Episode 01: "Angel Attack"

Part II

 

Welcome back to EVA: Rehashed! Before we get into the review proper, I'd like to congratulate loyal reader Prince Mercury for participating in the "Evangelion Screwed-Up Name" contest! He properly identified "Misato" as the character whose name I spelled incorrectly as "Masato". Your prize is--

--ah, hell, so I made an error. Sue me.

When we last left Misato (See? I can spell it correctly!) and Shinji, they were somewhere within NERV headquarters. In fact, they're still there. Hopelessly lost. Misato's even looking at a map and complaining about how bad escalators are for... You know what? No one cares why Misato is bitching. No one.

Next scene, and there's a random vat of jelly with pipes leading to a big...uh, thing. Remember, no technical terms here. Dr. Ikari is being paged, while a woman in a wetsuit climbs out of the vat (fanservice!) and complains that someone--obviously Misato--is lost again. Never fear, though, for the doors open and Misato appears. The woman in the bodysuit--now wearing a lab coat over a one-piece bathing suit, glares at Misato with lesbian implications so strong they'd make Gertrude Stein blush. Misato apologizes and tells the other woman--Ritsuko--that Shinji is the "third child". The third child according to the Marduke report, of course.

(Of course!)

Misato comments that Shinji is a lot like his father--the "gruff and unfriendly" part, that is--and we cut to Ikari on an elevator telling a subordinate to handle things. Ikari descends, and the subordinate observes that this is Ikari's first meeting with his son in three years. Told that the target is moving again, he orders Battle Stations Level One.

On an ascending elevator, Misato and Ritsuko discuss Unit One's status, which is "undergoing regeneration using the b-type equipment." Sounds like the kind of faux-techno babble a couple of kids playing with Star Wars action figures would come up with... Ritsuko mentions that the possibility of regeneration is "0.0000000001%". She says it in an annoying sing-song voice, and calls it the "oh-nee" factor, as in "oni, a Japanese devil!"

Ha ha ha that was so funny I forgot to laugh. Jesus, folks, I kinda saw where you were going with that but it sorta...didn't work. Here's where I regret taking French instead of Japanese. Maybe then I'd actually sort of get the jokes.

(To answer a concern brought up last week: Yes, I am watched dubbed episodes, not subbed. I'm also watching them on ancient VHS tapes. To give you, the readers, the most authentic EVA experience possible, I'm watching the same exact tapes that were released when the series first came out in America. No expense has been spared.)

(Special thanks to Project A.F.T.E.R. webmaster Alex Barry for not sparing any expense.)

A giant hand floats in the background. Note it. It'll become important later.

The elevator lands in its destination: a pitch-black room. Shinji whines about how dark it is; when the lights come back on, he's staring at a purple face that takes up the entire screen. Now if this had been me, I would have needed a change of underwear and a strong sedative, but Shinji doesn't show much if any emotional range beyond "annoyed," "bored," "whiny," and "resentful". He begins to flip through his training manual to the "Robots, Giant" section when Ritsuko announces that he won't find it.

This, as Ritsuko says, is man's last defense: a "synthetic life form known as Evangelion, Unit One." Pronounced as "Eee-van-GELL-eee-un." I'd always thought the G was soft. To go with the sort of Jell-O-ish substance that the Eva rests in, of course. Eva One, whom I shall affectionately refer to as "Gerald", is mankind's last hope.

Shinji's not impressed and wonders if it's his father's work. A voice tells him that he's correct. It is, of course, Gendo Ikari himself--one of the few anime characters besides Jet Black that I'm hairy enough to cosplay as. He mentions that it's been a while since they saw each other, then announces that they're moving out.

Gotta love the cheery reunions. Misato protests. "Unit One is still in cryostasis," she says. Besides, their usual Eva pilot, Rei, isn't able to pilot it. Oh noes! Who in the world could they get on such short notice who could pilot the--

Oh.

Ritsuko tells Shinji that he's going to be the pilot of Unit One. Misato protests further--Rei took seven months to synchronize with her Eva, apparently. Certainly Shinji can't synchronize or whatever in time. Ritsuko is stubborn--all Shinji needs to do, she says, is sit on the seat. "We don't expect more than that."

I'm torn between whether to feel sorry for Shinji--the woman really isn't giving him a chance!--or for Ritsuko--humanity's last hope for destroying the angel is this little punk kid who's been here not five minutes and has still done nothing but complain.

Never mind. I'm not torn any more. Ritsuko, I feel for you.

"Destroying the angel," Ritsuko says, "is the main priority." (The implication: Whatever happens to Little Punk is irrelevant.) He's got a chance of synching with the Eva--albeit a small one--and it's therefore worth the risk. To Shinji's credit, he stands silent--if mopey--while the adults are talking. Say what you want about Gendo--he deserves a commendation for instilling the "children should be seen and not heard" ethic in his son.

Ritsuko addresses Misato very pointedly as, "Captain Katsuragi", and Misato answers with a repentant, "Yes, ma'am." I'm assuming, because I know nothing about military rankings, that Misato is Ritsuko's subordinate. Still, Misato did very well for herself making it all the way through the ranks to Captain, and I'm very proud of her. Unless, as her short skirts and tight tops imply, she slept her way to the top. In which case I have nothing but scorn for her.

Shinji starts whining. "You're asking me to take this thing and go ahead and fight?"

Damn. Shut up, Shinji. He goes on to blah blah blah woeisme about how dare Gendo suddenly call for him now and I thought you didn't want me and shut up, Shinji.

"I have a use for you," Gendo says. I'm surprised that Shinji is so shocked at this. Think of it this way: You don't see your father for years, he's doing something "vital to the safety of the world," the city is being attacked by an evil being, and you're surprised that you're a pawn in his scheme?

I repeat: Shut up, Shinji.

Gendo tells Shinji that no one else can pilot the Eva. "No! I can't!" Shinji wails. "I've never even seen anything like this before!"

Okay, folks, I'm going to skip the next few minutes of footage. I really can't handle transcribing these lines. Shinji delivers them in this really squeaky voice. I'm really ready to kill the guy. And this is just the first episode. Gendo and Shinji argue for another few seconds. Everyone looks on. There are literally shots of technicians looking embarrassed for the two of them. I once worked at the offices of a construction company. It was a family business--a father and his two thirty-something sons. One of them had a fight with his father one time. It was really loud screaming and yelling, the son throwing basically a temper tantrum in the middle of the office. This is how I know exactly how these technicians feel. Cause, really, what do you do when the boss is reaming out his son in front of you? Do you just go about your business and pretend nothing's happening? Do you look with sympathy at one of them? It's a sticky situation.

Fortunately, these technicians don't have that problem. They're just still pictures. Gendo gives his son an ultimatum: Pilot the Eva, or leave. I've had ultimatums like that, but the choices were generally much simpler--clean your room or you're grounded, like. Japanese kids have it tough.

Outside, the Angel is attacking and symbolically exploding things in the shape of a cross. Gendo comments that it can sense them. Ritsuko tells Shinji they don't have much time, and Misato orders Shinji to get inside. This is followed by more whining from the Shinj--he's come all this way, why did he come, my foot hurts and I'm hungry! Hey, good point--why did Shinji come here?

Misato says,  "You mustn't run away... you must confront your father... and you must confront yourself!"

"I KNOW THAT! But...I...just...can't!" And score one for The Shinj. He'll grow up to be a great lawyer some day. Holding his opponents in the crushing grip of Reason--that's our Shinji!

Gendo's given up. He gives the order to wake up Rei. "She's not dead yet," he says. He calls Rei on the intercom, tells her the spare is unusable. "You will do it again," he says. Ominously. All of Gendo's lines are delivered ominously. Rei agrees.

Ritsuko orders the unit be reconfigured for Rei. Internal monologue from Shinji: "I knew it! I'm not needed after all!" Jesus Christ. Yes, Shinji. We don't need you. Now get into another anime so we don't have to deal with you for the next 25 episodes.

They wheel in Rei. She's on a stretcher, with an IV attached--wearing a form-fitting bodysuit. Because even dying girls have to look sexy. Especially if they're fourteen. She tries to get up and struggles for a while.

Flash to outside. More things are exploding in crosses. The explosion rocks the lab. Rei falls off her stretcher, and a piece of metal starts to fall on Shinji--

Okay. I have a friend over, and he's watching the tape with me as I write this. It's a tedious process--I pause the tape every couple of minutes to play catch-up, as well as rewind scenes when I'm transcribing dialogue. Right now the tape is paused with a girder about to fall on Shinji's head.

"Hey," my friend says. "Maybe he dies in this episode."

"Oh, God--that'd be lovely," I say. "I'd worship this series if they killed him off in this episode." I pause for a second. "Maybe that's why people worship Eva."

"Wait a second," he says.

"What?"

"If he dies... maybe we'll have to deal with him as a ghost."

I contemplate this for a second. "They'd definitely put in some reverb and things--"

"Imagine his voice with reverb and ghostly shaking," he says.

To the TV, then: "Come on, Shinji! You can make it!"

"Can I have a cough drop?" my friend says, discovering a bag on my desk. He has this weird addiction to cough drops. I don't understand it myself.

And now I'm noticing that the girder kind of looks like a cross. That either means that a) I'm inventing religious symbolism in Eva that's unintentional or b) this inane degree of religious symbolism is intentional. Either way is not good. I can picture myself by the halfway point of the series: "Evangelion begins with the letter 'e'! You can't spell 'Jesus' without the letter 'e'!"

At the last second, the Eva reaches its arm up and blocks the girder from falling on top of Shinji's head. I don't know whether to curse it or to bless it. Gendo looks on smugly, and a bad voice actor informs us that the Eva activated itself. "That's not possible!" Ritsuko shouts.

Shinji runs over to Rei, who suffers for a bit in Shinji's arms. He stares at the Eva, and at Rei, who suffers some more, then at his hand, which is covered in Reiblood. Then, he goes into an interior monologue, which goes like this:

"I mustn't run away I Mustn't Run Away I mustn't RUN AWAY I MUSTN'T RUN AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111" It's delivered with the reverb that we were fearing earlier, which is why Evangelion is sometimes used to disprove the existence of God. Shinji, seeing that Rei is suffering (which is almost as aurally grating as Shinji delivering any line) announces that he shall pilot the Eva.

Good job, Shinjster. He will be rewarded for his good deed by seeing her naked in a few episodes' time. HOT PREVIEW FOLKS.

They start to drain the Jell-O from the Eva tank and begin generic giant robot startup procedures. At one point they insert an "entry plug". I'm not going to sully the good name of the site by saying what I think it looks like. It probably has something to do with the fact that it's 1:30 in the morning. Shinji is in the pilot's seat. Suddenly, lemon-flavored Jell-O begins to fill the cabin. He, predictably, freaks out. Ritsuko calls it LCL and says that once he inhales it, his blood will be oxygenated directly. He takes a big gulp, and says that he's going to be sick. Misato, true to form, just yells at him. "Stop complaining! You're a boy, you know!" I guess this is what passes for humor in this anime. See, we're supposed to laugh at Shinji because he's all strong and masculine and yet he's acting all wimpy and--

--ah, hell, I give up. There's a lot of babble about the synchronization ratio: 41%. No disturbances. Misato faces the camera and tells us that we're beginning launch sequence. And, ah, hell, basically the next few minutes of the anime are choppy launch preparation sequences that will just end up being tedious if I try to describe them. After the preparations are complete, Misato turns to Gendo. "Can we really do this?" she asks. To which he replies: "Of course. Unless we defeat the angels, we have no future."

Aaaaaand...EVA LAUNCH! Misato gets the responsibility of vocally deploying the Eva. I guess that's what a Captain's job entails. Gerald is now on the streets, facing the Angel. We close with a shot of Misato's face, and her monologue: "Shinji... Don't get killed out there."

Way to be confident, babe. End of Episode One. I'd like to take the opportunity to quickly say that I really can't stand the closing theme to Eva, that Shinji is a wimp, and I'll be back next week with a recap of Episode Two, Part One.

Note that Misato, in her preview for Episode Two, promises us "A little fan service as well. And what service!" I don't know about you, but I'm fucking terrified.

Recap by Richard Goodness.