@xanderkh: Some people might like Shinji, while others might not see enough good in him. And the same goes for Asuka, Misato, Gendou, etc. The fact that I don’t appreciate Shinji at all doesn’t mean that there aren’t people that do like him. And of course, after 3I, neither all the people Shinji and Asuka will meet will love them, nor hate them. I don’t think that me not liking him (mostly for his treatment towards Asuka) means that NOBODY would like him apart from Asuka. And vice versa: the fact some fans despise Asuka calling her a “b*tch” doesn’t mean that everyone hates her and no one could understand her.
Personally, I think that, precisely because they shared those horrific experiences (piloting EVAs, fighting against Angels, etc.), it would be optimal to find people who could give them a different perspective of life, free of those elements. In short, people who could allow them to live normal lives and who didn’t consistently remind them of the pain and tension of the past.
You mentioned war veterans very accurately, and I agree that they seek out others like them to share their experiences. But not in a romantic way. I don’t think all veterans marry other veterans, but might just keep in touch with their war companions as epistolary friends, with a sense of brotherhood, while having a normal life with a normal wife and children. As it’s been commented in this thread, a platonic relationship between the two Children is just as viable as any other; and platonic relationships are also based on empathy.
Another good example would be Holocaust victims. As far as I know, they weren’t an endogamic group, but many managed to find partners in life that hadn’t suffered what they did, and thus, could live normally, without being constantly reminded of their pain. That doesn’t exclude the fact that they kept in touch with their prisoner acquaintances , but the point I want to make is that having such sense of empathy doesn’t necessarily equate having a romance.
I liked very much one of your sentences regarding this, because it shows that we actually don’t disagree with this:
xanderkh wrote:Now, Instrumentality did give them the chance to learn to understand themselves and each other somewhat and start that journey, but based on what we have so far, and the circumstances and toxicity of their previous relationship, does that understanding equate to romantic love? Again, that's a pretty huge mountain to cross, and it would take a lot of time and effort to restructure their personalities to be compatible. Unfortunately, especially now these days, people aren't really that patient for that kind of restructuring and conditioning, especially when there are other options of people available...
It's possible that, while Shinji and Asuka do understand each other based on their similarities of trauma and backgrounds, they may move forward to other options for romantic needs and compatibility, while staying in touch based on their traumas. It's kind of like how Veteran's still get together even after the war; the war has given them a bond of trust and mutual understanding, as they both have endured a lot of pain together, both before and after the Angel's war. They have a bond, yes, but it is a bond between comrades and fellow soldiers, not a necessarily a romantic one, given their personality differences.
That shows that we’re making pretty much the same point, but viewing it from different sides: you like the pairing, and thus, firmly believe in the theoretical potential these two could have in the future, helping each other, while admitting that a lot of time and effort would be needed. And I firmly believe that, thinking that they’re too harmful for each other, and without the obligation of forcibly become lovers, they might want to meet others they can find comfort in.
On to the matter of sympathy/affection they can get from others, honestly, I don't think it would be just a “thin veil”. Using that logic, one could argue that all kind of friendships are mere thin veils unless you share a 99% of traumatic experiences with your friends; but, at least in my case, I have acquaintances with very different backgrounds, and that doesn't mean they're "less" whatsoever.
In the Children's case, and going on with the "veil" symbology, forcing themselves to “love” each other despite their constant bickering, just for the slim hope that things will be better, could equally be a thin veil; and very dangerous, in fact. To a certain point, they could fool themselves that they actually “love” each other to stick together, but unless many things change in them (and with many, I mean many
), that comfort they can give to each other due to similarities might very well end up becoming a superficial “thin veil” too. Just like Misato or Asuka in the extra life-action, living a miserable life, but not wanting to be alone. Sticking together only causing pain to each other, that's what I mean.
That could happen with actually anyone, of course, and they could live miserably or happily being together, separated or however. But, given the evidences we saw in the series/film, the starting point of Asuka and Shinji is not much better than them with other partners. At the risk of repeating myself too much, I think the bad blood between them is still too hurtful (How disgusting
), and many things have to be forgiven and forgotten. However, I might say that I agree with you, xanderkh, that actually nothing prevents them from trying, even if they eventually fail. But, unlike you, I’m very sceptical of the results of that, and my point is that nothing prevents them from finding others in life either. They’re not “meant for each other”, after all.
If they mature, go under a therapy and stop being so defensive, of course they have a potential as “lovers”, with a common baggage as they have. That's the theory, though, and life isn't that logical whatsoever. Thus, my question is: what forces them to go for a therapy just to forcibly become a couple? If they decide it’s better to go separate ways, it’s perfectly fine, and I don’t see why that would be a problem at all. I don’t blame you if you like the ship and wish them to improve together; but as pwhodges has just said above, “we are free to choose, and cannot say absolutely that any outcome is inconceivable.”
Debating with you is a pleasure, indeed; but many shippers with similar ideas fanatically state that the only possible choice
in life for Asuka and Shinji is to stick together no matter what. And my question to them is: why on earth don’t they acknowledge that they’re 14 years old and have all life in front of them, being together or not? Sometimes I feel many people, when discussing about fanfic hypothesis, think of Shinji as their “self-insert”, and thus, can’t conceive any outcome other than him being with the “hot redhead girl”. That’s why I’m usually reluctant to read fanfics or debate about them; they’re just too personal.
EDIT: @FelipeFritschF: A very enlightening post, indeed. Thank you. Of course, all I'm talking about (and I think xanderkh too) is a long time after what we see in EoE, maybe years. By the time we see them on that apocalyptic beach, they're pretty much doomed, and I'm sure they would have lots of things to worry about (not starving to death or dying of any illness) before wanting to begin love-dovey romances, haha. Not to say they're very much broken and dysfunctional at that moment.
A great deal of what we're commenting now has to do with "what-if" scenarios, as you mentioned. That's why, as I said, I don't really like post-EoE debates, since they're based on mere personal preferences, rather than on actual evidences. What we see on the Last Scene is far from being conclusive; it's simply ambiguous, like real life is.
Asuka's loyal Knight.
"We all have to find our own answers." - Hideaki Anno