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?
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.
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.
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.