Saturday, February 22, 2014

Neon Genesis Evangelion - A Psychoanalytical Trip (History/Setting/Theme)

Hello again, everyone. Hope you're doing well. I've been working on this on and off for the past week or so and I've got a lot of projects going as I'm sure you're aware (as well as some Starbow (an sc2 mod) to play) so the other parts might take a while to come out. But without further ado:

Neon Genesis Evangelion

     Neon Genesis Evangelion. What a show. Holy shit what a show. For those of you who haven't watched this show yet, please do so now, as there are going to be spoilers in the coming posts and major in depth analysis not only of the characters, but also of the ending episodes and those that lead up to it. THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING: SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED HERE (and in the next few related posts).

Production and History of Evangelion

     Neon Genesis Evangelion: An anime classic. Created in 1994 by Gainax and written/directed by Hideaki Anno (Fun Fact: I later learned Hideaki was also the lead animator in Miyazaki's "NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind". Another movie that you should definitely watch. Fuck, just go watch all of Miyazaki's movies while you're at it, they're all classics).
Hideaki Anno
     NGE was created in the midst of an extremely poor time for the people at Gainax, who had barely any budget to create any anime at all. Hideaki wanted to create an anime "with a soul", and when talking with a representative of King Records, he was promised a time slot for "something, anything". There had been a previous anime that was in Hideaki's mind named "Aoki Uru", or "Blue Uru", which eventually failed, but it had an important theme that was kept when Hideaki began working on Evangelion. "Not running away" was this very aspect. Not running away from your fears, your own self, other people, the life you have, responsibilities. Hideaki wanted to include all of these into the anime he next created. Perhaps he drew this theme from his own life, from his so-called "depression period" which took its course over 4 long years before and during the creation of Evangelion. Many speculate this to be his reasoning for this anime's dark turn at the end, which, in my opinion, is probably true..however, there were also budgeting problems occurring in Gainax which resulted in an increased amount of still frames and less "animation" (think of the last 2 episodes).


Tokyo-3 on top
Geofront & Nerv HQ on bottom
     So we start off in the year 2015 in Tokyo-3, a fortified military city meant for defense against humanity's number one threat: Angels. Angels are huge, "beings" which come in various forms. One comes in the form of a human, one in the form of a 3-d diamond shape, one in the form of a huge spider, among many others. It varies quite a bit throughout the show.
The 9th Angel named "Matarael".
Its eye secretes acid that can melt through protective
layering in order to reach Nerv's headquarters
 The city defends itself against these beings by retracting its buildings back into the ground when Angels appear, and Evangelions ascend to the surface. These Evangelions are piloted all by 14 year old children whose mothers have died very soon after the Second Impact. Just for some background: The Second Impact is an event that happened in the year 2000 where a massive explosion happened in Antarctica, moving the Earth off its own axis thus creating very severe climate changes around the world. Each mother's soul is extracted out of the body and placed into each Evangelion where the mother's daughter or son will pilot it. This enables the daughter or son to have a strong synchronization rate with the Evangelion and thereby produce the best results in defeating the Angels.
Piloted by Shinji Ikari
 Up above you see the Geofront. This particular place houses Nerv's headquarters underneath the city of Tokyo-3. Solar panels line the waters at the top and provide natural lighting down below the surface. To my recollection, nothing at all is said about the Geofront in the show, so for the most part it's unimportant. However, a thought just came to me: it could be alluding to the theme of the show, which I guess I'll talk about a little bit here. The Geofront, placed underneath Tokyo-3 seems to symbolize that there is much, much more to what you observe with just your eyes. All you see is the surface of a person, not what goes through their mind or what lies beneath beneath the skin. The surface could be completely different from each person's unique Geofront, and nobody would know. Nobody is going to know unless you open it up for all to see and observe. And most people, from my experience, tend to cover this up as well as how they truly feel in order to avoid conflict. However, quite the opposite happens. What we're faced with in this show is an increasing amount of Angels forcing their way to the Geofront, trying to pry out some sort of understanding of why Nerv and the Human race is so defensive. Hideaki might be saying that even if we create all these barriers between our true feelings and other people's feelings, we just get more and more people trying to prod at us, and eventually they'll break through. This is one of the reasons why "The Human Instrumentality Project" is a thing in this show, which I'll talk more about down below.


Theme: the subject of a talk, a piece of writing, a person's thoughts, or an exhibition; a topic.
     Just in case anybody was unsure of what a "theme" exactly was, there it is. So you might be asking "what is the subject of Evangelion, exactly?" Well, let's take a look at what the show has to offer: we've got middle school students piloting robots which fight these monstrous beasts called Angels, a gigantic fortified city, deep seeded problems in each characters' psyche, along with some minor romance mixed in. Are all of these the themes of Evangelion? I'd say, yes, they definitely are. Near the end, really close near the end, we see all of these themes (yes, even the seemingly pointless romance) tie in together and creates this really remarkable, emotionally booming media. Evangelion touches on the term "separation anxiety" which is often seen in children (think of babies/children crying when parents leave them with a baby-sitter, or whatever) and some people who are afraid to be alone. Evangelion says "No, it's not just children and some people, but all of mankind who have this. We are social animals." and takes it one step further when Seele (the head corporation) initiates "The Human Instrumentality Project", which ends up being an extremely large part of the plot and conclusion.
Human Instrumentality Project begins
This Human Instrumentality Project addresses this very issue of human loneliness and separation anxiety. "What if there were no misunderstandings? What if there was just one "you" and not different perceptions of yourself in other peoples' minds? What if nobody ever felt loneliness?" These are just some of the issues that Evangelion begins to answer when draws near its end and ones that I'll be going over in the later blog posts.
Hope you enjoyed reading. Next time I'll be writing about the characters, their development throughout the show, and their creation by the people at Gainax. Probably some other stuff I'll spew onto the paper, too, but we'll see. See you next time.

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