REVIEW: The Birth of NERV/Don’t be. (Evangelion)
We are now into the third arc of the series. What happened when it was televised was that GAINAX couldn’t find enough time to tell all the story they wanted to. So now, when released on DVD, the four episodes comprising this arc have all been released as Director’s Cut episodes, being extended past twenty-four minutes. It’s some good stuff, and is where the plot gets really, really cooking. We’ve found a cave under the surface of the desert–we’re seeing how far down it goes. It’s pretty dark, but we have some flares. We should be fine. Seeya soon, spoiler-frees!
The Birth of NERV:
This week, Fuyutsuki, Gendo’s trusted No. 1, has been kidnapped by Seele. I guess Seele and the committee are two different organizations. Where the committee that Gendo was responding to earlier were actual people sitting around a table, now they’re all represented by monoliths with numbers on them that read Sound Only. I guess it saves on the animation budget, right?
It’s almost the end of the series, and we need a breather from the endless angst and sexual tension mounting as the storylines converge. That’s why this episode is almost entirely flashbacks from Fuyutsuki’s point of view about–you guessed it–the birth of NERV, the organization. He’s a professor in Japan, when he meets a young woman by the name of Yui Ikari. Subtext is that the grey-haired Fuyutsuki has the hots for his new grad student. When she expresses an interest in a boy named Gendo Rokubungi, a grim and devious troublemaker, Fuyutsuki takes him on as a student against his better judgment. He meets Gendo by bailing him out of prison. Dr. Akagi, Ritsuko’s mother, is working at Gehirn, developing the Magi supercomputers. Gehirn looks suspiciously like NERV. Weird.
Ritsuko’s walking around in the present while Misato is missing, due to being imprisoned for Fuyutsuki’s disappearance. A flashback reveals that they became fast friends in college because Misato wasn’t scared of her mother’s reputation. Misato even spent a week skipping class to have sex with Kaji. When Fuyutsuki first met her, she was a psychologically scared and mute teenager from witnessing Second Impact. Poor girl.
Yui brings Shinji into work one day. He was an adorable toddler. It’s important that in a flashback last week, Gendo said that if he and Yui had a boy, he would name him Shinji. But if they had a girl, he would name her Rei. Yui dies in a freak accident that day, and Gendo shows up later with a young girl he’s taken as his ward. An acquaintance’s child, a girl named Rei Ayanami. Dr. Akagi Sr notices how much she looks like Yui. She’s been sleeping with Gendo since Yui’s death. She’s in love with a man who isn’t there, and when Rei says that Gendo calls her an old hag, she chokes the eight year old to death, committing suicide shortly thereafter.
Gehirn is dissolved, and all of its staff is remade into NERV to carry out the Instrumentality project that Seele’s had planned for years.
And back in the present, Kaji lets Fuyutsuki free and Seele decides that Kaji isn’t doing his job as a spy on Gendo. He greets his assassin with a smile, and asks him what took so long. It’s been said that the French thought that the most honorable way to face the firing squad was to smile at them. I salute you, Kaji.
And now you know the rest of the story. This is how everyone met everyone and how they all got together in the past. Wait, did Rei just die? I thought she was alive and having mad sexual tension with Shinji! What?!
I like Asuka. A lot. She’s probably my favourite character. But this series isn’t about being happy or how love will save us all. This is about how love will kill us all. I can say that, right? You’re all spoilered rotten, right? I want to say Asuka is the character most in need of a loving relationship in this series, but it’s hard to single anyone out. However, the series says it’s time to check in.
I mentioned a while back that Shinji’s started beating Asuka in sync tests. I also mentioned that Asuka expresses her pent-up sexual frustration as anger at Shinji. This episode opens with a flashback, her and Kaji in Germany, the night before they have to leave, when she begs him to see her as an adult and not a child. I feel really bad for this girl. It’s eternally raining in Tokyo-3 as she’s overwhelmed with envy for Shinji’s ever growing sync ratio and the attention he’s getting. Really, he’s as badly off as her, but she’d never let herself be seen as vulnerable enough to ask him for help. He answers the phone for her, telling her it’s her mom. Her mom committed suicide back in Germany, killing the doll she used as a surrogate for Asuka toward the end of her insanity. That’s her step-mom, a nurse her dad had sex with within earshot of Asuka before his mom killed herself. At the hospital. When she was a child.
Asuka’s mounting anger at everyone in Tokyo-3 and the world leads her to launch herself into battle before she has a realistic chance of defeating the Angel. The Angel this week has a new type of weapon in its arsenal. Have I mentioned that Evangelion is the trope namer for mind rape? And that’s why this episode is so hard for me to watch. I’ve only seen it once before this time, and that was too much. Asuka doesn’t deserve this. No one deserves what the universe expects them to withstand in this series. Rei is entirely innocent of Gendo’s plans, but is used as a puppet by the only person she has a connection with. Shinji is a shy boy who doesn’t deserve to watch everyone he loves be destroyed emotionally, day after day. And Asuka is the person least deserving of having their psyche blown wide open by an inhuman killing machine to the Hallelujah chorus.
She pretends to be confident and carefree, but on the inside, she’s dying. She’s been dying a slow emotional death, brought about by a simultaneous desire and hatred for the acceptance of others. This is exemplified by her relationship with Shinji. During her inner-mind narrative sequence, she asks Shinji why he’s there. “Why are you there, damn you! You don’t do anything! You don’t help me! You won’t even hold me! You’re no one! No one! No one! Why won’t you look at me!”
… There is no analysis for this. I just feel awful. And now I have to listen to “Fly Me to the Moon” again. Dammit.