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 first pilot to fall in the final act is none other than the girl who once stood at the very top of her game.
For the longest time, Asuka has been my favorite character in anime. Episode 22: “Don’t be” spells out much of her past, and the discovery that she’s from just as messed up a family as Shinji’s and Misato’s and Ritsuko’s and everyone else comes as little surprise. Her interaction with her stepmother over the phone—that is, her German speaking—kicks off the beginning of a bigger rift growing between her and the rest of the world. In a phenomenal breakdown, Asuka curses the bath, the washer, the toilet, and the space she shares with Misato and Shinji. She hates them both, but she hates the Rei even more. She hates her mom. She hates her dad. But the person she hates most of all is herself. Across the hall, Misato is unable to do anything to remedy Asuka’s situation, and so she continues to decline. Asuka’s pride is in shambles, and her toppling from such a high position is utterly heartbreaking.
Rei is a doll, Asuka declares, but Unit-02 is supposed to be just that. “I hate you! I hate all of you!” She screams before the elevator door seals Rei inside. Asuka’s last chance is coming, and she feels it too. For the entire world to fail her—for her EVA-02 to crumble under the 15th Angel’s power—is to reverse all the fortifications she walked into the series with to fall in one go. Anno’s use of rapidly flashing black, white, and red Japanese and German text showcases the stunning realm of Asuka’s psychology. Fear, anxiety, and severe distress form kaleidoscopic visions of suicidal ideation, rejection, and isolation in her heart. What she needs most of all, despite her own claims, is touch and affection. Shinji’s refusal to give her anything is revealed to have only furthered her suffering.
With the 15th Angel having “defiled” Asuka’s mind—and to the classical melody of Handel’s “Messiah,” no less—EVA-02 and its pilot are rendered completely useless. Gendo calls upon a weapon of the apocalypse, the Spear of Longinus, to salvage a victory, much to Misato and Fuyutsuki’s passionate disapproval. EVA-00 takes aim and vaults the spear, and as the 15th Angel destructively funnels inward, Longinus is left adrift in lunar orbit. What appalls the fallen Asuka most of all, though, is that it was Rei who had to save her. The curtain closes on her screams and shouts.
Asuka’s “mind rape” (as it has been called) and subsequent fall from grace strongly parallels the death of the 15th Angel itself. She’ll have another chance to redeem herself in the film, but like Misato, all we can do for now is helplessly watch. More cries are shed for the pilots in Episode 23: “Tears.” Thanks for watching, and ‘til then!
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