(I wrote this post and decided that I didn’t think it was interesting enough to warrant making a whole video out of–but since I wrote it anyways and it’s not bad, I may as well post it here. Parts of this may later appear in some other video or post if I do a compilation or something like I did with Space Dandy.)
Evangelion episode six is one of the most thoroughly GAINAX parts of the entire series. Misato stands, arms-crossed, in brazen confidence, facing down impossible odds with a cocky smile; just like Noriko and Otaking before her, and just like Nono, Kamina and Simon after. Sci-fi tactics are twisted and taken to a place of over-the-top madness, as all of Japan’s electricity is routed into an untested prototype positron rifle being fired by a giant robot, while another giant robot protects it with literally a giant shield. The whole setup sounds hilarious on paper, yet looks incredibly badass in action thanks to excellent dramatic structure.
Right off the bat, Shinji is nearly one-hit-killed by the enemy the instant he engages with it, establishing that the opposing force is way more threatening than anything faced before. Considering how Shinji was only just talked into piloting the robot again after running away thanks to the anxiety which piloting caused him before, there couldn’t have been a more harsh and demoralizing way for him to start his next battle–and the fact that he’s already being asked to take off again by the time he wakes up hardly helps the situation.
Immediately after Shinji is attacked, we see how Misato starts figuring out the enemy’s abilities and setting up her crazy plan to fight back. 8.7% chances of success are such a high number to her that she walks around with a swagger that says, “I’m a goddamn genius.” The first half of this episode is completely dominated by showing us how Misato can think on her feet and get things going, which is important considering what we’ve seen from the series so far.
Up until this point, NERV has always been struggling and coming back from behind. Getting Shinji into the robot and then trying to somehow manage his actions has been their primary concern in previous battles, and we’ve seen how they’re dealing with a military that talks down the them, financial backers with other priorities, and robots and pilots which have only just been repaired from the beatings that they took before. The only hint we’ve gotten of NERV’s secretly-held insane confidence came from Gendo’s undercover smile in the opening episode.
However, in this episode, NERV steps up to bat as the real overdog in the conflict. Misato’s response to nearly losing her lead pilot is to take a weapon from the military, take power from all of the people that she’s here to protect (almost like a sci-fi spirit bomb), and have that very same pilot launch it all back at the enemy in one giant, “fuck you.”
But Misato isn’t the only one out to prove what she’s capable of: Rei is upfront with Shinji that if he’s not up to the task, then she’ll happily do it for him, and that she’s going to do her job at defending him so well that he shouldn’t even consider the possibility of dying. Shinji is inspired by Rei’s confidence to pilot his robot–and then, after seeing her nearly blown away defending him, springs to make sure that she’s okay as well, in a manner reflecting his own father. When we really consider what Shinji has been through earlier in the day, it’s kind of incredible to see him jumping with concern for someone else like this.
In this episode, Rei explains that she pilots the Evangelion because she is bound to all people. When Shinji says that Ayanami is strong, she replies that this is all she has. On a personal level, it seems like Rei is saying that she has nothing else but piloting Eva in her life, and this seems to be how Shinji interprets it; however, if we can get philosophical about it for a second, Rei is right that piloting the Eva is all that she, and all that humanity itself, has. If NERV fails to destroy the angel then humanity is probably doomed to destruction. The necessity to protect humanity is all that anyone can count on to not die, which Shinji seems to have a difficult time grasping. He’s more likely to be moved by his momentary desire to protect Rei than by the long-term idea that destroying the angels will also protect Rei, along with humanity as a whole. Which one of these mindsets is more strong is a matter up for debate, but both pilots manage to find strength in their viewpoints in order to emerge victorious.
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