On a seemingly normal morning Asuka shouts at Shinji (this will become a pattern) about how he apologies without thinking. In this case it’s about the temperature of Asuka’s bath water which is something Asuka should be doing anyway so it’s not hard to sympathise with Shinji’s uncaring apology. The thing is that Shinji does this a lot and I think it’s more that he already knows what he’s done is bad over anything else. In a way it looks like he’s already accepted that he’s done something wrong and apologises because he already understands his faults. The problem is that he doesn’t come across as a guy who thinks about how to change or improve his actions which is why he’s being criticised so badly for it. While he knows he’s done something wrong he puts in too little effort to try and change his behaviour.
It’s shown to us that Shinji is now the number one pilot in tests and as you can imagine Asuka is furious. She tries to seek another person to be annoyed with in Rei but she doesn’t care either. Under normal circumstances this would be normal but it looks like Asuka is now being annoyed at Rei as well. She wants a good ally to be competitive with but Rei obviously isn’t that at all and that makes the moment even more infuriating for her. It seems like Rei looks down on her behaviour but doesn’t care enough to comment.
Another moment I want to draw attention too is Shinji coming home on the bus after his new first place victory! Shinji can’t really contain his emotions and looks up to see a few people laughing at him. This must basically ruin his experience because he can no longer celebrate because he’ll be made fun of. When strangers laugh at you it’s very easy to brood over it in annoyance completely side tracked and Shinji might have done that.
It’s after this that a huge floating angel appeared over the city and the three pilots went out to kill it. Asuka sarcastically praises Shinji but he immediately turns it in her face and it’s pretty funny. It looks like the Eva’s use charging ports from buildings; something that I thought was always really cool. These are probably charges instead of tow ropes or something because the characters had no idea that Shinji would be in the situation he gets himself into! It’s funny that Asuka seems to be having the same problems as everyone else: the chord is too short! There are many design flaws in Evangelion however when you think that this was all made in 15 years from the year 2000 it starts to look pretty impressive.
Anyway Shinji shoots the angel but it vanishes and appears right underneath him and sucks him up! Shinji doesn’t react in time and gets forced into the angel. Misato orders a retreat and starts a plan to try and rescue Shinji. Something constantly brought up in this time is whose fault it is for the problem and Misato gets blamed a lot. My issue with this is that nobody actually knew anything about this angel so Misato has an excuse there. As well as this she orders Shinji to escape and he has time, but he just panics. So in my opinion its Shinji’s fault in his personality which causes him to panic that created the problem. The person to blame should also be an afterthought once Shinji’s rescued. Sure someone’s at fault but that’s not important as actually solving the problem!
Asuka is annoyingly happy that Shinji got sucked into the angel which is absolutely horrible and it shows how her competitive and unnatural pride and desire to be the best conflicting with any sense of empathy. I’m sure you can relate to something bad happening to another person and being happy about it, the difference here is that normal people will keep to themselves and not even think this about terrible situations such as these. I think it might also show Asuka’s faith in the staff at NERV HQ. She has had close shaves and done impossible plans with success and I’m sure she is so confident that he’ll be back that the possibility of his death isn’t a thing in her mind. But there’s always a first time for failure and Asuka can’t understand that.
Rei really gets annoyed by this and in this situation she really isn’t afraid to let it show. You could say that this is due to the relationship of Shinji and Rei for how similar they are and how they seem to be getting on better especially with that mother comment from the previous episode, and you wouldn’t be that wrong. Rei obviously thinks this but I reckon she’d be angry for most people. I can imagine that she is thinking about the number days Shinji and Asuka spent together and is furious at how much she trivialises it.
But someone gets even more annoyed in this episode! The rescue mission involves blowing up the angel with Shinji inside while automatically activating the AV shield so he’s safe. The problem is that Ritsuko priorities the power of the Eva’s over the pilots. Misato cares a lot more for Shinji and slaps Ritsuko in retaliation. It’s at this moment that Misato realises theirs a lot more to the Eva’s than is being let on. Since we know slightly more than Misato we basically know what this thing is, in fact it almost confirms it. She cares about the robot and not the pilot when she should care about both. She should actually care about the pilot more because while Eva’s are expensive there are a lot more of them in the world than eligible pilots. This is when we can start to question if this is true, and I don’t really think it is. Ritsuko’s actions show a new side to this conflict which I will explain. This whole encounter basically shows that she’s lying about the number of eligible pilots in the world. Essentially she thinks Shinji’s replaceable but the Eva’s aren’t or are at a far higher cost. Could this be that it is actually because he’s replaceable? It would make the most sense when you look at all this information. Now we just have to work out why all 8 or so Eva’s aren’t being used, that’s going to be an interesting one.
Another thing that I don’t like is how they referred to the pilots as unit 00, 01 and 02 respectively, earlier I thought that this might be because the Eva’s were easy to spot or that they were referred to so that they could be referenced and talked about easier. But now I’m having second thoughts, what if every time they said “Rescue Eva unit 01” they meant get the Evangelion and not Shinji? This is a terrible way to treat pilots who are saving the world as best they can but it’s a possibility when you look at all the evidence.
Meanwhile inside the angel Shinji is on life support and contemplating things to himself, imaging a second voice to tell him things about his nature. This is really difficult to talk about but the first thing to note is how desperate and crazy Shinji is at this point. He also has the belief that he’s just waiting to die and that’s a terrible way to spend his last moments. Shinji who is very introverted, for the first time wishes for company, not to be saved but he says later “I wanted to see you all one last time”. The “last time” shows that he still thinks he was going to die but just wanted to be with his friends. This is an amazing revolution in Shinji’s character and this moment has been slowly built up too in previous episodes. Some of the best character development can happen so naturally that it’s difficult to notice. I think if you went back to Evangelion the Shinji in episode one would be nothing like the one we know now.
We also get a tiny glimpse into the history of Shinji’s mum’s death. It looks like Gendo was having a trial for murdering her but we still don’t know too much. In this sequence Shinji also thinks about some of his more major flaws as a character and learns from them, which is nice. It’s some kind of vision of Shinji’s mum that makes Shinji cling to life and go berserk, breaking out of the angel in a very violent display.
In the terrifying blood shed we learn more about the Eva’s. They were modelled on the first angel and could actually resent their pilots. If nothing else they definitely aren’t innominate objects. Asuka stares in disbelief that she can pilot something as strong and violent as the Eva shown in the episode. The volume of blood on Shinji’s Eva and around the city must be colossal, Shinji addresses this later.
Later in the hospital room Rei is with Shinji when he wakes up to say welcome and be happy in her own way. Asuka is standing in front of the door and she is seen by Shinji. I’m sure it’s a mixture of shame for her previous statements and embarrassment that stops her from saying hi. I like how Shinji understands what she basically want’s to say anyway. He saw her waiting after all and he can’t help but laugh! Despite this he’s still very stressed by the experience and can smell nothing but blood. The only real positive thing from this is that Shinji no longer calls his ceiling unfamiliar, and I don’t know how good that really is.