3+1 Trailer #3 Thoughts, Pt. 1
Updated: Dec 13, 2020
I was somewhat… “indisposed”… back when the trailer #3 originally launched on October 15, so I’m a wee bit late for the hype train there (which is never any fun). Here it is, as a refresher:
Still, the hype train for Shin Eva itself is going chugga-chugga, so it’s definitely not too late to share some trailer-inspired thoughts. Credit to Joseki et al. for providing a lot of good observations in the dedicated EvaGeeks thread, some of which I will be graciously borrowing. Many thanks also to my Postdiluvian Apkallu droogs, without whom very little of this cool speculah would even exist — I can never give enough props to this bunch, but I’ll still try! Since NTE* is so incredibly dense and its elements so thickly interwoven, it will take multiple posts to cover everything in trailer #3, and supplemental posts will be needed here and there to explain certain concepts. It should be an interesting journey. Hopefully I can finish it before January 23...
* (Shorthand for what most fans called “Rebuild”. This stands for the translation of the film series’ actual title, “(Evangelion) New Theatrical Edition”. Pedantic, sure, but it has the advantage of being both shorter than “Rebuild” and more accurate, so that’s why I use it.)
Working through the trailer front to back is probably simplest overall, so we’ll be starting with…
(GIF by me. I typically make my own.)
These first two shots depict Asuka and Mari suiting up in never-before-seen white plugsuits. The new suits have been talked about a lot (or so I understand — I’m an Internet hermit who doesn’t use social media…), but for the sake of completeness I’ll be repeating the ‘obvious’ here. Such as, well…
Darkness & Light
...how the scene is a parallel of Shinji and Kaworu suiting up to board Eva-13, with Asuka in Shinji’s place and Mari in Kaworu’s.
This comparison anticipates Asuka and Mari jointly piloting an Evangelion together, as Shinji and Kaworu did before. Some kind of fused combination of Eva-02 and Eva-08 has been teased ever since Q’s Next Time Preview, and by all indications it’s going to happen, even if the final design doesn’t look quite as “slapped together in five minutes” as this thing:
By the way, notice the directional consistency with the “suiting up” shot. 8+2’s left half is Eva-02 = Asuka, and its right half is Eva-08 = Mari. Also, no, the NTP appearance isn't proof in and of itself that 8+2 will be thing. If the blatant pilot pair parallels (heh) weren't enough for you, Mari also mentions in Shin's opening scene how Eva-08 will be upgraded to be "Overlapping-compatible", or オーバーラッピング対応型, with the parts they've found. "Overlapping" is a reference to Ultraman, specifically to the fusion of Taro with the five Ultra Brothers. Foreshadowing intensifies.
A “Shinji is to Asuka as Kaworu is to Mari” analogy is also being handed to us very concretely. There’s a lot to chew on here. Shinji and Asuka both start off as "official" ("chosen by" Marduk Report) Eva pilots at Nerv HQ, and comparisons are drawn between them multiple times:
Back in NGE, Asuka and Shinji were complementary characters, two halves of a whole. In NTE, these parallels communicate that the relationship has changed, and that Shikinami is similar to Shinji in ways that Soryu never was.
Contrast now against our pilots on the right. Mari starts off as an IPEA agent while Kaworu answers directly to Seele — they both operate outside of Nerv’s jurisdiction, in other words. The “outsider” nature of these two is hammered in with the back-to-back sequences of them preparing to sortie against the 10th Angel in Eva:Ha (= 2.XX). Fittingly, both of them are very mysterious and seem to know much more about what’s going about than most of the other cast. Both also have an unexplained familiarity with Shinji, and it’s implied that Mari and Kaworu somehow remember him from their respective pasts, whereas Shinji has lost all memory of them (courtesy of Nerv’s patented memory-erasing technology, no doubt).
(To explain the last six shots: Shinji's SDAT advances from track 26 to track 27 after Mari handles the player, and then to track 28 after Kaworu handles it.)
On the matter of fans using this parallel as evidence that Mari is going to sacrifice herself in the coming sortie(s) (because she’s standing in Kaworu’s place, see?) — I’m not sure the conclusion necessarily follows from the premise. From the perspective of theme and lore, I think Asuka is honestly the better candidate for a "heroic sacrifice"; but when it comes down to it, I doubt either of them will emerge from the inevitable close encounter with Evangelion 13 intact. I’m not saying they’re going to get fridged or anything — what I have in mind is much more interesting than that — but it won't exactly play as a moment of triumph where the good guys win and everyone goes home happy.
There’s much more to explore within these parallels — even in details as seemingly insignificant as left/right placement — than I could possibly hope to cover in a single subsection, so more will have to wait for another time. Likewise for further details on how I anticipate Asuka and Mari's final battle will go. (This obnoxious text will, naturally, get updated with links to the relevant articles once I've caught up on my backload some. Same holds for future such irritating disclaimers.)
The white plugsuits could be considered an “inversion” of Shinji and Kaworu’s plugsuits: the light to their dark. This motif extends to the backgrounds, as well; compare Asuka and Mari’s well-lit room to the dim, indistinct… wherever the hell Shinji and Kaworu are. But on the flip side… let’s not forget what Shinji and Kaworu ended up trapped inside.
So there’s a weird visual symmetry going on here. Eva-13 in its pure white radiant giant state has a correspondence to Asuka and Mari’s matched plugsuits. I suppose this could mean that Eva 8+2 will have a very dark color scheme — but that’s just a shitty guess I have no commitment to. We’ll have to see how the full design analogy here plays out.
The “matching plugsuits” and “pure shade of white” elements aren’t the only things that hearken to our ol’ pal Evangelion Dai Juusangouki. When the plugsuits are activated, the stripes flash with rainbow gradients. Rainbows are an important recurring motif in these movies, and also — suspiciously — it’s another visual that’s linked to Eva-13, courtesy of its candy-colored Gates of Guf:
The flashing rainbows don’t feel like the best of signs — they look gaudy and cool, but I do wonder if they have a connection to the covenant with Lilith, specifically to the rainbows that appear when specific terms of the covenant are being fulfilled. This is usually after a successful sacrifice (see here for examples), though there's a couple of times where rainbows appear in other, more ambiguous contexts:
Asuka and Mari donning the white plugsuits might end up being a similar instance. You might wonder “why would Wille design their plugsuits in such a way that their mere activation fulfills Nerv’s dumb prophecies?”, and all I can say to that is:
Also notice the “X”es on the upper backs. Since Impacts (and near-Impact events) now create giant cross-shaped scars in the ground, "X" could be interpreted as an Impact symbol. Furthermore, "X" is a prominent aspect of Eva 13’s design after it grows the second set of arms; a cross-shaped pattern is exposed on its chest, and its four arms are capable of creating a second "X".
(Radiant Giant Eva-01 is included to show the visual/conceptual link between the IPEA silo doors and the cross-shaped rift at Near Third Impact.)
You might be asking yourself, “what’s the deal with all these visual connections to Eva 13?” The short answer: Asuka and Mari are, more than likely, going to become part of it. The long answer? That will have to wait for a dedicated post. There’s also more to say about the white plugsuits, design-wise, but I’ll do that in a future installment of the trailer analysis.
Architecture & Space
Thanks to concept art exhibited at the khara expo and shared online by the excellent and vigilant Japanese blogger EvaFan (see here and here), we’re able to identify the space that Asuka and Mari are suiting up in as their quarters. According to the concept art by Ikuto Yamashita, this was converted from the one-person set-up shown in the lower left — mainly by putting a bunk bed in the middle and folding two of the chairs into the wall, it looks like — and the dividing line created by the bed separates the room into “Asuka’s space” and “Mari’s space”. Whole place is rather sterile and spartan. Asuka’s depicted on the top bunk (of course hers would be the top one, heh) playing a “game” — I wonder if she still has her WonderSwan on the Wunder. (…And as awful as that punning is, I have now forced myself to also wonder if Asuka’s portable console was chosen for Ha knowing full well there would be a biomechanical bird-whale-serpent called “Wunder” in the following film.)
The bunk bed isn’t merely a piece of very uncomfortable-looking furniture that separates the room in two; it acts as an important compositional element here, splitting the frame in half horizontally and occupying the space between Asuka and Mari. The subtext here is pretty interesting. Normally your mind would go straight to the notion that the two of them are meant to be seen as not in true unison, because they have that big thing dividing them. But think about it thematically. What is this anticipating? Their two Evas coming together and “overlapping”. What is a bunk bed? It’s two beds in one. The object supposedly separating them is actually a bridging symbol.
Look at Shinji and Kaworu again, and… the comparison feels that much less favorable. They’re dressed in darkness, surrounded by darkness, separated by void. Mari and Asuka are dressed in brightness, surrounded by bright environs, bridged by an object that is two-in-one. The girls are unity; what exists between Kaworu and Shinji is, in comparison, literally nothing.
Makes me wonder...
Shunning change, you prefer the empty, merciless world of the abyss.
That's very much you.
Now, for those of you out there who are invariably objecting to this: I actually do think these two shots were deliberately designed so they could be read multiple ways, since that’s just how Anno & Friends roll. When it comes to Eva, if you ever find yourself asking "so does this mean X or Y?", the answer tends to be "both, along with W and Z." Principle of yin and yang dictates that there is light within darkness, and darkness within light. The bunk bed could represent an actual blockade in Asuka and Mari’s relationship — something that will continue to divide them even when they can’t afford to be divided. And that dark void that lingers between Shinji and Kaworu could take on a positive connotation: rather than being read as the absence of any “connective tissue”, it could be viewed as the absence of anything keeping them apart. It’s all a matter of the angle you're viewing from.
Back to the concept art, Yamashita’s notes further point out, “Detaining dangerous people to the commissioned officer deck makes sense in its own way. Since they’re less likely to cross paths with non-commissioned officers, it reduces the chance of incidents.” That’s pretty heavy — I’ll dig a bit deeper, and address some additional details, once I get a bit further into the trailer.
That’s all for now! I hope you've enjoyed ArqaCrypha's maiden voyage and that I've given you a little something to chew on during the remaining wait for Shin Eva. I can't promise there will be any fan service next time, but there will definitely be a lot of pedantry. (Same thing, right?)