Asiascape Ops 6 - Japanese Science Fiction in Converging Media

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Asiascape Occasional Papers (Asiascape Ops) are an internationally peer-reviewed publication series that are available free of charge via Asiascape. org.

Carl Li, Mari Nakamura, and Martin Roth

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Alienation and Neon Genesis Evangelion

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Japanese Science Fiction in Converging Media:

Introduction: Japanese popular culture, represented primarily by manga and anime, has over the last couple of decades increasingly gained popularity both within and beyond Japan. Based on the assumption that this is partly due to their distinct qualities as media of political expression, this article aims to identify and discuss some of these expressions. Focusing on the SF franchise Neon Genesis Evangelion (hereafter EVANGELION), often regarded as a landmark in the history of Japanese animation, it will trace the recurring concept of alienation through the extremely popular anime (1995), the manga (1995–2012), and the videogame Neon Genesis Evangelion 2 (2003), thus offering an insight into their commonalities as well as their differences. “Alienation” is a central concept in modern social and political theory, as well as in sociology and psychology, and refers to “the condition of separation or estrangement.” 1 For Karl Marx, who developed the most influential accounts of alienation in modern social and political theory, alienation is a central critique to modern capitalism. Analyzing the situation of wageworkers in the historical context of modern society, Marx observes that alienation occurs for them in four interrelated senses in capitalist society: alienation from the very product they produce, from the act of production, from their fellow workers, and from their “species-being.”2 Marx sees “species-being” as the unique human attribute which distinguishes human life from that of the animals, where one’s alienation from their “species-being” in a modern capitalist society is focused through the class structure and the proletariat experience.3 Thus for Marx, overcoming alienation requires a change in material conditions for a historically specific class of the proletariat by way of their revolutionary activities. While Marx developed his idea of alienation from his wider sociological discussion on the political economy of capitalism, later scholars study more individual and psychological aspects of alienation in a wider social context. Among them, American sociologist Melvin Seeman identifies five alternative meanings as components of alienation: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, and self-estrangement.4 Powerlessness is the sense that one cannot influence socio-political events in which one interacts. Meaningless ISSN: 1875-225X (ONLINE); 1875-2241 (PRINT)



ness is a feeling that is experienced when it is unclear what one ought to believe.5 Normlessness is a feeling which comes from believing that socially unapproved means are required to achieve important goals.6 Isolation is a quality of estrangement from the goals and beliefs which are highly valued in the society. Self-estrangement is a feeling that an individual cannot find self-rewarding activities that engage him. Seeman’s account opens up further investigations on various forms of alienation found in the relation between humans and machine, and among different social groups in modern societies. With both Marx and Seeman, the notion of alienation in social and political theory appears to have a negative connotation, as if it is something to be overcome. Yet, in another strand, the field of science fictional (SF) literature, the idea of alienation or estrangement is rather positive. Literary critic Darko Suvin notably defines SF as “the literature of cognitive estrangement,” deriving this concept from German dramatist Bertolt Brecht’s concept of verfremdungseffekt (in English, alienation-effect or estrangement-effect).7 Suvin and other advocates of this view such as Fredric Jameson argue that the power of SF literature lies in its potential to detach its worlds from the everyday life of the reader, thereby facilitating estrangement that may lead to reflections on the present. Here, alienation and estrangement are essentially political, aiming to reveal that what is assumed to be eternal or natural is merely historical and, therefore, subject to change. 8 The concept of “alienation” is a central theoretical concept across different disciplines with both negative and positive connotations. The following analyses aim to trace the “alienation” found in EVANGELION through different works and media, closely paying attention in each case to the politics revealed through its expression and employment. Overview of the EVANGELION Franchise: Airing from 1995 to 1996 on Japanese television, the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion is arguably the most successful and most known part of the franchise. Set fifteen years after a catastrophe known as “Second Impact” has wiped out the majority of the world’s population, the story shows humanity under attack from enigmatic, otherworldly creatures known as “Angels” (in Japanese shito, or “disciples”), who seek to initiate a new and final cataclysm, or “Third Impact.” In response, mankind sets up a final defense in the form of “Evangelions” or EVAs, biomechanical giants which possess abilities similar to the



Angels. Under the command of the paramilitary organization NERV, the EVAs are piloted by the “Children,” 14year-olds with a special affinity for them. EVANGELION is not only a post-apocalyptic environment but also a pre-apocalyptic one; according to director Anno Hideaki, it is “A world with few children left to lead it into the future.”9 Drawing inspiration from works which feature themes of mistrust, uncontrollable power, and human extinction such as the 1972 manga Devilman (デビルマ ン, Debiruman) and the 1981 anime Space Runaway Ideon (伝説巨神イデオン, Densetsu kyōjin ideon),10 possibly the most innovative and influential aspect of Neon Genesis Evangelion is the positioning of its characters in its science fictional setting. Where previous titles of a similar vein would showcase heroes with unbreakable wills or protagonists reluctant to fight but determined to end conflict, Children are defined by the degree to which their deep psychological and emotional traumas overwhelm their lives. The protagonist Ikari Shinji constantly questions the worth of his existence, while his fellow Children Ayanami Rei and Soryū Asuka Langley doubt the authenticity of emotions and exhibit a strong fear of inferiority, respectively. These problems of mistrust and emotional isolation extend to the rest of the characters as well, further swallowing the problems of the many (saving humanity) within the problems of the individual. The original anime ran for 26 episodes, was followed shortly after by a series of theatrical films in 1997, and has since then reached far into other media. Many video games have been made based on EVANGELION in part or in whole, ranging from strip poker clients to strategy simulations to pachinko machines. Similarly, a number of Evangelion manga have been created, including alternate spin-offs which place the characters into occult mysteries and other settings far removed from the original. The more recent Rebuild of Evangelion (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版, “Wevangeriwon shingekijōban”) films, beginning in 2007 and set to conclude in 2013, even act as a heavily altered re-imagining of the original. With many titles imitating, drawing inspiration from, and responding to its various themes, characters, artistic elements, and even marketing both directly and indirectly,11 EVANGELION has shaped Japanese animation profoundly both in terms of lasting and global popularity among young fans, as well as in the novelty of its expression, a milestone in Japanese popular culture. Of these different versions of EVANGELION, we will be looking at three titles in particular because of

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their proximity in both content and intent. The first is the original television series, Neon Genesis Evangelion. The second is the manga by Sadamoto Yoshiyuki, also titled Neon Genesis Evangelion, which was published from 1995 to 2012 and closely adapts the television series to a comics format. The last is the 2003 game Neon Genesis Evangelion 2, supervised by the original director Anno Hideaki, which encourages players to influence the Evangelion story through their own decisions. Alienation in the Anime Neon Genesis Evangelion: Beginning with the television series, one of the central themes throughout EVANGELION has been the separation experienced by its main characters, especially that of the protagonist Ikari Shinji. By analyzing Shinji’s situation through Seeman’s five meanings of alienation (i.e. powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, selfestrangement), this section will show how the anime communicates those meanings, as well as how it works to contribute to concepts of alienation. As one episode title 12 suggests, Shinji suffers from “Hedgehog’s Dilemma,” the fear of being hurt when getting too (emotionally) close to another. Shinji is separated from his family (his father in particular, whom Shinji believes to have abandoned him), his friends and his social world, and has difficulties interacting with others to form interpersonal relationships. In addition, Shinji suffers from low self-esteem and has trouble constructing his self-identity, another main theme of the series.13 Knowing the nature of Shinji’s separation, we must ask if Shinji can overcome the condition of alienation. Powerlessness and Meaninglessness: Consider the first two aspects of Seeman’s alienation, “powerlessness” and “meaninglessness.” Shinji’s sense of estrangement is partly because of his low self-esteem, relating to his feeling of “powerlessness”. He feels that he cannot influence his social situation, and that one of the ways to overcome this “powerlessness” is to combat the Angels. Committing to this socially high-valued goal (as in valued by the immediate community around him, including NERV, his fellow pilots, and his father) is crucial for Shinji to feel valued and to gain power. The clear social goal of “resistance against the Angels” also helps to ease the second aspect, “meaninglessness,” especially because Shinji’s mission appears straightforward at a glance. Here, the presence of the Other (Angels) is cru-



cial to constructing the Self (humans) and to legitimizing the resistance against the Angels as a social goal. Yet, in terms of other aspects of alienation, for Shinji this belief creates more problems than solutions. Normlessness: The later parts of Evangelion question the binary distinction between humans and Angels-as-aliens, as well as the legitimacy of humanity’s resistance against them, resulting in Shinji’s “normlessness.” In Episode 18, an angel infects a new Evangelion unit with the pilot still inside and mutates it into a hostile adversary. Under its control, the rogue “EVA-03” defeats Rei and Asukas’s own EVAs, leaving Shinji as the only one still capable of fighting. Ikari Gendō, commander of NERV and Shinji’s father, orders Shinji to destroy the Angel/EVA, but Shinji refuses the order, unwilling to kill the human being trapped inside. In response, Gendō activates an autopilot system inside of Shinji’s EVA-01, the “Dummy Plug,” which mutilates EVA03, severely injuring the pilot as well. Because Shinji would have to sacrifice the life of a peer, an illegitimate or immoral action, in order to contribute to the collective goal of eliminating the Angels, he experiences normlessness. This feeling further escalates when he realizes that the unknown pilot is actually his classmate Suzuhara Tōji, one of the few people whom he had managed to befriend. Isolation: The fourth aspect of alienation, “isolation,” is also found in the contradictory binary between humans (the Self) and Angels (the Others). Here, Shinji feels a sense of estrangement from the collective goal itself (eliminating the Angels). In Episode 24, Shinji meets a new EVA pilot Nagisa Kaworu. Over the course of the episode, the two become friends, establishing a relationship closer than any Shinji had previously experienced, including his friendship with Tōji. When it is revealed that Kaworu is in fact an Angel in human form, Shinji is faced with the decision of whether or not to kill his friend. In the end, Shinji follows through and kills Kaworu in a situation similar to Tōji’s, but is devastated even more by the loss. For Shinji, whose experiences have led to the Other being comprised of not just the Angels but also fellow human beings, the fact that Kaworu is both has a complex effect on him. Shinji follows the social goal of defeat-

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ing the Angel Kaworu, but rather than easing his “isolation” the act further deepens it.

Figure 2: Imaginary dialogues in sunset train carriage represent Shinji’s internal argument.

Figure 1: Shinji’s inner struggle: to kill or not to kill Kaworu.

Kaworu’s death scene employs a variety of audio and visual techniques in order to convey Shinji’s feelings of fear and loneliness. At the climax of the battle, Shinji’s EVA-01 remains still, holding Kaworu in its massive hand, while a Beethoven symphony acts as musical accompaniment. The scene lasts approximately sixty seconds, and its audio and visual technique leads the viewers to anticipate Shinji’s inner struggle and hesitation over ending Kaworu’s life. The sequence acts as one of the more prominent uses of creative visual motifs in the series, but it should be pointed out that Evangelion frequently incorporates visual techniques into its portrayal of emotions. Notably, the anime works to represent Shinji’s inner struggle through the utilization of abstract or visually ambiguous spaces. One prominent example is a recurring setting involving imaginary dialogues held in a train carriage, either between Shinji and other main characters or between Shinji and a younger version of himself. Here, the combination of the perpetual sunset with a symbolic orange color motif and the sounds of the train in the background represent his loneliness. The dialogues—internal arguments in which he repeatedly asks himself the same questions—represent Shinji’s selfcondemnation. These techniques will be explored in more detail in the next section.


Self-Estrangement: Seeman characterizes “self-estrangement,” a feeling that an individual cannot find self-rewarding activities that engage him, with two features.14 First, it postulates some ideal human condition from which the individual is estranged. To be self-alienated means to be something less than what one might ideally be. Second, selfestrangement can be seen simply as rhetorical appeals to nature. In other words, it is a loss of “species-being”, which Marx and others have considered to be an essential feature of modern alienation. In relation to the first feature the discrepancy between ideal self-image and actual self-image is a constant issue for Shinji and the other main characters throughout Evangelion. The last two episodes focus heavily on Shinji and the other main characters’ reasons for living and the ways in which they pursue self-rewarding activities, through a combination of narrative exploration of possibilities, peculiar animation techniques, and usage of voice-overs. In regards to the first feature of self-estrangement, the ideal human condition, the final episode portrays a surprising shift to an alternative universe in which Shinji is not an EVA pilot. This world is perhaps an ideal one where he, as his ideal self, can interact with others without a sense of alienation. This ideal world eschews the portrayal of Shinji’s internal struggle though various visual and acoustic techniques earlier (e.g. static images with voice-over, abstract images, imaginary dialogues held in a train carriage) in favor of an environment without those inner conflicts. In relation to the second feature, the appeal to nature, the endless psychic struggles for identity, self-fulfillment, and selfidentification among the main characters is one of the more discussed issues on Evangelion among scholars.15 Piloting the EVA is crucial for Shinji to overcome his

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sense of “powerlessness” and “meaninglessness”. This also acts to correct his sense of “self-estrangement” and to fulfill his reason for existence. The alternate world of the ideal Shinji is notable within the context of the episode, as it is conveyed in a more conventional manner, whereas for the most part the last two episodes make use of abstraction and ambiguity to a greater degree than any episodes prior to them. Episodes 25 and 26 use continuous montages of black and white images whose content ranges from the Evangelions to piles of garbage. During these scenes, Shinji, Asuka, and Rei, portrayed solely through their voices, repeatedly ask themselves about their reasons for existing. Shinji in particular says, “No, I am worthless. I have nothing to be proud of. By piloting the EVA, I can be me. I had nothing before I started piloting the EVA.” He continues, “I’m allowed to be here, because I pilot the EVA…I have nothing, nothing at all.” This static scene leads viewers to focus on Shinji’s (as well as Asuka’s and Rei’s) motives for piloting the EVA. For Shinji, the act is crucial to defining the Self, and is also a way to approach to his ideal self. Episode 26 in particular extensively employs static abstract images and montage in combination with voice-over to represent Shinji’s fluid reality and his crisis in self-identification. Here, Shinji’s existential crisis is presented in one symbolic scene in which Shinji’s face is filled by the faces of other characters.16

Figure 3: Shinji’s existential crisis.

The techniques of limited animation combine with the use of voice-overs work effectively to represent the sense of “self-estrangement.” Indeed, some scholars see Evangelion as a prominent example of expressional potentials of still images in animation. Routt notes, “The series continually uses stills of Shinji and his surroundings to direct attention to his state of mind and to his memories, constantly reminding viewers that what is going on inside his head warrants our attention – and in this way predicting its own psychological denouement.”17 Lamarre argues that “the techniques of limited animation”, such as the usage of still images, which is central in Anno’s work, “function as something other than cheap or hasty approximations of full animation.”18



The Scales of Alienation: By analyzing the Evangelion anime in terms of Seeman’s five aspects of alienation, we find that Shinji tries to overcome his alienation by participating in the collective human resistance against the alien Angels, yet his attempt reveals contradictions in the types of alienation. His actions seem to ease his sense of “powerlessness,” “meaninglessness,” and “self-estrangement,” but at the same time also deepen other aspects of alienation, namely “normlessness” and “isolation.” By piloting the EVA, Shinji becomes a part of a highly-valued social goal in the form of “resistance” while also working to ease his sense of estrangement. Yet, this attempt is problematic to his trajectory of self-identification, his pursuit of individuality. Furthermore, the human resistance against the Angels highlights other issues of defining the Self, selfidentification and subjectivity. Shinji’s “normlessness” and “isolation” reveal that the aliens which the humans resist are not aliens as such. The Evangelion anime also portrays Shinji’s alienation and his inner struggle through the effective use of techniques involving images and sounds. Among those techniques are the articulation of still images in the form of montage and abstract visuals, which act as very powerful expressions of Shinji’s sense of alienation. The repeated insertion of scenes showing imaginary/unreal moments with vivid color motifs also function to represent Shinji’s psychic struggle and his loneliness. The analysis suggests that the Evangelion anime provides a lively example to think about the political and philosophical concept of alienation through animation. Alienation in the Manga Neon Genesis Evangelion: In order to analyze how the Evangelion manga portrays and represents alienation through the techniques of manga, it is necessary to separate “inherent” aspects of manga as a medium from decisions born out of the nature of the Evangelion manga as an “adaptation.” How much is the Evangelion manga a translation of the anime (and thus applies conventions of the anime in manga form, e.g. iconic shots from the anime turned into similar panels)? To what degree does it matter that it is indeed manga (as opposed to anime)? How, if at all, is the manga a response to the anime? Finally, what effect does the creator’s own preferences and approach to the work have on the concept? By answering these questions, this section will show how the nature of alienation in the

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manga, though similar to the anime, differs to the extent that it changes the meaning of alienation itself within the context of the story. The Position of the Evangelion Manga: Relative to other forms of EVANGELION, one of the most unique aspects of the manga is its production time frame. Whereas the original television series ran in under a year from 1995 to 1996 with the films Death, Rebirth, and End of Evangelion coming shortly after, and the first Rebuild of Evangelion movie was released to theaters in 2007, the manga began as a parallel adaptation, starting in 1995 with the first chapter actually debuting a month before the premiere of the TV series.19 At the same time, despite finishing 15 years after the series and its movies, the manga never surpassed the original in terms of the amount of overall story told. Events portrayed over the course of three or four episodes of the anime (i.e. three weeks to a month in terms of the original broadcast) were sometimes separated by months or even years in the publication of the manga. Thus, while the anime was completed in a short time span in the latter half of the 90s, and the new films are able to directly respond to that original work, the manga’s unique position allowed it to gradually develop an increasing capacity for hindsight. While largely similar in terms of overall narrative, even small differences affect the portrayal of alienation. In Episode 24 of the television series, Kaworu explains the true nature of the “Absolute Terror (A.T.) Field,” a recurring element in the series. Ostensibly a powerful energy-like barrier possessed by both the Angels and the EVAs that cannot be breached with conventional weaponry, Kaworu reveals that the A.T. Field does not exist merely for combative purposes but is actually the manifestation of the physical and mental divisions between beings, the “light of the soul” and “the wall that everyone has in their heart.”20 The A.T. Field thus becomes a “concrete” representative entity in the narrative, conveying the idea that human beings can never truly understand each other. The manga, however, while providing an identical scene in Volume 11,21 also adds a more explicit explanation that was merely implied in the anime at that point: without AT Fields, human beings merge into a single entity. As will be seen in the following sections, this tendency away from ambiguity is a key difference in the manga and its approach to alienation.



The Straightforward Visual Style of the Evangelion Manga: Sadamoto Yoshiyuki, the anime’s original character designer, is also responsible for writing and drawing the entirety of the manga. In contrast to the anime, which makes extensive use of abstract and ambiguous imagery to detach characters from a definite physical space in order to emphasize inner thought, the manga is generally more straightforward and conventional in its approach to narrative. Comparatively, the manga contains far fewer scenes which use overtly abstract imagery, and the overall visual direction leans towards somewhat of an Ōtomo Katsuhiro-style aesthetic.22 The character designs in the first place have a fairly strong sense of physicality, and in the manga this also translates into other aspects of the visual world more prominently. While the manga is not entirely without those scenes of introspection and inner conflict, even the most abstract scenes in it still maintain a high degree of accurate physical rendering on both characters and environments.

Figure 4: Shinji kills Kaworu in an act of love and mercy.

In this iteration of the fight between Shinji and Kaworu depicted in Figure 4, the moment in which Shinji kills Kaworu references an earlier scene where Kaworu performs a “mercy kill” on a stray kitten rather than let it suffer through life (Kaworu also makes his first appearance much sooner in the manga, at roughly the half-way point). Whereas the anime shows only the silhouette of Kaworu’s severed head unceremoniously dropping into a sea of orange liquid, the manga shows Shinji strangling Kaworu just as Kaworu had killed the kitten. Here, though the emptiness of the field and the destroyed buildings (as well as the scene’s chronological placement in the manga) make it clear that this image is symbolic,

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the manga still portrays the moment with a strong sense of physical reality. Abstract/Real Transitions in the Evangelion Manga: The “abstract” transitions into the “real” with much more ease compared to the anime, where the difference can be abrupt and rather striking. However, while the infrequency of those moments should make them stand out all the more because of how they diverge from the rest of the manga, this is not the case. To some extent, this can be explained by the fact that Sadamoto’s abstracted sequences are still more real than equivalent scenes in the anime, but what is also important is that the geometric nature of comics itself, a medium comprised primarily of rectangular enclosures and spaces of various sizes, makes this transition smoother, especially when filtered through the conventions of “story manga.” To elaborate, the panel-based nature of comics generally results in a certain level of visually geometric abstraction. A comic can be thought of as panels drawn and arranged in a way so as to organize its narrative information, for a comic is not simply images placed next to each other on a page.23 Generally, this leans towards some type of narrative clarity (e.g. the order in which the panels should be read), but with manga, the tendency towards a “flowing” panel progression which emphasizes a guided movement from one element to the next further fosters this abstracted view of the narrative contents. For instance, a particular character can occur multiple times on the same page and yet still not be seen as multiple characters. While this effect is certainly achievable in other art forms, from film (Gollum’s “dialogue” with Smeagol in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Tower s film adaption) to nonrepresentational paintings (Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2) to animation and games, the comics form is particularly suited for it because of how space is utilized by the panel-based format to convey narrative content. The result is that, in manga, the panels act as a continuous reminder of the abstract properties they possess. Where other forms of media can accomplish the same thing and do so with great effectiveness, comics are a form where the combination of narrative and abstraction through framing is a convention that is practically taken for granted.

Figure 5: Shinji and Kaworu converse against a vague backdrop.

Moreover, manga has a history of using symbolic, abstract, and/or non-existent backgrounds to emphasize the characters (and by extension their emotions) in a panel. In particular, shōjo (girls’) manga, notably the work of the Shōwa 24 Group,24 has an extensive history of utilizing this style, and an observation of works by authors such as Hagio Moto and Ikeda Riyoko show a very liberal usage of panels and sequences far more abstract and elaborate than in Sadamoto’s Evangelion manga. Even there, however, the absence of clearly defined backgrounds does not register a panel space as being particularly abstract. Returning once more to Shinji and Kaworu, we can see a conversation occurring between the two of them, with the backgrounds lacking any particular details, but the characters do not feel divorced from their physical environment Manga’s tendency to abstract its “physical elements,” or to remove characters from a definite physical and perspective-oriented space means that the transition between a moment grounded in physical “realism” and one dedicated to making the internal world of the character visible is much smoother than in anime. Thus, in the Evangelion manga, Sadamoto’s realistic style makes the visually ambiguous scenes less abstract, while the formal elements of manga lend a degree of inherent abstraction to Sadamoto’s style, resulting in smoother transitions between the two. Prominence of Character Communication: The vagueness with which the characters express themselves in the anime also turns out to be much less prominent aspect of their manga counterparts. In the lead-up to the fight with EVA-03 in Episode 18, the anime shows how everyone, including the pilot Tōji him-


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self, is unwilling to tell Shinji the truth until it is too late. Here, Shinji finds out only after Tōji is critically injured in

A Different Site of Alienation:

the battle. In the manga however, Tōji tells Shinji about his appointment as an Evangelion pilot, going so far as to confide in Shinji his own fears and doubts concerning the

Through a combination of Sadamoto’s tendency towards “physical” realism (relative to the anime), smoother abstract-to-physical transitions of manga, and a narrative featuring improved communication between the characters, the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga shows a more straightforward approach to even its presentation of alienation. Unlike the anime, the expression of thoughts and emotions in the manga of Evangelion is typically not as overt in its presentation. Thus, understanding is best culled from active character interaction, rather than the awkward conversations and moments of deep introspection utilized more consistently by the anime (though the manga is not without those scenes entirely). As the characters communicate with each other in a more “normal” fashion, both in terms of the primarily non-abstract visualizations of their interactions and their more “natural” conversations, the upper limit of human interaction is brought to the forefront. For the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga, alienation occurs among the characters when they become painfully aware of those limits. While the anime’s characters are afraid to show their true selves for fear of being hurt, the characters of the manga are frustrated by the upper boundaries of the individual. Like the anime, the setting of the Evangelion manga is a world recovering from destruction, where the inheritors of the future are wracked with personal demons which inhibit their ability to connect to others. But whereas the original anime emphasizes the challenge of making connections in the first place, the manga allows for the establishment of relationships, only to call their success into question afterwards. The more conventional narrative and visual progression of the manga pushes the site of alienation somewhat away from the enclosed mental space of the individual to the ambiguous shared space that exists between people. Given this approach, the alienation of the Evangelion manga is similar to the anime in that it lessens the sense of powerlessness, meaninglessness, and self-estrangement at the expense of increased feelings of normlessness and isolation, but it differs in that this contrast is most keenly felt in a developed interpersonal relationship, rather than in potential or half-formed ones.

position. Though the outcome is far graver (Tōji ends up dead instead of hospitalized), the prior scene shows how the characters do not stop where their anime counterparts would in terms of interaction. Even Shinji himself has different responses to the situation depending on the version of Evangelion. After the battle, Shinji tries and fails to destroy NERV headquarters in retaliation, and is brought before his father to explain his act of treason. In each, Shinji shows himself to be angry at what he feels to be his father’s betrayal, but whereas Shinji in the anime has few words for his father and simply quits,25 Shinji’s manga counterpart goes so far as to take a swing at him.26 Comparatively, the same scene in the Rebuild of Evangelion films (where Asuka replaces Tōji) shows a middle-point between the two, largely resembling the TV series but also showing how Shinji communicates his decision with more determination.27

Figure 6: Shinji attempts to strike his father.

If the characters in the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime can be summarized as individuals who have enormous trouble connecting to others in the first place, then the manga’s characters can be thought of as individuals who run up against the upper limits of personal interaction. In the manga, the characters are able to create and foster relationships, but they almost inevitably reach a point where they end up questioning the validity of those connections. The interactions do not have to be “positive” ones either, as is the case with Shinji assaulting Gendō.


Alienation in the Game Neon Genesis Evangelion 2: Whereas the manga and the anime emphasize the psychological condition and developments of the characters

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and express the uncontrollable and complex nature of human interaction side by side with the alien intrusion by the angels, the videogame Neon Genesis Evangelion 2 in contrast abstracts both the characters and the interaction between them due to its algorithmic, numerical basis. Focusing on the “free turn” sequence in the game, this section will show that the structure of sociality inscribed into the world of Neon Genesis Evangelion 2 provides a radical and profoundly alienating experience to the player, thus engaging with alienation from a different perspective. Among the various EVANGELION videogames, Neon Genesis Evangelion 2 (also called EvangelionS, hereafter Eva2), produced by Alfasystem, BANDAI, and GAINAX, sticks out in terms of its distinct expression of Anno’s vision. Following a rough version of the anime story in its narrative, Eva2 adapts the anime's double structure by facilitating two altering modes, the so-called “free turn,” in which the players are able to explore the world and interact with non-player-characters (npcs) controlled by an artificial intelligence, and the “combat turn,” in which they have to pilot the EVA and fight against the intruding Angels. However, the game does not feature a singular main narrative. According to Anno Hideaki, who supervised the project, it rather allows each player “to create his or her own, individual Evangelion 2.”28 By granting a large variety of choices the social interactions in the free turn, the game's “sandbox-like” system allegedly allows the players to fulfill their desire and to set their own goal freely,29 or alternately to abandon the notion of a specific goal overall.30 A fan describes the game as being “much more a simulation than a game. You cannot only play Shinji, but also side characters (even Aoba! 31). 2000 hours of play guaranteed. The speed is awful, but at the same time, it features a high degree of freedom. You can for example fight Angels in Eva, run berserk, assassinate whomever you despise, stalk or be stalked, create a harem, get cheated on, go fishing with dad, etc.”32 The diverse playable scenarios shown in figure 7, which are available to the player from early on, indicate that the game offers perspectives less central in other products of the franchise.



Figure 7: Possible Scenarios in Eva2

Space does neither allow for an analysis of these different perspectives and “games” that are played in the Eva2 world, nor for a comprehensive discussion of the implications this high degree of freedom on various levels has both for the player and for the researcher. The following section rather aims to analyze the structure underlying the free turn with regards to its mechanics at play. Focusing on the way in which social interactions are structured in the so-called free turn, it hopes to show how the game succeeds in translating EVANGELION’s psychological and social complexity into its own language and can be regarded as an intriguing example of the estranging and alienating potentials videogames facilitate.

Structural Elements of the Free Turn: Located in Tokyo-3, Eva2 features a variety of places familiar from the anime, such as Misato’s 33 mansion, Rei’s apartment, the classroom, and the NERV headquarters. The player is able to direct a player character (pc) freely through (most of) the environment and may, apart from some basic needs like food and an occasional bath, use the passing time in any fashion he or she deems appropriate. Apart from a variety of “functional” (bathroom, shower, cafeteria) engagements these rooms offer, they are populated by non-player-characters (npcs), which, controlled by an artificial intelligence (A.I.) system, follow their own agenda. This free turn is interrupted by approaching angels (i.e. the combat turn) about every two days at a randomly determined timing.

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Figure 8: Example of the I.M (clockwise from top: Ignore, “What do you want?”, Answer gruffly, Small talk.

Despite the open system, the free turn is not completely without structuring elements. A key variable in this respect is the “Absolute Terror” (A.T.) value the player character and all npcs display. In contrast to its portrayal in the anime and manga, A.T. is explained in the game manual as a kind of tension barometer that can be raised by making friends with npcs. Raising the A.T. is recommended, because this value not only affects the fighting strength of the Eva during the combat turns, but, according to the solution guide, which refers to it as “something like the confidence for leading a life in society”, also influences the so-called “Intelligent Material” or “I.M”, another central element of the game.34 The I.M. is the term used for the large pool of (inter)actions the game facilitates (more than 600 actions are available in total35). From this pool, the computer selects up to four possible actions the player can choose from at any given time and location during the free turns. An example of how the A.T. influences the I.M. in the game are actions like hugging or kissing, which seem to be available only when the pc’s and/or the respective npc’s A.T. value are above a certain level. The player’s actions will not only influence the A.T. value, but also have an effect on how the npcs evaluate the pc.


Figure 9: Misato’s evaluation of Rei (from top to bottom): Friendsip, Love, Parental Love.

Japanese science fiction author and critic Kotani Mari argues that, in the anime, the characters carefully play or enact a paternalistic family in what she calls a “family game.”36 The video game facilitates a similar social game but puts a stronger emphasis on romantic relationships through the structure of A.T. and I.M. and the numerical evaluation of the player’s actions by the npcs, thereby employing central elements of so-called dating simulation games.37 Following the suggested aim of raising the A.T. value requires the player to engage in “successful” social interactions by choosing the right (re)action for her character. But, whereas gameplay in dating sims and visual novels is often dominated by dialogues, the I.M. in Eva2 focuses more on physical exploration, both by facilitating a variety of actions along with phrases and by dynamically changing the available actions according to the physical distance between pc and npc. For example, the player is able to “look at” an npc from a certain distance. However, this option disappears from the I.M. selection when drawing closer. As one of the more successful ways to raise the A.T. begins with looking at npcs, this means that a considerable part of the gameplay can consist of frequent “checking” on the actions available, with the player literally feeling his or her way through the map by pressing the circle button on the controller to access the I.M. menu.38 Thereby, the free turn spatializes sociality, requiring of the player a tactile exploration of the interaction possibilities or the (romantic) social space the game world offers.

World Mastery: Where the anime depicts a complex web of social and personal struggles, the video game reduces the characters to numbers and the social interaction to a prede-


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fined and preselected set of possible actions to choose from, in order to facilitate a goal structure. By introducing the A.T. and other mentioned numerical values as variables influenced by the actions the player takes, which in turn influence the players interactive possibilities or the fighting strength of the Eva, the combination of A.T. and I.M. produces a variety of potential goals to follow. In other words, the player can master the social game Eva2 offers to a certain extent with respect to the goals he or she sets, by developing an understanding of the system’s algorithms and the npc’s behavior. The numerical abstraction of the characters emotions can be “deciphered” and influenced through an effective use of the I.M. system. For example, effectively pursuing the goal of raising the A.T. and beating the intruding angels is to approach the npcs in ways that are likely to be successful. Figure 10 shows the results of research into the game system done by a player, who explains that passivity is the basis for a successful relationship.39 As already indicated by the above-cited fan description of the game, raising the A.T. is by far not the only possible way of playing the game. That is, although it amplifies the fighting strength of the EVA, and while the game has a narrative ending that can be reached when all angels are defeated, players can choose to ignore it or even deliberately decrease the A.T. and “play a different game”.

Figure 10: How to get the girl controlling Shinji. Source: “Eva2 Sūpā Kōryaku, Furī tān.”

The “learnable” social space of Eva2, in which interactions can be calculated and selected with regards to their potential success, offers a sense of mastery and allows the player to make the pc and the npcs obey his or her initiative. Put next to the depiction of an “apocalyptic psyche”40 in the other works, the rational and controllable world of Eva2 may seem like a resolving answer to the formers’ struggles. However, the scarcity of available (inter)actions at a given point on the map, sometimes limited to one possible reaction to a situation, constantly reminds the player of how limited her possibilities are, thus contributing to her estrangement from the everyday. Yet, in combination with the vast possibilities the game world offers, this same scarcity also creates a productive tension insofar as it challenges the player to explore these possibilities by subscribing to and



mastering the available means. According to Susan Napier, the last episodes of the anime Evangelion show that its “final apocalyptic vision is an ironic one: even when we think we can control the reality around us, we are actually at its mercy, cartoon characters in the hands of the fates or the animators.”41 The game, however, offers a world in which control can be gained to some extent by the player, who is thus able to determine her own goals, potentially facilitating engagements and experiences beyond the directions predicted by the designers, like “not to talk to anybody/only to talk to PenPen 42,” “create a harem,” “homosexual pairing,” “how many people can I assassinate,” “refuse to work when playing Misato,” “move in with Rei as Shinji,” “survive with 0 A.T.,” etc.43 While not further pursued at this point, the examples hint at the game’s possibilities to fulfill a wide range of desires, with the player claiming control over the characters and the game system alike.

Beyond Science Fiction? With regards to the anime Evangelion, Kotani argues that it has a very “real feel” despite its fictional setting, because it mounts a critique of the present.44 In terms of alienation, both manga and anime deploy their expressive potentials in the science fictional setting of EVANGELION to emphasize a feeling of alienation familiar from our present. The game, on the contrary, seems to deploy the A.T. and I.M. to detach or alienate its world from this present. While sacrificing the psychological depth offered by the anime and manga due to the abstraction of the characters, this reduction structures what could be called “numerical sociality” and facilitates the player an estranging experience of social interaction. In this sense, A.T. and I.M. function as so-called science fictional “nova”, according to SF author and theorist Adam Roberts “the thing or things that differentiate the world portrayed in science fiction from the world we recognize around us.”45 Beyond its aesthetics or narrative framing, Eva2 can be said to realize science fiction in its own gamic language. What Otherness is created by these nova? The abstraction of the characters and the social world in Eva2 generates an estranging playing experience. Dealing with the question of whether “any human thought pattern [can], in the end, be reduced to a program, thus reducing humans to mere ‘statistical beings,’ similar to automatons,” Japanese SF writer Yumeno Kyūsaku, according to Nakamura Miri, confronts the reader with

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what she terms the “mechanical uncanny,” or, “a mode of fear that stems from the mechanization of the human body”, as something that “threatens what we perceive to be ‘natural,’ including personal memories and personal identities as a whole. The idea of a coherent self comes under attack, as bodies become both divisible and mechanical, and as characters are duplicated and become reduced to statistical beings.”46 The game, through its rationalization and abstraction offers a similar experience of a “mechanical uncanny” in the interaction with the non-player characters. In order to play the game, the player has to accept and analyze this “uncanny” otherness, which is all the more alien due to the “intelligence” the npcs are equipped with. Developing the A.I. system of the game Gunparade March 47 further, the A.I. system controls the npcs and seemingly makes them act either spontaneously or in response to the player actions. In their actions, the npcs appear neither restricted by the pressure to raise their A.T. value, nor by the context or their surroundings. Despite being based on algorithms, which can be identified and analyzed to some extent, the npcs remain radical Others to the player because they often appear indifferent in interactions, aimlessly moving through the environment. In his analysis of the science fictional character of Star Trek, Roberts argues that the Borg are a successful representation of radical otherness. “It is impossible for us to enter imaginatively into the world of the Borg because certain key values we hold, values like individuality, life/death and so on, are too centrally part of us, whereas for the Borg they are neither good nor bad but simply irrelevant.”48 In a similar sense, the npcs in Eva2 at times may appear alien beyond imagination, although they are developed to facilitate the player with “intelligent” or “human-like” counterparts for social interaction, and thus could be said to represent alienation on the level of “species-being.” If Gadamer is right in claiming that human play always requires a task it can be directed towards,49 understanding the aimless npcs might be impossible unless the player stops playing all together. As argued above, limitation in Eva2 both estranges the player from the everyday and challenges him or her to dig deeper into its world, stimulating exploration of the system beyond mere reaction to the situations at hand. While this can be identified as a structural element of most videogames, the extent to which everyday experience can or has to be applied to the game world in order to understand it may vary. Whereas some games turn towards realism in order to facilitate the



player with instantaneous understanding, Eva2 rather employs a variety of mechanisms and elements that alienate and detach its world further from the everyday present. Playing with(in) this “alien nation” and its inhabitants means to both submit to its rules and to explore its possibilities within and arising from these boundaries according the player’s individual desires. Roberts argues that “SF, by focusing its representations of the world not through reproduction of that world but instead by figuratively symbolizing it, is able to foreground precisely the ideological constructions of otherness.”50 It may be argued that the game’s alien world potentially confronts the player with an symbolic figuration of the present in Roberts’ sense, with all the political potentials this may have. In fact, identifying the npcs as an Otherness should be regarded as part of this process. However, the “alien nation” in Eva2, in which the utopic dream of control over one’s social interactions and the dystopic fear of the “mechanical uncanny” meet, may be better described as “symbolizing beyond recognition,” particularly where its inhabitants and rules seem impossible to understand but can still be experienced and interacted with. Furthermore, the game derives its potentials not from forcing the player into a particular direction or narrative, but rather from facilitating a choice of how deep he or she wants to dive into it, thereby providing a context for personal playful estrangement.

Conclusion In examining concepts of alienation in EVANGELION across the media forms of anime, manga, and video games, the image of alienation at first appears to grow only more convoluted, particularly in places where the three iterations seem to contradict one another, such as with the concept of “A.T.” In the anime and manga, the Absolute Terror Field is conveyed in a negative light. In addition to its prominent role as a defensive weapon utilized by the most physically monstrous entities in Evangelion, the Angels and the EVAs, it is also the “wall of the heart” which exemplifies the alienation of Shinji and every other human being. In the game Eva2, however, Absolute Terror is given a positive connotation; it not only increases the EVA’s fighting strength, but when raised also offers more possibilities for interaction. In this way, the contradiction of the A.T. Field actually resembles the competing attitudes towards estrangement and alienation found in social and political theory and science fiction. Just as how estrangement is a source of

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problems in the former and a source of solutions in the latter, so too does “Absolute Terror” possess a similar duality, where its presence can protect an individual’s confidence but also reinforce their sense of psychological loneliness. Even the anime and manga versions of Evangelion also offer somewhat competing views, placing either the effect of alienation (or the presence of Absolute Terror) either at the “beginning” of a relationship or at its “end.” The characters of the anime lessen some forms of alienation at the expense of others, while the manga delays its characters’ sense of alienation initially, only to unleash its effects more thoroughly later. The game, in turn, allows its characters to have varying degrees of alienation. At the same time, the gamic language of Eva2 and its simplification of interpersonal relationships can create a feeling of alienation through its sense of artificiality. Taken together, the combined image of alienation conveyed through these three versions of Evangelion suggests that alienation may not just be a matter of manifestation through different conceptual forms (powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, isolation, selfestrangement) which can affect a person in a given moment, but also a question of when and where alienation takes place in a personal history of social interaction. The contradictions of alienation can occur in time as well as space, and the two dimensions of alienation may be capable of creating increasingly complex forms of alienation. Medial forms of expression can either employ alienation to criticize the status quo, or to offer cognitive estrangement by generating Otherness. Bibliography: Alpha System. “Shinseiki Evangerion 2 Kōryaku Fairu no. 26.”, Accessed November 25, 2011. mel015x.cgi. Alpha System. “Shinseiki Evangerion 2 Seihin Shōkai.” Accessed November 22, 2011. uction.html. Funatsu, Minoru. “Bandai, PS2 Shinseiki Evangerion2 kansei kishakaiken kaisai [Bandai holds release press conference for PS2 game Evangelion2].” Game Watch, October 30, 2003. accessed November 23, 2011. tm. Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Wahrheit Und Methode. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1972.



Giddens, Anthony. Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An analysis of the writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1971. Groensteen, Thierry. The System of Comics. Translated from French by Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen. Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2007 Jameson, Fredric. Brecht and Method. London and New York:Verso, 1998. Katō, Hiroyuki, and Junichirō Tamura. Shinseiki Evangerion 2 Kōryaku gaido. Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 2003. Kotani, Mari. Seibo Evangerion [Holly Mother Evangelion] - A New Millennialist Perspective on the Daughters of Eve. Tokyo: Magajinhausu, 1997. Lamarre, Thomas. The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2009. Lukes, Steven. “Alienation and Anomie.” In Philosophy, Politics and Society 3rd series, edited by Peter Laslett and WG Runciman, 134-156. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1967. Mészáros, István. Marx’s Theory of Alienation. London: Merlin Press, 1970. Miller, David et al. ed. The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1987. Nakamura, Miri. “Horror and Machines in Prewar Japan: The Mechanical Uncanny in YUMENO Kyûsaku’s Dogura magura.” Science Fiction Studies 29 (2002): 364-381. Napier, Susan J. “When the Machines Stop: Fantasy, Reality, and Terminal Identity in Neon Genesis Evangelion and Serial Experiments Lain.” Science Fiction Studies 29 (2002): 418-435. Roberts, Adam. Science Fiction. London/New York: Routledge, 2006. Routt, William D. “Stillness and Style in Neon Genesis Evangelion.” Animation Journal 8(2) (2000): 28-43. Sadamoto,Yoshiyuki. Interview. Der Mond-Sadamoto yoshiyuki gashuu Deluxe Edition. Japan: Kadokawa Shoten, 1999. Translated from Japanese. “The Initial Title was Alcion.” [EVA] If it weren't for Sadamoto – Redux. Last modified November 30, 2006. vember/003855.html. Seeman, Melvin. “On The Meaning of Alienation.” American Sociological Review 24(6) (1959): 783-791. Shibamura,Yūri. “Shinseiki Evangelion 2.” Accessed Nov. 22, 2011. .html.

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ISSUE 6, APRIL 2013 Fredric Jameson, Brecht and Method (London and New York: Verso, 1998), 47.

Shinseiki evangerion. Directed by Anno Hideaki. 26 episodes, 1996. Translated as Neon Genesis Evangelion. Platinum Complete edition. Houston, TX: ADV Films, 2005. DVD. -Shinseiki evangerion. Sadamoto,Yoshiyuki.Volumes 1-12, 1996-2011. Translated as Neon Genesis Evangelion. San Francisco, CA:Viz Media, LLC, 2004-2011. -Anno, Hideaki. “What Were We Trying to Make Here?,” 1996. Neon Genesis Evangelion v1. San Francisco:Viz Media, LLC. 2004. -Horn, Carl G. “Editor’s Note.” Neon Genesis Evangelion v1. San Francisco:Viz Media, LLC, 2004. Shinseiki Evangerion 2, videogame (Playstation 2), Bandai 2003. Supa. “Eva2 Sūpā Kōryaku, Furī tān.” Accessed November 23, 2011.


Supa. “Eva2 Sūpā Kōryaku, Hajime ni.” Accessed November 23, 2011. Suvin, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction. New Haven and London:Yale University Press, 1979.


Wevangeriwon shingekijōban: ha. Directed by Anno Hideaki, 2009. Translated as Evangelion 2.22:You Can [Not] Advance. Forth Worth, TX: Funimation, 2011. DVD. David Miller et al. eds., The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1987), 6. 1

Marx deployed his analysis of alienation in capitalist production in The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 and later further developed in detail in Capital. See István Mészáros, Marx’s Theory of Alienation (London: Merlin Press, 1970). 2

3 Anthony

Giddens, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory: An analysis of the writings of Marx, Durkheim and Max Weber (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1971), 14. Melvin Seeman, “On The Meaning of Alienation.” American Sociological Review 24(6) (1959): 783-791. 4

Seeman gives an example of post-war German situation, which Adorno described as “meaningless.” Adorno notes that the individuals in post-war Germany could not choose with confidence among alternative explanations of the disasters of the epoch (ibid., 786).

9 Anno, Hideaki, “What Were We Trying

to Make Here?,” in Neon Genesis Evangelion v1, 1996 (San Francisco, CA:Viz Media, LLC, 2004). Sadamoto,Yoshiyuki, interview, Der Mond-Sadamoto yoshiyuki gashuu (Der Mond―貞本義行画集) Deluxe Edition, (Japan: 10

Kadokawa Shoten 1999), Translated from Japanese, “The Initial Title was Alcion,” [EVA] If it weren't for Sadamoto – Redux, last modified November 30, 2006, 03855.html. 11

RahXephon (ラーゼフォン, Rāzefon), Martian Successor

Nadesico (機動戦艦ナデシコ, Kidō senkan nadeshiko, “Mobile Battleship Nadesico”), the Suzumiya Haruhi (涼宮ハルヒ) series, and Serial Experiments Lain, to name a few. Episode 4.

For the discussion on the issues on human identity and reality in Evangelion and the anime Serial Experiments Lain, see Susan J. Napier, “When the Machines Stop: Fantasy, Reality, and Terminal Identity in Neon Genesis Evangelion and Serial Experiments Lain,” Science Fiction Studies 29 (2002): 418-435. 13


Seeman, “On The Meaning of Alienation,” 789-90.

For example, as Napier notes, “[W]hat makes Evangelion truly groundbreaking are the psychic struggles in which the characters engage.” Napier “When the Machines Stop,” 425. For more discussions, also see William D. Routt, “Stillness and Style in Neon Genesis Evangelion,” Animation Journal 8(2) (2000): 28-43 and Thomas Lamarre, The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2009). 15

Lamarre discusses this scene in relation to Shinji’s existential crisis and a technical crisis of animation. “The animation reminds us that this crisis is not just about a subjective point of view. Rather the animation gives us an exploded view of the psyche.” Lamarre, The Anime Machine, 183. 16


Routt, “Stillness and Style in Neon Genesis Evangelion,” 41.


Lamarre, The Anime Machine, 183.


Seeman derives “normlessness” from Durkheim’s description of “anomie.” For the discussion about alienation and anomie, see, for example, Steven Lukes, “Alienation and Anomie,” in Philosophy, Politics and Society 3rd series, ed. Peter Laslett and WG Runciman (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1967), 134-156. 6

Horn, Carl G, “Editor’s Note,” Neon Genesis Evangelion v1 (San Francisco, CA:Viz Media, LLC, 2004). 19

"The Beginning and the End, or 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door,'"Neon Genesis Evangelion episode 24, directed by Hideaki Anno, 1996, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum Complete (Houston, TX: ADV Films, 2005), DVD. 20

21 “Stage

73: Reaching the Boundary,” Neon Genesis Evangelion v11, Sadamoto,Yoshiyuki, 2007 (San Francisco, CA:Viz Media, LLC, 2008), 64-84.

Darko Suvin, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction (New Haven and London:Yale University Press, 1979). 7


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creator of Akira (アキラ), Ōtomo is famous for an em-

phasis on realism and attention to detail while also commanding a strong sense of flow, i.e. panel progression. Groensteen, Thierry, The System of Comics, 1999. Translated from French by Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen (Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2007), 18. 23

24 A

group of female manga creators who in the 1970s pushed the artistic style and narrative scope of girls’ manga. 25

Neon Genesis Evangelion, episode 19, DVD.

ISSUE 6, APRIL 2013 41

Napier, “When the Machies Stop,” 430.

42 A

comical, beer-drinking penguin featured in EVANGELION.

43 “Eva2 44

Sūpā Kōryaku, Furī tān.”

Kotani, Seibo Evangerion, 12-13.

45 Adam

Roberts, Science Fiction (London/New York, Routledge 2006), 6. The term “novum” was coined by SF theorist Darko Suvin. Miri Nakamura, “Horror and Machines in Prewar Japan: The Mechanical Uncanny in YUMENO Kyûsaku’s Dogura magura,” Science Fiction Studies 29 (2002): 369, 377. 46

26 “Stage

41: Fist,” Neon Genesis Evangelion v7, Sadamoto,Yoshiyuki 2001 (San Francisco, CA:Viz Media, LLC, 2004) p.21-22. Evangelion: 2.22 You Can [Not]Advance, directed by Anno Hideaki, 2009 (Forth Worth, TX: Funimation, 2011), DVD. 27

Minoru Funatsu, “Bandai, PS2 ‘Shinseiki Evangerion2’ kansei kishakaiken kaisai,” Game Watch, October 30, 2003, accessed November 23, 2011, 28

Kōkidō Gensō Ganparēdo Māchi, 2000, Sony Playstation. Developed by Alpha System. 47


Hans-Georg Gadamer, Wahrheit und Methode (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1972), 103. 49

50 29 “Shinseiki

Evangerion 2 Seihin Shōkai,”, Alpha System, accessed November 22, 2011, ml.

Roberts, Science Fiction, 123.

Roberts, Science Fiction, 19.

30 Yūri

Shibamura, “Shinseiki Evangelion 2,” accessed Nov. 22, 2011, 31 A

minor “computer technician” character in EVANGELION.

32 “Eva2

Sūpā Kōryaku, Hajime ni,” Supa, accessed November 23, 2011, 33 The

EVA pilots’ commanding officer.

Hiroyuki Katō and Junichirō Tamura, Shinseiki Evangerion 2 Kōryaku gaido (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 2003), 30-31. 34

35 “Shinseiki

Evangerion 2 Kōryaku Fairu no. 26,” Alpha System, accessed November 25, 2011, gi. Mari Kotani, Seibo Evangerion - A New Millennialist Perspective on the Daughters of Eve (Tokyo: Magajinhausu, 1997), 28-29. 36

Displaying a considerable history and popularity in Japan, dating simulations are games in which the player can approach various npcs with the aim of developing a romantic and/or erotic relationship with them. 37

38 The

German words “tasten” or “herantasten” are more suggestive in this case, as they combine the notion of “to feel around” with that of touching, and are also used in “Tastsinn”, meaning “tactile sense”. 39 “Eva2

Sūpā Kōryaku, Furī tān,” Supa, accessed November 23, 2011, 40

Napier, “When the Machies Stop,” 428.


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Established in September 2007, is an attempt to build a new international research coalition in the rapidly emerging fields of cyberculture (New Media, Convergence Culture, Video Games and other related media, such as fanculture) and animanga (Anime and Manga), especially as they relate to (or originate from) East Asia. It is well known that a large proportion of this type of media emerges from the East Asian region (Japan, China and Korea), and Asiascape seeks to sponsor and organize research into the importance of these media as a series of transformative, cutting edge, transnational global commodities, and/or as a series of cultural products that reveal much about East Asia itself. There is a scattered (and growing) group of international researchers working in this field and, in addition to conducting its own original research, Asiascape aims to provide a hub for the organization and direction of this rapidly emerging field. With an international advisory board of leading scholars, Asiascape will sponsor a series of ‘state of the field’ conferences and disseminate research using new and old media, including via this website and its associated news-blog, vistas.


(NWO), Toshiba International Foundation (TIFO) and the Modern East Asia Research Centre (MEARC).

Mari Nakamura, Carl Li, and Martin Roth are PhD candidates within the Goto-Jones VICI project, ‘Beyond Utopia: New Politics, the Politics of Knowledge, and the Science Fictional Field of Japan.’ They are part of the core project team and should graduate in the summer of 2014. More information:

© 2013,

Asiascape is based at Leiden University and is funded through the generosity of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research WWW.ASIASCAPE.ORG


INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY BOARD: Prof Wendy Hui Kyong Chun (Brown University) Prof Chris Goto-Jones (Leiden University) Dr Mark Harrison (University of Tasmania, Australia) Dr Sharon Kinsella (Manchester University, UK) Prof Tom Lamarre (McGill University, Canada) Prof Stefan Landsberger (Amsterdam University) Dr Angus Lockyer (SOAS, UK) Prof Susan Napier (Tufts University, USA) Prof Ivo Smits (Leiden University, Netherlands) Prof Takayuki Tatsumi (Keio University, Japan) Prof Mark Williams (Leeds University, UK)

Submissions Please send submissions to the editors at:

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