Welcome back to EVERYDAY EVA, the blog series where I aim to cover one episode of Evangelion every single day for Mecha March 2022!
As the 12th Angel swallows Unit-01 and parts of Tokyo-3 into its shadow, Shinji is pulled into the space of his mind.
If the first arc is the Prologue and the second is the Action, the third arc of the series is the Drama. The human mind, a prominent theme in Eva, especially becomes present in the Drama Arc (as stated in the production notes). Episode 16: “Splitting of the Breast” is an especially psychological episode for its prenatal imagery and metaphors for childbirth, making it a highly symbolic episode as well. This is most noted especially when Unit-01 breaks out of the 12th Angel’s spherical body and blood sprays everywhere in a grotesque display of the Eva’s power, but perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. After all, the mystique of the 12th Angel itself is the real intrigue of this episode.
As the 12th Angel expands the shadow lurking underneath its floating body, Shinji and several buildings of Tokyo-3 are pulled under into the darkness. Its body is an abyss of space, a “Dirac sea,” and outside interference is rendered useless. Women are pitted against one another in their differing opinions on whether to salvage Shinji, Asuka vs. Rei and Misato vs. Ritsuko. These dichotomies aren’t new, but the disparities heighten as part of the stirring drama. Shinji, meanwhile, confronts the self hiding in his mind in a symbolic train ride that becomes emblematic of the entire franchise. His real battle here isn’t with the Angel, rather it is with his conflicting desires.
Anno implements lots of visual tactics to create the world of Shinji’s mind. White stripes representing character dialogue flash against a stark black backdrop. We really get a feeling for how Shinji views himself through the viewpoints of others—how he internalizes mistakes even beyond his reach as his own and sees himself as a failure. Meanwhile, new images from Shinji’s past are flashed before us, providing us with more info about Shinji’s mother. It’s an intense and creative visual design that will come to occupy other episodes of the series’ second half, for better or worse.
“The secret of the Evas” is the other main item addressed by Episode 16. Misato’s suspicions are reared several times, adding to her slow distancing from Ritsuko and NERV itself. Episode 17: “Fourth Children,” more closely explores the true purpose of the Evas, and more horror is unleashed. Thanks for reading, and ‘til next time!
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