Why It Sucks To Be An Adult In The Evangelion Universe
Being a pilot in Neon Genesis Evangelion is nothing glamorous. In fact, at some point it’s a miserable career with the threats of death looming over your shoulders. Well, starting with the Gundam series, the anime world made it clear that being a mecha pilot was never a glamorous job to begin with. Things got a little too dirty when the Real Robot genres were introduced. In the case of the Evangelion series, they just stressed how dirty being a pilot is all too well. So much so that being a mecha pilot is now a mentally toxic job. But then, if you are a young teen with little self-esteem, working for a neglecting parent with little job benefits that normal soldiers enjoy (psychiatrists for PTSD, high salary and much more), who could blame him for the low morale.
But if a crazy anime curse will take me into the world of Shinji, I will choose being a pilot over being an adult staff in NERV. Based on how I see it, you are better off as a child soldier in the Evangelion universe. Throughout the series, these miserable little emos are in better position than their adult counterparts. And below are the reasons why.
But First, The Adult Characters in the Show
The adults running the show deserves a mention. As behind the kids piloting the fleshy mechas are a bunch of sick characters working in the background. Firstly, is Shinji’s dad. Gendo Ikari could be the worst father in the mecha world, with his wife’s soul trapped in the EVA unit, and letting his son do the dirty work. Then there is Ritsuko Akagi. A fake blond hottie (and Gendo’s estranged lover) and NERV head scientist. The unkempt Ryoji Kaji also deserves a mention, and who could forget his lover, and apparent pedophile Misato Katsuragi who cared for Shinji.
Together with the rest of the NERV staffs and the SEELE, they seem to have an enviable job of sitting behind their desk as the children brawl with Angels. But unfortunately, that’s not the case (do note however that we have sane adult characters here).
1. Some Are Portrayed in More Negative Lights
As the child pilots learn to work together, love each other, and care for each other, the adults seem to be up in shadier affairs. As I have noticed, the older people are playing it dirtier. Ritsuko is cold, aloof and amoral. In fact, she is ready to sacrifice the pilots if deemed necessary. And did I mentioned that she tried to kill Gendo in the End of Evangelion?
Misato Katsuragi is a far better person than Ritsuko, being more sympathetic and humane. I like her when she is a slob skimpy and childish, but Anno turned her into an alcoholic. Kaji could have been likeable, if not for his ambiguous loyalty.
Then there is Shinji’s dad, and there is no question on how twisted he is.
Again, we do have sane adults in the series, from the other NERV staffs to Dr. Kozo Fuyutsuki which in my opinion, deserves more mention. But again, this is Anno’s work we are talking about.
2. Their Lives are Less Exciting
Again, the remaining sane staffs of NERV do have uninteresting existence in the Evangelion universe. The only exciting moment they had is when the commandos stormed into NERV to gun them down, or when it’s their turn to be dissolved into human goo. I mean the fans probably never noticed Maya Ibuki, Makoto Hyuga, or Shigeru Aoba until their tragically insane deaths.
Even the higher-ranking adults seems to live slower lives. Among all the adult casts, Misato and Kaji have interesting jobs. I mean Kaji was a triple agent, while Misato got to shoot several JSSDF before being blown up. The rest, like Gendo is all about desk jobs.
Yes, being a child pilot is a mentally and emotionally wrecking job, but it’s a heroic and exciting experience compared to sitting on your chair as you watch your son brawl with the Angels.
3. More Unbalanced than the Kids
Let’s face it, the adults here are more unhinged than the already emotionally messed up teenagers. In the previous article we discussed the mental illness our EVA pilots. If that’s the case, the adults are plain crazier. Not all of them are messed up though, but it’s hard to watch Misato wallowing in drunken self-pity, Ritsuko seeing Rei as her romantic rival to Gendo, and Gendo Ikari being twisted in many ways.
And we could blame the adults on how the kids became twisted themselves!
4. Sad, Sad Existence
I won’t say much on this, because as what’s mentioned above, life as an adult in the Evangelion universe is a miserable existence. You are sick, depressed, tragic, betrayed, surrounded by people you can’t trust and will soon die a tragic death. I have a feeling that Anno is channeling his grown-up miseries in the adult characters. My life is already stressful, but these guys and gals are basically in anime hell.
5. Toxic Habits
Again, I won’t say much on this as with those negative energies in their world, the adults will turn to vices to escape the harsh realities. What do you expect? When you are hopelessly sad, you need something to ease the pain. Misato’s alcoholism is an accurate portrayal of someone trying to cope up with a miserable life. It’s a good thing though that she never turned to drug abuse. And although it is not shown on screen, Ritsuko is hinted to be a chain smoker.
6. They All Died a Tragic Death
The EVA pilots are always exposed to constant danger, and there is always the possibilities of tragic death. Danger is an everyday occurrence, and who knows how nasty they will go one day?
But that never happened.
The irony is, the people who stayed in the safety of the NERV office and endured lesser danger died horrific deaths. Ritsuko was shot by Gendo, while Gendo was mutilated in half by his enraged wife (the EVA unit). Kaji was assassinated and Misato perished in the hands of the special forces. The rest will be reduced to orange juice upon the beginning of the Third Impact.
And amazingly, the EVA pilots survived. Shinji and Asuka were the only one remaining in the post-apocalyptic world.