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Breaking the Narrative Episode 37: Third Impact! Anime Feminism Evangelist!

Why did I decide to do this one? Oh right, its more recent and I can’t just defend things I like all the time, it makes me sloppy. If you are an avid anime fan I think you can tell that I’m defending Neon Genesis Evangelion. As you can probably tell from my tone I don’t like this series. (Kukuruyo calm down with the judging already! I know you like the series and you are free to. I just prefer a bit less overboard cult references in my anime.) To clarify, the reason I don’t like EVA is the same reason I don’t like CLAMP’s X/1999 movie, to understand the thing as a whole you have to ingest copious amounts of drugs. I shouldn’t have to be high as a kite to enjoy my anime. One of the reasons I watch anime is so I don’t have to get high to deal with some of this shit.

What do I mean by this?  Well, how about I let the writer and director Hideaki Anno explain for himself?

“I wrote about myself. My friend lent me a book on psychological illness and this gave me a shock, as if I finally found what I needed to say.”


So he didn’t even know what the hell he was talking about until someone gave him a book halfway through production. I will grant that he has since become a sort of auteur type of figure even though he hasn’t created anything of his own that has surpassed NGE. This was after him going into a deep depression after working with Hayao Miyazaki. Part of this having stemmed from Anno’s own hatred of otaku and anime at the time, so when none of his live action ventures amounted to anything, he returned after a 10 year hiatus from the style.

Now why did I spend so long explaining my views and listing  Anno’s faults? Why am I going to have to defend this despite my distastes? Well, its in the title isn’t it? Its one thing if I keep defending things I like. Its easy. Its lazy. I can do it all day every day. However I will have been here officially a full year by the end of this month  Its about time I really show my skill and intelligence and if I fail then I will welcome everyone who decides to come fight me over my opinion on this series. So Let’s Hammer This In!

This time around I’m dealing with one of Amelia Cook’s contributors by the name of Nicole Veneto. Before we begin lets look at her source material because unlike most feminists that we typically deal with, this one has provided hers!
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What do we have here? A 2012 reprint of a probably cherry picked bit about narratives from 1975 and two works from Saito Tamaki with an introduction from Kotani Mari. Now I have an idea where this is going to go, as Tamaki-Sensei is a legit psychologist complete with a directorship at a decent hospital in Chiba Prefecture in Japan, and is known for coining the term “hikkikomori” which means extreme recluse. This is something a lot of us could identify with though Tamaki-Sensei’s speciality is with Pubescent and Adolescent psychology. As such he personally associates a reclusive lifestyle with a desire for perpetual childhood. Before we continue I will say that I have VERY little training in actual psychology from a school that isn’t really known for its psych department. So, I might have some trouble with this approach. That being said I find it interesting that Kotani is here again since if you remember when I first touched upon Amelia Cook she used her as a full source. However, I guess its expected, since Kotani’s entire career is based around Evangelion. I then attached Veneto’s description not only because its typical but hilarious to look at. So how did she start her tirade off?
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Oh this isn’t loaded at all! Opens up right up with a picture suggesting a female as disposable. Doesn’t feel too good does it? This is how equality is. Keep in mind that in Eva’s world this was supposed to have happened 3 years ago. Can’t complain about how the first sentences read except there are a million and one ways to interpret the series from ANY standpoint. But I’m not going to step into standpoint theory here because I kind of want to get this over with. However, there is actually more than she suggests. There are also a lot of father issues, alcoholism, and aspects of coping with legitimate traumas. Despite my feelings towards the series I can’t deny that even the background characters are very complex and well written to the point that even if they never speak most of the series, Angels have a clear motivation. Now for the spoiler warning, if you haven’t seen Neon Genesis Evangelion and plan to, stop right now. If not, lets unload!

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Alright, here is where we start to see the ideological blinders I think. The entirety of this first paragraph is a misunderstanding of the source material. It is actually clearly stated within the anime that the intention is to further human evolution by collecting all Lilin (children of Lilith) souls into the Egg of Lilith. Therefore fusing all of humanity into a homogeneous collective being like the BORG, in short a feminist utopia where everyone thinks the same thoughts and has the same feelings. All while Gendo Ikari is trying to subvert this and use the same method to reunite with his dead wife Yui whose soul resides currently in EVA Unit 01 piloted by his son Shinji. Oedipus aside there, both the Ikaris do use the women around them with the desire to be with the same woman again. Now when it come’s to Rei’s disposability, lets look at her design.
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Looking at simply her upper body without any female characteristics we see that she is given a bob haircut and actually comes off as androgynous like several following male anime protagonists. I’m not really seeing much difference between her and her male counter part Shinji, facially. Most would pin this on the style. However, I think this was intentional, as other characters do look different enough from these two to justify my hypothesis. To call Rei “moe” is, frankly, ridiculous, because moe characters aren’t supposed to be sexualized in the first place. The point of all the EVA pilots in series continuity is they are all disposable children. They are all unwanted by what family they do have and are merely a means to an end.

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The first paragraph I already touched upon with Anno’s depression and the like. However, she uses one of his interviews to skew this towards the feminist view of how men are detached from all emotion, probably viewing this as some way of him needing to tap into Rei to get in touch with his inner feminine but as a patriarch, being unable to, because toxic masculinity. This is reinforced with more of Anno’s statements about otaku having a “stunted, imaginative landscape” from World War II. What is not being realized here is the fact that Anno is projecting his feelings about himself onto his fans, since he was unable to create anything truly original himself after Evangelion. To further see this, lets translate Rei’s full Japanese name, 綾波零. This comes out to Twilled Waves Zero, which is both a nod to her own Unit 0 and onto a Fubuki class destroyer ship from World War II. On top of this, lets look at her actions in the series. She’s not one to really make a fuss or fight with her ‘superiors.’ In other words, she makes zero waves. Anno was also like this during his depression, and during his time at Studio Ghibli with Miyazaki. Honestly, if you ask me, other than EVA he hasn’t made much of any waves. Even Shin Godzilla, which she was talking about here, was an idea of national emasculation he didn’t make much of an ‘impact’ upon compared to his co-director Shinji Higuchi, who brought more influence from his own Attack on Titan series, in my personal opinion. This is another misinterpretation because the whole of Shin Godzilla was commentary on the Fukushima tragedy of 2011, not the neutering of Japan.

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Now, this isolationist interpretation to the stunted imagination argument, I don’t see as escapism from the changes that World War II brought about. If so, such imagery would have surfaced more during the 60s. No, the escapism is actually from what Japan started becoming in the 70’s and 80’s with the bubble economy. A lot of people don’t know about this so much, but during the 70’s and 80’s when Japan was becoming the world leader in electronics there was the growth of a major economic bubble, something we saw ourselves in America during the 90’s and 00’s and during the 50’s and 60’s. All three times the bubble burst and both countries have experienced their own individual depressions at each of these points. Look at the GeoFront that series is based out of. This is a denotation of the way the real estate market acted every single time, rising in times of positivity and declining when hardships occur, the disposable people always being sent out to fix the problem. In most cases, they are men. As for the fixation on women, what we call gynocentrism, this is another misinterpretation. The cult aspects of this come from something Anno was loosely involved with called Aum Shinrikyo. Rei’s look actually comes from the women of that cult. They actually had to perform rewrites to avoid the Uncanny Valley of the anime becoming more real than intended. So again Veneto completely misses the point.

Whew, this is getting a bit longwinded. That’s understandable with it being such a huge subject we are getting into here. I think for the sake of sanity and a desire to help with breaking this down proper I am going to make this a two parter. Thats right, I’m only halfway through. This person is very long-winded. As such, if you think there is something I’ve missed, comment to let me know. This is a lot to to read into after all, so until next week when we finish this up, Please Remember to Game Freely!

Alex Tinsley
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.
Alex Tinsley
Follow me at
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Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.