In the third episode ofÂ Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji must fight another Angel and prove himself. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watchÂ Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Trigger Warning: For PTSD, trauma, and bullying.
THIS SHOW IS SO CAUSALLY DISTURBING, JESUS CHRIST.
THEY ARE STILL PUTTING SHINJI THROUGH SCHOOL. Look, I’m going to paraphrase what Ritsuko said in this episode because it’s relevant: I can’t believe Shinji got back in his Eva, and I can’t believe he’s asked to go to school like everything is normal and he didn’t just experience the most traumatic thing in his entire life. The lack of support for these pilots is astounding, y’all. Guess who else is in the same schoolÂ andÂ class as Shinji? REI. Which means she has to be the same age as him, right? HOW IS THIS EVEN HAPPENING?
For what it’s worth, while the writers portray a fairly realistic (but common) school experience, there’s still a willingness to address some of the more uncomfortable aspects of this apocalyptic world. Most of the students in Tokyo-3 are gone, having evacuated the city after the first Angel attack. Those who remain seem restless, as if school is mostly an afterthought to them. Indeed, as their teacher recites the history of the last fifteen years, none of them seemed willing to pay attention, aside from that one student whose name I missed. Is that how adjusted they’ve become to this reality? That the end of HALF THE POPULATION OF THE WORLD is nothing but something that happened long ago? I did appreciate how well the exposition was tied into this episode, allowing us to immerse ourselves into the scenes in the school easily.
(On that noteâ€¦ IÂ amÂ confused about the Second Impact. Did the meteor strike that killed half the world’s population bring about the Angels? Did they follow that? Why was Kensuke so desperate to see what was really going on outside the shelter? Why was there no talk of Angels during the history lesson? Christ, y’all, does this mean that most citizens DON’T EVEN KNOW THAT ANGELS EXIST? That can’t be true, as it was on the news and Kensuke and Toji both saw Shinji piloting the Eva. Bah, I think I’ve gotten this mixed up a bit, but I hope it’s addressed a bit more.
Yet even as we recognize certain character tropes â€“ Kensuke is the nerdy student, obsessed with the war; Toji feels very much like a jock â€“ the writers deliberately tear these tropes down by the end of the episode,Â especiallyÂ for Toji. While the class is mostly impressed that Shinji was chosen to be an Eva pilot, Toji is furious. His sister nearly died because of Shinji’s sloppy fighting, and thus, he takes it out on the poor kid. It was such an awful scene to watch because from Toji’s perspective, I understood his rage. But he was operating under a lot of assumptions of what Shinji’s experience was like, namely that he’d been fully trained and that the fights with the Angels were straightforward battles.
They are hardly anything of the sort. With just three weeks of training under his belt, Shinji is tasked with fightingÂ anotherÂ Angel, one that descends from the sky above Tokyo-3. WHERE DID IT COME FROM? WHY DIDN’T IT ASCEND FROM BENEATH THE OCEAN?Â WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?Â It’s clear to me that Shinji needs a great deal more training, and look, I get that there’s been some sort of problem synchronizing pilots and their Eva. I’m guessing that’s what happened to Rei. NERV is desperate, and Shinji is all they have. Yet that doesn’t mean he’s truly ready! He’s got to learn better combat techniques. At this point, he knows how to shoot at a target consistently. That’s it. So the Angel in this episode nearly kills him and destroys the Eva because he’s unprepared. And whose fault is that? It’s not Shinji’s. He’s a child! He’s being asked to go to schoolÂ andÂ train to be a ruthless defender of humanity. THAT’S A LOT TO ASK A KID.
That’s not even addressing the horrifying ramifications of this kind of life on someone so young and impressionable. There’s no sense of victory at the end of Shinji’s fight with the Angel. While simultaneously protecting Kensuke and Toji, he’s also got to stop the Angel from destroying him. When he lashes out violently, stabbing the Angel in its “eye,” he is consumed with anguish and rage. It’s utterly unsettling to watch, first of all, and I still can’t believe this is happening in theÂ third episode. But there’s another affect that I didn’t expect. Toji, who thought of Shinji as a coward, was inside that cockpit alongside Shinji. He saw how horrifying the experience was and how troubled Shinji was by it. He actually feelsÂ badÂ for attacking him earlier that day.
Yet when he calls to apologize, he just hangs up. Shinji’s phone never got to ring, and Toji keeps his apology to himself.
This show is so messed up, oh my god.
The video for “A Transfer / The Phone That Never Rings” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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