Technology and Machines — Neon Genesis Evangelion and Bokurano

I would like to compare Neon Genesis Evangelion and Bokurano, which are both about children fight against alien monsters using a robot. The reason why I choose these two is because they share same similarities. I am going to describe these similarities later.

Firstly, I am going to describe general information about Neon Genesis Evangelion. Its broadcasting began in 1995, October. It was directed by Hideaki Anno, and 26 stories in total. Its setting is in 2015, after the catastrophic disaster called Second Impact happened in 2000 which reduced half on population in the world. A 14-year-old protagonist, Shinji Ikari was summoned by his father, who is a supreme commander of NERV, to fight against a monster called “shito” (Angel) using a humanoid robot, Evangelions. Only 14-year-old children who lost their mother by Second Impact could be pilot of Eva. The reason why such a vulnerable children should become a pilot, rather than physically strong adults is because Eva is made from soul of pilots’ mother, which would enable pilots to synchronize with Eva.
The overall theme would be apocalyptic, because there are dark events happening and people are worried about their future (p.29). However, it is not only about Eva fighting against the Angels. It also illustrates Shinji’s complex psychological changes thorough interactions with peers. The other sub characters in this anime are also playing an important role.

At the begging of the story, Shinji wasn’t eager to be a pilot of Eva. He was upset towards his father because he summoned Shinji just to use as a pilot. So, Shinji refused to ride on Eva. However, when he saw Ray Ayanami, who is injured really badly came to ride on Eva, he decided to ride Eva and fight against the Angel. Shinji showed a confused mental state that he doesn’t want to be a pilot, but he couldn’t leave the job to heavily injured girl. Since then, Shinji became a pilot of Eva, and at the same time, he minds about mysterious Ray. The other important character is Asuka Shikinami, the pilot of Eva who happens to live together with Shinji. Asuka represents a tom-boy girl characteristic who likes to be a pilot of Eva and feel proud from it. Even though these three characters have totally different characteristics, as they work together, their attitudes begin to change.

As for Ray, she used to be like an automaton, a girl who does everything what she told to do so. She didn’t usually think herself and make an action. However, since she met Shinji, she began to think and act by herself. For example, Ray was worried about relationship between Shinji and his father is bad, so to make the relationship better, she was planning to hold a lunch. There is a scene which shows Ray practicing cooking with many bandage on fingers. Asuka noticed that Ray is practicing cooking for Shinji, so she also began to practice. This is showing femininity aspect that as Napier claims, cooking is an important gesture to define gender (p.204). However, this anime was a bit different from our stereotype. There is a scene which Shinji cooks lunch for everyone. Although it isn’t depicted very often, I think social background when this anime was created is deeply related. When this anime was created, women were getting authorities and equal rights as men. So, the director may wanted to show an alternative model of couple that men do housework and women work outside.

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The other thing the director wanted to tell is that people cannot live alone. When fighting against the Angel, it was so strong that any of three pilots were able to defeat alone. Although some was injured, when all three pilots worked together, they were able to defeat the Angel.

I began to think why this anime keeps popularity even though it was made 18 years ago. One of the reasons would be the uniqueness of characters. I especially focused on the protagonist, Shinji. Most of heroes from other anime are physically and mentally strong, willing to fight against enemies. However, Shinji is rather self-effacing, lack in confidence. But when his friends are in danger, he positively reacts to save them. The way characters react in this anime is more like normal people, for instance, Shinji first refused to be a pilot to fight against terrible monsters, and Ray wants Ikari family to have nice relationships. These mental states would encourage audiences to easily project themselves to the characters.

Next, I would like to describe anime called Bokurano. Its anime broadcasted in 2007 April to September. The author is Mohiro Kitou. This anime is also about children fight against enemy to save the world (earth). Unlike Eva, when a child manipulates the robot to fight, then that person will die no matter what. The robot uses energy extracted from the pilot, so children will compensate their life to save the world. Therefore, the story depicts children’s mental processes thinking about their life, family, and social relations.

The story begins at certain summer holiday, 15 children went to a camp by the sea. Their curiosity made them go inside the cave, and met a mysterious guy. He suggested to children to play a game, children agreed and made a contract with him. Children thought it is just a video game, but it wasn’t that easy thing. Children had to compensate their life to manipulate a gigantic robot called “Zearth”, to fight against enemies. This fact was told after the first battle was done, everybody was upset that they are all going to die. Unfortunately, there is no ways to retire from fighting because if they lose or abandon fighting, then their entire world (earth) will be destroyed.

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What is interesting about this anime is that when children knew that they are all going to die, how they spend rest of life shows the true nature of human beings. One of the children called Kodama thinks that only chosen people deserve to live, therefore didn’t think about other people when fighting. He crushed the buildings and houses without hesitation because he thinks that only partial casualties are nothing more than saving the whole population of the world, and that those who died during the battle is their destiny. However, when his father was stepped by Zearth, Kodama finally realized that every life is equally important. He used to think that his father is a chosen man, who would never die in such accident, but he died in the end. So his belief was not true. This episode tells a moral that each life has meanings, there is no life that are worthless. People should act wisely not only thinking about themselves, but also think about other people’s feelings.

The other character I was attracted was Kako. Unlike other children, he refused to ride on the Zearth. The reason was simple; he just didn’t want to die. I think this is the normal reaction for every people. What is interesting about him is that his behavior once he was chosen as a next pilot. He already knew that he will certainly die after the battle, so he decided to do thing he couldn’t do in the past. First he confessed love to Chizu, one of the candidates of a pilot, and asked to fulfill the lusts. Chizu refused the request and ran away from Kako, but he persistently chased after her. On the way chasing after Chizu, Kako end up dying due to an accident. I think this episode is showing the true character of human beings. Nobody wants to die, and if it becomes inevitable, then that person may react insane.

Finally, Daichi also shows different form of true character of human beings from Kako. He has 3 siblings and he is playing a role as their parent because his real parents left them and ran away. Daichi works for his brothers and also to protect the house for their parents just in case to when they come back. Daichi works at his uncle’s house, and one day uncle gave him a ticket of the theme park. He wanted Daichi to have fun with his brothers, so Daichi decided to go to the theme park next day. Unfortunately, the next day was the day Daichi had to fight against enemy. He didn’t say farewell directly to his brothers because he knew that it would make them sad, so he just relied on uncle. The way Daichi fought was expressing family love. First, he waited every citizens evacuate to safe place, and then he started fighting. When the enemy rolled on houses and tried to destroy the theme park, he used whole body to protect the theme park. He wanted to protect it because his brothers were willing to go there. Finally, Daichi succeeded to defeat the enemy with minimum casualties. This episode illustrates a true love of family. Even though Daichi knows that he is going to die, he didn’t make any crazy actions like Kako, but kept on working for his brothers. He hoped his brothers’ happiness more than himself. This may seem exaggerated love, but it still deserves to be respected.

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In conclusion, there are many similarities between Neon Genesis Evangelion and Bokurano. They are: the main characters are using robot to fight against enemy, apocalyptic story, and audiences can easily project themselves to characters. The reason why I think two authors used innocent children to fight against an enormous enemy is because they may wanted children to overcome problems that seem to be difficult. A suicide is becoming a problem in Japan. There are many reasons why people suicide, such as bullied by someone, economical problem, and failure of job hunting. Even though terrible things happened, everyone is capable to overcome the problem, not by solving alone, but having helps from others. A robot is an alien thing, but it may represent a way to solve the problems. The reason why these two anime gained popularity is because every characters’ behavior are more like ordinary people, for instance, feel fear when faced a gigantic enemy and wish for family’s happiness. In addition, an apocalyptic story make anime interesting that audiences are wondering how ordinary characters overcome with desperate situations. On the other hand, some differences between these two anime are: as for Neon Genesis Evangelion, the messages are rather implied, but as for Bokurano, audiences would easily understand the message directly.

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About the author

Nadia Petrova

I'm running this blog because I love Japanese culture, especially the art of geisha. When I was a little girl, I used to dream of becoming a geisha myself. In my spare time, I enjoy watching good anime and reading some manga.

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