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asianbeat original pop culture column [Evangelion – It’s Japan]

Evangelion – It’s Japan

I think there are few writers who can write without hesitation an article about Neon Genesis Evangelion, or Eva

It takes you commitment to write it.
It takes you time to interpret it.
It’s not something that you can approach lightly.
Evangelion is that kind of topic.

At the end of June 2009 I watched the premier of the movie Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance. In my own personal opinion, it is a classic. Compated to the TV version big screen depicts the breakthrough of lead character Ikari Shinji. I have a feeling that this will redefine Japanese anime.

Evangelion is not a sci-fi, but more of a Japanese myth.

I wonder if you know old Japanese stories that feature kamisama (gods)?

How did Japan come to be?
What kind of person was the creator?
The answer is written in Japanese myths.

But Greek gods would be surprised at how absurd, unreasonable and violent Japanese gods are.

Looking back at the origins it starts with this chaotic beginning.
Man’s common unconsciousness trying to answer the unanswerable. With this in mind Evangelion is not science, and not fiction, but a Japanese myth.

Eva is a visualized version of human’s inhumane power.

Just like the gods in Japanese mythology, we have an inhuman consciousness that is absurd, unreasonable and violent.
But it is because we have this “inhumane” streak that makes us human.

Eva is a robot that represents a visualized version of human’s inhumane power
Thus, the scene of Eva devouring Angels represents the awakening of our violent streak.
We never think it strange that although Eva is a robot it bleeds. Perhaps in our hearts we crave the blood and violence.

In a way Evangelion is like the most inhumane thing man has ever made - the nuclear weapon. The unending battle between the man-made Eva and the man-made Angels is a war started by man.

Shinji, the helpless little boy who is at the mercy of a power greater than himself – is like us – Japan…

The story of Japan’s Rebirth

Evangelion is persistently depicting Japan

Tokyo-3 was previously a traditional Japanese city. However the nuclear bomb burned it to the ground and western culture filtered in to the town. This is where the story of Evangelion begins.

Japan lost its identity due to the war.
Although it boasts economic prowess, it is not in a position to promote world peace.
Although it is the only country to ever suffer a nuclear attack, it cannot become a leader in the peace movement. If anything it hides under the American military power.
Just toeing the line.

So in a way, you can say that Evangelion is a story that depicts Japan cutting its reliance on America and regaining its identity.

Shinji’s is forever questioning himself saying “I mustn’t run away, I mustn’t run away”. It can be seen as a comment on Japan.

Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance.. “Advance” where?

The uncertain character Shinji who is always running away and being pushed around changes in Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance.

He came to his senses.
As the title implies, you can advance.

The strong urge to help others brings him to ride Evangelion and fight.
As the lead character should, he takes the initiative and changes the outcome.

The story is miles apart from the TV series.

He doesn’t run, but he takes the initiative and fights.
It is not about despair, but hope. His blood runs hot.
Evangelion is the birth of orthodox Japanese anime. No longer just for anime geeks.

Who do we fight for, what do we fight for? When the answers become clear then we regain our identity.
To achieve this goal we realize what is our “inhumane power”. This will lead to the rebirth of Japan.

Japan’s “Evangelion the Tremendous”

Japan the Tremendous” is a book written by Prime Minister Taro Aso.
In the book he praises Japan’s soft power that has been recognized by the world.

It is wonderful the way Japan’s technology and pop culture has been recognized and taken on by the world. However, I feel it is a little childish to be bragging about this phenomenon.

I don’t think America will ever take to Japan’s orthodox anime Evangelion. It will be pretty hard for it to be accepted by the world. However, taking the concept of trying to answer the unanswerable, adding intellect and storytelling, and the advanced technology and graphic skills to make it into a movie – now that is “Japan the Tremendous”.

The beauty of Japanese pop culture lies in the fact that it is complex and difficult to understand.
Evangelion teaches us that it is not the kind of thing you should be bragging about.
Shuji Nakamura
President of the Paper Company Ltd and Kinax Holdings Inc. Born in Shiga Prefecture is the behind the scenes brain for advertising agencies, while helping many businesses get off the ground. Planner, concept creator.
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