The morality of Gendo in NTE

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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The morality of Gendo in NTE

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Postby Joseki » Fri Oct 20, 2023 11:17 am

View Original PostChrisTamv wrote:NGE isn't much less "heteronormative" than the Rebuilds, and the Rebuilds' relatively larger focus on this aspect doesn't damage the characters.


In my eyes, Shin reuniting the Gendo-Yui-Shinji family for a final happy send-off is insulting to both Shinji and Yui's characters and ethically disgusting.
And I'm talking AoT-ending level of ethically disgusting.

Also I'm glad Kensuke isn't a ephebophile, that I agree.

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Postby FelipeFritschF » Fri Oct 20, 2023 11:22 am

It's still meant to be given leeway and one can easily interpret it any way they wish.

In a recent interview with V-tuber Vivian, the sound director for Evangelion 3.0+1.0 says he did not instruct the seiyuus of Shinji and Mari to act as lovers, he interpreted their relationship to be that of friends. It is mentioned that the station scene was not instructed as romantic. Whether they're lovers, friends, or family is left up to the viewer. Even the seiyuu will have different opinions about it. I'm sure this is what Anno is intending, for Eva to be like a "mirror" and give back what the viewer sees in it. That is Eva's appeal




Still, AsuMari would have been better than these lame half measures we got, and then -120min made it even worse with the still attached Asuka and all that romantic poetry. I kinda feel Khara walked back on some things for commercial reasons. It's pretty dissapointing.

Or you know, this was always supposed to be a Class S lesbians thing. Lame.

On that note, you have to wonder if Kensuke has a secret gay lover in the village too. Maybe he hooked up with Jet Alone Guy.

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Postby Axx°N N. » Fri Oct 20, 2023 12:16 pm

View Original PostChrisTamv wrote:Maya's feelings towards Ritsuko are still unrequited, in fact they're more overt than normal in the last movie. She literally calls her "XO Senpai" every time she refers to her.

For Maya to be calling Ritsuko "Hugs & Kisses Senpai" every time she refers to her would mean she's an out lesbian in NTE, a far more "inclusive" role for an outright lgbt character than ever before.

It's too bad that's not what XO means here. It means "executive officer." https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/executive_officer

Noun
executive officer (plural executive officers)
(military) second in command of a military unit or ship

Usage notes
On a US Navy ship, one might say "XO, you have the Con." which means "Executive Officer, you have control of the ship."

Synonyms
(abbreviation): XO

View Original PostChrisTamv wrote:I mean, if something so secondary made such a difference for you then you'll be happy to hear that not much has changed compared to NGE in this regard.

I don't view it as secondary at all. To include any open acknowledgment of the existence of an lgbt character is a pretty huge thing to such viewers, which NTE doesn't feature. What it does have is the typical merch-adjacent suggestive pairings of Shinji/Kaworu and Asuka/Mari that don't have the level of certainty that Shinji & Asuka does when Asuka confesses her feelings openly.

It's also not secondary to me when you consider it along with everything else; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I've already outlined a lot of my perception of the heteronormativity on the last page, but I'll add in Rei. Previously her character felt more open in that I felt anyone could identify with her and her conflicts. When she rebels against Gendo, this is an act that in being specific becomes universal; it's her reclaiming her selfhood. And while I understand that the mother/child imagery in NTE, the bond she gains for Tsubame and the moment when she looks at the mother cat nursing kittens, tie into her existence as connected to the birth mother to humanity ... at the same time, this connection isn't really explored or even mentioned beyond associations one has to revelations from the original material. What we do have is Rei framed as encapsulating a "strange" person, a character who has always been typified as feeling "other," or to use the non-lgbt connotation of it, "queer," assimilated and welcomed into the village ... by way of comments on how she would be perfect marriage material, and she clearly ends up taking to this integration without any caveat, and one doesn't have to question very hard if she would eventually desire motherhood.

In my view, this is a neutering of her character in this context, because it suggests (at least in her case) that the "being apart from" that characterizes her can only be resolved through adherence to social and biological norms.

We have Kensuke, who is apparently childless, but we don't have anything openly non-normative going on in the village, or at least nothing outright demonstrated as compared to the primacy of the Toji & Hikari coupling, Rei's assimilation, and the overall focus on family reunification (or in Misato's case, disunification). Anything not relating to the later seems pretty much hush-hush or unimportant.

So, yes, compared to every previous installment, it all adds up to being far harder than usual to read lgbt meanings. The positions of the characters don't leave much room. Shinji is around Mari, Asuka has been sent to Kensuke, Kensuke's only other person he's around much is Asuka, and Kaworu and Rei are hanging out for some reason.

EDIT: wording
Last edited by Axx°N N. on Fri Oct 20, 2023 12:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby ChrisTamv » Fri Oct 20, 2023 12:23 pm

In my eyes, Shin reuniting the Gendo-Yui-Shinji family for a final happy send-off is insulting to both Shinji and Yui's characters and ethically disgusting.
And I'm talking AoT-ending level of ethically disgusting.


It's "ethically disgusting" for what reason exactly? Because instead of decapitating Gendo it gave him a chance to answer for his actions, understand just how wrong he was, and genuinely regret for his deeds before he died? Because after realizing the pointlessness of his cause he decided to put Yui (a character framed with no malice in the Rebuilds) out of her eternal misery inside Unit 01, as well fulfill Shinji's wish for once, by sacrificing himself instead of Shinji and piercing all the Evas?

Or is it "ethically disgusting" that Shinji, instead of letting his horrible father and the trauma he caused him eat his mind away for the rest of his life, unsure whether he is to blame for all his misfortunes and family problems (as it's very often seen with analogous victims), he confronted both the issue and his father to understand the source of said trauma?
Last edited by ChrisTamv on Fri Oct 20, 2023 1:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Joseki » Fri Oct 20, 2023 1:26 pm

View Original PostChrisTamv wrote:It's "ethically disgusting" for what reason exactly? Because instead of decapitating Gendo it gave him a chance to answer for his actions, understand just how wrong he was, and genuinely regret for his deeds before he died? Because he was allowed to complete his last wish to "kill God", AKA put Yui (a character framed with no malice in the Rebuilds) out of her eternal misery inside Unit 01, as well as Shinji's wish for once, by sacrificing himself instead of Shinji and piercing all the Evas?

Or is it "ethically disgusting" that Shinji, instead of letting his horrible father and the trauma he caused him eat his mind away for the rest of his life, unsure whether he is to blame for all his misfortunes and family problems (as it's very often seen with analogous victims), he confronted both the issue and his father to understand the source of said trauma?


Yes it's to me a cardinal sin that Gendo actually accomplished anything redeeming at all.

He's a Hitler-tier evil genocider responsible for the death of billions, he deserves nothing and yet he gets totally redeemed by the movie murdering Shinji's character and substituting it with a Jesus-like all loving figure who spends the last quarter of the movie solving everyone's issues and ejecting them from his life with sweet talks.

Not only that, he's a abusive father and the movie goes out of his way to throw the ball in Shinji's court to accept and work out his relationship with Gendo, which is... bad.


That said, that's probably the most realistic aspect of the movie: karma definitely doesn't exist in this universe and literally the worst person in the world gets the happy ending he wanted.

Looking at the state of the world right now, it was somewhat prophetic.

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Postby ChrisTamv » Fri Oct 20, 2023 1:53 pm

Yes it's to me a cardinal sin that Gendo actually accomplished anything redeeming at all.

He's a Hitler-tier evil genocider responsible for the death of billions, he deserves nothing and yet he gets totally redeemed by the movie murdering Shinji's character and substituting it with a Jesus-like all loving figure who spends the last quarter of the movie solving everyone's issues and ejecting them from his life with sweet talks.


To me this is a gross misinterpretation of the movie's ending. Gendo isn't redeemed, he is explored. None of his sins are forgiven by the movie, but instead of confronting him for the last 30 seconds of his life like EoE did, he's confronted for 30 minutes before dying once again.

As for Shinji, calling his discussions with everyone "small talk" or him as a "Jesus-like figure", when a few minutes prior he came in with the intent of murdering his father and was rabidly trying to do so is ridiculous. Shinji's character wasn't murdered, the other characters solved their problems mostly by themselves or through discussions with individuals other than Shinji, and Shinji didn't "eject them from his life", he gave them his final goodbyes as that would had been the last time he ever saw them before sacrificing himself.

Not only that, he's a abusive father and the movie goes out of his way to throw the ball in Shinji's court to accept and work out his relationship with Gendo, which is... bad.


Shinji doesn't "accept" or try to "work out" his relationship with Gendo. He confronts him with the purpose of 1. Defeating him after everything else has failed and 2. Easen his own wounds and trauma caused by Gendo

That said, that's probably the most realistic aspect of the movie: karma definitely doesn't exist in this universe and literally the worst person in the world gets the happy ending he wanted.


Gendo initially wanted to be with Yui for eternity in a post - Instrumentality world. He doesn't get the happy ending he wanted.

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Postby Konja7 » Fri Oct 20, 2023 2:03 pm

View Original PostFelipeFritschF wrote:Still, AsuMari would have been better than these lame half measures we got, and then -120min made it even worse with the still attached Asuka and all that romantic poetry. I kinda feel Khara walked back on some things for commercial reasons. It's pretty dissapointing.


Honestly, I don't think we see a lot more AsuMari interactions than MariShin. So, I don't know how they are really a better option as a couple (LGBT representation aside).

Now, I don't think Khara really walked back in -120min. We could see in 3.0+1.0 that Asuka couldn't let her feelings toward Shinji go. It's just at the end of this movie where she is ready to really move on.


PS: People tend to forget that Asuka is getting ready to go collect Eva-01 in -120min. So, it isn't so weird that she starts to remember Shinji (and her feelings for him).

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Postby Joseki » Fri Oct 20, 2023 2:23 pm

View Original PostChrisTamv wrote:Gendo initially wanted to be with Yui for eternity in a post - Instrumentality world. He doesn't get the happy ending he wanted.


Last time we see Gendo in EoE

Image

Last time we Gendo in 3.0+1.0

Image

You are right that Gendo didn't achieve his goal, this time he got something even better. The movie gave him the chance to do something good for Shinji and to be with Yui one last time.

He did not deserve either, and the fact that the movie even allows Gendo to get this is to me unforgivably unethical.

"Shinji I'm sorry I was a little jelous and afraid of you and wifey disappeared, it made me feel a little genocidal and wanting to destroy you mentally to use you as a tool. My bad!"

Image

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Postby ChrisTamv » Fri Oct 20, 2023 2:28 pm

Last time we Gendo in 3.0+1.0


And after this scene, he dies permanently. Your point?

You are right that Gendo didn't achieve his goal, this time he got something even better. The movie gave him the chance to do something good for Shinji and to be with Yui one last time.

He did not deserve either, and the fact that the movie even allows Gendo to get this is to me unforgivably unethical.


So it's "unforgivably unethical" for bad people to do a good deed once in a while for others. Got it.

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Postby dzzthink » Fri Oct 20, 2023 2:41 pm

View Original PostJoseki wrote:He's a Hitler-tier evil genocider responsible for the death of billions, he deserves nothing and yet he gets totally redeemed by the movie murdering Shinji's character and substituting it with a Jesus-like all loving figure who spends the last quarter of the movie solving everyone's issues and ejecting them from his life with sweet talks.


I do kind of see Joseki's point of view. I find it difficult to sympathize with a character who has committed rather questionable acts throughout the entire movie series. However, potentially he is more like a mad scientist/Oppenheimer involved in the development of a great new technology, such as the atomic bomb, and wants to use this technology against the enemy - this case being the angels - or at least trying to improve the world somehow (which I assume was his original intention).

View Original PostKonja7 wrote:Honestly, I don't think we see a lot more AsuMari interactions than MariShin. So, I don't know how they are really a better option as a couple (LGBT representation aside).


The case being that their main interaction is covering his eyes or putting her boobs in his face, I feel like she does not make much of an impact on Shinji. She at least lived 14 years with Asuka off-screen. This is my biggest gripe, if only we had that situation where Shinji was present during those 14 years either physically and emotionally interacting with Mari or Asuka (even if off-screen), then I would actually understand the ending.
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Postby nerv bae » Fri Oct 20, 2023 2:52 pm

I think Joseki's position that Gendo, an ultra-Hitler, deserves nothing good is widespread. I've read opinions like that many times on these forums and elsewhere on the internet. But I'm not comfortable dismissing the other characters' or even the filmakers' treatment of Gendo as "unethical," because there are plenty of established ethical systems in the world that allow everyone to be redeemed in some fashion. I think there's merit to the ethical proposition that apparently ultimately-evil people still have some good bits tucked into a corner somewhere.

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Postby Axx°N N. » Fri Oct 20, 2023 3:17 pm

View Original PostChrisTamv wrote:None of his sins are forgiven by the movie, but instead of confronting him for the last 30 seconds of his life like EoE did, he's confronted for 30 minutes before dying once again.

Sometimes less is more; or more like, if the central thesis is wonky, going at it for a longer period of time doesn't make it less wonky. I felt that there was something karmic and tragic to his total removal of agency in EoE, left in what he unleashed to self-reflect and confront, just like everyone else. That's a tangible, and realistic, end result of megalomania; it's Ozymandian. It's just true. No matter what, your agency is removed by death if not just the erosion of time and circumstance.

For NTE to ascend him to godhood only for the very human, very hollywood concept of "all can be redeemed no matter what" is a contradiction to me. It strikes me as willful thinking more than a truism, much less the insights of godhood.

View Original Postnerv bae wrote:But I'm not comfortable dismissing the other characters' or even the filmakers' treatment of Gendo as "unethical," because there are plenty of established ethical systems in the world that allow everyone to be redeemed in some fashion.

The thing is that those belief systems don't resemble NTE's treatment; they generally involve penitence (earthly good works, lengthy purgatory, or cycles of reincarnation) in which the perpetrator has to live through a redemptive process (or outright torture) in an eye for an eye karmic sense, in an order of magnitude equal to the evil they wrought. Permanent death is merciful compared to what he did in scale. That no belief system has dreamed up the ethical structure of NTE is because what we have in belief systems is what struck enough people as fair. If we go by the secular belief system of justice--law & order--Gendo would be imprisoned for 3 billion years.

And really, it's the order of magnitude that I can't get past with NTE!Gendo. He's killed more than NGE!Gendo, in fact, he's killed more than any real-life genocider ever has and he's the most cold and least justified of his incarnations, because while we can say it involved some level of advancing society or utopian thinking, we have to go back to his old incarnations for that motivation and NTE alone only leaves us with the whole Yui obsession deal.

They solve this I guess by revealing that no one was dead actually, but it's so fast and little applied. Soothing visuals and peaceful people falling from the sky doesn't do enough legwork for me; any narrative can use magic to happy the unhappy away at a moment's notice.

Anyway, to distill my main problem: ethical exploration through art of the degree in which we can forgive, say, Hitler, are worth exploring--to create a theoretical five times as bad as hitler MegaHitler in order to do so seems unnecessary, and anyway the involvement of magic makes the whole thing a wash.
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Postby Joseki » Fri Oct 20, 2023 4:49 pm

View Original PostChrisTamv wrote:And after this scene, he dies permanently. Your point?


The act of dying is not a retribution nor a reward in itself. Everyone will eventually die, it's natural.
What is morally charged is how he dies. And he dies a proud, noble death as he sacrifices himself for Shinji while reuniting with Yui. And that's wrong.

He should not have been given that chance in the first place, he did absolutely nothing to deserve it. EoE gave him a big middle finger and that's a Gendo version that I would say is less crazy/genocidal/terrible father than Rebuild Gendo.

It simply disgusts me because the movie wants me, the viewer, to emphatize with him and feel emotional because he finally turned around.

I do not, there is a limit to what fiction can redeem. I wouldn't weep for Hitler in a bio-pic of him. I do not care about him being redeemed, I wanted him to go off uncerimoniously getting what he, as a character, deserved as a pay-off for his actions.

This is the same movie that places suicide-bombs on kids to atone for something they didn't commit.
The moral compass in this movie is beyond fucked.

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Postby Axx°N N. » Fri Oct 20, 2023 5:10 pm

It's not really just whether he deserves it or not--my bigger issue is I don't believe he himself would arrive at that redemptive motivation given what happens leading up to that point. It doesn't make sense for what the character has had to do for the plot to be what it is; the complexities of his psychology read like an absent father, not someone who has decided to extinguish humanity, has nearly done so, has lived with it and hung on to that decision for two decades. I don't buy that confronting him with his own past and Shinji sharing his feelings would be revelations, the kind that you unpack with a therapist and go "huh." It's another order of magnitude thing--Gendo has had nearly two decades to introspect, and even the most suppressed person in the world would read as more multi-dimensional than Gendo, who comes across as if he's never raked the coals of anything relating to his actions. He's a complete blank of a character, ultra ruthless, significantly evil--and then human without really rationalizing or synthesizing the two beyond attributing it to grief and being asocial. The dots to connect that to the psyche of a genocider are pretty absent.

EoE!Gendo being already aware of his wrongs and how Shinji might feel is sad in a human way, and it's a more believable set-up--realistically there's no way he could persist in what he does without realizing its possible effect on others. Not if he's supposed to be such a brilliant thinker. The comparison makes NTE!Gendo seem oblivious, and like he hasn't thought for a second about even his own feelings, and this is supposed to be a version of the character that is way, way more omniscient, not only post-godhood, but having always been literally shaping the plot according to his whims, even accounting for every deviation. He's simultaneously the most cunning character ever wrought and the least inquisitive and self-aware. Perhaps the irony could be something interesting but the contradiction to me only reads as a case of confused characterization. That I have to take his genocide as mostly metaphorical for it to get close to working is pretty problematic, and it makes it impossible to seriously consider it as an ethical dilemma. But that kind of ties in to the easy undoing of all the deaths--the fact of it being a genocide is unimportant, to the point of being mere adornment.
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Postby Blockio » Fri Oct 20, 2023 5:48 pm

Let's all calm down a bit here. Invocations of Hitler and genuinely fascist plot points like in AoT are completely out of proportion to the topic discussed and neither called for, nor helpful to the debate.
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Postby Konja7 » Fri Oct 20, 2023 5:59 pm

View Original PostJoseki wrote:This is the same movie that places suicide-bombs on kids to atone for something they didn't commit.

Well, the DSS Choker as atonment is for Shinji. He is blamed for the N3I, which seems to have responsibility in the corification of the planet (I suspect it is related to the creation of the FOI). However, it was also a way to control him.

In Asuka and Mari's case, the DSS Choker is mainly to prevent the Awakening of an Eva.

The main point is humans don't trust Eva pilots anymore.



View Original PostAxx°N N. wrote:EoE!Gendo being already aware of his wrongs and how Shinji might feel is sad in a human way, and it's a more believable set-up--realistically there's no way he could persist in what he does without realizing its possible effect on others. Not if he's supposed to be such a brilliant thinker. The comparison makes NTE!Gendo seem oblivious, and like he hasn't thought for a second about even his own feelings, and this is supposed to be a version of the character that is way, way more omniscient, not only post-godhood, but having always been literally shaping the plot according to his whims, even accounting for every deviation. He's simultaneously the most cunning character ever wrought and the least inquisitive and self-aware. Perhaps the irony could be something interesting but the contradiction to me only reads as a case of confused characterization. That I have to take his genocide as mostly metaphorical for it to get close to working is pretty problematic, and it makes it impossible to seriously consider it as an ethical dilemma. But that kind of ties in to the easy undoing of all the deaths--the fact of it being a genocide is unimportant, to the point of being mere adornment.


To be fair, we don't even know how involved was Gendo in the Red Earth situation. Gendo's plan was always the creation of a collective hivemind (which was pretty similar to his plan on NGE).

The Third Impact was stopped by Kaji's sacrifice and the FOI corified the land ("killing" humans). However, we don't know how much of this was really Gendo's plan at that point.

Considering Gendo said his plan would be fulfilled pretty soon at the end of 2.0. I suspect everything should have been completed by the Third Impact.


PS: I don't think NTE Gendo is really worse than EoE Gendo, since both wanted a pretty similar fate for humanity. The main difference is NTE Gendo survived the Third Impact.

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Postby Axx°N N. » Fri Oct 20, 2023 6:15 pm

View Original PostBlockio wrote:Invocations of Hitler and genuinely fascist plot points like in AoT are completely out of proportion to the topic discussed and neither called for, nor helpful to the debate.

?????

Usually internet comparisons to Hitler and fascism jump past a few hundred hurdles, but ... Gendo killed more than Hitler. If anything, Hitler has to be compared to Gendo. You can say Gendo had utopian motives or that it wasn't really death, but then that would still make it the removal of billions of people's agency against their will ... which, if nothing else, is the same ballpark as fascism. Personally I don't see why the comparison can't be used as a rhetorical tool to shape or share perspective... especially if part of the conversation includes comparing and contrasting on the topic of realism.

@Konja7: Yeah, I don't dispute any of those points.
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Postby Blockio » Fri Oct 20, 2023 6:23 pm

I was specifically referring to the way in which Joseki invoked it, with the insinuation of being comparable to real world nazi apologia.
View Original PostJoseki wrote:[...]
And I'm talking AoT-ending level of ethically disgusting.

Necessary context here - AoT at one point behind a thin veil of changing some names around suggests that the holocaust was brought upon the jewish population by themselves. Nothing in NTE comes even faintly close.
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Postby Axx°N N. » Fri Oct 20, 2023 6:35 pm

View Original PostBlockio wrote:I was specifically referring to the way in which Joseki invoked it, with the insinuation of being comparable to real world nazi apologia.

Gotcha, I remembered reading about that a while back but not enough to understand the comparison evidently.
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Postby The Killer of Heroes » Fri Oct 20, 2023 6:38 pm

AoT absolutely does not suggest that.


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