Tag Archives: rei ayanami

A letter to Eva (Neon Genesis Evangelion)

18 May


Hey Eva, I just want to say it’s been ages since I’ve seen you. I don’t know why I’m writing to you, I just want to say you’re an awesome anime series. I’m not pretending I’m some kind of otaku geek because I’m not but I do know that your series is considered one of the best anime series ever made (even being studied by scholars) because it took something that’s familiar and turned it over it’s head and fucked with a lot of people’s heads.

It would be impossible and not practical for me to write everything I like about you but I’m just lucky to have seen you and you basically made a believer out of me that anime series could have serious weight in the kind of story being told without resorting to the same old things being rehashed over and over again.

First time I saw you, I thought it was gonna be a standard typical story about giant mechas fighting monsters. After watching the first episode, I knew you’re not a typical anime series. There was something a bit off about you but it was unique and after watching the last episode, I was suffering from a permanent mindfucked.

Before watching you, I tried to immerse myself with Japanese anime and even went to a weekly screening at UWA (University of Western Australia) where they showed the latest anime series from Japan. I liked the experience, it was cool and geeky and filled with a lot of hardcore fans. They showed all kinds of stuff but for some fucking reason they kept showing lots of fucking Sailor Moon stuff, fucking hell…I never understood people’s fixation with pubescent school girls showing their knickers while fighting monsters. I wanted to see some crazy manga shit not some overtly cutesy girly shit that made me nauseous. Hey some people like that stuff, good for them. Some people also like to put their finger up their butt and sniffing it to give them natural high.

The thing is even the cool stuff like ‘Akira’, ‘Ghost In The Shell’, ‘Fist of North Star’, ‘Ninja Scroll’ and many more were great and exciting but they never really took the story to an uncharted territory like you did. I know the guy that made you had some sort of nervous breakdown/mental problems, and it really showed through. Maybe I’m damaged and screwed up for liking fucked up stuff but to me there is something truthful and pure about fucked up things. It’s when you look at movies/art or reading novels/comics or listening to music that is not afraid to explore vulnerable and fragile things, it makes you feel alive because it feels honest and honesty in pop culture is a rarity.

I guess anime would be the last place you’d expect to experience such a high degree of sophisticated complex view on the fragility of the human mind but Eva you pulled it off.

I know that through the main protagonist, Shinji, a lot of your creator’s anxiety is reflected through him. I know that in the basic rule of anime, the main protagonist usually is full of fire, brave, optimistic and high spirited. But Shinji is not like that isn’t he? He is meek, full of doubts and angst ridden and has a fucked up relationship with his father which stems a lot of his high insecurities.

Unfortunately, Shinji has a unique synchronization with an EVA unit which makes him one of the few people in this world who can pilot an EVA and he doesn’t want that responsibility. Who does? If you’re an unstable and emotionally wrecked 14 yr old who is being forced to pilot a mecha because the fate of the world depends on you and you have to fight badass alien monsters every week, would you feel optimistic and brave? Fuck no. You’d feel the weight of the world on your shoulder, that’s a given.

This unique approach to anime practically revolutionized how stories can be told. Your main protagonist doesn’t have to be good/pure/kind/brave all the time, they can be screwed up and filled with doubts and anxieties but still manage to tell compelling stories because they feel and act like a human being not just some cool looking anime characters who are invincible. And I guess that’s what’s being missing from a lot of anime series is the lack of humane quality characters.

Warning: Spoiler ahead.

And of course, talking about Neon Genesis Evangelion wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Rei Ayanami. You know how some people got unhealthy obsession with anime characters like I mentioned earlier? Well it almost happened to me with Rei. It’s not exactly clear what it is about her that made people tick. She doesn’t exude flirty sexuality like a lot of female anime characters, far from it. She is aloof, distant and shows no emotions. She has no past, no identity. She pilots an EVA unit but she’s also not a go getter type of fighter. She is obedient, efficient and a clone of Shinji’s dead mother.

Yes, a teenage clone version.

Apparently Shinji’s father also clones EVA pilot from his dead wife. To top it off Shinji develops feelings towards Rei and it leads to a complicated sexual Oedipus tensions. I’ve never seen a more original love story in anime than here.

I guess she is cool because she’s an enigma and mysterious and something is not completely right about her and yet we like her because we want a better life for her and we also think Shinji’s father is a complete asshole. But ultimately we like her because we want her and Shinji to feel less alone, we want her to be complete and normal for a bit. We want them to be free, because they deserve it.

So Eva, thanks for sharing us your vision. I still haven’t seen anime series since yours with so much depth in exploring characters struggling with their fragile psyches and at times it felt like watching some deep poetic art films only with cool mechas and crazy ass monsters thrown in the mix. When I do, I’ll always compare it to you, that’s a given.


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