I Must Not Run Away (From This Nightmare Semi-final in Sai Mecha): Evangelion Unit 01 Test Type vs. Macross Variable Fighter 01

Evangelion.2.22.You.Can.(Not).Advance.2010.1080p.BluRay.x264-WiKi.mkv_snapshot_01.18.31_[2010.05.28_07.52.06]

I’ve had a crazy busy week so I was not able to campaign for this important semifinal round in Sai Mecha. Still, I present this piece on why the VF-01 should (logically, but not a prediction) be voted over the popular Eva Unit 01 Test Type.

I’ve mentioned this before, Neon Genesis Evangelion is my second most favorite anime ever, behind only the one I remember the most love for. It’s a substantial gap though, as my feelings are also informed by the amount of content in the overall franchise. As franchises go, Evangelion has very little, just spun-off or rebuilt. I hold Gundam in more favor in this regard, even higher than Macross, due to the sheer amount of content to both love and hate on. Part of this is of course the robots.

Evangelion’s overall use of the giant robot actually spans the gamut of robot anime: Evas wrestle like super robots, punch and kick like super robots, fight with bladed weapons like most robots in mecha anime, shoot proportionally-sized rifles like real robots, operate with limited power supplies like how real robots pretend to do, have magic force-fields like robots from both sides of the divide, etc.

Then the Test Type reveals itself to possess God-like powers and causes the rapture, goes into space, and warps the mind of its pilot. Arguably we can find examples of this in limited degrees on both sides of the divide. Evangelion Unit 01 did more in fewer appearances than any other featured robot in robot anime. This is worth acknowledging, and I do so.

But it doesn’t win my vote, and not only because I’m far more a Macross fan than an Evangelion fan.

The considerations here take into account a simulated experience. Why would I or anyone pick the Test Type over the Variable Fighter? What if I don’t want to just look and judge them as if they’re in a showroom or a museum. What if I want to factor myself, my own desires and imagination into the choice?

Macross30

Accessibility

If you aren’t “selected by the Marduk Institute” as a very young teenager, you will never pilot an Evangelion. All you can do is huddle in a shelter in Tokyo-3 and fap to it as it fights angels.

If you were a teenager or older with at least physical fitness and a baseline competence in Macross City, you can train to become a pilot of a Variable Fighter. You can win glory, if not at least get to pilot state of the art armed spacecraft.

Evangelion.2.22.You.Can.(Not).Advance.2010.1080p.BluRay.x264-WiKi.mkv_snapshot_00.31.35_[2010.05.28_10.26.22]

Overarching Variability

Fighting Angels is like a crapshoot. You get the really weird ones sometimes, but basically you’re on garrison duty on Tokyo-3 NERV HQ. Sure, this is where the exciting stuff happens, but you’re stuck there if you’re a pilot.

Fighting aliens lets you travel across the Solar System and beyond. You get to fight large numbers of enemies instead of a series of boss battles. Of course, nothing is stopping you from taking on a Zentraedi capital ship all by yourself if you’re so inclined. In any case, you travel a lot, get chased a lot, and fly around a lot; shooting down scores of bad guys along the way.

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Fantasy

It’s not cool to imagine piloting an Evangelion as opposed to piloting a Variable Fighter.

You don’t pilot Evangelions for fun. Its deployment is completely limited to responding to Angels. You don’t cruise, you don’t patrol, you just walk around causing damage to the city pulling down buildings when your power cord snags onto them.

The character of Aida Kensuke is part of the deconstruction of the fantasy to pilot the giant robot. Aida obviously wants to pilot, and behaves like a robot fanboy that shows like Eva traditionally pander to. Very quickly he is shown how wretched it is to pilot an Eva when he was placed in the entry plug when Shinji rescued him and Toji during a battle. Evangelion goes out of its way to portray how miserable it is to be a pilot of an Evangelion.

Piloting a VF, however, is nothing short of amazing. It’s fetishized for the flying aspect. Being in a VF represents freedom, continuously romanticized in Macross Plus and Macross Frontier (where flying > hawt idols). This is an obvious choice.

Ultimately, Eva fans will vote for the Test Type, and Macross fans will vote for the Variable Fighter. BUT, robot fans who do not identify with either franchise as strongly who have any sense at all, should vote for the Variable Fighter. The Sai Mecha tournament has never presented an easier choice between two exemplary contestants.

P.S. In the other semi-final match, The Zaku II may be iconic, but it’s still ugly, and weak. The YF-19 however, is neither.

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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60 Responses to I Must Not Run Away (From This Nightmare Semi-final in Sai Mecha): Evangelion Unit 01 Test Type vs. Macross Variable Fighter 01

  1. Reid says:

    Terrific points about the VF-1, ghost, though I expected no less from you. You’re absolutely right about the (potential) greatness of being a variable fighter pilot in the U.N. Spacy versus the sheer horror, madness, pain and soul-crushing sadness that goes along with “driving” an Evangelion, where your only reward is to get “closer” to your dead mom and/or maybe inadvertently destroying humanity. Who wants that much responsibility? Isn’t being at the controls of a multi-million-dollar aerospace fighter/robot enough stress for people?

    After marathoning most all of Macross that I hadn’t seen and re-watching or finishing what I had, I’ve come to have a lot of appreciation for the whole idea of the variable fighter concept, even if I fear I’ll never truly understand the reason for a triple-mode transformation. My love for aircraft (which, combined with my love for cars, is what got me into mecha, specifically real robots that have to be driven and not just shouted into) dictates that I MUST love the VF-1, and I’m glad that I finally can. Whether or not I’ll ever love it as much as my favorite real-world planes (P-38 Lightning, F-15 Eagle, F-86 Sabre) or my favorite mecha (MS-06S Sinanju), the Valkyrie fills a unique spot in my love for all vehicles, fantastic and mundane, in that it sits right at the convergence of both sides: a super-real among the impossible and more than a dream among the currently possible. Now, if we can just find a way to sneak a VF (or heck, even Zeta Gundam) into an Ace Combat game…

    Also, that size comparison chart is terrific. I had no idea how much smaller the VF-1 was compared to the VF-0! I guess it really goes to show how a couple more years of R&D and reverse engineering using alien supertechnology can help out when it comes time to streamline a triple-changing robot/fighter plane.

    • Triple mode transformation:

      A more meaningful question: Why isn’t there a 4th mode? A 5th? Why doesn’t it turn much bigger? Much smaller? What other things can’t it do yet but should be doing?

      • Reid says:

        Don’t take it personally, man. I thought I was showering the VF-1 with praise…I’ve come a long way in that regard.

        • Huh? My behavior has been utterly consistent in every Sai Mecha post. That is, consistently obnoxious. It’s nothing personal, it’s Sai Mecha.

          • Reid says:

            Well-said. Hahaha I’m just being overly sensitive today (family issues got me down). I really do love the VF-1 now (I just love Gerwalk the most). Always a pleasure being berated by you, good sir!

  2. JoeQ says:

    Too late too late oh sooooooo late

    Shitty real robots are shit oh noooooooooooooooooooo
    MOMMYBOT AND CAPTAIN ZAKU TRIUMPH OVER ALL

  3. Stormshrug says:

    The Zaku II is “ugly,” sure, but it’s that Star Wars Storm Trooper kind of terrifyingly institutionalized ugly.

    Its “weakness” (compared to ridiculous prototypes like the Gundam) is what makes the successes of characters like Char and Bernard MOTHERF*CKING WISMAN (against said overpowered Gundams) totally awesome.

    It has to be weak. It has to look villainous. But it has style, dammit!

    • Nope, just plain ugly.

      If you want terrifyingly institutionalized ugly, look at the Geara Dogas from CCA or the Geara Zulus from Unicorn. They’re the culmination of the Zaku design (they also went full-on Nazi LOL).

      • Stormshrug says:

        As you say, the Geara family is “the culmination of the Zaku design.” I agree with you. I nominated the Geara Zulu instead of the Zaku II for that very reason.

        BUUUUUUUUUUUUUT…

        …for them to be the culmination of that design, they must distill elements present in the original design. The Zaku II may be rough in some ways, but it planted the seed by doing a lot of things right. The “gas mask,” the the subtle spikes, and above all, the mono-eye – they all work in the right ways to create a great mechanical design.

  4. WhatSht says:

    That size comparison just reminded me of why the VF-0 was longer than the VF-1, the VF-0 had conventional turbofan engines which was bigger than the thermonuclear engine.

    On to what I was gonna say, boss fights are like wasting material on a single unit just to wreck the defenders(giant units in gundam), rather than focusing everything on 1 unit, mass-produce something, you’ll win, unless your enemy has missiles packed in their robots.

    and 1 more thing VFs can do, Air Stunts.

  5. Rakuen of Christmas Past says:

    You may have just won my vote, messere.

    Though I’ve been a fan of the Eva franchise longer than Macross’, I do agree with your points on accessibility and variability.

    But I’d also like to add in ‘Maintenance’. Not only does the VF series win in reproduction costs, it wins in the maintenance aspect. I’ve seen the arduous task of repairing an incapacitated Evangelion, the number of men to do the job, the copious amount of machinery to transport and place the colossal figure, and olympic-sized swimming pools worth of LCL for treatment, not to mention the time to do so. Whereas in this aspect, the Variable Fighter series needs less men, less machinery, less repair-time and no blood-scented liquid (I bet LCL stains cotton).

    You’ve just reminded me of my fantasy to cruise the sky with an idol. *sigh*

    @WhatSht: I do agree with the air stunts, they’re fun to do and watch. Oh, but Eva-02 does do that (and may I add, in a very awesome manner), though that wouldn’t be possible in a regular basis provided that you need a lot of rocket fuel to propel a giant, and I bet it’s more like gliding-with-jet-boosters rather than flying since she was dropped from a stealth-bomber-like carrier.

  6. I have the wine ready for EVA’s eventual victory. The evil wine…

  7. schneider says:

    I didn’t know the VF-0 was that long, compared to the VF-1.

    The Zaku may be ugly and weak but it will continue to function long after fancy prototypes have broken down–look at those units dug up in Turn A Gundam! No variable fighter will be able to replicate that (not to mention it’s harder to find ammo when pilots tend to expend copious amounts of missiles per target).

    It just has this rugged, reliable appeal comparable to an AK-47.

    • Reid says:

      Variable Zaku, maybe? VS-06S Suzaku II aka the “Heat Hawk”?

      • I have that. It transforms from a weak-ass mobile suit into a paperweight. The shiny red one holds paper down 3x faster.

        • Reid says:

          Hostility. I was thinking to combine the virtues of both robots so as to create harmony amongst the fellows here and I’m met with this hostility. Can’t we all just peacefully get along…well, if the EVA wins we’ll have no choice but to get along in a big blood-colored puddle of gunk.

    • A single, supplied VF would’ve stopped the Moonrace cold. Even the Turn A couldn’t do that and had to rely on rainbow magic.

      • Reid says:

        I disagree. Harry’d hold the thing in place with the I-Field barrier and then blow it up with the UNIVEEEEEEEEEEEERSE! attack or whatever the heck it is. No Minovsky particles to worry about in the CE timeline, after all >:)

        • Can’t hit it. SUMO is so slow it’s practically a sitting duck in the air. The lack of MP helps the VF-1 more, it doesn’t have to fight any of the MS in visual range. OH SHI

          • Reid says:

            hahaha I had to do it! I can’t help it! (Although the I-field barrier ought to protect SUMO from missiles…)

          • The I-field barrier only protects against shitty Gundam beam spam. It will defend against a grand total of zero missiles.

            I-Field Barrier
            Another application of the I-field is the I-field barrier. This generates a dense I-field in the space surrounding the barrier generator, which can deflect the beam weapons derived from Minovsky physics due to the interaction force (presumably a fifth basic force) between the mega particles and the Minovsky particles. However, this barrier has no effect against lasers or against physical attacks such as missiles

          • Reid says:

            God dang it. Are you EVER WRONG?!

  8. If I were to be asked, well, I’d rather classify the Eva more as a genetically-engineered, 80-foot cyborg, which has a side-effect of causing psychological changes in their pilots… mostly in the negative. Thus the Eva, IMHO, is in a very different category of its own; you can get the Children out of Eva, but you can’t get Eva out of the Children.

    At the other end of the spectrum, I’d say again: the VFs are very practical as both mecha and working airframes, grounded more closely to the real world, albeit with added durability and sufficient protection boosted by Overtechnology, limited only current technologies and by the sufficiency of the materials used at the time of their first inception.

    Like their real-world fighter counterparts, the VFs only become a potent weapons platform in the hands of a well-trained UN Spacy jock, it’s all in his hands: the power, the responsibility, the ability to kill and survive, and a duty to defend mankind’s survival. The pilot isn’t affected much by his bird; he can get it replaced should it gets shot up too much from Zentraedi flak, but what the pilot doesn’t want to experience isn’t being killed while in combat, but to be tossed out of his own VF.

    I imagine that the price tag for a finished Eva is worth around 10 B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, compared to the possible unit price of the typical VF-1 equivalent to a couple of F/A-18F Hornets.

    • All fine points, but these neither support nor negate my claims. Both the Evas and VFs are extraterrestrial tech repurposed for domestic use. Macross is just a lot more efficient, until the mass-production Eva series that is.

  9. Matt Wells says:

    Never have I been so conflicted on a vote yet cared so little about the respective franchises. I haven’t watched SDF Macross or Eva (YET), so I can only go on personal design appeal and hearsay. I love Supers, but Eva-01 is a pointy ungainly bio-weapon that moves and fights more like an Ultraman kaiju than a robot. I dislike most reals out of natural Super bias, but the VF-1 is a finely tuned instrument of homing missile death and destruction. Its cool horn and Awesome Ugly Vs. Smooth Awesome and ugly legs and arms on a cool plane.

    It would suck to be an Eva pilot like you say, but the comparative realness of Valkyries would likely end up with me being shooting fodder for Zentradi Aces. We’re not all Jenius’s, you know, most of us would barely qualify as Kanzakis. The realer the robot, the more likely your firey death is, as Gundam shows time and time again. In the end I think my dependable Oldfag senses will kick in and I’ll vote for the elder of two classics, but I would have preferred it if the VF-1 had to face a Super Robot I genuinely liked and cared about.

    • Aces are a fact of war. You can treat each Angel as an ace machine. So what’s the difference now?

      Numbers.
      Backup.

      In Eva, you outnumber the angels in any given fight, but there’s no backup. You’re the last line of defense.

      In Macross, you’re always outnumbered. But you have a Macross-class ship that has a gigantic gun that can clear entire battlefields. Fuck aces.

      • Matt Wells says:

        Unless I’m either THE Ace, an underage Idol Singer, a non-descript bridge bunny, or the awesome Old Captain, I’m still effectively screwed. Even being a regular ace is no guarantee, as the mountain of cool dead Macross Senpais demonstate.

        That leaves me with being a collateral damage civillian INSIDE afoerementioned awesome battleship, or cannon fodder Valk pilot/ cannon fodder culture retarded alien. Neither of those leaves me with the prospect of a long, fulfilling life. You live by Real Robot rules, you die by them.

        The fact that such a fate is STILL safer than being the average Angel pilot says all you need to know about Eva rules. You can have an Ace Custom machine like Eva-01, or be an ace, highly trained pilot like Asuka. Either way, YOU ARE ROYALLY FUCKED AND SHANKED WITH HOLY SPEARS. AND THEN YOU TURN INTO TANGO/FANTA JUICE.

        The one universe where I WOULD like to be mecha pilot? Probably Giant Robo. Yes, my chances of a horrible death are actually magnified ten-fold, but at least the robots are slow as Hell and easy enough to dodge on foot, and I’d probably get superpowers into the bargain. Plus, my death has a one-in-five chance of being an incredibly awesome heroic sacrifice.

        • Nope. There were a maximum of 300 VFs in the SDF-01. I calculated the military casualties to be less than 1/3 from the VF force. Considering that they were routinely outnumbered by any single Zentraedi cruiser (1,000 combat units on board per cruiser minimum), and given the sheer amount of engagements, not to mention 4 million capital ships in the final battle (excluding their onboard fighter units), the 300 VF pilots had a ridiculously high survival rate.

          100 est. total VF pilot casualties during the great space war (not counting non-variable mecha casualties).

          As for picking a robot universe to be a pilot in, there’s no better choice than Five Star Stories.

          • Matt Wells says:

            I forgot about Five Star Stories! Yes, it is a definite winner; reminds me that I really should look into reading the manga sometime, but only the tiniest fraction of the franchise has ever been translated into English. I like the argument you put forth here, but it had little bearing on my final vote. For what its worth, I DID vote for the VF-1: my sincerest condolences for your undeserved loss. And while Macross is infinitely preferable to a universe like ANY Gundam show, Sod’s Law would remain in effect for me.

            I just KNOW I’d be that one guy crushed to death when the Macross transformed for the first time, or I’d lose my home and become bankrupt when a hull breach sucked my livelihood into outer space. The best I could honestly hope for would to be that one guy near the end of “Do You Remember Love?” who gets his head graphically cut off by a collapsing shield door. Being a Valkyrie pilot in any other circumstance does kick ass, I will conceed, but most of all in peacetime eg. Macross Plus

          • Matt Wells says:

            Aw, great! Going to add THIS to my reading list! Thanks man.

    • Reid says:

      Matt,
      Say, for example….
      GaoGaiGar. Who’d just blow up the whole friggin’ planet with the Goldion Crusher. Or TTGL, who’d just wipe out the whole galaxy with a sweep of its “hand.” So much injustice in the world.

      Please, Ghost. I’m just kidding.

      • Matt Wells says:

        INORITE? Though in all fairness, Gaogaigar (+Goldymarg) vaporised three zonderised moons of Jupiter whilst under the influence of ZA POWAH, and crushed one single handedly with a simple Broken Magnum. I like getting my facts straight.

        Genesic with Goldion Crusher manged to destroy an object the size of the Sun, which also generated roughly ten times the energy of our own star. It did this WITH COURAGE. Due credit where credit is due. Welp, there’s always next year to hope for proper super robot finalists…

  10. squaresphere says:

    Don’t forget, if you “want” to pilot a EVA something TERRIBLE has to happen to your mom.

    VF/YF all day long, fly home and visit your mom :D

  11. Kuro says:

    Hats off to a valiant battle fought by VF-1S.

  12. Vendredi says:

    “All you can do is huddle in a shelter in Tokyo-3 and fap to it as it fights angels.”
    There is something altogether very Freudian about this.

    “where flying > hawt idols”
    You know, this sort of mentality is probably why we’ve never seen an animated equivalent to Top Gun. I mean, look at the great aircraft animated series: Area 88: women are simply not part of the pilot’s path; they’re a sign of domesticity, being tamed. Sure, it’s a singular example, but it’s a feeling that’s hard to shake, and one that seems to get carried over into the mecha genre.

    • Reid says:

      In “Area 88″ the tragedy was that Shin could not put off flying even to be with Ryoko, who he’d been fighting for years to return to. The flying and dogfighting got in his blood and he couldn’t readjust to civilian life (apparently not even for a single night before brutalizing some street thugs and getting thrown in jail). The whole thing was foreshadowed by Mickey, who related to Shin how he broke up with his fiance because of his traumatizing experiences as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War. Maybe it’s not “flying>hawt idols” but instead a case where the guilt associated with the thrill of combat flying trumps the possibility of love.

    • Could be, very well be.

      But Macross brought in Millya, who was the female ace that was domesticated by the male ace.

      • Reid says:

        Red Queadluun-rau –> Red Sonya. She was bested in combat so she had no choice but to “submit” to Max’s supreme manliness and get hitched. Besides, she really just wanted to have his babies right from the start. Even giant babes really only want to be baby mamas deep down. It’s men that get domesticated by women.

        This isn’t always a bad thing either, as it wouldn’t have been in Shin Kazama’s case. Ryoko had sacrificed a lot to make sure that she waited for Shin and then right when they could have been together he decided (or maybe he felt like it had been decided for him) that the only thing left for him was to be a mercenary fighter pilot, so he rejected even the possibility of love and instead embraced his almost certain death by going to assist his comrades.

        • Vendredi says:

          Ah, but that’s the ending of the OVA! Shinn’s fate is different in the TV series and the manga.

          • Reid says:

            I can honestly say I’ve never read the manga (where did you find it, if you don’t mind saying? I’d love to check it out!), but the TV series didn’t really “end,” to my notion. It just kind of stopped. Ryoko doesn’t get married to Kanzaki (yay) and Shin sorta-kinda deserts but then is brought back into the fold to continue paying off his debt on the wrecked F-5. There needs to be a season 2, I say.

          • Matt Wells says:

            I though the manga ended with Shin and his comrades fighting to the death in some incredibly noble but pointless sacrifice? The original 70′s manga, anyway. I’m not sure if there was a remake.

          • vendredi says:

            Alas, the entirety of the Area 88 manga is still yet to be fully translated in any form. There are summaries comparing the various media, however. Personally I found the tone of the TV series a little more optimistic, however; it seemed to imply that Shin was still trying to get out of there.

  13. Xard says:

    RIP GOOD TASTE

    RIP VF-1

  14. constanza della rosa says:

    Nice article!
    Of course piloting a VF is WAY better than an Eva…

    You might die gloriously in the battlefield, but you’ll never end up turning into a puddle of Tang (along with all mankind).

  15. drmchsr0 says:

    Sadly. THE VF-01 lost to the Eva.
    But never fear, CAPTAIN ZAKU WILL SAVE THIS CLUSTERFUCK.

  16. Rakuen of Christmas Past says:

    Well, there’s always next year for the Mass-Production Evas. I hope they’ll do good.

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