Reichu#893828 wrote:Flashback / Flashforward
Yui's final monologue is interesting. It's long been used to dismiss the "Eva-01 becomes a Seed" idea, but that never sat right with me. Saying that Yui will just sit around passively doing nothing until the end of time leaves too many other things unaccounted for, ignores the extremely obvious parallels brought into plain sight by Eva2, ignores how the "Starship Eva" plot thread was far more obvious in a prior draft of EoE (a draft where Yui's farewell monologue is already in its final form, or nearly so), performs character assassination on Yui, and so on.
First off, there are Yui's exact words: she doesn't actually say that she will be alone; she says that as long as a single soul (meaning, her) goes on living through Eva, there will always be proof that humanity existed, and being the singular proof of humanity's existence is what will be lonely. Which, yes, I imagine it would be. Adam and Lilith, too, went on journeys that were effectively solitary; none of the souls they brought ultimately remember their identities and have been born into something new, leaving Adam and Lilith (along with the other five, out there somewhere) as entities created by their people, with memories of those people. Proof that the FAR once existed, each one meant to exist on her own world, all alone. In the same way, Eva-01 will be proof that Homo sapiens
existed, but for her it's even lonelier because our species produced only a single Seed.
Reichu, thanks for referring me to this topic.
What you say about Yui/Eva 01 becoming a seed and spreading life in in the universe after the conclusion of End of Evangelion is not only interesting, it is also consistent. At least with the “extended canon” (other canon besides the anime series and the movies).
Where I believe the differences reside is not so much in the interpretation of the extended canon — since the seed ending for Yui is a logical conclusion of it —, but rather on how much can the extended canon be used to fill in the gaps from the anime and movies, and even build beyond them. Now, do not get my wrong, I totally understand that this argument can be done disingenuously. In other words, people picking first what to believe and later adjusting their views towards canonicity based on whether it fits them or not (if the extended canon supports their views then they accept it, if it goes against their views then they deny it). I understand that danger exist, still, I would say that the underlying problem for some (not all) debates about Evangelion is not having a clear mental model of canonicity. I will not say that one person’s model of canonicity is better or worse, I only say that we need to be consistent and aware of which model we have chosen for ourselves.
There are three points behind my way of thinking. In order of importance:1) They way I see the extended canon is as something that fills only the specific gaps it is meant to, but not as foundation meant to be built upon.
So, what we know about the First Ancestral Race and Adam and Lilith being seeds is meant to be an explanation for an important hole in the basic canon of the series and the movies. In End of Evangelion we learn that Adam and Lilith are the same, and so are Angels and humanity by extension, but no explanation is give to where did Adam and Lilith came from. I believe that the First Ancestral Race is just there as an explanation for that. And for what is worth it is actually a very simple explanation — compared to no explanation at all, which would lead the audience to assume that there is some kind of abiogenesis and the need to bring real science into the fictional world of Evangelion to fill that gap somehow—. The First Ancestral Race and seeds are there as a way to stop asking questions of origin whose answers only create more questions (if X' created X, then who created X', and then who created X’’, and so on). Notice how there is very little debate about who created the First Ancestral Race, the audience is not supposed to care, the First Ancestral Race is so removed from the plot that we are fine accepting they just exist. While on the other hand the same could not be said of Adam and Lilith, they are too close to the plot, we want to know where they come from, even if the answer to that is a non-answer.
Me, personally, while I accept the extended canon to fill immediate gaps, I do not feel comfortable building extensions to the universe of Evangelion that are too big based only on the extended canon. 2) And I I feel that exploration of space and populating other worlds is such a big theme that I do not feel comfortable attaching it to Evangelion based only on the extended canon.
For a theme this big, I need more, I need the actual anime and movies in the Evangelion universe addressing it. There are many novels, anime, and movies dedicated to space exploration, but Evangelion is not one of them. There are very deep questions about space exploration that have given birth to all those works. What if life is so rare that in only generated accidentally once, is there not a responsibility to spread life throughout the universe if you believe that life is good? As technology advances and we start getting closer and closer to be able to create artificial life, how can we be sure that life in our planet was not artificial too, furthermore what is the difference between artificial and natural?
However I do not feel that Evangelion was the least bothered about those questions. It is not that those questions are not important, it is just that they are not addressed at all. Even the topic of artificial intelligence is at least treated somewhat tangentially with MAGI and the DUMMY system. Nuclear energy had its episode too, and eternal motion was explored with the S2 in much more depth, specially in the director cut of Katsuragi’s expedition. Vacuum and the Dirac sea also got their episode. Smart cities are also explored with Tokyo 3. But space exploration is not talked at all during the series or movies. The closest we came was Arael, and the treatment was minimal. Compare that to anime like Gunbuster, or the movies that we all have in mind for space exploration: 2001 and Prometheus, were space exploration and populating worlds is deeply explored.
Space exploration is so sparsely treated in Evangelion that I am not even sure about which physical “laws” would apply to it. Usually science fiction worlds have to rewrite real astronomy because of the vast distances involved in space and just how much empty space is in between stars and planets. So, if Yui did become a seed of life. Are we expected to believe she went on to populate the other planets in our solar system, such as Mars, with the implication that eventually those planets will get in easy contact with humanity if either civilization makes space rockets? Or did Yui travel to the closest star other than the sun? Can an Evangelion travel at the speed of light? Because the closest star is at least 4 light-years from Earth. If she traveled by anything resembling a rocket fueled by the S2, she would have the energy and lifespan (both infinite) to do it, but it would still take her hundreds of years or more to do space traveling.
Notice that The Rebuild of Evangelion differs greatly from Evangelion in how much more prominent space is. I will address this point in the end.
Lastly, my final point is that 3) since I believe the extended canon is there just to fill gaps, I am even more apprehensive when conclusions drawn from it go against the original spirit of the series or movies.
This is my weakest argument, that is why is it only the third in importance, but I still feel it is important. It is matter of feeling, but I feel that space exploration cheapens the absolutes that characterize the symbolism (all the Judeo-Christian references), and even more important, the characters that shape the big picture background of Evangelion (Seele/Keel Lorenz, Yui, Gendo, Fuyutsuki, Misato once she knows what is going on, etc). All these symbolism and characters give an enormous value to life on Earth and humanity, you never get the impression that “there will always be other worlds, space is full of infinity possibilities.”
You get the impression that this is it. Whether it is Seele/Keel Lorenz or Yui, both of which had very different plans, they both make decisions and talk as if humanity was irreplaceable. Seele/Keel Lorenz believed humanity was imperfect, but wanted to perfect it, even at the cost of individuality. Yui believed humanity was perfect as it was, so perfect that it needed to be preserved for eternity. None of them at any point during the series or movies make references to other planets, or other beings in other planets, as something to compare humanity with it. None express a feeling of being trapped on Earth, a sense of wanting to exploring the Universe, or a sadness about outer space being a waste without more life (which is something we can say perhaps of the First Ancestral Race, but not Yui or Seele in any of their monologues, and they had plenty of those).
One last addendum, 3.1) following my apprehension when conclusions drawn from the extended canon go against the original spirit of the series or movies, I am even more apprehensive when they contradict not only the plot, but characters’ motivations.
I can overlook the extended canon contradicting the schemes of Seele and Yui, they are super interesting political and philosophical machinations (and what originally got me hooked up on Evangelion), but at the end of they day, they are only the background for the series. The foreground are the characters themselves. What I cannot do is overwrite characters’ motivations, and I feel that Yui’s motherly feelings were something very concrete and tied to Shinji. When Yui discusses being a mother she means it in concrete terms, as in marrying Gendo and having a baby, giving it a name Shinji if it is a boy, Rei if it is a girl, and even discussing the implications that having a baby would have for her scientific career. We get to see what a happy ending for that would be in the original episode 26 of the anime. This, to me, is not just a happy ending for Shinji, but a combination of the happy ending for all characters, including Asuka, Rei, and also Gendo and Yui. It is a very cliché slice of life anime world in comparison to Evangelion, but it is there to show what normal life would be if all those horrible things after the Second Impact had never happened. So, being a mother to Yui meant taking care of Shinji, like a real mother without super powers (as we see in episode 26), and for lack of a chance to normalcy, protecting Shinji from inside the Evangelion 01 (as we see throughout the rest of the series and End of Evangelion).
We often see Yui inside Evangelion 01 choosing Shinji over other “bigger causes”. We see it when Yui refuses the Dummy system, even as Zeruel is about to destroy both Nerv, Gendo, and Yui’s plans. We see it when Yui is willing to let Shinji live inside the Evangelion 01 when he fusses with it after the battle with Zeruel, which would have probably impaired her original plans. And lastly, we see it when in End of Evangelion she lets Shinji decide the outcome of the third impact, even when doing so would have meant that Shinji could have actually chosen Seele’s plan instead of Yui’s plan. All of this is there to shows us that Yui cares for Shinji as a mother in a very concrete way. This is what means to her being a mother, being the the mom of a human child, her child. From Yui’s words or actions we never get a sense of maternity in a broad sense as in “source of all life”, or big-cause types like “mother goddess”. Mother relations in this concrete way are also explored all over Evangelion: Asuka’s mother Kyouko, Ritsuko’s mother Naoko, etc. So it is a very concrete type of motherhood the one that is vindicated in Evangelion. Motherhood in the broad sense of “source of all life” is explored for Lilith and Adam themselves, true, but Yui’s motherhood, or Kyouko’s motherhood, are meant as a parallel, not an exact equivalent. Mixing Yui’s motherhood with the more broad type of motherhood in the sense of “goddess of creation” takes away from it to such a degree that I feel that more than a contradiction, it becomes a detraction of the series’ message. Yui’s maternal love for her one son, Shinji, won in the end. After all, was it not Gendo the one who wrongly kept choosing “bigger causes” — or passing his insecurities as bigger causes — over the son he had in front of his eyes?
I do not think that Yui sees Angels with a special compassion similar to humanity, let alone with maternal feelings that comes close to her feelings towards Shinji. She does not have the vengeful feeling towards angels from Misato, nor likely the completely instrumental views of Gendo, Ritsuko, and perhaps even Fuyutsuki, despite being very scientistsy herself. In that sense, she is more compassionate than them, just because her character is stated to be kind by default (the kindest in all of Evangelion?). But it is not like Yui does particularly care for Angels because they are also a form of life. I cannot see Yui looking for a special solution to bring back Adam’s sons/angels in other planet, nor for creating alternative forms of life that aren’t humanity itself (even an extremely similar angel in a lilim-like form again). And the same way that some human characters are dead gone, like Kaji, it is my understanding that Adam’s sons/angels are also dead gone by the time of End of Evangelion, with no possibility of them or their souls coming back any way. It is not clear to me, however, if Adam/Kaworu’s soul ever made it back to its body, whether when it was part of Gendo, or when it was part of giant Rei/Lilith, or never.*
A side note on motherhood on Evangelion. I find it curious that despite being such a product of the 90s, there is very little from Evangelion that feels old fashioned to a fault, specially in regard to political correctness. It is not new that feminism has moved beyond “it is sexist to insinuate that women are motherly by nature in any way. Women are just as men. Work and professional careers are the most important thing.”
to “we need to embrace all types of women and life-choices, including those who choose to have babies, and even those who choice to become housewives”
, but this view wasn’t exactly embraced in the 90s, and Japan has been an extra step behind these things. To make an apology of motherhood, and specially for a man to make this point, there would have been plenty of ways it could have wrong. To me, it is worth reflecting how Anno’s message about motherhood is not in any way sexist or old fashioned even when seen through modern eyes. Anno walks carefully the line of giving importance to motherhood, without feeling preachy about old values, or insinuating as a man that motherhood is a natural and absolutely necessary part of womanhood (Misato and Ritsuko are super badass without children, and only as messed up as the rest of male characters; Asuka, as an adolescent, also shows a revel stance towards her “fertility.”)About the Rebuild of Evangelion:
I would feel much more forced to accept a change in interpretation of Yui’s ending (from “alone in space for all eternity” to “seed of life traveling to other worlds”) if it came from the Rebuild of Evangelion. I do not mean the Rebuild necessarily connecting its universe with the anime series and rewriting its ending. I mean the Rebuild stating the characters’s motivation, and at some point saying that Yui had thought about exploring space and creating life in other worlds.
This also leads to a debate about the canonicity of the Rebuild. I also do not put the Rebuild to the same level of canonicity as the original anime series and movies (End and Rebirth) — at least based on the independence shown in 1.11 to 3.33, everything might change in 3+1 if it forcibly connects both worlds —. But I do accept it is much more canonic than discarded material from the original series (it was discarded for some reason after all), or things that are frankly merchandise: games, etc. The original Evangelion was born from Anno’s mind, and I respect whatever he wants to say about it, change, or expand on the Rebuild (it is not unconditional support, but it is much more than the benefit of the doubt, I believe the art cannot exist without its author). I believe that although the plots might be different, the characters of both the original series and the Rebuild are meant to be the same (left to be confirmed: the reason of Asuka’s change in name, and also how much Rei from Q is the same Rei III or rather another Rei**). As long as they do not contradict each other extremely, I do believe the characters are meant to be the same. To use the Evangelion thematic, I believe their souls are the same, artistically speaking. To me, Misato in Q is the same Misato from the series despite all her changes. She is the same person under different circumstances. So, if Yui were to say in the Rebuild that her motivation is space exploration and populating worlds, I would reluctantly accept that this motivation also applies to End of Evangelion.
I believe that not only me, but many people, already hold this view on canonicity for the original episodes 25 and 26 in the anime. They are rewritten as 25’ and 26', and End of Evangelion takes precedence, but if there is no major contradiction, I and most people assume that the character development and motivations that we see in episodes 25 and 26 still apply to the characters in 25’ and 26’.
Less consciously, I also believe that many people do this (assuming that characters are the same in a deep level in two alternative worlds) already for interpreting the Rebuild, although much more often in the opposite direction (filling gaps in motivation for characters in the Rebuild using what we know about them on the original series). I, at least, do it. I used to do it unconsciously and now I do it consciously. The Rebuild has so little character development aside of Shinji, that I simply assume that unless there is an explicit contradiction, the other characters have the same background, issues, and development as in the original series and movies.***
I seriously mean this not as a way of moving the goal post, I believe we will get an answer to this soon in the last Rebuild movie. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but if after having two takes at Evangelion Anno choses again to leave out any reference to the First Ancestral Race and seeds, then we will know it is not meant to be an important part of the canon. My money would be in that Anno will bring the First Ancestral Race and seeds to the main canon this time, although not in a way that connects directly with Yui’s motivations or fate. If the late is stated, though, I will accept it as well.
*In the series it is shown that Adam and Lilith’s bodies (perhaps their cores/S2s?) can live without their souls and call them back (with the risk of their souls been hijacked and put somewhere else, like Kaworu and Rei). Similar to a Horcrux or The One Ring that ties a soul to Earth even after death. But I do not see evidence of this applying to the other angels. Unlike Adam and Lilith, they lost their bodies, and they are assumed to be completely dead, souls and all, before the third impact.
**Rei herself in the series is already supposed to be three different people with one soul. I think Q makes it clear that she is a different Rei again, but sharing the same soul that ties all Reis together. The artistic “soul” I propose to all other characters is not based in this concept, and is not supposed to be part of the inner mechanics of the Evangelion universe, it would be the equivalent of soul+ mind/personality, the whole together as “fictional characters”.
***I would love to have someone or a group of people watch the Rebuild without ever watching the original series and movies, give it plenty of time and resources to analyze it, and then tells us from an unbiased point of view how much sense does it make, and how depth it is on its own, independently from the the original series.