Welcome back to EVERYDAY EVA, the blog series where I aim to cover one episode of Evangelion every single day for Mecha March 2022!
A total blackout threatens the safety of Tokyo-3. Thankfully, a little elbow grease saves the day.
Episode 11: “The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still” is the episode where, as one anituber put it, “Everyone kicks ass.” And it’s my favorite episode for this very reason. The number of directorial Anno-isms that litter this episode are insane, from people completing each other’s dialogue in parallel scenes to all of the visual iconography of Eva being smashed into one glorious 20-minute stretch. It’s so, so rare to see the NERV staff off the clock. Likewise, I find that it is only when people are stripped of the comfort and convenience of routine that their true character is revealed. Here, every character’s quirks are drawn out to their fullest as they each react to the blackout, and the combined pettiness of everyone’s flaws and attitudes is both humorous and genius. Plus, this episode genuinely questions the way we rely too much on scientific civilization, another trademark theme of Anno’s. Many will argue that this is one of the series’ weakest episodes. I, however, would contend that this is Evangelion at its peak.
The manual loading of the entry plugs is one of the most valuable takeaways from this episode. Ritsuko, Gendo, Fuyutsuki, and everyone else at NERV place all of their faith in the pilots’ eventual arrival. And, while our kids take more time than they probably should getting there (largely due to Asuka’s denial of Rei’s intuition of navigating HQ), they eventually show up to save the day. Teamwork is essential to this episode, and the mechanical operations of preparing for combat are reminiscent of the climactic showdown in Episode 6—including a similar blackout situation! The stakes, while not the highest they’ve ever been, are certainly elevated by the lack of the resources we’ve been so accustomed to using. Even Misato is MIA from the operations room. Our usual processes will not work here. Instead, the pilots and NERV staff have to put their differences aside and come together to create a plan of attack. This is where Asuka starts to pull her weight as their true captain.
And of course, a desperate situation wouldn’t be complete without some relief saved for the end. Ritsuko and Maya opening the elevator to Misato and Kaji riling on the floor in pain is simply perfect. Likewise, Asuka’s denial of Shinji’s philosophical questioning of the Angels—chalking mankind’s lack of understanding as part of the natural order of things—only further perpetuates their mysterious origin. Where they came from and why they are attacking are of little consequence to someone like Asuka—as long as she can pilot, her purpose is concrete. Maybe Shinji will figure out why he pilots someday soon, but for now, it’s times like this where staring up into the stars is the only proper way to end a long day’s work.
This is probably the only episode that I know by heart, word-for-word, and my feelings about it haven’t changed one bit since I first watched it. It’s such a comfortable episode, which isn’t something I can say for most of Eva. Looking ahead, a significantly more dire Angel attack threatens the safety of humanity in Episode 12: “She said, ‘Don’t make others suffer for your personal hatred,’ so don’t miss it! Thanks for reading, and ‘til then!