Captain Langley

Discussion of the new series of Evangelion movies ( "Evangelion Shin Gekijōban", meaning "Evangelion: New Theatrical Edition").
The third installment debuted in Japan on November 17, 2012.

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Postby Flyvapnet » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:02 am

Forgive me if this seems superficial, tangential, unimportant, etc., but it's something that's confused me ever since Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance hit the street. Asuka Shikinami Langley is referred to as "captain" by her superior, Misato Katsuragi. Langley, a university graduate, is a captain in the European Air Force on assignment (either permanently or temporarily) to Tokyo-3. Yes?

Those of you who, like me, are veterans of military service will recall officers have privileges not accorded (shall we say) non-officers; and Nerv is, at the very least, a paramilitary organization--albeit one which employs lots of civilians. Yet, it seems to me, Langley isn't accorded the respect customarily due a military officer: Katsuragi and other authority figures, officers and equivalent civilians alike, treat Langley with no more respect than they do non-officers or civilians of lesser equivalent rank.

For example: Langley is never consulted on anything, included in planning sessions nor put in charge of anything; neither does she live in quarters set aside for officers and equivalent civilians. Mind, I realize this is all make-believe; but one would think Hideaki Anno and his staff would have at least a passing grasp of how a military (or paramilitary) organization works. "Rank has its privileges" is a very old and very true saying.

So, what's going on with that? Is Langley's rank of captain just an honorary title, like Kentucky Colonel? I can't imagine the European Air Force promoting someone to captain without good cause; and a captain in Europe should be a captain in Japan as well, deserving all privileges due a military officer.

This isn't something which keeps me up at night, to be sure. But I'm interested in learning your thoughts on this matter. Thank you!

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Postby riffraff11235 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:32 am

I had a discussion about this with my friend recently. We came to the conclusion that Shikinami was given the title "Captain of the European Air Force" because of her role as an Evangelion pilot, in which case it may just be an honorary ranking. I'm not sure why an Eva would be considered as part of the European Air Force, though....

Other than that, maybe Asuka isn't shown the respect befitting a Captain because her rank means nothing in a paramilitary organization like Nerv. Nerv has enough influence that Gendou can comfortably push around the Japanese military, so I can see that possibility being true.
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Postby Jornophelanthas » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:23 pm

Typical military hierarchy requires any person with the authority to command a military vessel should be an officer of at least captain rank. This includes not only ships, but also airplanes, and that is why jet pilots are always captains or higher (with any subordinate co-pilots, gunners etc. usually given the rank of lieutenant). Even if they are the only staff member aboard the plane.
(By extension, airforce squad leaders are typically majors - which happens to be Misato's rank - as they need to have the authority to command a squad of pilots. Similarly, military surgeons are also usually captains or higher, so that they have the military authority to order their patients to lie still and undergo life-saving treatments.)

This use of the rank of "captain" does not necessarily entail a leadership or command function, as jet pilots typically only "command" their own machines (and not even the ground crew). It also does not necessarily entail any tactical or planning duties, but rather only piloting skill and the ability to make fast decisions while in the air.

It is only a small stretch of the imagination to consider Unit-02 a fancy type of airplane, especially if it has been developed and deployed by some kind of collective European Airforce. Its pilot (Asuka) should therefore be given the corresponding rank.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Asuka is not consulted on military strategy, because she has been trained to be a pilot, not a leader. She is not afforded officer privileges, because NERV is not a true military organization, and she is quartered with her superior officer - Misato Katsuragi - who tends to treat her pilots more like her surrogate children than her subordinates when off duty.
(Still, note the scene in Rebuild 2.0 where Asuka announces that she does not want to go on the aquarium excursion with Kaji, and Misato responding by ordering her to attend.)

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Postby riffraff11235 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:47 pm

^This. Thanks for explaining it so thoroughly, Jorn. (I can call you that, right? XD) This was something that confused me as well.
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Postby Sailor Star Dust » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:48 pm

Asuka's Captain of the European Air Force in NME, I'm still not sure on how this relates or doesn't relate to Nerv's European Union.

Nitpick: Asuka's last name is either Soryu or Shikinami depending on the continuity. Langley is her western last name while Soryu/Shikinami is her Japanese last name.

Why the name order of "Soryu Asuka Langley" in NGE versus "Asuka Shikinami Langley" in NME? Heck if I know.
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Postby riffraff11235 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:50 pm

View Original PostSailor Star Dust wrote:Nitpick: Asuka's last name is either Soryu or Shikinami depending on the continuity. Langley is her western last name while Soryu/Shikinami is her Japanese last name.

Why the name order of "Soryu Asuka Langley" in NGE versus "Asuka Shikinami Langley" in NME? Heck if I know.

I think there was a whole thread a while back dedicated to the order of Asuka's name.
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Postby Sailor Star Dust » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:52 pm

View Original Postriffraff11235 wrote:order of Asuka's name.


I vaguely remember that thread but don't remember the details. :lol:
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Postby riffraff11235 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:56 pm

View Original PostSailor Star Dust wrote:I vaguely remember that thread but don't remember the details. :lol:

Here it is if you're interested in browsing it.

I must say, that 'stache fits Smug!Mari to a tee! She just needs a monocle and top hat for the image to be complete! :rofl:
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Postby Jornophelanthas » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:06 pm

View Original Postriffraff11235 wrote:^This. Thanks for explaining it so thoroughly, Jorn. (I can call you that, right? XD) This was something that confused me as well.

You're welcome.

If you must shorten my forum name, I prefer it if you abbreviated it to "Jorno" (although I still prefer the full version). None of these variations bear any resemblance to my real name, by the way.

View Original Postriffraff11235 wrote:[I must say, that 'stache fits Smug!Mari to a tee! She just needs a monocle and top hat for the image to be complete! :rofl:

In case you hadn't noticed, Mari already features a "biocle", which is twice as good as a monocle. That might possible even compensate for the lack of a top hat.

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Postby Mr. Tines » Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:11 pm

View Original Postriffraff11235 wrote:She just needs a monocle and top hat for the image to be complete! :rofl:
No top hat, I'm afraid, but...

Off-topic Mari  SPOILER: Show
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Subtitles translated into English as she is spoke.
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Well....

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Postby Flyvapnet » Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:47 pm

If "captain" is merely an honorary title and not a military rank, as riffraff11235 suggests (and I wondered), why do others seem impressed by Asuka Shikinami Langley being a captain? Nobody pipes up and says "Oh, that doesn't really mean anything" or "We're all captains via equivalence."

Regarding pilots not being consulted, having no input to planning and not being in charge of anything apart from their aircraft during sorties (as Jornophelanthas points out): I agree that's a distinguishing characteristic of many air forces when it comes to most pilots. The view that pilots should be segregated from everyone else permeated the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, as can be seen by the fact those who were not pilots were ineligible for the Battle of Britain Clasp--in spite of the fact many non-flying personnel kept aircraft airworthy and died defending airfields against attack by the German Air Force. Aircrew members who were not pilots were likewise precluded from receiving that Clasp, though it's difficult to imagine their risks being any less than those to which pilots were subjected.

The RAF, like all air forces of the time except U.S. air forces, had a number of pilots who were enlisted men. One wonders why such pilots were not given officer rank, but I digress. (However, it's obviously all right to wander off topic.)

Anyway, if memory serves, Langley shared quarters with Shinji Ikari. Was he an officer, too; or was he a civilian of equivalent rank? Misato Katsuragi was a major, so I'm thinking military rank was in fact important at Nerv albeit ignored when convenient.

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Last edited by Flyvapnet on Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:05 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Sailor Star Dust » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:03 pm

Like my post mentioned here:
View Original PostSailor Star Dust wrote:Asuka's Captain of the European Air Force in NME, I'm still not sure on how this relates or doesn't relate to Nerv's European Union.


European Air Force very well could be a separate organization from Nerv.
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Re: Well....

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Postby Jornophelanthas » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:10 pm

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:If "captain" is merely an honorary title and not a military rank, as Jornophelanthas suggests, why do others seems impressed by Asuka Shikinami Langley being a captain? Nobody pipes up and says "Oh, that doesn't really mean anything" or "We're all captains via equivalence."

I never suggested it was an "honorary" title.

Any military staff member who commands a ship or airplane MUST BE GIVEN the (very real) rank of "captain" (or higher). Naval captains are typically put in charge of a ship and all of its crew, but in the case of fighter pilots, that crew consists of just themselves.

Still, fighter pilots ACTUALLY outrank lieutenants, sergeants, corporals and regular soldiers, and their rank may afford them formal respect from them (like salutes or what have you). But they cannot actually order people around until people are placed under their command. Which typically does not happen, because they don't need a crew to fly a plane.

Asuka is the only Evangelion pilot with a (known) military background and rank, by the way. NERV is a paramilitary organization that does not use all aspects of military hierarchy, and they simply treat Asuka like they treat their other pilots, which is on a strict basis of "don't need to know anything".
What this means is that Asuka is a foreign military officer detached at NERV Japan, that she is officially a guest pilot placed under the command of Misato, that she does not have the right to command anyone around, and that NERV staff do not need to salute her because they either are not military themselves or they outrank her.

"Everyone" (which probably means Shinji, Toji and Kensuke) are impressed with Asuka's military rank, because it's very rare for a fourteen-year-old classmate of theirs to be an actual officer in the actual (foreign) military.

SPOILER: Show
For completeness, Shinji is a Japanese civilian (and a minor placed in the legal custody of Misato). Rei is also a Japanese civilian (of unknown parentage, and a minor placed in the legal custody of NERV, as represented by its commander, Gendo Ikari). Kaworu's existence is probably not known to anyone outside SEELE, so he has no legal, civil or military status to speak of. And while Mari's background is unrevealed, it is very likely that she does have one.

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Eek!

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Postby Flyvapnet » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:55 pm

Dayum, I made entirely too many mistakes in my previous post! I apologize for having mentioned Jornophelanthas in the wrong place! *hangs head in shame* Anyway, I agree with Sailor Star Dust in that the European Air Force was probably a separate entity from Nerv; but I don't know this for a fact, so clarification would be appreciated.

Jornophelanthas, this much I know: The German Air Force, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service, the Royal Air Force and the Soviet Air Forces all used enlisted pilots during the Second World War. The glaring exception to this was the U.S. air forces (Army and Navy). Nowadays, of course, things are undoubtedly quite different and there are probably no more enlisted pilots in any air force.

Back when I was in the U.S. Air Force, if an officer--any officer--came along and told those of inferior rank to do this or that they had to do it until they could speak with an officer who was in their usual chain of command. Here again, that may have changed.

I'm beginning to understand why Asuka Shikinami Langley is not accorded the respect customarily due an officer. As Jornophelanthas stated:

What this means is that Asuka is a foreign military officer detached at NERV Japan, that she is officially a guest pilot placed under the command of Misato, and that she does not have the right to command anyone around.


Apart from this matter of her being an officer, I find it a pity that Nerv doesn't appreciate Langley's intellect, but then Hideaki Anno would have to appreciate it first. Thanks, everyone, for your input so far!

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Postby bobbyfischer's ghost » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:13 pm

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:

Apart from this matter of her being an officer, I find it a pity that Nerv doesn't appreciate Langley's intellect, but then Hideaki Anno would have to appreciate it first.



We haven't see too much of Asuka's ability but hopefully this will change in 3.0.
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Re: Well....

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Postby StratoSakuya...AF » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:27 pm

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:If "captain" is merely an honorary title and not a military rank, as riffraff11235 suggests (and I wondered), why do others seem impressed by Asuka Shikinami Langley being a captain? Nobody pipes up and says "Oh, that doesn't really mean anything" or "We're all captains via equivalence."

Regarding pilots not being consulted, having no input to planning and not being in charge of anything apart from their aircraft during sorties (as Jornophelanthas points out): I agree that's a distinguishing characteristic of many air forces when it comes to most pilots. The view that pilots should be segregated from everyone else permeated the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, as can be seen by the fact those who were not pilots were ineligible for the Battle of Britain Clasp--in spite of the fact many non-flying personnel kept aircraft airworthy and died defending airfields against attack by the German Air Force. Aircrew members who were not pilots were likewise precluded from receiving that Clasp, though it's difficult to imagine their risks being any less than those to which pilots were subjected.

The RAF, like all air forces of the time except U.S. air forces, had a number of pilots who were enlisted men. One wonders why such pilots were not given officer rank, but I digress. (However, it's obviously all right to wander off topic.)

Anyway, if memory serves, Langley shared quarters with Shinji Ikari. Was he an officer, too; or was he a civilian of equivalent rank? Misato Katsuragi was a major, so I'm thinking military rank was in fact important at Nerv albeit ignored when convenient.

[center]:asuka_stare:[/center]


If memory serves right, the Children are all regarded the exclusive pilots of their units. EUNERV's ranking system seems more military-like and formal than NERV's main office. Her rank is prolly EU's way of identifying captain Shikinami, just like all other aircraft pilots are captains. Shinji lacks a rank because his organization isn't annexed into a military force, therefore foregoing the need of being a captain. This could also mean that Asuka has clearance for operating under the European Air Force or using their bases as diversion points. Shinji, being a pilot, would be able to do the same. Therefore, Ikari is a defacto captain...

Mind you, Kaworu and Mari may have actual high ranks and be officers of a completely different nature if we take their relationship with Seele or IPEA into account, or it could be more complex than we think... I believe at least one among those two could be an actual officer of sorts, or maybe I'm just being too lame.
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Postby Kendrix » Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:30 pm

Hm, while Nerv styles themselves military-ish, one should never forget that they're still mostly academics or the offspring thereoff.
The only one who acts remotely like a soldier (maybe) is Misato, who's in the operations division and seems to do all of the stragety-related stuff, while everyone else is all science and computers and white coats.
They probably don't work anything like, say, the US navy.

Also, at least a military rank makes more sense than finishing college with 14 (if that statement was to be taken seriously - there's nothing to indicate that she wasn't just plain bullshitting Shinji, as she was complaining to Misato about the school system in the same episode and didn't ask what she's doing in school in the first place) since Asuka's job does remotely involve weapons and fighting, so let's not complain too much...

They did make Misato a colonel instead of a captain so Asuka wouldn't outrank her, but I suspect that it really IS just a honorary rank.
Look at all the stuff she owns, it fills the appartment for the better part of the movie, it's obvious that our dear miss Shikinami has been spoiled rotten back home.
It probably went somewhat like this:

Asuka: Man, I'm so tired of these stupid experiments! I'm the defender of earth, not a guinea pig *throws star tantrum*
Random German Nerv guy: We give you a shiny button that says "Captain" on it if you cooperate!


Or maybe she was given a rank on the paper for some bureaucratic reason or another.

Also, what does a Captain of the European Airforce have to say to any NERV personell?
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Indeed!

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Postby Flyvapnet » Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:44 pm

I'm hoping so as well, bobbyfischer's ghost. I'd love to see a more intellectual facet of Asuka Shikinami Langley's persona, as opposed to the mood-oriented way she's been presented so far.

StratoSakuya...AF, thank you for those insights! Things do get complicated, don't they, with these various and sundry organizations cooperating (or not) with one another? I guess the upshot of all this is that Langley and the other pilots are equal in status--as far as we know, anyway.

I'm thankful for the level of input to this thread. Also, I thank the Thread Mover for moving this thread to a more appropriate forum.

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Postby A.T. Fish » Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:50 pm

Pardon my ignorance, but is it even possible for a 14 year old to become a Captain in the real world?

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Postby Flyvapnet » Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:04 pm

Kendrix, I wish you'd go troll somewhere else. Thank you.

A.T. Fish, please bear in mind the fact that all things Evangelion are works of fiction. Thus, anything is possible.

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