Neon Genesis Evangelion E12: She said, “Don’t make others suffer for your personal hatred.”
This is one of the longer titles, and probably one of the more self-explanatory ones as well. You see, this is a Misato-focused episode that explores her background. Turns out her dad was kind of a free-loader who made her mom feel like crap. Because of that, she hated him. But when the time came for the Second Impact, a somewhat mysterious cataclysmic event caused by Angels, her father sacrificed himself to save her. Ever since then, she has sworn vengeance on the Angels, but won’t open up to anyone about it except Ritsuko and Shinji.
Shinji and Misato also get a little closer in this episode, which is nice. Sometimes she has a sort of motherly approach to being Shinji’s guardian, and other times she acts more like a friend. In this episode, she was more of a friend… though kind of a cold one. By the end of the episode, she risks all three Evas to stop an Angel plummeting from space that could potentially cause a Third Impact. A daring maneuver, but at least she promises them a steak dinner for success.
But Rei’s a vegetarian. Ah well. Speaking of Rei, she’s actually starting to come more to the forefront now. For awhile, the plot kind of boiled down to Shinji and Asuka, but now they’re tying all three of them together as a unit.
We’ll see how that goes!
Neon Genesis Evangelion E11: The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still
Now I’m starting to feel like I’m getting into the grit of the show. The plot of this episode centers around a day when NERV Headquarters loses power and an Angel attacks.
The power outage, as a plot device, allows a lot of opportunities for development. For one thing, it adds a human antagonist, since the outage was man-made and not caused by a simple power surge. It gives otherwise static chair-sitters (that is, characters who are mostly seen giving orders from a chair rather than physically acting) a chance to participate, like Commander Ikari. Also, time is supplied for reflection; Shinji finally asks the question, “If Angels are sent from God, why are they attacking us?” Of course, Rei and Asuka don’t have the answer, though, so it’s just meant to bug the viewer for awhile. Perhaps most importantly, it delivers a sense of desperation, quiet, and solitude.
There are also a few interesting moments where parallels are drawn between the kids’ internal hierarchy and the bureaucratic hierarchy at NERV. These may have just been played for comedic effect, but it really raises some interesting questions about the people in charge and if they’re really the people who deserve to be in charge.
In the end, Asuka takes charge and manages to concoct a pretty reasonable plan, partly to prove her worth as a temporary leader, but more likely to rub her capability into Rei’s face. Of course, it just goes over Rei’s head.
Neon Genesis Evangelion E10: Magmadiver
Asuka, Rei, and Shinji’s classmates all go on a deep-sea diving trip, but since those three are on permanent standby for action, they can’t go. Asuka throws a fit and gets to go diving after all… except instead of a vast blue ocean full of cute dolphins, she has to don a fat suit (well, thermal shield) and plunge into a lava pocket to extract an embryonic Angel.
This episode is mostly worth it because Asuka’s operation below the crust is one of the more visually impressive sequences I’ve seen in animated television. Of course, there’s also a bit of character work, but it’s pretty thin in this episode. It’s mostly along the lines of Shinji making sense of his attraction to Asuka (and for a brief moment, Rei). It doesn’t really boil up to the surface to be confronted, but the internal conflict is pretty clear.
Other than that, I really don’t have much to say. There’s some more bureaucratic sketchiness, what with Shinji’s father willingly risking the entire planet just to capture the Angel. But mostly, the through-line of action is straightforward.
Side note: It’s weird how much louder this show has become ever since Asuka joined the main cast…
Neon Genesis Evangelion E9: Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!
It seems like from this point on the episode titles will be shying away from the 2-3 word format and veer more into the “miniature sentence” style. No complaints here. Todd Margaret made it work, if you remember some of those doozies.
This episode has a couple of themes to it. The primary one seems to be capitulating a preconceived notion of a person to allow for progress with them. This much is seen in the driving force of the episode, which is the training regimen Asuka and Shinji must undergo to learn to work together. In the background, there is also the “will they—won’t they” (or more accurately, the “should they—shouldn’t they”) sexual tension between Misato and Kaji. They, of course, embody the secondary theme that can simply be described as “romance.” But, since the kids must always echo the actions of the adults, there is also some repressed attraction between Shinji and Asuka…
Which is dumb because Shinji and Rei should be together because they’re perfectly synchronized and their personalities match up better and—and—and… oh god, I’m shipping. Forget all of that.
As I briefly skimmed over earlier, Shinji and Asuka have to learn to work together so they can defeat an Angel that splits into two parts that need to be destroyed simultaneously. By the end, they succeed in their task. It doesn’t make Asuka any more agreeable, but it at least gives them some professional savvy.
At this rate, I think we’ve got all of the main cast accounted for. It would seem silly to me for them to introduce any other game-changers this late in since the series is so short to begin with. My wish, then, from this point on, is that they explore the dynamics between secondary characters. Shinji seems to have a pretty good grasp on everyone else at this rate, but I’m interested to know how Rei is going to work together with Asuka, or Rei and Kaji, or Asuka and Misato. Though I don’t feel like it’s required, I think I would be able to gain the most understanding if I knew how each of these characters would interact with the others.
Beyond that, I have a bad feeling that shit’s really about to start going down now that I’m pretty sure everyone is set in their roles.
Neon Genesis Evangelion E8: Asuka Strikes!
This episode felt like a bit of a departure from the typical tone of the series. It seemed to be more focused on the humor and the cool things they wanted to try out with their big robots than the normal, pensive pace. I didn’t exactly mind it, since everyone needs a break from the status quo every once in a while. Serialized plots are no exception!
Here, we get introduced to the first character who can best be described as a brat. Her name is Asuka Langley Soryu, the Second Child and pilot of Eva-02. She’s German-Japanese, which I guess classifies her as “quite an Axis individual.” Pardon the bad history joke. She seems to be a free spirit in all walks of life except one: she takes herself entirely seriously. She constantly berates others for failing to be as impressive as herself or even daring to look at her (of course, Shinji and Toji just happen to be looking at particularly inopportune times).
We also meet Ryoji Kaji, who seems to be an ex-boyfriend of Misato’s and spends every moment onscreen doing something skeevy, whether it’s embarrassing Misato by opening up about her sexual prowess or turning his back on a child who idolizes him just to save his own skin.
By the end, an Angel appears, so Asuka and Shinji pilot Eva-02 together, and use their combined synchronicity to defeat it. Hurrah!
There’s not much deeper to the episode than that. Some jokes, some introductions, and giant robot fights. There are a few interesting remarks about the hierarchy of power in this mid-apocalyptic world, but not much else. This makes sense, since the characters are on an ocean fleet far from the dramatic center of the show.
One observation I’d like to share: Isn’t it interesting that NERV is the dramatic hub? Just from the perspective of understanding the words. NERV is at the center of the show. It’s where all of the dark secrets and pain reside… at NERV. That can’t be a coincidence.
Neon Genesis Evangelion E7: A Human Work
Not exactly sure what the title’s supposed to mean, but I’ll go along with it. It was a good episode!
This one is primarily focused on Misato as she and Dr. Ritsuko Akagi travel to another paramilitary organization which is testing a “safer” alternative to the Evangelions. But, the nuclear powered mecha goes haywire and threatens to obliterate a nearby city. Misato calls in Shinji and Eva-01 to help insert her into the robot to override its computer. But as it turns out, someone has tinkered with the computer and staged the whole event. At the last second, it auto-corrects and the day is saved.
It’s not my favorite episode, but it’s notable because it lends some deeper character work to Misato and toys with the concept of arbitrary bureaucracy. Therefore, we begin to understand that the inner workings of NERV, the government, and similar institutions are a lot shadier than they seem (and they already are at the darker end of the grayscale).
And finally Shinji started to wonder about the big freaking eye that stared at him from within the Eva. I’ve been wondering about that nonstop since the first episode, and just now he starts to question it. I’ll give the kid the benefit of the doubt, though. There’s a lot of weight on his shoulders, and a lot of weird things he has to learn to understand.
Not much else to analyze this time, except the small insinuation that the Eva cockpit is similar to a womb. Which would sort of make sense, but I’m waiting for the show to present an alternative representation of maternity before I apply that concept…
There are literally no moms, though.
Neon Genesis Evangelion E6: Rei II
This one was a little more straightforward… and thank god for that. If I had to watch another whammy after that last one, I think I’d be up all night with this show.
Picking up where Rei I left off, Eva-01 is recalled and Shinji is put into intensive care. Misato concocts a pretty ballsy plan to take out the Angel at long range: they get a massive positron gun and redirect all the electricity in Japan into it. Shinji recovers quickly and hops back into Eva-01 while Rei protects him from within Eva-00. And of course, they save the day.
But I’m not in this just to watch big robots shoot big monsters. Sure, it doesn’t hurt, but I’m more here for what it represents.
Here we have Shinji, a novice, who follows instructions to a T, but always ends up injured or broken in some way—never physically, but his Eva takes all the damage; a metaphor for his emotional shields. However, he has an instant, powerful synchronization with his Eva, which shows his powerful convictions to his emotions.
Compare Rei. She’s been at this longer than Shinji, but her synchronization is still not as strong—emotionally, she has no center, and does not know how to macromanage her feelings. It’s a testament to her character that her Eva and physical body receive more injury, yet she always recuperates.
And if anybody was hoping for some positive developments in her relationship with Shinji, this episode provides that. He saves her from her capsule in the same way that his father did earlier, and he even gets a smile out of her. No guarantee on where this will lead, but it made for a nice ending.
Now I will suppress my desire to watch another episode, because I don’t want to overwork myself!
Neon Genesis Evangelion E5: Rei I
So that whole “Just one more episode tonight” thing isn’t just going to be one episode. The reason will become apparent.
This episode gives us a proper introduction to the Eva-00 pilot, Rei. Shinji spends a good portion of the runtime staring at her (once while she is naked), almost obsessively. A few of the other characters insinuate that he has a crush on her, which he abashedly denies. The nature of his feelings for her aren’t entirely clear yet.
But there’s something else. Rei is a very distant person. My first impression led me to believe that perhaps she suffers from Asperger syndrome. Her only human connection seems to be Shinji’s father… and my first impression of that was a little skeevy. You see, Shinji’s father seems to have a vested interest in her, and rescued her from a glowing hot capsule in initial Eva testing, and from that point on, she has felt rather “close” to him. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting and it’s a harmless paternal relationship… but either way, it’s just another insult to Shinji’s attempts to reach out.
Rei is a really interesting character, I have to admit. My natural inclination as a viewer is to hope and expect that a romance will develop between her and Shinji. But so far that has been subverted. It’s jarring to think about, but it raises some interesting moral questions and a whole new drive for the series.
Now, I have to dive back in for one more episode because they felt it was necessary to end this one on the most dreadful of cliffhangers. An energy blast pokes a hole through Shinji’s Eva right as he emerges to fight another Angel. Will he recover and brutally destroy it? Or will they send Rei in after him to save his ass? I’m off to find out—and I’ll update later.
Neon Genesis Evangelion E4: Hedgehog’s Dilemma
No action to be found here, folks. All drama. So if you don’t go for that kind of thing… well, you shouldn’t be watching this show to begin with. But really, you’d be missing out.
The title of this episode, Hedgehog’s Dilemma, plays off a concept introduced in the previous episode. The idea is that the closer two hedgehogs get, the more their spindles prick at each other. Applied to humankind, it suggests the kind of person that avoids making friends to avoid pain, and causes pain for others because they don’t know how else to relate. Damn… I can identify with that.
Despite that, this episode is actually pretty fair to Shinji. The plot details his attempt to run away from NERV, and the effects that has on others. Misato tries to be a hardass about it, but that tactic doesn’t work on his fragile resolution. Kensuke (probably the closest thing to a “peer” that
Shinji has) offers him food and a place to sleep. Toji allows Shinji to hit him back to atone for his misdeeds.
And at the end when Shinji finally decides to stick around, there’s an absolutely haunting still frame that lasts about 45 seconds where Shinji and Misato just stare at each other with ambient cicada noises and train announcements. That’s actually a pretty common trait in the show—long pauses for insight. Hey, why not? Harold Pinter made it work.
Anyway, I’ll review one more episode for you guys today, since I’m feeling generous. This has been one of my most productive blog days in recent history… I feel good about it. Even though with this show, you can never tell where the plot is going to go. Sure, this episode left me with a warm heart, but the next one may reduce me to blubber. Either way, I expect to be impressed!
Power Rangers Megaforce S1 E7: Who’s Crying Now?
Well gee, I think that’s the fastest they’ve ever killed off a general in Power Rangers. Of course, they’re moving at about twice the pace of the Sentai counterpart, Goseiger, so it’s not entirely surprising. On that same note, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that next week they will already introduce the special ranger of the series.
Even though the plot-to-character development ratio is a little eschew (the former moving at twice the speed of light and the latter inching along like a worm), this episode had a really nice groove. Keeping up with the optimistic outlook of the series, Troy nonviolently manages to inspire a couple of bullies to hang up their boxing gloves and respect life. It’s unrealistic, but fitting for the show’s tone. Of course, on the converse side of things, Troy then goes on to brutally halve Creepox. If there was ever a case for the need-based implementation of dehumanizing tactics, this is it.
Troy is an overwhelmingly positive influence, so I doubt we’re going to see any Shinji Ikari attributes arise in him (see my Neon Genesis Evangelion reviews to understand what I mean by that), but he does still seem to be distant and slightly cold. He is the poster child for human determination… so why does he shy away from society? That’s not rhetorical. I hope Megaforce will have the answer eventually.
It’s worth mentioning that they still haven’t used unmorphed fights as much as I perceived they would from the pilot. But this episode at least puts them into the thick of it without their suits. We get to see them beaten, injured, and stacking themselves against the odds, even if they’re not directly using martial arts.
Also, best part of the episode: When Noah sees Jake is injured, so he runs over and cradles him in his arms. I’m no shipper, but the bromance is undeniable.
Power Rangers Megaforce S1 E6: Harmony and Dizchord
I have to say, few Power Rangers episodes have titles as appropriate as this one. When it wants to be, this episode is very harmonious. But that doesn’t keep it from using discordant contrivances and groaner tropes.
This is one of the better-paced episodes of the season so far. For a filler episode, it’s got a nice progression that subverts this season’s custom of “5 minutes of plot, 15 minutes of fighting, 3 minutes of resolution.” Instead, they shift between morphed and unmorphed states which definitely lends itself to a proper episode structure which has a beginning, middle, and end.
The character development is slight, but necessary. It allows us some insight into Emma’s life, and also lets the viewers see how Troy is slowly but surely acclimating to his new environment and group of friends. Jake and Noah, naturally, get the funny moments, and Gia even uses her feminine wiles in a very self-aware fashion. This makes the episode very balanced, but individualized, which is nice.
We also get more development in the villains’ lair, and our first proper introduction to the Big Bad’s robotic general, Frock. He’s not as physically intimidating as Creepox, but he is certainly more cunning.
But some of this shit is just stupid. It mostly has to do with Emma, who has always been the weakest link on the show. She’s just not well-written. I don’t blame the actress; she doesn’t have good material to work with. Her role in the episode is that she sings to flowers to make them bloom. Yep. But it doesn’t stop there. The Monster of the Week, Dizchord, uses his power by laying down some meaty licks on his guitar, the noise of which is implied to make heads explode.
Emma counters this with her own singing, which apparently has enough natural volume to overpower a stage full of amplifiers. The flowers bloom around her, then Troy sends their petals at Dizchord… and they PARALYZE HIM. Forget Mighty Morphin, this shit just went Turbo. Or maybe one of the (admittedly few) weak episodes of Wild Force.
It’s also frustrating that whenever Dizchord plays his guitar, which is about a third of the episode, it is the most dreadful noise that it’s difficult to continue watching. Yeah, that’s the point, but there’s a saying in peer workshops: “It doesn’t matter if it’s interesting, consistent, or serves a specific purpose. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.” And thus.
But those complaints aside, I did enjoy the episode, and I’m looking forward to today’s new installment!
Neon Genesis Evangelion E3: A Transfer
The shadow on this train of darkness keeps climbing.
The big emphasis of this episode is on Shinji’s inability to connect with others. This is due in part to his own hangups, but another factor is introduced. We get a glimpse of Shinji’s school life, which includes three new characters: Kensuke Aida (a nerdy journalistic type), Toji Suzuhara (a not-so-bad tough guy), and Hikari Horaki (the rule-loving class representative).
Toji’s sister, as it turns out, was injured during Shinji’s first battle with an Angel. Toji blames him for it and beats him up in the schoolyard. Though Shinji seems too emotionally repressed for the violence to even phase him, it creates a spiral of internal consequence for Toji.
At the end of the episode, Tokyo 3, their city of residence, is recalled back into an underground chamber when another Angel threatens to attack. With all the building secured in the Earth’s crust, Shinji hops in his Eva, but uses book knowledge instead of tactical knowledge against his foe. His energy support is cut off, and worse, he has to admit Toji and Kensuke to the cockpit for their safety, which throws off the genetic synchronization.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), all of Shinji’s bottled anxieties spew forth and he brutally gores the Angel. As you can see, there’s a lot of character works to keep up with here, and none of it is exactly surface level, which is excellent for the viewer, whose natural inclination is to make his or her own decision about the material presented. Is Toji justified in his bullying? Does more attention need to be paid to Shinji’s mental state? Clearly, the ethics are skewed. This series really begs the question:
Is the “greater good” really that much greater when it breaks individuals apart?
Neon Genesis Evangelion E2: The Beast
The last episode ended with a preview for this one. It promised two things: fanservice and action.
It certainly delivers fanservice to a pretty gratuitous degree. Misato spends a quarter of the episode half-naked and another quarter completely naked. Not to mention, even when she is clothed, they bend her over a table and angle the camera from behind. Overall it was a little too blatant for me—not to mention, a little embarrassing, since I’m watching these episodes in the middle of my university’s Commons. Though this series is loaded with so many themes and allegories, I’m willing to grant a free pass this once, and just label it as some metaphor I don’t yet understand.
It also delivered action as promised. It’s a strangely formatted episode… It starts with a pretty brutal action scene, but suddenly skips to the future. This makes for some interesting reverse dramatic irony; in the beginning we see the Angel overcome Shinji, yet in the future he seems to have secured a pretty flawless victory. In the end of the episode, we are shown how the full event played out.
You’ll remember that I was hesitantly looking forward to the show’s handling of the combat. Well I’m glad to say that so far it has subverted my expectations, in a good way. The few animes I have seen all tend to have very over-the-top action that is highly unrealistic and inconsequential. “Inconsequential” is to say that if someone is slashed with a sword, they follow the video game rule of logic by which no noticeable physical damage is done—it only matters when it comes to the “death blow” that they start to show any sign of mutilation.
Here, robots and giant monsters break each other apart at every seam. It’s about as realistic as mech vs monster can get. Perhaps I just haven’t watched enough anime to understand that this may regularly be in the case, but as it stands here, it’s a breath of fresh air for me that is heavily influencing my overall positive feeling for the show.
More nice character work. Some may say it’s too angsty, but I like my angst. Even then, this is a more plot-driven episode than the last, so it’s not overbearing. Shinji (or perhaps his Eva working independently, it’s not yet clear) defeats the Angel, Misato takes the boy in since he will not live with his father, and Shinji’s dad does some shady business with some shady dudes. Great episode!
Neon Genesis Evangelion E1: Angel Attack
Since I promised my friend I would watch this series, now seemed like a better time than any. As long as I’m watching Pokemon and Sentai, 26 episodes of this in the interim can’t hurt!
NOTE: Like Pokemon, I am watching the dub of the series.
The pilot, as I feel it is truly apt to call it, introduces us to two concepts of the series: its characters and its conflict. Naturally, we meet our protagonist, Shinji Ikari, an awkward (but caring) teenager with daddy issues. We also meet the daddy he has issues with, who runs the militaristic agency, NERV. Working underneath him is the outgoing Captain Misato Katsuragi. Shinji also meets Rei Ayanami, though at this point she is mysteriously bandaged and little is known about her.
The other concept of the series is not unfamiliar. It has kids in giant robots fighting giant monsters (in this case called Angels, which is creepy). It’s essentially a tokusatsu anime, like Gundam, if you will.
This first episode is rather strange for a pilot. There are few music cues which leaves the setting rather quiet and desolate. The characters act in a realistic fashion—not hammy—even when faced with giant mechas. Shinji’s reunion with his father doesn’t end with apologies and forgiveness… his father is still cruel and makes sure to tell his son that he’s only called on him because he is needed, not wanted. The episode also ends before any action occurs. It’s just 20 minutes of well-planned exposition here.
And what’s strange: I normally watch these kinds of shows knowing that the action will be entertaining, and I hope for the plot and characters to live up to that. But here, there’s a solid foundation of context that I’m actually hoping that the combat will just be an interesting seasoning to the character-driven basis.
Anyway, I don’t want to go on too long, but I’m very impressed with this first episode, which flew right by. I’m definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.