The Eva-Pilot Quartet

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The Eva-Pilot Quartet

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Postby Jakobramsey » Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:47 pm

In Death and Rebirth, the four Eva pilots are shown to have formed a string quartet. Shinji, already known to the audience, plays the cello, while Asuka and Kaworu play first and second violins, and Rei plays the viola.

It seems clear to me that the instruments were chosen for a reason. In classical music and composition, many instruments develop a sort of pseudo-personality that is derived from the way their capabilities, tone, and color are utilized by the composer. (Usually, these pseudo-personalities are satirized or made fun of, because nobody really believes that they are an actual reflection of the instrument. For example, Viola Jokes).

Violins tend to be highly independent, authoritative, and possibly domineering. Cellos are powerful and of unquestionable importance, yet modest and cooperative, unlike violins. Due to their role as the bottom voice, they act as a pitch anchor (coincidentally, Ikari translates into English as "Anchor"). The viola is a rather sad, melancholy instrument that, due to its awkward acoustics and low, soft timbre, usually fills the support role, and is very accommodating and works in combination with other instruments, but rarely solo (I happen to think it's a wonderful solo instrument, but that's beside the point).

The obvious parallels between the characters and their instruments are what led me to my hypothesis. However, the fact that this quartet has only appeared in Death and Rebirth raises a few questions for me.

For one, why would Anno designate Kaworu as the second violinist when the fourth child (Toji) is (in my opinion) a far better parallel? The only explanation I can think of is that Kaworu was simply more important to the plot and the development of the others' character, but that, I feel, is somewhat debatable. Additionally, the quartet rehearsal takes place when Kaworu is still alive, so it must have been scheduled sometime after the beginning of episode 24 until Kaworu's activation of Unit 02, so Toji would have been in the hospital at the time, unable to play.

You could also argue that while the violin is a better parallel to Toji's character, playing an instrument, particularly the violin, would be out of character for Toji. However, while that certainly may be true from what we know, claiming to know every aspect of a person's character just from the anime has shown us would be erroneous and arrogent.

To further complicate the matter, when Asuka enters the practice room (which I noticed is the same room containing a spotlight and a stage used in the final episodes of the TV show and in End of Evangelion), she says to Shinji "So, what are we working on today?" This implies to me that this is not the first rehearsal, and that the quartet must have been formed earlier. (I concede the possibility of there just being an extremely large time gap in which all of this happens in episode 24, but that seems unlikely to me). The quartet must have had a violinist before the arrival of Kaworu, so who could it have been? I feel that the possibility therefore exists that Toji was a violinist and was the former second violinist in their quartet.

In episode 15, when Asuka enters the room while Shinji is playing an expert from the first Bach Cello Suite, she makes the comment "that was very nice Shinji, I didn't know you played." If this is the case, then the quartet could not have been formed any earlier than episode 15.


Based on the quartet's playing abilities, all of the children clearly must have been studying their instrument for years. Again, we know Shinji had, but this is the first time it is mentioned that Asuka, Rei, or Kaworu also had.

Again in episode 15, Shinji reveals to Asuka that he had been playing since he was 5, three years after he witnessed his mother's death in the activation experiment. Apparently, it was after this event that Gendo sent him to live with his "mentor," so I think it is a safe assumption that Shinji began to play after he left his family.

However, Ayanami, also having been partially raised by Gendo, plays the viola. Coincidence? Is it possible that Gendo, if having known of Shinji's choice, encouraged Rei to take up an instrument? (this is problematic, because we cannot verify when anybody but Shinji started to play).

Or is it possible that the Quartet scene from Death and Rebirth was not exactly canon?

Opinions?

I may post more as I continue to mull this over.

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Re: The Eva-Pilot Quartet

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Postby SEELE-01 » Sat Jul 28, 2012 10:15 pm

View Original PostJakobramsey wrote:Or is it possible that the Quartet scene from Death and Rebirth was not exactly canon?


Er... The scene is NOT cannon...
As I understand it, it was a metaphor for instrumentality, as Asuka and Kaworu never met, and in no other instance is even hinted that any pilot other than Shinji knew how to plan any instrument...
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Postby liquidus118 » Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:51 am

The scene is DEFINITELY not canon. At that point Asuka was staring blankly at a Hospital ceiling from what I can remember. She certainly wasn't going to pleasantly greet Shinji and Rei at that point.

It's all a big ol' metaphor or symbol or something.

Which makes me wonder what the deal is with the piano trailer for 3.0.

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:10 am

I agree that it's not canon, even though the Manga Ent. commentary with Amanda Winn-Lee & Co. stated that it was canon and that it occurred one week before the events of EoE.

I wonder how Asuka got out of the hospital for such a short time for that.
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Postby Tribblepoo » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:21 am

So we clarify here, what exactly is meant by "canon"? In Eva, the meanings can get a little mixed and I am getting that from this thread already.

Does "canon" mean the events happened in the real world and anything that happens inside a character's head is not considered "canon"?

...or...

Does it mean that D&R is not wholly an officially recognized Eva production so anything that takes place solely in it should be taken with a grain of salt?

I ask because for purposes of the discussion of this scene, I think it is vitally important that we distinguish what people mean when they say "canon".
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Ah, the tiers. B)

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Postby Alaska Slim » Sun Jul 29, 2012 5:54 am

We have the tiers of canonicty, if that helps.

Generally though, we say that framing device from Death & Rebirth isn't canon due to its own surreality, and how there's never a place in the story for it, nor it being ever mentioned by the other characters.
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Re: Ah, the tiers. B)

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Postby Tribblepoo » Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:04 am

View Original PostAlaska Slim wrote:We have the tiers of canonicty, if that helps.

Generally though, we say that framing device from Death & Rebirth isn't canon due to its own surreality, and how there's never a place in the story for it, nor it being ever mentioned by the other characters.


It would still help to know where it falls; metaphor, Instrumentality, mood-setting or random surrealistic bullshit.

The scene always struck me as having some importance, but I was never quite able to pin it down. It was just rather strange to me.
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Re: Ah, the tiers. B)

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Postby liquidus118 » Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:22 am

View Original PostTribblepoo wrote:It would still help to know where it falls; metaphor, Instrumentality, mood-setting or random surrealistic bullshit
When it comes down to it, I don't think there's much difference between those. They're all just ways to convey something within the story. Find out what it's trying to convey, and then whether it's a metaphor or not doesn't really matter.

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Postby Mr. Tines » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:10 am

I would put it in the same continuity as the "After the End" audio drama.
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Postby svenge » Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:26 am

I'd put it down as a framing device.

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Postby Bagheera » Sun Jul 29, 2012 7:30 pm

View Original Postsvenge wrote:I'd put it down as a framing device.


Yeah, this. It didn't actually happen, and this is obvious if you watch the episodes. But, that aside, I appreciate the OP's characterization of the instruments and their assignments. I think he's spot on in a lot of respects.

Edit: Also, I've always been partial to the notion that Shinji's the only one of the Children who can play an instrument. Fanficcers often like to assume Asuka plays the violin, but if he can play an instrument and she can't it only feeds her inferiority complex . . . which makes it yet another factor contributing to her downward spiral. And of course, I also have this image of her forcing herself to learn play post-3I so that she'll have something she can do with Shinji. It just sort of fits IMO, though I suppose mileage will vary on that front.
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Postby Jakobramsey » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:11 am

So it may appear to be metaphorical or symbolic, but I don't think I would consider it to be of Instrumentality.

Even though the "Death" portion of Death and Rebirth is almost completely nonlinear, It does seem to attempt to capture all the major plot points of the story leading up to the beginning of the End of Evangelion, and essentially discards episodes 25 and 26. Seeing as Instrumentality does not occur until about midway through EoE, the evidence suggests my conclusion is correct.

Additionally, if it actually was a metasymbol of Instrumentality, that begs the question of why it was the only instance used in Death. Not only is it an anomaly, but of all the possible choices, why that particular scene?


To add to the question of canonicity, even if the scene did not ever occur in "reality" (whatever that is), I see no reason not to accept it (or rather, its meaning/implications) as something other than canon, seeing as the project was the work of Anno himself.
Last edited by Jakobramsey on Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Bagheera » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:23 am

^I don't understand what you're getting at here. It's a framing device, like Svenge said. It has nothing to do with Instrumentality or the plot or anything; it's just a way to set the mood and tone for the show. There's nothing to it beyond that.
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Postby Jakobramsey » Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:50 am

Bagheera, I was more responding to some of the earlier comments. I was trying to say that if you interpret it to have some meaning, it (the meaning) probably is not pertaining to Instrumentality, and then I proceeded to explain my reasoning.

I am open to the idea that there could be some sort of meaning within the scene, but it probably is not particularly advanced or insightful, if it exists at all.

(though I apologize for the wording of the opening sentence of my previous post. Perhaps that's what threw you off?)

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Re: The Eva-Pilot Quartet

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Postby Seoul Gamer » Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:06 am

View Original PostJakobramsey wrote:Or is it possible that the Quartet scene from Death and Rebirth was not exactly canon?


Bingo!

As for "what is canon", it refers to everything that actually happened in the anime, not counting spin-offs or expansionary material that contradicts the original anime. That scene never actually occurs in the anime itself, so the logic behind it is irrelevant.

I also highly doubt that Toji would be the sort to play an instrument. Maybe something like the drums or an electric guitar, but certainly nothing so sophisticated as a violin. It just doesn't fit with his character, and we know that Kaworu is a big fan of classical music.
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Postby Jakobramsey » Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:29 am

View Original PostSeoul Gamer wrote:I also highly doubt that Toji would be the sort to play an instrument. Maybe something like the drums or an electric guitar, but certainly nothing so sophisticated as a violin. It just doesn't fit with his character, and we know that Kaworu is a big fan of classical music.


You're right, and I tried to make that point in my original post, but I didn't want to jump to the conclusion that it was impossible. After all, I know plenty of crass, loud, and déclassé individuals who play the violin (or some other classical instrument). There is no correlation between the two, as much as society tends to believe.

I was also saying that IF the scene had been canon, and the quartet had existed for a while, it could have supported the idea that toji played.

I seems as if canonicity, or at least the way we are using it, revolves around it having actually happened in the series having originated from Anno. But what about scenes that just convey an idea that is canon while doing so in a way that isn't legitimate in terms of the story's narrative (and therefore not canon)?

For example, let's hypothetically say there is a scene in which Asuka slaps Shinji and verbally attacks him, saying how much she hates him, but then later apologizes and reveals that she is frustrated with herself because she feels useless, and since Shinji was the natural target, took it out on him. (this may not be a perfect scene, but just bear with me here)

We all know this scene never happened in the anime, and let's also say that there is some reason that makes it impossible for it to have actually occurred (say, contradictions in time, or something). While the scene itself would not be canon, the ideas it expresses, namely, Asuka's feelings towards Shinji and herself are certainly legitimate in the sense that they are accurate to the show. So it seems to me that canonicity, in addition to being a tier system, can also exist within something in different degrees or levels. Am I making sense, or am I just being an idiot?

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Postby thewayneiac » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:35 pm

The problem here is that you are badly misusing the word "canon". The very fact that it is in the movie makes it canon. What you are trying to ask is "Did this happen in the reality portion of the story?" As has been demonstrated, the answer is "no, it could not have happened because Asuka and Kaworu never met." This does not preclude its being a genuine interaction of their minds joined in Instrumentality.

In fact, it's the perfect metaphor for Instrumentality. The individual performances are incomplete, even when played from beginning to end. Only when they join together and play in harmony does the music become a complete whole.

The way canon is being used in this thread would mean that the Instrumentality portions of EOE and all of Eps. 25 & 26 are not canon, and that is plainly wrong.
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Postby Jakobramsey » Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:55 pm

View Original Postthewayneiac wrote:
In fact, it's the perfect metaphor for Instrumentality. The individual performances are incomplete, even when played from beginning to end. Only when they join together and play in harmony does the music become a complete whole.



I agree with your commentary on our use of the concept of canon, but I have to dispute this. The mere fact that a musician does not play with another does not make the music incomplete. A solo work is self supporting because of the way it was composed, being only intended for one musician, and an orchestral or chamber work is designed to be supported by the harmony between the musicians.

I think if you had, for example, a string quartet with only 3 out of 4 musicians, then calling it incomplete would be appropriate.

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Postby thewayneiac » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:27 pm

View Original PostJakobramsey wrote:I agree with your commentary on our use of the concept of canon, but I have to dispute this. The mere fact that a musician does not play with another does not make the music incomplete. A solo work is self supporting because of the way it was composed, being only intended for one musician, and an orchestral or chamber work is designed to be supported by the harmony between the musicians.

I think if you had, for example, a string quartet with only 3 out of 4 musicians, then calling it incomplete would be appropriate.


I was referring to a performance of this particular piece. Just one part of a quartet arrangement is incomplete.
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Postby svenge » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:44 pm

thewayneiac wrote:The problem here is that you are badly misusing the word "canon". The very fact that it is in the movie makes it canon. What you are trying to ask is "Did this happen in the reality portion of the story?" As has been demonstrated, the answer is "no, it could not have happened because Asuka and Kaworu never met." This does not preclude its being a genuine interaction of their minds joined in Instrumentality.

In fact, it's the perfect metaphor for Instrumentality. The individual performances are incomplete, even when played from beginning to end. Only when they join together and play in harmony does the music become a complete whole.

The way canon is being used in this thread would mean that the Instrumentality portions of EOE and all of Eps. 25 & 26 are not canon, and that is plainly wrong..


Dude, it's a goddam recap movie, a theatrical form that has a long history in Japan. Its only purpose is to serve as a reminder of the characters and major plot points of the TV series it summarizes so that the forthcoming new theatrical content will resonate better. Hell, it's so common that Nadesico (the king of meta-anime) had an OVA featuring its in-universe series-within-a-series (Gekiganger III) that was structured just like Death and Rebirth (i.e. its 1st half was a recap, 2nd half new story).

As such, it really doesn't matter what framing device (if any) is used for a recap movie, as it's purpose is completely different from the source material it's derived from. The TV series and EoE are telling you a story, while Death is reminding you of the story told thus far. As such, nothing in a recap movie counts as canon in itself. Outside of the string quartet scenes there is zero new content, and such an out-of-universe framing device by definition doesn't count as "canon".

Note that this doesn't apply to digest/compilation movies, which are superficially similar but have a different intent and method of execution. A compilation movie (or series of movies) tries to tell a compressed but fully self-sufficient version of the parent series' story. However, unlike recap movies which can be non-linear and out-of-universe, these have both a well-defined narrative beginning and ending. Also, they quite often have points of divergence from the original work and/or a different emphasis for various reasons (economy of characters, changing plot points that didn't work originally, etc.) The original MS Gundam TV series (1979-80) and its 3 compilation movies (1981-83) are an excellent example of this.


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