3+1 Trailer #3 Thoughts, Pt. 2: Magi Matters
Updated: Dec 28, 2020
(2020/12/25 Update: The new trailer released yesterday negates some of this article's assumptions and may rule out the "it's Achiral" idea altogether. But much of the analysis is still valuable, so come to your own conclusions. I'll likely rework it when there's more data to play with.)
Following hot on the heels of Asuka and Mari suiting up in their quarters, we have:
A still shot, and an incredibly mysterious one at that. Misato, presumably somewhere on Wunder (it’s a big ship and we barely saw any of the interior in Q), looking at a cluster of three tall white objects, each with a hexagonal cross section. My first instinct was, “Ah, this must be MAGI Achiral”, and I intended to approach the speculation from that angle… but then I remembered, “Wait, aren’t there things that look like MAGI on the Wunder’s bridge?” If so, then what the heck is Misato staring at? In order to figure out what might be going on in the trailer, I guess we’d better figure what’s going on in Q to begin with!
So this is probably what tipped most viewers off to the fact that Wunder has its own MAGI system. Note at the top, we see listed the operational status of three “MAGI Achiral”. They just have numbers — 1, 2, and 3 — not names like the old MAGI did, and each number has a vinculum over it.
“Achiral” is a scientific term which you may have encountered in chemistry, relating to a property called “chirality”. This comes from the Greek root for “hand”, and it refers to objects (like molecules) that, like either of your hands, cannot be superimposed onto their mirror image. So if you mirror your right hand, you get your left hand, and you can’t overlap the two while they’re in the same orientation -- thus, they are chiral. “Achiral” simply means “not chiral”; so if, say, your face was actually perfectly symmetrical, it would be considered an achiral object. What does any of that have to do with supercomputers? Beats me. The only thought that immediately comes to mind is “Achiral is a direct copy of the original MAGI”, but the use of “achiral” is kind of meaningless unless there’s something “chiral” in the same context to contrast it against…
“Vinculum” refers to the line over each of the numbers, and as notation goes, it’s multi-purpose and context-dependent — which is probably exactly why Anno uses it. In the original Latin, the term means, “bond”, “fetter”, or “chain”, which feels like it could easily have Eva applications somewhere, given the recurring bondage motifs in NTE... A couple of choice examples:
There's one use of the vinculum that involves that Eva key word "complement", but it's highly dubious that it has any relevance here. Still, here's a link for the curious.
A final point of possible significance that I’ll mention here comes from Prim-kun, who told me:
In topology, if you have a space A, then A with a vinculum on top refers to the closure of that space. I.e., if you think of the Cartesian plane, and the space A is a disk in the plane but without including the boundary, then the closure of A, written as A with a vinculum, is the disk with the boundary, if that makes sense.
The whole idea of “enclosed spaces” is one that’s pretty fundamental to Eva. A.T. Fields, the enclosed space of an elevator acting as a place where A.T. Fields come down (see e.g. Shinji not joining Gendo in episode 2 because their respective ATFs are too strong), and suchlike. So keeping all these things in mind, let’s move onto the next order of business.
As far as I know, the Condition II screen is the only one in the entire film that mentions the MAGI in any way. (Or, well… mentions them in a way that’s actually legible. More on that later.) Not much to go on. That said, if the MAGI actually are right there on the bridge, then presumably there are some additional clues that can be gleaned.
Right off the bat, it’s easy to see what people are talking about. There are indeed these boxy MAGI-looking things hovering in the background, typically visible behind Misato and Ritsuko. (Expand the gallery to full size to see them all. Yes, I hate Wix's gallery feature too.)
Consulting Rebuild of Evangelion 3.33 for any help at all, it provides a rather simplified simplified rotating view of the bridge. Better than nothing, I suppose.
Here you can see a bunch of boxy towers clustered toward the back of the room, and presumably these are the structures we’re interested in. But is there any actual proof that they’re MAGI supercomputers? Like… those are a lot of towers. Way more than the three Achiral that we’re expecting. Something funny is going on.
Around the point in Q where the Hirnstamm Tower retreats into the anchoring plug, the movie finally yields some useful visual information. See that decal above Sakura?
It doesn’t just say MAGI — it lists the names of the three originals (Melchior, Balthasar, Casper)!
In a subsequent shot where she’s kindly moved out of the way, we can also see a logo of sorts:
So to answer the question: yes, the MAGI absolutely are on the bridge, and not just any MAGI, but the originals! This nicely explains why they’re missing from the command center in Nerv HQ: Wille absconded with them! (Is this a meta reference to Hyuga’s comment in EoE that the JSSDF would want to seize the original MAGI intact if they could?) But, uhhh…
For some reason, the three originals seem to be consolidated into a single box now, and they have twelve new friends, six on each side. Is there any possible way to apply this set-up to the information on Achiral from earlier?
Fortunately, we don’t need to. Remember how the term “achiral” is meaningless without something “chiral” to contrast against? I’m willing to bet that this is MAGI Chiral!
Yes, on a strict basis, it doesn’t satisfy the chemistry definition of being “chiral”… but look at the design carefully. (Right and left are, of course, with respect to the ship, not to the viewer.)
The two sets of six are actually chiral to one another, and the weird choice to have sets of six made my mind flash to another strange design choice:
So from a certain point of view, this set of MAGI absolutely is chiral, in that it’s meant to evoke a pair of hands. And not just any hands, but symbolically the hands of the Wunder itself!
Another angle to consider is whether 6+6 was chosen on account of twelve's symbolic potency. Setting Wunder's wing fingers aside (they can be analyzed another time), twelve is definitely relevant to the MAGI on more than one count. In Biblical terms, the number twelve signifies completeness or perfection in the context of the authority (usually governmental) given to humanity by God. So, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve apostles, and so on. On a meta level, this bit from episode 11 feels like it works even better now than it did before! (Just, y'know, mentally substitute "three" with "twelve".)
The City Council is merely a shell.
The municipal government, after all, is in fact run by the Magi.
The Magi? You mean the three supercomputers?
Government by majority decision of three different computers.
It's a system that is properly in line with the fundamentals of democracy.
And the council just obeys their decisions?
It's a most efficient form of government.
Interestingly, there’s an apocryphal basis for the idea that there weren’t three Magi, but twelve! (See here for some information, including a link to a paywalled article.) If this bit of lore is being referenced in NTE, then we might consider MAGI Chiral's set-up an esoteric fusion of two different Christian traditions (three Magi versus twelve Magi). Thematically, this feels very relevant to Wille itself, since we know that its members source from both Nerv and the JSSDF. Back in NGE, those two factions were killing each other, but here, they’re on the same team. What might have been fundamentally opposed (whether religious traditions, warring factions, or anything else) can instead exist in a state of cooperation and harmony. (Almost feels like the seed for a massive thesis on NTE as whole.)
Another angle to consider is the “Jesus and Apostles” symbolism being evoked, on account of the original three MAGI being combined into a single tower. NTE never actually tells us that the MAGI still represent three aspects of one person’s personality, so altering their configuration to actually be "three in one" enforces a Trinity motif in a way internal to NTE itself. And with the original MAGI thus likened to the Godhead, the twelve sub-computers could be compared to Jesus's twelve Apostles, among perhaps other things.
So… To review, if what's on Wunder’s bridge — the three original MAGI with twelve new sub-computers — is the MAGI Chiral, then we don’t actually see the MAGI Achiral in Q. Which means whatever Misato is looking at in the trailer:
…absolutely can be MAGI Achiral after all! So assuming this is the case, let’s unpack this a little.
First, notice the shape. MAGI being shaped like hexagonal prisms is previously unheard of, and I wonder what the significance could be. They were always roughly in the shape of rectangular prisms before this. Oddly enough, there’s at least some visual basis for it in Jo and Ha, as the three MAGI are represented as hexagons on the main screen:
How do those observations from earlier in the post measure up against this being Achiral? Well, wherever Misato is in the trailer, it definitely seems to be an enclosed space; and BlueBasilisk caught what could be two more iterations in the background. So are Achiral 1, 2, and 3 actually three clusters of three that are sealed off from one another? Since they’re in enclosures, why is Misato going to the trouble of entering one such enclosure to look at the towers? Does this MAGI contain the personality of someone important to her, and she’s standing there as someone might stand at a grave? Or is her visit much more functional and impersonal than that? (”A bit of both” is always another option.)
With the idea in mind that the Wunder has two distinct sets of MAGI, Derantor offered the possibility that one is responsible for the Wunder’s OS and regular ship operations, and one is dedicated to managing Eva-01. In which case, Chiral is logically the main MAGI, since it’s right there on the bridge. (This makes sense of why Achiral’s status would be displayed onscreen — if it’s not the primary MAGI system, you wouldn’t automatically know that it’s working from interacting directly with its systems, as you would with the regular MAGI. You’d need regular updates.) And thus, by process of elimination, Achiral is the one that handles Eva-01. This would tie in nicely with the observation from before that vinculum literally refers to a fetter -- as in, the three Achiral act as fetters upon Eva-01 and keep her on good behavior. Is there any actual evidence for this, though?
Funny enough… yes. Check out the text below the "666" on the black cubes:
“What the hell, Reichu?” I can hear you protesting. “There’s no way you can actually read any of that!” O ye of little faith…
After overlapping three instances of the cube text, I arrived at the above. I can't make out the bottom line of text, but “MAGI Achiral” is definitely there under the 666, making it clear that Achiral has something to do with… uh… whatever the hell these cubes clipping through Eva-01 actually are. It’s tempting to compare them to the mysterious cubes composing the seal over Lilith’s chamber; and we know that Eva-01 now imposes a coreification effect on its environs, so some form of sealing would definitely be necessary.
So whatever MAGI Achiral is, whoever might be forming the basis for its programming (that is, if MAGI even work the same way in NTE that they do in NGE), Misato seems to be trusting it with an incredibly delicate task. It might be, in effect, what’s protecting the crew from Eva-01. Hopefully not the only safeguard in place, but certainly the primary one. The thought occurs to me that maybe Misato is there to shut them down because she doesn’t want Eva-01 to be restrained any longer — Eva-01 is going to need to escape from that engine at some point during Shin's runtime — but based on cues that appear later in the trailer (namely how Misato is dressed), it feels on the “less likely” side. Another possibility is that Misato is making some kind of modification to that particular member of Achiral, and for fairly obvious security reasons this can only be done in person. The need for absolute security could also explain the “enclosure” deal. All of the Achiral are protected from wireless interference via some kind of high-tech ward, perhaps? The RS Hoppers that Eva 13 uses seem to be capable of generating an artificial A.T. Field, so it's not out of the question that similar technology could be employed in connection with the system that keeps Eva-01 in check.
And with that, I’ve finally run out of things to say about this shot! I’m honestly amazed it turned out to be this much. Just a couple of days ago, I was afraid I wouldn’t have anything useful to say at all. Case in point that Eva is designed to reward audience effort. That’s a big reason I keep coming back, after all. Hope you enjoyed this, and see you next time for more trailer analysis!