Welcome back to EVERYDAY EVA, the blog series where I aim to cover one episode of Evangelion every single day for Mecha March 2022!
Shinji runs away, but to where does he go?
In the most aesthetically depicted, emotionally void, and passionately disconnected way possible, Shinji runs away into the Tokyo-3 landscape. The production notes for Episode 4: “Hedgehog’s Dilemma” point out that despite the EVAs not being active at all, it’s still a very Evangelion episode. It’s dramatic but sober. Moody but tactful. If you hadn’t picked up on this already, you’d quickly find out with this episode that much of Evangelion is centered around mood and tone.
The red-washed morning after Shinji sleeps on a public bench feels distraught, and I can’t help but wonder if it is THIS particular episode that inspired the entire village sequence of Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time. In other words, it’s a lonely walk through the natural world—one which both the child Kensuke of NGE and the adult Kensuke of Thrice Upon a Time share with a lost Shinji Ikari. The only difference is that Kensuke of NGE camps outdoors “for fun,” while the Kensuke of Thrice Upon a Time does it for a living, to protect others. A child’s reasoning vs. an adult’s. Shinji, meanwhile, remains a childish wanderer through the natural world across both cycles.
Then, just as Episode 2 did, we get a flashback explaining why Shinji left: Misato got mad at him for disobeying orders. When Shinji is brought back to NERV, Misato again rejects his childish behavior rather than punishing him as a “grown-up.” She just flares up and leaves. This explanation, which comes from the production notes, also explains how Misato cannot reach out to Shinji the way that she wants to. It would seem that the Hedgehog’s Dilemma is something both Shinji and Misato share. Thankfully, Misato realizes this about Shinji, and thus decides to go make amends. After sharing 50 seconds of neither talking to one another, the two make up at the train station. I think I teared up a little the first time I watched this scene, especially when Misato turns up and realizes that Shinji never left. “Welcome back, Shinji.”
The action returns to Eva in another 2-episode arc, starting with Episode 5: “Rei I.” Thanks for reading, and ‘til tomorrow!