Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

Discussion of the new series of Evangelion movies ( "Evangelion Shin Gekijōban", meaning "Evangelion: New Theatrical Edition"). The final instalment is scheduled to debut in Japan at some date to be announced.

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Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Sachi » Wed Sep 30, 2020 12:54 am

Sup. It's been a while since I've made any contributions to the forums, and I don't expect this to be anything spectacular. I only wish to spark discussion based on my layman's observation of something currently interesting me.

I've been in the middle of a personal journey to create a fictional mythology of my own, and as a necessity toward that end, I've been doing a lot of research regarding mythological storytelling. Currently I am slugging my way through the Dante's Divine Comedy, and all I can say is oof. I won't claim to understand the totality of it, but what I am attaching to at the moment is very fascinating for me. I've identified some themes that may be correlative to Evangelion, particularly the film series, and so I'd like to share.

Please refer to this diagrammed depiction of Dante's mythology.

Image

I understand there are some variant depictions of this idea, but for the purposes of this discussion I find this particular diagram very handy. Without waxing too poetic about the Divine Comedy itself, I find this particular image fascinating in the context of Eva. Let's say Purgatorio is Tokyo-03. and below is the Geofront, and even further below is Terminal/Central Dogma (hell). From Purgatorio upwards, there are 12 rings, 12 Angels, and above is a spherical gate resembling the Gates of Guf, the doors to God/Dio.

I also think its no coincidence that the first three rings (the first three Angels) are represented by broken rings. Perhaps it suggest that they've already been experienced/surpassed; the first three Angels of Rebuild have their story before and/or separate from the main events of the films.

Anyways, I don't claim to have an explanation regarding any of this. I just thought this was an interesting correlation, and wanted to share. Hopefully somebody else sees this and can explain any some of these concepts better than I could.

That's all for now. Cheers!
- Sachi

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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Zusuchan » Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:04 pm

As I already said, this is a great find and you must be thanked.

Upon some vague research into the matter of Dante, I've come upon something that could be a coincidence and overanalysis on my part. It might be interesting, though, which is why I have decided to post. No one else seems much inclined to anyways and I could just as well have unwittingly stumbled upon a goldmine despite the high unlikelihood of that. But anyway, here we go.

In Purgatorio, Dante and Virgil ascend to the Mountain of Purgatory on the ''far side of the world''. The Mountain is on an island in the Southern Hemisphere, specifically stated to be the only land there, supposedly created by the aftermath of Satan's fall creating Hell. Now, the Southern Hemisphere actually contains many lands, be they islands or parts of America, Asia etc. But what is at the very centre of the Hemisphere and what most people immediately think of when this Hemisphere is mentioned is Antarctica-the continent which also, in the worlds of both NGE and NTE, acts as the birthplace of Second Impact. Satan's fall and the resulting birth of Hell could act as hints at the whole Adam-Lilith fiasco which Reichu has written a great and comprehensive theory about. (For anyone reading this who doesn't know what I'm talking about, here's the link: thread/19857/Adams-Children-and-the-Nature-of-the-Cycle/ )

Interestingly, the gate of Purgatory has three steps, white, red and black. White is said to reflect the ''purity of the penitent's true self'', black is the color of mourning and red symbolizes the blood of Christ and the restoration of true life.

Now, in their ''Original Sin'' discussion in 2.0, Gendo says: ''Cleansed of the original sin, it is a purified world that man cannot set foot within''. There's never any indication he's specifically talking about Antarctica here and Fuyutsuki starts this whole conversation with a sad remark over the current state of Earth, but they're looking at the Southern Hemisphere at the same time and Antarctica is specifically a place that mankind can't hope to live in, so it's not hopefully overreaching of me to think that Gendo is talking generally about that here. After this scene, we also get Kaji talking about Misato with Shinji and we get a Second Impact flashback, which would be a hell of a coincidence if unintended. Now, the ''true self'' could also refer to this being the ''birthplace'' in a way of Shinji/Mari/Asuka/Kaworu/Rei, thereby showing their pure true selves. Lilith is also the progenitor of humanity, so Lilith-Rei are in a sense also the true selves of man. And we see pale skin on those most in touch with their Angelic nature a.k.a. Rei and Kaworu. Lilith-in-Terminal-Dogma is also white throughout the first three movies. The fact that the white is polished may pertain to the fact that this ''purity'' has to be engineered into becoming dominant instead of a more natural ''let's-wait'' approach. (HIP is the endgame of dozens of years of work and the whole Second Impact fiasco had something to with humans making it sure that Adam and Lilith were actually awakened, so it's not like anyone's been choosing to suddenly become God or reach a higher state of existence.)

Black, which is the color of mourning, is something I don't really have anything for. In simple terms, Second Impact was a world catastrophe which resulted in the deaths of millions, so it's not that hard to go ''okay, this is it''. On a side note, both Evangelion Unit-03 and Zeruel are also predominantly black and they of course lead to mournful events, which are still following the plans of Lilith, leading to Purgatory and ultimately Paradise. This could be symbolic of the hardships and sacrifices one has to make in his/her journey there.

Red, the symbol of the Christ's blood and the restoration of true life. I'm too tired to even attempt to properly look at connections, so let's go with some simple observations. In 3.33, we see Rei-Lilith/whatever that is in utter blood-red. There's still a white Lilith hanging around in Terminal Dogma, but there is also a red Lilith-Rei elsewhere, who in the end is responsible for the final beginning of Near Fourth Impact. (It wasn't technically the Fourth Impact, right? I mean if Kaworu referred to the end of 2.22 as Near Third Impact, then there's no way that what happened at the end of 3.33 could be officially considered an actual Fourth Impact.) Anyway, this ''restoration of true life'' is possibly a very oblique reference to the NTE version of the Human Instrumentality Project. We already have suspiciously blood-red ''Failures of Infinity'' and the second trailer for Shin also shows off some really red action footage, which may in some way pertain to the beginnings of Final Impact/HIP. (The eyes are also larger in anime and have often been called the windows to the soul-Rei and Kaworu have naturally red eyes and Mari/Asuka/Shinji's eyes start to glow red sometimes, a hint at their true status as Adams. Maybe this means something?)

One more thing: the gate of Purgatory is guarded by an angel with a countenance too bright for Dante to sustain. Virgil then declares that a ''lady from heaven'' brought them there and directed to the gate. Yui, Rei, Lilith-this could be a reference to one or all three of them. We know that Yui's plan probably involves some kind of HIP happening and we know for an absolute certainty that Lilith intends for HIP to happen. Rei II or even Rei Q may also play roles in Final Impact so at the end of the day I'm suggesting that this ''lady from heaven'' is one of our famous women leading the road to Purgatory. (I'd bank on Rei since she's more of a ''lady'' than the unquestionably God-like Lilith and her showing Shinji the ''gate'' would be fitting in all sorts of ways.) The angel then opens the gate with two keys which symbolize remorse and reconciliation, two things I think Shinji will have to absolutely go through in Shin. (He's already remorseful over Kaworu's death and his role in it at the end of 3.33.) There's also a mention of the angel drawing the letter ''P'', which represents sin, on Dante's forehead with a sword and saying he should not forget to wash the wounds while in Purgatory. I'm not sure if this pertains in any way to probable future happenings in Shin, but Shinji realizing his former mistakes i.e. sins and then ''washing'' them by the existence of HIP is a probable idea. Everything seems to point at HIP being some kind of a gate of Purgatory that leads to Paradise and purity in symbolistic terms at least.

Then we get to the end of Purgatorio, which shows Dante ascending to Heaven, guided by Beatrice, a dead childhood love, as Virgil (whose NTE counterpart I'm still cracking my head about) can't enter Heaven due to being a pagan. Besides from being beautiful, she is also told to be ''maternal, radiant and comforting''. This is something that Rei II fits into marvelously-a dead childhood love, who is comforting, radiant and, due to partially having Lilith's soul, rather maternal.

The end of Paradiso shows Dante in a flash understanding the mystery of Christ's divinity and humanity and his soul becomes aligned with God's love. In terms of potential meanings for the narrative of NTE, this could mean just about anything. The most likely is Final Impact and the true start of the Human Instrumentality Project, leading to Shinji finally understanding his nature and what has happened as he comes upon multiple realizations of various things.


This is all I got now. Let me know if any of this has pertained your interest and if you think I'm on to something here or just making stuff up. It's entirely possible that most of these references are actually intended to be Biblical instead of Dante-an. (Is that a word?) And most of this is based on a Wikipedia article instead of the actual poem itself, so...you know, this may not be trustworthy. I'm pretty afraid that I'm overanalyzing the meagre plot points I've come upon, but there is potentially something here, I think.

P.S. This is most likely totally unintended by Anno, but according to Dante, Hell lies under Jerusalem, which of course lies on an plateau between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, near which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. I don't think I need to stress the significance they have.

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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Lavinius » Wed Oct 07, 2020 5:00 pm

In the first place, I should remind of the use of the term Malebolge to refer to layers within the Black Moon in NGE (these are the regions of the Eighth Circle of Hell, of liars, fraudsters, thieves &c.). Within Rebuild we also have Cocytus, Acheron, and Limbo as regions of the Third Angel's containment facility (though IIRC Limbo is incorrectly placed outside of Acheron, when it's supposed to be just within).

I agree with the connection of Antarctica / the White Moon with Dante's Purgatory, as places cleansed of sin, in the southern hemisphere, where no living man may set foot, where Adam and Angels were found (Eden is at the top of Dante's Purgatory, and several Angels are found on the ascent upwards).

North, meanwhile, is traditionally understood as the place where Satan resides (you can see references to this in, e.g. Paradise Lost and the Silmarillion), and indeed the Black Moon is found in the northern hemisphere, and indeed the north is seemingly the only hemisphere inhabited by Lilin (demons) in Eva's world (or at least it was in the original). In Eva occasionally things are compared to the devil, but Satan himself never actually appears. However, Lilith is usually understood as the mate or female half of Sammael, essentially the Jewish name for Satan. (This understanding is, I think, in fact more common in Qabbalah than the more famous story that she was created as Adam's mate, which was quite possibly satirical in origin.) So "Satan" can easily be mapped onto Lilith if need be. Moreover, Dante's Hell was created by Satan's fall from Heaven and impact with the Earth, which matches well with how the spaceship Black Moon, containing Lilith, collided with Earth (at least in the original).

As such, we can thus say that the Black Moon, being a hollow underground cavity, created in a celestial collision, and inhabited by sinners/the source of sin, is equivalent to Dante's Hell.

View Original PostZusuchan wrote:P.S. This is most likely totally unintended by Anno, but according to Dante, Hell lies under Jerusalem, which of course lies on an plateau between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, near which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. I don't think I need to stress the significance they have.

Tokyo-3, the City par excellence, is the equivalent to Jerusalem, both built directly over Hell.

I've earlier seen Qaworu's lines to Shinji to pay no attention to the Failures of Infinity while descending to Lilith (viz. into Hell, towards Satan) compared to Virgil's lines to Dante about ignoring the nameless souls in the deserts outside of Hell, who achieved neither good nor evil.

Comparing Qaworu (and the original Kaworu) to Virgil might have some merit to it, especially if we reasonably liken Rei to Beatrice. Beatrice's first words to Dante upon meeting him in Eden are reproaching him for not remembering her, and for being distraught over the damned Virgil. Recall how Shinji completely loses interest in Rei after meeting Qaworu.

Of course, in the original Eva, Kaworu is saved by Rei, joining her in godhood, but that might not be the case in Rebuild, seeing as Qaworu is in many ways the exact opposite of Kaworu in terms of plot & character, keeping only the same design & mannerisms.

Another possible connection I might add is that Satan is chewing three traitors in his three mouths- Judas, Marcus Junius Brutus, and Gaius Longinus Cassius (another senator who betrayed Julius Cæsar). I've heard it alleged that Cassius is an alternative name for Longinus (as in the soldier who impaled Jesus with his Spear, an entirely separate figure), but I don't think I've seen any proof of that; thus this might be the source for the otherwise inexplicable name Cassius.

All that said, I would be cautious about overstretching or trying to fit the whole of the lore or structure of Dante onto Eva; Eva uses motifs from a variety of sources and does so fairly non-systematically.

View Original PostSachi wrote:I also think its no coincidence that the first three rings (the first three Angels) are represented by broken rings. Perhaps it suggest that they've already been experienced/surpassed; the first three Angels of Rebuild have their story before and/or separate from the main events of the films.

I think those rings are just representing air as such, as opposed to an ætherial-crystalline planetary sphere; I can't think of any reference to three broken circles in the Comedy itself.

Personally, by the way, I've always connected the mist-shrouded, thorny forest Shinji appears in in episode 25 to the "savage forest, rough & stern, where the straightforward pathway is lost," that Dante is lost in at the beginning of the Comedy.
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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Zusuchan » Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:13 pm

Cool finds, Lavinius! I take that you've actually read The Divine Comedy, so whatever you have to offer is obviously more substantial info than I could provide. I'm still glad I managed to be of some help.

I thought about Kaworu being Virgil's NTE counterpart, but remained unsure because I didn't know if he exactly qualified as a ''pagan'' and exactly why would Anno intend for such allusions. Though with your descriptions, it seems that it will be him.

Re: Satan's dinner, I'm thinking maybe it's some kind of a reference for Gendo/Yui/Fuyutsuki and their likely intentions to deceive Lilith. Exactly how the whole Lilith/Satan thing works is a whole other question, of course. For that matter, Brutus betrayed Caesar, but was still found such a bad person as to be tortured by Satan for eternity and if Reichu's whole ''Gargotsuki'' idea is true, then that could be another fun parallel. Or maybe I'm just thinking about this too much.

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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Lavinius » Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:30 pm

View Original PostZusuchan wrote:Cool finds, Lavinius! I take that you've actually read The Divine Comedy, so whatever you have to offer is obviously more substantial info than I could provide. I'm still glad I managed to be of some help.

It is my favorite book of all time.

I thought about Kaworu being Virgil's NTE counterpart, but remained unsure because I didn't know if he exactly qualified as a ''pagan'' and exactly why would Anno intend for such allusions. Though with your descriptions, it seems that it will be him.

Dante is awfully reluctant to even suggest that pagans (equally Muslims, whom he considered pagans, as did most medievals) incurred some sort of actual guilt for their religious practices (though idolatry was officially & biblically considered a mortalest of sins); he seems to see them as innocents deceived by "false & lying gods", and has Virgil claim that the virtuous non-Christians like himself committed no particular sin but are still kept from Heaven (and in Limbo, the Good Part of Hell) for lack of baptism.

Literarily rather than theologically speaking, the emotional crux of Virgil being a pagan is that he is excluded from salvation, in spite of being a wise, loving, self-sacrificing soul, who loves Dante like a mother and guides him through Hell & Purgatory.

Obviously symbolically speaking, Kaworu is an Angel and so should be the saved and the Lilin are demons and so should be the "pagans", but Eva pointedly inverts or disregards the moral landscape of the monotheistic mythologies it uses. In the original Eva, the situation is that either the Lilin can be saved, or the Angels can- apparently because of the ancient dispute between Adam & Lilith.
Kaworu is fairly close to Virgil in character, loving & wise, teaching Shinji about the world as they descend to Lilith, and sacrifices himself for the Lilin, and so reconciles himself to Lilith and is saved by her (in EoE).

I'm of the opinion that Qaworu, however, is an Akio-style villain. He's not a teacher, but a manipulator- whereas the original Kaworu openly lectured on about Lilin and AT-Fields and Adam without any restraint, Qaworu avoids explaining the rules of the world to Shinji at all- or who he even is- in favor of select pieces of information to bring Shinji to his particular goal. So I imagine that he will be damned by Rei (unless he redeems himself) this time around.

Re: Satan's dinner, I'm thinking maybe it's some kind of a reference for Gendo/Yui/Fuyutsuki and their likely intentions to deceive Lilith. Exactly how the whole Lilith/Satan thing works is a whole other question, of course. For that matter, Brutus betrayed Caesar, but was still found such a bad person as to be tortured by Satan for eternity and if Reichu's whole ''Gargotsuki'' idea is true, then that could be another fun parallel. Or maybe I'm just thinking about this too much.

YGF being Satan's three heads... could perhaps work but it'd be such an obscure link, especially when we can't even tell what the factions' goals are at this point, that I think that it's best to disregard it for the time being.

...Although in Original Eva, you did have Gendou being consumed Yui in the same fashion as Judas is consumed by Satan (the head & torso are in the mouth, rather than the legs as it is with Brutus & Cassius).
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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Zusuchan » Sun Oct 11, 2020 4:08 am

I knew that pagans were not allowed to go further than Limbo simply due to having been non-Christians, but I wasn't entirely sure if Kaworu, an Angelic character even in NGE, could really be qualified as such. But in NTE, I do imagine him being something like Virgil. I think his whole manipulation schist comes out of a very misconstrued and false understanding of what Shinji truly wants. He'll be a tragic figure, I imagine, something like Rei in NGE, a person who was shown love by Shinji while before that they were mostly used by others or looked at as a weirdo/freak and then became obsessed with returning the favor, so to speak, to Shinji, but at the cost of not caring about anything else. NTE!Kaworu could conceivably have helped Rei Q or any of the other Rei clones become more individual (it didn't take that much for Shinji to actually make Rei Q curious about her identity), but instead waited for 14 years until Shinji came back and then silently manipulated him into doing what Kaworu thought Shinji would like. There's something that I've always thought about, which is that in the original continuity, Rei went from doing whatever Gendo wanted to doing whatever Shinji wanted, which is only a marginal step towards the better. Kaworu seems to be of a similar nature in NTE. Even when they perhaps disagreed with Shinji, they never actually said ''no'' to anything he requested.

The Satan thing is probably so obscure as to potentially be worthless, but it's interesting to think about.

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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Lavinius » Sun Oct 11, 2020 5:56 pm

View Original PostZusuchan wrote:I knew that pagans were not allowed to go further than Limbo simply due to having been non-Christians, but I wasn't entirely sure if Kaworu, an Angelic character even in NGE, could really be qualified as such. But in NTE, I do imagine him being something like Virgil. I think his whole manipulation schist comes out of a very misconstrued and false understanding of what Shinji truly wants. He'll be a tragic figure, I imagine, something like Rei in NGE, a person who was shown love by Shinji while before that they were mostly used by others or looked at as a weirdo/freak and then became obsessed with returning the favor, so to speak, to Shinji, but at the cost of not caring about anything else. NTE!Kaworu could conceivably have helped Rei Q or any of the other Rei clones become more individual (it didn't take that much for Shinji to actually make Rei Q curious about her identity), but instead waited for 14 years until Shinji came back and then silently manipulated him into doing what Kaworu thought Shinji would like. There's something that I've always thought about, which is that in the original continuity, Rei went from doing whatever Gendo wanted to doing whatever Shinji wanted, which is only a marginal step towards the better. Kaworu seems to be of a similar nature in NTE. Even when they perhaps disagreed with Shinji, they never actually said ''no'' to anything he requested.

Kaworu is a "pagan", presumably, by being an Angel and thus presumably excluded somehow from whatever salvation a Lilin Happy Ending might hold. (Original Kaworu was in fact excluded from EoTV Instrumentality; his presence in EoE Instrumentality is a meaningful twist.)

I'm surprised you see original Rei that way- to me it's pretty clear that EoE Rei is merely prodding her beloved Shinji along until he understands the spiritual point she's trying to make.
And I'd say Qaworu was pretty "no" about the Spears. He wants Shinji to do what he wants, he's far, far from obedient to him.
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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Zusuchan » Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:47 pm

You may be right; I don't exactly know. It did seem to me like Rei in EoE deeply disagreed with Shinji wanting to end the world, but even though she asked him questions and did "prod" him, she still was ready to accept 3I. Of course, it's possible she may have known the necessity of such an act to the survival of humanity and conversed with Yui sometime before (or even known about the whole thing far earlier), but I'm not entirely sure. I would need to rewatch the film again and that's something I'm hoping to hold back upon for my huge NGE rewatch I'm planning to do just before watching Shin and that's still going to take some time.

As for Kaworu, I think he's still rather obsessed with Shinji in NTE. He wants Shinji to do what he wants, but then again that most likely comes out of a deep misunderstanding of what Shinji actually wants. Everything he does is something he believes to be for Shinji's ultimate happiness and he's obviously obsessed-he wouldn't be talking to himself about this final goal otherwise. I may misremember, but I think when Shinji asked for an explanation about what happened to the world to cause its current state in 3.33, Kaworu's smile dropped and it's possible that shows he didn't want to tell Shinji in any way what happened, but because Shinji he did anyway. A theory of mine is that Kaworu didn't actually lie to Shinji even once, he just spoke really vague truths. There's nothing so far to dispute that that I'm aware of. Kaworu knew there was something wrong about the spears too, so he knew that Shinji was engaging in an act that was not going to end like whatever Kaworu thought Shinji wanted or really what he wanted.

That's what I think, of course-if you still see some logic holes in my interpretation, feel free to respond.

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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Lavinius » Wed Oct 14, 2020 9:53 am

View Original PostZusuchan wrote:You may be right; I don't exactly know. It did seem to me like Rei in EoE deeply disagreed with Shinji wanting to end the world, but even though she asked him questions and did "prod" him, she still was ready to accept 3I. Of course, it's possible she may have known the necessity of such an act to the survival of humanity and conversed with Yui sometime before (or even known about the whole thing far earlier), but I'm not entirely sure.

I wouldn't call prodding to reverse something "accepting" it, but ja. I'm also of the suspicion that when the MP-Evas synchronized with Lilith they somewhat hijacked her, and her field of agency was probably limited- she had to go along with them- until they themselves died.

I have no disagreement with your take on Qaworu; I just wouldn't call that him being obedient to Shinji.
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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Zusuchan » Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:39 am

I guess you could argue that's not true obedience, but the point is that Kaworu is unhealthily obsessed with Shinji and would do whatever Shinji wanted, while neglecting pretty much everything and everybody else. Exactly how he came upon the impression Shinji would like the Human Instrumentality Project is a good question, but Shin will probably/hopefully answer that-or at least give the theorizers a lifeline to start theorizing from.

Re: Rei-well, I don't want to say "let's agree to disagree" because like I said, I don't want to watch EoE again just now, but it does seem we have different opinions of what's going on. I do like the idea of Rei having a limited agency though...

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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Lavinius » Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:43 am

View Original PostZusuchan wrote:I guess you could argue that's not true obedience, but the point is that Kaworu is unhealthily obsessed with Shinji and would do whatever Shinji wanted, while neglecting pretty much everything and everybody else. Exactly how he came upon the impression Shinji would like the Human Instrumentality Project is a good question, but Shin will probably/hopefully answer that-or at least give the theorizers a lifeline to start theorizing from.

See, here's the subtle distinction- Qaworu isn't going to do whatever Shinji wants, he's going to do whatever (he thinks) will make Shinji happy. If he cared about what Shinji wanted he'd do a little bit to get some informed consent or something before going ahead with the Spear Plan (whatever the hell that was).
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Re: Dante's Divine Comedy and Evangelion

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Postby Zusuchan » Thu Oct 15, 2020 9:45 am

I stand corrected.


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