The Idiot Ball in Q - Lazy Writing or Thematically Poignant?

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Postby Azathoth » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:10 pm

View Original PostFireball wrote:That's all implying he saw the things as the watcher did when he merged with Rei let alone know what was really happening with him. Nah, I just don't see it.


What on earth do you think that scene depicts, if not how Shinji perceives the fusion of Rei into 01? Honest question here, I really can't think of any other answer. Sure, it's a surreal and weird scene that doesn't seem like it could actually physically "happen", but Shinji has previously demonstrated his ability to recall things he perceived that didn't actually "happen" in the physical world (the kitchen scene in EoE, for example). He's absolutely fixated on the memory of it all through Q, too. "But I saved Ayanami", he continues to insist long after the point where it's become obvious that the extant Ayanami-type is not Rei II.

View Original PostFireball wrote:If it's about Shinji wanting to escape reality and bend it like he sees it fit there are certainly other scenes that bring this across.


Yes, there most certainly are. Indeed, one might say that it's at the core of Shinji's character that he rejects reality because it hurts, and I think that an expression of that aspect of Shinji is one of several things that happens in the scene where he rejects Misato and WILLE and sets off with Rei Q. I think this aspect of him is expressed repeatedly throughout the movie, especially the stargazing scene which is an almost embarrassingly straightforward statement of it. Paraphrasing but -- Shinji says "Man, I sure like the stars, they always remind me of how big the universe is and I'm so glad to see they haven't changed in fourteen years." Kaworu responds to this with (again, paraphrasing, I don't have the movie in front of me so feel free to correct me), "That's very like you, rejecting change and preferring a void universe of nothingness". This line is pretty much a summation of everything Shinji has done in this movie so far, with the exception of his learning to play piano immediately prior to this scene. That's why I keep "harping on" about all this, it's because Shinji's rejection of reality and refusal to change is a pretty consistent element of his character in this movie. if I had to describe Shinji's character in Q in the fewest words possible I would probably say "He refuses change." Luckily, I don't have to do this, and so will continue to deluge this thread in text until I feel like my point is getting across.
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Postby Fireball » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:31 pm

I think the only thing he still remembered was holding Rei in his arms and saving her before he lost conscious. I have serious doubts that he understood what was going on around him and it's not the first time he wakes up somewhere not knowing what happened. In his mind Rei was there and very much alive and suddenly getting ice-cold told without any explanations why despite all the efforts she doesn't exist anymore justifies the reaction. That scene was not so much about Shinji not wanting to come to terms with reality but showing the importance Rei has to him.
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Postby Azathoth » Fri Aug 09, 2013 9:45 pm

Yes, that's definitely another thing that the scene accomplishes. Shinji has gotten quite used to having Rei II with him after fourteen years of being "all right like this" and after Wille give him birth, he feels like he was ripped from her arms, which for all we know he was. She's kind of replaced his absent, uncaring mother, and why shouldn't she? she was much better at mothering him than Yui - notice how he can't even sync with his real mother anymore. He's very desperate to believe that his experience with her in Unit 01 was real because it represents to him a time when he was happy, "all right". But Rei II isn't there, and he spends a substantial chunk of the movie trying to spin the world backwards Superman-style to retrieve her. Because Shinji wants Rei II, and because she isn't really with him anymore, he wants no truck with the reality that is presented to him. In going with Rei Q he makes a mistake of identification - not an incomprehensible mistake, though still a product of his desperation to disprove Misato rather than any very clear reasoning - and eventually realizes it, at which point he transfers his hopes for happiness from the subdued, confused, non-responsive Rei Q onto the more protective, emotive, caring Kaworu. Who is then taken from him because he makes another big, though not incomprehensible, mistake rooted in the difficulty he has in accepting a shitty reality and moving on with his life.

Wonder if he'll spend all of next movie building himself a Kaworu replica and then getting angry at it when it won't play the piano with him.
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Postby Bagheera » Sat Aug 10, 2013 12:10 am

After seeing Q again tonight, some thoughts:

  • Wille absolutely should have had a contingency plan. This has nothing to do with the specifics in play so much as the fact that this is just something people do when they have a lot to lose. consider the fact that the U.S. has a plan to invade Canada if need be. Freakin' Canada! Unit 01 going haywire is a lot more likely than Canada ever becoming a threat, so Wille should have been thinking ahead there. However, that said, let's also remember that they've been busy the past few months (at least), as well as this: they were probably told that Shinji and Rei were destroyed 14 years ago. Think about it: there they are in Unit 01, nice and shiny and happy in their double core, and then Kaworu stabs them with the Spear of Cassius! At the very least that would trap them in the core just like Yui, and it might have even obliterated them. Fuyu seems to think Rei's part of Unit 01's control system now, so it's not unreasonable to think the same held true for Shinji. And we saw how much luck Nerv had bringing Yui back, right? Right. I think Wille can be forgiven for being blindsided here, since they might very well have had no legitimate reason to think either Shinji or Rei could come back.

    Edit: Asuka's actions during the first arc help bring all of this together. Wille thinks Shinji and Rei are gone, and execute the mission to recover Unit 01 accordingly. Asuka calls out to Shinji in desperation and is stunned when he responds. We can speculate that she then argues with Misato about whether or not he's still alive, at which point Misato gives her the line about so much fuss for a single person, and then he either comes back spontaneously or with a little prodding from Ritsuko (doesn't really matter which). They say "oh shit, he's here!" and adapt accordingly, at which point Asuka does her thing and throws Misato's line back in her face. Seems like everything adds up at that point.

  • It's a given that Wille could have handled Shinji better; they didn't have to tell him about the bomb part of the collar's function, and they could easily have said they were still searching for Rei in Unit 01. Neither of these is even a lie, really; the first is just an omission, and the second might very well be true. But even with these should'ves in mind let's remember something else: this is the show that never bothered to give 14-year-old children psychological help when they were piloting gigantic cyborgs under battlefield conditions, and were being violated by otherworldly entities on a regular basis. If Nerv's not going to do that I don't think it's too awful that Wille dropped the ball here for the sake of plot. It's at least consistent with their attitude toward such things all along. And even with all of that said they actually didn't do too badly. They told him they didn't want him to pilot; they told him Eva's activation was a bad thing, that it had happened, and that it had happened before 14 years ago; they gave him back his SDAT and explained that it came back for some reason; they told him they didn't find any trace of Rei, even though they looked really hard; and they told him they didn't trust him and were mad at him because he awakened Eva. They didn't tell him why that was a bad thing, but they didn't have time (and look at that surreal landscape Kaworu showed him! How the heck do you even begin to explain that, anyway?). So between precedent, the efforts they did make, and the fact they surely thought they'd have more time I don't think they did too badly.

  • And with that said I have to break with the pack (and my previous position) here and argue that Shinji didn't do too badly here, either. He had every right to be confused, and while Wille answered his questions the answers just didn't make any sense. That wasn't Wille's fault so much as the fact that the truth is crazy insane. Fourteen years, curse of Eva, disappearing Rei, mood whiplash, the whole bit. And then Rei shows up and he doesn't know what to think. Misato's telling him the truth, but again, it doesn't make sense. More importantly, Rei's right there. Yes, Unit 09 should have give him pause. Yes, Rei's appearance doesn't make sense. But Shinji isn't denying reality here because he doesn't like it, he's denying it because it's just plain nuts. And when everyone's talking nonsense and his supposed love interest shows up who in the world wouldn't go with the girl? I know I would, and I bet most of Shinji's detractors here would as well. Why? Because nine times out of ten going with the girl you know (or so you think) is a better bet than staying with Bizarro World people who look like your friends but don't act like them, and who are telling you things that don't make sense.

  • Which brings us to the endgame. Here, I remain convinced that Shinji's behavior is inexcusable. It does not pass the reasonable person test -- I do not think most reasonable people, even in his position and for similar reasons, would act as he did. His behavior toward Asuka was actually spot on, and I have no problem with it; she was going after him with all the force she could muster (and was right to do so), and he had to respond in kind. I don't see any problems with either person's behavior there. But Kaworu's a different story. Kaworu gives him three different opportunities to stop, and Shinji ignores each and every one of them. And it's not because he's in the head of battle, either -- things are relatively calm for every single one of them. Kaworu tries to get him to turn back but Shinji ignores him, locks out his controls, and proceeds to stick with the plan in his head rather than accept the fact that the shit's hit the fan. That is not reasonable, it is not understandable, and it is not excusable. It is simply wrong, pure and simple.

I find it frustrating that Anno felt the need to burden the kid with this much wrongdoing; if the collar had activated as soon as Unit 13 entered CD, leaving Shinji to continue on on his own, I think the conflict between him and Asuka would have been tragic but utterly believable. 4I would thus be the result of communications fail and the Hedgehog's Dilemma in overdrive. But Anno apparently didn't want that; he wanted Shinji to willfully screw up, to let his obstinance utterly destroy him, so that he could get his big payoff in Final. As such there's no question Shinji carried the idiot ball here. He did it by design. I don't agree with the decision, but it's Anno's show so whatever. I just hope it's worth it in the end.
Last edited by Bagheera on Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:56 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby Giji Shinka » Sat Aug 10, 2013 7:27 am

View Original PostBagheera wrote:Which brings us to the endgame. Here, I remain convinced that Shinji's behavior is inexcusable. It does not pass the reasonable person test -- I do not think most reasonable people, even in his position and for similar reasons, would act as he did.

I think it's not wise to compare him to other people, because, well.....People are different.

Anno made it clear that Shinji's biggest problem is that he doesn't listen to what other people have to say/think. He always had this. Plus, he's a kid and kids don't think much. :P

Also, that characteristic trait only grew even more stronger after he had his total mental breakdown.
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Postby Bagheera » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:12 am

View Original PostGiji Shinka wrote:I think it's not wise to compare him to other people, because, well.....People are different.


That's simple apologism. I'm not comparing him to other people, I'm comparing him to a generalized "reasonable person". That's how we determine whether or not behavior is reasonable, whether it's good or bad, what one ought to do, etc. He doesn't get a pass just because he's Shinji.
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Postby Giji Shinka » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:21 am

Well, i don't know about others, but if i were Shinji, i would have done the same. Just saying.........
I don't understand why people are underestimating Shinji's state of mind. It was much worse than it looked from the outsiders perspective.
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Postby Conspicuous » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:44 am

Having gone nuts might help make him more sympathetic for his actions, but all it really tells us is that Shinji should have submitted to WILLE's authorities rather than rely on his own judgement.

Knowing when your own judgement is terrible is a pretty important trait to learn when growing up, and most of Shinji's faults in the film directly relate to how he considers himself to be still on equal ground as the others, despite all that happened in those fourteen years he was away.

Of course, Kaworu should have realized that too, but given how he's focused on Shinji to the detriment of everyone else, I doubt he actually cared about anything but Shinji's "happiness", no matter the consequences for Shinji's actual growth or anyone else.

Also, if you'd do the same, that means that we shouldn't put you inside of the giant mecha monster either.

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Postby pwhodges » Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:22 pm

View Original PostConspicuous wrote:all it really tells us is that Shinji should have submitted to WILLE's authorities rather than rely on his own judgement.

No - it reminds us that we can see that it might have turned out better if he'd submitted; which is not at all the same thing, because Shinji doesn't know and see what we know and see.
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Postby Conspicuous » Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:13 pm

I would have to disagree there.
He did have a series of revelations that would have made him acknowledge WILLE as the "good guys".

For starters, the revelation that their anger at him was with good reason, when Kaworu revealed to him the current state of the world and mentioned that Shinji was directly responsible for it.
Also, when Kaworu mentioned about how NERV is trying to cause Instrumentality with Fourth Impact, it would mean that WILLE trying to destroy NERV is by all accounts the right thing to do. And he knows it, too, as he explicitly mentions wanting to regain Misato's trust again. He knows she's not a villain and only doing what she believes to be right for the world, and he wants her to be on the same side he is.

Now, trusting Kaworu's plan was the best decision Shinji could make, though, since Kaworu proved himself to be both trustworthy and knowing an actual way to fix Shinji's mistakes. The big problems only start when Kaworu himself doesn't want to go along with the plan any more. If he had trusted Kaworu and that pulling the spears at that point was no longer a good plan, his only reasonable option is to defer to the people who seem to have the most knowledge of the situation and are trying to do the right thing, which would be WILLE.

Of course, since he ceased to trust Asuka entirely, because she didn't give him any reason to believe she actually understood anything about the situation with the spears, he wouldn't really be willing to believe that she's actually worth trusting.

Certainly, Shinji's big mistake has actually precious little to do with WILLE, and the big problem was that he went against Kaworu, who really was the only person who had any sort of real understanding about the spears and whose judgement Shinji really should've trusted in the end. Deferring to WILLE's judgement would really be about acknowledging the failure of his plan to fix his past mistakes and that his hopes to put the world back the way he wanted were false all along.

All he really knew is that his and Kaworu's plan was a complete failure, and if he was still mentally sound enough to realize what that meant, it would've also meant that shutting down his Eva and going back to WILLE was really the only reasonable option he had in the first place. Going back to NERV was impossible since he actively betrayed them and they were evil anyhow, and wandering in the wasteland without any real goal is pointless, too. Trusting the last slew of people whom he knows are trying to save the world in their own way, is what I would consider to be the best case scenario at that point.
It's not that great an option either, of course, but he didn't exactly have any better choices left either.

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Postby pwhodges » Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:27 pm

OK, I see your point a bit better - I was thinking in terms of his staying with Wille at the start rather than going with Rei; and after all, he doesn't get to see any more of Wille's authority to submit to until Asuka tries to stop him - and she doesn't give him any rational reason to change his mind (as has been remarked a number of times).
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Postby Conspicuous » Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:35 pm

Well, ditching WILLE at that point really was the reasonable choice.

I mean, they're all dicks to him for no reason, lying to his face about Rei, and they're fighting the good guys, to boot. Of course WILLE is wrong in that situation.

Really, I don't think that anyone really cares much about him there. It's certainly important in light of his stubbornness, but since that incident didn't really cause any damage and the fact that we as the audience hardly knew shit about WILLE either, I'm pretty sure that most people still side with Shinji at that point.

It's really all about the spears in regards to Shinji's mistakes. It's at that point that he should've understood his position in the world and that he was the least reliable person to trust. Trusting Kaworu was the right decision to make at that point, and Kaworu said stop.

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Postby ElMariachi » Sat Aug 10, 2013 8:46 pm

@ Conspicuous : I think that Shinji perfectly understood that WILLE were the good guys, when Asuka asked him if he's trying to start 3I all over again(the underlying question being "Are you by neo-NERV and SEELE's side?"), he answered that no, that's not his objective, that what he wanted was to use the spears to fix the world, he said it himself : "If I get the spears, I can ix the world, I'm trying to save the world!"(underlying answer : "No, I'm not by their side, I'm with yours!")

Yet Asuka answered by saying that he's "really" a little brat. Why would she had responded that? My take is that she had informations that Shinji didn't, that whatever his plans are, touching the spears would leasd to the apocalypse whether there is two LoL or one LoL and one LoC, and she realized that he was being completely manipulated.
About that you said that her decision to go into full-assault was the right one because Shinji was completely delusional, but I think that Anno wanted to show us that her decision was wrong : she did the same thing that it's accused rom Shinji : she jumped to conclusion and didn't tried to understand what the others think and resolve things by dialog.

And the plot showed to us that she was wrong simply : she failed, utterly : she thought that with her Eva and level of skill she could easily destroy Shinji's Eva, yet the RS Hoppers proved to be very efficient, Shinji more skilled than she thought(he hit her easily with the RS Hopper and stopped her blades middair when she jumped on him), and more importantly, he had infinite energy while she relied on a battery.
And in the end she ended completely at Shinji's mercy(a chance that he still cared for her enough to "only" bitch-slap her instead of taking one of her glaives and driving it through her Eva's skull by retaliation!) and reduced to desperate pleas to try to stop him. Ladies and gentlemen, WILLE's top dog!

And, and that's the point I'm trying to make, it contributed on the final outcome of Shinji pulling out the spears because it closed what looked like the only viable alternative to Shinji.
You said that once Kaworu told him that they should stop, "Shinji should have submitted to WILLE's authorities rather than rely on his own judgement", but three things prevented him to do that :

1/ WILLE's authorities looked hell-bent on driving a giant glaive through his skull and rejected every one of his arguments for insults and more lethal assaults

2/ he wasn't in the best mental state to realize that his own judgemen isn't reliable, Gendo made sure of that, that was even one of the cornerstones of his plan to double-cross SEELE.

3/ the most important point : Shinji thought that he must be the one to fix the world because that's the only way to atone for his sins and get forgiven by everyone. You said that Shinji is someone profoundly selfish, but I tend to partially disagree : when everything his okay(like during the first half of 2.0) he's portrayed as someone very sweet and caring(makinf luches for everyone, regularily asking Rei about her health...)... but, when things get sour, then yes, he tends to coñpletely close himself and only see the world on how the bad things happening are affecting him, discarding how it affect the others. That's why he refused to pilot for operation Yashima even thought if he don't do it Ramiel will enter the Geofront and probably won't distribute flowers, or also why he resigned from piloting after Bardiel, even though that would left Rei and the NERV crew all alone against the next Angel, and said next Angel happened to be Zeruel...

Here in 3.0 that was the same thing : part of his intentions were good(fix the world), but apparently the main reason for him to act was to be forgiven by everyone, and that's why he refused to listen to Kaworu when he told him that they should stop(well, that and his growing insanity, a nice gift from Daddy...) : if he listen to Kaworu and surrender now, his chance to fix everything and be forgiven will be gone, forever : WILLE made it clear that they don't trust him at all that will never let him try amything to atone for his sin, it's Asuka and Mari who will be sent to do that and will be remebered as the savior of the Lilin, while he will be remembered as the monster who almost anihilated mankind.

Now was his only chance to atone for his sins and be forgiven, so he must try to do something, even if he's told that it will fail, because that's his only chance, that was what's truly important for him... and of course he never stopped to think what his obsession to be the one who must fix everything will bring to the others, and what it brought was 4I and Kaworu's death...
Which promise to be even more painfully and karmically ironic for Shinji if as I suspect it turns out that he isn't the one who destroyed the world!

And I think that's what Asuka was referring to when she said that he only thought about himself, like usual : he wanted to be the hero to make up for everything, and completely discarded the potential consequences for the others, in the end it was all about him and how he could be forgiven and not actually about how the world could be fixed, which would have included Shinji understanding that he can't fix everything by himself and accept to surrender to WILLE... except that what Asuka didn0t realiwed is that she closed that door herself by attacking him without pause and not trying to explain to him why he can't fix ecerything by himself(i.e. why he musn't touch those fucking spears!)

Because fortunately, what still distingush Shinji with his father is that he's actually capable of changing his mind when presented the right arguments :

- he refused to go to fight Ramiel again because he's sick to be the one on the front-line against the Eldritch Abominations while Misato and the others are safely inside the Command Room? Misato showed him Lilith and that if an Angel makes contact with her 3I will happen and mankind be wipped out, and that to prevent that if an Angel goes that far the whole HQ will self-destruct, taking Misato's and the other's life with it, meaning that in the end they are all in the same boat.

Result? He understood why he's needed, and had gone to fight Ramiel by his own volition. Better, he didn't questionned to the others again why he must pilot, at least until Bardiel.


- he resigned after Bardiel, sick of what his father made him to with the Dummy System(even thought he himself did nothing to try to save Asuka...), without thinking one scond what it would entail for Rei, Misato and cie left behind? He witnessed the vivid images of the consequences for the others by seeing the Geofront carbonized by a N2 Missile and Rei being eaten by Zeruel, all of this because his absence ultimately led Rei to have to kamikaze herself with a half-healed EVA-00 because Yui brought a big "Fuck you" to Gendo...

Result? He finally understood that running away from his problems and the pain won't make it disappear, and that the others still have to deal with them, with or without him, which prompted him to get his ass in gear and go pilot EVA-01 to save Rei, even if it entails directly confronting Gendo, and that his chances of being reduced to a bloody pulp by Big Z where exrtremely high.
Abd you know what? That lesson stuck even after : when he saw Asuka going to ignite the Wunder, he immediately asked to go to help Asuka, because he understood that staying on a corner will resolve nothing. Well at least, that was until the latter revelations broke him completely...

Gendo on the other hand is so obsessed by his gran plan and getting reunited with Yui that absolutely nothing can convinces him to stop, even the fucking Apocalypse couldn't convince him!

In the end, I think that we can't really talk of an Idiot Ball with what hapened in the final fight, by an exploitation by Anno(through Gendo) of the character's flaws : Shinji's tendency to retreat into himself when things don't go the way he likes, Asuka's utter lack of tact and unwillingness to try to understand and talk to people being on the wrong, and finally Kaworu's insane obsession for Shinji's happiness, which made him fell into Gendo's trap.

But anyway that tendency to egocentrism when things get sour is Shinji's most important flaw, and what made him so easily manipulated by Gendo, and that's something that he will really need to address in FINAL if he hopes to one day become someone better that WILLE could really count on... and Asuka seems to have understood this and is begining to act to correct him, let's see how that will unfold in FINAL...
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