Evangelion 1.0: I Don’t Know What’s Going On But Is That Part Of The Point?
So after joining the Unime crew and finding out that May was going to be the month of Mecha anime, I found myself a bit stuck for ideas. You see I have not watched very much Mecha. I’ve seen Code Geass and I liked it but I was 16 when I watched it and wouldn’t be able to stand by any opinions I had on the series with confidence. I’ve seen Infinite Stratos but I think everyone involved would be better off forgetting that show ever happened. So instead I turned to a series I’d been putting off for a while. Neon Genesis Evangelion.
So I love psychological anime, my username will tell you as much and Evangelion being tagged as psychological on MyAnimeList I knew I’d get around to it eventually. But for no particular reason I just never felt like watching it whenever it came time to pick a new show. But now given a reason to do so I was actually pretty eager to watch it. I decided to go with the movie version as I personally prefer the cleaner art style it has. I wasn’t sure if I’d watch all of it and then write about it or take it movie by movie at first but after watching 1.0 I feel like it must be split up into multiple parts.Why?
It’s Because I’m Confused
I went into this knowing 2 things about Evangelion. Firstly it had mechs and secondly that it was about depression. The second part is integral to my point here but we’ll get to that. I will be assuming you’ve seen at Evangelion 1.0 so if you haven’t you may not want to read further. The point of this is not to break down the entire movie or to recap it but to show you how it confused me and how that is perhaps part of the point.
Firstly the movie really throws you right into the action, we have the military attacking an angel and our main character Shinji is right in the middle of it being collected by Misato, an operative for NERV the entity in charge of the Eva’s which are giant robots designed to be piloted to fight the angels. Did that seem like a lot of information in one paragraph? Well you’re given about as much time in the actual movie to process this information. The entire movie moves at a breakneck pace and never really slows down, you’re really not given much time to breathe.
Secondly we as the audience are not privy to a lot of vital information. What was the second impact? Or for that matter the first? Why are the evas piloted by teenagers and why Shinji specifically? Why are the angels attacking? What are they? And so on and so forth. At the start, this really annoyed me. In the back of my mind through the first hour of this movie was those nagging questions. I wanted to be focusing on the cool stuff happening in front of me but I couldn’t. Shinji doesn’t want to pilot the Eva so why make him? Give me a reason and I’ll stop asking. That was my original thought process.
But then there was a scene after Shinji had defeated his second angel in which he tells Misato that he’ll pilot the Eva “if that’s what she wants” and I remembered the depression angle. Is the fast pace and lack of insight meant to simulate the feeling of depression?
I don’t know myself because I’ve never suffered through depression so I found myself relating the movie to what my mother had told me about her experience with it. She told me that it is suffocating, that it makes it hard to move again once you’ve stopped moving. That it feels like the world would be better off without you. She told me what kept her going was the fact she had me and my sister to think about. When I started trying to relate the movie to this things began to make more sense.
Shinji himself says he wouldn’t be any use to anyone if he couldn’t pilot the Eva. He feels useless. He’s afraid of piloting it, it causes him great pain. I think that perhaps the Eva’s are meant to be like a physical manifestation of depression.
So the problem is that I am incapable of getting it. If it is the case that this is about depression then I will never be able to fully understand it unless I myself go through it. The breakneck pace and the sense of not knowing what’s going on makes me feel like it’s meant to simulate those feelings but without ever having experienced them it has little effect on me. I’m just left with the rest of the movie.
It feels like I’m watching it out of context nearly, like there’s a prequel to this and that prequel was having depression. Hopefully the rest of the movies will offer more than just that because I can’t relate and there were a lot of other things to enjoy about it that I’l talk about in some full thoughts on the series.
Thanks for reading,