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.
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.
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.
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?