This year at Entropy we’ll be rewatching the legendary Neon Genesis Evangelion. Join us on this tremendous journey through one of the best television series ever made.
We’ll be watching the subtitled versions and discussing them here every week without spoilers for future episodes.
Episode six begins where episode five left us–Shinji’s in danger, his EVA being melted by an intense shot from the Fifth Angel.
They retract him and his EVA back beneath the Geofront and Misato races to him, leaving the Angel uncontested on the surface.
Shinji technically dies for a moment and the LCL filled cockpit massages his heart back to beating, which is a pretty clever and useful little ability to build into the EVA cockpits. It assumes they knew pilots would die, would need to be brought back, and would need to keep fighting.
Which is basically what’s happening in this episode.
Back on the surface, the Fifth Angel begins drilling through the Geofront. NERV throws out a dummy balloon to distract is and test its capabilities, which it quickly destroys. They start using traditional weaponry on the Angel, all to no effect.
Misato calls a strategic meeting. They believe the Angel automatically attacks any target within a certain range. Misato then asks about the AT Field.
Still active. It’s so strong that we can even see the phase shifted space.
Misato describes it as a floating fortress, which feels pretty accurate. This giant blue octahedron. Unlike the previous Angels, there’s nothing remotely anthropomorphic about it. Just flat surfaces, a drill, and an intense energy cannon. They also calculate that the Angel will drill through all 22 defense barriers of the Geofront in roughly ten hours.
They expected this kind of attack to some degree, which is why those barriers exist, but, presumably, they thought it would take an enemy much longer to rip through it.
This also presents an interesting thing yet to be addressed.
Why do the Angels seek out NERV HQ? How do they know where it is? Why don’t they attack, like, anywhere else on the planet?
At the same time, NERV seems to have expected this kind of thing, yes? The Geofront, the EVAs–they all seem to be centered in Tokyo-3–and the fact that NERV exists at all. Whatever the case may be, Commander Ikari seem to have been expecting this.
Back to the strategic meeting–they learn that the chest piece of Unit 01 was badly melted and Shinji was lucky that it held together long enough to keep him alive. A replacement will be ready in about three hours. Shinji has no physical damage but is currently unconscious.
Misato has a plan and she brings it to Commander Ikari and Fuyutsuki. A long range attack from outside the Angel’s presumed range. An incredible force could rip through its AT Field and destroy the Angel.
Ikari asks what the Magi say–if you remember last episode, we hear about Balthazar and Melchior processing data, and those names are the names of the biblical Three Wise Men, or Magi–and two are in favor of the plan with one being in favor of it only under certain conditions. Despite this show of support, their chance of success is less than 10%, so, you know.
But what else are they to do?
Misato’s plan goes into effect. First they requisition the automatic positron rifle prototype from the SSDF, and the SSDF, as has been shown, are not fans of NERV. They’re certainly not fans of them taking a prototype of an incredible weapon. The biggest problem with the plan appears to be the need for power, since disabling or tearing through the Angel’s AT Field would require ridiculous amounts of energy. But Misato’s plan is to draw energy from the entire country of Japan and feed it into the rifle.
The news announces a nationwide blackout, which, once again, shows a strong collaboration between media and government. Or, maybe collaboration is the wrong word. The government controls the media that goes out.
It’s not often discussed, but this is a dystopian nightmare as well as a mecha story. The narrative is fixed on one aspect, but the fact that NERV seems to have such massive sway over Japan’s government and that they essentially write the news reports of their missions–it’s troubling.
But maybe it’s necessary. I mean, they are fighting giant monsters with amazing power. A civilian protest may cause a lot of trouble.
Probably I disagree with that, but it’s an interesting through, but not one I’ll be discussing today.
The power supply for the positron rifle should be complete at 11pm, giving NERV only one hour before the Angel breaches the Geofront.
To go along with the weapon, one of the EVAs will be wielding a shield that allows for an estimated 17 seconds of protection from the Angel.
So one EVA will fire and one will guard from the top of Mount Futagoyama at midnight. They call it the Operation Yashima.
The main question now is whether or not the pilots will be ready.
As soon as Shinji wakes up, Rei brings him the operation schedule as well as food.
Remember, he died today, even if only for a few seconds, and now he’s being ordered to get back in the EVA and fight within a few hours. In fact, he needs to be up and in his EVA within an hour.
Shinji and Rei have a few important conversations during this episode. They speak more here than they do in any previous episode, and this whole episode can be seen as a continuation of the previous episode. While episode five dealt primarily with Rei, this one focuses more on their relationship. Here’s the first of their conversations from the episode, which takes place immediately after Rei tells him about the mission schedule.
Shinji: Do I have to get into it again?
Rei: Yes, that’s right.
Shinji: I don’t want to. You can say that because you haven’t had any awful experiences inside it. I don’t want to have that kind of experience again.
Rei: Why don’t you stay in bed?
Shinji: Stay in bed?
Rei: I’ll pilot Unit 01. Dr Akagi is ready to rewrite the personal data of Unit 01.
Shinji: Ritsuko is…
Rei: Then, I’m going. Captain Katsuragi and Dr Akagi are waiting for me. Goodbye.
She leaves Shinji in bed and exits.
There’s a coldness and hardness to Rei. But we see her answering questions here, which is something she didn’t do in the previous episode, which was just a few hours before this moment. She’s softer and gentler here, but she has a sort of distance and roboticness to her. She’s trying to comfort Shinji, I think, by telling him to stay in bed and rest, that he doesn’t need to fight. But it’s hard to say that Shinji feels this way about the conversation.
If we remember, in their last conversation, she slapped him for his distrust of his father. There was so much tension and distance between them, and Rei seemed completely uncaring. It wouldn’t be incorrect or unusual for Shinji to misinterpret these words as a slight against him.
It may be what gets him into Unit 1.
Shinji fears abandonment. He just wants someone to be proud of him. He finds this, in certain ways, through piloting the EVA. He sees it, rightly or wrongly, as a road to human connection. And I think that’s true for him, though it’s unfortunate that this seems to be the only way he can find a home and companionship and people who care about him.
But Shinji doesn’t want to disappoint anyone. Even Rei.
We cut away from NERV to Toji, Aida, and a number of other students sitting on the mountain, waiting for the battle.
This shows that information leaks, even under an autocratic government like this one.
Despite all Misato’s plans and all the preparations NERV does, Ritsuko still has no idea if the positron rifle will even fire when it’s packed with all this energy. No one’s ever tested it with this level of power, and, you know, it’s still a prototype, so it’s not exactly field ready or even in its final stage of development.
Shinji is the gunner during the mission because his sync level is higher than Rei’s and she’ll be shielding him from any Angel attacks.
One thing I love about Neon Genesis Evangelion, and at least one reason why it works so well, is how grounded it remains in the world it presents. This is a mission requiring a great deal of accuracy, so it makes sense that Shinji’s sync rate would be the deciding factor. And even though NERV’s been preparing for an Angel attack, they’re still not really ready for them. Sure, they have the EVAs, but they didn’t expect one like this. They’re scrambling to develop a plan and put it into motion before the Angel breaks through the Geofront and destroys NERV HQ. They need to trust teenagers with humanity’s fate. Everything is untested, ill prepared, duct taped together, but there are no other options. Either they succeed or the Angels destroy humanity.
Or at least that’s the assumption. That the Angels want to destroy the earth and humanity. Though, if we look back, they’ve never attacked anyone who didn’t attack them or who wasn’t directly related to NERV, which is worth considering, I think.
Humanity is fighting Angels. Killing them.
No one seems to be asking why, and maybe it doesn’t matter.
Anyrate, on top of Mount Futagoyama, Rei and Shinji have another brief conversation.
Shinji: We may die.
Rei: Why do you say that? You won’t die…because I will protect you.
Time ticks by as NERV prepares the mission. They have another conversation.
Shinji: Why do you pilot it?
Rei: Because of my ties?
Rei: Yes, ties.
Shinji: With my father?
Rei: With everyone.
Shinji: You’re so strong, Ayanami.
Rei: I have nothing else.
Shinji: Nothing else?
Rei: It’s time. Let’s go. Goodbye.
We learn a lot about Rei in very brief snatches of conversation. But it’s more than we’ve learned about her so far. I mean, the previous episode gave us her background, but we never knew what her motivation was. Finally, we get something, though it’s hard to know exactly how much this means to her. Her connections with everyone. Things we haven’t seen, but she must feel. Despite her distance and aloofness, she feels very much a part of humanity. A part of something greater. Something that encompasses everyone.
Shinji’s still very much looking at Rei as an extension of himself. Shinji, for better or worse, is a pilot largely because of his father. He thinks it must be the same for Rei. Some person or something deeply personal is driving her. But it’s actually something very large. Something larger than herself or NERV or Commander Ikari.
Yet, at the same time, we see a clear similarity between the two. Rei believes she has nothing else. Maybe she sees this as her only way to staying connected with humanity. Her only connection is NERV and the EVA and her ability to fight.
Whatever the case may be, we see the damage in these two kids. We also see them trying to bridge the gaps between them. Find ways through the immense walls they’ve created to protect themselves.
Rei wants Shinji to trust her. Shinji wants to simply know Rei. Maybe in understanding her, he’ll understand himself and his own motivations.
Then comes the elaborate process of pulling energy from all over Japan and feeding it into the rifle. As Shinji prepares to fire, the Angel also takes its shot, which leads to an interesting moment.
The immense power of the two shots cause the energy beams to bend and twist and stray off target. While the Angel’s shot is probably not as powerful as Shinji’s–otherwise it would have ripped through him before–it’s clearly strong enough to cause a serious distortion in space and time. Its energy field causes Shinji’s to bend, and vice versa.
The important thing is that Shinji misses and now they need to cool the rifle and pull all that energy again, which takes some time.
However, the Angel’s already unleashing its next attack while it simultaneously breaks through the Geofront and its drill is now in Tokyo-3. And it shoots. And Rei in Unit 00 jump in front of Shinji and protect him with the shield. The beam quickly starts melting the shield and NERV is freaking out because they still need another seventeen seconds to recharge the rifle, and the shield and Rei may not last that long.
But Shinji takes the next shot the moment it’s possible and it rips right through the Angel. Without time to celebrate, he rushes to Unit 00, which is collapsing. The EVA’s badly melted and Shinji rips out its cockpit to try to save Rei.
He then jumps out and opens the still burning hot cockpit, matching the actions of his father.
Rei wakes up to Shinji climbing into the cockpit in tears.
Don’t say, ‘I have nothing else. Don’t say a sad word like goodbye when we go.
He breaks down and cries beside her after saying these words.
Rei: Why are you crying? Sorry, I don’t know how to express myself in situations like this.
Shinji: You should smile.
Images flood Rei and she thinks of Commander Ikari, is reminded of what he did to save her a month ago.
And she smiles.
These two deeply damaged kids are finding each other. In each other, they’re finding connection and maybe understanding. The distance between them is still chasmically large, but this is a first step. It may not heal them but it may comfort them.
A way to find hope in a war against Angels.