The process of getting Pt. I online has alerted me to a lot of details and connections I previously missed, and so I haven’t covered the fundamental iconography and symbolism anywhere near as thoroughly as I would like. Additional “Appendix” sections may be interspersed throughout my previously planned procession on an as-needed basis. We'll see how it works out.Pt. I Summary
Pt. II Introduction
Seele are ancient beings (10,000 years old at the bare minimum) who, at some point during that time:
1) extended their lives significantly through the use of core-based technology
2) formed a covenant with Lilith (implied to be, in some sense, their
...in order to (not necessarily
in this exact sequence):
3) resurrect Lilith
4) create a ‘true god’ (the True Evangelion)
5) enact Human Instrumentality
6) purify all souls
7) eradicate original sin.
I’ve touched upon their “plan & procedure” a little so far — though I admit I’ve mostly been evasive. The reason for this is that, much as in NGE, the backstory is essential for making full sense of the present. “But what
backstory?”, you might ask. The movies have directly told us almost nothing about the past, preferring to err toward misdirection and mindfuckery. There is some information about Second Impact (albeit frustratingly little given the sheer scale of 2I’s renewed mystery) and a teensy weensy bit about the Artificial Evolution Laboratory and what was happening there, but aside from that? We basically just have “Seele guided human civilization”. That’s… not very much at all.
In spite of this, Anno is up to his usual tricks, and together with his team he’s crafted some incredibly dense, meticulously constructed films that rely, to an even greater degree than NGE, upon visual storytelling and intertextuality. What this means is that the films are a puzzle that respond well to audience effort. (Assuming the movies are constructed in good faith and won’t be dismantled “it was all just a dream”-style by the end of 3+1.) In my previous thread, on the interrelationship between the Adams and the Children, I was able to start blowing open the veil of secrecy that had made important events like Second and Fourth Impact seemingly impenetrable. Here, I intend to use the same methods to crack open the universe of the films even further — all the way into the deep past that the members of Seele hail from.
II. Signs of an Ancient World
Earlier, I asked “what exactly are Seele and what do they want?” Although I started to work toward some semblance of an answer, the mysteries are still considerable. Here, I’ll continue to interrogate those queries in greater detail, along with (slowly) continuing to build up to Pt. III, where I intend to address the exact specifics of how they hope to achieve their goals (the constantly shifting landscape — wink
— of Impacts and their mechanics) and what the movies’ possible end game is.
Seele, in addition to being really, really old, are said to possess the Fruit of Knowledge, and they’re otherwise very closely associated with Lilith. This implies rather strongly that Lilith created them. But did how did this work, exactly? Did Lilith create seven Lilin-like beings specifically to shepherd us and act as her mediators?* Alternatively, are Seele relics of something much, much bigger — say, an entire civilization that preceded our own? If the latter, were they indigenous to Earth, or did they journey to Earth from space? Is there any way to know? Does it even matter?
Buckle up, buckaroos. Things are about to get pretty damn strange.
* (A possibility that would make them even more similar to the Gazel Ministry of Xenogears
than they already were. See the Seele subheading here
for additional thoughts. More information here.
)A. A Non-Human Intelligence
In the Avant 1 for Shin
, while Maya’s team is attempting to decrypt the pillar, she says something very, very
Same as the Evas, it's an unknown and unexplained non-human system.
It can't be controlled with human language easily.
(Translation by me, based on this fan transcription
. This should be a MUCH more accurate rendition of the line than the English subtitles that showed up immediately in the wake of Avant 1’s premier.)
The “it” in question is the sealing pillar tech, so Maya here is not only telling us that the sealing pillars are a form of non-human technology — she’s also strongly implying, if not flat-out stating, that the Evas are as well.
NTE has the same problem that NGE does, where “human” is used by default
to refer to a specific kind of being called “Lilin” (Plain Jane Homo sapiens
), but can also encompass other entities depending on context. There are three major lines of evidence for this:
(1) In Ha
, both Mari and Ritsuko say that Eva-02 casts its humanity aside when it enters Beast Mode. (As a bit of trivia, the phrasing here directly invokes that used in EoE when Misato explains the true nature of Adam’s Children.) You can’t cast your humanity aside if you didn’t have any in the first place. Ergo, Eva-02 is human.
(2) Most of the Evas have full designations that include 人造人間 (jinzou ningen), which literally means “artificial human”. Quite sneakily, this term refers to both androids and cyborgs, and NGE clearly invoked the ambiguity on purpose. We were superficially led to believe that the Evas were androids — mechanical constructs with a human-like appearance — when in fact they were biological humans that had been modified cybernetically. In NTE, there’s no point in playing the same guessing game again, and this is taken to its logical in-universe conclusion: all lines from NGE where characters mistake Evas for “robots” were omitted from the script for Eva Jo
. The jinzou ningen
in question are cyborgs, full stop; ergo all of the NTE Evas known to possess “Jinzou Ningen Evangelion
” in their full designation are human*.
*(So far, this refers to all Evas aside from the 04 Series, Mark.06, Mark.09, and Evangelion 13. This does not necessarily mean that these Evas are not also “jinzou ningen”, since an air of mystery has been deliberately maintained around them. Mark.09 is a good candidate for being something else — an “Adams’ Vessel” in its case — but as for the others? Who knows.)
(3) Also in Ha
, Ritsuko says during Asuka and Shinji’s respective plug depth incidents (with Eva-03 and Eva-01 respectively) that the pilot will cease to be human. At the end of Q
, Asuka casually remarks to Shinji and Tentative Rei that they “need to go where the Lilin can pick [them] up”. We see the full significance of this in Shin
’s Avant 1, where the Wille crew need to wear hazmat suits to survive within the L Barrier — whereas Asuka, Shinji, and Rei do not. Ergo, Asuka and Shinji “ceasing to be human” just means they’re no longer Lilin
like most of the Wille crew; they’ve become something else. They’re obviously still human, but they’re human in a “non-Lilin kind of way”. (Rei was presumably never traditionally human in the first place.)
So, going back to Maya’s quote, “non-human” (人外, jingai
refer to a humanoid intelligence that simply happens to not be Lilin
. Another species with the Fruit of Knowledge, perhaps…?
Now, I know some of you are going to be thinking “First Ancestral Race”. I personally don’t like to drag them into NTE, since it helps to establish the basics of what’s going on before resorting to “a mysterious race of extinct interstellar colonizers did it”. But, that said…
The concept of the FAR was slightly different during the earlier phases of NGE’s development, and, at least as late as the scripting of episode 21, they were planned to be a civilization that existed on Earth before us, and were possibly even native to the planet. (In the draft for episode 21 published in Evangelion Original III
, and nowhere else, they’re referred to as the “First Indigenous
Race”, indicating the idea that they were native Terrans was strongly considered.) For anyone familiar with Anno’s larger body of works, this prototype version of the FAR might immediately bring to mind the Atlanteans from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
It’s no particular secret that, with Q
, NTE has become a sort of stealth Nadia
remake. (Wunder is the N-Nautilus, Misato is Captain Nemo, etc. etc.) Now, in that show, the people of Atlantis were extraterrestrial humanoids who landed on Earth in three giant flying saucers — “Arks” — in the distant past and, unable to leave, established a highly advanced (however bellicose) civilization. Humanity as we know it was uplifted from apes: re-engineered in the image of the Atlanteans and made their servant race until the Atlanteans effectively wiped themselves out.
NTE, rather suspiciously, includes many allusions to the Atlanteans. Is it possible that these are more
than just playful callbacks, but rather that Anno is using intertextuality between his works to imply that NTE's mythos has its own version of the Atlanteans? This would mean that the bombshell about Seele is not simply some isolated bit of weirdness, and exists within a much greater context. Next post, I'll start to look over the relevant Nadia
-NTE parallels and what they might mean for Evangelion: New Theatrical