While looking at Shinji and Asuka's relationship, I think it's impossible to "blame" a single person for what happened. Otherwise, you end up limiting your analysis. There is more to look at than "who is to blame". It's fairly common to see people glossing over Shinji's actions in EOE. Sure, the character was at his lowest point. However, he's still Shinji Ikari. We are not looking at a new person. Ikari's mindset (which is the driving force behind his behavior) didn't come out of nowhere.
Shinji is, by all intents and purposes, a self-centred person. He basically looks at the world through a lock. As Asuka pointed out, Ikari is a dense guy. I mean, he was the last soul to notice that Toji would be Unit 03's pilot. Still, he cares about other people (he saved Soryu at the end of Magmadiver, for example). He just has a hard time looking at things outside of his narrow perspective. After hearing Asuka crying for her mother in episode 9, he immediately brought the situation to himself (commenting on how she
is a child). Anyway, this "self-centered nature" greatly shapes his character in EOE.
Throughout the series, Shinji doesn't do much to understand Asuka. That, in itself, is okay. I mean, she sends mixed signals and is a difficult person at times. It's also okay for her to feel hurt by it, though. The "pathetic element" comes later. At his worst, after doing so little, Shinji begs Asuka for help. When she needed him, he wasn't there. Still, he wants her to love and stay with him forever. That's when his egocentric side comes out and leads him to do some horrible things
In this movie, Shinji and Asuka's interactions can be divided into three main sequences. These are the hospital, kitchen and beach scenes. Each of these moments complements the other and it's possible to notice some patterns when analyzing them.
The tone of their relationship is set by the hospital sequence. Frankly, Shinji was in that room for himself and no one else. He begged for Asuka's help, she obviously didn't meet his expectations and he proceeded to use her as an object. He completely disregarded her humanity just to feel worthy of being hated. He hurt her for his own benefit. It's not just about the action itself, but his mindset.
In the kitchen sequence, Shinji approached Asuka by saying that he wanted to "help her". Full of his bullshit, she tells him to leave. Note that she stopped engaging with him after episode 22. He is the one who keeps looking for some kind of dialogue (like that time he thought it was a good idea to tell a sick child that her favorite person had been murdered). Honestly, Asuka seems to want distance from Shinji. Unfortunately, he can't take "no" for an answer and that's when everything falls apart. Shinji was scared and came crawling to her when it was convenient. She finds him pathetic and incapable of loving himself. He cannot accept rejection and retaliate by giving up on her and humanity. Shinji hurt Asuka again.
Don't get me wrong, I feel there was some honesty in his words to her. We know that Shinji cared a lot about Asuka and was attracted to her. However, it was too little too late. He was trying to expand their relationship for every possible selfish reason.
Finally, there's the last scene of the movie. While Shinji is using Asuka's body to confirm his own individuality, he also hurts her (giving sequence to their "cycle of pain"). She could have responded to his actions in a number of ways, but chose to express kindness (stroking his face the same way Yui did). Asuka, who matured a lot during this movie, stopped projecting herself on Shinji and accepted him. Communication doesn't have to be agonizing all the time. Pain exists, but it can be forgiven.
In hindsight, Shinji is not a monster. However, he isn't a saint either. Through the circumstances of EOE, we see the worst side of him. (some of his poorer quirks were exacerbated). Even so, he has many qualities and Asuka herself noticed this on several occasions. I decided to focus on him because people usually only talk about the girls. Of course, Asuka isn't perfect either. That's why I'm a fan of their relationship. It's not cute, but realistic, hopeful and interesting to watch. Remember, I only talked about the movie. There's a lot more to cover in the series.
On the "crackship side"
, my favorite one is AsuKen. That's because of Angelic Days. Kensuke is so pathetic in this story that it's impossible not to laugh. He keeps trying to reach her again and again, even though it's obviously useless. She doesn't even know how to react. Like, she's not mean to him or anything. She just tries to ignore the whole thing (lol). That sequence outside of Asuka's apartment is so miserable that I truly feel sorry for the guy. Honestly, he's a nice person and seems to care more about her than Shinji (at first). Poor dude. I like him.