"Why I Love Asuka"

by Nate Z

            When I first got onto the Internet and started talking in message boards and the like, I thought a lot of my female friends were crazy. They had crushes on Transformers: Beast Wars characters. This just didn't make sense to me, as not only are the Maximals and Predacons fictional characters, but they aren't even human. (A guy's attraction to Black Arachnia could be summed up in two words at least.)

            After becoming more acquainted with the world of cyberspace over the years, I found this is rather common. Girls online would gush over cartoon and Anime characters like cheerleaders would over the Backstreet Boys or 'Nsync. A few years before she passed away, I learned even my Gramma had a small crush on Martian Sheen's character on "The West Wing."

            Then, less than a year ago, my Dad and I discover this little thing called "KaZaA" and start downloading "Anime Music Videos," or "AMVs." Out of curiosity, we downloaded and watched some AMVs dedicated to this little Anime called "Neon Genesis Evangelion." Maybe you've heard of it? Wanting to know exactly what was going on in these sweet vids, my Dad picked up the first volumes on video from the local library.

            Now, we own the entire series plus the two movies on DVD, and while I still don't know all of what's going on, I think on some level, this Anime has changed my life. And like the title of this essay suggests, I think I love Asuka Langley Sohryu.

            No, I'm not saying that I'm in love with her. I'm not saying that if the Second Child were to suddenly appear in my lap, we'd never leave my bed. For one, she's underage. Second, she'd probably castrate me if I tried. Third, I do not love her in that way. One of the things that really bugs me about today's society is that it doesn't seem to understand there are many kinds of love out there. To most people, if you say you love someone outside of your family, it's a sign you want to jump into bed with them. Guys aren't "supposed" to say it to other guys, and if one does, it instantly means that he's homosexual. I could go on and on about this, but that's for another essay.

            I know saying that I love an Anime character may not be that big of a deal, certainly not worth writing an essay about. I could say I love May from "Hand Maid May" for being such a sweetheart. I could say that I love Faye Valentine from "Cowboy Bebop" for being such badass. The list goes on, and I'm sure as hell not gonna write an essay for everyone on it.

            So why write this one? Well, when I say "I love Asuka," it feels different. Like I'm saying that I love a friend. This fascinates me. After all, I opened this work saying that I didn't understand how girls could form crushes on fictional characters, and here I am professing my love for one. So, I thought about it, tried to figure out the "why," and this is what I've come up with:

            First off, let me get this out of the way by saying that Asuka is hot. I mean, look at her! Don't believe me? Watch episodes nine and ten. Yes, I know I just said she's underage, but frankly, that's hard for me to remember sometimes. A friend of mine once said Anime's age 15 is like our 18, and he's right. Asuka certainly looks older than she is.

            Second, Asuka is a girl. Yes, I know that was a painfully obvious statement, but as of late, I've noticed something about myself: I seem to . . . I guess the term would be "gravitate" more toward the female sex. Ask me who my favorite singer is, I'll list off names like Lisa Loeb, Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne, Vanessa Carlton, Nelly Furtado, etcetera. My favorite comic book is Spider-Girl. Ask me who my favorite NGE character is after Asuka, I'll probably say Rei or Misato, maybe even Hikari (depending on which episode I've seen last).

            This pattern holds true in my personal relationships as well. Out off my three siblings, I get along best with and am closest to my only sister. My best friend and closest confidant is my girlfriend. I have an online diary, and the only other person who has the URL is my friend Kendra. While I've told all of my friends that I love them at some point and in some shape or form, I only say it straight and without hesitation to the women in my life. Ask me who I think knows me best, and most of the names will probably be all female, plus God. And even God is argued by many to be female. (I like that idea a lot, but mostly because it really ticks off the religious fanatics and I like to step on certain people's toes. It's just the way She made me. *grin*)

            This "attraction" is unintentional, but it's there. I didn't even notice it myself until a friend pointed out that I seem to like a lot of female singers. There's probably all sorts of psychological reasons for this, but damned if I know any of them.

            Anyway, onto the meat of the subject. I love Asuka because I get her. I relate to her, understand (for the most part) how her mind works. We're two sides of the same coin. We both suffer from horrible self images. We both want desperately to prove we exist, to leave our marks on the world. We both want to be loved. We just have very different ways of dealing with it.

            While I tend to take my self image as is, Asuka fights it. She strives with all of her being to become something, and once she's established herself in a role (say maybe, an Eva pilot?), she defends it even more fiercely. Yes, she's loud, obnoxious, (seemingly) arrogant and basically, a real bitch.

            But you can't exactly ignore someone like that, can you?

            Even my Mom, who's an expert at blocking out all the Anime in the house, has to acknowledge that Asuka is there. (Though her opinion of Asuka is quite different from mine.)

            I admire that she's able to do that, maybe even envy it. Her "Great Asuka" act is very convincing, flawless 90% of the time. I had almost no idea that it was a cover until later in the series. Yes, it was obvious she felt threatened by Shinji and Rei, but that's natural. As I stated earlier, Asuka wants to defend what makes her special in the eyes of others and herself. Who wouldn't?

            Another part of my love for Asuka stems from my previously stated "attraction" toward the female sex. When I see a girl in emotional distress, I want to help her. Whether I know her or not. Once in my college biology class, I saw a girl about to cry after getting her exam back. I wanted to go to her. When reading a girl's online diary entry about how she cut herself, I wanted to send her an e-mail, telling her it would all be okay, even though I didn't fully understand the situation. I do everything I can to let my friends know that I am there for them no matter what.

            I don't think they come more emotionally distressed than Asuka. Whenever I watch the episode with the sixteenth Angel, I want to be there for her. I want to be waiting for her when she gets off the elevator with Rei and wrap my arm around her shoulder. I want to rip open the entry plug and get her as far away from Tokyo-3 as possible. When watching the episodes after that, that want is increased. I want to do what Misato and Hikari wouldn't. What Shinji couldn't. I want to reach into the screen and hold her, let her cry into my shoulder. I want to let her know that it will all be okay, and that she's still worthy to be the Second Child. I want her to know that it's perfectly all right to cry.

            Of course, while I love Asuka, that's not to say I love everything about her. No matter how much you love someone, they have some characteristic(s) that drive you nuts. And as much I love her and hate him, I really wish Asuka would treat Shinji better. Most of it is shown in a comedic tone, and I admit I almost always laugh. One of my favorite scenes from episode eleven is "You dare look up my dress I kill you." It's funny as hell, but as I laugh, I'm usually thinking "But he wasn't looking up your dress, Asuka!" And then there are times when I don't think it's funny at all.  The perfect example of this would be the episode I simply refer to as "The Kiss."

            First, call me what you will, but I think the only time it's okay to kiss out of boredom is if you're already romantically involved with that person. Otherwise, it just seems mean. Second, you shouldn't run out of the room when the kiss is over. Third, you don't rinse out your mouth loud enough for the other person to hear! As much as I hate Shinji (another essay for another time), he doesn't deserve that. Had she done it to me, I might have punched her lights out.

            There are also times when her attitude bugs me and a few lines when her voice grates my nerves.

            Asuka is also the main reason I loathe and despise the Evangelion movies. Oh, there are others, the ones I usually tell people. The way it's set up is a rip off. It's the most confusing thing you will ever see. Some scenes are just plain disturbing.

            One of those scenes, of course, being Asuka's horrible, terrible death. I wouldn't wish that on my most hated enemies, so it's only worse that it's happening to someone I care so much about, whether they be fictional or not. And it's not so much the gore of the death. She died as what she would see as a failure. She never defeated an Angel on her own. Shinji eventually surpassed her as a pilot. Everything she worked so hard to accomplish was taken from her.

            I don't think I'll ever be able to watch those movies again, even if I wanted too.

            Well, there you have it, the reasons that I love Asuka Langley Sohryu, a fictional Anime character. I'm still not exactly sure how I love her (as a friend? sister?), I just know that I'm not in love with her. Is it a sign that I need extensive therapy? Possibly, but I don't think so. If anything, I think it's beneficial. Maybe my admiration of her will inspire me to find the courage needed to fight my own self image. Create my own version of "Nate the Great" and try to prove that I exist with that.

            In closing, I'd like to say if any of my old gal pals are reading this, and I made fun of your crush on Dinobot or Vegeta, feel free to turn the tables.

            But a least Asuka is human! :P