My complaint is that when we’re not given the context for WHY characters act in apparently stupid and irrational ways that make complete sense from their perspective, it just looks like they’re acting stupid.
- for Wille, I still fail to see how treating Shinji the way they did was in their best interests. Them treating him like shit is pretty much directly responsible for him just.. willingly going along with NERV’s plans. Even him resisting and being forcibly kidnapped by Rei would’ve changed things significantly, since Gendo would need to do a ton of sweet-talking and propagandizing to get Shinji to work with him. In the context of 3.0 itself, we’re not given WILLE’s perspective on this, so it just appears to us as if they’re acting irrationally and against their own best interests by treating him like shit at the beginning.
- for Kaworu, we have literally no idea what the fuck is up with him. He goes from hyping Shinji up about the plan to turning around on it at the last minute. Of course we know he probably has some sort of hidden agenda, but in the context of 3.0 itself this isn’t made clear, so his sudden, apparently unexplained turnaround just looks like stupid, irrational behavior.
These are the two big points I want to address, because most of the plot hinges on the fallout from these decisions. Shinji gets a pass, he’s been lied to by everyone throughout the whole movie I don’t fucking blame him for just doing whatever he wants at that point. I can totally understand why he’s acting stupid.
When your entire plot hinges on people making bad decisions, you REALLY need to make it clear to the audience the motivations behind them, that they’re making bad decisions but for good reasons. “People making bad decisions that the audience can understand and empathize with” can result in a great tragedy of failure through miscommunication, where we see the ultimate result as an inevitable occurrence. We don’t need to look far for an example - NGE does this really well once things start falling apart. On the other hand, “people making bad decisions for reasons that might make sense to them but are not immediately clear to the audience and require in-depth analysis to catch and will only be properly explained in the next movie” can be EASILY mistaken for “people randomly making bad decisions to generate conflict so that we can move the plot along”, and there’s literally no reason you should ever want your story easily confused for bad writing.
Lol, had a whole long post typed out but it got lost and I don’t have it in me to rewrite it so I’ll just summarize my points.
Having characters arbitrarily act in stupid and irrational ways as a means for generating conflict is a hallmark of bad writing. I’m not saying this is what happens in 3.0, which is having characters act in seemingly stupid and irrational ways for reasons that actually do make sense to them but are not clarified to the audience, which is really easy to mistake for bad writing. I think it’s pretty obvious to say that you do not want your audience mistaking your story for bad writing.
If your goal is to show a massive failure as a result of miscommunications on all fronts, you have to make it clear WHY the miscommunication is happening. NGE does it really well. When things start falling apart because of everyone’s bad decisions, we see it as an inevitable tragedy because we understand why everyone made the decisions that they did. In 3.0, the only character whose irrational behavior is properly justified is Shinji. He’s spent the whole movie being lied to by everyone, I don’t fucking blame him for just doing whatever he wanted at the moment.
When the audience isn’t given enough context to understand WHY characters are acting the way they do, it just looks like people are being stupid for no good reason. That’s why 3.0 doesn’t work for me in the same way the latter part of NGE does: instead of the conflict coming off as the inevitable end result (due to us understanding everyone’s thought process and motivations for acting the way they do), it instead comes off as completely avoidable if only everyone wasn’t acting like an idiot, because we’re never given clear context for WHY everyone’s actions were justified from their point of view.
Yes you can make inferences. Yes you can read deeper into the movie and come up with assumptions for why everyone is actually completely justified. But you shouldn’t HAVE to. Besides, as a writer, how does it benefit YOU to have the audience’s initial impression to be “....couldn’t this whole story have been avoided if everyone wasn’t acting like an idiot?”