Anno vs. Otaku (critcism, self-reflection, etc)

For serious and at times in-depth discussions only, covering the original TV series, the movies End of Evangelion and Death & Rebirth.

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Postby LordThaeon » Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:30 pm

View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:^ Precisely. By the end of the series Shinji did ultimately run away from the Eva he originally said he mustn’t run away from. And then whether or not you believe Shinji accepted or rejected Instrumentality in either version of the series’ ending, either conclusion means that Shinji ran away from something yet again, whether it be Instrumentality or physical reality.

“I mustn’t run away" was a rule that was going to be broken regardless. Anno was setting Shinji up to break his most important rule, and we were going to be allowed to see it for ourselves.


Hold on.

Isn't Instrumentality basically the ultimate personification of "running away?" You essentially give up being a physical being and will live forever in a formless glob of billions of souls without any free will or identity. Essentially SEELE and Gendo decided that life sucked so they orchestrated Instrumentality to escape from their crappy realities. But it wouldn't be enough if they were the only ones so they force it on all of humanity.

By rejecting Instrumentality, Shinji not only gives humanity a chance to live on it's own terms, but he's also coming to terms with the inherent pain and suffering that being human entails. He's decided to return to reality rather than remain in some crappy dreamland. He even accepts that idea that he'll be alone in this revived world.

As for the original ending (the incomplete and rushed episodes), I always got the implication that Shinji accepted Instrumentality since everyone is suddenly together standing over the world and saying congratulations for some reason.
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Postby Bagheera » Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:01 pm

View Original PostStillborn wrote:What he says and what he shows are two different things...


. . . which is just an excuse for ignoring actual evidence so you can make up whatever you like and claim it's true.

View Original PostLordThaeon wrote:By rejecting Instrumentality, Shinji not only gives humanity a chance to live on it's own terms, but he's also coming to terms with the inherent pain and suffering that being human entails. He's decided to return to reality rather than remain in some crappy dreamland. He even accepts that idea that he'll be alone in this revived world.


That pretty thoroughly invalidates your whole rant in the OP, you know. I mean, the themes are quite consistent when viewed in the context of Shinji alone, and your notion that the other characters aren't somehow represented as being in the wrong (particularly Gendo) is laughable. His hypocrisy in this regard is the whole darn point of his character.
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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:02 pm

View Original PostLordThaeon wrote:Hold on.

Isn't Instrumentality basically the ultimate personification of "running away?" You essentially give up being a physical being and will live forever in a formless glob of billions of souls without any free will or identity.

Every time Shinji uttered the words “I mustn’t run away”, it was within relation to piloting Evangelion Unit 01. More specifically in Episode 1 he was telling himself that he mustn’t run away from piloting Unit 01. And the entire point for the Evas—particularly Unit 01—was to bring about Human Instrumentality in some form. Therefore by saying “I mustn’t run away” when faced with piloting Unit 01 Shinji is unwittingly committing himself to the initiation, completion, and preservation of the Human Instrumentality Project in whatever form it takes. And in The End of Evangelion there is no question that Shinji runs away from that responsibility.

We can ask ourselves other questions after realizing that: Despite the fact that Shinji was running away from his responsibility, was running away from Instrumentality the right thing to do? Was Instrumentality really the right answer? Are we opposed to Instrumentality only because it takes on a form that’s so unfamiliar that it's almost alien to us? We basically ask ourselves “Which was the right thing to run away from?”

Despite Shinji attempting to justify all of his reasons for running away in EoE—wanting to be with friends outside of HIP because he knew his emotions were real there and so on—he doesn’t even find what he was looking for. He ends up all alone on a beach, and after what appears to be at least months of sitting there Asuka suddenly appears again ad Shinji falls into not being able to handle relationships with others in a health way all over again.

To tie this back in with the OP questions asking if Anno was being too harsh, the only thing I feel was directly attacked in a universally understood way among all of the viewers participating in watching NGE was nostalgia. Shinji wanted to return to a certain time and setting where he felt comfortable and enjoyed himself in some way, and he couldn’t get that. Similarly after seeing EoE’s ending for the first time I too also longed for the earlier moments in the TV show where the action in the show was treated with more simplicity, energy, and camaraderie as opposed to the slow decent into insanity that were the final moments of NGE as a whole.
(Though if I had gotten my wish, I wouldn’t have thought the series was as daring as it is and possibly wouldn’t even be the fan of it that I am now.)
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Postby Nuclear Lunchbox » Thu Oct 16, 2014 6:50 pm

Shinji never committed himself to the HIP, though. He made a choice to get into the Eva. Saying that Shinji runs away in the end no matter what he does seems a bit silly, to me; in that sense, everybody is running away from everything, all the time. By that logic, when I go to school in the morning, I'm running away from the idea of bearing the punishment for sleeping in. In that sense, yes; Shinji is running away, but he's not running away from humanity-- which is what he shouldn't be fleeing in the first place.

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Postby Compiling_Autumn » Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:51 pm

I always assumed that 3I and Human Instrumentality, in the TV series, happened whether Shinji willed it or not. I read 25 and 26 as being Shinji's journey into acceptance, being able to find happiness within Instrumentality and the endpoint of human history.
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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:52 pm

View Original PostCompiling_Autumn wrote:I always assumed that 3I and Human Instrumentality, in the TV series, happened whether Shinji willed it or not.

Shinji was the only viable sacrifice to initiate HIP, so it really wouldn’t have happened in that way sans Shinji.
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Postby Monk Ed » Thu Oct 16, 2014 10:29 pm

Not running away from piloting Unit 01 was always in the context of preventing Third Impact from an Angel -- a very real threat. The fact that Unit 01 wound up being the vehicle for Third Impact later is not relevant to the meaning of the "mustn't run away" business at the times they were said, and I think the audience got the clue pretty handily.
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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:29 pm

View Original PostMonk Ed wrote:Not running away from piloting Unit 01 was always in the context of preventing Third Impact from an Angel -- a very real threat.

Actually, Shinji wasn’t informed about Third Impact until after he had already uttered the words “I mustn’t run away”, which means that it is impossible for his intended implications of that statement can be directed towards Third Impact in any way, shape, or form. (In fact, Shinji isn’t told about Third Impact until Episode 19, and even then it was relayed to him in a rather hearsay fashion by Kaji.) In context of what Shinji knew at the time, he was only trying not to run away from his father, his father’s plans for him (whatever they may be), and the Eva.

If the greater context of his statements was about preventing the Angel’s version of Third Impact despite Shinji’s ignorance of Third Impact at that moment in time, then it also must by that logic expand to initiating Seele’s/Gendo’s version of Third Impact despite his ignorance of that as well, as in both cases he is signing the dotted line, as it were, without first reading the fine print (a fine print which admittedly was impossible for him to read at the time, as Ritsuko said “You won’t find this in the manual”), the consequences of which were discovered by Shinji in some form at a later date.
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Postby Monk Ed » Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:10 am

View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:Actually, Shinji wasn’t informed about Third Impact

Sorry, this is what I get for typing so quickly between other things. Replace it with saving the world in general. That much was obvious.
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Postby Reichu » Fri Oct 17, 2014 1:11 am

I'm pretty sure "I mustn't run away" was a response to being told by Misato not to run away from his father or from himself. All this stuff about Impacts and saving the world is really beside the point.

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Postby Monk Ed » Fri Oct 17, 2014 1:53 am

They mean essentially the same thing in context. It's not like the fact of what Shinji was being asked to do was irrelevant. If Gendo had been asking him to pilot a giant robot to destroy the city, for instance...
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Postby Compiling_Autumn » Fri Oct 17, 2014 6:47 am

View Original PostFreakyFilmFan4ever wrote:Shinji was the only viable sacrifice to initiate HIP, so it really wouldn’t have happened in that way sans Shinji.


Yeah, but there's a difference between being an essential component and having the final say in the matter.
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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Fri Oct 17, 2014 7:22 am

View Original PostMonk Ed wrote:They mean essentially the same thing in context. It's not like the fact of what Shinji was being asked to do was irrelevant. If Gendo had been asking him to pilot a giant robot to destroy the city, for instance...

Which is why Shinji ultimately decided to run away from his responsibilities in following his father, as he once promised he wouldn’t.

EDIT: Also note that, despite being able to save the world, Shinji still refused at first anyway. His decision to pilot the Eva had more to do with his needing to come to terms with his relationship with his father than it did how much people might die.
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Postby BrikHaus » Fri Oct 17, 2014 11:19 am

It is highly possible to understand the story, characters, motifs, and deeper elements of Evangelion without being an otaku and without being well versed in anime. The only anime I had seen prior to watching Evangelion were Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, and Dragonball Z. I watched Evangelion and was blown away with the depth of storytelling and the huge amounts of creativity. Did I "get" every aspect? No, of course not, that's why I (and everyone else) ended up at EvaGeeks. But I think one can understand and appreciate Evangelion without being an otaku.
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Postby Compiling_Autumn » Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:53 pm

Honestly, reading this and threads like this makes me realize how important it is to watch the series a bunch and form your own interpretations before searching out online opinions and explanations.
"The will to lose one's will?"
"Absolutely. The will to make oneself completely free. Will is the wrong word, because in the end you could call it despair. Because it really comes out of an absolute feeling of it's impossible to do these things, so I might as well just do anything. And out of this anything, one sees what happens."--Francis Bacon

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Postby Dream » Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:06 pm

Don't know if this would help much on the topic of "running away", but there is this Anno interview from 1996:

[url]http://avocado-slice.tumblr.com/post/50755437341/update-30-09-2013-a-new-translation-is-available[/url]

SPOILER: Show
—— EVA ended without solving the problems, it is some kind of run away? People think that even though you talk about “I can’t run away,” in the end you still run.

Anno: Why would you think the theme is “you can’t run away”?

—— What? If you said so *laughs*, yeah, Shinji is not always right.

Anno: Why people think that the protagonist’s thoughts and actions are always right?

—— So it is. The protagonist did say “It is ok to run away.”

Anno: Yes, this is the theme. Running away is not bad.

—— Then he didn’t need to kill Kaworu, too.

Anno: Since he can sympathize with me, then it is all right if I don’t kill him. The person who say that he can’t run away is the one who escape, you surely can blame him for this. But thinking that it is the right thing to not to escape is a fixed thinking pattern. You can’t always do the right thing. In episodes 25 and 26, there are lines like “If you want to run away, then just do it.” Escape itself has good and bad consequences. People have to make the decision if they want to live. There is gain and loss in life. If you do nothing, there is noting to loss and nothing to gain. It is no different from the dead. But there are many people like this. You have to give to get. Humans can’t advance without hurting others. If you are afraid of hurting people, then you are just remain stagnant. Not escaping doesn’t mean there will be no problems, you can’t run away because sometimes bad things happen when you run away. But if it makes you feel good, then why not?
I often hear about Adult Children recently, the kind of person who have disqualification parents, whose parents is a burden when they are growing up. They cannot live without their parents or men, if they know that running away is good, if they run away from their parents, or leaving their parents behind, maybe they can be free. Some mothers are overprotective, they tell their child “My little child, there is demon in Tokyo, you can’t go there”, then lock the child up in his own walls and never let him go. These kind of mothers always exist. If the child himself don’t feel it is a problem, he wants to stay there, then it is Ok. But there are also people who feel oppressed, they hate this. For them, escaping from the place that bind them, going to Tokyo to become a free-lance writer and live on their own is way better than this. That kind of person should run away, away from the country.

—— But escaping and leaving gives you two completely different impression.

Anno: Escaping is the same. If escaping can free yourself, then there is no problem. I think it is better just to run away. But look at Episode 26, it seems Shinji is possessed by EVA. He never let EVA go, he use the Eva to make others approve him, he use it to gain his significance of existence. I think if he could free himself from the EVA, then at least there will be a next stage waiting for him.

—— Someone says that Shinji must pilot, his relationship with Misato and others can only be workmates. In general, if you don’t make EVA anymore, can you still stay at GAINAX? *laugh*. Because drawing is the area you are good at.

Anno: It should be a greater area, such as making Anime. Lately, because EVA is done, I stumble upon Shuji Terayama’s book about drama in a second hand bookshop. Before this, I was never interested in him, I never saw his films or read his books, just know he exist. I only know that he was into drama and Mamoru Oshii-san paid homage to him. Then I read that book, his theory is very interesting. Even though I know that people of the 70’s are like this. He wrote in his book that the reason he wrote drama is because he can only relate with society through drama, in other words, he can’t relate to society without drama. It is just like this. I can’t express myself without Anime. I can’t talk to people. I have nothing of my own.

—— Then it is your mission in life.

Anno: Hmm…… I don’t know. I think talent is a vitium, it is not something that flow out. It is a huge hollowness hole.

—— So you create works to fill the hole?

Anno: Yes, that is expressing. Every expression is like this. So décadence is impossible. In the Anime area. No, I think this is what expressing is like. VA’s and artist’s works are the same. I think these kind of works are all about expressing.

—— Is the Human Instrumentality Project also about filling the empty space?

Anno: I think life is just an activity that keep filling the empty space.

—— I see.

Anno: But, compare to other people, if seems that my hollowness is bigger. I can’t satisfy myself unless I work this hard. Even now, I still don’t feel satisfaction.


Quoted part is just a fragment though, i highly recommend you read the whole thing as it is extremely interesting.
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Postby Monk Ed » Sun Oct 19, 2014 7:37 pm

That translation... is really hard to read.

But there's a link on the post to a newer one.

...It's pretty hard to read too.
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Postby LordThaeon » Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:11 pm

View Original PostBagheera wrote:That pretty thoroughly invalidates your whole rant in the OP, you know. I mean, the themes are quite consistent when viewed in the context of Shinji alone, and your notion that the other characters aren't somehow represented as being in the wrong (particularly Gendo) is laughable. His hypocrisy in this regard is the whole darn point of his character.


No it doesn't.

Sure, he does decide in the end to reject instrumentality, but that doesn't change the heavy-handed and frankly inconsistent/self-defeating nature of the "I musn't run away" theme in the series.

How come Shinji is the only one whose demanded to "not run away" when nearly every major character is running from something? Where's the story application of this theme for the other characters? I almost get the feeling that the story is on Gendo's side until EOE and even there, he still got what he wanted: Instrumentality initiated. Not to mention that Gendo getting any comeuppance doesn't happen until the movie whereas all of the dumb and unnecessarily cruel things that he does in the anime are almost-celebrated.

I just see a distracting double-standard that detracts from whatever point that Anno is trying to make. Assuming that there is a point there at all.

It's like watching the Pokemon movies try to tell you the fighting and capturing legendary pokemon from their natural habitats are wrong even though that's the entire point of the series. Or having the KKK try to tell a black guy that it's bad to be prejudiced.

How am I not supposed to call bs?
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Postby Bryan » Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:23 pm

View Original PostLordThaeon wrote:How come Shinji is the only one whose demanded to "not run away" when nearly every major character is running from something?


Exactly what do you think is he being ordered not to run away from? From doing his job which only he can do and the world depends on? Of course they would order him to do that even though they're being hypocrites by doing so. Except, as I pointed out in my last post, they DO at times admit to being hypocritical and accept that it's Shinji's choice and if he doesn't want to there's nothing they can do to stop him.

View Original PostLordThaeon wrote:I just see a distracting double-standard that detracts from whatever point that Anno is trying to make. Assuming that there is a point there at all.


Don't confuse the characters doing things for Anno considering what they do as acceptable behavior. The double-standard IS the point. Their psychological damage will not allow them to act in the way that would be best for everyone including themselves. In other anime, if one character is feeling bad or unsure of themselves, they will randomly realize the error of their ways or be broken out of it by a simple inspiring speech. NGE mocks this, pointing out both that it's not that easy to snap out of such traumatizing things and that even if it were it's unlikely any of the people around you are going to be in a good position to help you do that. NGE is a character study of hypocritical, fucked up people, which coincidentally is what real life is often full of. What's wrong with that?

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Postby LordThaeon » Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:14 pm

View Original PostBryan wrote:Exactly what do you think is he being ordered not to run away from? From doing his job which only he can do and the world depends on? Of course they would order him to do that even though they're being hypocrites by doing so. Except, as I pointed out in my last post, they DO at times admit to being hypocritical and accept that it's Shinji's choice and if he doesn't want to there's nothing they can do to stop him.


The situation's still constructed in a way to where Shinji will be in the wrong regardless of what he does. Also, I recall that the only person who actually says that Shinji actually has a choice (where he really doesn't) without trying to guilt-trip Shinji is Kaji.

Anytime Shinji actually is going to develop in a direction that's remotely positive, the plot pulls the rug out from under his feet and forces him back onto square one. It would be truly sad if it wasn't so predictable or hilariously contrived. It probably comes with the territory concerning these pseudo-tragic stories about failure and etc, but I've never seen another series that was so ham-fisted and annoying about it.

I'll admit that there is a personal frustration present because I do genuinely like Shinji as a character (unlike a lot of anime/mecha fans). I want to see Shinji grow stronger (acknowledging that he's already strong in a lot of ways), I want to see him overcome his obstacles, and finally decide that he's got nothing to run from and discover that what he was looking for was there all along. That all sounds cheesy and it probably is, but so what? Blame the story for making Shinji into a character that I can relate to and care about.

Yet, its Shinji who the story presents as being in the wrong. He's wrong whether it's for telling Nerv to screw-off and leaving the organization that blackmailed him; wrong for calling out his father on his unethical and dumb actions; wrong for

View Original PostBryan wrote:Don't confuse the characters doing things for Anno considering what they do as acceptable behavior. The double-standard IS the point. Their psychological damage will not allow them to act in the way that would be best for everyone including themselves. In other anime, if one character is feeling bad or unsure of themselves, they will randomly realize the error of their ways or be broken out of it by a simple inspiring speech. NGE mocks this, pointing out both that it's not that easy to snap out of such traumatizing things and that even if it were it's unlikely any of the people around you are going to be in a good position to help you do that. NGE is a character study of hypocritical, fucked up people, which coincidentally is what real life is often full of. What's wrong with that?


I get that NGE is the study of broken and screw-up people and this does correlate with real life. What I don't like is that this essentially keeps characters stuck on square one which is counter-intuitive to story telling where characters change and develop overtime and is also laughably unrealistic with real life. It's about the same as a common criticism of Freud where he got most of his findings from studying mentally-ill patients. The findings are interesting to study, but the results aren't universally applicable to most people.

I get that these characters all need therapy and I do sympathize with folk like Shinji and even Misato despite my hang-ups about their characters. But just like real-life, there comes a time when an individual needs to nut-up, shut-up and do something. They can't just hang on to their problems and expect no one to call bs on it. They can't just stay in square one and not get right criticized for their inability to move-on.

If these were really organic characters then they'd change and develop like them. Misato admits that she's a bad guardian, but never does anything to correct her mistakes like tell Asuka to stop acting like a bitch or actively taking responsibility. Instead, she lets her own problems keep her from helping Shinji and Asuka during the times when they need her most. Maybe that's the point, but don't expect me not to hold Misato accountable.

I mean, can you imagine how much Misato's speech to Shinji in EOE would've helped the kid if it was said to him before his despair event horizon? Instead, it's too little and too late and whatever help that it might've had is immediately negated by Misato's kiss and the plot contriving Shinji to fail yet again.

Perhaps the double-standard is the point, but I've just seen it done much better than in Evangelion. It also doesn't excuse the characters for making easily avoidable mistakes or doing stupid actions that only pay off because the plot says that it does. (looking at you Gendo)
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