Welcome to the third part of the review, The Ugly. Some things that I review create a very strong reaction in me, such as Evangelion. The Ugly examines my response and why I reacted the way I did, and questions my own motives, because all forms of media are a relationship between the creator and the receiver and it's important to ask why certain things have the relationship that they do. It's my meager attempt at transparency and honesty, and it's my hope that in examining myself others will ask themselves the same (if not tougher) questions.
Evangelion is (as you could surmise) not one of my favorite shows, not by a long stretch. A few of my friends have commented on certain traits that I share with my least favorite character in the series, Shinji Ikari. They make the case that my dislike for the show is embedded in my hatred for my "shadow", a Jungian term. And you know what?
They're absolutely right. And here's why.
My childhood had a lot of hardship, same as anyone else's. At the age of seven all the kids that I had hung out with for about a year walked up to me, holding sticks. They said that the sticks represented my friendship with them. They all broke their sticks. What followed was 6 years of shunning and bullying for an offense that I didn't even have knowledge of, and found out later never existed. Most of my childhood was spent trying to reconcile with these people, to understand what I had done, and to get them to stop hurting me. For reasons that are not hard to understand this didn't work. These kids were not willing to deal with me anymore, and the only pleasure they seemed to take in life was to torment me and my siblings. I had learned karate, but still couldn't bring myself to hurt the people who had hurt me, no matter how much I hated them. And make no mistake, by that point in time I did. But I couldn't stand hurting people, and so I let them continue to abuse and misuse me.
At twelve my mother had enough, and put me in Muay Thai, a full contact martial art, in the hopes of toughening me up so I could finally resist and perhaps even get a bit even with the people who wouldn't leave me alone. I hated the idea, and protested quite a bit. Muay Thai was undignified, hurtful, brutal, and unreasonable. Why the hell you'd want to teach anyone that elbowing someone to the head was a good thing was beyond me. I refused to hit anyone, although I did participate in the drills. My instructor was very tough on me, and tried to goad me into striking him. What followed was three months of training that I only barely remember, except for its effects. I was worked so hard that I couldn't sleep because I was so tired, sometimes for weeks. And still (as far as I remember) I didn't strike anyone. Sure, I'd tag them in the face, but there wasn't any heart or emotion put into it. I just existed.
One day my teacher had enough, and put me "in the ring" with him. We started sparring and I refused to put everything into it, as usual. My teacher stopped after about a minute of sparring and said something. To this day I still don't remember what he said. All I remember was that I wanted to hurt him, rationality and cowardice and kindness be damned. I don't remember if I made any noise as I attacked him (I probably did), and started kicking his legs as hard as I could. I was going to make him pay for what he'd said, I was going to hurt him. My instructor smiled and stuck out a leg, and let me kick. After the match was done I was as aggressive (if not moreso) than expected. I fought like a madman, bashing and kicking down the rationality that I'd used to keep myself restrained for so long.
What followed was revenge. I made it a point that I wouldn't hurt my aggressors unless they specifically attacked me, but that nothing would keep me from attacking them psychologically. And I did. I told them everything I wanted to tell them, that they were so fat that I found them repulsive, that they were the dumbest and most loathsome children ever, and that God would punish them far worse than I ever could, and that I hoped that He did. I told them that I wasn't pathetic like them, that I didn't wobble when I walked, and that I hoped quite a few of them burned in Hell. I told them that I'd have the last laugh, and that if they ever touched my family again I would kill any of them that I wished (as someone who had knife training I was reasonably confident I could carry out my threat). When they attacked me for my abuse I would do just enough to show them that I was better, and always had been, and that I was only toying with their pathetic lives. I had tried to be merciful and, because they wanted nothing to do with my attempts at peace, that I would punish them for the simple reason that no one else wanted to.
By the time I left that town, a year later, I had my wish. I was alone. Except that I found that I didn't want to be alone, that being alone meant that all I had to remember was the awful things I'd done and said to my persecutors, and that quite a few people had gotten hurt unjustly because of my unleashed shadow. I've spent the last ten years trying to figure out what exactly I'm supposed to do instead of taking revenge and ignoring rationality.
How is that not Shinji's story, especially with what we've seen in the Rebuilds? Shinji actually pulls an almost identical stunt at the end of 2.22, a stunt that I detested because it reminded me of what I did and hated so many years ago.
Does the fact that Shinji reminds me so much of myself and I hate him for it make my opinion invalid? That really isn't up to me. I wrote my opinion, and backed it up with some rather reasonable points for you guys to read about. With this last piece of the puzzle you can decide to blow me off for having such a poor reaction to one of the most popular anime of all or decide that I have some good points despite my flaws or decide that I'm the Messiah*(I don't recommend the last option, being Catholic). Regardless, this is my opinion and why I hold to it. Take it or leave it.
*For those of you who, despite my best attempts, still wish to treat me as the Messiah and the savior of the world please mail money in $100 increments to:
Nathan the Messiah
123 Kitchen Sink Blvd.
7th Level, Heaven, 77777
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