Monday, July 11, 2011

The Trolling of Evangelion: The Bad

Before we start this extremely late post, take a look at what I wanted in the previous review: Asuka being awesome!

Say you're welcome to Taylor, who made the cuts for us.

That being said, as good of execution that Evangelion has, it has some serious problems. They're myriad and quite irritating.

All these problems really have one root trouble: Hideaki Anno, the writer/creator of Evangelion.

Hideaki Anno, it's said, wrote a lot of his four years of depression into Evangelion, which(let's get real) is a courageous and noble thing to do. In an age where people
write crap for a check this man obviously had something to communicate and did his level best to do so. However, there's a level of detachment that's required for a writer. The more personal a project, the less personal you have to be about it. With the little experience I have of writing I've found that if you get too personal in your writing it suffers, which Anno definitely has. He's made the statement that Evangelion is the only truly original thing in anime, and that his remake is one of the most necessary things of our time.

Come again? Really? No wonder you picked the name Evangelion, which (assuming that they picked the name correctly, more on that below), means good news (which is what Gospel means, BTW's). He really appears to think that this is the honest to goodness truth. He focused on telling the truth, as opposed to a story. And I can guarantee that when people do that the story suffers, because they're no longer telling a story but preaching from their self-made pulpit. When G.K. Chesterton did it back in the day it wasn't cool then, and I can assure you that it's not cool now.

Before all you Evangelion fans say that I'm being unfair, read the rest of what I've written. Honestly, you guys bicker and troll as badly as Twilight fans.

The Symbols Don't Mean Anything
You remember this funny little sign?

If you don't you obviously weren't paying attention to any of this show. The constant use of crosses, the references to Original Sin, the Lance of Longinus, and (possibly) Adam, Lilith, and Eve?

Admitted to be thrown in for the hell of it by the creators to make shock and make Evangelion seem "edgy". Now this might work on a Japanese person, whose culture isn't pervaded by these symbols, but it's a damn shame that one of the strongest visual symbols in any anime wasn't actually supposed to mean anything! This entire time I was watching the anime and trying to piece together what in the hell was going on with the crosses. What a let down, what wasted potential. Instead of saying something, they said something worse than nothing: pretending to say something. The same applies to the Lance of Longinus. No reason it was there, it was just a name to shock people. Why one earth do something like that? At least they were consistent, right?

I guess they deserve a point for that.

And then there's this issue about Lilith. Now, this world appears to be operating out of our world, so forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't Lilith an eater of children and an overall nasty bitch? The biblical equivalent of a succubus? Someone who screws devils? And she's the mother of all life?


Jeez, you can't think about this show too hard, otherwise you get a blood clot to the brain, the symbols don't line up. But that's what happens when the writers are sloppy and rely upon hype instead of substance to support a show. If you want to communicate that in order to get past depression you need to stop running back to the impression of the mother that we all have in our brains and to rely upon where we are in the present instead then do so, but DON'T USE LILITH! That says some rather nasty things about humanity that I don't think the writers of the show would have wanted to say, if they were thinking.

On the other hand, having Lilith, the evil mother figure, being the "you can't go back home" person is pretty apropos. I just think they could have picked someone who wasn't a demon, or became a demon, whatever version of the myth you're using. All involve her being evil to the core, regardless.

The Main Characters

I can't begin to tell you how much I hate Shinji Ikari. This character is so beyond pitiful, so... Baka-Raptor is more eloquent than I. Far more. Obviously Shinji represents Anno in the strictest way possible. A 14 year old boy is a pretty awkward age, and I can tell you that being depressed is a pretty damn awkward thing to experience. How're you supposed to tell everyone that when you say fine you actually mean that you'd rather the entire world go burn in a hole, yourself burning the worst?

See? Awkward.

The problem is that Shinji is so unlikeable and pitiful that he doesn't come off as a real person in the slightest degree, because he's not complex enough. Every person has good and bad points, and when it's obvious that your main character has no good points to speak of you have a flat character, not a deep and complex one, which is what Shinji could have been. If they'd shown that Shinji had redeemable qualities his shortcomings would have become relate-able. I mean, I like Simon from Gurren Lagann, I like Peter Parker, and those guys can whine like none other. I mean, really, you ever read a Spider-Man comic by Paul Jenkins? Spidey can whine. But that's balanced by Spider-Man being an awesome hero who really is trying to do the right thing. Same with Simon.

But Shinji? He's just a sack of crap. No one likes a sack of crap.

And then there's Gendo, the father. It's the exact same problem. There's literally nothing to sympathize with inside of him, not even his love for his wife. Because if someone is willing to burn the world so his beloved can come back it's obviously not love but selfishness to such a degree that I find it disgusting. Again, if we saw that Gendo actually had a good bone in his body somewhere I wouldn't have minded his flaws. But instead the character becomes a stand-in for Anno's foibles. And that's disrespectful to the story, which would have been better if they'd actually thought about giving the main characters qualities worth looking at.

I'd start talking about Rei, but I think I'm screwing a dead horse that I beat to death ages ago.

So the three main characters of the show are as unlikable as the supporting characters are likable. Wonderful.

The End of Evangelion
Y'know how a lot of people wanted to see what actually happened at the end of the show? I didn't. I liked the ending of the anime as it was, and understood that the show was never about the plot. It was about Shinji turning from caricature to character, and so I was happy that they openly addressed what the show as actually about. Those last two episodes were my favorite of the entire series.

So when the movie turned out to be an overblown, convoluted, and spat on everything that I enjoyed about the final two episodes I was appalled. Watching the movie I had this feeling that the creators were telling me "Ho ho! We're Evangelion and we're awesome! You're going to accept whatever we do because we are the best thing ever!" Oh wait, that's what Anno believes. Oops. Maybe that is what they're saying. I wouldn't doubt it.

See how this all interrelates? It all goes back to the writers doing the one thing they shouldn't: believing their own hype. If they just told a story without trying to make statements then this wouldn't have happened. But they believed their own legend, the poor bastards.

And that's why I don't like Evangelion. It's arrogant, over-convoluted, and not written well enough. If they'd taken the time to tell us that Shinji and Gendo were worth watching as opposed to hoping that they'd wow us with their "deep" imagery (which it isn't) and their awesome pyschology (which is even less so) then I would have liked it. But they got sloppy, because they thought the message that you can't go back to mommy is more important than the story itself.

The story always comes first. Always. No exceptions.

All images have been found via Google Image Search. The Youtube video was provided by my friend Taylor, who's emergency was taken care of, thank goodness. I'd also like to thank the Evangelion fans who have patiently put up with me thus far, on Facebook and off. Obviously the messsage reached you, thank goodness.

Come back next week to see the last part of this review, The Ugly! That's where, after trolling what's considered one of the best anime of all time, I troll myself. It's only fair, and I hope it's entertaining to all of you.