Now that we’ve all had some time to digest the new movie, let’s discuss! I have some in-progress drafts on various theories and stuff, but I feel like starting with something more lighthearted…? So, to nobody’s surprise, this will be Shinji & Kaworu relationship-centric.
Warning: A LONG picture-laden essay where the blogger overthinks stuff. Spoilers for Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo. Discussion is highly encouraged! \o/
Shinji calls out to every single one of the old cast by their name at some point in the movie, which I think indicates quite a progress from the boy we met in 1.0. He’s making an effort to connect.
Q’s main conflict crystallizes as you realize that no one, not even Misato, answers back to Shinji’s call or efforts, effectively destroying whatever progress he made in 2.0 (You Can Not Advance, huh…)
S: Nagisa-kun…! Nagisa-kun!
Q is 90%-ly narrated from Shinji’s POV. Ironically, even though he gets most screen time right after the protagonist, Kaworu’s thoughts are constantly masked because we see him through Shinji’s eyes. There are only a few short scenes that slightly lampshade his mind process in this movie… some are terribly subtle, but added together, a conclusion is possible.
K: “Welcome back, Ikari Shinji-kun. I’ve been waiting.”
Watching Shinji and Unit 01 descend back to Earth underneath a wide, starry night sky.
K: “To live, it’s important to try new things as well.”
Relaxed stare at Shinji as he’s fidgeting on the piano stool. First conversation after a fourteen year long wait, Kaworu’s poker face is impressive to say in the least.
K: “We’re friends, after all.”
This is the one line that somehow disturbs me but I haven’t been able to ascertain why, yet…….. coupled with that sheepish smile… Kaworu defining their relationship on his own accord seems strange, too. Did one of the Shinjis from the previous time loops tell him that…? A precious memory for him, maybe? But we’d descending be into shoujo territory there…
S: “I’m worried about my friends.”
K: ” ‘Friends’…? “
K: “… Do you want to know?”
Listening to Shinji expressing worry about the state of Tokyo-03 and his classmates. He seems hesitant during the other’s monologue, almost as if he’s gauging the risk of telling Shinji the truth. (cautiousness from past loop experiences?)
K: “(However, no sin is beyond redemption.) There is always hope left… no matter what.”
While Shinji’s shocked to learn about the world’s state, Kaworu gazes at the White Moon. A close up of his profile as he frowns, the last line spoken more to himself than Shinji.
The most telling one for me, right after the previous scene. After their trip outside, Kaworu stands alone in the town ruins. His face is not shown - I feel like he was expecting Shinji’s reaction to an extent, but still feels dejected? Might be thinking about the next steps, too.
K: “The time has come. This is it, Ikari Shinji-kun.”
After Fuyutsuki and Gendo oversee Unit 13’s completition, a lone Kaworu finishes a piano piece. Again, hidden face. Wonder how he knew it’s been completed… Angel sensors?
K: “Even if you let bitter memories on refrain / repeat themselves like this, nothing good will ever come out of it.”
Picking up the SDAT player Shinji threw down from the ground (parallel to Rei picking it up from thrash in 2.0?). “Refrain” seems to be one of the keywords of Rebuild, Kaworu mentioned “repeating until it feels right” (time looping until he arrives at the best scenario) earlier during the piano sequence, too. Also reminds of Soul’s Refrain ~Tabris mix~ (the song’s connection to him makes the lyrics all the more disturbing…)
K: “Still, I want you to believe in me.”
K: “You don’t have to worry. To begin with, this was something created by the very Lilin who fear me.”
K: “I had intended to do this at some point.”
Mm, again, here’s one of the more straightforward ones. I’ve seen this mistranslated as “To begin with, I was something created by the very Lilin who fear me,” but that wouldn’t make much sense given the context. The line concerns the DSS choker ( wait, the DSS choker was created because of him…? ah, let’s not follow that train of thought right now… )
Nevertheless, that changes nothing about the “Lilin who fear me” line. He recognizes the fact but takes it in stride, as per usual.
K: As expected from the King of Lilin, Shinji-kun’s father…!
If Q were a shogi game, Kaworu is playing for one side while Gendo, the “king”, for the other… of course, just as foretold by Fuyutsuki (31 turns, 31 minutes…), it was a complete loss for Shinji.
So! What do we have here:
In Q, Kaworu definitely has his own agenda going on, the objective of which is “Shinji’s happiness”. He seems to have come to the conclusion that Shinji’s happiness includes rebuilding the world, too. Whether he does this for the Lilin as well is hard to tell for sure…
Q’s Kaworu represents hope for Shinji. But what does Q’s Shinji mean to Kaworu? The problem with his 1996’s self was that he only had 13 minutes to establish himself as a character, so finding out exactly what about Shinji piqued Kaworu’s interest to that extent fueled enough fan discussions to last over a decade. “Your soul is as fragile as glass, it earns my admiration - and by admiration, I mean love,” is as vague a confession as you’ll get.
Personally, I think it’s a combination of their similar pasts, similar circumstances and Kaworu’s endless internal debate on the meaning of life stemming from his own, dare I say, insecurities, resulting in his overt interest in anything sentient. He sees himself in Shinji, that’s why accepting the boy with all his flaws comes almost naturally to him. Add in the fact that yes, Shinji is canonically not bad-looking at all and actually a really nice and kind person when not put into difficult situations (read - this never happens), you can sort of understand Kaworu. Furthermore, Shinji is also the only person in the cast to not show animosity towards Kaworu from the get-go, not only in Q - I know a lot of people thought him dumb when he didn’t question Kaworu’s persona after various obvious contradictions (not needing a suit to walk outside of NERV, too much knowledge, referring to humans as Lilin etc) but I think it’s just that he doesn’t care. Even back in 1996’s Terminal Dogma battle, he wasn’t disappointed because Kaworu turned out to be an Angel, but because the latter approached him despite knowing they’d have to clash sooner or later. Granted, part of him turning a blind eye probably also lies in Kaworu’s own good looks and Shinji’s starvation for kindness, but, for some reason, I don’t think Kaworu considers that a negative… anyway, my point - being raised with the mindset that “everyone’s fate is already set” and suddenly encountering Shinji and realizing that this boy, his first friend, might just be worth defying fate for, Kaworu sacrifices himself… only to find out that things didn’t go so well after all (read - End of Evangelion). So now, this Kaworu for whom “Tabris” is no longer the only option of existence, decides to join up with Shinji - the other key trigger to the Human Instrumentality Project and his most precious bond - and defy fate again, this time, together.
From this stems what I like the most about their relationship in Q - it’s healthy. Kaworu could so easily just be another Prince Charming who puts a blindfold on his damsel in distress and says Don’t worry, I’ll save the day for you! but no, that’s not what Shinji truly needs. Kaworu made sure Shinji understood he was there to support him but that didn’t mean Shinji could just avert his eyes from the truth or get too dependant on him. He wanted Shinji to realize his own strength and abilities, realize that they are equals - supporting him through every single thing would have just made the boy develop a bigger complex, pretty much what happened in the original series - and look at how that went. NGE!Kaworu left Shinji’s self-confidence in an even worse state than before he came in, which is not how a healthy relationship is supposed to work and is also one of the direct reasons why Instrumentality happened in EoE.
Even while descending the stairs, he didn’t reach out his hand until Shinji called out (while still occasionally stopping and checking on him, haha…)
I believe, “love” means first and foremostly "trust" in each other.
Anyway, we’re close to the conclusion! I thought a long while about what there is left - how on Earth will Shinji recover from this? Can he even recover? We’ve seen many Impacts in the duration of Evangelion’s franchise, but this one is fundamentally different:
Shinji was fully conscious of what was happening.
He won’t be able to defend his mind by convincing himself “it was out of my control” anymore, as was pretty much the case of every single disaster and death before, because this was an Impact started by him willingly disobeying Kaworu’s advice. I as a viewer don’t blame him for it, given the emotional strain. But Shinji won’t forgive himself so easily. I’ve never seen him admit out loud “this is my fault” before, no matter what happened. He did it here.
The only direction I see this heading to is Shinji realizing the best thing he can do now is to just die. His existence is obsolete in this world. Ayanami’s gone because of him running away. He betrayed the only other person who trusted him. As long as he’s here, Impacts will keep happening. Misato-san was right to give him that choker. Everyone was right from the beginning.
So, this is a situation that can only be changed by an intervention from outside. I have no idea who will be tasked with it, Asuka seems the obvious choice but I wonder if she won’t just make it worse…
As for Kaworu, I’m expecting an appearance from him in 4.0. While Q had a load of him, the camera work and overall mood hid his true intentions too well - Rebuild is still keeping some cards to itself. There has got to be some kind of definite revelation or at least closure in 4.0. He might play the same role as in EoE again, or we might see one of those clone theories come true, who knows!
Then again, this all is relevant only if 4.0 won’t pull out one of those timeline shifts everyone’s so convinced about… one part of me still hopes Q is just a part of an erroneous time loop and that the true continuation of 2.0 will be 4.0……. either way, the final of Rebuild will definitely be a treat for our brain waves again, that’s the only thing Anno never fails at.
If you’ve actually gotten this far - wow! - thank you for taking your time to read and do tell me your own opinion! I can’t talk about stuff like this anywhere else than here, so it does my soul good to discuss with everyone~
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