Evangelion as the Immaculate Virgin

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Evangelion as the Immaculate Virgin

Postby berto » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:14 am

Evangelion as the Immaculate Virgin
by Mari Kotani

Hideaki Anno and Gainax's animation Neon Genesis: Evangelion was broadcast every Wednesday over Tokyo's Channel 12 for 26 weeks, from October 4, 1995 trough March 7, 1996. Once it got started, this film attracted a number of fans with its detailed characterization and mysterious storytelling, easily excelling in popularity the 70s Japanimation classics like The Space Battleship Yamato and Mobile Suit Gundam. Now Evangelion has become one of the most conspicuous Japanese social phenomena.

Why did it get so popular?

Of course, the execution of the work largely relies upon the director Anno's creative approach to narratology. Basically all he did is repeat and displace and remix certain patterns of human relationship and plot structure, winding up with an undulating effect. Note that in this text relationship does not take place linearly. The patterns of human relationship and plot structure transform themselves trough diferent viewpoints and interpretations, orchestrating the integrated circuit of contradictions, leading the audience to envision a magnificently phantasmagoric world. Cunningly juxtaposing infomaniac details and interpretative blanks, Anno succeeds in accelerating the narratological drive, making his animation mostly compatible with hypertext.

The story centers around the way the giant cyborg tribe called "Evangelion" fights with the alien tribe nicknamed "Shito" (Angel), which literately means "Apostle." Evangelion is promoted by NERV, the special service agency of the United Nation. It is notable that with Mr. Gendo Ikari as the supreme commander, NERV represents a virtual patriarchal family, as is the case with Japanese corporations. Main characters include fourteen year old boys and girls, who are trained to pilot Evangelion cyborgs. among them Shinji Ikari, the only son of the patriarch Gendo Ikari, plays the most important role. The story of Evangelion foregrounds how the patriarchal NERV outwits the tribe of Angel as the absolute Other. This work is not necessarily didactic, however.

The theme of Evangelion is the identity quest of a young man of the 1990s. Who am I on earth? The author carefully caricatures our own contemporary life, in which the post-80s advancement of high-technology and the dismemberment of family structure still come short of the deconstruction of traditional ideology. The identity crisis detailed in the work finds the boundary between self and the other at stake. In this context, Evangelion follows the western discursive tradition, demonstrating how the advancement of technology unveils contradictions within the structure of conventional ideology.

To ask "Who am I?" in the western fashion is to inquire "Who is the Other?"

In the first half of the story, it is the tribe of Angel as the absolute other that storms the virtual family of NERV. In the latter half of the story, however, Angels come to transfigure themselves into the other within, obfuscating the difference between Man and Angel. Here, post-structuralist psychoanalytical theory will enable us to redefine Angel as the representation of 'abjection," in Julia Kristeva's terms, and the erotics of the fight between Man and Angel as the explosion of the radically feminine, that is, what Alice Jardine calls "gynesis."

The idea of fighting with the Other produces the ultimate terror within the hero Ikari Shinji. Let me recall Barbara Creed's radical rereading of Jerdine's "gynesis" into David Cronenberg's film Videodrome, in which the most violent rape narrative coincides with the extraordinary feminization of men. By feminizing the enemy, the hero Shinji gets feminized quite paradoxically.

What happens in the nineteenth and the twenty-first story is especially remarkable. Once it becomes exhausted in fatal crisis, the Test Type of Evangelion that Shinji has piloted abruptly strikes back at the Angel, with the organic structure hidden under the armature reanimated. Moreover, suddenly on its hand and knees, the Test Type approaches and devours the enemy gluttonously, transgressing all the conventions of post-mediaevalist chivalry. This disgusting scene is followed by a much more astounding revelation. As soon as the Test Type gets out of control and performs cannibalism, Shinji the pilot disappears from the cockpit, melting into the very cyborgian matrix of Evangelion, with all the memories of the war deleted. At this critical moment, we can look trough his innerspace only to find the mirror stage figure of the baby Shinji floating on amniotic fluid safely and happily.

It is very ironical that the more phallocentric he wants to become, the more feminized the hero gets. Winning the fight, the hero is also incorporated into the cyborg feminized matrix of Evangelion. Yes, as as is clearly know from its anorexic body, Evangelion turns out to be a feminist robot, into which Yui Ikari, the mother of Shinji, had already been melted. Then what we once conceived as the Otherness of Angel, just like a fatal virus, is structurally transferred to the selfless of Man, and further to the identity of Evangelion=Shinji. This is why I cannot resist the temptation to reinterpret Evangelion's cannibalism as another perfect signifier of "abjection" and "gynisis." The dramatic leak of the feminine jeopardizes and even melts the outline of the male body politics.

Desperately searching for the identity of Angel the Other, the virtual family of NERV is entrapped within gender panic. This identity crisis of Shinji and Evangelion forces NERV itself to witness its homosocial and lesbian relationships among members. The denoument of the animation, thus, convinces us that patriarchy in Japan has long been one of the costumes we have perennially put on. Repressing differences within, our country has naturalized and established patriarchy as a cult of meta-masquerade. The near future Japan described in Evangelion represents a type of post-apocaliptic nation well-reconstructed in the wake of the Second Impact. Let me reconsider the Second Impact as the perfect metaphor for high-tech revolution, which helped overturn the good old western Crhistian family structure. As a result of that, the author of the film decides to criticize Christian Orthodoxy and exaggerate Gnostic meta-narrotology. Certainly, none of his purposes is made clear in the narrative. Nevertheless, the supreme comander Gendo Ikari seems to attain the status of the Gnostic Supreme Being, by grafting the fmininity of his wife You Ikari into the cyborg structure of Evangelion. To put it another way, while a number of critics have analyzed the metafictional aspect of the work, I would like to rediscover this metafictionism as the Gnostic effect of the director Anno's own struggle with Christian Orthodoxy.

The concluding sequence of the narrative clarifies the truth of the statue of Adam on the cross exhibited in the basement lounge "Central Dogma" of NERV. Evangelion was born a clone of what is called "Adam." But, this "Adam" proves to have been Lilith, the first wife of Adam. This revelation constitutes the most intriguing climax of Evangelion. For this radical reinterpretation of Lilith coincides with that contemporary Anglo-American writers want to do by creating a variety of female saviours in the coming cyber-Millennium. With the rise of high-tech revolution in the 80s, Margaret Artwood reinterpreted the Virgin Mary as a surrogate motherm whereas Octavia Butler refigured Lilith as a colored woman whose body is colonized by Alien biotechnology. From this perspective, Evangelion seems to skillfully reconstruct the figure of Eve, who was born a near-clone of Adam in the Old Testament, not simply as a type of immaculate conception, but also as the impeccable signifier of Japanese simulations in the 1990s. It is this context that Evangelion deserves the evangelical name of the self-reflexive Japanimation.

May 20, 1997
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Postby NemZ » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:05 am

It's like someone took a Japanese summary of NGE and ran it through Google translate set to output in women's studies. :facepalm:
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Postby esselfortium » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:26 am

It's like someone distilled the entirety of this forum into a single, totally incomprehensible post.

It's beautiful.

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Postby berto » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:34 am

I got this from a book called A new Millennialist Perspective on the Daughters of Eve, (Though I think she should change the name from Millennialist to Feminist) its a series of essays on the series. This one was the only one in english but there are quite a few foot notes in english, and reading them isn't that different from this essay.

I'm not crazy about the use of such big word, not because they're big but they're unnecessary and, to be alittle honest, a little pretentious. It could be the translation, though, but I don't think so (F'ing scholars).
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Postby Holy Diver » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:04 am

WTF is this shit?

I know that Evangelion is about applying your own understanding to the series, but this is just beyond anything I have seen about Eva so far.
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Postby AuraTwilight » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:28 am

So what the hell is this meaningless garbage, and why did this guy decide to drop a 13 year old document he didn't even write?
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Postby Sachi » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:31 am

View Original PostAuraTwilight wrote:So what the hell is this meaningless garbage, and why did this guy decide to drop a 13 year old document he didn't even write?

Because we love teh lulz. And Faulkner would be proud.
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Postby Lucretius » Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:41 am

This is the best thing I've seen on this forum since I heard Uwe Boll was directing a movie about Darfur.

He shuddered a bit, remembering the somewhat creepy level of detail Kaji had gone into, while rubbing a watermelon in a disturbingly sexual way.

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Postby Merridian » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:07 am

Winning the fight, the hero is also incorporated into the cyborg feminized matrix of Evangelion.
This identity crisis of Shinji and Evangelion forces NERV itself to witness its homosocial and lesbian relationships among members.
:w00t: amazing
Let me reconsider the Second Impact as the perfect metaphor for high-tech revolution, which helped overturn the good old western Crhistian family structure. As a result of that, the author of the film decides to criticize Christian Orthodoxy and exaggerate Gnostic meta-narrotology. Certainly, none of his purposes is made clear in the narrative.
“I don’t understand what he’s trying to say, therefore he doesn’t know either”? lolwtf

Thanks for posting this, berto.

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Postby ran1 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:30 am

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

Mari Fuckin Kotani.

This is great. Media studies in moonspeak rarely translates well.
She's one of those lesbian feminists whose entire legitimacy comes from teaching woman's study courses and getting published in shit-tier literary journals by-and-for feminists.

I've read the abstract of some of her works, and allow me to reassure that it is pure theoretical gobbledygook. Applying literary theory to Evangelion was quite trendy towards the late 90s though horribly mistaken.

Japanese intellectuals often seem to totally miss the boat on Eva, and as much as I'd like to tounge-in-cheekly blame the Kyoto school for this mess (KYOTO SCHOOL GET IT!!! :w00t: :w00t: :w00t:) its really just because glorious Nippon academia doesn't get Eva. Too much Western philosophy crammed in there whilst buttfucking Eastern worldviews

The only two contemporary Japanese thinkers I trust for any shit are Azuma Hiroki and Michio Kaku. But I think Kaku's in America now, so it doesn't even count.

Margaret Artwood reinterpreted the Virgin Mary as a surrogate motherm whereas Octavia Butler refigured Lilith as a colored woman whose body is colonized by Alien biotechnology. From this perspective, Evangelion seems to skillfully reconstruct the figure of Eve, who was born a near-clone of Adam in the Old Testament


Oh, right because you can totally draw parallels between Atwood and Butler at the drop of a hat.

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Postby the_seventh_child » Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:38 am

Tl;dr for me. But seeing how everyone is raging-lulzing, i might take the time one of these days.
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Postby Dark doom » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:47 pm

EYE BLEACH!
I MUST HAVE SOME!
Blah, Blah, Blah, Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

And then we come to the merchandising... facepalm- Mr. Tines
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Re: Evangelion as the Immaculate Virgin

Postby Mr. Tines » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:53 pm

Mari Kotani wrote:Shinji wanted to be the little girl
You know, she's right about that.
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Postby ran1 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:56 pm

Xard comes in...5...4....3....2....1...
Oh, wait...
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Postby oOoOoOo » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:02 pm

All of this would certainly make more sense if Anno-san actually used "Adam" and "Lilith" for any reason other than "yay foreign words". I mean, you could argue that Anno-san is taking an anti-Christian perspective (in that Shinji rejects the supposedly "good end" that Revelations promises us, i.e. getting mass-murdered by Jesus and returned to God's womb).

I think there's a lot to be said about gender and sex, but I almost get the idea that this author's sole understanding of sexuality comes from the most pretentious of peer-reviewed journals, as opposed to field research.
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Postby Merridian » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:45 pm

View Original PostoOoOoOo wrote:I think there's a lot to be said about gender and sex, but I almost get the idea that this author's sole understanding of sexuality comes from the most pretentious of peer-reviewed journals, as opposed to field research.
three words: cyborg feminized matrix

I'm sure the author has experienced cyborg feminized lesbotronic matrices first hand, as I can't imagine anyone dedicating high-brow journalistic page space to gonzo-like meta-narratological rambling accounts of fembotic orgies. :w00t:

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Postby Sailor Star Dust » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:16 pm

SSD attempts to skim through the article.

For the record I have no idea who Mari Kotani is, nor do I care to know based on this article.

Because ...Yeah. True feminism doesn't work that way. It's not about bra-burning, hating-men, what your sexuality is, or stupid shit. Instead, actual feminism boils down to people being on equal footing (jobs, general treatment, whatever) regardless of their gender!

In terms of the NGE aspects of the article, Adam, Lilith, the Angels and Eva (and all the other religious elements) are used for pointless religious symbolism purposes. It's used because the elements "looked and sounded cool", there is no deeper meaning.

Shinji himself...doesn't become more effeminate as time goes on. He instead finds himself unable to escape Eva, piloting or literally (Episode 16, 20, EoE). But that stems from his dependence on his mother (and father more or less), eventually breaking free of needing either of them, coming to an understanding with them, etc, etc.

I think that's all I have to say for now.
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Postby Mr. Tines » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:19 pm

View Original PostMerridian wrote:three words: cyborg feminized matrix
Sounds like the censored pages from the Ghost in the Shell manga.
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Postby oOoOoOo » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:23 pm

Get out of my head, Tines-san, Merrrr-kun. (The words used in this article are truly hilarious. I should restart my love advice thread but only reply in this article's style.*)

SSD-san: Yes, oui, ja. I think "gender" is so key as well, more so than "sex" these days.

* Jokes.
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Postby Halicat » Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:26 pm

Wait...so this is basically saying that Yui as unit 1 is some kind of anti-Christian feminist icon? I only skimmed this really because it does not seem to make a lick of sense DX


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