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I hate Shinji.

Just look at him. He is seriously punchable.

I was thinking the other night about Shinji and everything I hate about him. Shinji, you are a mecha-shonen! You are one of the single greatest things a shonen can be in an anime! Not only do you get to be the hero and save the day, you can do it while sitting down. This is the laziest path to being a hero ever!

But seriously, Shinji is a whiner and a wimp. “line up the target… squeeze the trigger… line up the target… squeeze the trigger… OH GOD NOW IM IN AN ACTUAL BATTLE! WHAT DO?!” Maybe things would have gone better if you had gone through the training exercises thinking “Heck yeah, I’m gonna save the world, make my dad love me and maybe even seduce that hot older woman! Whatever I was doing before I moved here sucked by comparison!”

Then it hit me. The Japanese have already provided us with a great guideline for what makes a great pilot! They did so with the Japanese L/R flip! Remember, L and R are the same sound in Japanese… so when you say mecha pilot… I hear Mecha Pirate.

People, I say to you that all truly great Mech pilots must also be the sorts of people who would do well with a life of piracy upon the high seas. That being said, pirate type personalities work best for mech pilots. (This is doubly true for mech pilots who are also space pirates.) Here, lets discuss a few examples!

An Artist’s Rendition

Pirates are men of passion, whether they be the raiding and pillaging sea dog variety or the sea sailing freedom seeking sort. A pirate has to want SOMETHING out of life, even if they are only after wenches and rum! Shinji has plenty of wenches and his cockpit fills up with apple juice (yeah, I made that joke), but he doesn’t want that. He doesn’t really want anything.

Captain Char, on the other hand, has something he wants. He captains his near-legendary Red Comet, notable for her extremely manly reddish-pink sails. He sails as part of a pirate alliance founded by his father. Alas, his father, a fine and good man by all accounts, suffered terrible and unprovoked mutiny by scabrous dogs not worthy fer spittin’ upon. Hidin’ under a mask and a false name, Char sails fer the day when he can take revenge upon those blaggards, a black spot upon them all!

Char be displayin’ the…

Sorry, I’m 8 days early for talking like a pirate. Just got in the mood.

Char displays some traits that would make him a good pirate character. Lots of good pirates have a burning desire for revenge. Char is also an able commander, having a good relationship with his men. He is capable and even just a little bit cocky. Those are preferable traits to Shinji’s inept despair, be in a mech or a squall! He is also dread pirate, the sort that inspires fear in his enemies!

“What? What was that Captain? What? He said it’s Char! The Red Comet!”

“Char managed to take out five of our battleships single-handedly at the battle of Loom. Get us out of here.

That sounds like the dialogue of a naval crew beset by a legendary pirate doesn’t it? Lets try this one.

“That new [ship] is amazing. Are you there, Slender?! Get behind him!”

“Commander! What is that weapon, I’ve never seen a gun like that in my life!”

“Who cares, as long as the [gunner] doesn’t hit us! Just cover me.”

Captain Char is setting up the enemy ship for a double-broadside. He recognizes the power and threat of the enemy, let he doesn’t allow himself to be intimidated by it. He stays cool and relies on his own abilities rather than cowering and focusing on his opponent’s. Sadly, Slender isn’t gonna make it out of this one.

How about another example of a person with a great mech pilot personality?

Cap’n Kamina

You want to see a burning, pirate-like, ball of passion? Look no further than Captain Kamina, captain of the pirate brig Gurren. Together with his partner, Captain Simon on the fast sloop Lagaan, he can take ANY enemy, no matter how strong. He has set out to sea for adventure, for freedom, to grasp a world that he knows lays just beyond that horizon!

This is a man who had pirate quality dreams. His skills in a mech were rough and rudimentary, BUT EFFECTIVE. This isn’t a man who practiced his skills with a monotone mantra, no sir! Whats more, this isn’t a man who needed others to come save him! He was willing to carry enough of a load that HE could go save OTHERS! That was part of what was so great about him and made him my favorite character.

This is the spirit our mech pilots need

Now… Shinji. The thing that really pisses me off about Shinji was ALWAYS his lack of passion. Even with no long-term goals, the man could at least live in the “now”. He never seems to experience ANY joy in life. Not even the joy of eating a particularly good slice of pizza or going to the bathroom after holding it in through a really good movie… the man doesn’t take any pleasure in living in general. With that sort of mentality, there can’t be any good feelings building within him. Heck, I’m just waiting for the day when he snaps and chokes someone to death!

… oh wait.

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2 Comments

  1. You forget that one of the things about Evangelion was that it was a deconstruction of the mecha-shonen. Shinji is actually an amazingly well fleshed out character because he has a clear-cut case of avoidant personality disorder. He reacts exactly as a broken young man with that kind of mental disorder would. He is very detached and has no actual direction for his life. He wants to have a better relationship with his father but he doesn’t know how to approach it. And as most people that don’t have combat experience, he panics when confronted (which is only compounded by his AvPD).

    Wanting Shinji to be anything other than weak and ineffectual is denying the entire series what it was trying to do. Evangelion is a deconstruction that put the most real people you will ever get in a mecha-shonen and tried to see how they would get along. Gurren Laggan runs off the rule of cool, and Gundam, well I’ll let Amuro Ray speak for himself.

    • See, Amuro Ray was what a normal person would be in a mechashounen situation. First few episodes he was a pathetic weakling and he would have died many times over were it not for his bullshit-powerful suit. Over the course of the series he quickly becomes competent and holier-than-thou, then he becomes a grizzled veteran, disgusted with the fighting… then he becomes some sort of military hero that wave after wave of soldier would sacrifice their lives to help.

      He started off as a pathetic weakling… he just got the hell over it.

      I realize that part of the appeal of Eva is that it isn’t your average mechashounen anime… I’m just sayin’, I get tired of my main characters constantly whining. They certainly don’t cultivate any faith in their abilities in ME.


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