re: The Satire of Evangelion

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Postby pwhodges » Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:46 am

View Original PostSachi wrote:IRegarding the eye, which we don't actually see until episode 02: yes, that is the first clue the Evas are not simply robots, that there is "more than meets the eye" so to speak.

What about moving spontaneously to protect Shinji in episode 1? More ambiguous but still a clue.

Sachi wrote:I suppose the question is whether or not the Evas not being actual robots disqualifies the series as a whole from belonging within the mecha genre.

There are a fair number of people who criticise it for not being a good-enough mecha series - presumably they are seeing it as such, so saying categorically that it can't be seen that way is simply wrong, even though those other people are in turn making an inappropriate judgement.
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Postby TheCarkolum » Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:51 am

View Original PostSachi wrote:Using the mecha genre as a vehicle, Anno explores other ideas, but the series still falls firmly within the mecha genre. Taking the fact that they're not "really robots" is splitting hairs on a grand scale, and is not enough to disqualify the show from the genre.


Anno is not exploring other ideas. These ideas ARE the show. The "vehicle" is not the mecha genre, but some sparse "Mecha" elements. And it's not even the vehicle of the series, rather than some elements that motivate the characters' feelings. You are assuming Mecha Elements = Mecha Genre, and that's not true. Add the fact that these elements are not intrinsecally Mecha, and the elements become more diluted.

View Original PostSachi wrote:Also, no mecha themes in EoE? What about the single greatest "giant robot" fight of all time? Asuka's famous last stand. (Inb4 "not real robots")


OK, my bad I didn't remember the battle of the EVA-02 against the soldiers. That does resemble to a Mecha Battle. In fact, it's the only sequence in EVA that reminds me fully of a Mecha. But again, the plot or the tone is not consistent with the Mecha genre if we take a global view of the movie or the show, for that matter.

Anyway, Wikipedia agrees that it's a Mecha show, and everybody thinks so, so it's not too much relevant what I think. Maybe people need to think what really "Genre" means...

I suppose the question is whether or not the Evas not being actual robots disqualifies the series as a whole from belonging within the mecha genre.


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Postby Sachi » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:45 am

>"Anno isn't using the mecha genre as a vehicle; he's taking elements from mecha, and using them to motivate characters."

:uhh:

>"Everybody agrees that's it's a mecha show. They must be a wrong."

I don't understand you.
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Postby TheCarkolum » Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:27 am

Motivate SOME character feelings, that's what I meant. The mecha fights are not a vehicle to the plot, at least not as a Mecha show is, but just one element. A very important element sometimes, like in the case of Asuka and Shinji, but there are so many important elements in the show, what encompasses all these elements is the characters interactions, and of course the quest for Instrumentality. That's the vehicle of the series. Do you get it now?

LOLwut when did I say they all are wrong? Do you think I'm such a pretentious asshole to think I'm right and everyone else doesn't? I'm just saying that Wikipedia and others like MAL use such a broad definition of what a genre is that doesn't work for me, because it fails to point out what the show is really about.

It's like the movie Splice (2010). It's usually labeled as a horror movie, when that's far away from what the movie is really about.
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Re: The Satire of Evangelion

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Postby Bryan » Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:50 am

View Original PostTheCarkolum wrote:Motivate SOME character feelings, that's what I meant. The mecha fights are not a vehicle to the plot, at least not as a Mecha show is, but just one element. A very important element sometimes, like in the case of Asuka and Shinji, but there are so many important elements in the show, what encompasses all these elements is the characters interactions, and of course the quest for Instrumentality. That's the vehicle of the series. Do you get it now?

LOLwut when did I say they all are wrong? Do you think I'm such a pretentious asshole to think I'm right and everyone else doesn't? I'm just saying that Wikipedia and others like MAL use such a broad definition of what a genre is that doesn't work for me, because it fails to point out what the show is really about.

It's like the movie Splice (2010). It's usually labeled as a horror movie, when that's far away from what the movie is really about.


There's no doubt that NGE is about the characters. That said, every show worth a damn is about its characters. Every Mobile Suit Gundam is about how the wars are affecting the lives of the people including the soldiers and the masses, not just action porn and battlefield strategy. In a lot of ways the Gundams are less important to Gundam than Evas are to NGE because in Gundam you could get pretty much the same effect by having a medieval setting and giving one of them a gun, there are ways to defeat a Gundam without a Gundam and that point can be moot when both sides have Gundams but the point is more about the fear that can come from such a singular person. Evas even by their simplest and weakest are far more important than that, they are the only thing that can defend all of humanity from practically any one of the Angels. There really can't be anything more important than that for the 24 episodes where they were the only consideration for everyone involved.

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Postby MuscleRobo » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:22 am

I think the "mecha" portion of Evangelion is way overblown. It has much more in common with the Ultra Series and Devilman. I mean look at this picture of Ultra Seven, sorry it's a low quality image from the low quality Ultra wiki, I'd snap a photo from my dvds if I was home. That robot hanger sure looks a lot like the Ultra Garrison hanger though doesn't it?

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Postby VoidEater » Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:11 pm

It's rather pointless to try and pin down whether the show "is" or "is not" a deconstruction of Mecha. If very obviously is viewed as such, has tons of commentary around the world critiquing it as such, and is therefore functionally a deconstruction of Mecha.

It's a much more interesting conversation to engage in what ways it succeeds or fails in this role. Some of which is delightfully captured here.

As an aside, thinking Shinji is dealing "with unimaginable burdens in such a way that is mature and brave" makes me fearful of what people think of as mature and brave. Sitting under a stairway in self-pity and -loathing, endlessly riding a train zoned out to the same DAT...?
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Postby Ray » Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:56 pm

Is it 'satire'? No. Satire is 'a comedy that has something to say about the world'. Eva may have 'funny moments' but it's not inherently funny. Which is kind've a requirement for being a satire.

Mel Brooks "The Producers" is a Satire because it mocks shoddy fascist ideology, and has something to say about how inherently silly Nazi Ideology is when you stare at it long enough and see it's cartoony theatrics for what they are.

"Grand Theft Auto V" is a satire that pokes fun at how inherently insane and self contradictory life in Los Angeles is at times, with the towering skyscrapers next to homeless shelters and abortion clinics, with the heightened cartoony versions of well known brands like "Budweiser" being reimagined as 'Pissenwatter" or the Rush Limbaugh-esque talk show host being married to a leftist NPR esque one, to the inherent fakeness behind mass media 'reality tv' like American Idol being spoofed and mocked for their hypocrisy.

Same thing for media like South Park, and to a lesser extent, Simpsons and Family Guy.

Eva I wouldn't say is supposed to be a straight up satire, so much as it is a straight deconstruction with some satirical elements thrown in. Like you're supposed to laugh at the satirical elements present when Asuka gets upset when her plugsuit makes her look fat because 'hey isn't trying to make sentai tropes realistic kind've inherently a futile endeavor'?

The thing with Satire is that it HAS to be funny. Deconstruction is Satire w/o comedic elements and can often be hard for a mainstream audience to swallow as they may see it as pretentious. While people are more open to satire, because at least then they feel their lizard brains have something to latch onto and laugh at as they're being informed about how inherently messed up a certain issue is.
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