Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Beast   First Watch 
June 26, 2019 11:57 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

In the wake of the previous battle, Misato hastily decides to let Shinji have a room in her apartment, where he discovers just what an irresponsible person his new guardian is. Shinji is also haunted by memories of his fight with the Angel.

OK, starting after this, we'll go two at a time!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit (30 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Even being on board with the idea that this episode's fanservice is satirical, it's still pretty hard to watch sometimes.

The hidden nudity gag where Misato picks up the beer can that's covering Shinji's privates only to reveal another beer can right behind it is pretty funny, though.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:18 PM on June 26 [10 favorites]

The rising city sequence for Tokyo-3 is really good. (Though I forget if we know what happened to Tokyo-2. Is it like Babylons 1-3 or Babylon 4?) You can see why Misato wants to protect it.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:58 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]

Tokyo-2 still exists, it's mentioned a couple of times as the seat of the Japanese government.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:51 PM on June 26

"Information about the angels is being spread to the public too quickly. We need a disinformation campaign."

That sure was a meeting!

The pastels in the hospital scenes have such a vaporwave aesthetic - no wonder so many lo-fi artists use 90's anime screencaps for their album/mixtape covers. I'm listening to the Waypoint podcast episode recommended in the ep 1 Fanfare post and I agree that the hospital scenes are both beautiful and eerie to watch. The desaturated, cold color palette for scenes such as Shinji seeing the bandaged injured Rei wheeled past him is more haunting as a result.

"For the Ikaris, life without the other around is the norm." Oof.

> Even being on board with the idea that this episode's fanservice is satirical, it's still pretty hard to watch sometimes.

As the Waypoint podcast episode notes, "This show has a very weird sexual energy." I think the shot analysis the Waypoint podcast got into helps articulate the weird disconnect for such fanservice scenes - they're shot in a way that isn't leering, but the scenes still utilize "creepshot" angles to play off the expectations created by such setups. Still uneasy.

> The rising city sequence for Tokyo-3 is really good.

Yeah! Somehow I didn't remember any of the rising city sequence, so seeing the buildings slowly emerge from the ground during my ep 2 rewatch was a very cool surprise.

One last quote from the Waypoint ep: "Why does my giant robot have a mouth? What's going on there???"
posted by rather be jorting at 8:45 PM on June 26 [4 favorites]

Shinji doesn't know why Rei is all banged up at this point, does he? She's just wounded but he (and the audience) don't know why.

Other things that caught my eye this time I watched:
  • Conversation with Misato and the store clerk about their family leaving the city because of the danger
  • Pen Pen still makes no sense
  • The fight with the Angel is really really brutal
  • Remembering my confusion as to why the giant robot required a helmet

posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:22 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]

Shinji doesn't know why Rei is all banged up at this point, does he?

No, he doesn't. We don't find out in these first two episodes.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:39 AM on June 27

Conversation with Misato and the store clerk about their family leaving the city because of the danger

I was under the impression this was between the two woman that walks by in the foreground near the end of the scene
posted by numaner at 12:49 PM on June 27 [1 favorite]

The fight with the Angel is really really brutal

There's a lot about this show that I didn't remember, or didn't catch when I watched it as a teen. This stood out to me A LOT on this rewatch. The "giant robots vs. giant monsters" formula involves a big narrative of human ingenuity vs. savagery. You have these graceful, balletic robots, high-tech (or Ultramen I guess) fighting kind of bestial monsters, and they really drew out showing the details of this fight so the audience is kind of primed and curious.

The Angel seems almost passive and measured in the way it proceeds. It makes deliberate movements. It pauses to repair itself. It disables, then pins Shenji, makes very accurate shots for a vital spot and stops entirely when he goes limp. Then, by contrast, 001 goes apeshit. It's pulling apart force fields and body parts. And has teeth! It's super uncomfortable. It satisfies the urge you had to watch them fight but also makes you feel a little gross for having rooted for it, and raises a lot of scary questions about WTF is going on. Even the characters who know what's happening seem like they don't want to deal with those questions yet.

Just another way this show flips the script. It's really good.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 1:34 PM on June 27 [10 favorites]

The term 'Absolute Terror Field' is such a masterstroke of worldbuilding.
posted by codacorolla at 2:14 PM on June 27 [8 favorites]

The really wild thing about "Absolute Terror Field" is that the full version only appears for a handful of frames during the title sequence. The dialogue in the show only ever uses the abbreviation, but the term is so evocative that those handful of frames are more than enough. (It doesn't hurt that "Cruel Angel's Thesis" is one of the most unskippable intro songs in anime, second only to "Tank!" IMO.)
posted by tobascodagama at 4:48 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]

So I’m only two episodes in so far. (Thanks for not spoiling stuff!) At the moment my take is that the concept of the Eva is a metaphor for feudal fascist hegemony, as both share brutality, cruelty, a dynastic aspect, and an unnerving power to dominate the psyches of depressed young people. But maybe that’s just where my head is at these days.

Very interested (and apprehensive) as to where this will go.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:48 AM on June 28

*valiantly resists the urge to throw some snark at a more recent popular anime series that takes that as a premise and spins it as being Good, Actually*
posted by tobascodagama at 7:23 AM on June 28 [1 favorite]

On the one hand I want to race ahead of the posting because I'm really enjoying it (and I'm already 2 episodes ahead), on the other hand the klaxon they use to prepare the Eva is the same as my on-call klaxon and it makes me twitch every time it goes off. Doubly so since I'm legitimately on-call this week so I can't shush down the fight-or-flight impulse so quickly.
posted by Kyol at 10:13 AM on June 28

The soundscape in general is super evocative. Most of the sounds, even for the high-tech command center display systems, are vintage 90s electronica. (My favourite example of this isn't in this episode, though.)
posted by tobascodagama at 10:33 AM on June 28

Is there any reason to watch the Netflix vs the Platinum DVD set I have stored away? Did they remaster or anything? I still need to watch the later re-tellings and such, but I'm at a bit of loss as to the goodness having watched it quite a few time over the past 20+ years.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:15 PM on June 28 [1 favorite]

I suspect part of the appeal is that it's streaming on Netflix and doesn't involve spending hundreds of dollars on DVD/Blu-Rays.

(Was just listening to the Waypoint podcast mentioned in the previous episode and they mentioned the bad old days of being an anime fan and shelling out $40 for 2 episodes... Thanks for the recommendation, that was great.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:53 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]

Yeah, like for me there's a few reasons why I haven't bought the boxset but am excited about rewatching on Netflix: storage space, lack of an optical drive in my computer, convenience and instant gratification of streaming, knowing that many other people will be watching or rewatching it now because it's recently been added to Netflix...

As for whether there are any merits to rewatching on Netflix when you already have the boxset: can't think of any! Maybe just the physical convenience, like if you want to squeeze in some rewatch time while you're away from home. Sometimes I catch up on tv/movies by dl'ing it to watch when I'm in transit/traveling.
posted by rather be jorting at 4:38 PM on June 28

Was just listening to the Waypoint podcast mentioned in the previous episode and they mentioned the bad old days of being an anime fan and shelling out $40 for 2 episodes...

Yeah, I remember being really into Cowboy Bebop in my early 20s and being all, "Oh, there's an anime shop near my college, I should pick up the whole series on DV-- HOW THE FUCK MUCH DO THEY WANT FOR THIS???"
posted by tobascodagama at 8:09 PM on June 28 [3 favorites]

Red Thoughts recaps:

Will I live here? With my father?
No. Go live in that abandoned apartment. Alone.
Uh...I’m fourteen.
Don’t worry, severely traumatised child with abandonment issues and depression! You can live with me, the raging alcoholic with no tact and poor coping skills who has no experience with children!

*5 minutes later*

Oh ho, nice dick, trauma boy!

Also there is a penguin. Why is it wearing a jetpack? Who knows.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:40 PM on June 28 [6 favorites]

It's hot in Japan, that's a Camelbak for his ice water. (I don't think the show ever bothers to explain that backpack, but that's the only explanation that ever made sense to me.)
posted by tobascodagama at 7:34 AM on June 29 [3 favorites]

One other small detail in this episode: at one point, Misato and Mitsuko are talking about the city and what scenario they're going with to talk to the public about what's going on. Off to one side of the screen, there's a lovingly-animated belt of giant bullets just going into a building, and each one is about the size of a person.

Plus some random weapon in the background on a crane, and it's a laser, maybe, but there's also a radiation symbol on it? Clearly fighting Angels is serious business.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:43 AM on June 29 [1 favorite]

So I broke out the DVDs and watched the first two episodes twice, once in Japanese with English subtitles and once in the English dub (c.2005 ADV platinum release). Then I went and watched the first episode on Netflix bouncing back and forth between the same two options.

Visually I didn't notice much of a difference. There's no guarantee that the two different HDMI inputs on the TV are configured exactly the same but they looked enough alike that nothing stood out as bad.

Audio seemed a bit better on the DVDs. Maybe more bitrate, maybe DVD->stereo->TV is a bit better than Roku->TV->stereo. Or levels were a bit different.

Netflix wins on the number of audio/subtitle options, big plus for that (the DVD is hard English subbed Japanese audio or English dub only). Voices are different of course, Netflix Shinji sounds like a girl, soft and rounded and less whiney than the DVD Shinji. The dubs on both are full of extra bits of sound effects.

Translation is also new and I prefer the DVD because I like the more rough literal style. I only need the subs to pick out a few words that I don't know, I don't need the whole thing Englishized. But that's just me.

It's the little things... is Shinji a 'spare' or a 'backup', does he 'know' why he's there (dad wouldn't call him unless he needed him for something) or was he just 'told' why he's there (get in the robot). Anyway I'm always pissed off at subtitles in general so...

I really wish Netflix gave knobs to adjust the subtitle size/color. The subs are nice and smooth compared to the DVD's sort of ugly font, but the DVD is easier to read because it's yellow and a bit larger. The Netflix subs often just disappear into the light background becoming hard to read fast. And they're more wordy than the DVD subs.

I'll probably still watch more of the Netflix version just to play with the other languages (woot, Japanese audio with Japanese closed captioning). I'm still a bit on the fence.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:05 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]

Did the DVD release do more to subtitle some of the otherwise completely un-translated Japanese card screens? I mean sure, later on there's a sub to let you know that's a DHU truck from wotcha prefecture, sure OK, but the big ol' title cards seem to get a pass.
posted by Kyol at 7:41 PM on June 29

I really wish Netflix gave knobs to adjust the subtitle size/color.

They do, actually, they just hide the link in a really inconvenient place in your profile settings. The actual URL turns out to be easy enough to remember once you get there, though.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:10 PM on June 29 [3 favorites]

Sadly Roku evidently is not a supported device for subtitle tweaking. Sound wise, upon checking the DVD is Dolby 5.1 and Netflix is Dolby Pro Logic 4.0 (at least as far as my setup goes). In some sort of perverse way I'd guess that Netflix is closer to original but the 5.1 ADV did makes a big difference.

One thing I did notice was in the Shinji's bits are covered by cans scene the DVD helpfully translated the second can as a jar of toothpicks. Netflix is missing some good subtle joke there. And yeah the DVDs do tend to translate a bunch of on screen text that isn't pure subtitle material.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:09 AM on June 30 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the really irritating thing about the new localisation is that hardly any of the text inserts are translated. There are some extremely important ones later on that do get translated, but the other ones being untranslated ruins the effect a bit.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:43 AM on June 30 [2 favorites]

thanks for that subtitle link tobascodagama! no more drop shadow! yay uniform!
posted by numaner at 3:35 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]

fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit: Pen Pen still makes no sense

From EVA Geek:
The manga adaptation of the series by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (not actually set in the same continuity as the series) does provide a more in-depth explanation of Pen Pen when he is introduced. In the manga, Misato explains to Shinji that Pen Pen was created as a test animal through genetic experimentation at a research lab she used to work at. When the experiment concluded, Misato adopted Pen Pen to keep him from being euthanized.
But that just feels like some after-the-fact justification. Perhaps given that this is largely an anti-trope show, Pen Pen is (just) this universe's oddly intelligent sidekick creature? Cowboy Bebop's Ein comes to mind, but I'm sure there are more Intellectual Animals than listed in TV Trope's section for anime and manga (heck, Pen Pen isn't included in the list!).

If you want to dig into more details, here's the EVA Geek page on the SDAT that Shinji is listening to in this episode, with some context from Evangelion 2.0: You Can (Not) Advance, and fan theories on the choice of tracks that Shinji is playing.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:44 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]

(Note: if you are doing a first watch, there's a lot of spoilerific stuff on EVA Geek and you may want to give all wikis a miss for a bit)

The Ein connection is a good one, or maybe Jiji from Kiki's Delivery Service.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:59 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]

fsiml, good point on EVA Geek, sorry I didn't include those spoiler warnings. I'll be more explicit going forward.

Jiji from Kiki's Delivery Service.
... had the worst. dub. ever. Who thought Phil Hartman was a good voice actor choice? I mean, besides someone at Disney. /derail
posted by filthy light thief at 1:54 PM on July 8

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