Sunday, June 17, 2012

First Ones 02 - Eisheth

I wrote about the first four thousand words of this chapter and stopped, unsettled, thinking it was not going to develop correctly or be as long as I’d hoped. As always, estimates of length are quite poor in general, and this ended up being longer than chapter one, despite my initial expectations.

Where best to begin than the beginning, huh? Let’s see here. I’d long had the idea that Eisheth would appear to Shinji not as a Rei or Kaworu knock-off but using something more familiar and, hence, all the more unsettling. I think Eisheth would appear to individuals differently. Shinji sees the cultist Masuyo, but others might see someone else. The constancy of the design of her clothing—always having the pattern of five buttons or other adornments in the same pattern as her eyes—should be a bit of a clue as to who’s talking to Shinji even before it’s made clear. It also, to me, captures an idea that Eisheth can’t be completely perceived, but parts of what she really is leak through.

The idea of this chapter is that Shinji is reluctant to speak out and embrace his status as a public figure for the greater good, but in the end, he realizes the necessity of doing so, that he has to stand up and speak out. This first section of the chapter, concerning the passengers in the traincar, sets up Shinji’s reluctance to act. The conductor is the good, responsible man, trying to do what’s right amid a horde of panicking people, who are—as Eisheth says—slaves to their fears. And Shinji isn’t able to stand up and make a difference before it’s too late for any of them.

The scene with Shinji in the lavatory was originally going to be when Shinji and Rei spoke again for the first time, but I ended up pushing that back to later. Rei being ever-present throughout the rest of the chapter made the feel and dynamics of it very awkward. I felt it was much more powerful to have Shinji be alone for this first section, unknowing and unaware of what would happen and forced to try to cope, to survive. It really lends to the horror feel of this chapter as a result. Otherwise, Shinji’s attempt at a ruse should show that he is a little bolder than before.

The use of tentacled monsters is, of course, something largely overdone in Lovecraftian work, but I did try to add something unique to these creatures, in terms of their sunction-cupped bodies and lack of hands but fingerlike appendages even still. I figure the Zenunim would be able to cling to ceilings or walls thanks to the suction cups, for example, which would give them a real tactical advantage. In keeping with their purpose, they carry no weapons, and their only real ability is to dissolve people back into LCL. Eisheth is not, in her mind, evil, nor does she wish indiscriminate death on people. Her children’s form is in keeping with this philosophy.

At last, Rei appears to Shinji directly and plays a part in saving him when he’s cornered by the Zenunim. There’s a lot about what Rei has become that I can’t really get into yet, but rest assured, I have a lot of her nature and abilities worked out.

All along in chapter one, I knew Misato and Rei would be in it together as far as the fight against Eisheth, and while originally I hadn’t planned for Misato to play such a significant role in this chapter, I’m happy with how it turned out. I don’t think what she’s been involved in should be much of a surprise, but it’s still fun to see.

By the by, on the name “Eisheth Zenunim”—the name comes from Kabbalah. Lilith, Naamah, Agrat Bat Mahlat, and Eisheth make up a group of four demons called “Angels of Sacred Prostitution.” I fully intend for Agrat and Naamah to be among the seven Seeds of Life.

Originally, I planned for there to be several mad people, touched by the influence of Eisheth and the Zenunim while tanged, but I reduced it down to one, feeling that one person would be the most impactful. Actually, this whole scene after Shinji and Rei meet in the LCL sea was originally Shinji being rescued by uknown SDF members and having to hole up in a traincar while more creatures came after them, hoping for help to arrive. The main element, however, of someone taking up a gun against the others remains the same. Here, I think it’s more powerful because it’s a threat against Shinji’s life here, as opposed to one against a nameless bunch of extras. I’m really quite happy with this scene.

A consequence, however, was that a lot of exposition about Misato and her efforts was needed to make her entrance make sense. The natural question would’ve been, “Misato-san, how did you know I was here?” So Misato and Rei’s involvement could not be hidden any longer. It also means that Eva-14 appears a little before I’d originally meant for it to. Actually, this probably represents a bit of a coming around in my outlines, for I’d planned on it appearing, then wrote it out, then wrote it back in in this final draft.

(It’s also Eva-14 due to a bit of a goof on my part. For whatever dumb reason, I forgot that Toji piloted Eva-03. I wrote Eva-04 by mistake and started counting up MP Evas from there. With 9 MP Evas, the new unit should be 13, not 14, but I think we can excuse the Japanese trying to skip that number, as long as 13 exists…somewhere.)

I said at the start of these notes that Shinji was meant to realize he needed to speak up and be heard and stand up for humanity, and it actually surprised me a little how much he ended up doing so. I thought to myself, “Man, this could be a little cheesy.” But on balance, I stuck with it because that is exactly what I wanted to get across. In a lot of ways, though the subject matter is bleak, this is about the good guys fighting to represent humanity in the best way possible, to justify our existence as individuals. They are going to face trials and hardships, yes, but the one thing they will not do is questions whether mankind is worth fighting for. This represents a bit of a departure for me, as Identity is all about people questioning themselves, but I feel that having any of these characters backtrack that way would be a trite. No, more than that—it would be a betrayal of what they learned in the series and End of Evangelion. If these characters were to step back that way, I would just be retreating stuff Anno did much better than I ever could, so I will not do that.

In that way, though, what I’m left with are the pieces for a reconstruction of Evangelion. The comments in the SpaceBattles thread already seem to have picked up on that, comparing Shinji to Simon of Gurren Lagann for example.

That Eva-14 does not yet have a pilot will prove the major plot point of chapter three, “The Sixth Child,” and while I will say that the pilot won’t be Shinji, I’ll also say it won’t be an entirely original character, either.

No comments: