REVIEW: Lilliputian Hitcher/Weaving a Story (Evangelion)
This week on Neon Genesis Evangelion, we explore the psyche of Dr. Ritsuko Akagi. She’s the “science officer” of NERV headquarters, and I guess Anno-sama deemed it her week in the limelight. Misato’s the officer in charge of dealing with the pilots, Ritsuko is in charge of dealing with the bridge bunnies. It’s been twelve episodes so far, and while she’s definitely been an active character–appearing even before Rei’s first line–her motivations and backstory have remained a mystery. As has the entire supercomputer network behind Central Dogma (the fancy name for the Bridge), called the MAGI. Or at least, if you think it’s important to the story like the people behind this episode did, it has.
Like the Evangelion themselves, you sort of accept their presence in the series as necessary to the setting. Also like the Evangelion themselves, and this entire series, it’s a weird blend of pseudo-science and squishy gooey feelings. Like Ritsuko herself! This entire episode is a representation of the duality of her personality. This is the first Angel the series has faced that hasn’t been defeated by Evangelion. You may have guessed that this episode was a little pilot light.
Instead, Ritsuko and the Bridge Bunnies spend the span of the episode fighting an Angel that’s less a gigantic inhuman thing and more an inhuman thing so small that it can emulate a computer. It infiltrates the MAGI supercomputers during a naked Eva synch test (fanservice ahoy!) and initiates an auto self-destruct sequence in their programming. As these MAGI run all of Central Dogma, they’re kind of necessary. They have to go under the deck of the bridge to get to the actual working parts of the computers, which strangely resemble brains.
Hey, there was this bit earlier on where the kids were naked piloting “test suits”. Ritsuko called them “test suits” from entry plugs in another part of the building. And they didn’t look like test suits, they looked like 100 foot tall hum–… NAH, that couldn’t happen, right? This is a giant robot series. Emphasize robot? Heh. Heh. Say, what’s with all the blood when these robots get hur–
Anyway, Ritsuko leads Maya and Misato into the tunnels of madness under the computers, where every inch of surface area is covered in sticky notes from Ritsuko’s mom. Backdoors and access codes to various parts of the system. As things get hot and tense while trying to save the supercomputers from self-destruction, Ritsuko stays calm and focused. Interesting, that.
Ritsuko saves the day. Come on, it’s not like the world would end on a giant robot series. That’s crazy.
After she’s saved the day, she tells Misato about her mom over a hot cup of coffee. She reveals that the MAGI are imbued with the three facets of her mother’s personality: herself as a scientist, herself as a mother and herself as a woman. Ritsuko says that she can’t understand her mom as a mother, respects her as a scientist, but always hated her as a woman. Indeed, that’s the computer that doesn’t give way. Mommy issues. Who’d’ve thunk it?
Weaving a Story:
You know what I need like a hole in the head, Anno-sama? A clip show. Even a half-episode compendium of clips. This is entirely unnecessary. Though I see this is where everyone got those nifty Angel names. You know what I never really cared about? The names of the indescribably monstrous things attacking Tokyo-3.
Why should I care? The entire point of them in this deconstruction of mecha anime is that we don’t know what they are, what they want or where they came from. When other anime feature enemies with motives or with explanations at least, we can empathize with them. Not these bad boys. They will screw your stuff up and not even call you after. What utter rudeness, right?
Oh hey, you know who isn’t in this clip show? (Who, you ask!) Jet Al–
THE LATEST AND GREATEST IN NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY SABOTAGED TO RUN AMOK, IT’S JET ALOOOOOOOOONE! THAT’S RIGHT EVERYBODY, I’M BACK IN THE CLIPS AND I’M BETTER THAN EVER! LOOK AT ME STOMPIN’ ON ALL YOUR BUILDINGS LIKE I’M SOME KINDA WONDERFUL! OH JET ALONE IS GOIN’ OFF UP IN THIS, AND YOU CANNOT IGNOR—
I–I’M SORRY? YOU DON’T HAVE THE JET ALONE? YOU KNOW WHAT? I’VE HAD IT WITH YOUR STUPID SERIES! THIS IS THE RULE OF THREE, APPLEBLANCHERS AND YOU CAN BET YOUR OTAKU SELVES THAT I AIN’T NEVER COMIN’ BACK TO THIS STUPID BLOG!
Friggin’ Jet Alone. Is blanching apples even a thing? Friggin’ Jet Alone.
The actual plot of this episode begins with Gendo in front of Seele, as he and Seele tell each other that the Angels are attacking in accordance with the Dead Sea Scrolls. I thought nobody found those. Wasn’t that the official story? That those totally don’t exist?
Anyway, I’ve wasted 250 words on a clip show. The actual plot actually starts with… Rei narrating some really trippy train of thought stuff. Hey, long time fans, you didn’t see the ending coming, why again?
Rei is doing her best to sync up with Unit-01. She’s asked how it feels, remarking that it smells like Shinji. Asuka is sync-testing Unit-02 again, and syncing up again. Shinji is in Unit-00, trying to sync up when he says it smells like Rei. Sexual tension on line 1, are you gonna take the call?
They increase the sync depth when Shinji gets the feeling of Rei trying to invade his mind. Then Unit-00 goes berserker. Cos, like, that happens. Then it tries to kill Rei.
You know what? This episode has a lot of elements that come into play later. Trippy narration over stock footage, deep psychological issues, robots with souls… Wait what–
Everything is going according to plan. No problems exist. Gendo and Fuyutsuki talk about how much Gendo values Rei and how everything like Project Adam and the Lance of Longinus are going according to schedule. Asuka asks “just what is the First Child [Rei]?”
Good question, Asuka. Other than inexplicably sexy, I doubt anyone could tell you. Though, the same could be said of you, dear.