Evangelion 2.22 Sucks Part 4: You Can (not) Be This Stupid

After we get back from Gendo and Fyutski in SPAAAAAAACCEEE, the movie shows that it fails to understand an entire array of basic storytelling concepts. There are many scenes that demonstrate this, like the new content and context of Shinji’s train scene after being forced to attack Unit 03, or the fact that the entire climax is rendered irrelevant by the post-credits scene, but there is no scene that makes this more painfully clear than the boat scene. Here, the movie shows a series of ideas that it doesn’t understand, the most notable of which is the idea that characterization and world-building are important parts of a good story, but it isn’t worth the time if it doesn’t really affect any of the actions of the characters later in the movie and ESPECIALLY if it brings the story to a grinding halt in the process. The only thing that this scene does that should have been relevant to the characters is wasted on Misato, who does almost nothing of consequence for the entire rest of the movie. The rest is characterization for Asuka, Rei, Shinji and his friends, and it just comes off as a waste of the movie’s limited run time.

And don’t get me wrong. The characterization is decent. It makes sense that all of these characters would be interested in what life was like before Second Impact, as does how little they know about marine biology. It makes sense that Rei would be a vegetarian and that Asuka would be opposed to that. Little things like this make everything feel more realistic and believable, and believably something that this movie desperately needs more of. However, in attempting to bring the world to life and give it more detail, the movie brings it’s story to a complete stop at a seemingly random location that doesn’t exist for any reason besides the fact that it was in the anime for seven entire minutes. It drops everything and takes the viewer to a place that isn’t relevant to the story or character’s actions in any way, shape or form.

It seems to me that, when attempting to look at this scene from the perspective of someone who actually manages to like this movie, the appeal of this scene probably comes from the fact that it’s a joy to see the Evangelion characters interacting in a socially healthy way without getting deep-rooted psychological issues involved. And while that may be true when taking this scene on its own or as a headcanon for the original series, the fact is that when taken into the context of the rest of the movie, the entire scene ruins the break-neck pacing up of the movie up until that point and violently contrasts with the tone the rest of the movie was trying to go for. Yeah, the show did the same thing in episodes 8 and 9, but when the show used those episodes to contrast with the overall tone of the series, it did so for a purpose, that being bringing out a different and more lively side to all of the characters in such a way that expanded on the ways in which they interacted with each other. Digibro has an entire video explaining why this worked so well, and if you want a breakdown of what exactly the show does to accomplish this just go watch that. Anyway, when the movie attempts to do the same thing, the purpose is lost thanks to the scene’s overall lack of significance. Arguably both the most important and memorable part of Episode 8 was the scene where Asuka slapped Toji simply because of how it embodied how drastically different both the episode and early Asuka were from the rest of the show, and for some reason that moment completely doesn’t exist in 2.22. Things like this make the scene feel as it has been dumbed down and streamlined for the mobie, and thus it ends up completely missing the point.

And as for how this ruins the pacing, think about this: What types of scenes came before this one? Every single scene in the movie up until this point was an either action scene, a character introduction, or a semi-dramatic character moment, and none of those scenes lasted for more than five minutes. Everything has been directly relevant. So, when the movie then goes into seven straight minutes of nothing happening, the entire feeling that the first twenty minutes of the movie tried to establish go flying out the window and the audience is left bored or confused.

And the worst part is that this is arguably the best-looking part of the entire movie from a purely visual standpoint. The color design and lighting is handled in such a way that what most shows would make a cave becomes a breathtaking display of color when everyone is below deck, and this one particular shot of Asuka sitting down is probably tied with another similar shot later in the movie for my favorite bit of character movement of all time simply because of how fluid it feels. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to make the seven minutes it’s wasted on not feel like a complete

The point is that this scene is a complete waste of everyone’s time and shouldn’t have been adapted at all. Whatever. Continuing on, the movie then cuts back to Nerv almost jarringly, as if admitting that it didn’t really have a plan or purpose for the previous scene. WHY DID YOU KEEP IT IN THE MOVIE. *sigh* The movie then cuts back to Nerv at the beginning of an Angel battle similar in quality to the one that served as Asuka’s introduction: It woks dramatically and looks great, but at the same time it raises so many questions about what the heck is going on that the tension is completely lost in the stupidity of it all before anything actually dangerous starts happening. Why is your only method of communication with your commander via something unencoded like radio waves? Where are the runways for all of these airplanes? Don’t planes communicate via radio waves? So how could all of them launch so seemlessy if all radio communication was disabled? How could this many people possibly own cars in a city that doesn’t have any normal houses? Why are the aircraft moving as slowly as their carries? You seriously didn’t have any Magi backups until now? Weren’t you just shooting bombs at the Angel? Why didn’t spacial distortion affect those? Why didn’t you at least stretch the umbilical cable as far as it would go before detaching it to save battery? If you are all running to the projected area of impact, why did you start so far away from that point? Why aren’t they making use of jumping to avoid as much damage to the city as possible? Why are these plates here? How did Shinji know they were there? Is this seriously the most efficient method of changing direction? If the Eva can jump that high what was the point of the stepping platforms? Why didn’t you embrace you inner Sanic and go feast in the first place? As I said before, these logical issues build up throughout the scene, and by the time the characters are in any actual danger, any sense of tension has long since been dilluted in the ocean of stupidity.

The scene that comes next is possibly one of if not the single stupidest and most baffling moments of character introspection in a critically aclaimed piece of media I’ve ever seen. First of all, the lead-in to it is absolutely moronic. Asuka, why are you doing the End of Evangelion thing? Why do you care that you weren’t able to do the physically impossible on your own? Why does this make you lonely? If anything it should just make you hate the people that you perceive as outdoing you even more. But most of all, why the heck does the audience care? This version of Asuka has done almost nothing to make her interesting up until this point, and the movie hasn’t given us enough time knowing her to really be invested in her character unless the viewer is just categorically attracted to the idea of a tsundere. Even stupider than this, though, is the fact that this apparently motivates Asuka to invade Shinji’s personal space in the middle of the night and go and talk to him in spite of the fact that she seems to hate Shinji at this point and that Misato, a person who she clearly doesn’t hate, is living in the same house and far more likely to be understanding of something like this based on her maturity.

And then from here, the actual dialogue itself is also garbage. Why does Asuka consider it a treat to be called by her first name? I’ve never meet any 14-year-old who calls people they just met by their last name. And more importantly, why does Asuka care? To her, Shinji is just some random kid that she’s lived with for like a few days at most, so there’s no reason for her to care about Shinji at all. She obviously didn’t at this point in the original series, at least. And is calling him baka Shinji seriously the best Asuka could do at masking the fact that she likes him for some reason? But by far the most baffling line of dialogue is where Shinji says that he MIGHT be piloting the Eva out of a desire to be praised by his dad. THIS WAS ALREADY CONFIRMED WHEN SHINJI TALKED TO MISATO WHY IS HE ACTING LIKE HE’ S STILL UNCERTAIN ABOUT IT. And Shinji just keeps on acting like he doesn’t know this for like a solid minute. The rest of the lines aren’t that bad, but that’s probably just because they are almost directly ripped from the original show.

If I kept on ragging on this movie in the same level of detail that I am now, I would just end up repeating what I’ve spent the last four videos talking about: The same stupid abundance of plotholes, the same stupid Mari scenes, the same stupid mistreatment of Kaji’s character, the same pointless characterization scenes and the same terrible pointless character moments. So, in the next part, I’m just going to do a highlight reel of the more unique ways that this movie screws up throughout. Continued in part five.

Evangelion 2.22 Part 3: You Can (not) Adapt Correctly

The final way that this movie screws over it’s general audience is with it’s incredibly nonsensically written and structured plot. This movie features so many moments and methods of taking the viewer out of an intense moment of action and make them ask themselves why something happened the way it did or how it was decided that a particular scene even needed to exist in the first place. In fact, this problem is apparent as soon as the movie’s opening action scene comes to a close. However, I feel as if I have stalled on showing everything that this movie does wrong towards the fans of the original series as well. So, I’d like to take this opportunity to go through the entire movie chronologically and point out not only everything wrong with it’s nonsensical plot but also what it does that makes me, as a fan of the series, hate it so much.

After the waste of an action scene that I described in Part Two and the title card cuts out, the movie goes straight into Gendo and Shinji visiting Yui’s grave. This, of course, made sense in the context of the original show. It had been built up for a little while before hand and had a legitimate reason for happening in the context of the narrative. It served as greater support for the dynamic between Shinji and Gendo’s characters in the upcoming episodes and gave more of a logical basis for Gendo’s actions in later acts of the story. It was dramatic. In Evangelion 2.22, this scene carries none of this weight. The way the film handles this scene causes it to feel as if it comes out of left field, first of all. It was given no foreshadowing at all, let alone an actual mention. The reasoning for Gendo visiting his wife’s grave despite his incredibly busy job that he won’t sacrifice anything is never provided at all, so the entire thing just ends up feeling like forced exposition to reveal the fact that Shinji’s mom is dead. This isn’t ever even brought up again in the story despite there being ample opportunity for it to do so. It’s generally another waste of a scene that the fans of this movie ignore simply because they allow their knowledge of the original series to fill in the blanks without ever thinking critically about weather or not the rebuilds, the movies that are their own entities have their own canon, actually make sense on their own.

From here, the movie transitions into several scenes of pure mediocrity. The first of these is what appears to be an attempted heart-to-heart between Shinji and Misato that wouldn’t be that bad if it didn’t make Shinji seem as if he honestly cared about what his father thought of him. At this point in the story, Shinji has no reason to really trust his father given all that he has forced him to do thus far, and can’t possibly reasonably expect praise from him either considering that he hasn’t been praised my him for his past actions. In the original series, (to be filled in when I have access to the original series). Also, the scene is the first in a series of many moments where Misato acts as if she isn’t really taking the emotions of others that seriously and is just kidding around with them.

The film then shifts into another high-intensity scene on a dime with serves as the audience’s introduction to Asuka, and in all honesty this would be a great standalone scene to introduce the viewer to Asuka as a character if it was placed at a better time in the movie. The fight is snappy, the circumstances are dire and the fight shows off Asuka’s personality and skill simultaneously. This scene fails, however, in several key was. First of all, the scene poses several distracting questions to the viewer that are never answered. Where did this Angel come from? It must have been known about for some time in order for all of these ships to have gotten in position, so why is Misato just now being notified of it? What are these ships shooting at the Angel? Are they lasers? I thought lasers didn’t exist in this universe. The state of emergency was declared three minutes ago? Why wasn’t Misato notified immediately? Why weren’t the ships, which had proven to be completely ineffective in the past, ordered to retreat to save on losses? Where in the world did all of these aircraft carriers come from? Why didn’t they make sure Unit 02 was holding it’s rifle before they dropped it off? How did Shinji know the pilot was female? How was Unit 02 not enveloped in the explosion of the Angel’s core? Questions like these completely break the immersion in the scene to anyone paying enough attention to realize that the rebuilds never explained any of this. And secondly, there was another action scene in the same vane as this one (gigantic fight scene against a new Angel between a new female Eva pilot who is partially insane and adores piloting their Eva making an incredibly extravagance entrance into the story afterwords) literally five minutes before this one. In general, the fact that this fight is shorter than the previous one makes this feel not only excessively similar to, and thus less emotionally involving than, what just preceded it but also care less about the character it’s introducing due to having had less time to see what they are like.

Where did Unit 00 come from?

The “official” introduction to Asuka’s character that comes after this waste of a fight, and it effectively gets the audience acquainted with her in the same way the series does: It shows her skill through how she physically gets to the area where she meets everyone, it shows that she is a respected part of the military by showing that she already knows Misato, it shows that she is arrogant and disrespectful of others through her treatment of Shinji, and it shows her pride through the way she talks about her Eva. It isn’t as good as it was in her introduction episode in Evangelion, but for a movie with limited run time it’s a great way of establishing the basics of what the viewer needs to know about Asuka quickly. We’ll see how well this movie works with Asuka’s established character later on, though.

Unfortunately, Kaji does not get the same treatment in his introduction. But before I explain why, I need to explain why Kaji worked so well as a character in the original series. As a person, Kaji is possibly the most collected and together person in the entire show. He has no mental issues, he is completely reseliant to the stress ordinarily caused by a job of his magnitude and he completely okay just doing what he likes and lightheartedly teasing others at almost all times. This is the Han Solo archetype, and it works great when the character has both time that he’s on-screen and does things that are relevant to the plot. In NGE, Kaji was all of these things. His character was established over a long period of time, with all of the aspects of him from his late night drinking to his treatment of everyone around him to his attitude suggesting that he was a cool dude doing cool things. He wasn’t a perfect person by any means, but because of him acting the way he did the audience was able to adore him and his stark contrast with the rest of the characters on the show.

This kind of character doesn’t work in the time-restricted medium of a single film, and Evangelion 2.22 is a fantastic example demonstrating why. Right from the first scene he’s in, Kaji makes very little impact on the viewer. He establishes the relaxed, carefree aspect of his character well when he meets Shinji and Ritsuko, but the coolness that he would get from being a part of a secretive military organization is completely lost in this movie due to the fact that Nerv isn’t really built up as a secretive organization in the Rebuilds. Neon Genesis Evangelion had episode seven to make the viewer recognize how little they knew about Nerv and it’s intentions, and demonstrated through that episode that Gendo was pulling the strings and working towards a greater goal the entire time. Since this episode outright has no adaptation in the Rebuilds, the effect that it had on the viewer’s impression of Nerv is completely gone, and the idea of what people who were working directly with Gendo in-person were like was significantly less informed. The entirety of Kaji’s character goes from Han Solo to a depth-less version of The Woodsman from Over the Garden Wall simply based on the exclusion of what essentially boiled down to a near-filler episode that would be a complete waste of time in an hour-and-a-half movie.

Oh god, I’m not even twenty minutes into the movie. Continued in part four.

The Hidden Genius of Digibro’s Mass Call-out

So as of yesterday at the time of this script’s writing, Digibro finally made a move that I feel like the anime community desperately needed in order to evolve from it’s current state: He called out basically every prominent member of the analysis devision that wasn’t a part of the ProCrastinators and talked about everything that he feels that they do wrong in their creation of anime analysis. His argument was all over the place in it’s quality, ranging from personal and self-absorbed to legitimate critisism. But the actual arguments that he made here were not the important part of the video; Rather, the video has caused members of the anime community to come out and have what is ultimately going to boil down to a civil war in the community regarding how analytical conent should be approached. This is, in my eyes, the start of a revolution and eventually a new era in the anime community on YouTube. Allow me to explain why.

At the moment, the anime community has grown stagnant. Yes, there are several new voices growing quickly in the analysis division, such as Super Eyepatch Wolf and The Pedantic Romantic, but it’s all more of the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as more perspectives on why people are able to enjoy shows and what they do to make people like shows in general, but if you really stop to think about it, that’s nearly all there is at the moment. We have Digibro, GlassReflection, Giguk, UnderTheScope Reviews, Super Eyepatch Wolf, GoatJesus, sudoStef, Mother’s Basement and The Pedantic Romantic, just to name a few. On the flip side, there are only three primarily non-satirical anime-focused channels that come to mind that don’t near-exclusively do analysis, those being TheAnimeMan and DuoReview and all of the CinemaSins parody channels. This makes the anime community really inaccessable to people who simply want to enjoy shows as opposed to figuring out why they enjoy them, as their options in YouTube content in doing so are incredibly limited. There are only so many who want to know about why worldbuilding is all in the details or how mainstream anime is directed.

And it’s not like there isn’t a market for these kind of videos. The Anime Man recently hit a million subscribers, and some of the more popular videos on all of the analysis channels are the ones regarding very general topics that anyone can tap into, such as the definition of anime or a list of concepts the creator would like to see an anime made about. These videos have appeal outside of the main crowd typically attracted to analysis because they are less specific and are more entertaining to the average viewer. Often times, since these videos aren’t about a particular show, the viewer doesn’t even need to know anything about a particular show to understand the full picture of what is being discussed.

But because of Digibro finally deciding to explain everything he sees wrong with the analysis community, this could actually begin a series of events that will lead to a much more diverse community filled with lots of unique content not related to analysis at all. This is for a few major reasons. Firstly, it’s getting people thinking critically not just about the shows that are being analyzed in these videos but the analysis videos themselves. You, right now, watching this video, probably have a distinct taste in critics. But until Digibro made his video, did you ever really think about why? Well, now that Digibro has made his video explaining why, many others are going to start following his lead. We all had a point in our lives where we just watched whatever shows we wanted to without ever thinking about them critically. It’s how so many of us were able to fully enjoy the Dragon Ball Zs and the Pokemons and, more recently, the Bakugans and the Beyblades. But when we started reading articles and watching videos critically examining shows, we started recognizing flaws in them. This lead to us eventually being able to us hating terrible shows for their flaws and loving great shows even more for everything they do right. I feel like this could cause the same thing to happen with analysis videos. Those who don’t particularly enjoy depth but like the overall topics discussed in anime analysis can watch people like Glass Reflection and feel like they are getting what they want. People who want hyper in-depth looks at shows can watch people like Dig and get what they want. People will start realizing that it is okay to criticize eachother the same way it’s okay to criticize, and people will begin growing to be the best creators they can be. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it will drive those who, if they started now would end up being just another analysis channel, to create more expressive videos that match what they are trying to get across, be that comedy, satire or even a complex narrative like that found in The Saga of the Endless One/Horseshoe Review series. Since everyone will start realizing what people look for in analysis, those who decide they don’t have what it takes to be an analyst or simply don’t want to can go on and create something within the anime community that is truly theirs. This will allow more people who don’t like watching analysis of shows to feel comfortable in the community as well, as there will be more options for content creation for them to choose from. This may cause more people to want to make anime videos now that they see that it isn’t all analysis, and the cycle repeats itself. Once again, a win-win for everyone involved.

This may seem like a far-fetched idea on paper, though. The huge number of things that could go wrong, such as the community being consumed by drama and hate, like the stereotypical version of competitive gaming community, or people not liking the new styles of content that this would produce. But the thing is, this has already happened before and developed exactly as I have described here. Let me introduce you to the ProCrastinators: Best Guy Ever, Ben Saint, Digibro, Endless Jess, Hippocrit, Lethal Aurora Mage, Rebel Pixels, TheDavoo, Munchy and Mumkey Jones. This is a group of close friends who each run their own YouTube channels with content mainly pertaining to cartoons/anime or video games. But get this: Not all of them are analysis channels, and none of them are reaction or gameplay channels.

This group is characterized by their complete honesty with each other, their acceptance of constructive criticism and their goal to become the best they can be while making a living through content creation on YouTube. All of them have created their own videos with their own different styles, most of which are not to be found elsewhere on YouTube. Best Guy Ever has created his fair share of standard analytical videos, but at the same time has also made several creative and fun works like “Kingdom Hearts 101 – PCP University Lecture.” Hippocrit creates some of the funniest longform “reviews” that still stay true to the concept of analysis since the Mr. Plinket Phantom Menace series. Mumkey Jones has made an incredibly hilarious anime satire/comedy series known as Mumkey’s Anime Reviews. Endless Jess has created many works, ranging from “Watcha Gonna Do…” to the aforementioned masterpiece of masterpieces, “Saga of the Endless One,” to the entirety of the MyJapaneseAnimes channel. All of the creators have been at least mildly successful, and all are constantly learning from and improving through discussion with each other. The ProCrastinators are a sample of what anime on YouTube has the potential to be if it evolves the way that Digibro, a member of this group, is trying to force it to. In spite of all the drama it has caused, I honestly believe that nothing but good will ultimately come from Digibro calliing out the entire anime community, and I hope everyone else feels the same way.

Evangelion 2.22 part 2: You Can (not) Justify Mari’s Existance

Mari, Mari, Mari. What more could you possibly do wrong with an Evangelion character? She insane, but not insane in the way that has any depth behind it. She has major problems, but they’re played off as strengths. But most of all, she’s fun. Now, I’m not hating on her character simply because she is fun, but there is no possible way a character could more harshly contrast with the suffering that is constantly displayed in the last half hour of the movie, the only part where her existence is even notable.

Like the rest of the characters besides Shinji, we know absolutely nothing about Mari or what she is like as a person. She doesn’t have any of her personal backstory explained at all, and from what we can tell her personality basically consists of insanity and lack of respect for other people’s boundaries. Without understanding why she behaves the way she does, Mari’s fun insanity and dialogue just come off as out-of-place and totally unnecessary. This kind of character can work well in shows like the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, where a character being this way plays to the idea that the show is satire of how irrational some of the things characters in anime do are, but in a series known for it’s deep, incredibly well-crafted and detailed characters that are all emotionally broken in one way or another? No. This isn’t even her biggest problem, though. Not by a long shot.

Mari ended up leaving no impact on the story whatsoever. She could have been completely removed from the movie altoghether, and no plotholes would surface at all. Let’s look at all of her different apperances throughout the story: She is the central figure of the big action scene that the movie opens on. You would think that this would be a big deal, given that it’s supposed to be the movie’s hook, but it turns out to be completely inconsequential. It’s another Angel defeated, but the overall number of angels could have simply been reduced and no one would have batted an eye. The Evangelion used in this fight was destroyed as well, so it never being mentioned again would also have no effect on the plot.

The second scene that she was in also could have been cut from the movie, this when she enters Japan on a parachute and just so happens to run into Shinji while doing so. Shinji isn’t affected by this at all, and beyond that all it does is further characterize the fact that Mari is insane. While it is also obviously the explanation for why Mari is in Japan at the climax, since she could also be cut from that fight at no consequence either. Rei could have simply broken through the AT Field herself like she did in NGE and no one would have complained.

But why is this even a problem, you ask? She doesn’t add very much to the movie, but it’s better than leaving out a fun character entirely, right? No. In both the first scene and climax of the movie, her being present does nothing more than steal roles that other characters needed more for their development. Let me explain. The entire first scene of the movie is all about Mari testing out an Evangelilon prototype unit while fighting an Angel. On it’s own, there isn’t anything inheritly wrong with this. It’s a good-looking action scene that serves as a hook into the movie that succeeds at creating actual sense of danger for an instantly likable character. Aside from good-natured characters being out of place in the movie, this seems fine as an idea. But when this same idea is used to serve as the introduction to Asuka’s character later in the movie, it just feels as if it’s retreading old ground and isn’t nearly as exciting in general.

Even worse than this, though, is her complete replacement of Asuka in the fight with Zeurel. While this moment could have been used to actually justify Asuka’s hatred of Shinji and give her a reason to hate herself and thus some depth, this opportunity is completely wasted by Mari coming out of left field as the pilot of Evangelion Unit 2 and wastes one of the only chances at character development  in the movie as a result. There was absolutely no justification for Mari even being a part of this movie, let alone a central figure of the story.

The worst part of all of this is that this could have easily been avoided without fundamentally altering Mari’s character or how the plot played out. The first step in making her character work within 2.22 as a movie is making her fit within Evangelion as a series. Despite all of the awful changes to the characters and their interactions with eachother, at it’s core, 2.22 is still trying hard to be a deep and highly philosophical movie, for reasons that I will go into more detail on latter. Mari could have very simply been altered to have legitimate, explained psychological issues that lead to her insanity and perceived adrenaline addiction. If her fight at the beginning of the movie had been kept, the ones in charge of the operation could have expressed doubt about her ability to succeed at defeating the Angel because of her naturally wanting to take too many risks, and after she defeated the Angel her dialogue could have reflected her recognizing her problem but not wanting to do anything about it.

Or, whens she entered Japan, Shinji could have realistically asked her about why she was acting so weird, followed by her hinting at a story behind her that gave her a reason for being the way she was. This could be followed up on with her having a mental breakdown after being unable to defeat Zeurel, which could involve images being flashed on-screen depicting the highlights of her childhood that made her the way she is today. Even if we didn’t get the full reasoning behind her actions, at the very least she would feel like a realistic character that has a reason to be the way she is that could potentially be explored in latter films.

And even without the opening scene of the movie, this still could have been accomplished by simply adding a scene of her getting into Unit 02 and having everyone at NERV express the same concerns about her ability to pilot the robot as those that would be expressed by whoever was administrating the battle at the start of the movie. Mari could have been a decent character and addition to the Eva universe, but her entire existance is completely unnecessary and even harmful to the quality of the other characters.

And I haven’t even gotten to why the plot of this movie fails miserably. Continued in part three.

Evangelion 2.22: You Can (not) Write Characters

Neon Genesis Evangelion is an amazing piece of fiction. It has some of the best-looking animation of the era of it’s creation, a fantastic soundtrack that perfectly matches whatever it is played over and some of the greatest and deepest characters ever conceived. It’s only flaw worth even paying much attention to is the fact that there were so many aspects of the story that could have been changed or improved to increase the amount of drama involved and make character development flow even more smoothly than it already does. You can imagine my excitement, then, when I found out that the second remake movie was going to drastically change some things surrounding the story and world. We could at last get the perfect version of Evangelion: Even better animation, a more accessible story and possibly even a fresh take on the characters. You can also imagine my disappointment, then, when it turned out that Evangelion 2.22: You Can (Not) Redo was not only be a mediocore standalone movie at best but also an insult to the original characters that made the original series so great as well as the catalyst for the destruction of everything I personally loved about the series in the form of 3.33. SPOILERS FOR EVERYTHING BUT ANGELIC DAYS

For all of it’s amazing cinematography and voice acting, 2.22’s characters ultimately ends up being so absurdly oversimplified and underdeveloped by the climax that the entire thing gets dragged down to average at best as a result. The first and most obvious causes of this is this is how little sense Rei and Asuka make as characters in this film. In order to explain why, though, I first need to clarify: These characters are, for all intents and purposes, COMPLETELY different characters than the ones displayed in Neon Genesis Evangelion. The universe is different in several fundamental ways, meaning that they are not the same people as in NGE. The characters act in completely different manners, so even if the rebuilds turn out to be a sequel series to End of Evangelion these most likely aren’t the same people as the original series, meaning we can’t use that to fill in the blanks in their characters here. Heck, even Asuka’s last name was changed for what seems to be no reason at all besides distinguishing the differences between the two.

With that in mind, what do we really know about Rei Ayanami? Not much. At the end of 1.11 she’s proven that she’s a capable Eva pilot who holds Gendo in very high regard, but beyond that is incapable of expressing emotion. In NGE, this is expanded on through moments like Rei’s poem in episode 14, and is brought to a legitimate conclusion with her gaining a soul and thus the ability feel emotion by the time that she chooses to allow Shinji to control Third Impact in End of Evangelion. In 2.22, none of that happens. She simply starts falling in love with Shinji for absolutely no reason whatsoever. It’s very clear in 3.33 that the Rei clones don’t have souls, so there is absolutely no way that Rei should be able to feel this emotion in this stage in her character development. And even if she did have a soul, it still would be pretty ridiculous to fall in love with someone just because they made sure that your survived an explosion that they were partially responsible for creating in the first place.

Beyond this, there isn’t anything more to Rei’s character at all. None of what is discussed in Episode 23 or 25 of NGE is ever brought to light, and nothing else about her is explained. The closes the film comes to this is it’s rendition of the famous elevator scene, which just further establishes the fact that she does in fact have emotions without ever having done anything to gain a soul. The Rebuild version of Rei simply lacks all of the depth and realistic development required to make a character believable and compelling to watch overcome challenges and live life.

Worse off than Rei in this regard, however, is Asuka. Asuka has always been criticized for being unlikable and mean to everyone around her, and while these criticisms are absolutely not justified when used to refer to NGE Asuka (for reasons that I will get to when I’m discussing why this film was offensive to fans of the original show), they become completely accurate when used to describe Rebuld Asuka. With the exception of her phone call with Misato, she never expresses grattuede or kindness towards another person. She acts like a jerk to Shinji on the boat, she misunderstands Rei on the elevator and generally speaks as if everyone around her is below her. These actions would be fine if they were justified, but we only get glimpses into Asuka’s surface-level personality in this movie and are thus unable to connect to her and understand these actions.

Also she’s constantly exploited for fanservice in one of this movie’s only two moments of attempted character introspection.

Both of these characters fundamentally suffer from the same issues: We don’t know enough about them to justify their behavor, and if the audience they are the same as they are in NGE a lot of their actions don’t make sense, such as Asuka accepting such a horribly designed Plug Suit and Rei feeling emotion. These characters simply don’t function in a standalone film.

Shinji himself, surprisingly, isn’t horribly butchered in this movie. He’s reasonably kind to Rei given what the two of them had been through at the end of 1.11, and his reaction to being forced to violently destroy Unit 03 with Askua still inside has realistic consequences for his character. He doesn’t get incredibly upset over the fact that he attacked Asuka in particular, but he does attempt to run away from Nerv so he is never forced to try and kill another person again. He even has a train scene, a common symbol throughout the franchise representing his attempts at running away but always ending up right back where he began out of necessity. While most of the dialogue in said train scene was Shinj stating what could easily be inferred by the audience, it at least makes enough sense that it qualifies as legitimate character introspection. It’s not even close to what we got in Episode 26, but it is enough to justify his actions, for the most part.

The only real problem with Shinji in this movie is the fact that he went to such absurd lengths to attempt to get Rei back at the end of the movie. It makes sense that he would want to rescue the only person that had even remotely expressed kindness towards him, but in this case he literally transends humanity and causes THE END OF THE WORLD trying to get her back. This didn’t happen when there was a similar situation with Kawaru in NGE, a person that Shinji was comfortable being told to chose the ultimate fate of humanity by in End of Evangelion, so there is absolutely no reason to be this attatched to Rei. It’s not character-breaking, but it’s still really annoying.

There’s not really much else to say about the characters in this movie, as none of them have any more depth to them. Gendo is an emotionless child abuser, Misato is an annoying exposition machine and Kaji is reduced to – Oh, wait. I forgot. Mari. Continued in part two.

Objectivity VS Taste in Anime

All too often when listing to analysis and review of anime and other media, I am confronted with questions and statements that, in context, seemingly attempt to undermine the entire practice of criticism of media in the first place. These statements are often along the lines of “What we take into a show is what we are able to get out of it,” or, “If a lot of people people like a show, it has to be good and the metric for judging quality is the problem”. These comments are some of the most infuriating that I have ever heard regarding anime, as they seemingly defeat the entire point of watching and critiqueing something in the first place. Thankfully, however, these two statements are fundamentally flawed in several ways. Personal taste, while a large part of why a person enjoys or doesn’t enjoy a show, is a painfully misused concept in that it is constantly used as the backbone of this type of argument. A group of people enjoying a work, while possibly indicative of a show’s quality, is not even close to the defining factor for weather or not a show is actually any good. Allow me to elaborate.

A perfect show cannot exist. For all of the people claiming that Fullmetal Alchemist is the best animation of all time because of it’s interesting world, political commentary and ability to convey themes like the horrors of war so effectively, there are a select few who can’t enjoy to it’s fullest extent simply because of small things like Kimblee’s lack of personal motivation for his actions of mass destruction. For everyone who thinks that Evangelion is the deepest, most intriguing show of all time there are almost as many people who can’t stand Shinji’s inability to keep calm and get in the robot. This is personal taste, and is the driving force behind what makes a person enjoy a show. Let me tell you what taste isn’t: Being able to enjoy a show simply because you either expected a show to be the way it was or having had events in a person’s lives that they are able to reflect on and relate to. No actually enjoys Watamote for it’s relatablility. Being able to relate to Tomoko makes the viewer want her to be able to succeed at being a normal person, but that doesn’t make it any less painful to see her constantly trying everything in her power to do so. Most people hate watching Watamote at times for it’s incredibly uncomfortable and embarrassing scenes carried out by Tomoko, and no amount of being able to relate or know what’s coming can change that; On the contrary, being able to relate to her can make it even more painful

To elaborate on that point, true taste is made up of aspects of a person’s life experiences and neurological personality that give them the ability to understand or dislike certain aspects of a work. They don’t make or break a show unless those aspects are the foundation on which the show is based, like in the case of Evangelion, bur rather they simply add and take small bits enjoyment of a show proportional to their importance in that show as a work of art. If a person who has always been attempting to understand other people simply because they enjoy the feeling of feeling empathy, they will likely at least be able to truly understand the characters in Eva. If a person had previously subjected themselves to the torture of watching Sailor Moon without nostalgia googles on, they will most likely have a greater appreciation of the concept of Madoka Magica and how it differs from Sailor Moon. Personal experiences add to a show, they don’t make it.

Let me clarify: There are many aspects of art that can be near-universally praised. People value human characters with flaws and imperfection. They like a soundtrack that fits the mood of what is currently happening in the show. They like an overarching plot with at least some level of continuity and progression. These are still technically products of a human’s taste, but they are all caused by being human rather than by personal experiences. These are the truly universal aspects of criticism, and the foundation upon which constructive criticism is based. A show’s script when observed for the purpose of constructive criticism should be judged by it’s ability to do two things: It’s ability to express the emotions that the writer wants to convey without making the audience suffer from either boredom or excessive frustration at the story or characters, and it’s ability to make the viewer think about the show while not watching it. Although the number of ways that a writer can convey these ideals is immesne and the huge number of different aspects that go into making a person who loves something love it, there are always fundamental aspects that come with being human that any show can appeal to. I don’t know a single person who’s seen Death Note and didn’t think L was amazing, and I don’t know a single person who doesn’t burst out laughing and the stupidity of Garzey’s Wing when they watch it. In spite of taste, there are aspects of being human that cause aspects of shows to appeal to us.

As it currently stands, however, there is a gaping whole in this argument: Shows with completely split opinions about them being amazing and terrible, such as Sword Art Online, tend to break almost every conventional rule of a show being what is otherwise widely considered to be good. While people do have personal reasons for liking the concept of this show, such as being massive gamers like myself, this is not excuse for all of the idiotic stuff that happens in the show. Go watch Digibro and Mother’s Basement’s videos if you don’t know what I’m talking about. People have stated in the past that the people who watch this show don’t want to be amazed, they just want to be entertained. This makes no sense, as not only are there shows that don’t have the potential to make the viewer instantly stop caring in the middle of it with stupidity but also shows that look better visually, an aspect that the viewer most likely values considering that they are watching the show for the sake of mindless entertainment. Some say that they watch because they adore the concept so much that that alone is able to give them the motivation to finish the show, but this doesn’t make sense either as there are shows that more realistically portray the medium and concept of trapped-in-an-MMO. This leaves but one possible explanation: That the people watching are mainly children or man-children looking for an escapist wish-fulfillment fantasy that makes them feel like the overpowered god that Kirito is.

Most people who recognize this will tell you that there is no problem with liking a show for this reason. If they enjoy the show what right do you have to get mad about that? I honestly believe that anyone who says this is most likely attempting to make it sound as if they aren’t making a negative judgment of a person’s intelligence for liking the show for the sake of attempting to avoid offending anyone excessive. This is just plain wrong. It is possible to judge a person’s intelligence or at least how much they pay attention to something they enjoy based on weather or not they enjoy something as broken as Sword Art Online.

Speaking from my personal experience, I have never been blinded from a show’s flaws while watching it since before I was a massive fan of anime as a whole. I think End of Evangelion is a masterpiece and the best thing I’ve ever watched, but I’m not oblivious to the fact that part of the fight between Asuka and the Eva series looked like watching people in rubber suits. On the flip side, I understand that even shows I despise, such as Bakugan or a lot of the middle of Naruto Shipuden, have stupidly good English dubs, considering that the K-ON! Dub sounds like it was recorded by 40-year-olds who thought the only way to sound cute was by making their voices as squeaky as possible. Once again, there is no perfect show and no one paying attention to those shows should be able to ignore their flaws.

Before I was a massive anime fan, I had no sense of taste, and was able to enjoy just about anything. I watched Naruto and cried over everything remotely sad. I watched Attack on Titan and was fascinated by the fact that people dyed the entire time. I watched SAO and thought it was amazing for the few weeks between me finishing it and watching An Analytical Diatribe. It wasn’t just me who felt this way, either. My friends Ian, Arron and Sam, all of whom adored SAO, changed their minds pretty much as soon as they decided to sit though Digi’s godsend of a video, and one of which even previously considered Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Bleach, Chivalry of a Failed Knight and The Asterisk War to be of the same quality.No matter who you are, at least in my experience, once you have knowledge a show’s flaws they will hinder your ability to enjoy it.

Thus, I can only conclude that people who enjoy Sword Art Online are either less intelligent or not paying too much attention to what they are watching, and that includes myself. Honestly, if you can recognize all of the problems with SAO and still enjoy it, you really must have some of the most extreme levels of reliability or adoration for the aesthetic of the show possible.

Now, let’s look at the opposite side of the spectrum: An amazing show with a shockingly small number of fans. Here, we are taking a look at His and Her Circumstances, and how it does everything right in spite of it appearing on less than 100,000 lists on MAL. This show has everything that people love about this genre of show: Interesting and realistic characters, an overarching plot that actually goes somewhere humor that has made everyone that I know of having seen it laugh and the potential boost in popularity it got from being produced by Studio Ginax and directed by Hideaki Anno, the creators of Neon Genesis Evangelion, one of the most popular anime of all time. So why didn’t it become massively popular? Because it’s artwork sucked and the appeal required paying attention.

As previously stated, the biggest reasons that Sword Art Online is popular are that it looks pretty and that it is very easy to follow to the fullest extent of it’s appeal. His and Her Circumstances has none of this going for it, though. Even according to those who adored the show comment on the show’s awful animation quality, some even having made statements like “In all the 106 anime I’ve watched, Kare Kano [The Japanese name for His and Her Circumstances] had the worst artwork. So bad, that at times it shows manga panels accompanied by words. And still, I can easily say that Kare Kano is one of the best anime I’ve watched.” On top of this, by nature as a romance story with characters that are deeper than a puddle, to really enjoy and understand the appeal of the show, you need to be paying enough attention to actually feel the emotions that the show wants you to feel. Once again, I can only conclude that enjoying a show like His and Her Circumstances requires more intelligence or attention to be enjoyed than what someone who liked Sword Art Online possesses.
One might reply to this, “It takes time to build taste in something! Of course someone will enjoy things that aren’t critically considered good if it’s one of their first experiences with the medium!” This makes even less sense than the arguments mentioned at the start of this video. Think about it: If this was the case, why don’t kids instantly enjoy reading? To them, The Magic Tree House should have the same level of appeal as Harry Potter. This isn’t simply something that goes away simply by watching or reading more; I have a friend who binged the first 400 episodes of the Naruto franchise over the course of two weeks before getting bored of it, and he then proceed to enjoy shows that have not been critically well-received afterwords, such as Twin Star Exorcists.

No, someone builds taste by actively thinking about a show and what it did to make them feel the way it did. A person builds taste by having the experience and intelligence to understand such things. Taste is logic reinforced by a person’s experience, and that is the difference between it and objectivity. Objectivity comes from being human and experiencing what humans naturally enjoy, where subjectivity is that combined with personal experience to build an actual opinion on weather or not something is actually good.