I struggle to this day to figure out the meaning of the final episodes of Evangelion. They were so unpopular the studio received hate mail and the director death threats. Suffice it to say the author was a profoundly disturbed person and we are looking at a retroactive view of madness. The anger was so powerful they rebooted the ending with a movie, “The End of Evangelion”. It was itself stunningly controversial.
For the next ten episodes, Kaji Ryoji is probably the most interesting character in Evangelion. Kind of sad that we never get a lot of backstory on him. Perhaps it is because he is a standard hero – with no madness – that he does not. He fills the role of traditional masculine hero very nicely. He coincidentally happens to be both Asuka’s former guardian and Misato’s live-in lover from years ago.
Is anything in Evangelion ever really a coincidence?
Shinji gradually grows in confidence and capability as an Eva pilot. Evangelion almost turns into a monster-of-the-week mecha. The three pilots blow thru an impressive list of Angels. Asuka grows more and more irritated at Shinji’s successes, even as she remains fixated on winning her former guardian’s (Kaji Ryoji) affections.
Kaji good-naturedly resists her. She is just a girl and he is a man. An adorable girl with obvious charms but real men don’t infatuate over a girl. OTOH, Misato is a real woman, a kireina josei, someone who can challenge him and be his equal.
All is not well in the background. Kaji isn’t just Misato’s ex-flame. There’s still heat there and the smoldering breaks thru into flame. Misato is initially reluctant. She is still broken in her own way even though she is able to function at a high level. The reluctance is soon overcome. There’s a nice lovemaking scene.
Asuka is jealous. Crazily so.
Kaji isn’t broken, probably the first important character in Evangelion not to show obvious psychological damage. He is strong, handsome, brave and intelligent. Years earlier, Misato and Kaji had a torrid affair and then Misato broke it off. She was frightened of how he reminded her of her father.
One senses that he might have had a fling with Dr. Akagi as well. They were all the same age, friends, at the same school, and Ritsuko seems quite familiar and comfortable with him.
Kaji Ryoji is living a double life, acting as an agent for both NERV and the Japanese government. Gendo is aware of this but does nothing about it immediately. He is still useful. But Kaji knows his days are numbered. He asks Shinji to take care of his garden should he not be able to.
Misato follows Kaji and catches him as he discovers the truth under the NERV center. In the depths of the Earth is a strange-looking giant. Big enough to be an EVA unit but it isn’t. It’s been transfixed with a two-pronged spear. Not Adam.
Say hello to Eve.
Meanwhile, Angels start falling with regularity. This could become yet another run-of-the-mill shounen mecha if this keeps up. It doesn’t. Everything is about to crash and burn.