Ritsuko (OFF):“Just think about walking right now.”
Soluzar: Looks a lot like Shinji is piloting the Eva with physical controls, much like any other giant mecha, doesn't it? Makes you wonder if the animators knew that this was not the case.
Reichu: Probably Shinji doesn't know any better at this point. He's thrown inside a "giant robot" he knows absolutely nothing about; there are hand levers inside; it's only natural for him to put his hands on them.
Shin-seiki: My theory on the reason the entry plugs have levers for the pilots to manipulate while controlling the Evas is tied to the notion that utilizing the motor cortex of the pilots' brain to actually do something physically (as opposed to simply visualizing in one's mind the action one wants the Eva to perform) probably produces a much more effective 'brain wave impulse' for the Eva/pilot neural link to key on, and thus produce the synchronized movement by the Eva. Of course, from the animators' standpoint, it is certainly more effective visually speaking, to have the pilots do something to correlate with the actions of the Evas, instead of just sitting there, thinking about what they want the Evas to do…
Dr. Nick: Of course, the levers also help the pilots to stay on their seats during combat — just look at Asuka during the harpy-fight (#25'), for example.