the Hedgehog’s Dilemma


I think it would be easy for me to to pass myself off as someone schooled in psychological and spiritual subjects because if given a chance, i would simply love to rattle on non-stop about stuff like the Oedipus Complex, the Electra Complex, Human Instrumentality, the Tree of Sepiroth, Thanatos, Oral Stage, the Dead Sea Scrolls and so on.

Nope, i didn’t take a psychology course in college. Also, I didn’t read about them from books. What i actually did was to spend an abnormally excessive portion of my teenage years being fixated over the anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion.
On a superficial scale, Evangelion is the step mother to all Japanese mecha anime (the mother is of course Gundam), another bland tale about kids operating giant robots to save the world. On closer inspection, it is an important epic chronicling the progress and evolution of the Human Race. But at its core, it’s a classic bildungsroman about a boy’s determination to find the courage to be accepted by others, as perfectly pointed out in a conversation between 2 important characters of the show.

Ritsuko: He seems to have a personality unsuited to making friends, doesn’t he? Do you know the story of the “Hedgehogs’ dilemma”?
Misato: Hedgehogs? The thorny ones?
Ritsuko: If a hedgehog wants to give his warmth to other hedgehogs, the closer he approaches, the more they injure each other. It’s the same with some people.
Misato: But as he grows up, he would soon discover the correct distance to maintain.

That’s the thing about Evangelion, it connects on so many levels of human ambition: whether it centers around saving the world, or simply the emotional and psychological struggles of an individual.

I just finished watching You can (not) advance, the second film off the Rebuild of Evangelion Tetralogy, a project which was initiated to re-write the ending of the original Anime series and movies which aired in 1995 and 1997 respectively. Let it be known that Hideaki Anno, the creator, have already attempted to rewrite the ending once before, and this is his third attempt at getting it right. Judging by the looks of the 2nd film which took a painstaking 2 years to create, he’s finally on the right track. As with most forms of entertainment that strives to be intellectual, the story demands the viewer to draw their own conclusions, but at the end of the show, I got the feeling that this is too precious a story to leave it up to just my own interpretation, so I went on the internet for hours, scouring through heaps of information to find some form of truth about the series.

Why does it inspire such a manic following?  Because, to put it in a brash way, Evangelion is also the single most important work in animation history and the founding father of all shows that try to incorporate mythology in their plots (yes to all you JJ abrams fans out there, there exists no show with a mythology as dense as Evangelion, not even Lost), and fans still throw themselves and their cash at every attempt to franchise or rewrite the story 14 years after the show’s initial creation.

As Hideaki Anno himself would say:

“Evangelion is a narrative involving repetition, it is a story about how a protagonist won’t back down and continues on struggling in the face of unrelenting adversity. It is a tale about the will to move forward, however incrementally. It was created with the longing to share with as many people as possible the true endearing qualities of animation film, where mental images can be visualised into reality and a wide diversity of expression is available in order to touch upon the emotions of the audience on a primal level.”

At the end of the Rebuild films, I have no doubt that you’ll be be shocked, frightened, impressed, delighted, excited and depressed. You’ll experience the entire gamut of human emotions and find them to be a bottomless pit with no sky above, and through this, you will discover your worth as an individual.

In other words, what I’m trying to say is, this is epic stuff. You should watch this or else you might regret it one day.


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