In Watching Anime with my Girlfriend, Sam Weller guides his fiancee, Emily (video director of comedy mega-site COMEDIVA), into the world of anime with eye-opening, and often hilarious, results.
Previous Outings... RISTORANTE PARADISO
I have fond memories of NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. I remember buying the platinum box set in Wal-Mart (!) and blasting through that show over a fateful winter break in college. Asuka remains one of my favorite anime characters to this day as a result. I wish I could share it with more people, but unfortunately, the entire series is a bit of an investment of your time and emotions, one I didn't think the GF would jump for.
So I decided to skip to the end. THE END OF EVANGELION, that is. This surely won't press my luck with my future wife, will it...?
Now, just so you all know, Emily hasn't watched any EVA before, and I was explaining and filling in points constantly throughout this thing. If you haven't seen it yet, yourself, I recommend doing so, as this feature will be SPOILER HEAVY.
Still, in my humble opinion, this film holds up as a bold, experimental take on a typical shonen big robot show. Some of the choices - - as Emily said - - feel a little "first year film school," but their effect remains haunting. Most surprising to me was how emotionally invested I got, even nine years after my first viewing of this surreal trip.
But enough of my opinion. On to the one that actually matters... my girlfriend's!
This transcript begins immediately after the credits rolled for both "episodes" of THE END OF EVANGELION. Also - - and I hate admitting this - - we watched this version in German with English subtitles. I remain faultless, however, since I had owned a copy in a previous life :)
Sam: Okay, so what were you going to ask me?
Emily: Why was he choking her at the end?
S: Shinji was choking her at then end. The first time I saw this, I didn't really really know why... but I think it's because he's coming out of that one dream in which he is choking her.
S: I think the other implication is it's an indictment of... well... humanity's first instinct is to, like, kill whatever you see. But then Asuka tenderly touches his face and it like... stops him. Because that affection... effects him.
E: Love is the only thing that stops us from killing each other.
E: The only thing that's stopping me from killing you right now, babe, is because I love you so [censored] much.
S: ... But if you didn't have that? Just shoot me, kill me?
E: I'd have so many guns. (LAUGHS)
S: All right, so now that that's out of the way...
Overall, what was your impression of THE END OF EVANGELION?
E: I did not drink enough wine to appreciate this film.
S: Did you also need another substance to appreciate this?
E: Probably a lot of drugs. Mostly drugs. All the drugs.
S: You essentially told me - - and I think a lot of fans would agree with this - - if you didn't watch the series, you can't fully appreciate this movie. But, as it stands right now, what are the merits, or non-merits, of what you just saw?
E: Well, it was maybe made weirder because we watched it with subtitles, in German, of this Japanese anime. So if it wasn't hard enough to follow the plot, that didn't help. I would be completely lost if you weren't explaining things to me.
S: Yeah, you probably would. But you enjoyed the mid-film credit sequence because it allowed 'cuddle time'.
E: Yes! We got to cuddle. That was good. A nice, ten-minute intermission. I mean-- I mean, I give it points for being really creative, and very visually interesting. Like a 70's acid trip.
S: That was something that I actually never thought before I watched it with you. It does feel like 70's cinema...
E: ...very 70's kind of art style, with a lot of the kinds of imagery.
S: Did you see all the phalluses?
E: No! What are you talking about? I didn't see any phallic imagery at all! (<-- SARCASM)
S: Yeah, it's much more a film about the type of message it's trying to send you than the plight of the characters. But you agree on that, even without background.
All right, what was your impression of Shinji?
E: A little pathetic piece of [censored].
S: That's good.
S: I told you before we watched this that I felt this movie is kind of the director's (Hideaki Anno) "F*** You" to the audience. Do you think he accomplished his goal?
E: Yes, he definitely accomplished his goal. I mean, I kind of liked it for the subversive nature of it, getting the back story of that was kind of cool.
S: What was the most, screwed-up part of the film for you?
E: Umm... I don't know...
S: Pick, pick a couple--
E: Like the big, white alien things with the teenage girl heads that morphed out of them, that was messed up. Yeah, the piercing through eyes - - in general - - that was kind of gross.
S: There were a lot of eye things.
E: Yeah, mutilated bodies, primordial ooze... (LAUGHS)
S: What did you think of the direction, was it a little too avant-garde?
E: No, I thought it was cool, I thought it was very interestingly done. Kubrick would have creamed himself.
S: Would you recommend this to anyone?
E: High School students.
There you have it! We got a cautious recommend from Emily to all you suppressed high schoolers, hitting puberty for the first time and working through your frustrating lives. Or maybe only high schoolers would have the patience for this. I'm not sure what Emily meant.
Have suggestions of what Emily should watch next? Drop em below! Thanks to Kino88 for the suggestion this time around. Kudos.
Sam Weller is a writer and actor who's scribed for shows like FIRST EDITION, GEEK THERAPY, and most recently BATGIRL: SPOILED. He also really likes anime. To know what is going to happen next, follow@cravesam