just finished writing two essays and now i have to study for my final thats tomorrow and set up my presentation for tuesday i hate my life
(warning: this meta has spoilers for neon genesis evangelion, the end of evangelion, AND rebuild of evangelion. if you’re not caught up through 3.0, you have been warned, or you can just quit reading once I start talking rebuild.)
I’ve wanted to write something about Evangelion for a while now, especially after seeing the thoughts of others on this site. I’ve been mulling over the series in my head ever since I watched it, namely the question of: Is Evangelion a positive series, when viewed through its female characters? What about Rebuild? Are the changes better or worse?
And I think my answer is…well. It’s complicated, but I’m optimistic.
Starting with just the surface question of do women exist in Eva, the answer is overwhelmingly yes. If this seems too simple, think about the shonen anime/manga and especially the giant robot themed anime/manga you’ve watched/read, and how many women, on average, were in those series, important to the plot, and properly fleshed out. It’s getting better, but girls in shonen anime are primarily there to be saved or admired and rarely given the attention male protagonists receive. In this sense, Eva does well. NGE passes the Bechdel Test (though it takes several episodes), and two of the five Eva pilots are girls. The development Kaworu and Toji receive isn’t even comparable to what Asuka and Rei get. Women are shown in multiple roles: mother, pilot, military official, scientist, student, etc. Family is a huge theme in Eva, particularly NGE, and Asuka, Shinji, and Ritsuko’s mothers are all extremely important to plot and character development. I don’t think Eva should get too many cookies for this, because shows like Sailor Moon and Pretty Cure have casts that are 99.9% female, but compared to its peers in the shonen genre, it’s unfortunately remarkable.
As to how the narrative treats those women…that’s where NGE runs into problems.