NTE's interpretation of the characters

Discussion of the new series of Evangelion movies ( "Evangelion Shin Gekijōban", meaning "Evangelion: New Theatrical Edition"). The final instalment made its debut in Japan on March 8, 2021.

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NTE's interpretation of the characters

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Postby BernardoCairo » Sun Jun 18, 2023 5:56 pm

NGE is a classic anime with a heavy focus on its iconic cast of characters. NTE, as a movie tetralogy, had to change these characters up to make things work and tell the new story the directors were envisioning. Of course, some of the decisions made weren't to everyone's taste and this is a general thread to discuss that.
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Postby Waffle Wars » Wed Jun 21, 2023 8:27 am

Am I the only one who thinks Rei wasn't very well developed in the movies? People always talk about Asuka, but Rei didn't fare much better in the Rebuild.
She plays a big part in the last third of 1.0 and 2.0, but that's about it. Misato and Shinji are the focus of the first movie and the first two-thirds of the second movie are all about Asuka and Kaji's arrival.
She gets lost, and when she finally peaks, she is suddenly replaced by a new character. Rei Q is a very well rounded character though.

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Postby Konja7 » Wed Jun 21, 2023 10:36 am

View Original PostWaffle Wars wrote:Am I the only one who thinks Rei wasn't very well developed in the movies? People always talk about Asuka, but Rei didn't fare much better in the Rebuild.

People complaints about Asuka's development because she has a much better developement in NGE. Not to mention that Asuka's relevance in Rebuild was pretty little compared to her relevance in NGE.

Instead, Rei's development in 1.0 is practically the same as her development in the first six episodes of NGE (they mantain all her important scenes). After that, any amount of development that Rei II received in 2.0 is more than what Rei II received in NGE (where Rei was pretty forgotten).


That said, I really like Rei's development in Rebuilds. I started to really like and care about the character due to 2.0. Maybe the time spent on Rei is not that much, but I really get to understand and empathize with the character.

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Postby Archer » Wed Jun 21, 2023 4:19 pm

I’m pretty sure most people who talk about Rei’s character positively in the Rebuilds are in fact referring to ReiQ. If anything Rei2 gets LESS development than in the anime even if only due to runtime.

Rei3 in the anime unfortunately ends up being more of a plot device - there’s some lip service paid to the idea that through resurrection she was able to gain a sort of free will and escape Gendo’s brainwashing, but we never really get to see much of her perspective as a character.

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Re: NTE's interpretation of the characters

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Postby C.T.1290 » Wed Jun 21, 2023 6:21 pm

I kind of feel that Asuka’s role was taken over by Mari, like she was meant to be her replacement. Like they took some good aspects from Soryu and placed them in Mari, while they took the more negative ones to place them in the Shikinami type.

If we take Mari and Shikinami and put them together, we get the Rebuild version of Asuka Langley Soryu. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t do that in the first place? Just stick with Soryu and not replace her with some different characters?
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Postby Konja7 » Wed Jun 21, 2023 7:47 pm

View Original PostArcher wrote:I’m pretty sure most people who talk about Rei’s character positively in the Rebuilds are in fact referring to ReiQ. If anything Rei2 gets LESS development than in the anime even if only due to runtime.

I mean, Rei II receives pretty little development with the extra runtime in NGE after episode 6. She has some good phrases, but the character is pretty forgotten until Episode 23.

As I said, Rei II in 1.0 receives the same development than the first six episodes of NGE. She has the same scenes.

It's true that Rei II has a limited amount of time in 2.0, but she receives a lot more focus as a character. In fact, Rei II's wish to give Shinji a live without the Eva (which doesn't exist in NGE) happened due to the events in 2.0.



View Original PostArcher wrote:Rei3 in the anime unfortunately ends up being more of a plot device - there’s some lip service paid to the idea that through resurrection she was able to gain a sort of free will and escape Gendo’s brainwashing, but we never really get to see much of her perspective as a character.

Yeah. Rei III has a relevant role in the EoE, but she is hardly developed as a character.

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Postby BernardoCairo » Wed Jun 21, 2023 11:41 pm

I understand both sides of this argument. Rei has a more prestigious role in these films, yeah. But at the same time, she loses screen time and some of that wonder the original character had in the anime.
Much like Asuka, Rei was probably a difficult character to transition into NTE, but for very different reasons. Much of her charm came from her mysterious nature in the original series. We already had this mystery solved in our heads at the beginning of JO, so the writers had to approach it from a different angle in the tetralogy. While they came up with something interesting (if a little cliché), I can't help but miss the more introspective nature of the original character. Episode 14 is a treat.
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Re: NTE's interpretation of the characters

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Postby Axx°N N. » Thu Jun 22, 2023 3:10 pm

View Original PostBernardoCairo wrote:I can't help but miss the more introspective nature of the original character. Episode 14 is a treat.

Thank you so much for mentioning this as I wanted to so badly reading through the thread.

The posts thus far seem to imply that Rei disappears from the narrative wholesale, but that requires treating her inner monologue as disposable. It's one of the longer bits of character insight in the series at that point. It's ambiguous, abstract, and poetic, but should we suggest that anything with those descriptors can't be called "development"? To me those are the defining characteristics of Rei in NGE/EoE. The most interesting thing about her is that she shares in the audience's (and Anno, per interviews) inability to grasp her entirely. If her character arc is being a clone and lacking cohesion, that should be reflected in her inner monologue being the way it is even if it's not conventional "characterization," because she's flat out not a conventional character, she's a created being and alien to boot. I take that as a far more compelling treatment of the idea of being a copy and an iteration than either Rei or Asuka's conflicts in NTE re: cloning, where it makes them perform the tropes of harem anime at their common extremes (bento wifey-ing vs. lashing out). I also find her NGE/EoE version's relationship with retained memories a more interesting take that ties into Gendo's characterization too. He believes as he keeps iterating her that she'll become easier to control, and in his own hubris comes to find out that the opposite is true, and that Rei is amalgamating. It gives Gendo any kind of chink in his armor whatsoever at the same time that Rei acquires agency, and it's more believable than "Gendo never second-guessed his son-torturing genocide using the heart he had all along."

OG Rei's character is communicated in a subtle way. If we get a sense of Rei's conflicted longing (Shinji vs. Gendo) when she wordlessly looks at the shattered glasses in her room at night, that's development even though nothing is being said aloud. I think there's a consistent confusion of terms in NGE vs. NTE discourse where the more exposition-heavy NTE is treated as "finally characters are being developed" just because they're saying things out loud in a direct way. 2.0's Rei does more stuff and says more things but I don't think that equates to a more coherent character or a more tightly woven theme. Rei Q is literally developed in that she goes from a blank state to a successful farmer who can speak on the topic of her predicament with clarity, but it relies heavily on montage and "this and this and this happened and now she's like this," and isn't really much of an exploration into the scenario of a doll-like existence when exposed to an educating environment. That would require stronger focus than half a film, methinks. As is, it takes her from 0 to 10 so that she can also expediently function as a prop to add to Shinji's despair and take him past a trauma event horizon. I can't really say that it's a coherent character in its own right.

I feel like the comparisons that occur between NGE and NTE fundamentally hinge on everyone's differing idea of "characterization" and "coherent" in the first place, though.
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Postby Archer » Thu Jun 22, 2023 3:58 pm

He believes as he keeps iterating her that she'll become easier to control, and in his own hubris comes to find out that the opposite is true, and that Rei is amalgamating.

I don’t think Rei 3 was part of his original plan, more a necessity as a consequence of Rei 2’s untimely demise. I don’t think he even would’ve made Rei 2 if Naoko hadn’t choked out the original Rei.

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Postby Axx°N N. » Thu Jun 22, 2023 4:04 pm

View Original PostArcher wrote:I don’t think Rei 3 was part of his original plan, more a necessity as a consequence of Rei 2’s untimely demise. I don’t think he even would’ve made Rei 2 if Naoko hadn’t choked out the original Rei.

That's probably true, but Gendo is still shocked at Rei's insolence and seems to have intended full authority over her regardless. Despite what he would have preferred, the clone room attests to backups and backup plans, and so as someone who had constructed all these contingencies he still had certain expectations of outcomes. I've never thought about it in this way, but we can also view Naoko and Ritsuko (both tied to the clone program) as more chinks in his armor. It kind of all loops back around to his failures.
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Postby Archer » Thu Jun 22, 2023 4:18 pm

I don’t think there’s really enough to make a conclusive judgment either way but it seemed like he accepted his fate pretty quickly in EoE, I read it as him shooting his shot knowing full well the chances of success were fairly low. From his perspective, the chance of success with Rei 3 might only be 1%, but 1% is still higher than the 0% if he sat back and did nothing at all.

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Postby Konja7 » Thu Jun 22, 2023 5:34 pm

View Original PostAxx°N N. wrote:The posts thus far seem to imply that Rei disappears from the narrative wholesale, but that requires treating her inner monologue as disposable. It's one of the longer bits of character insight in the series at that point. It's ambiguous, abstract, and poetic, but should we suggest that anything with those descriptors can't be called "development"? To me those are the defining characteristics of Rei in NGE/EoE. The most interesting thing about her is that she shares in the audience's (and Anno, per interviews) inability to grasp her entirely. If her character arc is being a clone and lacking cohesion, that should be reflected in her inner monologue being the way it is even if it's not conventional "characterization," because she's flat out not a conventional character, she's a created being and alien to boot. I take that as a far more compelling treatment of the idea of being a copy and an iteration than either Rei or Asuka's conflicts in NTE re: cloning, where it makes them perform the tropes of harem anime at their common extremes (bento wifey-ing vs. lashing out).

Reducing Rei II's characterization in 2.0 to an harem anime trope seems unnecesary, but I guess I was reducing Rei II's monologues in NGE to just cool phrases.

Still, the monologue of Rei II in Episode 14 could be interesting to analize, but it's pretty confusing. It doesn't really makes me understand or care about the character.

Honestly, I would say Rei II has better development in Rebuild movies, because I really care about the character due to 2.0. Rei II becomes one of my favorite characters in this movie, while I didn't previously care so much about her.



View Original PostArcher wrote:I don’t think Rei 3 was part of his original plan, more a necessity as a consequence of Rei 2’s untimely demise. I don’t think he even would’ve made Rei 2 if Naoko hadn’t choked out the original Rei.

It's definitely true that Gendo using more Rei clones was a necessity (not a choice).

This topic is interesting, because one of the reasons why Rei II feel attached to Gendo is because he worriedly tried to save her after the failure of Eva-00 test.

I remember asking myself (the second time I see NGE) why Gendo was so worried about Rei II if she was easily replaceable. My current conclusion is that Gendo really cares about Rei II at some level.

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Postby Axx°N N. » Thu Jun 22, 2023 6:34 pm

View Original PostKonja7 wrote:Reducing Rei II's characterization in 2.0 to an harem anime trope seems unnecesary, but I guess I was reducing Rei II's monologues in NGE to just cool phrases.

I'd avoid the comparison but 2.0 seems to intentionally indulge in those trappings without much irony or divergence. I've seen it taken as a "giving the audience what it wanted only to punish them" kind of thing, but I've always bristled at the idea of 2.0 as "indulging in fanservice only to make a point" because so much of NTE's fanservice in the end was without secondary elements beyond actually just pleasing the audience. Not to say that fanservice is inherently stupid, but it makes me think of the "pretending to be stupid still means you're acting stupid" adage. If the notion is that NTE does certain things to make a point or create some whiplash effect, but the way it makes that point or tonal shift doesn't actually functionally distinguish what it's doing from more conventional versions on a moment by moment basis, I don't ultimately see a difference that matters.

Disregarding all that because it's all so theoretical and assumes too much of the staff's intent... this all has something to do with a very different way NTE approaches its characters. Because what this all results in is a Rei and Asuka whose internal conflicts are put aside, even when they could and should logically override other concerns, and instead expresses itself with them cooking for Shinji, arguing and reconciling over Shinji, and Rei being effortlessly extrovert enough to set up a dinner date. The middle portion of 2.0 truly feels like it's meant for the male audience to indulge in the power fantasy of a gaggle of girls whose sole motivation involves your approval and attention. Rei in this sense is like a vehicle to service Shinji's character instead of being a human being, and I'm not sure the actual in-world "she was programmed to do that" reveal elevates anything. A big example is the elevator scene. NGE's version hinges on conflicts between Asuka and Rei that have nothing to do with Shinji. NTE's is basically the same kind of bitter romantic rivalry that exists between Ryoko and Ayeka of Tenchi Muyo.

Rei makes bentos, Rei sacrifices herself, Rei Q is a doll, Rei Q grows and naturally also likes Shinji, and even when Rei is seemingly amalgamated with full insight into her predicament in Instrumentality, we don't really get genuflection, introspection, or any thought from her on the nature of what she was and what was done to her, and the nature of her and Shinji's relationship and any doubt associated with it because it was manipulated, or anything. Shinji also seems to lack an element of curiosity; certain things just seem not to matter. She just kind of seems to take it in stride and fulfil her duty of going along with it and saying what the plot requires. She ends up being, in the end, altruistic and serviceable without real qualm. That's her arc and the extent of her character, from II to Q to long-hair Rei.

NGE/EoE has the benefit of not having to wrestle with so many implications ... NTE however, by adding a "she was programmed" element is (in my mind) then obligated to follow up and see that element through, but we don't really get to see that idea explored. That's kind of a frequent problem with NTE--dozens of scenarios and implications are added and then resolved without fanfare.

View Original PostArcher wrote:I don’t think there’s really enough to make a conclusive judgment either way but it seemed like he accepted his fate pretty quickly in EoE, I read it as him shooting his shot knowing full well the chances of success were fairly low. From his perspective, the chance of success with Rei 3 might only be 1%, but 1% is still higher than the 0% if he sat back and did nothing at all.

I like that take, it ties in nicely with all the scenes where Misato is pushing for a strategic miracle.
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Postby Konja7 » Thu Jun 22, 2023 7:35 pm

View Original PostAxx°N N. wrote:Rei makes bentos, Rei sacrifices herself, Rei Q is a doll, Rei Q grows and naturally also likes Shinji, and even when Rei is seemingly amalgamated with full insight into her predicament in Instrumentality, we don't really get genuflection, introspection, or any thought from her on the nature of what she was and what was done to her, and the nature of her and Shinji's relationship and any doubt associated with it because it was manipulated, or anything. Shinji also seems to lack an element of curiosity; certain things just seem not to matter. She just kind of seems to take it in stride and fulfil her duty of going along with it and saying what the plot requires. She ends up being, in the end, altruistic and serviceable without real qualm. That's her arc and the extent of her character, from II to Q to long-hair Rei.

Well, Rei II doesn't likely know she's programmed to like Shinji. I guess Rei II will discover this when she gets Rei Q memories, but I think she wouldn't care a lot about that either.

In 2.0, Rei II start with a fatalist mentality where she couldn't really live without Eva or NERV (she compares herself to the fishes). It's thanks to her bond with Shinji, that she start to desire to connect with other people as we could see when she greets her classmates or she inviting many people to the dinner. However, the disaster after the 9th Angel regress Rei II to her previous fatalist mentality. The only thing left for her is to wish that Shinji could have a life without the Eva.


PS: I don't think long-hair Rei is really an amalgamation. I think she is just Rei II with Rei Q the memories. Long-hair Rei has the conflicts that Rei II have.
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Re: NTE's interpretation of the characters

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Postby MsenjaKagami » Thu Jun 22, 2023 7:39 pm

View Original PostAxx°N N. wrote:A big example is the elevator scene. NGE's version hinges on conflicts between Asuka and Rei that have nothing to do with Shinji. NTE's is basically the same kind of bitter romantic rivalry that exists between Ryoko and Ayeka of Tenchi Muyo.

I don't really have a stake in this discussion, different subjective perceptions obviously make our interpretations of the movies different. However, I do just want to point out that that's...not what happens in that scene. Shinji doesn't even factor into their conversation (which is mainly about Rei trying to encourage Asuka to try to find fulfillment outside of piloting and Asuka being stubborn about her pride) until Asuka brings him up as she gets off the elevator, asking Rei what her feelings are towards him, at which point I'd hardly describe what either of them say as "bitter romantic rivalry" (I admittedly have not seen Tenchi Muyo so for all i know your comparison is apt, but that's not really the point I'm trying to make here)
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Postby Axx°N N. » Thu Jun 22, 2023 7:59 pm

View Original PostMsenjaKagami wrote:Shinji doesn't even factor into their conversation ... until Asuka brings him up as she gets off the elevator, asking Rei what her feelings are towards him, at which point I'd hardly describe what either of them say as "bitter romantic rivalry"

Perhaps the bitterness stems mostly from Asuka, but that's kind of how it goes in a demure vs. fiery pairing, although perhaps that means Ayeka vs. Ryoko wasn't the most apt choice there as they're both combative.

If the conversation ends with Shinji, though, I take it to mean that everything prior was indirectly about Shinji. Asuka's outburst is the result of some things that have been stewing, and I don't think bringing up Shinji at the end was some kind of garnish.
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Postby BernardoCairo » Thu Jun 22, 2023 8:50 pm

View Original PostAxx°N N. wrote:Thank you so much for mentioning this as I wanted to so badly reading through the thread.

I would actually argue that Rei's monologue in episode 14 is one of the show's best moments. It's so beautiful and, like a poem, it invites the audience to interpret it in many ways.
It's Rei talking about what it means to be herself. As a clone of someone else/a weapon of sorts, she has to deal with the reality of being expendable. But more than that, she feels disconnected from the concept of being alive itself and that's something that gradually changes as she starts to form a real bond with Shinji.
Anyway, it feels like the kind of introspection a real person would do because of how natural it is. My favorite part might be the one in which she talks about the color red. It's her eye color, yet she relates it to pain. Blood, being a woman, being a mother... Everything circles back to the same themes.

NTE feels like the poverty version. She may be more consistently on screen, but at the cost of losing what made her stand out in the first place. To be honest, I don't care about her as much as I don't care about Asuka.
Rei Q is a whole different story, of course.
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Postby Archer » Fri Jun 23, 2023 9:24 am

PS: I don't think long-hair Rei is really an amalgamation. I think she is just Rei II with Rei Q the memories.

……is that not an amalgamation? What is a person but the sum of their memories and experiences?

Long-haired Rei is one of the many things in the Rebuilds that make me question why the hell they would ever do it that way, because it undercuts literally THE core of ReiQ’s character (that she’s her own individual who just so happens to share a name and face with Rei2) while not really adding anything to the story aside from I guess cheap fanservice. Going by the analogy that the movie itself presents, it would be like if Kaji Jr. inherited all the memories of Kaji. It simply makes no sense, they are not the same person, from a character perspective Rei2 has no business with ReiQ’s memories.

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Postby Konja7 » Fri Jun 23, 2023 10:01 am

View Original PostArcher wrote:……is that not an amalgamation? What is a person but the sum of their memories and experiences?

Her personality and behaviour. The only reason why we know long-haired Rei has Rei Q memories is the Tsubame doll, but long-haired Rei completely acts like Rei II.

Long-haired Rei has the same conflicts and wishes that Rei II has, but she doesn't have Rei Q's development. Shinji also treats long-hair Rei as a different person from Rei Q. That's why I think long-hair Rei is just Rei II with Rei Q memories.


Regarding the decisions about long-haired Rei, it's implied (since 3.0) that Rei Q's soul is Rei II. That's why Rei Q could develop her own will and personality even if she doesn't have a soul inside her body. So, it make sense that Rei II will inherit Rei Q memories.

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Postby Archer » Fri Jun 23, 2023 10:13 am

I’m not arguing it from a technical “how would this work in-universe” perspective, but from an out of universe character/narrative perspective. THE core aspect of ReiQ’s character is that she is her own distinct individual from Rei2. Why muddy the waters by having Rei2 inherit her memories? It just reeks of careless writing, like they included the scene with Rei2 holding the doll on a whim and didn’t stop and think about the implications.


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