Theory and Analysis:Shinji and Asuka's interactions in End of Evangelion
"The person in charge exists to take responsibility."
"We've seen it. The proof of its construction was very useful."
The first part of the movie opens with Shinji seeking comfort and attention from a hospitalized Asuka, as she is asleep (likely drug-induced) and unable to respond.
Increasingly desperate, Shinji shakes the girl's body, attempting to wake her up, until he inadvertently rips her shirt open and exposes her breasts. It is at this point that all the pent-up frustration and attraction, that the boy felt for Asuka, push him to masturbate right next to her. A rash and violent decision which ends up being the cause of Shinji's temporary breakdown.
It should be noted that, at this point of the story, Shinji perceives Asuka to be the only person whose love could help him recover and feel better, as he admits to her that he is scared of Rei and Misato.
During the later stages of the episode, in her fight against the MPEs, Asuka, who found in her mother's soul the support she needed to recover, makes a comment about Shinji's absence: "Jeez! Don't they ever stop!? And I can't even count on that idiot Shinji!!".
Taking place, nearly in its entirety, during Instrumentality, it allows Asuka and Shinji to confront each other in a way they never could in the series. Often times it is impossible to determine with certainty if the characters are themselves or just a projection, a limited representation of who they really are. Regardless of this, the four main exchanges between Asuka and Shinji are worthy of individual analysis.
What is, however, worth noticing when it comes to the bigger picture, is that the second and fourth exchanges are essentially twisted retakes of events from the show; respectively, Asuka and Shinji's disastrous kiss from Episode 15, and Shinji confronting Asuka with Kaji's death in Episode 24. What is notable here is that these moments, while not outright unimportant to Shinji in and of themselves, are arguably of much greater and central importance to Asuka's character arc than they are to his. Both events can be summed up as moments where Shinji has inadvertently done profound and deep emotional damage to Asuka. Where the first event started Asuka on her course to towards the edge, the second was by all appearances what finally pushed her over it. What both cases also have in common, is that Shinji was by all means more or less oblivious to the full extend of the harm these moments did to Asuka. Here, however, Asuka is finally able to make it clear just how deeply he has failed her and lets him have it with both barrels.
The first is as brief as it is important to understand Asuka's instinctive and superficial dislike of Shinji throughout the series.
Asuka:"The sight of you makes me so irritated!"
Shinji:"It's because we are similar."
The exchange in question relates to the psychological concept of shadow (one of the terms to appear during Asuka's mind-violation in ep.22). To express it in "technical" terms, the shadow is an "unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one's personality". Essentially, in Asuka's case, she rejects the part of herself she deems unacceptable in an attempt to maintain a positive image of herself as an independent and mature person. Shinji embodies Asuka's shadow. He represents all that Asuka fears to accept about herself: an insecure person always in need of other people's acceptance and love. As such, clashing with him on a regular basis causes Asuka to shift onto Shinji part of the hatred she feels for herself. To put it in simpler terms: she hates Shinji because she hates herself. The moment she will succeed to accept herself for how she is, she will also finally manage to truly love and accept Shinji. It should be pointed out that, here, Shinji seems to fully understand Asuka, but the awareness he shows is gone in the following interactions.
Visually the exchange also says a lot; Asuka's face is livid with anger and disgust with Shinji, yet they are in a very intimate situation, being naked in a bed together. And what is especially notable is the fact that Asuka is explicitly portrayed as being the dominant part in the situation: she is on top of Shinji and has him effectively pinned down. He is not able get away from her because she refuses to let him go, even in spite of the negative emotions he awakens in her. Also notable is the fact that though the two of them are shown to be together, neither of their faces are shown in the same shot. In cinematography, such a shot reverse shot technique is often used to imply a disconnect between two characters.
Their second exchange tackles Shinji's inability to help and understand Asuka. It re-enacts the lead up to their kiss (from Episode 15), though inter-spliced with Misato rejecting Asuka's request to borrow some of her lavender perfume, and telling her that it is "not for kids", which seems to imply that Asuka's obsession with being seen as mature and adult, at least partially played into her motivation for instigating the kiss.
Regardless, the scene plays out as it originally did, but the kiss itself is then replaced by Asuka's accusations.
Asuka: "It's not like you understand me at all. Don't come near me."
Asuka: "You think you understand me? You think you can help me? Now that's really arrogant! You couldn't possibly understand me."
It essentially translates Asuka's frustration after the kiss into words, expressing the way she feels about Shinji's density. It's interesting to note that Asuka, while angry at Shinji, is not hiding her need to be understood and helped, as opposed to what she did in the real life version of the scene. It is worth adding that Shinji's feelings of sexual frustration is also emphasized here, as several rapid, but still lingering shots from his point of view focuses on Asuka's eyes, lips, cleavage, neck and shoulders, and legs, as she makes her accusations, as if to imply that the more physical side of his attraction to her acts as an additional barrier for their communication, at least for him.
A hopeless Shinji then proceeds to express his exasperation at her.
Shinji: "There's no way I could understand you. Because you don't say anything, Asuka. You never say anything, and you expect me to understand you, when you don't even talk at all? That's impossible!".
This is certainly the most fitting back and forth to express the main issue in their relationship: communication. Shinji believes that, if Asuka does not actively explain him everything she feels, he cannot understand her. He does not understand that people have their own insecurities and emotional needs. Rei also questions him on this:
Rei: Ikari, did you really try to understand?
Shinji sullenly insists that he did, but Asuka immediately throws it in his face, leading to...
The third exchange relates purely to the physical/sexual attraction that exists between the two, not to be mistaken with romantic love. Because Shinji has already been able to access Misato's memories, there is no reason to believe this is not the real Asuka since they are already inside Instrumentality. However, here she no longer has the inhibitions that would prevent her from openly expressing herself in a real-life scenario.
Asuka: "Idiot! I know that I'm your jerk-off fantasy. Go ahead and do it as usual, I'll be here and watch. If you cannot be mine and mine only, I don't even want you."
In the original Japanese, Asuka uses the idiomatic expression "I know you've been using me as a side dish". In Japanese, "using something as a side dish" is an expression for using something or someone for one's erotic fantasies, but with the underlying implication that the person using the "side dish" is too scared to actually act on their feelings. As such, Asuka might even be implying that Shinji could have had the "real thing" before, but hesitated.
Asuka is shown to express awareness of Shinji's attraction for her, something she had known since the end of ep.9, but likely received further confirmation of, during Instrumentality. An interest which seems, to an extent, reciprocated. That is where the lack of inhibitions comes into play; all the issues Asuka has with Shinji's personality don't seem to affect her interest in him here, as they did throughout the series. The only condition she sets is for him to be hers only, representing Asuka's possessive and jealous nature.
Additionally, Asuka shows that she is not only aware that Shinji has masturbated to her in the hospital, but clearly implies it is in fact a habit of his. That she is still willing to accept this in a sense might indicate how much she also wants his affections, as long as they are committed. In fact, in an earlier EoE script, Shinji would not masturbate in the hospital, but instead go back home after seeing her exposed breasts, and then masturbate in his room, with superimposed images of breasts (similar to what Shinji sees when he is asked by Lilith-Rei what he wishes for just before entering Instrumentality) and even his face as he ejaculated.
Asuka is demanding here that Shinji return her attempts at affection, she demands reciprocity, even if she also unwilling to give it back herself. However, Shinji responds...
Shinji: Then, be nice to me...
Asuka/Misato/Rei: We are nice to you.
Shinji: LIARS!! You're all just hiding behind a smile! You just want to keep things ambiguous!
Shinji, at this moment, is too unstable and insecure and reverts to thinking that Asuka, as well as Misato and Rei, should somehow just revolve around him, as he is unwilling to navigate the ambiguity, insecurity and emotional needs of others, a crucial part of human relationships. Rather, Shinji wants things to be clear-cut and easy, and for people to simply exist to serve his needs, without him having to do anything for them himself or to actually earn their affection. This is symbolized most of all with Asuka, who actively refuses to just be his "doll".
Rei: Because the truth hurts us all... Because it's very, very distressing.
Shinji: But ambiguity only makes me insecure.
Rei: That's just an excuse...
It is only by the end of the movie that Shinji starts to realize and accept this.
The last and longest exchange is, in a sense, opposite to the first one. Here it is Asuka to fully comprehend Shinji's nature. In the series she had shown to understand him, but never to such an extent. Taking place in a fake version of their living room (similar to ep.24), Shinji approaches Asuka in an attempt to help her only to be met by her rejection. This scene also directly parallels their kiss in Episode 15. Because Asuka interpreted Shinji's inaction not as simply passivity, insecurity or lack of experience, but instead as outright rejection, she feels clearly hurt about this, which can be heard very clearly in her tone of voice in the original Japanese, which her voice almost breaking. Rejecting Shinji's pleas here, in her mind, also count as payback.
Asuka:"...Stay away from me, because all you do is hurt me."
Once again, she doesn't deny her need for help, but, unlike in their second exchange, she proceeds to turn Shinji's words against him, exposing his real intentions. In truth, Shinji's attempts to help Asuka are simply a selfish way to gain her love and acceptance.
Asuka:"You're scared of both Misato and First, and your mother and father..."
She then proceeds to accuse him of not loving anyone, not even himself. The accusation in question should not be interpreted as an inability to feel but as an inability to translate the feelings to meaningful acts of love. Asuka is unwilling to serve as just Shinji's escape and emotional crutch, and thinks Shinji is unable to return any affections and treat her as a human being. The scene ends with Shinji begging for someone to love him and not leave him alone, only to be met with Asuka's final rejection. Shinji snaps at this, prompting him to strangle her.
One More Final
The final sequence of the movie. Taking place at the end of Instrumentality, it shows Asuka and Shinji lying on a beach, in front of Rei's remains. There is evidence that that Asuka made the conscious decision to live as an individual and returned from Instrumentality, similarly to Shinji, and has even chosen to lay down at his side. As Shinji notices the girl, he moves towards her and begins to strangle her, without a clear reason. The generally accepted interpretation is that he was trying to determine whether she was real or if they were still experiencing Instrumentality. Asuka's reaction comes as a surprise; she caresses him, an act of acceptance meant to symbolize Asuka's growth. Instead of reacting to him with aggression or hostility as she has done many times before, she reacts with compassion, gentleness and affection.
n the same way her hatred for Shinji could be seen as misdirected hatred for herself, so is her kindness towards him indicative of self-acceptance. She can finally accept him for who he is, because she can accept herself. This is done echoing the way his mother Yui caressed Shinji just before he returned to the real world. Taken aback by her caress, Shinji begins to cry.
The ambivalence and duality in this scene represent the fact that they are not yet completely healthy and changed, but are beginning to open themselves to this change.
Additionally, they are the only two characters present in the final scene of End of Evangelion, as their interactions there bring Evangelion's themes of the need for human communication, and the difficulty in doing so, full circle. The ending is deliberately ambiguous about the fate of their relationship. The immensely bleak post-Third Impact setting, the violence involved in Shinji's attempted strangulation of Asuka, and the disgust implicit in her final line  leave the impression that no healthy friendship or relationship is possible beyond this stage. However, process of Instrumentality and return to human form depicted in the movie makes it clear that both of them have learned to grow, change and accept themselves as part of moving on to a better future. A positive outcome for the two of them together (whether romantic or platonic) cannot be completely ruled out.
The movie leaves open where they will go from there, but even after all the grievous death and destruction throughout the movie, and even though they are still only starting to grow, it still gives them this hope, as long as they pursue it. They are now able to accept one another, and if they are able to grow and change, they can be happy.
- Ogata actually choking Miyamura for the EoE scenes was clearly consensual, despite rumours to the contrary.
MO: I'm delighted that you think I sounded natural as if I was doing ad-libs. I don't remember doing anything experimental. There was a time when I actually pushed Yuko Miyamura to the floor to strangle her during the last scene of the "Evangelion" movie in which Shinji strangles Asuka. I couldn't act very well in playing that scene. I was so agitated that I strangled her too hard, making it impossible for her to say her lines for a while. Of course, I apologized to her for doing that. I almost killed her. - Statements by Evangelion Staff - Megumi Ogata on fandom and choking Yuko Miyamura
CF: Did Megumi Ogata (Shinji) really strangle you while recording the voices for the End Of Evangelion to get a realistic performance?
YM: Yes, she did. I tried many times to make it sound like I was being strangled, but I couldn’t get it right. So, Megumi Ogata helped me make realistic sounds by actually strangling me. She’s nice isn’t she!? - Gold Coast Film Festival 2010
- 24. Opening of a Dream (Piano – Leave It To Version)
Shinji’s independence that he bid farewell to his mother and chose to live in the world of others despite the fact that he would hurt others is portrayed in this song with a somewhat sad piano solo. It is as if it suggested the relationship between the project of EVANGELION and the audiences. - Refrain of Evangelion booklet interview
- Kimochi Warui is when the speaker most literally expresses a "bad feeling" and translated variously depending on context as "I feel sick", "What a disgusting feeling", and so on.
- "That's the hard part. I don't know how it will turn out yet. I want to make a happy ending, but it's difficult to say what is happy. The movie version is happy in its own way. Humans are nothing when they are born and at the moment of death, so if the process of living is not enjoyable, they cannot live. Shinji had a hard time, but he wanted to live. That's why he's happy." - Sadamoto, Newtype Dec 1997