Guy Nacks wrote:If you can bring yourself to feel sympathy for Asuka despite all of her flaws, then you are perfectly able to do the same for Shinji. They're two sides of the same coin.
Theoretically, you’re very right, and I would agree with that affirmation… but I don’t think it’s fully correct. They’re indeed the same coin but they’re different coins at the same time. Opposites and alike. That's why appreciating one doesn’t make you appreciate the other so easily. It’s like with Misato, who was initially planned to be the main character along with Shinji. Does liking Shinji or Misato automatically make you like the other? Some people will say yes, while other will say no; there are many nuances that make them different, despite their similarities, just like with Asuka and Shinji.
As I said before, I felt very related to Shinji during the series, but in EoE I just lost that sincere empathy I had for him. Even if he’s 14 years old, I don’t think what he did was excusable at all, and even less likable
. I’m glad he did have the decency to admit he was fucked up
, but still, that isn’t an exculpation of his act.
Asuka consistently insulted him and showed terrible anger sometimes, but I don’t think she ever humiliated
him. In episode 22’, we get to know better why Asuka was so obsessed in having Shinji being “manlier” (to help her, after Kaji seems to be lost), and thus, why she pushed him so violently (or even cruelly sometimes, like when she brings up his mother’s memory before the kiss) to man up. But, as far as I know, she never tried to (almost) rape him, nor she tried to kill him, for example. She’s to be blamed for many things, but at least, not for those; and those are precisely the ones that make Shinji so “despicable” to me.
For God’s sake, he even locked
the room of the hospital, so it was not an “accident” out of pressure at all.
pwhodges wrote:How many of you folk are the same now as you were when you were fourteen? Do you wish to have your present place in society judged according to people's knowledge of your fourteen-year-old self?
Of course, nobody of us normal
people (I hope we’re all somehow normal here) has had any important responsibility when being 14 years old, so our childhood wasn’t as turbulent as that of the EVA Children. Despite being teenagers, they had to save the world, and Shinji had the destiny of the whole humanity in his hands. Consequently, it’s understandable that we judge them according to what we see in the series when they’re 14 years old.
Maturation and growth are there, obviously, and it’s applicable to the Children as well. But they still have 4 years to become minimally “mature”, being 18. Or if you will, 7, to be 21, more rational. And having had a non-normal
(I’m not saying abnormal
, for it’s quite pejorative, although it could be used too) childhood and pubescence, it’s very likely that their maturation will be awkward as well. Who knows.
@C.T. 1290: Thank you very much. I’m sincerely flattered by your words, although I’m sure there are way more knowledgeable Asuka fans than me. And yes, I did read "C.T.1290 vs Asuka: examining the good and the bad", even before it wasn’t a unified thread, and found it extremely interesting, for you all discussed many of the aspects I’m most interested in. It was nice to see so many different points of view about Asuka, the nature of her relationships, etc. In fact, I took many of the interpretations exposed there for my archive of analysis (it was born as a little folder with Evangelion curiosities, and has now dozens of Word files; that’s the problem of being a historian: we like to collect opinions too much, haha).
C.T. 1290 wrote:And what makes you so certain of that? Given to how she treats everyone in the series? If that's not who she really is, then what do you call a person full of spite and hatred towards people, especially those trying to reach out to her?
The problem is that nobody in Evangeion can be judged at face value. Shinji, for instance, is shy and avoidant, but we’re surprised to see he’s not “spineless” all the time (Magma Diver, f.e.), or that he can be quite violent as well. Or, Misato, who appears to be a naughty woman whose only role is to offer fanservice to the audience, but we eventually see she has great validation issues, just like the rest of the cast.
Even the class-rep Hikari has some “shadows”: while she’s kind and polite with everyone, and treats Asuka very well, in the end she’s completely unable to help her. She just lets her play videogames at home, or sleep in her room, but it seems Hikari has her very own problems, even though she seems to be very “normal”.
With Asuka it happens the same: what we see is not what it really is. She’s an attractive prideful German redhead, always bragging about her abilities, and claiming she’s independent and infallible. That’s a façade, though; it works in during the Action Arc, since Evangelion uses many popular architypes (the kuudere, the tsundere, the Amuro-style mecha-pilot, etc.), but it all crumbles down and shows us what the show is really about. Neither Asuka is a tsundere, nor she’s as independent and strong as she says.
In episode 9 we get to see her shedding tears calling for her “Mama”, which contradicted that façade of strength she was trying to show. But, the kiss scene, her infructuous infatuation with Kaji, her progressive loss of confidence in her piloting skills and, most importantly, Arael’s mind-attack, prove us that she’s far from being what she claims to be.
She felt she needed to prove she was the best
in order not to be replaced, like her mother did with a doll (and thus, her natural aversion towards Rei: Asuka is afraid of becoming a doll like that, willing to die for others). She also thought she was already an adult, which explains why she’s so obsessive in having Kaji give her attention, or why she wants to do things that would prove her "adulthood" (such as the kiss with Shinji, or going on a date with that friend of Hikari’s sister); but she utterly fails on that as well.
In the end, Asuka is not independent, but feels lonely and needs helps. She’s not confident of her abilities, but fears failure very much. She’s not mature, but she still wants her Mama’s affection. And well, what else? In short, she’s not an adult, but a crying little child who hides her tears behind a façade of pride and arrogance.
To a certain point, she needs to be violent and belligerent towards others not to allow them see her inner self and realize she’s weak and vulnerable. But, at the same time, by doing so, the others just don’t get close to her, so that she feels even more lonely and desperate.
I understand part of your aversion towards her, C.T., and I know it’s very difficult to comprehend who Asuka really is beneath her façade. But Anno did a good job telling us not to believe in what we were seeing, because there was a whole different reality in the shadows, that didn’t come up to the surface.
I really recommend you to check this analysis out, for it’s maybe one of the best that have been written about Asuka: EVA Analysis: Asuka Langley Sohryu
. It has some mistakes, and uses some… curious
expressions, such as “cis”, but if you ignore those little details, the article is simply superb. There was a discussion here regarding it, in which they commented on the aspects they found to be spot-on, or were mere overanalysis. Here it is: Long Analysis, HPD, Validation
Hopefully, after reading that you might see Asuka on a more positive note. Or, if not, at least you’ll understand better the true motivations of her belligerent behaviour. You might not like her even after understanding her, but that's fine. It happens to me with Shinj: although I can understand him very much, I don't quite appreciate him and find many of his actions unforgivable (relatable but not likable
, is how I see him).
Finally, as for growth, as I responded to pwhodges, while the Children are far from being normal
, that doesn’t mean they have not chances to mature. Everyone grows up, and the NGE cast isn’t an exception. We are left with a very ambiguous “conclusion” (if that can even be called a conclusion whatsoever), an open-ending from which we can only imagine what will happen next. The final message is hope, although as you might read if you check out the thread of “I Need You”, Asuka’sBigBrother and I are having a quite passionate discussion about how hope and happiness are related (very passionate, indeed, haha), and while I’m certainly sceptical of a drastic change
having transformed the Children into better people, I do believe they have a chance at maturing, now that Instrumentality has made them aware of their inner ghosts. They haven’t defeated them, but at least they now know them.”Man is the only animal that trips twice on the same rock”
P.S.: I realized there're very funny smilies here, haha. Even the "Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition", how great
. Using Asuka's ones, C.T. 1290, you could see her like this: False Arrogant and Lively Asuka vs True Delicate Asuka
And the result is that, to hide the latter, she becomes:
Asuka's loyal Knight.
"We all have to find our own answers." - Hideaki Anno