Train motif question?

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Postby Sharaz Destler » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:39 pm

View Original PostLegendary wrote:I always thought it was a play on "train of thought".


Ooooh, good bad pun.

I always likened the train as something similar to the Underworld of Greek mythology...the train, here, is like the boat which Cheron the ferryman uses to transport souls.
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Postby Monk Ed » Fri Jul 02, 2010 2:48 pm

View Original PostLegendary wrote:I always thought it was a play on "train of thought".

I remember seeing a thread on that before. The pun does not translate; the word for train in Japanese means something more like "electric car". I remember someone saying that to the Japanese, "train of thought" would sound like "monorail of contemplation" does to us.
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Postby NAveryW » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:31 pm

View Original PostMonk Ed wrote:I remember seeing a thread on that before. The pun does not translate; the word for train in Japanese means something more like "electric car". I remember someone saying that to the Japanese, "train of thought" would sound like "monorail of contemplation" does to us.
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Postby Teague » Fri Jul 02, 2010 9:54 pm

I always thought the train was just representative of 'running away', since whenever Shinji tries to run away, he doesn't reconsider until he's at/on the train, so the train becomes a symbol for choosing to stay or go
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Postby BeoX2 » Wed Jul 14, 2010 5:27 pm

Oh no, I disagree. The Train Motif is very very important. Trains are used to get away from places, usually going long distances. This is Shinji, who always wants to get away from life and those in it. Also, the train is how he first tried to leave NERV, but decided to come back. Anno uses it very well, if a little too much, to show Shinji's want to run away, but the others in his life come on the train to stop him. Very powerful directing. Genius motif.
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Postby TB3 » Tue Jul 28, 2015 5:26 am

Sorry for necro-ing an old thread, but this caught my attention.

Whenever I watch the 'Hell Train' sequence, it always puts me in mind of the Train Sequence we never saw in the show - Shinji's journey to Tokyo-3.

Think about it - when we first see him in Episode 1, he's in Hakone-Yumoto - the gateway town to the Hakone region (this is also from where he nearly departs in 'Hedgehog's dilemma', until he changes his mind).

It's also where the railway line form Odawara teminates (although one can continue one's journey via the Hakone Tozan Mountain Railway).

The inferance for me has always been that Shinji arrived in the area by train. Although the evacuation associated with Sachiel's arrival messed everything up, the fact that Misato had apparently planned to meet him there suggests that his journey intentionally ended at Hakone-Yumoto.

So in my mind, Shinji's 'Hell Train' scenes are rooted in his journey to Tokyo-3 - he's mentally regressing back to the point where he entered into the story, questioning the path he took from the moment he stepped onto the platform at Hakone-Yumoto.

I admit that this concept doesn't completely hold up - it doesn't explain why an experience important to Shinji can become the basis for other people's navel-gazing Hell Train sequences.

Likewise, when we see Hakone-Yumato station in Episode 4, the tracks are clearly drawn as a maglev monorail, but the Hell Train is distinctly an old-fashioned 'steel wheels on steel rails' Electric Multiple Unit. Another strike against my theory.

That's another interesting distinction though that I don't think has been brought up before - the Hell Train is the only time in Eva that we see a passenger train of the old 'clickety-clack, wheels on the track' variety (or so far as I can recall). Every other item of passenger rolling-stock, from the Tokyo-3 loop-line to the ones seen in the background, are Maglevs - older trains are still around, but seem reserved for freight and military applications.

The Hell Train is thus an anachronism, a relic of the pre-Impact world, and that begs all manner of interesting questions.
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Postby Seven Fifty » Fri Jul 31, 2015 6:58 am

I think the questions we have to ask are "Are scenes set on trains significantly more likely to be about significant character development than scenes set elsewhere?" If this is the case, it suggests the connection is not just accidental.

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Postby zlink64 » Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:21 pm

Train\subways are weird because you can be completely surrounded by people and still be very alone. Aesthetically I think the whole Japanese train thing kinda of just fits the show. Sometimes the choices creators make are just aesthic and don't have any greater meaning.

Ex.the giant iron in FLCL was a purely aesthetc choice and has no deeper meaning other than the director just thought that the iron match aesthically with the themes and style of FLCL
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Postby Sachi » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:04 pm

View Original Postzlink64 wrote:Ex.the giant iron in FLCL was a purely aesthetc choice and has no deeper meaning other than the director just thought that the iron match aesthically with the themes and style of FLCL

It's been a while since I've watched it, but the giant iron was appropriate for the evil plans of flattening the wrinkles of everybody's brain, which I think had to do with individuality within the show. So, I'd say it was more than simply an aesthetic choice.
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Postby zlink64 » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:54 pm

I got that info from the directors mouth. He says it during the DVD commentary. Forget which episode but he does commentary for each ep of FLCL.
Bonus: apparently anno voiced the fat cat in FLCL but was not named in the credits.
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Postby Compiling_Autumn » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:12 pm

View Original Postzlink64 wrote:I got that info from the directors mouth. He says it during the DVD commentary. Forget which episode but he does commentary for each ep of FLCL.
Bonus: apparently anno voiced the fat cat in FLCL but was not named in the credits.


Just because a director does something impulsively doesn't mean that it has no deeper meaning within the work.
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Postby Reichu » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:53 pm

In a creative work, it is common to make a choice "just because", and a meaning frequently emerges on its own which may or may not be capitalized upon. What motivated an artistic choice does not need to have any bearing on whether that choice is ultimately meaningful. Why is this fallacy committed so often?
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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:01 am

Inspiration often times builds upon itself. Something the artist had no conscious intention of doing when he/she first started might happen later on because of an epiphany that artist had while looking back at what has already been written and accomplished thus far. Other times something just naturally comes out in the writing due in part to the artist's subconscious, and the artist isn't even cognitively aware of it until the audience points it out to him. I've had a lot of people read/watch some of my material in its early development and say "This detail over here is really smart. I like it!" However upon thinking back to the time I initially incorporated that detail, I tend to remember only giving it one or two seconds worth of actual thought before moving on with the rest of the project and forgetting whatever thoughts I had about the detail in the first place.

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Postby zlink64 » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:01 am

The guy from FLCL made it pretty clear that the iron had no deeper meaning. I.E The iron is not symbolic of anything. He was not ambigous at all in explaining this..would quote but I'm in the middle of no where ATM on a cell so I can't.

@Reichu FYI: It just as fallucious to just assume it has a deep meaning.
And also it fallucious to treat the interpritation of fiction with really strict logic since it's a story and not a collection of premises. That is why what you and I are saying is fallucious generally goes without saying. I.e It's not an issue.

Also random Aesthic choices are super common in fiction too so it is hardly an extreme possibility that the train is an aesthic choice with no huge meaning.
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Postby Atropos » Sat Aug 15, 2015 11:49 am

View Original Postzlink64 wrote:Also random Aesthic choices are super common in fiction too so it is hardly an extreme possibility that the train is an aesthic choice with no huge meaning.

And yet it receives meaning because it is onscreen. It contributes to the impression created by the work as a whole. Even if it doesn't have a "huge" meaning by itself (whatever that means), it contributes to the meaning of the series as a whole.

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Postby zlink64 » Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:04 am

By "huge meaning" I meant that it wasn't symbolic of anything specifically. Like the religion in eva. I think the train is more of a just for the feels type of thing in my opinion I.E just aesthetic. For clarity on what I'm saying I guess some of Stuff I would put under this just for this kind of Aesthetics category is like some of the info in here: http://wiki.evageeks.org/Theory_and_Analysis:Rei_and_the_Moon#Images_Associating_Rei_with_the_Moon and maybe something like this thread by Reichu http://forum.evageeks.org/thread/17331/Circumstances-of-Kaworus-creation-split/. In my opinion these kind of character things people have notice are most likely intended to be more of an feeling aesthic experience than a symbolic thinking kind. Like they are intended to make us feel emotions through casual associations between things and not any thing concrete like specific symbols/themes/etc.There probably is a word that exist for what I'm talking about but I don't know it lol. If I still sound vague...um mybads lol.
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Postby Alaska Slim » Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:29 am

Trains are something Anno likes.

Evangelion is itself an exploration of his issues through a medium he enjoys, and he draws upon his other interests several times in the series. The naval ships in episode 8, the aircraft which carry the Eva's that wouldn't be out of place in a Shigeru Komatsuzaki drawing, the entire naming convention of the characters, etc.

That isn't to say that there wasn't something behind the usage of trains.

Theta state thinking tends to happen in moments of calm, when our bodies are at rest or are somehow occupied. Equally, Evangelion is itself a highly cerebral work, predicated on the inner thoughts of the creator.

As such, it's plausible Hideaki Anno himself had many of his owns fits and breakthroughs while sitting on a train, and came to associate the aesthetic experience of it with a certain mindset.

This might in fact explain the discrepancy in portrayal; maglev's are cool and Evangelion, at least in establishing its setting, likes to embrace cool. But without the clickety-clack it's also less real, less the atmosphere Anno is trying to recapture on film.
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Postby Chuckman » Fri Aug 21, 2015 6:50 pm

The most important part about the trains is that they don't go anywhere: In reversal of a traditional mode of transportation, the train car is in stasis while the world rushes away outside. This is a metaphor for the obsession of the otaku: In artists and leaders and saints obsession is an admirable quality, obsession leads to purity of expression.

In the otaku obsession is masturbation, hence the image of the train, which is a giant metal penis running away from everything.

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Postby BlueBasilisk » Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:12 pm

No matter how many times Shinji gets on that train, he always ends up right back at the station where he started.

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Postby Atropos » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:45 pm

Here's another take: kids in Japan are generally expected to be much more independent than their counterparts in the U.S. It's not uncommon for teenagers, or even younger kids, to take the train to school—often across significant distances. Now, Anno doesn't hate Japan, but I'm wondering if incorporating the train as Shinji's personal hell—and Shinji is the epitome of a child wrecked by apathetic parents—is meant to be a subtle critique of this institution, and the social norms that foster it.


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