Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!:
Yes. There is an episode of Neon Genesis “angst and psychedelia” Evangelion entitled Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!. That is not a misprint. This episode is, without a doubt, the wackiest thing I have ever seen a serious show get away with. And it does it so well, it might be my favourite episode of the series.
This is the episode that sets everything to come into motion. Asuka’s moved to Japan and in her first battle alongside Shinji, they manage to fail so spectacularly that both giant robots are facedown in a mountain and the sea respectively. Seeing that they need to learn to work together, they’re ordered to live together and train together with specific choreography set to piece of music. And live in unison.
Both of them, indeed, have to dance like they want to win.
It would’ve been easy for the team to simply write a week off at the wacky races. Instead, the episode that turned out is simultaneously the funniest one in the series and had both a plot and gags straight out of Looney Tunes was written as complex foreshadowing of the rest of the series. Here is where Shinji and Asuka start living together. The differences in their personalities are demonstrated immediately when Shinji comes home to find Asuka has filled his room with her stuff and thrown his into the hall. Instead of throwing her stuff out into the hall and moving back in like a normal protagonist would, Shinji just sorta… walks away and protests loudly.
When Rei is invited over, Asuka is busy showing that she can’t sync up with Shinji to save the world–quite literally. Misato asks Rei to try. Sync’d immediately, because Rei doesn’t let her emotions (she has them?) get in the way of the job. Asuka: emotions are king. Rei: logic and performance rule. Shinji: somewhere in the middle. Bam, there’s your McCoy/Spock/Kirk delineation right there. For the rest of the series, Shinji’s romantic tension between both of these girls demonstrate how he is of two minds on almost all issues, with the ever present third option of running away (Misato).
This episode also has my favourite scene in the series. The night before the battle, Misato’s left Shinji and Asuka alone in the apartment. Asuka goes to sleep in her room, warning Shinji that even knocking will earn him a stern physical reprimand. Shinji stays up, listening to his tape player. Asuka gets up to go to the bathroom and goes back to sleep.
In Shinji’s bed. Six inches away. If you could measure sexual tension in bucketfulls, you’d need more buckets. More bigger buckets. Shinji starts inching in, closing his eyes…
When she calls for her mom in her sleep. Just remember what show you’re watching.
Oh, also, there’s a minute long synchronized mech-fight that is the best you’ve seen so far. But hey, it’s not like you’re watching a giant robot series to see giant fighting robots, right? You’re here for wacky antics and sexual tension!
Speaking of which…
Now’s probably the best time to mention, Asuka cannot stop talking about how she wants to have sex with Kaji. Seriously. As I said, fourteen year old girl through-and-through. That’s how this episode opens. Not kidding.
So, she buys a special swimsuit to wear on the class trip to Okinawa (they have a beach or something?) but they can’t go on the trip cos they’re supposed to be saving the world, so instead, Misato drags them to a volcano (what) where they have to recover a live Angel (why?) and inevitably, stuff goes wrong and Shinji has to save the day in Unit-01 like always. Yes, you have seen this episode before.
According to Chad, this is the worst episode of the series. I still say he’s wrong. Sure, it’s one of the worst episodes of the series, but friggin’ Jet Alone is so bad, he should be an interrupting me–SUP EVERYBODY IT’S JET ALOOOOOOOOOOOONE!
Friggin’ Jet Alone.
This episode is an attempt to make Rei II but this time about Asuka and how Shinji, deep down, totally wants to nail her. A recurring theme of this entire series is how wanting to nail people (or even, you know, talk to them) will only result in pain. Remember Hedgehog’s Dilemma? That philosophy. Where Rei II used the sexual tension between Shinji and Rei to show they’re emotionally compatible, this episode uses the sexual tension between Shinji and Asuka to show how truly different they are.
Also, it’s a great opportunity to read all of Asuka’s lines as though she’s a fourteen year old, female Rocky Balboa and Shinji is a fourteen year old, male Adrian. Indeed, her attempts at flirting with him this episode have all the grace and charm of gluey warm masculinity dripping down your chest. (Oh, the profane things you can say without swearing. :D) When Shinji’s trying to study physics poolside, she asks him what the problem is (thermal expansion) and then demonstrates an example of thermal expansion: “If I were to warm up my breasts with my hands, do you think they’d grow bigger or smaller?” Classy, Asuka. Real classy. Hey Shinji, those aren’t her eyes you’re staring lovingly at.
It’s also the first episode where the Shinji/Asuka/Rei dynamic is exploited for fun and profit. Sure, it’s not done particularly well. … Or for a good length of time. … Or in anything more than two scenes, but hey! It’s there, and it’s the foundation of the rest of the series. So take that, Chad.
Also, if I may say, the mechfight in A Human Work totally blew. It was a robot holding another robot in place. That’s it. This is the episode that has Asuka fighting an angel under magma. There is no way that could possibly be bad.
Oh, and it’s the episode that ends in what sounds like Misato doing very inappropriate things to Asuka in a hot spring while Pen-Pen is shocked at the size of Shinji’s–…
Thermal expansion. (how embarassing!)