Mark Watches ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’: Episode 21 – The Birth of NERV / He was aware that he was still a child.

In the twenty-first episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, I am pain. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Trigger Warning: For suicide.

I know I’ve done a list-style review for this show already, and I have to do another one, friends. I have to because this episode is so ridiculously dense that I don’t even know how I’m going to acknowledge all of the information sent my way. THERE IS SO MUCH OF IT, and I am a mess. A MESS.

  • Look, I didn’t go into “The Birth of NERV” disbelieving what I was told, but I still thought the opening scene was something other than it was. Very plainly, Kaji stated that this was his last mission and that it was oddly appropriate that his NERV I.D. card was red, like the color of blood. There you go, Mark. There’s everything you need. And yet I assumed this wasn’t going to be the end at all. Maybe he’d move on to something else. Maybe he’d stop working for NERV, but would continue working for the government.
  • HAHAHAHA nope.
  • I am just now realizing how Misato’s emotions play out in this episode. When she’s told of Kaji’s possible guilt, she accepts it. She’s reserved, almost as if she knows the inevitable: this is it for Kaji. That’s not a shocking suggestion because she did know that Kaji was spying. Yet she never puts up any sort of fight or expresses anything other than obedience until the final scene of the episode.
  • It wasn’t until this episode that I realized how underdeveloped Fuyutsaki was in the narrative. Up to this point, that is. And you know, I think it’s a brilliant choice because then this episode packs a greater punch because of it. We learn of his past, his opposition to SEELE, and the reason why he’s so close to Gendo Ikari, and EVERYTHING HURTS.
  • HE KNEW YUI IKARI AND VERY WELL AND HE WORKED WITH HER AND HE ADMIRED HER AND THIS IS THE FIRST CHANCE FOR US TO SEE HER LIKE THIS AND I AM DONE.
  • Hey, who else was surprised that Gendo was still basically a jerk fifteen years ago? LITERALLY NO ONE AT ALL. Though I think it’s interesting that even in a professional capacity, Fuyutsuki was perplexed that Yui saw anything in the same man who had randomly asked to be released from jail and put in Fuyutsuki’s care. Admittedly, he doesn’t make a good impression. However, I think the episode – as sparse as it is at times – does show us that Fuyutsuki comes to respect Gendo even if he doesn’t always understand him.
  • I didn’t find it difficult to follow the timeline between the present and the past, for the record. And it helped that the backstory still happened in chronological order for the most part OR was grounded by a flash to the present time.
  • SO: Fuyutsuki meets Yui and adores her and values her work. Then he meets Gendo, doesn’t like him, and is shocked to find out the man is dating Yui. Then: THE SECOND IMPACT. Then: THE YEAR OF HELL. Somehow, my imagination for the “Year of Hell” is worse than whatever this show could have put on the screen.
  • I also thought it was significant that Fuyutsuki was  unaware of the truth behind the Second Impact until he was sent down to Antarctica by the UN. He was not complicit in what NERV set up, at least not initially. I had imagined that he was there the whole time, plotting out the Human Instrumentality Project from the beginning. But it was really Gendo who knew more than anyone else, or at least more than Fuyutsuki did. Why was he there before Fuyutsuki? What did he know? OH GOD, I WASN’T READY FOR THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION.
  • I think the best aspect of this extended flashback is in the writers’ decision not to limit everything to just Fuyutsuki’s story. By giving us a chance to see Misato in the aftermath of surviving the Second Impact, we’re able to better understand her current state. Y’all, she was aphasic for TWO YEARS. Two years!!!
  • Yet I admit that getting a chance to see Gendo and Fuyutsuki in the context of a fuller history was rewarding. Like, I finally understood that SEELE and the Committee aren’t exactly the same thing. They’re not necessarily interchangeable, though this episode makes it much more clear that the Committee is just a part of SEELE. Who are… doing something. With the Dead Seas Scrolls. Which predicted the Angels and is the basis for the Human Instrumentality Project. Which is… well I don’t know what that is yet. But the open discussion of SEELE – as well as the disturbing depictions of their interrogation in the present time – helped me to cement my understanding of them. They run NERV, which was called Gehrin initially, and they’ve been following whatever weird schedule is in the Dead Sea Scrolls. This explains how Gendo was able to be in the right place at the right time in multiple instances in the past! So what convinced him to do SEELE’s bidding? Why does he believe in this so fully?
  • Which is interesting because in 2003, Fuyutsuki threatens disclosure about the truth of the Second Impact. Which means he wasn’t sold by SEELE’s plans. Why? What are they? Why wouldn’t he risk this??? He knew about Adam at this point (since he calls the first Evangelion “Adam), so why was he so ready to be a whistleblower?
  • WHAT IS THE NEW FUTURE FOR MANKIND THAT GENDO WANTS TO CREATE?
  • Oh my god, Ritsuko’s mom. OH MY GOD.
  • OH MY GOD, THE FIRST TIME MISATO AND RITSUKO MEET. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL, I SHIP THEM FOREVER, THIS EPISODE ALONE HAS CEMENTED THIS SHIP IN ME UNTIL THE END OF TIME.
  • NO. YUI OFFERED HERSELF AS AN EXPERIMENT FOR HER SON’S SAKE.
  • HELP ME, THIS IS TOO MUCH. SHINJI’S MOTHER SACRIFICED FOR THE GREATER GOOD. SHINJI DOES THE SAME A DECADE LATER. H E L P.
  • So, y’all, there’s so much here about Yui that’s left unspoken, and yet, I feel like this episode SHOUTED AT ME in regards to her impact on everything that’s happened since the beginning of the show. First of all, if she was “wiped out” during the Contact experiment thing, is it not possible that that was really her soul that Shinji spoke to in the last episode???
  • And once Rei is introduced alongside the reveal that Gendo had a relationship with Naoko Akagi, my brain simply couldn’t handle this episode anymore. Admittedly, this episode asks me to take in a lot of information! Gendo had an affair with this woman and appeared to use her for… what? Out of grief once his wife died? When Rei innocently reveals that name that Gendo has for Naoko when he’s not around her, it sounded just like the man in the present who called his son childish.
  • So she strangles Rei and says she’s replaceable, but only after noting that Rei reminds her of Yui.
  • Oh.
  • Oh.
  • OH MY GOD, REI DIED BUT WAS “REPLACEABLE.”
  • How many Reis are there? Is she a clone? A creation? A creepy version of his wife in a child/teenager’s body? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?
  • So now we know why Naoko is no longer around: she killed herself after strangling Rei.
  • This show needs to stop doing this to me.
  • EXCEPT THEN IT GETS WORSE.
  • WHO WAS KAJI MEETING WITH? WHO SHOT HIM???
  • WHAT WAS KAJI DOING FOR GENDO THAT WOULD PISS OFF SEELE SO BAD?
  • NO, MISATO CRYING WHEN SHE REALIZES KAJI IS DEAD
  • N O.
  • OH MY GOD, THE FINAL SCENE OF THIS EPISODE IS LIKE FIFTY PUNCHES TO THE HEART.
  • I find it deliberate that this ends with Shinji realizing out loud that he is a child. He is out of his league here emotionally, and yet, he’s expected to be an “adult” in every other way. It breaks my heart.
  • This whole show breaks my heart.

The video for “The Birth of NERV” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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