I think thread title is kind of an inert question. Shinji is a fictional character and it is not our place to "forgive him" for anything as he did us no wrong in the first place. The question that people are actually answering in this thread seems to be "are Shinji's actions irredeemable?", and personally, I'm not that interested in super moralistic questions like that. As far as I'm concerned, stuff like this is between the perpetrator and the victim, and probably varies wildly case by case. All I can say is that my personal interpretation of the ending is an optimistic one that gestures towards hope for human communication.
BakaBakaBaka wrote:Can we actually say that the reason this is included is to show that Shinji has reached rock bottom? I personally think that it's included to emphasise the selfishness behind his motivations. I watched EoE last night, and have been reading the Save the Cat series of books recently. They made me think of the Hospital Scene and the Beach Scene as the Bookends to EOE, the opening image and the final image. If the purpose of the Hospital Scene is to show Shinji has hit rock bottom there are so many ways that you could do it that this one just doesn't make sense. I think they chose masturbating here because it emphasises his selfishness, and the isolation. The locked door shot isn't there to tell us that he locked the door before he did this, or to show premeditation. They could have shown anything they wanted while it was happening, like focusing on Asuka. Focusing on the locked door gives us nothing to focus on but the sounds Shinji is making, which emphasises that it is all about Shinji, while it also emphasises Shinji's isolation. Shinji ejaculates into his hand when there are plenty of things around him in a hospital room for dealing with bodily fluids because having the shot of his ejaculate on his hand keeps the focus on Shinji and emphasises Shinji's personal isolation.
Contrast this with the Beach Scene. Shinji does another terrible thing, strangling Asuka. But strangling her, as messed up as it is to say this, requires him to connect with her. She reaches up to him and caresses his face. His tears fall on her face. He is no longer alone. There is a whole bunch of stuff here that I am missing, but the point is that I don't think masturbating over a comatose girl has been included for the purposes of showing Shinji hitting rock bottom. I am sure Shinji probably considers murdering a friend the point where he hit rock bottom. Masturbating over a comatose girl has been included so that we as the audience see Shinji negatively. As someone who is selfish. So that when Misato is dragging him through NERV to get him to his EVA we don't see a woman dragging a kid off to die, we see Shinji thinking only about himself and what we wants because we aren't on his side anymore.
WRT the original question, can he be forgiven? Yes, because you can forgive anybody anything. Asuka, in her closing words, acknowledges his behaviour and him as disgusting but does it in a way that shows she has accepted it and leaves it up to us to decide if we want to forgive Shinji. So maybe we should be asking do we feel like forgiving Shinji?
Sorry for quoting the entire post but I really
think you hit the nail on the head with everything here. Wonderful analysis.