Mudding the water: back to Gendo-Shinji estrangement

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Mudding the water: back to Gendo-Shinji estrangement

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Postby DavT » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:06 pm

Photographs are like sound bites and abridged quotations. They offer a frozen moment in time, and when shown without before and after, can lead to interpretations contrary to what actually happened.

In this case, I'm referring to one of the defining scenes of the Gendo-Shinji relationship: the original abandoning of young(er) Shinji by Gendo, soon after the loss of Yui.

Image

(Note: the complete scene is composed of two shots, only one is shown here. Everyone should be familiar enough with EVA anyways.)

I believe the above scene is one of the major ones that helped established the viewer's initial opinion of Gendo, as it was introduced very early in the series (though a bit later in the span of Rebuild). A father abandoning his young child, and the child crying as a result of losing his last remaining parent. Sad, eh?

However, there's always been the persistent note in the TV series that Shinji bears a measure of accountability in the estrangement. This note is significantly more pronounced in Rebuild: the son estranged the father as well. I think most people attributed Shinji's responsibility in the estrangement simply due to his avoidance of his father, but what if there's more to it? What if he somehow contributed to the original separation (hence the notion within the series that he abandoned his father)?

The simple question is this: Did Shinji start crying as a result of Gendo abandoning him, or has Shinji been crying for a while (potentially since he witness the loss of Yui)?

Think about it, Shinji has been portrayed as rather emotionally fragile, and only at the beginning of the series has he started to turn over a new leaf and vowed to stop running away. In my mind, that says "cry baby type, big time model".

So, what I'm suggesting is, Shinji had in fact been crying consistently since witnessing the loss of his mother, a traumatic event even for the most emotionally stable of children.

Gendo, model father he ain't, simply could not cope. Given Gendo's severe attachment to Yui and Yui's attachment to her son, it is unlikely he would have abandoned Shinji immediately. However, what minimum parental gestures Gendo could muster was rebuked by a seriously traumatized, essentially inconsolable Shinji. Anything and everything Gendo did, Shinji just responded with more crying.

Result: Gendo sends young Shinji away, and everything plays out from there.

Naturally, much like many issues in EVA, there's no clear cut evidence to lock my theory down. Certainly, what I suggest fits well with the more subtle portions of dialogs of the series regarding father-son estrangement.
I'd therefore argue that given there is no clear indication of just how long Shinji has been crying in the above scene and taken everything else we know about the characters and the story into account, I'd suggest he's been crying for much, much longer than than one scene.

This is not intended suggest that Gendo is any less poor a father or human being, it is merely offered that little more potential nuance to the characters' relationship.

Note: The above analysis does not include the mangaverse in its considerations.

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Postby AuraTwilight » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:18 pm

Sounds about right. The implication in the TV series is pretty strongly suggestive of Gendo being afraid/hurt by Shinji just as much as the vice versa. I wouldn't bee surprised if Shinji made some probably innocent but extremely offensive comment like "What did you do to Mommy? Bring her back!"
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Postby Lucretius » Wed Sep 15, 2010 4:23 pm

I've noticed that in a lot of silent movie serials from the 1910s, the girls who get tied to the train tracks led the evil guy with the mustache on.

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 Eva Yojimbo » Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:08 pm

Considering it's impossible to know what the gap of time is between Yui going poof and Gendo sending Shinji off it's really hard to know how much crying Shinji's done. I'm more inclined to think, though, that that image is supposed to just be a product of an image telling us that Shinji is upset at being abandoned. Considering Gendo has DRAGGED him there, it's quite obvious that Shinji would be upset enough just by that to be crying about it.
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Postby AuraTwilight » Thu Sep 16, 2010 1:44 pm

View Original PostLucretius wrote:I've noticed that in a lot of silent movie serials from the 1910s, the girls who get tied to the train tracks led the evil guy with the mustache on.


Well, why else are those girls brainless floozies who throw themselves at every main character?
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Postby Sun Stealer » Sat Sep 18, 2010 4:20 am

I would like to posit that Shinji in this scene was an innocent child who was thrown away by his cowardly SOB of a father.

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Postby MugwumpHasNoLiver » Sat Sep 18, 2010 4:49 am

Shinji was dragged? Damn, that makes a lot more sense. I was always just under the impression that he sucked ass at the exquisite art of the strip-tease.
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Postby Seele00TextOnly » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:44 am

The ridicule that I'm seeing in response to the OP is uncalled for. There is absolutely no attempt at justifying what Gendo did or blaming Shinji, the "joke" about the train track girl reads as a deliberate pointed barb at the poster. Here, as always, explaining =/= excusing the actions and perspectives of the characters.

The attempt to lightly theorize about the aftermath of Yui's big 'fuck you' to her family is very interesting. I really feel you've hit the nail on the head regarding an additional nuance of Shinji being quite rightly inconsolable. The opposing shot you mention of Gendo walking away, however, never portrayed him as 'at wits end' to me. Broken and cold as always, yes... perhaps there is a hint of staggering in it, I'm not sure. Of course that shot should probably best be seen as colored by / representative of Shinji's recollections of and opinions on the matter.. I'd be interested to see what you have to say about it.

Another thing of note... do we know how much older Shinji is there? He certainly doesn't look the same age as the experiment day anymore. Did Gendo really put up an effort to keep and raise him for a couple years?

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:56 pm

Shinji just had it rough. I certainly agree that Yui was also part of both Gendo and Shinji's abstinence of each other. It would underscore the maternal theme of the series much much more. It's weird that many haven't made that link before. (Myself included.)

Though, I'm with Yojimbo in that we're no sure how much time went by. Though, it is possible for the character to be crying for the days after Yui's absorption in the Eva. And his return to the Eva (in retrospect) seems to symbolize Shinji's struggle to come to term's with his mother's condition. I think a whole thread can be dedicated to that aspect coupled with Gendo's interference or influence with the situation.

View Original PostSeele00TextOnly wrote:DavT: Lurk less please :P (this is his first post in ~5 years)

lolwut? I like this guy! I totally want to discuss more with him!

Post more stuff, DavT. :bat:

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Postby AuraTwilight » Mon Sep 20, 2010 2:46 am

They said Lurk LESS, not Lurk MOAR.
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Postby NemZ » Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:26 am

You're right, Shinji definately does look a year or two older there, suggesting that Gendo did raise him alone for a while. Also, we don't see Gendo's face in the accompanying shot so it's impossible to guess his emotional state.

Regardless, I think people demonizing Gendo here are being unfair to him. On one hand, it's entirely believable that Gendo simply didn't have the time and/or energy to raise him and keep on top of his job duties. On the other, considering the sorts of crap the commander is involved in sending Shinji away may have actually been an attempt to keep him safe. Is it really so impossible to suggest that sending him to leave elsewhere was actually the parentally responsible thing to do?

The 'dragged' observation sounds like a perfect explanation of his collar, but the question then must be did Shinji do the whole ragdoll routine like in EoE or did he go to his other extreme and refuse to cooperate?

Something else nobody's mentioned yet is the graveyard scene, which indicates that up until about 3 years ago Shinji and Gendo did still see each other at least once a year (possibly more), so he wasn't completely out of the picture. Worth noting is that Shinji is the one who stopped that yearly ritual by running away for some unspecified reason. More information on that exchange would probably be very interesting indeed.
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Postby Sailor Star Dust » Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:35 am

View Original PostNemZ wrote:Is it really so impossible to suggest that sending him to leave[sic] elsewhere was actually the parentally responsible thing to do?


Nope, Aura argued this point before. I agree with it, personally.

More information on that "running away from Yui's grave 3 years before" tidbit would be interesting... (I wonder if Chronicle goes into it at all. It'd be interesting for background info, if nothing else.) Maybe it was something as simple as Shinji being extra-emotionally sensitive that day, saw Gendo at Yui's grave and freaked out by running off? And/or he started to (privately) blame Gendo for Yui being gone (in Episode 16 he denies Gendo had anything to do with Yui's death while in 20--after what happens to Toji--he blames Gendo for it. Sounds like conflicting emotions there.).

Anyway, this piece from the flashback has always struck me as rather ironic, although Gendo did have his reasons:

Image

GENDO (10 YEARS AGO):
Shinji, you must not run away.
~Take care of yourself, I need you~

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Postby AuraTwilight » Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:39 pm

egardless, I think people demonizing Gendo here are being unfair to him. On one hand, it's entirely believable that Gendo simply didn't have the time and/or energy to raise him and keep on top of his job duties. On the other, considering the sorts of crap the commander is involved in sending Shinji away may have actually been an attempt to keep him safe. Is it really so impossible to suggest that sending him to leave elsewhere was actually the parentally responsible thing to do?


BUT THAT MADE Shinji SAD SO GENDO IS A HEARTLESS DOUCHE WHAT KIND OF FATHER WOULD PUT AWAY THEIR SON UNDER ANY FUCKING CIRCUMSTANCES I MEAN WTF I MEAN GENDO WAS CLEARLY PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF RAISING A CHILD WITH EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT ISSUES WHILE HE HIMSELF WAS FUCKED UP IN THAT FIELD EVEN BEFORE THE YUI INCIDENT WHAT KIND OF SELFISH ASSHOLE GIVES UP CUSTODY OF A CHILD WHEN THEY REALIZE THEY'RE NOT FIT TO RAISE THEM?
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Postby Lucretius » Tue Sep 21, 2010 12:15 pm

Getting awfully Draco in Leather Pants in here.

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 AuraTwilight » Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:33 pm

Nah, that trope doesn't kick in unless people are saying Gendo is absolutely absolved of all his crimes and is actually an awesome guy based on sex appeal. No one is making that claim so much as simply positing that he's not as bad as a guy Shinji made him out to be, which is entirely consistent with Shinji only seeing everything about interpersonal relationships in the worst possible light.
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Postby loyal servant » Tue Sep 21, 2010 10:14 pm

Well think about it from a mathematical point of view...

The current year was 2015; 14 Years Old

The incident happened 3 Years earlier, Ie 2012; 11 Years Old

Yui passed away in 2004; ie Shinji was 3 years old

So based on that, Gendo was looking after Shinji for close to 8 years. We know, based on Fuyutsuki's statements later in the series that Gendo threw himself into his work, circa 2012, and given how advanced the research had got, things obviously got quite intense in terms of preparations, meaning Gendo had to let someone else take over Shinji's well being. Think about it, the kid has nothing but his father, of course he would be crying like that, but to say Gendo abandoned him would be absurd; if he abandoned him, he would have left him on the streets, not sent him off to an expensive private teacher...

On a side note, has anyone noticed that the watching the show in Japanese with English subtitles portrays Gendo to be, how do I put it, less cold towards Shinji, and more of a stern, disciplined parent rather than a complete SOB?
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Postby Lucretius » Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:40 pm

Gendo essentially has the depth of a James Bond villain, but on EGF everything in NGE is deep. Thus threads like this that desperately try to give Gendo depth he doesn't possess. Le sigh.

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 Eva Yojimbo » Tue Sep 21, 2010 11:52 pm

View Original PostLucretius wrote:Gendo essentially has the depth of a James Bond villain
I don't recall any Bond villains trying to save humanity from an even more sinister organization whom they disagree with... and I've seen every Bond film. I also don't recall any villain being given even remotely the kind of backstory and chance at redemption that Gendo gets. Just sayin'.
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Postby BC Baron » Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:17 am

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:I don't recall any Bond villains trying to save humanity from an even more sinister organization whom they disagree with...
How can someone without any shread of humanity possibly save it? FWIW if SEELE had made a special arrangement with Gendo that allowed him to see Yui again, I believe he would've done whatever they wanted; no questions asked. Hell, I say he would've entered into a contract with the angels if he felt it could get him closer to realizing his goals. Apparently, the rest of humanity can go suck it. As far as he's concerned, it's every man for himself, or at least that seems to be the ideological position he adopted fifteen years ago while abandoning everyone to their fates in Antarctica and escaping just in time to save his own ass.

loyal servant wrote:So based on that, Gendo was looking after Shinji for close to 8 years.
I'm no expert, but I don't think that was the case. Shinji looks a LOT younger than eleven in that pic. I always figured that Gendo sent Shinji away shortly after the incident with Unit-01, but that they agree to meet at Yui's grave once per year, or so.

Also, regarding the pictures at the top of the thread, here's what I see. A young boy crying, possibly on the platform of a train station, or something, with a large duffle bag next to him that looks like it might be too heavy for him to carry. Then I see an image of his father, hands in his pockets, with his back turned, waking away, neither looking at his son nor waving goodbye.

Now here's what I don't see. The supposedly wonderful individual (teacher?) that Gendo decided was responsible enough to take care of his kid. I mean, where is he? Had the guy even shown up yet or did Shinji have to wait there for hours on his own until somebody finally claimed him (maybe that's the basis of the playground sequence from EoE)? I would expect most toddlers that age have an adult guardian either holding their hand or standing nearby to make sure the kid doesn't accidentally make contact with the third rail or get into some other kind of trouble, but that doesn't seem to be the case here.

Whoever was supposed to be looking after Shinji during his childhood might have done an adequate job. Then again, years later when Gendo finally realizes that he has a use for his son, nobody accompanies Shinji on his journey to Tokyo III. He's just put on a train and sent into a warzone with zero supervision. From the time he arrives until the end of the series, his former caretaker never even tries to contact him to see how he's doing. When Shinji moves into Misato's apartment, we don't see him unpack any pictures of his former guardian or other keepsakes from where he used to live. Shinji never really discusses his former family life much (we don't even get a glimpse of it during his introspective sequences when he's reviewing his experiences). What I'm suggesting is that maybe this teacher Gendo selected was rather indifferent toward Shinji (perhaps it partially explains why he feels so worthless and alone), but in the end it made no difference to Gendo, since he was just as uninvolved.

Originally, when Shinji agreed to pilot for NERV, Gendo assigned him to live in an apartment by himself, just like Rei. Even though Shinji ends up moving in with Misato, who quickly assumes the role of his guardian, Gendo was quite content leaving him to twist in the wind, all alone in a new city where he doesn't know anybody. To all the people claiming that Gendo abandoned Shinji because he was doing what was best for his son or that he was concerned for his safety, whenever I take a look at the Commander's track record, I cannot agree.

There's no evidence that Gendo ever cared at all about the way his son was raised or who he lived with. If Gendo is so concerned about Shinji's safety, why does he want him going into battle against angels in the first place? Why didn't he do everything in his power to get other Evas/pilots on the roster before calling on his son at the last minute (even though he has an entire classroom full of potential candidates that he doesn't tap into until episode 17)? Why not at least contact him sooner so he could get some training before going into battle? What about asking his Section 2 agents to do more than just sit back and watch when Shinji gets his ass kicked at school?

I think it's made clear on several occasions that Gendo can't be bothered to care about anything other than himself. He ran away from Shinji because the kid represents everything that terrifies him; depression, loneliness, obligation and morality. All the stuff he didn't want to be inconvenienced to have to consider. He's not interested in protecting the world. He just wants to protect his precious scenario and if he has to sacrifice his kid or anyone else to achieve his endgame, he won't hesitate to give the order.
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Postby Mr. Tines » Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:33 am

Like most things in NGE, all we are given of Gendo are a scattering of data-points, rather than a definitive narrator statement that "he is like this ('because' optional)" -- so we put our pattern matching abilities to work. And because it's nothing quite so blatant as a leopard hiding in the long grass, we see different things.
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