Moments of 2010: You Can (Not) Advance The Plot Using Slice of Life

[UTW-THORA] Evangelion 2.22 - You Can (Not) Advance [BD][1080p,x264,DTS-ES][8B521921].mkv_snapshot_00.21.40_[2010.11.17_07.43.12]
The Class Trip is a trope in itself for shows that have characters who are still in school. It’s usually a set-piece wherein (romantic) sub-plots are culminated or initiated, or at least romance-related humour is indulged. I personally have seen at least three series I like with trips to Kyoto (School Rumble, Lucky Star, and K-On!!), and one film (Ocean Waves).

I find it funny how if I were to accept some peoples’ idea that slice of life is a genre distinguished by an utter lack of drama and conflict, the class trip is quite dramatic, being the set-piece I mentioned, relative to the rest of the episodes.

But this distinction is correct if applied to Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, who indulges in an extended scene that is for all intents and purposes a class trip (though not involving the entire class). It hatches no new plots nor winds down on-going ones. However, it does two things very well: provide character backstory (Misato), and build the world that this movie breathes in. It is amazing work.

[UTW-THORA] Evangelion 2.22 - You Can (Not) Advance [BD][1080p,x264,DTS-ES][8B521921].mkv_snapshot_00.21.27_[2010.11.17_07.42.38]
By this point in the movie, Asuka had already struck, and has shown no ability to integrate with other students and the other pilots. We are introduced to Kaji, but we don’t have a strong grasp of his relationship with Misato, whose own story is quite unknown to us (of course if we’ve watched the TV series this isn’t the case at all). Also we’re pretty much in the dark what the arcane-sounding “Second Impact” is. This sequence deftly gives us all of this as the kids for all intents and purposes have a picnic.

rebuild of evangelion 2 rei shinji asuka[UTW-THORA] Evangelion 2.22 - You Can (Not) Advance [BD][1080p,x264,DTS-ES][8B521921].mkv_snapshot_00.22.21_[2010.11.17_07.45.52][UTW-THORA] Evangelion 2.22 - You Can (Not) Advance [BD][1080p,x264,DTS-ES][8B521921].mkv_snapshot_00.24.46_[2010.11.17_07.49.08]

What the scene shows and tells us:

  • The sea is blood-red as a result of the Second Impact, and that marine life is practically nil in the Earth biosphere.
  • The sanctuary shows us the ‘impact’ of a generation born post-impact (surprise at marine life and the blue water). It’s like how I know people who grew up never not knowing the internet!
  • It shows the rigor required to keep the facility operational.
  • Rei gives a clue to her own existence when she mentions to Shinki that some fish can live outside their tank, just like her.
  • Shinji can cook well (as a result of Misato’s inability).
  • Gender politics related to domestic chores (cooking). Kaji is for it (the supposedly mature), suzuhara isn’t (the backwards adolescent).
  • The food ingredients are artificial in some way.
  • We see the Second Impact damage from space and get a real sense of what happened, especially after we see Misato’s survival account.
  • Shinji gets some understanding about Misato, and we get that Kaji knows her to a close degree.
  • We now have parallel and contrast of Shinji and Misato and their attitudes toward their fathers, and the responsibility Misato has for the dead’s wishes as a contrast to Shinji’s responses to his living Father’s manipulations.

[UTW-THORA] Evangelion 2.22 - You Can (Not) Advance [BD][1080p,x264,DTS-ES][8B521921].mkv_snapshot_00.26.46_[2010.11.17_07.50.25][UTW-THORA] Evangelion 2.22 - You Can (Not) Advance [BD][1080p,x264,DTS-ES][8B521921].mkv_snapshot_00.26.49_[2010.11.17_07.50.35]

That’s some heavy lifting done by this extended sequence, that some consider to be the least relevant or necessary to the movie. I believe otherwise, as I think one of the best uses of slice of life is indeed to flesh out a setting, using dialogue for exposition on one hand, and use it to display social dynamics on the other.

In both cases, we get to see how the world of the narrative works, and that world is all the richer for it.

What’s your favorite moment in Rebuild of Evangelion?

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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32 Responses to Moments of 2010: You Can (Not) Advance The Plot Using Slice of Life

  1. Xard says:

    This just might become one of your favourite writings.

    Yes, this whole sequence was fantastic from beginning to end. In general I loved the way Anno manipulated common anime tropes and cliches in Evangelion 2.0 with same brilliance as in original (albeit nothing will beat the genius that was Tokyo-3 morning montage with music from the 70s nigh-classic scifi film man who stole the sun playing in the background. Incredible, multilayered sequence in so many ways).

    The whole deal with the usage of food (in particular: bentos) as a motif was great and this is just another link in the chain. That Rei truly starts opening up to Shinji here – as well as truly establishing the food motif for the pseudo-triangle drama – during the cooking scene is also very important event that happened here which I think is worth mentioning among the ones you listed.

    This is not the first time Anno has used food as motif in NGE, mind you. In episode 17 food/eating played big role in scene changes and as a setup for scenes (more numerous to count) as well as setting up false expectations of happy anime narrative with the whole deal with Hikari cooking for Touji. In ep 18 the brutality of harsh reality destroyed the blooming romance: mercilessly illustrated by the post-Bardiel scene of Hikari cooking and wondering if Touji eats/will like what he cooked tomorrow, oblivious to tragedy that had just happened. For such a minor scene it has haunted me to unusual degree.

    What Anno does with food motif in Rebuild is quite similar but far larger in scale and complexity. In very similar way to ep 26’s “alternative universe” material we see Rei and Asuka “competing” over Shinji via cooking, following closely the laws of romance anime cliches. The rich meal enjoyed by Kaji et al during the picnic is contrasted with rations eaten by Gendo & Fuyutsuki during their trip to moon etc. Shinji also shows her caring and love for others mainly through cooking and as such apron-Shinji fussing around in kitchen is one of the key images that represented the “family” Shinji, Misato and Asuka build during the point it seemed Shinji Could Advance. It’s not by coincidence Anno included shot of abandonded kitchen in the scene Shinji abandons Misato, the apartment and Tokyo-3. I think there even was the very same tablet in the shot Shinji used in Asuka’s “toothpick” scene.

    The food motif – as goofy and clichedly animesque motif as Anno needed – also came ot represent opening up of Rei and the way to hope and fixing relationship between Shinji and his dad via Ayanami’s “party”.

    And it all is – just like in original eps 17-18 – big buildup towards happy anime narrative that Bardiel incident destroys. The shot of Rei’s cooking boiling over as NERV agents come to her is the final shot and culmination of the whole food motif in the film. It says everything.

    The “picnic” more than any other scene setup this “false narrative” and as such is one of the most important scenes in the film’s first half.

    Too bad since pretty much everyone has seen original Eva Anno didn’t really manage to surprise/troll anyone with this intentional setting up & failing expectations but it still is fantastic filmmaking :D

    • Xard says:

      *This just might become one of your favourite writings.

      One of my favourite writings by you, that is :P

    • Thank you.

      You may be interested to know as well that it’s that morning montage that brought home to me how much Eva remembers love for Macross, as Tokyo-3 also transformed much like a favorite city of mine in the belly of a ship finding its way back to Earth across the Solar System.

      You know I’ve never noticed the food as motif before. I really never paid attention to it, and it’s quite awesome to find out about it here. So thank you. It all makes sense. Food is so effective in communicating regard and establishing the depth or gravity of the relationships of the characters involved.

  2. How convenient, I just (or finally) watched the movie. And I love this scene. The reason is because it breathes life into a rather sterile world, as depicted by the series. Of course the larger budget and improved technology make this much more possible, but this scene as well as the one in outer space show a deliberate attempt to extend and color the post Second Impact world of Eva.

    As for my favorite scene, it has to be the battle with Zereul. That was my favorite part of the series and also a beautiful scene.

    • I can’t believe you waited this long. Did you notice how Shinji’s Eva under the control of the dummy system choked Asuka’s Eva exactly how he choked her leading to the “Kom Susser Tod” scene in The End of Evangelion? That got me big time.

      • That scene played with so much history and imagery that I found it hard to grasp everything. I was just amazed at how much that scene accomplished just by switching out Touji for Asuka. What was a slow decent into hell for her turned into a quick crisis, I was worried Unit 01 actually killed her. The production staff handled this movie beautifully.

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  4. Kuro says:

    Eva:You Can (Not) Advance did use the Slice of Life in a grand way. What I really liked about Eva is that they make use of happy and fluffy scenes as a springboard to something dark and heavy about to come, as what Xard beautifully explained in his comment.

  5. Jack says:

    This scene really does succeed at conveying information in the way that is actually suitable to a film, as opposed to a television series.

    The way the TV series slowly revealed tiny pieces of information about the world and character was excellent too, and worked in it’s own way. I may even prefer that method, but in terms of a big action movie this scene makes a lot more sense and encapsulates a wealth of information.

    There are certainly other “new for the movies” scenes that fail to provide anything significant, and this serves in sharp contrast to those. Far too often movies based on anime shows end up feeling like badly extended episodes (Eden of the East I’m looking at you!) and scenes like this wisely avoid those common traps.

    For some reason though I heavily dislike the whole cooking subplot and I have no idea why. I suppose I’ll have to re-watch the movie to understand my completely irrational bias with regard to that piece of storytelling.

    • I don’t know enough about film theory to perform the kind of analysis you do here, so I appreciate it.

      I imagine if a TV series does this much so early on, the density will be “wasted” and the temptation to make reinforcing scenes may be too much, and the risk of redundant material is increased.

      The Cowboy Bebop film, Knocking on Heaven’s Door does feel like an extended episode, but in that case I don’t find reason to complain. It even fits like an episode within the show’s continuity, right before the final act.

      I can’t imagine why the cooking elements (I am reluctant to call it a subplot) would rub you the wrong way. It does seem like such an efficient piece of storytelling.

  6. megaroad1 says:

    if I have to choose a favourite scene in Evangelion 2.0, I share the same feelings as Shard. That Tokyo-3 morning montage with the Yamashita track playing is breathtakingly beautiful and just stays with you.

    The trip scene does really add a whole lot of background to the story though, and vividly portrays how Second Impact really changed ALL life on earth as we know it. it also provides a sharp contrast to the “normality” of human life shown elsewhere in the film (shops open, trains running etc..).

    • There are several ways Rebuild 2.22 remembered love for Macross:

      1. Unit 02 in its first battle avoided projectile attacks that were for all intents and purposes an “Itano Circus.”
      2. Unit 02 being the Official Type of Evangelion, is consistent with the VF-01 being the official type and is no way inferior to the VF-0. Contrast this with Gundam where the prototypes are always more powerful than the official, or mass-production types. They are seldom able to match the prototypes in performance.
      3. The transforming city — built for defense, just like how Macross city had to hide its own structures as the SDF-1 transformed for battle. o

      It’s #3 — your favored Tokyo 3 morning montage that really brought home how much of Macross Eva remembers love for.

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  8. I totally agree with your sentiment Ghostlightning. Even in action-packed shows like Gurren Lagann, the occasional ‘filler episode’ is completely necessary (when used correctly) to flesh out the setting and add that level of depth to the world, providing a bit of scope outside of the action-packed main plot.

    • Hehe “filler.” It’s still useful to distinguish whether such an episode accomplishes the objectives, if the results of this scene in Rebuild can be used as such. Sometimes a beach episode is just a beach episode, but in TTGL’s case, probably not.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I think the aquarium field trip is a perfect example of why Eva 2.0 doesn’t work as a movie. It’s the sort of filler scene that works much better in episodic TV than on film. Except for Misato’s backstory, the aquarium digression fails to move the caracters or the story forward.

  10. Sun-Ku says:

    I also find the “Yamashita Scene” the most memorable Scene in the 2.0 Movie. the first time I got Goosebumps (and still getting it) when watching.
    if I want to get in the “mood” to watch Evangelion, I first watch this scene. Im not someone who can watch Series or Movies several times. i dont have the time for it, and/or im watching newer shows in my spare time. And if I´m not sure if i can handle the full old movie/series, I watch the most memorable scene and after that I´m ready to go. In gurren lagann is it the “libre me from hell” scene in the 26th episode. in the Macross movie the Do You remember love Scene etc etc.

    What I find most inspirational in this scene is the design of the city, the futuristic atmosphere. this kind of City couldnt be built with an existing city, you can only built it from scratch after a desaster or completely new on a new Colony (Planet)
    When I watch this scene, it kind of reminds me of the sentence in Macross Plus: “Dedicated to you. Our future pioneers”.

    Well you all know how NGE 2.0 ended and thats why this scene is my favorite.

    • Futurism is indeed part of the draw of shows like this, hence appeals and dedications such as what you mention from Macross Plus, and the dedication to immerse us, the viewers into the world of the narrative.

      I for one am big on this kind of thing, and it matters when verisimilitude exists in the work, that governs the actions of the characters and the consequences that befall them.

      Seeing Tokyo 3 rise defiantly in the post-apocalyptic world is symbolic of what’s at stake for all the characters — a very efficient device to establish such. The marine facility reinforces this as a more extensive method at how the human race survives the Second Impact.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I did indeed read your post, and I remain unconvinced. In a movie where character development is severely anemic, it’s silly to spend ten minutes on “world-building.” 2.0 is larded with unnecessary subplots like this.

    • You had better establish your case for “unnecessary,” if you care enough to make your being unconvinced to matter to the readers of this post and comment thread. You don’t address any of the points. So any claims made without proof, can be dismissed without proof.

      If you do not do so, I apologize in advance for removing your comments from the discussion, since it contributes nothing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Your post fails to provide a single reason why a trip to an aquarium *is* needed. Kaji’s conversation with Shinji is the only meaningful moment in the entire scene. We don’t need to know about the state of post-Second Impact ocean life any more than we need to know that the Force is caused by Midichlorians.

    You don’t take criticism very well, do you? :P

    • This is all welcome but you don’t substantiate your points. You dismiss mine without making a case, is all. You can look for massive debates here on WRL as you wish, and you’ll see that discussion is best when they are reasoned out, instead of just “no.”

      We don’t?

      What is clear to me is that you don’t find this interesting (and if you did read the post and the related discussion, it isn’t just about the impact on marine life), and I do. I have made my case, what’s yours?

  13. vendredi says:

    Any comment on the theory that Rebuild is in fact a sequel, rather than a remake, to the original series?

    Also, Rebuild is definitely in a tough spot with the movie format. More segments like this are needed for first time viewers – Kaji’s characterization and comments are consistent and feel right, if you’ve seen the series, but I imagine a first time viewer might have trouble sorting out everything in the time allotted.

    • I’ve seen the images juxtaposing scenes from Rebuild and the other work. I definitely can’t dismiss that probability but I can’t outright say that it is the case however.

      If it indeed is a sequel, then it must have happened post-End of Eva, and within the Instrumentality that Shinji finds himself in, or put everybody in. There must be a clear path from him choking Asuka on the beach to the beginning of Rebuild 1.0. I must admit I merely tolerate this kind of alternative reality hijinks here in Eva, and insist that the whole continuity reach some form of symmetry.

      I think for some viewers unfamiliar with the TV series, Kaji would just seem unimportant and they’ll just probably forget him. I’ve seen it happen to viewers of the Macross Frontier film (who didn’t think much of Klan Klan, Luca, and other side characters) the same way many didn’t think much of Max Jenius having only seen DYRL.

      • Kaworu’s comments after the end credits definitely push the door open for people to start believing the series may be directly connected. I’d hate to write that moment off as the writers just f*cking with us by having our little friend break the fourth wall like that. But I can’t really say I’d be surprised is the audience was made part of the show, once again.

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