@FreakyFilmFan4ever: Yepp, I agree. Since I was one of the people who argued against you, I'd like to explain myself, as I think we had a misunderstanding I feel responsible for and would like to remove.
To quote myself:
It's a fixed part of his journey and setup for the final movie, that's also why it doesn't matter what they did or did not tell him - as was made clear later on with Kaworu, where Shinji only listens to advice and absorbs information when it confirms his biases or promises him to fulfill his (impossible) dreams, ignoring everything else.
I am not complaining that they aren't telling him everything, (as you seem to think, given your "This will make the movie citizen Kane" line), as I don't think that would work.
To quote myself again:
Ok, if there indeed was no time, that still leaves the question as to why they chose to spend it the way they did, with a seemingly counterproductive approach to handling Shinji.
I admit, I was unsure about how much time they actually had, but that wasn't my actual issue to being with, as I don't think they need much time at all. My main issue always was the bolded part. That's why my proposed alterations to their first meeting include even less factual information than Shinji actually got, and why I added this explanation:
That's about 75 seconds of screentime, and contains pretty much everything I think is essential for Shinji to know. They don't have to tell him anything else for the whole movie. I don't think there's anything in it that isn't implied in the movie anyways, but some things, like there being a way for Shinji to earn their trust back, are made explicit.
What my alterations do is establish some ground rules for Shinji, so that he can hold onto something and build trust.
Misato: ... That is a question I can not answer right now. Just know that we do not trust you. We might trust you again, but if you want to have any chance at all, you will have to sit tight and do what we say.
I kept it a little vague, but she is telling him three things:
1. I can not answer that question right now
. Two things are implied here: Time constraints, and that she will tell him later.
2. The trust part should be straight forward: We do not currently trust you, but we might do it again.
3. She then tells him exactly what he must do to earn their trust back.
Shinji is given framework to work with, with this one sentence (I assume he will not understand what is actually said here). It is competely detached from any specific plot points or background information. It works independent of their own characters or Shinji's specific issues as well, and I even said it can be delivered in a hostile manner, to obscure the meaning on first viewing.
I called the whole of WILLE stupid because every single one of them failed to follow this basic rule: Shinji is, essentially, a child, and children need a clear framework to function. WILLE obviously planned to talk to him - for whatever reason. My whole spiel about their options (like killing or sedating or decieving him) was to point to the fact that I don't think they have to
talk to him, as I consider the attempt to be pretty futile and counterproductive to begin with. But they made that decision anyways, so they thought it worthwhile enough to try, which is why I questioned their intelligence when this apparently planned action (they set time aside to meet him, after all, and gave him Sakura as a companion) was missing such an important step.
There is another opportunity in the movie to show that they know what they are doing: Ritsuko says to Shinji that she knows this must be confusing. But instead of telling him what she will do next (namely, have Sakura start explaining things from the ground up), which would lessen his confusion, she asks Sakura to tell him that fourteen years have passed - which can only increase his confusion at that point, as he was apparently unaware of any time-skip to begin with.
The bit about Sakura not telling him he was at WILLE stems from this line of thinking about establishing basic rules of trust. Shinji asks a question, but WILLE went with the worst option of not answering at all
. Even something like "I am not allowed to tell you" implies that somebody else might tell him - silence means he won't
be getting answers to his questions. The reason I picked that scene is because it is the first interaction Shinji has with WILLE, and right from the start, they handle the situation wrong, if their goal was to ensure Shinji's cooperation (which I assume they want to do, as you and others pointed out that they indeed start to explain things). Which is why I questioned their intelligence, as they apparently are not able to choose an approach benefiting their stated goals (Save the world -> Kill Shinji) or implicit goals (Save the world AND save Shinji -> Talk to Shinji). It is painfully obvious, too, as Shinji is calm when they talk to him, no matter what
they tell him (notice he reaction to being told he is punished) but gets anxious when they ignore him, which should make them reconsider their cold, distant and strictly factual approach.
Misato is another example of this, after Rei attacks. She tells Shinji "That is not Rei. Rei Ayanami is dead." Her obvious goal is to dissuade Shinji from going with Rei. They already told him that, though, so the approach they took has failed to work so far. After reiterating what was said, Misato fails to switch to another approach, which is not intelligent behaviour. Saying "That Rei is a clone" can only benefit WILLE in this situation, while there are no obvious downsides, so why she would not give Shinji that bit of information (whether he believes it or not) is beyond me - especially because it is implied that they intended to fill him in on everything anyways.
To reiterate, I don't think any of that would
have worked on Shinji. I still think it would have benefited the movie to choose a different approach regarding the interactions of WILLE and Shinji, as instead of an exploration of failed communication, it reads like plain refusal
of communication to me (even though they do talk), as the mistakes are so painfully obvious and avoidable (the biggest offenders are the repeated occasions where characters stay silent completely or do not answer direct questions with expected/obvious/fitting answers). In a sense, the movie feels contrived, as it is constructed to achieve exactly a situation where these obvious mistakes are seemingly unavoidable, but that only becomes apparent with careful study - which harms the movie, because the first impression doesn't encourage a deeper look. Which is also a reason for why people complain that "Everybody is stupid": At surface level, everything is really easy, thus any explanation we can come up with later feels needlessly contrived and complicated in contrast, and doesn't even explain away all the mistakes commited while simultaneously making the plot contrievances obvious.
To bring this back to the actual topic of the thread: My guess is that the "Why didn't they tell him anything?" complaints have this "They are talking to him in the wrong way
" complaint at their base. I mean, it is obvious that they are talking to him. To claim that they do not tell him anything
is plain wrong. A wish for a more detailed explanation is nothing but a wish for WILLE to change tactics if their current approach (giving sparse, even though factually accurate information) is failing them.
I am sorry that I expressed myself less clearly before. Ironically enough, this discussion itself is a repeat of what happened with Shinji and Wille, as I failed to explain things as I should have and also failed to understand what you were saying. Which is why I hesitated to participate in this discussion in the first place: I am not able to express myself as clearly as I want, and fail to get many nuances of the english language, as it isn't my mother tongue. Which is also why I, if I were in WILLE's shoes, would have sent somebody who is good at communicating to interact with Shinji instead of going myself, as going myself would be an easily avoidable mistake - and if that option wasn't there, I'd just have sedated him an not talked to him at all.