Welcome back to EVERYDAY EVA, the blog series where I aim to cover one episode of Evangelion every single day for Mecha March 2022!
EVA-03’s startup test goes horribly wrong, and Shinji is torn between surrendering his life or eliminating the enemy EVA—along with the pilot inside.
Episode 18: “Ambivalence” opens with an eerily striking image: an enormous military plane carrying a crucified EVA-03 through a sparking cumulonimbus cloud. Surely, this is a bad omen for all. Another ominous cue for Shinji befalls him when Misato announces she’ll be away for four days, and that Kaji will be watching over him. Asuka’s temper is hotter than normal, which Misato chalks up to a feminine matter (that glosses right over Shinji’s head), and then she’s off to lead the large test operation ahead.
This short introductory sequence reveals that Shinji is still the only one in the dark about most affairs concerning his life, including that Tohji is set to pilot EVA-03. What makes Tohji different from the other pilots is that his motive is noble and clear—his sister will be transferred to NERV’s superior hospital unit should he agree—whereas the motives of Shinji and Asuka are intrinsically complex. Speaking of, Shinji tries to further understand his father (his motive) by asking Kaji directly about the man. Kaji’s answers are unhelpful to Shinji, however, who still refuses to understand the actions of adults. It would seem that even when Shinji endeavors to understand someone, a separate part of him instantly detaches from any kind of “normal” sympathetic urge. He might be more like his father than he wants to admit.
The next day, dramatic irony holds everyone in suspense as the startup test for EVA-03 fails horribly. This is where Shinji comes face-to-face with the horror that has been brewing. One Eva is ordered to take down another as the 13th Angel takes over Unit-03. In other words, Shinji must defeat Tohji or face his own demise. Shinji would rather die than be a murderer, though, leading Gendo to order the initiation of the Dummy Plug System, another terrible experiment that Gendo has been working on. The scene is painted red by the evening glow, and the tense, vivid battle in the mountains begins. At its end, we witness one of the most brilliantly animated yet gruesome scenes in the entire series: EVA-01 tears apart EVA-03 limb by limb, and it is Gendo using Shinji’s hands to do it. It’s awful, really, and we are left with a totally distraught Shinji as he finally discovers who the Unit-03 pilot was.
To everyone’s concern, Tohji lives, but no one is pleased with the means used to accomplish the day’s victory. The ‘Fourth Children trilogy’ wraps up in Episode 19: “Introjection” with the arrival of ‘the most powerful’ Angel yet. Lots more action await us as this new Angel tears through Tokyo-3. We’ll have to see if Shinji returns to the cockpit. Thanks for reading, and ‘til then!