Welcome back to EVERYDAY EVA, the blog series where I aim to cover one episode of Evangelion every single day for Mecha March 2022!
The next phase of the Drama Arc rolls out over a trilogy of episodes, and this first stages the tragedy to come.
As laid out in the production notes, Episodes 17-19 comprise the ‘Fourth Children trilogy,’ which serves as the grand climax for the middle part of the series—also known as the Drama Arc. Tohji is chosen as the Fourth Child, and this first episode shows his coming to terms with his selection. Shinji continues to mature, and Hikari’s love for Tohji blossoms. Meanwhile, NERV’s entire U.S. branch explodes in a catastrophic accident along with EVA-04 and thousands of lives. The S2 Engine, known as the core of the Evas and the Angels, is under immense scrutiny here, much as it was with the Jet Alone project. If this is the ‘calm before the storm’ as the production notes describe, one can only imagine the potential outcomes doomed for Shinji ahead.
Interestingly, Gendo also becomes more of a key player in these episodes. He continues to use Ritsuko, exploiting her knowledge and desire to complete Project E to suit his own plans. It’s transparent to us, and Ritsuko is only now starting to question his ambitions. Of course, Gendo’s invitation for a dinner date with Rei is what triggers this realization. Afterwards, Rei discovers a hint of feelings for Shinji after he cleans up her “Spartan” apartment (quoted by Tohji), and Tohji himself calls out the Eva pilots for what they are: a bunch o’ weirdos. Prepare to join the club, my friend.
When Misato swindles info from Kaji, we discover that the Marduk Institute is yet another construction for NERV’s own end, a facade just like the city itself. Naturally, the same goes for Shinji’s school. This insight made more relevant now given that Ritsuko just denied Misato of any recent word from Marduk. Suspicious. Shinji and Kaji take a different discussion on what it means to enjoy something and endure pain outdoors as they water Kaji’s melons together. (If that wasn’t innuendo enough, Shinji had denied a tea-date with the man. For shame, Kaji, for shame.) Still, we’ll have to remember this scene not only for later episodes (since it mirrors the inner-space scene of Episode 16), but also how it impacts the decisions made in the Rebuild tetralogy. Between flirting with Misato and playfully chatting with Shinji, however, Kaji seems to have no time for Asuka, much to her dismay.
And now the groundwork is set for the action to ramp up once again over the next few episodes. A new disaster awaits Shinji in Episode 18: “Ambivalence,” but with tragedy also comes more answers about NERV’s mysterious plots. Thanks for reading, and ‘til then!