This is as good a place as any to recount my watching of the first of the new Evangelion movies. I remember when I heard that they were even being made (and that there would be a fourth pilot!) I had to sit down and catch my breath. It was like telling a Christian “hey, did you know about the other Eighteen Apostles?”
The theatre was pretty noisy and the first time I watched I distinctly remember some guy on my left telling his seatmate that he knew exactly what was going to happen and him eating nachos loudly. Guys, could you stop talking in church! Of course to them it was probably just a movie.
The movie was…well it was Evangelion. It was probably not as powerful as watching the first series (I’m not anything will ever compare to that but) but it sure rocked my world. The same scenes played out in front of me but I was a far different person now. It was like nostalgia on steroids. I remembered the EVA ML, the fanfiction, the scenes that had affected me so powerfully before. It was all there again, but somewhat different this time.
Did I mention that my sister has never watched Evangelion? Probably for the best, all things considered. I think we would have gotten even MORE enmeshed than we ever were had she done so. She knew the entire story (because I talked about it so damn much) and all the analysis and details but has never watched the series or movies themselves.
I watched it, went home to talk about it, thought about it some more, and went back to watch it again – seven times to be exact. The theatre was kind of empty (the movie was nearing the end of its run) and I was seated off to the side so I could be by myself and experience Rapture in relative peace.
Something else happened instead.
It was the scene where Shinji arms the positron rifle to fire it at Ramiel. I experienced again what I had felt when I first watched EVA – as if what was happening on screen was happening to me. In the series, whatever the Units felt the pilot felt, and it was as though the movie itself was an EVA Unit and I was inside.
Ramiel energy beam had struck Unit-01 and began to melt its outer armor away. Shinji was on fire and he was curled up in almost a fetal position. Still his hands reached for the controls. Inch by torturous inch he leaned forwards, doubled up in agony, until finally his hands reached the trigger.
I began to cry, deep racking sobs which shook my body and soul. It was just like twelve years ago. I was there in the entry plug, untrained and untested, pushing my mind and body soul to their limits – protecting everyone while no one was there for me. And yet I couldn’t run away. I mustn’t run away. I mustn’t run away. I mustn’t run away.
Shinji didn’t. I didn’t. We both did the best we could under the circumstances. I remembered how lost and alone I felt all those years. The poor misunderstood youth who tried to save the world but not out of heroism but pathology. The times in teenage when people said that he was a wimp and coward when I (and he) were anything but – when I internalized my mother’s criticism so deeply that I couldn’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality and felt that when people were saying things about him they were saying things about me.
From the age of fifteen onwards I had sealed away my tears. Only relapses could make them come, and when that happened they were ripped from me by wails and screams. This was different. This felt natural and healing, coming from a place deeper in me than even therapy could not have reached. I felt like a child again. Rivers in my heart came to life to wash away the pain. Walls that I did not even know I had erected came down as I cried.
Eventually the movie ended and the credits rolled but I remained in my sea, lost in my own world. The usher came to tell me that I had to leave and somehow I made it home. On the outside my tears had dried but in my heart they had started again.
I could cry again. Somehow I didn’t realize how important that was. An essential part of my humanity which I had lost so many years before had been restored.
Life continued in the same way afterwards and yet how could anything ever be the same? It was still like someone had put a new moon in the sky. After a long time spent away, I was coming home to myself.