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.
- Episode One
- Episode Two
- Episode Three
- Episode Four
- Episode Five
- Episode Six
- Episode Seven
- Episode Eight
- Episode Nine
- Episode Ten
- Episode Eleven
We’ll be watching the subtitled versions and discussing them here every week without spoilers for future episodes.
Miracles have value only when we make them happen.
The episode begins at the Second Impact, where Misato is in a pod that looks similar to the ones used to pilot the EVAs. Her father put here there. To save her.
We see what the Second Impact actually was, finally. We hear the screams of an Angel, its wings unfolding into the sky for thousands of miles. And the red spreading from those wings.
Misato’s father dies there, along with so much else. Along with everything in the region. It melted the pole, the seas rose, and much of the earth drown.
Misato was literally there during the Second Impact. She watched it happen from a pod floating in the ocean, now bled red, absent of life.
She was alone. The only survivor of the Second Impact.
And this episode is about that.
Why do we fight?
Why do we live?
Who are we?
Why are we?
I mean, really, the whole show is about those questions, but this episode gives special attention to them again.
It’s an interesting time in the show. The first six episodes are so dark and bizarre and opaque. Then Asuka shows up and throws everyone off balance. Last episode and this episode are really where Evangelion finds its sea legs again. It begins to fold back on those questions and concerns that started the series while incorporating the energy and very different perspective that Asuka offers.
Our first look at the present is of Misato’s scar, showing a direct line between the Second Impact and the present day. It’s a visual connection for us and, for Misato, a physical one.
The Second Impact changed the world, and it shaped Misato.
We also discover, through Aida, that Misato’s been promoted to Major, making her third in command at NERV HQ, and, for this episode, the commanding officer at NERV.
Ritsuko: He was definitely born to pilot the EVA.
Misato: Although he doesn’t wish to be like that. He wouldn’t be happy to know that.
Ritsuko’s analysis from the harmonics test reveals, in her mind, Shinji’s true talent. What makes him special. His sync rate with his EVA is unprecedented.
It’s still well behind, Asuka, who’s quick to remind everyone after Ritsuko praises Shinji, but he’s developing rapidly, becoming more and more in sync with his EVA every day.
And, of course, Asuka forces the attention back on herself. No praise goes unnoticed by her. She grasps after it until it shines in her direction.
What we learn from this is that Asuka really is the best pilot of the three, but that Shinji’s connection may be different.
Asuka’s known she was going to be a pilot for a long time. She prepared for it. She lived for it.
Shinji, even after all this time, is relatively new to his EVA and all of this.
Misato drives him home.
Shinji: Congratulations on your promotion.
Misato: Thank you. But, to tell the truth, I’m not that happy.
Shinji: I understand. When I was praised, I wasn’t happy either. It only made Asuka angry. I wonder why she got angry. What made her angry?
Misato: Does it bother you?
Misato: It’s because you always consider what others think.
It’s an interesting connection happening here. They both receive praise but mostly feel uncomfortable. This isn’t unusual. You’ve probably felt this way many times. And it’s not surprising that Shinji feels nothing when he’s given positive affirmation.
But Misato seems like a person who would take great satisfaction in being told she’s doing her job well. Especially since we’ve observed her long enough to know that the rest of her life is kind of a mess. She focuses on her job and does it well. Not just well–she’s incredible at it. She’s resourceful and strong. She cares about those under her and she’s goal oriented.
You’d think being promoted would make her happy, or at least confirm, for her, that she’s excelling.
But she’s more distant and despondent than we’ve yet seen her, which is interesting.
Especially when we connect this dialogue to the one I copied above it.
She believes Shinji would hate to know that he was born to pilot an EVA.
That’s not especially surprising, given his relationship to NERV and the EVA. But perhaps the same could be said for Misato.
She was born to fight Angels, and in finding that confirmation–through her promotion and the trust of Commander Ikari–is actually a bummer for her. A confirmation that she is not who she wishes she was.
That she was made for violence.
There’s a surprise party for Misato at their apartment, planned by Aida. Hikari, Toji, and Aida are there. Though the part is underway, Shinji’s quiet and pensive. Rei didn’t come and Kaji’s not there yet, though he was invited. As Asuka goes on about Kaji, she and Toji fall into bickering, which continues while Shinji and Misato have a quiet conversation.
Misato: Is it still difficult for you to be in situations like this?
Shinji: No, but I’m not used to being around so many people. Why’re we making such a fuss? Promotion…it’s because your work is recognized by others, right?
Misato: Well, probably.
Shinji: That’s why we’re celebrating. But you don’t look happy.
Misato: No, I don’t mean that I’m totally unhappy. I’m a little happy. But that’s not why I’m here.
Shinji: Then why’d you join NERV?
Misato: Well, it’s been a long time. I’ve forgotten.
This dialogue is a little clunky, but it shows how deep in his head Shinji is. He’s disturbed by the party, at least a little bit. And he quickly realises he misspoke when he asks why they’re making a fuss. So he tries to shift into a happier mood, only to run into Misato’s flippant regard for her promotion. She, realising that her unhappiness is affecting Shinji, tries to shift into a happier state, but she’s bogged down by what’s really on her mind. But she conceals this from Shinji, saying she forgot why she joined NERV.
A lot of emotions are happening here. We see it in their body language and their expressions.
Misato obviously lying. Shinji trying to understand, while also giving support.
Both of them trying to comfort one another but missing one another by so much that it’s almost painful.
Kaji and Ritsuko show up to congratulate Misato, and Kaji, once again, throws Misato off balance. Asuka and Misato both react to him arriving with Ritsuko with jealousy.
We transition to Commander Ikari and Fuyutsuki at the South Pole. The ship they’re on carries an enormous and long wrapped object.
Fuyutsuki: No lifeforms may exist in this dead world of Antarctica. Or rather, we should call it Hell.
Ikari: Nevertheless, we humans are standing here as living beings.
Fuyutsuki: Because we’re protected by the power of science.
Ikari: Science is humanity’s power.
Fuyutsuki: That arrogance caused the tragedy 15 years ago. The Second Impact. And this is the result…This punishment is too great, considering our crime. It’s like the Dead Sea.
Ikari: Yes, this is a pure world without the impurity of the original sin.
Fuyutsuki: I prefer a world where people live, no matter how smeared with sin it is.
Philosophy, which is something Neon Genesis Evangelion is known for. It’s a mix of bleak despair and hope.
Fuyutsuki talks of the dead and Ikari reminds him of life.
Fuyutsuki talks of hubris and Ikari reminds him of hope.
Fuyutsuki talks of the devastation and Ikari tells him that Antarctica is now pure, free from sin.
And Fuyutsuki ends the dialogue with a focus on people, in all their fallibility, and how he prefers it to purity.
Because the purity Ikari’s talking about is a bleak one. There’s no sin because there’s no life.
A baptism, if you will, of annihilation. The Angel spread its wings and destroyed a continent, melting the ice, raising the seas.
Their dialogue is interrupted by the tenth Angel in orbit above the Indian Ocean.
It’s in space and it appears unlike the previous Angels. It’s almost like a ship with massive eyes. Their satellite makes contact and the Angel uses its AT-Field to destroy it, then drop something like a bomb down to the earth. It’s dropping them systematically, trying to find its target, which, we can assume, is NERV.
If it lands a strike, NERV and Tokyo-3 will be flooded by the Pacific Ocean.
The Magi unanimously recommend evacuation, so Misato, the commanding officer, sends out the civilians, and then makes a plan to stop the Angel.
Even though the success rate is 0.0001%, Misato still chooses to go for it, telling the pilots that they need a miracle, and miracles only happen if they make them happen.
Because of this, the three pilots are volunteers, able to evacuate. Of course, none of them do–what else would they do? Misato tells them to write a will but none of them bother, believing that they’ll survive. Misato promises them steak and they get excited.
But the moment she walks away, we discover that Asuka and Shinji are pretending for Misato.
We also learn an interesting generational difference between the pilots and Misato. Because she’s off the Second Impact, she’s used to a much poorer world. A world of danger and scarcity. But the world and humanity have recovered enough that the pilots don’t feel that scarcity. Steak, to them, isn’t a treat. It’s just like any other meal.
The plan is decided upon and Magi gives them an area of ground to cover. If the Angel attacks at any point within the area, then they all lose. They all die.
The predicted area is massive, and the EVAs need to catch the Angel by hand in order to stop it.
Due to the Angel blocking signals, they can’t reach Commander Ikari and the Magi can’t guide the EVAs to where they must go. They can only show potentials, which means the pilots must use their own eyes to catch and stop the Angel.
As the pilots make their way to their EVAs, we get Shinji, once again, pressing Asuka for answers.
Shinji: Why do you pilot the EVA?
Asuka: It’s obvious. To show my talents to the world.
Shinji: To show you exist?
Asuka: Something like that. Why don’t you ask that girl?
Shinji: I’ve asked her before.
Asuka: You two sure get along well.
Shinji: It’s not like that.
Asuka: How about you, Shinji?
Shinji: I don’t know.
Asuka: You don’t know? Are you stupid?
Shinji: I might be.
Rei: You’re really stupid.
Asuka essentially confirms that her goal is a personal one. She cares about how she is perceived and the reward is the praise.
Which, as we’ve seen, is so extremely foreign to Shinji, who’s uncomfortable with praise.
But then Shinji turns the question in an interesting way. He wonders if it’s not simply so Asuka can show how amazing she is, but to show the world she exists.
Which is a peculiar and interesting thing to think about. And it’s worth looking at Asuka’s behavior with that question in mind.
But Asuka deflects, begins teasing Shinji about Rei and talking about Rei as if she’s not there.
Even after all this time, even after all these battles with Angels, Shinji still has no answer as to why he fights the Angels.
Back at HQ, Misato tells the other NERV officers to evacuate, but, of course, no one does. They worry about the pilots but Misato tells them not to:
The EVA is the safest place.
It’s an interesting sentence, considering what we’ve seen the EVAs do. Resilient–absolutely. But we’ve seen it go berserk and rip an Angel apart, consuming it.
It seems difficult to reconcile that with the idea that the Angels are a safe place.
The battle unfolds and, you know, it goes as planned.
This episode, like so many others, isn’t really about the Angel battle. It’s about the people who must fight the Angels. The people who hope to survive through all this.
The battle itself takes very little time. Even on screen, it’s almost an afterthought. I think the pressure on Anno to create a monster of the week show is what leads to this kind of structure.
It undercuts the fear we should about the Angels and the impending apocalypse. It’s so easy to kill the Angels, especially now that there are three pilots. We lose a lot of that early desperation.
I think Anno would have preferred to just have a handful of Angel battles rather than the endless stream of Angels coming their way.
But that’s a different discussion.
The battle’s over and Commander Ikari actually chooses to speak directly to them. First, he congratulates Misato on her successful operation.
And then he asks if the pilot of Unit 01 is there. This throws Shinji off balance and he stutters a Yes.
I’ve heard the story. Well done, Shinji.
To be honest, I got a little choked up there.
Those three words. Well done, Shinji. That’s all it took.
He’s a brutal father who has shown such little regard for Shinji for his entire life that even this simple congratulations–and it really is about as simple and understated as possible–feels like so much.
And we see how it hits Shinji. He’s reeling from it.
This underscores how damaged Shinji is and how terrible Ikari has been to him. So withholding with kindness that even just a verbal pat on the back feels like hope, like love.
It’s psychological abuse, to put it bluntly, and it hurts to watch. But we’re so invested in Shinji that even we get sucked in by it. By this little gesture.
Then Misato, as promised, takes the pilots wherever they want to go, though she worries about money.
And they take her to a simple ramen stand, because they know she’s poor.
It’s a really touching thing, I think.
Misato protects them. She takes care of them.
And they take care of her, too. We see that clearly in this episode. From the way they choose to believe in her command even though they knew her plan was almost hopeless. The way they beam at the offer of steak, even though they couldn’t care less. And here, the way they comfort her and protect her.
But I want to leave the episode with these two brief moments between Shinji and Misato without comment.
I think they’re worth thinking about. Worth keeping in mind.
Till next time.
Shinji: When I heard my father’s words, I found for the first time it’s nice to be praised. And I also found out that I pilot EVA to hear those words from my father.
Misato: Shinji-kun, you asked why I joined NERV yesterday. My father threw himself into his research…his only dream. I couldn’t forgive him. Rather, I hated him.
Shinji: Just like my father.
Misato: He didn’t care about me, my mother or our family. People said that he was sensitive…but he was so weak that he was always trying to escape from reality, such as family. He was like a kid. I agreed with my mother when she divorced him, since she was always in tears. My father seemed shocked but he laughed at himself, saying it was his fault. He saved me in exchange for his life…because of the Second Impact.
I’m confused as to whether I loved or hated him. But I’m sure that I have to defeat the Angels that caused the Second Impact. I joined NERV to accomplish that. It might be that I was trying to avenge my father in order to be free from my father’s binding spell.