Reviews for Veering Left
Ophsenophtet chapter 6 . 8/13
Summary and Analysis of An Unexpected Left (2)
After casually disparaging Shinji’s musical talent, Asuka stands under a running shower ruminating motionlessly on why she would berate her roommate so needlessly. She ponders her motives for over an hour, feeling a genuine sense of guilt for her derisive words: this time she has nothing to blame him for. This time, the boy lacked the imprudence to annoy “Her Highness”: his music had even pleased her. Not wanting her “subject” to feel too downtrodden, Asuka vows to ameliorate her wrongs by doing something for Shinji. Perhaps Asuka would permit the talented cellist to play over a candlelit dinner between herself and her “prince charming” Ryoji Kaji when her pursuit of her ex-guardian is finally rewarded. She hesitates at this prospect, however, realizing it to be insensitive given Shinji’s seeming infatuation with her. Perhaps she should find Shinji some other “poor, unfortunate girl” willing to tolerate his social ineptitude… eventually. With this conciliatory plan in mind, Asuka quickly washes up and exits the shower; satisfied with her unwillingness to do anything by half-measures. She beams that such a plan would also be an excellent way to repay the lenient boy for the hardships her previous tantrums may have caused, when implemented… someday… Someday, she would atone for her bad behaviour, but this day is just like any other.
Commentary 1)
If one thinks back to the TV series, one concludes that Asuka never once followed through with any plan to make amends with Shinji for her previous abuses (although the initiation of contrition and understanding is implied in EoE’s One More Final: I Need You). Although Veering Left’s scene where Asuka offhandedly depreciates both Shinji’s musicianship and his concern for her well-being is not a part of NGE canon, it may very well have been. To elaborate, the goal of Veering Left is to present a plausible alternative continuity to TV-canon; therefore the events leading up to the upcoming major canonical departure must be plausible within TV-canon. Thus far, in my opinion, there have been no unreasonable deviations from TV-canon in either characterization or narrative. Therefore Veering Left’s “Asuka” is NGE’s Asuka and the aforementioned altercation DID occur, at least according to the author: this latest one of Asuka’s outbursts would reasonably explain why Shinji is no longer enjoying his hobby when Asuka gets out of the shower in NGE-canon. Her resolution to repay Shinji for tolerating her misdeeds could also have happened TV-canonically. Therefore her subsequent reneging when that night’s kiss didn’t meet her expectations in NGE-canon would have also “happened” (behind the scenes). What we can glean from Asuka’s willingness to postpone her “day of repentance” is what I believe RedDestroyer wished to illuminate about the obstinate girl’s character. In Veering Left Asuka's Pride is “personified” perhaps for audience convenience in illustrating just how much control this personality trait-turned-flaw has over the girl’s actions (in Veering Left canon and in NGE-canon). Asuka’s sensible guilt - personified in Veering Left as her Better Nature – would compel her to repent, but her Pride distracts and assuages her into complacency and even vindictiveness (on full display in EoE). To illustrate such a thought process, here is how Asuka’s inner turmoil may have played out with regards to Shinji being unwilling to “hold her” during their kiss in NGE-canon: upon retreating to the washroom away from the prying eyes of her roommate, Asuka would have feverishly puzzled whether she had been unclear with her intentions, whether Shinji was in fact repulsed by her, and whether she hasn’t and never will earn his affection because of her previous actions. Her Pride would have quickly retorted that it was Shinji who was in the wrong: that he’s cowardly, pathetic, and beneath her attentions for not even appreciating his good fortune. Furthermore, her Pride would have argued, such an offense must be punished lest the “idiot” begin to think himself above her; thus Asuka shouldn’t help Shinji in the future or apologize to him in any way since he deserves all the abuse he’s endured at her hands (and more) for being an inconsiderate, egotistical jerk at best and a worthless pusillanimous doll at worst.
Commentary 2)
In some regards, Asuka is a perfectly normal teenage girl despite the traumas of her childhood: Asuka is neither a sadist nor a sociopath, she IS perceptive towards the suffering of others, and she DOES feel guilt for her hurtful actions. Her seeming genuine regard for her peer and best/only friend, Hikari Horaki (more on their relationship later), supports this conclusion. Unfortunately, the girl’s pride and egoism obstruct her willingness to atone for her poor treatment of others. The damaged girl’s Pride and the demands it makes of others and herself, is a substitute for a self-worth lost since Asuka’s parents abandoned her in her childhood. In this reviewer’s opinion, the psychological role of this defensive “false ego” is to divert attention away from the “real” Asuka – an abandoned child in desperate need of attention and care – and to a thunderous and immutable facade; a simulacrum of what a she perceives a self-respecting person to be like. For those willing to look deeper, Asuka’s “public mask” is not completely opaque: truly self-respecting people find no reason to torment the vulnerable, to repress the urge to mourn the death of a loved one, or to dedicate their lives to accepting the misery inherent in perennial overachievement with the goal of flaunting said accomplishments to an envious multitude. Such choices ARE however typical of the sadistic and of the subconsciously self-loathing – as the author implies and most Eva fans concur, Asuka is not a sadist.
Commentary 3)
As Eva fans have seen with NGE’s progression, such a self-loathing veiled by an overcompensating and callous arrogance is inevitably self-destructive. However, for Asuka, her Pride is the only thing between her continued existence and the abyss of suicidal depression. Her Pride, and by extension Asuka herself, CANNOT be permitted to err (or to be perceived as having erred by others). In Asuka’s mind, to admit fault with her Pride is to question her investment in said Pride; to question her investment in said Pride is to risk killing it; to kill said Pride is to die. From NGE Episode 19 onward, we see the creeping then sudden death of Asuka’s Pride. Without her Pride being able to in some way justify itself, the anhedonic, lonely, self-hating orphan behind the mask is exposed: having nobody to offer her parental care and having driven away all who would have tried to help her by her Pride’s possession, the pitiful Second Child found no further reason to live…
A newly invigorated Asuka emerges from the shower and then immediately deflates upon overhearing her roommate’s telephone conversation with their mutual guardian. Misato Katsuragi called to inform them both that she’d be spending the night drinking with Ryoji Kaji and that the two shouldn’t expect her arrival until the following morning. Although Shinji receives this news neutrally (as he did in NGE-canon), Asuka is overwhelmed by a wave of apprehension, revulsion, and impotence at the implications of this message. Immediately, her thoughts spiral into sickening medley of the lewd acts that the inebriated adults in the throes of carnal union would soon be performing. Her Kaji had chosen “that purple-haired slut”. Asuka slumps into a chair in the apartment’s kitchen, burying her head into her folded arms, and brooding over what she would do now that Ryoji Kaji was undoubtedly out of her reach.
The author elaborates fully on the jealous girl’s unhealthy attraction to her erstwhile guardian through Asuka’s own thoughts. We are made aware of Asuka’s misandry, acquired as a result of her father “abandoning” her following Kyoko’s suicide – the exact motives for Mr. Langley’s forsaking his own daughter are not made clear. Apparently Ryoji Kaji was the only man to earn Asuka’s trust through his persistent kindness and steadfastness despite her prejudiced conniptions. Where previous would-be guardians had spurned the insolent child, Kaji had persevered. With age came the onset of budding sexuality and Asuka’s affection for the handsome man turned into attraction. Although Asuka reveled in the leering attention she received from her peers; she vowed to preserve her chastity for the “king” who won her heart. Despite her status as an elite Eva pilot and college graduate, the insecure redhead never saw herself as truly worthy of Kaji’s love: she would have been gracious beyond words if the man had reciprocated her attraction. To Asuka, no amount of training or education could ever give her any sense of self-worth: after all, if her own parents - who knew her better than anyone else - had rejected and abandoned her, how valuable could she really be as a person? External validation would need to serve as a sufficient substitute for this absent self-worth: if the whole world would sing her praises and respect her, then perhaps Asuka could smother her crippling insecurities. If she could sate her Pride, then maybe she wouldn’t feel worthless. To this end, an unabashed relationship with a man 17 years her senior, when coupled to her other prodigious achievements, would certainly add to the public perception that Asuka is an adult; therefore making the age taboo irrelevant. The epigram “putting the cart before the horse” comes to this reviewer’s mind. Nonetheless, if Asuka would have managed to seduce Ryoji Kaji, she thinks that she would have attained both the companionship she seeks and the status her Pride covets.
Commentary 4)
It is relevant to note Asuka’s feelings of inferiority to Kaji. It could be argued based on her unique position as an Eva polot, alone, that the boisterous redhead has already accomplished more in 13 years than her former caretaker had in 30 – his undisclosed career as a spy notwithstanding. It is this reviewer’s belief that the nature for Kaji’s care for the girl was paramount to earning her admiration. To earn deference and trust from someone like Asuka, it is almost certain that Kaji’s comportment was neither doting nor sycophantic, unlike Shinji’s (see Summary and Analysis of An Unexpected Left (1) Commentary 1 and 2) but paternalistic and dignified: based on a clear set of rules and negotiations by which Kaji bestowed reassuring praise or fatherly admonishment. The suave gentleman is compassionate, confident, and independent: these are all ostensibly attributes of the coveted ideal that Asuka articulates as “adulthood” or “maturity”. More fundamentally, these are the attributes of the perspective known as “self-worth” and its corresponding discipline: “self-respect”. At this point in her life, Asuka places a premium on this quality which she identifies as “maturity” (when she REALLY means self-worth/respect) and thus gravitates towards people like Ryoji Kaji and (as we’ll discuss in due time) Hikari Horaki because she desires what she has never had; hence her feelings of inferiority. As an aside, if ever Asuka were ever to learn of her idol’s covert death wish (pun intended) to placate his survivor guilt, then the girl would undeniably lose some respect for Kaji.
Despite her despair, Asuka eventually settles into a tentative sense of relief: the pairing between Misato Katsuragi and Ryoji Kaji was inevitable since their reunion on the “Over The Rainbow”. Given the mutual feelings between the two adults, Asuka would have to accept the decision of the man she loves most for his sake, if not for her own. Following this uncharacteristically selfless resolution, Asuka’s thoughts (and then her eyes) stray to the boy across from her, who is quietly reading his manga and listening to his SDAT player; and to her mysterious, detached colleague “Wondergirl”… together. The revulsion Asuka feels at the thought of “the creepy doll bitch” lovingly draping her arms around Shinji’s shoulders must surely not be one of jealousy, her Pride assures: it must instead be due to the licentiousness implicit in such public displays of affection! To test this hypothesis, Asuka next imagines herself in Rei’s place. To her Pride’s dismay, Asuka feels almost giddy at the prospect. Only Kaji had ever stirred such emotions in her before. Realizing that it is losing control of its host, Asuka’s Pride reminds her that the Third Child is “sniveling, weak, and stupid”: beneath her attention. Asuka’s Better Nature then suddenly intervenes: reminding her of the tenacity Shinji displayed when mastering their synchronized attack on Israfel, despite the relentless antagonism and bruising the timid boy received from her; of his selfless abandon when rescuing her from an excruciating death following her defeat of Sandalphon; and of his impressive display of skill and strength when intercepting Sahaquiel. Although Shinji Ikari surely lacks a sense of self-worth, dear readers, (being the naïve and troubled teen that he his) he is certainly not altogether lacking in other admirable qualities. Although Shinji may not be as “mature” as Asuka would ideally prefer, he possesses other virtues that are scant amongst their peers; moreover, Shinji Ikari is also in the unique (and coveted) position of being the highest-achieving Eva pilot despite his lack of training.
Asuka’s Pride, now furious, booms that Asuka would be foolish to divert her interest away from Kaji given Misato’s history of having unceremoniously evicted him from their college relationship. To definitively demonstrate Asuka’s incompatibility with her passive roommate, her Pride dares her to kiss the “Third Child”; all the while promising that the experience will be unpleasant and regretful. Take heed, dear readers, of the language that Asuka’s Pride uses when talking about Shinji. The monikers “Third Child,” “idiot,” and “stupid Shinji” exhibits the Pride’s opinion on Shinji Ikari: the boy is not a human being whose thoughts and feelings matter, but an unworthy upstart and an obstacle that needs to be surmounted. Her Better Nature accepts her Pride’s dare and goads Asuka as well; albeit in an ardent manner.
Seemingly without notice, the hitherto contemplative redhead bluntly broaches the topic: “hey Shinji – you wanna kiss me?” The exchange between the two teens proceeds as seen in NGE Ep. 15. We readers are informed that it would have been Asuka’s Pride who provoked Shinji by mocking his mother’s death. However, it would have been Asuka herself who questioned his courage. Finally, it would have been both Asuka’s Self AND her Better Nature who were aroused by Shinji’s immediate and forceful response: “I’M NOT SCARED! PUCKER UP!” The girl approaches eagerly but then hesitates in closing the final few inches necessary for a kiss. Both parties are visibly nervous: even Asuka’s previous bravado buckling under the prospect of Shinji possibly finding HER disgusting. We are informed through Asuka’s racing doubts that the nervous boy “stand(ing) there like a statue” during the kiss (as he did in NGE-canon) would be the WORST possible outcome: vindicating Asuka’s greatest insecurities, likely elevating her Pride to even greater control over her actions, and compelling the rebuffed teen to distance herself from her perceived competitor. This singular misinterpretation of Shinji’s nervousness on Asuka’s part in NGE-canon, the author posits through Asuka’s train of thought, was the impetus for the vindictive redhead’s escalating, myopic, and indignant animosity towards her fellow Eva pilot: one can imagine her Pride having proclaimed defensively “how could someone as lowly as the Third Child have the audacity to reject HER”? To quiet her unpleasant thoughts and to regain a modicum of control over the unprecedented situation, Asuka pinches shut her roommate’s nose with a final audible gripe – courtesy of her Pride wanting to make the experience as uncomfortable to “the Third” as possible - before taking the deep plunge into uncharted waters.
Their lips meet. As in NGE-canon, Asuka doesn’t immediately break the kiss out of revulsion – contrary to what her Pride had promised. In fact, the experience is thus far not only pleasant, but uniquely spellbinding – this reviewer adds only half-ironically “as if God Himself were speaking to the youths through this incipient expression of intimacy”. Asuka considers offhandedly that she ought to release her grip on her partner’s nose, lest he interrupt the kiss from asphyxiation, but her captivating contentedness dissuades her from doing so. Soon however this contentedness cedes to despair at the statuesque young man in front of her. It is not Asuka’s Pride, but her Better Nature that protests his inaction: “why won’t you hold me… If you want this, show me!” At this moment, Shinji Ikari’s continued paralysis would have caused even Asuka’s Better Nature to discredit him; ultimately ceding complete control of the troubled girl’s psyche to her overwhelming Pride – as was the case in NGE-canon.
This time at the crossroads of destiny – whether by fortitude, prescience, or chance – Shinji Ikari veers left. With a gentle tug on her wrist, Shinji decisively removes Asuka’s grip from his nose with his left hand. Simultaneously, his right hand snakes warmly around his partner’s waist; whereupon it is met shortly thereafter by his other hand. Their lips remain locked.
Asuka, her Better Nature, and her Pride are stunned: the normally unsure young man had, as if through an act of God, given her everything she wanted and more. All her previous reservations – as well as any lingering interest in Ryoji Kaji – melt away and the astonished redhead braces herself with both hands against Shinji’s shoulders lest her growing sense of vertigo cause her to collapse; thereby breaking the kiss.
Unfortunately, at the apex of Asuka’s happiness, her vicious Pride unveils its terrifying trump card: the culmination of the abandoned child’s greatest fears. A macabre vision of an older "Shinji Ikari" coolly walking away from an older, dejected "Asuka Langley Soryu". This vision’s “Asuka” begs with growing hysteria and maddening sorrow – reflecting almost the exact phrases and pathos that Shinji experienced in EoE during his final disastrous confrontation with his love interest before Instrumentality – “help me… help me… HELP ME! Don’t leave me! Don’t abandon me! DON’T KILL ME!” In response to this undignified display, “Shinji” briefly pauses to face the supplicating figure, glaring down at “her” with eyes as pitiless and cold as his father’s. Finally, “he” contemptuously utters his ruthless retort, “no,” before proceeding to walk away into the arms of another woman. The message of this pathetic scene is made clear by Asuka’s predatory pride: “you may be happy for a time, but once you’re laid bare before him, he’ll see you for what you really are… broken… empty… fake… replaceable…”
Before the horrific vision ends, the new couple embrace passionately with “Shinji” bearing a loving smile for this “other” woman. The features of this “other” are unmistakable and her identity undeniable: Rei Ayanami. With this realization, a single flaring retaliatory response blazes through Asuka’s mind: “I HATE YOU!”
I shall return…
Ophsenophtet chapter 5 . 8/13
Summary and Analysis of An Unexpected Left (1)
The section begins with choice lyrics from “The Wall” by Kansas: a song dealing with the interplay of trepidation and hope upon realizing that “opening one’s heart” to the possibility of love and rejection is necessity. By song’s end, the character in question lets his curiosity and desire lead him over the wall of his heart… to see what lies beyond…
We readers continue our exploration of Shinji’s motives. With bated breath, he places the bow to the strings of his cello and begins to play again. This time he improvises, unreservedly directing each note as his heart wills; brimming with newfound confidence from his recent interpersonal achievements. The phantasmal fires of this deep inner passion begin to manifest as a familiar figure in his mind’s eye: “female, slender, beautiful (with) long hair streaming down past her shoulders… Asuka”. In these purest moments of self-expression, Shinji Ikari bares his heart completely in a manner that would certainly put all of his previous Synchronization Test results to shame were he to do the same in Unit-01 – perhaps he’s practicing a cellist’s rendition of this section’s intro track. He understands, as do the readers, that the music he plays is in fact a subconscious serenade to the person whose affections he yearns for most: not his aloof father, his amiable yet inattentive guardian, or even the ethereal Rei Ayanami; but the gorgeous and vain Asuka Langley Soryu.
Then at the apex of his happiness, a raging sound breaks Shinji’s concentration. From across the apartment, Asuka’s cry of “No! Stop that! Shut up, damn you!” immediately snuffs out both sweet music and fiery passion. The normally timid boy then races to assuage his roommate’s distress without hesitation. Attempting to place a reassuring hand on the shoulder of his strangely disconcerted roommate, Shinji is startled when Asuka roars back to awareness and contemptuously sweeps aside the placating gesture. Next she heaps insult on his concern for her and on his musical prowess: “and put the stupid cello away! It’s starting to give me a headache!” she bellows.
Dejected, Shinji slowly retreats to gather the implements of his prior joy. Asuka’s piercing words reverberate in his mind, causing tears of despondency and regret to inadvertently creep down his face while he gathers his effects and heads back to the dismal broom closet that is his room. Desperately, Shinji tries to stifle his sobs: likely to prevent further scorn from Asuka for such an “unmanly” display of weakness.
Shinji begins to wonder. Had Asuka disliked his musicianship from first listen but only complemented him initially to be polite? Or had the girl sadistically raised his hopes to gleefully dash them subsequently for more painful effect? In any manner, he decides while clasping his cello with a nascent contempt for the instrument, he’ll never play again – at least not with Asuka nearby.
By now, the reader is also fully informed of what Shinji thinks of Asuka: he adores her. Shinji would like nothing more than to make Asuka happy. Even the lingering image of the smile she paid him when she first discovered his musical talent fills him with joy at his accomplishment and with a worry that he may never again witness such a sight. To him, his tumultuous roommate is completely blameless when she hurts him: she only ever says what’s on her mind. Asuka does not mince words and only ever speaks the truth… especially about him… In light of these convictions, Shinji next fully articulates to the reader about what he really thinks of himself (in case the TV series failed to illustrate this point): that he is “worthless, stupid, ugly, inadequate, and cowardly”.
After a period of thorough sulking, Shinji resolves to continue trying to impress Asuka in other ways. While he failed to please her with his music, perhaps he could elicit a smile from her with his cooking. The young boy recalls how his previous attempts at making Western food seemed to please the redhead. Asuka even seemed to forgive him for his embarrassing attempt to steal a kiss from the girl in her sleep prior to their battle with Israfel. Apparently she hadn’t spoken to him for a week after the aforementioned incident, and Shinji’s cooking a good Western meal for Asuka was accepted as a sufficient act of contrition.
Once again, self-doubt clouds Shinji’s mind. Perhaps his beautiful exotic roommate never truly appreciated his meals any more than she appreciated his music: perhaps she was just being customarily courteous. Perhaps he is just an idiot for thinking he could ever truly impress Asuka, Shinji concludes, as he then ponders where he might find German sausage and how much it would cost…
Commentary 1)
Shinji truly is a fool to internalize the abuse he receives from others to such a degree: other people besides him can be wrong and they CAN treat him unfairly. For example, Shinji cooks and cleans for Asuka and regularly rescues her from certain death, and yet none of these acts are enough to earn him even the respect and dignity she presumably reserves for waiters and convenience store clerks. In this reviewer’s opinion, by consistently and unconditionally attempting to please Asuka – making her rent-free stay in the Katsuragi residence chore-free as well – he is in essence rewarding her maltreatment of him. The message of this repeated conditioned hostile dependency is clear to this outsider observing the two: Shinji is communicating to Asuka that she can hurt him in any way she wants because he’ll do nothing to stop her. The approval of his bully matters too much to Shinji simply because his abuser is beautiful. The culmination of Asuka’s learned contempt for her admittedly self-loathing roommate can be seen in EoE during the final fateful meeting of minds between the two characters before the end of the world. In this final altercation, Asuka pitilessly preys upon the boy’s insecurities – insecurities they both share - in his moment of greatest need. Having only ever given her whatever help and service he could (or rather whatever help and service she permitted him to give without baleful scorn), Shinji begs his fellow Eva pilot to help him shoulder the burden of Instrumentality and to shape the world into a better place for the two of them and for all of humanity. The broken young man implores his volatile love interest to just ONCE give him something in return; even vowing that he’ll make redoubled efforts to better understand her and to help her MORE in the future. Perhaps predictably at that point, Asuka refuses him ANY reciprocity and does so in such a hurtful, ruthless, and cruel way that she catalyzes the end of the world.
Commentary 2)
If you were to ask Asuka Langley Soryu the moment she killed Shinji’s hope why she chose to do what she did, her answer would distill down to “he didn’t give me everything I wanted exactly when I wanted it” and “he made me look bad”: both reasons are petty and fall apart under scrutiny. Of course the motivations of an emotionally distressed fourteen year old girl with insecure attachment issues aren’t always logical. Yet such assertions, I believe, conceal an underlying, subconscious reason for her “disgust” (as she puts it) with Shinji Ikari. Kindness given freely by definition has no value – love given just as freely to a cantankerous harpy as to a devout spouse is worthless. It is the discrimination between virtue and vice that lends value to the love one gives. Affections doled out indiscriminately to both deserving and undeserving can in turn be discarded just as easily as any other worthless “consolation prize”: “if I can’t have you all to myself, then I want nothing to do with you,” indeed. At world’s end, Asuka dashed Shinji’s love and affection on the proverbial rocks because it was worthless: “anyone would do,” indeed (although admittedly not in the way the jealous girl may think). Asuka’s final tirade towards Shinji could have just as easily been directed towards Asuka, herself: every flaw she berates Shinji for is her projecting her insecurities and blame-shifting. The accusatory statement “don’t do anything: all you ever do is hurt me” in particular is FAR more applicable to the conniving redhead, herself, than to her accommodating target. Yet, her scathing criticisms are not entirely imperceptive: how can any man claim to love someone when he doesn’t even love himself? How can anyone respect a man who has no respect for himself? If a man knows himself better than anyone else can know him, and he doesn’t see any inherent value in himself; then why should anyone else value him? In essence, the man’s “top reference” for the “school of life” can only vouch for his worthlessness. This reviewer hypothesizes that if Shinji found the self-respect to set boundaries on his pushy roommate’s egotistical behaviour, she would not have treated him as her plaything and punching bag. Initially, like a spoiled child (and she is certainly a child), Asuka would have berated her roommate as being “a big jerk” for not truckling to her unreasonable demands – a statement that she would exclaim about Shinji anyways in TV-canon despite the latter’s continued deference. Eventually however, Asuka’s expectations of her reserved roommate would have been more realistic because she would have been constantly reminded of his autonomy and, by extension, his HUMANITY. Recall that Ryoji Kaji is clearly an attentive guardian who nonetheless has the self-respect to set clear boundaries on the girl’s behaviour - and Asuka CERTAINLY doesn’t hate him for it. In contrast, Rei Ayanami, a person who by virtue of her profession as an elite child soldier devoted entirely to the Eva program, should have earned from Asuka some sense of camaraderie instead earns her waxing hatred. The two girls have in many ways led very similar lives: since the day they were inducted into the Eva program, both of their lives revolved around fighting the enemies of humanity, following orders unquestioningly, and dying if their commanding officer deems it necessary; as any professional soldier would. Despite their shared upbringing, Asuka feels only livid dehumanizing contempt for the First Child for the same reason she grew to dislike the Third: their shared lack of self-respect. Moreover, I think that the hot-blooded child prodigy and elite soldier would have inevitably come to accept being surpassed by a rival with a healthy and dignified sense of self-worth (i.e. neither Rei Ayanami nor Shinji Ikari as they are portrayed in TV-canon) – she would have even come to admire such a person. What Asuka could not tolerate (as we see in NGE) was being surpassed by someone who proclaims himself (through his words and obsequiousness) to be worthless: if she is bested by someone with no worth, then what does that make HER? However, none of this analysis of Asuka’s deep-seeded revulsion towards those with no self-worth is to imply that she has any herself: she hates Shinji and Rei for the same reason she hates herself. After all, what self-respecting person would lower themselves into bullying their reclusive roommate with a history of social isolation for his hesitancy in reading social cues? What self-respecting young woman would desperately solicit sex from a foster father more than twice her own age? What self-respecting person would demean themselves by behaving like a petty, thankless, unaccountable caitiff towards those who feed, house, and care for her?
Stated more simply, Shinji Ikari is too nice to everyone – even to those who don’t deserve it. He cares DEEPLY what others think of him because he wants to be liked. If he behaves like a “doormat” (to borrow Asuka’s words) and makes himself useful to those around him; then he sacrifices his dignity, but at least he isn’t abandoned. When he is no longer needed or when he feels like he can no longer help anyone (like at the beginning of EoE), he feels most abandoned. As we’ve concluded when analyzing Asuka’s character, so must we conclude in analyzing Shinji’s: Shinji Ikari is his own worst enemy.
Panther2G chapter 61 . 8/9
Boy, you've really poisoned the well with him, Asuka. He not unreasonably assumes anything you say to him now is an attack, even when you're trying to edge towards apologizing.
Panther2G chapter 60 . 8/9
Sadly, this is going to manage to go even worse than canon, isn't it?
Sir NickolasJhonstonMarcus III chapter 77 . 8/8
I'm borderline distraught that there's nothing beyond this. I read this with rapt attention, and your writing is done so well, I'm left reeling. the emotion you convey is real. I can feel what your characters are experiencing. please, please, continue this beautiful dive into the world of evangelion "what if's".
Garces 01 chapter 77 . 8/7
Awesome. I've read this story like ten times, and enjoyed every one of them. Thank you for this.
RealRemainder chapter 77 . 8/7
Holy crap I was checking this to see if Ophsenophtet posted another review and BOOM; new update.

On the same note, Ophsenophtet is posting in this fic a series of reviews that is very deep and detailed and I found out about a story I didn't know in them. Check that review out after you read this one guys.

-THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW-

-Fat lot of good that did anyone - Forgot the "to": "Fat lot of good that did to anyone"

-That's the only one. Good work.

Yeah it has been a while, especially with the cruel cliffhanger last chapter. I don't know "unchained" by antestor either... I smell a new playlist further down the line.

Hmm, Asuka being considerate with a stranger isn't really strange, considering she already 'destroyed' her own ego. Just like her warm reception of Shinji isn't strange either, because all it takes for Asuka to, basically start acting more normal is to get rid of her own ego.

Oh boy, there's still soemthing wrong with Rei isn't there? Yup, there it is. Knee strike. And something bad will happen and Shinji will blame Asuka won't he? I think I'm gonna put my money on "Asuka will kill Rei to save Shinji"...

Oh wait, no that's wrong, Unit 01 is going berserk. Oh boy... Is... Is Unit 01 going to 'eat' Unit 00?!

Oh wait, no. Yui just stared at Asuka for a sec.

This is the end of the second Rei isn't it? That's what happens to drive Shinji away and back to Asuka...? Well at least it wasn't anything that made Shinji go back to hating Asuka. Wonder what happens now.
BigSkeez0195 chapter 77 . 8/7
Great Eva Choreography! Cant wait to see the new interactions between The pilots given everything that has happened.
Ophsenophtet chapter 4 . 8/6
My sincerest apologies for needing to re-post a section's review under the heading of an incorrect Chapter. Unbeknownst to me, there is a character limit to these reviews. As a result "Summary and Analysis of Overture (3)" was truncated when posted under its appropriate segment's heading. I will adjust my posting system in the future to ensure this embarrassing mishap isn't repeated.

Summary and Analysis of Overture (3)
The introductory lyrics and chorus verse of Dream Theatre’s somber yet hopeful “These Walls” sets the mood for delving into the psyche of NGE’s main protagonist: the kind-hearted but irresolute Shinji Ikari. Obviously, the piece typifies Shinji’s perpetual inner struggle: finding sufficient courage to reach out to others despite his self-loathing and crippling fear of rejection incurred through parental abandonment and (as we discover later) physical abuse at the hands of his sensei (recall “Summary and Analysis of Overture (1),” Commentary 1).
Finding comfort in his carefree solitude, Shinji reflects on the brief conversation he shared with his father earlier in the day. The two laid a commemoratory nosegay at the empty grave of Yui Ikari: the woman whose sudden death had caused the mutual estrangement of father and son. The reader may recall young Shinji’s deep animosity for his father upon hearing rumors that Commander of NERV had been in some way culpable for his mother’s death. Despite his father’s acquittal, young Shinji’s distrust and Gendo’s grief eventually assured that the two would become separated. Unlike how he fled from his mother’s grave and his taciturn father three years ago, this day Shinji had tempered his reservations and met Gendo in person again. Shinji resolves to better understand the man in the future.
Emboldened by his “success” with his father, Shinji decides to resurrect an old hobby: he begins to practice Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 from memory. Upon successfully finishing the piece’s prelude, his tranquility is perturbed by congratulatory clapping from the last person he’d expected: the capricious Asuka Langley Soryu. The boy is nonplussed, having never previously received genuine praise from his fellow pilot. The TV-canonical exchange proceeds between the two as described in “Summary and Analysis of Overture (2)”. The reader finds out through Shinji’s own thoughts that the reason for his downplaying his talents is to pre-empt the inevitable invectives that follow any one of Asuka’s “complements”. Subsequently hearing no such parting shots, Shinji is flabbergasted: perhaps Asuka can be kind too sometimes, he concludes.
Shinji’s thoughts veer towards his returned companion and the reader gains insight regarding his feelings towards her. Shinji admits to himself that despite Asuka’s inconsiderate behaviour towards Yoshiaki, he is relieved at this blind date being rejected – Shinji had felt jealous at the prospect of Asuka dating anyone! To the young boy, Asuka is like “the sun… bright, shining, beautiful… yet will probably decide to blind you if you look at it too long”. He is drawn to her prodigious beauty and is terrified of displeasing her. He also finds it simultaneously humorous and disturbing that his roommate should be so obsessed with Ryoji Kaji: a good man who is clearly not comfortable with her repeated advances and whose attention is drawn, Shinji realizes, to Misato Katsuragi. Nevertheless, Shinji cares immensely about what Asuka thinks of him and wishes more than anything that the fiery foreigner could get along with him and Rei. Despite the abuse Shinji receives from Asuka, he keeps trying to please her: the major reason the shy boy aspired to further improve his cooking was apparently to impress the German redhead. Asuka makes Shinji want to be a better man – a touching complement taken straight from the move “As Good As It Gets”. Yet surely she must dislike if not outright hate him, Shinji posits, for her to mistreat him as often as she does. And yet, this day, Asuka had paid him an unexpected kindness – much like she had done when she agreed to join him and Rei for “victory ramen” after their defeat of Sahaquiel. Recently his exotic roommate had even become more comfortable with his “stealing looks” of her – the reader may recall Asuka thinking in Overture (2) that she noticed how Shinji would occasionally “look at her”. Maybe his roommate doesn’t detest him… Maybe if she were kinder, Shinji could tell Asuka how he really felt…
Maybe there’s a less risky way to “tell her” right then and there: Shinji once again puts his bow to the cello strings…
Commentary 1)
Let the readers and this reviewer reach consensus regarding Shinji Ikari’s feelings towards Asuka Langley Soryu: were it not for her immense beauty, Shinji would not tolerate her abuse and continue trying to please her. As discussed previously, love is an involuntary response to virtue, but often the greatest “virtue” that a man admires in a woman is her beauty. Were Asuka a fat, slovenly, but equally temperamental girl and not the exemplar of young adolescent bloom that we have come to recognize; Shinji (and by extension most boys) would not give such a mean-spirited and damaged individual the time of day. Yet one cannot condemn human nature because one can neither control nor change it: one can only accept human nature as it is. Such is the nature of a man to place a high premium on a woman’s beauty at the expense of her character; such is in the nature of a woman to demand a man’s continued utility at the expense of his well-being. Regardless of what one thinks of the motives for Shinji’s feelings towards Asuka, his devotion to her is no less real.

I shall return…
Ophsenophtet chapter 3 . 8/5
Summary and Analysis of Overture (1)
Veering left begins to the bittersweet tune of Shadow Gallery’s “Hope for Us?” as we readers are thrust into, surprisingly enough, Ryoji Kaji’s morning routine. Having been too exhausted to do so the previous night, presumably from either sneaking about NERV Headquarters or returning from his meeting in Kyoto with his “old cat lady” informant, he checks his phone’s newest message. What greets his ears is Asuka’s latest shrill cries for attention from her crush: her fabricated alarm of being “attacked by a pervert” as seen at the beginning of NGE Episode 15. To remind ourselves about “TV-canon”, Kaji would accompany Misato to a wedding ceremony while Asuka would be going out on a blind date later that night.
Kaji states that Asuka has engaged in raising these false alarms with increasing regularity; therefore despite his intense protectiveness of the girl, her latest outburst is not taken seriously. Kaji reflects on his guardianship of Asuka, informing the reader of his perhaps clichéd but relevant opinion that the rambunctious redhead is in fact “a good kid at heart”.
Commentary 1)
If the reader attempts to recall NGE in its entirety, the reader may (rightfully in my opinion) conclude that there is nary an altruistic bone in our anti-heroine’s body until perhaps the very last scene of End of Evangelion. I would argue given the immense suffering of her past, that she should be even MORE hesitant (as Shinji is) than the average person to inflict such suffering on others. Yet she seems to have a complete incapacity empathize with others or even begin to understand how they might view issues and, more critically, how her own words and actions affect them. What’s even worse is that she reflexively projects these personality faults onto those around her to avoid taking responsibility for her repeated self-inflicted failures. Moreover, the girl’s entire modus operandi seems to be making those around her as miserable as she herself feels due to her crippling lack of self-worth incurred by horrific parental abuse and abandonment. We the audience, as Eva fans, are told what we have hoped for all along about what is in my opinion the most tragic and interesting character (and my personal pick for “best girl”) in the series. This single statement “she’s a good kid at heart” when expressed by the person closest to Asuka, a surrogate father, and a man who has practically raised her since the poor girl was drafted into the Eva program and who therefore knows her better than anyone is extremely significant. This sentiment indicates that not only is the abrasive, boisterous, and arrogant girl that we’ve become familiar with up until this point in NGE episode 15 capable of changing for the better; but also that the reader should hold her accountable to what she could be – to what her surrogate parent truly thinks of her.
Kaji reveals his latest findings regarding the existence of Terminal Dogma and the possibility of it housing an Angel of sorts due to its sheer size – at this point, he has not yet actually seen Lilith. He suspects that this chamber is in some way related to his previous assignment: stealing Adam from SELEE for Gendo’s machinations. Apparently the tiny embryonic Adam was encased in solid bakelite by Kaji himself during his smuggling mission because He would rapidly expand otherwise. Evidently, Adam also has the ability to “speak” through other people’s thoughts. Upon first seeing Kaji, Adam seemed confused and even fearful. Clearly, Adam in Veering Left canon has His own soul (or at least a part of it).
The last time Adam awoke, it exterminated all life (even microbial) in the continent of Antarctica with the sole exception of Misato. We readers can infer that what would have been Adam’s anti-AT field spared Misato because she was shielded within an entry plug prototype due to the actions of her father. In light of the incredible danger that Adam poses to humanity should an Angel contact Him, Kaji seriously contemplates why he hadn’t attempted to kill the fledgling Adam or why NERV would want Adam alive. Ryoji Kaji concludes that because of his “quest for truth” regarding NERV’s affairs, SELEE, and the mysterious Human Instrumentality Project he has imperilled all of humanity; especially the child “soldiers” (in Kaji’s own words) tasked with defending humanity from Adam’s progeny. Rei Ayanami, Kaji muses, seems to be a natural soldier with a rigid obedience unhealthy for a girl her age; Shinji Ikari seems to lack the mentality of a soldier despite his aptitude for combat thus far; and Asuka Langley Soryu is too attached to her role as a soldier despite her being (and acting like) a child.
Commentary 2)
This reflection on the Eva pilots by Kaji sets the backdrop for the rest of Veering Left’s portrayal of the Children: they are child soldiers who endure unimaginable suffering for humanity’s continued survival, but are otherwise (with the exception of Rei) just young adolescents with typical young adolescent predilections.
Finally, Kaji wonders, could NERV and/or SELEE have had some involvement in Second Impact and all the very human horrors of war and famine resultant: atrocities that Ryoji Kaji, himself, participated in? During the Impact wars, it is revealed that Ryoji Kaji was indirectly responsible for the deaths of his brother and friends. This revelation almost certainly implies that Kaji’s backstory is taken from (to the best of my knowledge) the Neon Genesis Evangelion official manga. Under duress, Kaji betrayed his brother and friends to a group of soldiers who subsequently killed them. Since that fateful day, it seems, Kaji has held onto what is classic survivor guilt. He is heedless of the perils involved in his triple agent espionage career both because he seeks to make himself worthy of having survived in his loved ones’ stead by uncovering the true culprits of mankind’s suffering following Second Impact, and because he feels that he deserves the inevitable death resulting from the uncovering of such truths. Such is his fate, he feels.
Harkening back to the intro song of the segment; is there hope for humanity when assailed by such powerful enemies from both without and within? Is there hope for the Children to survive this terrible war and lead normal lives? Is there hope for Kaji’s “quest for truth” or even (as he sees it) the salvation of his soul from his sinful past?

Summary and Analysis of Overture (2)
The segment begins with the chorus from Fozzy’s “Sin and Bones”, which allude to a cold-hearted individual needing to learn that “it” (likely referring to love) ought to be sought, admitted, and cherished. Given the character whose perspective is followed in this segment, such lyrics are fitting. More critically, this segment primes the reader for what to expect during the rest of the story: Veering Left will primarily be a character drama with politics and action sequences being of lesser importance.
We join Asuka’s train of thought as she’s making her way home from her blind date with a boy named Yoshiaki, who is a friend of Hikari Horaki’s older sister, Kodama. She had departed abruptly, leaving her date standing in line for a roller coaster. The boy was apparently insufferably smug and lecherous towards Asuka: she simply felt uncomfortable at how this stranger was “eyeing her up” and left. Ironically, she also “stood him up” (as I believe the phrase goes) to punish his arrogance - all the while resenting Yoshiaki for taking her to an amusement park; thereby challenging her bloated sense of maturity.
Asuka’s thoughts next turn to the “man of her dreams”, Ryoji Kaji: the only man Asuka views as “worthy of her”. During this reflection on her relationship with a crush who is old enough to be her father, we the readers are first introduced to two different and competing “voices” in Asuka’s head. These voices are separate from Asuka’s own “inner voice” and demarked by a difference in quotation style: one voice is indicated by italicization whereas the other is distinguished by sub-quotation marks. They may be thought of as Asuka’s pride and better nature, respectively – the better nature alluded to through Kaji being convinced that Asuka is a “good kid at heart” in Overture (1). As the reader may notice while continuing to read Veering Left, anytime either one of these voices is more dominant in Asuka’s decision-making, its statements are denoted by sub-quotation marks; likewise, the submissive or “quieter” voice is expressed through italicization. Currently, Asuka’s pride is railroading her thoughts and actions; therefore the voice of her pride is encapsulated in the “dominant” sub-quotation marks. Her pride argues that her age is “just a number”, while her better nature reminds her that Kaji is no pedophile. The conflicted redhead apparently resents Misato’s diverting Kaji’s attention but she also feels guilty for distaining her hospitable new guardian. Reluctantly, Asuka admits to herself that Ryoji Kaji may be out of her reach. Given the mutual unspoken attraction betwixt Misato Katsuragi and Ryoji Kaji, her crush simply is not interested and even seems to be attempting to redirect the young girl’s attentions elsewhere…
Indeed, if anyone could conceivably distract her from her pursuit of Kaji, it would have to be the living legend and three-time saviour of Tokyo-3: the celebrated Third Child. However, the scrawny, reserved, insecure, and compunctious Shinji Ikari was certainly less than what Asuka expected from such a touted war hero. She tries to reassure herself that Shinji is an undisciplined coward and an idiot, but recalling how the unassuming boy risked his life for her several times previously eventually makes her entertain the notion that Shinji Ikari possesses surprising fortitude. The prideful girl even admits that Shinji is “actually something to look at”. The reader may chuckle at this latest admission: although it is true that Shinji Ikari lacks self-confidence and rigorous training, it is expected that he would be rather handsome given his parentage – and intelligent too, if he ever found the motivation to apply himself. Even his timid nature, she finds, is occasionally endearing (when it’s not annoying). Asuka fumes as to why Shinji pretends to show no interest in her when she teases him? Evidently Asuka knows how the shy boy “looks at her” when he thinks she doesn’t notice. The ambivalent young teen then starts to wonder why she would even desire that Shinji be more forthright about his feelings for her when such “perverted” admissions from any other boy would be met with scornful derision or wrathful battery. Deeply confused, Asuka finally arrives home.
She is greeted by beautiful music which she recognizes to be a slow rendition of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 (apparently Veering Left’s Asuka is familiar with Classical music). Wondering who the cellist might be, Asuka quietly approaches the source of the playing in the apartment’s kitchen. She is surprised that the boy who, much to her chagrin, had been “unduly” occupying her thoughts had again displayed hidden depths with his admirable musicianship. The rest of this encounter proceeds in the same way as it did in the TV series: Asuka (for the first time ever) genuinely compliments Shinji and the hopelessly self-critical young man responds with self-deprecation. With an air of reprimand, Shinji comments on Asuka’s “cold” treatment of her date – in response, Asuka reassures him that Kaji is the only “real man for (her)”.
A new scene is added thereafter. Shinji continued to play his cello as Asuka lays down on her bed. Shinji’s music at that point is entirely improvised and is so pleasing to the redhead’s ears that she finds the piece “intoxicating”. The gentle and somber yet warm and strong melody, Asuka muses while entranced in the piece’s beauty, seems to exemplify the young man she’s come to know – she dares to wonder whether Shinji could even be playing this piece for her. Asuka’s worries seem to melt away as Shinji’s music soothes her until her thoughts unwittingly wander to the “looks” that her housemate gives to “Wondergirl”. To even humour such a blatant jealousy, even to herself, is unacceptable and Asuka shatters her silence (and Shinji’s beautiful music) with a voluble attempt to quiet her thoughts: “No! Stop that! Shut up, damn you!” she shouts. The implication of such an outburst to Shinji, who is unaware of Asuka’s inner turmoil, is painfully clear. Immediately, the concerned boy rushes to the room of his seemingly distraught housemate. He attempts to approach the by then thoroughly mortified girl: unsurprisingly, Asuka fulminates at his obvious concern for her well-being, and insults his cello-playing for good measure – and some Eva fans wonder why Shinji didn’t try to help the tumultuous and temperamental Teutonic “princess” MORE during the TV series.
Commentary 1)
Such an interaction between the two would presumably have been commonplace with Shinji’s every attempt to placate and comfort Asuka reciprocated with scornful disgust and spiteful insult – no good deed goes unpunished. This reviewer is not sure why anyone would condemn a boy (especially one with Shinji’s past) for comporting to the adage that “no means no”. With regards to TV-canon Shinji’s inability to sufficiently “help” Asuka by giving her the affection she craved, his unforgivable sin seems to be his inability to read minds. Asuka wants to take no responsibility for her attraction to Shinji: she wants to maintain plausible deniability with teasing and backhanded complements (at best) so that she can at any time resort to excoriating Shinji for acting upon his “perverted” desires if she for whatever reason becomes frightened of her very human but (in her mind) plebeian feelings towards him. In the very least, if the normally obnoxiously candid redhead had taken initiative in expressing her interest for the saviour of humanity, Shinji wouldn’t rebuke her with torrential derision and battery. Alas, her pride wouldn’t permit such a thing: the poignant conceit of Asuka Langley Soryu. “Manning up” doesn’t begin to factor the abuse that Shinji has learned to expect for attempting to do so with Asuka; moreover, he certainly wouldn’t want to risk losing her attentions entirely by having such forceful attempts at “breaking down her walls” backfire catastrophically. Ironically, if Shinji wants to charm and to keep Asuka, he has to be willing to lose her. He would need to unconditionally refuse to tolerate ANY of her bad behaviour and demand accountability from her under pain of avoidance (recall that Asuka outright states in NGE Ep. 22 that she hates it when he ignores her), while only rewarding her with attention and provision if she treats him fairly. As with anyone you want to change, you must reward good behaviour and punish bad behaviour. If his love interest refuses to abide by fundamental rules of interpersonal decency and honour, then she isn’t worth his concern. From this reviewer’s understanding, love is not a feeling – it is a discipline – it is something one exercises and earns. Love is an involuntary response to the expression of attributes and actions that one personally cherishes; hence it is cultivated in one’s self and earned from others. In short, if Shinji Ikari finds his self-respect, then the rest will follow…
Commentary 2)
All throughout this Chapter segment, we readers “see” Asuka as more conflicted and guilty than we ever do in the TV series. She expresses feelings of shame at disappointing Hikari Horaki through her underhanded rejection of the class representative’s mutual friend. She feels ashamed with her ingratitude towards her new guardian, Misato Katsuragi. Most importantly, she feels guilty with her previous and current mistreatment of the kind and mild-mannered Shinji Ikari. However, we also appreciate the tremendous sway that the emotionally traumatized child soldier’s pride has on her thoughts and actions. The “good kid at heart” represented by the inner voice of Asuka’s better nature must find a way to supersede her defensive pride. Otherwise, she will (as we saw in the latter half of NGE) devolve into vicious and unhinged tantrums; harming both those around her and herself. As we readers begin realize (prior knowledge of NGE canon notwithstanding), Asuka is her own worst enemy.

Summary and Analysis of Overture (3)
The introductory lyrics and chorus verse of Dream Theatre’s somber yet hopeful “These Walls” sets the mood for delving into the psyche of NGE’s main protagonist: the kind-hearted but irresolute Shinji Ikari. Obviously, the piece typifies Shinji’s perpetual inner struggle: finding sufficient courage to reach out to others despite his self-loathing and crippling fear of rejection incurred through parental abandonment and (as we discover later) physical abuse at the hands of his sensei (recall “Summary and Analysis of Overture (1),” Commentary 1).
Finding comfort in his carefree solitude, Shinji reflects on the brief conversation he shared with his father earlier in the day. The two laid a commemoratory nosegay at the empty grave of Yui Ikari: the woman whose sudden death had caused the mutual estrangement of father and son. The reader may recall young Shinji’s deep animosity for his father upon hearing rumors that Commander of NERV had been in some way culpable for his mother’s death. Despite his father’s acquittal, young Shinji’s distrust and Gendo’s grief eventually assured that the two would become separated. Unlike how he fled from his mother’s grave and his taciturn father three years ago, this day Shinji had tempered his reservations and met Gendo in person again. Shinji resolves to better understand the man in the future.
Emboldened by his “success” with his father, Shinji decides to resurrect an old hobby: he begins to practice Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 from memory. Upon successfully finishing the piece’s prelude, his tranquility is perturbed by congratulatory clapping from the last person he’d expected: the capricious Asuka Langley Soryu. The boy is nonplussed, having never previously received genuine praise from his fellow pilot. The TV-canonical exchange proceeds between the two as described in “Summary and Analysis of Overture (2)”. The reader finds out through Shinji’s own thoughts that the reason for his downplaying his talents is to pre-empt the inevitable invectives that follow any one of Asuka’s “complements”. Subsequently hearing no such parting shots, Shinji is flabbergasted: perhaps Asuka can be kind too sometimes, he concludes.
Shinji’s thoughts veer towards his returned companion and the reader gains insight regarding his feelings towards her. Shinji admits to himself that despite Asuka’s inconsiderate behaviour towards Yoshiaki, he is relieved at this blind date being rejected – Shinji had felt jealous at the prospect of Asuka dating anyone! To the young boy, Asuka is like “the sun… bright, shining, beautiful… yet will probably decide to blind you if you look at it too long”. He is drawn to her prodigious beauty and is terrified of displeasing her. He also finds it simultaneously humorous and disturbing that his roommate should be so obsessed with Ryoji Kaji: a good man who is clearly not comfortable with her repeated advances and whose attention is drawn, Shinji realizes, to Misato Katsuragi. Nevertheless, Shinji cares immensely about what Asuka thinks of him and wishes more than anything that the fiery foreigner could get along with him and Rei. Despite the abuse Shinji receives from Asuka, he keeps trying to please her: the major reason the shy boy aspired to further improve his cooking was apparently to impress the German redhead. Asuka makes Shinji want to be a better man – a touching complement taken straight from the move “As Good As It Gets”. Yet surely she must dislike if not outright hate him, Shinji posits, for her to mistreat him as often as she
Guest chapter 76 . 8/5
please continue this story
Ophsenophtet chapter 1 . 8/3
Neon Genesis Evangelion ruined television for me: every time I sit down and watch some show I’ve never seen before (especially an Anime) I find it difficult to become invested in it. Consistently, I think to myself (assuming the show in question isn’t horribly written) “it was okay, but it’s not as good as Evangelion”. Likewise, Veering Left ruined Evangelion fanfiction for me. Upon finishing a new fanfic, I think to myself “it was okay, but it’s not as good as Veering Left”.

Before I elaborate on why I think Veering Left is so good, allow me to establish my experience with the Eva franchise as a whole; thereby contextualizing all of my subsequent opinions. I’ve seen the TV show to completion - and only Director’s Cut episodes of the show, where applicable - four times. I’ve only seen episodes 25 and 26 once: they’re are awful and disconnected from the rest of the show’s narrative. I’ve seen End of Evangelion too many times to count: it is my favourite movie of all time. I’ve seen the Rebuild movies: they’re unnecessary, nonsensical, and frankly insulting simulacra of their forebearer. All video content was only ever viewed with the English dub. I’ve not read the Evangelion manga series; although I am familiar with some of its content – particularly with regards to its depicted character relations and backstories. I’ve read what I heard around the interweb are Evangelion fanfiction classics and/or extolled exemplars: HERZ, The Second Try, Higher Learning, You Are (Not) At Fault, Orchestrating The Silence, The Catalyst, Neon Genisis Evangelion: Genocide, Ghosts of Evangelion, Advice and Trust, and RE-TAKE. I’d recommend any of the above fan works to Evangelion aficionados. I’d especially recommend them to our author, RedDestroyer, (assuming he hasn’t already read them) both for his enjoyment and for his improvement as a writer. Each of the above fan works have obvious flaws – these shortcomings must be noticed, understood, and avoided.

Perhaps ironically given my previous statements regarding the ruination of all other fanfics, or perhaps appropriately given how NGE ruined all subsequent TV shows for me, Veering Left is in fact the FIRST piece of fanfiction material that I’ve ever delved into. The first time I read it was also the first time I ever stayed up all night reading anything. I was so pleased with it that I almost immediately re-read it in its entirety over the course of the next few days. It is the reason why I continued to seek out the above other fanfiction stories: while I was eagerly awaiting Veering Left’s new chapter, I would need something else to occupy my free time. Unfortunately, the above collective of stories only lasted a month. A short month during which my entire video game collection remained untouched. Out of all the Evangelion fanfics I’ve read now, Veering Left is in my favourite. I will now elaborate on why I prefer this story without delving into any spoilers for the uninitiated.

Eventually, I will also review every chapter of Veering Left in these upcoming months and provide commentary on what I think are key plot elements of the story and/or well or poorly executed aspects of a given chapter. I will write these mostly exhaustive reviews to help myself and any witness to these reviews better organize the many plot threads sewn throughout this admittedly large work. Hopefully these reviews will offer constructive criticism and inspiration to our intrepid author, RedDestroyer. Lastly, though perhaps most importantly, these reviews will be a labour of love.

As summarized in the author’s synopsis, Veering Left is an Evangelion alternate continuity fanfic that starts off at the latter half of NGE’s 15th episode titled “Those Women Longed for the Touch of Other's Lips, and Thus Invited Their Kisses”. This episode is the springboard for other notable Eva fanfics, i.e. “Higher Learning” and “advice and Trust”. The latter is perhaps the direct inspiration for RedDestroyer’s writing his maiden fanfic. However, the “feel” of Veering Left is NOT like that of Advice and Trust. Veering Left does not delve into saccharine writing for the sake of audience pandering – it is (in my opinion) entirely “realistic” when making the necessary deviations from TV continuity. You, dear reader, HAVE BEEN WARNED. As of writing this first overarching review, Veering Left has 8 overall “Chapters” subdivided into a total of 76 “segments” comprised of a total of 172,649 words. Currently, the work spans only from episodes 15-16 in the NGE TV series (it’s denser than it seems, though) and is of course unfinished.

As one begins to read Veering Left, one is notes (pun intended) that many segments are preluded by lyrics to particular songs that mesh thematically and/or contextually with their respective segments. These songs are undoubtedly what came to mind as RedDestroyer was writing these story sections. The reader needn’t necessarily listen to these songs to appreciate a given chapter’s content, but the songs can certainly enhance a reader’s experience.

However, it is not the attempt at creating musical ambiance that I find most praiseworthy about this fanfic. The narrative style is one that out of all the aforementioned fanfics I appreciate most of all: each chapter alternates between the perspectives of different characters in a given scene. Often, a single interaction would be complemented through the subsequent perspectives of the multiple characters involved in said interactions. Singular events are interpreted through different subjective lenses of pertinent characters whose perceptions are tinted with each of their respective prejudices, expectations, and insecurities. Every chapter is presented as a “train of thought” from a single character’s point of view. As such, there is no omniscient narrator describing or establishing scenes – each story event is told often from many people’s sequential perspectives. Contrary to what one may expect, such a method of storytelling does NOT in fact make events more ambiguous. The motivations of each character (as long as they are granted the first person voice in a particular segment) are made entirely explicit to the reader even though their thoughts are, of course, concealed form other characters. The “trains of thought” are written down EXACTLY as one would hear the voice in his head – or rather as one would hear the VOICES in his head. As a result, the reader sees in “real-time” the ambivalences of characters, their inner turmoil, and even their attempts at conscious self-deception expressed through internal “dialogue” between different streams of consciousness and even different aspects of a character’s personality. NOTHING is ambiguous as far as characters are concerned.

Consequently, Veering Left ameliorates one of the most frustrating aspects of the Evangelion series: its unreliable narrator. Events in NGE are filtered mostly from Shinji Ikari’s perspective, especially as far as introspection is concerned. Comparatively little time is spent analyzing the thoughts and fears of Asuka, Misato, Rei, Ritsuko, Ryoji, or Gendo (Episodes 25 and 26 were so awful, tangential, and clearly the result of budgetary constraints given clips from episode 24’s epilogue that they are not even worth being considered canon in my opinion). As such, not only aren’t we privy to knowledge concerning Evangelion’s lore through the supporting cast, but we are uncertain at any given moment how characters actually “feel” about each other – especially since actions don’t always speak louder than words in this series. The culmination of the “unreliable narrator” is during Instrumentality in End of Evangelion wherein nobody (including Shinji himself) quite knows what is “real” during the confusing and most likely intertwining stream(s) of consciousness portrayed on-screen. For example, were it not for EoE’s final scene, one could conclude based on scenes from Instrumentality that Asuka genuinely despises the very air that Shinji breathes: her having completely forgotten all of the boy’s previous acts of kindness and her having been entirely consumed by her conceit, cruelty, and solipsism. This reviewer personally ABHORS ambiguity (coincidentally sharing in the sentiments of Shinji during Instrumentality) particularly because it lends plausible deniability to bad writing, slovenly world-building, and poor character development. In this reviewer’s opinion, the lore of the series is a confusing and quite likely poorly conceived menagerie of pseudo-religious gobblety-gook – with some undeniably original and interesting concepts peppered throughout to ensure that the audience doesn’t entirely cease their willing suspension of disbelief for want of investment in world-building. NGE reveling in lore ambiguity is I think a convenient way for the writing staff to simply advance the story “at the speed of plot” and portray cool scenes and vistas without having to worry too much about tying together loose plot threads (Eva 3.33 takes this writing flaw to stratospheric levels).

The examples of ambiguous lore elements are endless. How was Adam’s awakening halted during His “contact experiment”? If by the Lance of Longinus, then how was he reduced to an embryonic state? What happens when an angel fuses with Adam? Would the same thing happen when fusing with Lilith? Could Kawrou even fuse with Lilith given that her soul is being held by Rei? What are Rei’s powers? If they are essentially Lilith’s powers, why not have her constantly “camping” next to Lilith’s body to stop any rampaging Angel from barging in? Why have her suppress her powers and make her mortal at all – why not just have her live in Terminal Dogma as some mysterious NERV employee acting as a last line of defense? To what degree is Rei human? Is her melancholy due to her alien nature? Does she possess both a human soul and the soul of Lilith? What are the capabilities of the Lance of Longinus (besides advancing the plot)? Does The Lance stop any entity from fusing with Lilith? How was Lilith’s soul harvested and contained in the vessel of Rei Ayanami? How was Adam’s soul transferred to Kawrou’s body? Why are 9 EVA’s necessary for Instrumentality? What if Asuka had managed to shatter the core of even ONE of the nine – would the ritual need to be postponed? How can Lilith (and by extension Unit 01) “call” to Adam’s Lance despite it not being her own? Can the Tree of Life be created without the Lance? What is the significance of the Tree of Life? Is the Tree necessary to control Instrumentality, and if so why initiate the ritual without the Lance? Why risk Instrumentality being directed by a human medium (i.e. Shinji)? The medium clearly has the capacity to reject Instrumentality. What if Lilith HERSELF rejects Instrumentality? Can She? What if She rejects fusing with Adam’s body? Can She? Can EVA’s substitute Adam and can Unit 01 substitute Lilith in the Instrumentality ritual – again, even without a Lance? What happens to Adam and Lilith (and their respective souls) after Instrumentality is rejected? Why was Yui Ikari’s master plan to wander aimlessly through space for all eternity – human beings can go mad from even a few weeks of complete isolation? Who knows – who cares? Certainly not the writers of the series because they were probably just making up lore as the series progressed – I heard somewhere on the interwebs that Anno forgot that Rei was even a character that existed in the Eva universe after the Ramiel fight because her character arc was apparently finished at that moment.

Admittedly, it is not unusual for writers to progress a plot in such a bottom-up mode by tacking on lore elements as the story progresses; in fact such a mode of writing is the rule instead of the exception (or so I’ve heard from writer autobiographies and interviews). However, the Evangelion Rebuild series (especially 3.33) epitomize Anno’s failure at cohesive world-building by shamelessly and pretentiously reveling in ambiguity to the point that even character motivations become inconsistent – bad lore drags characters down with it. I would recommend that lore elements are unambiguously established to avoid repeating the failures of Hideaki Anno and friends, especially since it is clear that the fan community cares far more about Evangelion than Hideaki Anno does at this point. In my opinion, all serious fanfic writers must be mindful of lore questions such as those posed above and must make serious efforts to address them by establishing “fanfic canon” through means appropriate to each story’s narrative style (i.e. through exposition, argumentative inference, and/or consequence). Although some important lore elements have been canonized already through means appropriate to Veering Left’s writing style, vide infra, RedDestroyer will have to keep the above questions in mind as the story progresses.

Another critical fault in the TV series is its pacing issues. The pacing is schizophrenic: ranging from the lethargic, culminating in half an episode in the short single-season series being devoted to a slideshow of reused chips; to the breakneck as the TV series tries to wrap up and our cast completely lose their minds so quickly and completely that opportunities at character development and exposition are unfortunately lost. Budgetary and/or time constraints are palpable. I would recommend that RedDestroyer give characters and situations “time to breathe” when progressing the plot, but Veering Left already succeeds in this regard (thus far). The fanfic is in my opinion tremendously well-paced, adding original “slice of life” scenes that let characters interact as normal human beings would in the real world through discussions, arguments, and negotiations that are consequential. Repeating all of the original beats of the Anime is both uninteresting and, I think, the hallmark of an inexperienced writer – thankfully, Veering Left currently does not suffer from such a flaw.

However, it should be noted that for people such as myself, the lore and plot development is not why NGE is so beloved. As repeatedly alluded to previously, it is NGE’s characters that outshine the faults in world-building and pacing endemic to the show. The cast is what keep us dear viewers watching Evangelion and craving more content. This content, which inspired individuals conceive in their minds and forge with their hands, is perhaps most beloved when canon characters are portrayed with their canon personalities. Once again, Veering Left does not disappoint: at least in my opinion, all canon characters feel congruent to their canon selves. Veering Left is as far as characters are concerned accurate, engaging, and explicit. Each characters’ “trains of thought” feel appropriate and unique. Characters’ pasts and situated knowledge are divulged through their thoughts and feelings – Veering Left “canon” (lore elements) is also established in this manner. Some original characters are introduced, but they neither detract focus from the main cast nor do they feel inconsequential. Readers may find that even previously uninteresting characters (such as Rei for myself) become fascinating through Veering Left’s touted “train of thought” presentation style. The characters are so well-realized, their motivations and misgivings so true to their Anime-canonical selves, and their interactions so understandable and consistent that I can honestly (thus far) see Veering Left canon replacing TV canon (absent the swearing). In many ways, as I’ll elaborate later when reviewing the individual chapters of this fanfic, Veering Left characterization makes MORE sense that TV characterization.

Veering Left’s writing style is clear and engaging. Necessary style transitions as perspectives shift to different characters occur mostly with success: each character has a fairly well defined “voice” as they think to the reader; such that the reader may infer who is “speaking” without being informed by other characters. The language used is elaborate and occasionally poetic while being entirely purposeful for a given scene or characterization. You may even – as I do - find the language touching and beautiful.

Given the stellar pacing, elaborate character dialogue, and gripping mental schisms portrayed; I would classify Veering Left as an exceptionally ambitious project, rivaled in scope only by the likes of NGE: Genocide and RE-TAKE. Said ambitious project has currently been executed almost flawlessly to the extent that I fear for its future. As far as what I’m looking for in an Evangelion fanfic, Veering Left is simply too good to be true: thus there is a myriad of ways that the rest of the story can be fumbled and only a few ways that a copacetic conclusion to the story can be reached. Earnestly and fervently, I hope that RedDestroyer is as experienced and/or erudite as I suspect he is.

In concluding my general opinion of Veering Left, this fanfic is a MUST-READ for Eva fans and it’s undoubtedly my favourite piece of NGE fan work. READ IT!

I shall return...
Anon chapter 76 . 7/4
I enjoy this fic so far it's very good. I hope you work on next part and we will see it soon because you left us with big cliffhanger and I hope you will finish this chapter soon.
Divine above question chapter 76 . 6/17
Someone explain the plot synopsis. This story is a jumbled mess which I have no clue about.
RealRemainder chapter 76 . 6/17
HEY! ANOTHER ONE! And just a few days later!

-THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THISA REVIEW-

-I got nothing. Very good!

Do not confuse me with Leliel logic...

Another song? Seriously? Well, whatever, I'll remember up to where I made my playlist thanks to my review WITH THE "VEERING LEFT PLAYLIST" MUAHAHAHAHAHA! (I don't know why that needed an evil conclusion and evil laugh...)

Hmmm... I don't know if I like or how I feel about this... Shinji talking to the Angel kind of takes away some of the mysticism, the mystery of the Angel. Therefore it also diminishes the threat of the Angel... Let's see how you handled this.

The Angels don't know about each other? I suppose that makes sense. They... 'come' from adam... huh... never really thought about that or about how confusing that would be... See why this sort of thing diminishes the threat of the Angel?

Shinji in outburst? That's unnusual... Although not in this situation, and not with what happened differently the past few days. Give us your rage Shinji!

? "Cue music"? Seriously? That kind of distracted from the reading...

Shinji needs a chill pill... damn. At least this is what made him break out, right? No, wait, not break out, he found Unit 00. Holy crap that is tense!

NO! DON'T HIDE WHAT REI IS SAYING TO SHINJI FROM ME! GOT DANG IT! WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

HOLY CRAP UNIT 00 IS TEARING OFF ITS OWN RESTRAINTS!

HOLY CRAP UNIT 00 IS BURSTING OUT OF THE ANGEL!

This is VERY intense... But I'm confused, wasn't Unit 01 strugling AGAINST Unit 00 last chapter? Oh wait, more things are happening. Can Rei survive this I wonder? Ah, there it is; Unit 01 strugling AGAINST Unit 00. Awesome.

Oh, crap... something is wrong with Rei's face isn't it? And of course it ends now... This fic has AMAZING cliffhangers... maybe because it comes in small parts, but still; AMAZING cliffhangers. Next one fast as well please?
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