August 25, 2014 09:00

"THE END OF EVANGELION" (EoE) will be aired on "Eiga Tengoku" on August 25th in the Kanto area. This is the first broadcast on TV. I'm rather nervous about it. This is a problematic film that many people may be anxious about, "Is it okay to air?". I can understand why it can't be aired on Friday Roadshow (a Movie Channel in Japan), since it's completely aimed at people who already know Eva, and there are a lot of brutal scenes in this movie.

The year 1997, when the film was shown, was a strange year. The Magazine House literary magazine "Hato Yo!" asked people to choose their most memorable words that year, and the words that came up were "Live" from "Princess Mononoke" and the last line of the EoE, "It's disgusting.". On the one hand, the movie "Live, you are beautiful" was a big hit, and the other one shouting "I'll kill you, I'll kill you, I'll kill you, I'll kill you" was a big hit. What is this?

After the TV version was aired in 1996, non-anime magazines such as "Deluxe Beppin"(a porn magazine), "Studio Voice"(a monthly magazine with different features in each issue), "Quick Japan"(a magazines about hobbies such as special effects, anime, and idols), and "Eureka"(a general arts magazine that deals with a wide range of literature and thought, with a focus on poetry and criticism.) started to feature Eva and Hideaki Anno across the board. It seems to have been a big seller. I also bought one. What's interesting is that the articles were not from the distant perspective of "I heard there's something like this," but were articles by enthusiastic editors spreading the word about Eva. It was a true "Eva bubble". It was a time when the publishing industry was bursting with the Eva boom.

In particular, the legendary TV episodes 25 and 26, and the EoE with its mixture of Eros and Thanatos, are still a source of stories.

Looking back at the reaction to the film at the time, and the stories of those who were disturbed by it, I try to find out why the EoE still sticks with me.

The syndrome of wanting to tell someone.

I recall a story that really happened back in 1997.

  • CASE1・Testimony of Mr. Y

"There was once an All Night Nippon(*1) special where they had a program of heated debate about what the end of Evangelion would be like."

*1) a Japanese radio program broadcast by Nippon Broadcasting System and other radio stations from 1–5 am (JST). (Wikipedia)

I haven't heard the actual sound source, so I would really like to hear it now. At the time, fans' expectations for Eva's episodes 25 and 26, and then the EoE, were so swollen that it was very difficult to keep up. That's why the booing for the final episode was unimaginable. Looking at it now, I understand that it was a magnificent way to do it, but... At the time, you know...

  • CASE2 - Mr. A's testimony

    "At a magazine editorial department, a fashionable editor was hooked. He once made a question-and-answer sheet and spread it around the company to see what would be revealed in the movie. However, the answer sheets were not reflected in the article at all, and were for personal use. Also, the master of my favorite bar once gave me a video copy of the TV version and insisted that I watch it."

Evangelion was a work that many people did "proselytizing" (appealing to people about the work's good qualities). I couldn't help but want someone to talk to. Difficult words, unpredictable storyline, episodes 25 and 26, and a style that requires you to read "EoE". It's no wonder why so many books on the mysteries of Eva continue to be published to this day.

I'm sure many people pushed the Eva film comics on their friends. At the time, I too was under the illusion that if I was so into it, others must be too. All I can say is that I lost my AT field and was drowning in the sea of L.C.L..

  • CASE3・Testimony of Ms. S

"I wanted to get to know a subculture guy (*2), so I said, "I'd like to watch Evangelion," and he took me to his house and we had to watch it all night with really, really, really good commentary. After 24 episodes, I couldn't get through it, and after taking a nap and waking up, the first thing he said to me with pure eyes was, "Well, do you want to watch the rest?". I could only say yes."

*2) A boy with a unique sense of taste and obsession who is well versed in genres such as manga, anime, minor movies and fashion.

(I hold my head in my hands, not knowing what to do.) But as a fan, I have to say that I think he really wanted you to watch it, back then! Nowadays, we have Nico Nico Douga(a Japanese video-sharing service on the web), Youtube, Bandai Channel, etc., so we can just say, "Please watch it.". But at that time, the only way to get people to understand the fun and excitement of Evangelion was to have them watch the video recordings directly. It couldn't be helped that my brain was more occupied with Ayanami Rei and Soryu Asuka Langley than with the young women in front of me, you know?

  • CASE4 - Mr. T's testimony

"When I wrote endlessly on Usenet newsgroups about how wonderful Asuka was to people who said they liked Rei, I was cut off from the group."

It seems that even though this person had a thick AT field against outsiders, against people who knew Eva, he thought he could reverse their AT field and enter other areas to change their minds.

We're all different, you know? ...Because there was no one in the class to talk to. I can' t help it.

The cause of the thirst of the fans at that time was the overwhelming lack of information distribution.

A period when we couldn't get information.

When the TV version of Evangelion aired.

"There was no signal in Shizuoka Prefecture, so the fans who really wanted to see Evangelion in real time climbed up to the fifth station of Mt. Fuji every week to watch it. In the last episode, everyone was so exhausted that they didn't have the strength to go down the mountain, so they stayed the night."

It is a rumor that may or may not be true. However, the fans were so hungry and thirsty when Eva was aired that they could believe this story.

The year 1996, when the TV version was aired, and 1997, when the old theatrical version was screened, were the transitional years of information technology. It was the very beginning of the Internet in Japan. ISDN modems had just gone on sale in a big way, and it was a time when people were using dial-up Internet access during the fixed late-night hours of "Telehodai (*3)" because of the huge telephone bills involved in connecting.

*3) A product name for optional telephone services (selective services) provided by NTT East and NTT West since 1995. Only during the late night and early morning hours (from 23:00 to 8:00 the next day), charges are fixed monthly rates for up to two pre-designated phone numbers, regardless of the duration of the call.

At that time, the main information exchange on the Internet was more of an online service. On the board of Nifty Serve (a personal computer communication service operated by Nifty Corporation from 1987 to 2006), people were constantly discussing what the meaning of Evangelion's words were, what would happen in the end, and how the movie version would conclude. There were also "grass-roots BBS ( small-scale online services that were mainly run by individuals or groups and not on a national scale)" where Eva fans would gather and chat on Telehodai time (11pm to 8am) while rubbing their sleepy eyes.

The posts from the online service at this time are mixed in with the live action parts in EoE. This was a time when there was no 2channel. Characters such as "Anno, go die" were created by GAINAX staff based on actual posts from the online service. Hideaki Anno himself said that there were many negative comments about his words, actions, and personality, such as "GAINAX has suddenly become rich, and they are distributing money" (from "Parano Evangelion"). In reality, though, he was just returning the sales to his staff.

In the live-action part, there are many performances that show " our side", such as fan letters and the audience watching the movie in the theater.

Shinji: I don't know. I don't really know what reality is.

Rei: You can't accurately grasp the gap between other people's reality and your own truth.

Rei: You've been cheating the truth by running away to fiction.

Shinji: Can't I dream about me alone?

Rei: It's not a dream. It's just a fill-in for reality.

(from "EoE")

It's like throwing ice water on the people who were excited about Eva. There's a scene where Asuka, Rei, and Misato keep saying over and over again like an echo,

"I hate you."

"You should know the extent of your status and abilities."

"Why don't you just die right now?"

"It's not that I don't like you, it's just that you're my least favorite kind."

"To be honest, you're annoying."

If you haven't seen it, you should definitely watch it.

And as the final closing, "Disgusting."

Hideaki Anno: Geeks are very protective of their own world. That's their own world. It's difficult to tell someone like that to look out for the world. If they become tainted by the world, they are no longer geeks. So they stick to their own world. (When I see what fans say and do) I feel like I'm looking at myself, and that makes me say things that are offensive. (From "Parano Evangelion")

It is true that the film was controversial after its screening. But now, as a result, the heart-stabbing content of EoE has further accelerated the Eva fever. With the spread of the Internet since 1997, it has become easier for those who expressed their anger, those who still have a deep love for Eva, and those who are thirsty for more, to communicate with each other through secondary works such as LAS(*4). The dawn of the Internet and the timing of EoE's release were too perfect for it to be a coincidence.

*4) Acronym for "Love x 2 Asuka Shinji". It is mainly used in Evangelion's secondary works to specify couplings.

Hideaki Anno: There is no such thing as a winning anime. There are only animations that have won by chance. Winning is a coincidence, losing is inevitable, as the saying goes. It's just a coincidence. If this had happened two years ago, it wouldn't have worked, and it won't work two years later either.

(From "Parano Evangelion")

Zen Questions and Answers in EoE.

Shinji in EoE has done surprisingly little.

The only thing he did on his own was to admit that it's okay for others to be different from him. Shinji is useless, unable to act as expected. In the United States, he is repeatedly named as one of the "worst anime characters I hate".

The scene in "EoE" where Shinji screams "Help me. Somebody, HELP ME! Don't leave me alone! Don't abandon me! PLEASE DON'T KILL ME!". In a sense, this scene is the climax of the film. It is terribly pathetic, but it exposes the problems of human beings and projects them onto the characters in a self-referential way.

In contrast, Rei and Misato said, "If it's that hard, you can stop now," "If you don't like it that much, you can run away now," "You want to be one with me, don't you?" "You want to put our bodies together." Then Asuka said, "But I don't want to do it with you, even if I die. It's disgusting." It's amazing that this spell of Zen questions and answers from the inner voice has continued for more than ten years, leading to "New Movie: 3.0".

Many people have used Eva Zen questions and answers in their stories. Among them, the writer Takimoto Tatsuhiko, who was deeply devoted to Ayanami Rei, wrote an essay in "Chojin Keikaku" in which he talks with his girlfriend Rei in his brain.

"Don't give up your will, don't stop trying, and don't turn into a sallow animal man who goes with the easy way. There must be a breakthrough somewhere." Ray probably doesn't believe in her own line. She doesn't think she can convince me either. That's why the muttering is a prayer. I, too, hung onto Ray's breast and prayed.

(From "The Superhuman Project")

This is an essay written in a funny way. But it is too sincere to be funny. I know that there are many people who had Rei in their hearts.I wonder if watching EoE will make me feel nostalgic, or if it will bring back the old "Eva was my heart" feeling. I'm the kind of person who still survives by seeing the vision of Asuka scolding me in my brain, so every time I see EoE, I have a rejection reaction. Oh, Asuka, please help me! I'm looking forward to 2.0 and 3.0 by the way.

(Writen by Tamago mago)

<Original JP site: https://www.excite.co.jp/news/article/E1408896966616/>