You know how I define the whole Evangelion series? An animated pessimism! It seems that the real story never starts as soon as the optimism drains. What began as a usual mecha anime piloted by young kids, in what looked like a romanticized high school settings eventually went downhill. As the series ended, things became more depressed, darker and crazier, that it already looked like a different anime. But being crazy and sick is what brought out the charm of the Evangelion series, or at least as what the fandom claimed.
And in an insane universe comes equally insane characters.
Maybe being mentally unstable were the character’s way of adapting to this sick, sick universe. We have seen it all, from troubled teens, to problematic adults. And the worst part of it was the world’s fate lies on their hands. A friend joked that this explains why everyone liquified into a gooey mass in the end. And the Evangelion universe seemed to flaunt its craziness, through the relationship of two troubled human beings. One is an adult woman, while the other is a broken teen. And when you got two sick people living under the same roof, what could possibly go wrong?
The Two Troubled Individuals
As some of my friends suggested, making Shinji live with Misato could do more harm than good. To some, sharing a roof with a smoking hot chick is a dream come true, especially if you are fourteen years old. But in reality, that’s not the case, as your so-called guardian also has internal issues of her own.
If there was one thing that the two shares in common, is their instability. Beyond the flirtatious façade, Misato is a pretty broken person. I mean, being mentally sick was the main qualification of a lot of Evangelion characters, hence it was no surprise. As a kid, Misato survived the second impact, but the incident left her mute, until her college days where she was described as talkative, as if making up for her lost time.
There was nothing to complain about Misato when she is at work, being professional and capable in NERV. But her home is a mess, and she relies on junk food for sustenance. This reflects her as a person, whereas she is fine in the surface, but a mess deep within. Anno once described her as a woman, twenty-nine, who lives life so lightly as to barely allow the possibility of human touch. She protects herself by keeping relationships on the surface, and by running away. She joined NERV due to her issues with her father, and her past gave her nightmares. She had no issues flaunting her femininity, but relies on sexual relationships, not to mention alcohol as a form of escape.
Being overly sexualized and alcoholic, Misato wasn’t the perfect guardian for a kid like Shinji, who has his own daddy issues to begin with. Like Misato, Shinji was alienated from his father, and suffers an equally traumatic past. And now he is in the custody of another sick individual, and this resulted in some of the most confusing relationship in the anime world.
Misato and Shinji’s Relationship
It is always hard to define the relationship of this two-odd couple. For me, I can’t say it’s a mother and son relationship, as after all, despite Shinji longing for a motherly love, her days with Misato was nothing motherly. What was Misato thinking when she sent him a lewd photo of herself? And a lot of the scenes in the first few episodes were too suggestive, with people pointing out that Misato was getting flirtatious with a little boy! And Shinji was in for a shock when she saw the professional and capable Misato’s living condition. It seemed that the real adult here was Shinji, and the child was Misato, with Shinji being more refined than the slobby Misato. I could even say that it was Shinji who was taking care of Misato.
A relationship between a boy and his big sister was how I see it. Shinji always saw Misato as an older person, someone he looks up to, a guardian despite of being the bigger baby. But Misato never realized she was playing the role of a guardian, and treated Shinji as a usual roommate. And although their relationship wasn’t exactly toxic, this is where the problem lies.
At some point, she tried to manipulate him.
Again, Misato wasn’t afraid to flaunt her sexuality. Going back to the provocative photo she sent to Shinji before they first met, it wasn’t exactly sent by mistake. Some say it was her attempt to entice Shinji to join NERV, and she would be charged criminally if anyone does that in real life.
Her exhibitionism worked well on boys like Toji and Kensuke, but Shinji wasn’t just any ordinary boy, but someone exposed to the darker aspects of life. He sees things differently, and his extreme self-hatred and fear of rejection means that he wasn’t as capable of full body lust like the others. Misato never got that and she went on treating him as a little adult. And I’m not sure if being flirtatious before a kid was a good thing.
The infamous Big Irony Bomb Scene
From the look of things, Misato indeed wasn’t qualified for Shinji. She was damaged, overly sexualized and a slob. She wasn’t someone you could trust to care for a fourteen-year-old, and what happened was the other way around. It was Shinji who became a guardian for Misato. People always hinted that the woman was a pedophile, with her being too suggestive and flirtatious towards a child. And it was confirmed in one infamous scene, when she approached the unsuspecting Shinji.
Firstly, spoilers up ahead!
The whole thing happened in Episode 23, and by that time Shinji and Misato were falling apart. Asuka ran away and Rei was seemingly killed by the explosion after she self-destructed her EVA. This devastated Shinji greatly and Misato tried to comfort him. Misato was having troubles herself with the loss of Kaji, and having lost her faith in many of the characters, including her friend Ritsuko. She then did what she always does as a form of escape, but this time, she offered herself to a child. To Shinji!
This scene fully showed her deep ignorance on her role on Shinji. She should be a guardian, yet she attempted to fix the issues on her own way, and treating Shinji as an adult and not a child. When she made a suggestive statement on episode 2, it sounded like a joke. Episode 23 confirmed that she would do it and she wanted to do it. And of course, Shinji refused, having looked up to Misato as a form of guardian. And in the real world, revulsion is the first thing a kid would do, if a teacher or an older person makes a move. And did I mentioned that the room scene had suggestive symbolism?
The moral of the scene was that it was never a good idea for two emotionally damaged people to stay close. What Misato did was basically child abuse, and in the real world, doing that to a child could affect his emotional health. People say that the Evangelion series promotes pedophilia, but from the way I see it, Shinji rejecting a messed-up adult’s advance is Anno’s obscene hand gesture towards pedophiles and its promoters. Overall, Misato’s inability to fix the child, and her attempts to abuse her were an indication that she was not the best guardian for Shinji.
With that said, it wasn’t a good idea for Shinji to stay with Misato.