Editorials/Essays

Hundreds of ways to say hell is other people and also love is other people: Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time

There are myriad reasons why I feel unqualified to talk about anything related to the Evangelion franchise, but the primary one is that it’s not my thing. It’s a lot of other people’s thing, but not mine. Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, is the first time I felt myself so deeply affected by an Evangelion product.

My thing is the much less acclaimed ending of Sailor Moon Sailor Stars where Usagi Tsukino tells us that the proper place for chaos or evil is in the hearts of everyone — a shared burden for humanity that can only be mitigated (not defeated) by love. This is hardly a new concept but I’d not seen it done at a time where I could understand the message in anything close to its simultaneous simplicity and depth. You cannot defeat your darker impulses, only mitigate them with genuine connection. The message of Sailor Stars was accompanied by another major influence my obnoxious and precocious high school self was obsessed with, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Huis Clos (No Exit). Combined, this meant that the mantra of my younger self was that even if I could never understand others and building relationships with them would sometimes make it more difficult to understand myself, seeking genuine relationships with them would provide profound answers to the many questions I had about the value of my own existence or why I existed at all.

Despite thinking I understood this on an intellectual level (I didn’t), I certainly didn’t follow this example on a practical level. I still don’t always follow this on a practical level.

Relationships are difficult. I seek them out despite this.

(Spoilers for all of the Evangelion franchise below.)

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The flowers of Wonder Egg Priority’s opening (and series reflections, I suppose)

Following a three-month wait for a finale that was half-recap and half-nonsense, Wonder Egg Priority will go down in anime history as yet another promising passion project that was stymied by poor planning — exacerbated by the general state of the industry. Wonder Egg Priority‘s production woes have been thoroughly documented and were especially apparent in the twelfth and thirteenth episodes of the series. The thirteenth episode is particularly egregious given how it not only fails to make important emotional narratives of the four main characters resonate but how it inexplicably introduces even more details about in-universe mechanics that few asked for and were not tied whatsoever to any of the aforementioned emotional narratives.

What was most noticeable to me in these two episodes was the lack of flower language which, until that point, had become a visual story that ran parallel to the girls’ own individual character arcs. The use of both Victorian and Japanese flower language was so consistent — even in the expository Episode 11 that I personally disliked — that the absence of it in the final two episodes is jarring.

I’m still trying to work out my own feelings and disappointment regarding Wonder Egg Priority, but wanted to revisit flower language in the series one last time, through the opening animation sequence.

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Colors and Cinematography in SSSS.Dynazenon

ssss.dynazenon opening sequence cold open anime episode 1 dynazenon backpacks

The opening shot of SSSS.Dynazenon is purposefully reminiscent of its predecessor, SSSS.Gridman. Anyone who has watched Gridman immediately will recognize the sequence of shots. This time, these snapshots begin with a nod to students’ various backpacks, which were used to define and color-coordinate characters by their tokusatsu archetypes (or defy them) in Gridman.

With that visual language brought over from Gridman, Dynazenon and director Akira Amemiya and staff are moving beyond an homage to kaiju and tokusatsu series past and looping in their own universe and visual language established in Gridman.

(major spoilers for SSSS.Gridman)

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