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Is Being an EVA Pilot Stressful?

Mamerto Adan is a feature writer who is back in college once again. Science is one of his favorite topics.


"Evangelion" Ending as an EVA Unit

I have never liked an overly emotional person. They are the type that will find a reason to be sad despite it being a bright day outside. What is worse is that their misery is contagious, and it is wise to avoid such people if you are thinking of living a competitive and happy life. And in a nightmarish scenario where Shinji Ikari would come to life, I think I’ll avoid him. Yes, nobody understands him, but do understand that I need to stay optimistic to gain a competitive advantage in my career.

And now that we speak of Shinji, I love to poke-fun at his lack of resolve. He was doing well in the start of the series, but halfway until the garbled end, he just gets worse. If we will take Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion as the true ending, Shinji Ikari is not the type of person you could consider as hero. He basically cried his way throughout the movie without even making a stand. And after being convinced that he is a waste of space, there goes the Thrid Impact and humanity was reduced to a sea of orange juice.

But just to be fair to Shinji Ikari, maybe he has a good reason to be miserable. Defending the whole world against raving abstract figures is no joke, considering that his every mission might be his last. I will try to put myself in his shoes just to see how stressful it is to go inside an EVA unit.


There is a strong potential that this article will offend some fans. I will remind you that what will you see below is nothing canon, just an opinion of the author. If you still get offended, then it's better to discuss it in the comment section below. Now enough said, let’s move on.

Shinji at the start of the series.

Shinji at the start of the series.

Shinji Was No Fighter

First, we need to consider that Shinji is no fighter to begin with.

Yes, mecha lead pilots sometimes start as normal people with normal lives. And before his dad forced him inside the Unit 01, Shinji was just a normal boy. Well, a socially awkward normal boy. Though this is not explained in the series, I have a hunch that being a total nobody affected the kid’s fighting spirit. Even worse, he lost his mom and lived with a sour dad, not something healthy for a growing preteen.

In short, his less than blessed existence made him timid and passive. And being passive never makes a good fighter.

Well, as I entered adulthood I realized that there are ways to overcome those teenage problems. The awkwardness will disappear once we are subjected to the harshness of life. We strengthen as we mature and that’s the reason why some fans hated Shinji for not improving in the end.

The reason I’m saying this is because if you are a timid kid, you will have a hard time adjusting to the violent life of an EVA pilot. He is simply not qualified for the job and the battlefield could be too much for him. With that said, his dad also has faults.

I'll surely freak out if I see this.

I'll surely freak out if I see this.

Being Forced To Pilot A Mecha Without Previous Experience

Again, Shinji is a very passive preteen, and in the start of the series, he is about to get the shock of his life. His dad just ordered him to get into a massive mecha to fight a giant monster savaging Tokyo. With such a timid heart, I now understand why he freaked out. He and Misato barely got out alive and there he is being forced to risk his life. What's worse is that it was his dad who spat the order. He didn’t just ask, he ordered. If you’re a boy who grew up with Gendo Ikari as your father, how would you feel to hear an alienated dad push you around? If not, he will force an injured girl (a clone of your mom) to take your place.

Digesting the shock is just the start. With a noob like him inside the cockpit of a forbidding machine, terrible thoughts swirled inside his head like, what if I die, how will I die, if dying hurts, how the hell would I control this thing, how can I fight, and much more.

Insufficient Training

Yes, I know that there are severe shortages of EVA pilots. Desperation seems to drive the people of NERV to push Shinji inside the EVA unit and almost to certain death. But Shinji survived and everything is okay now.

But not so fast…

Shinji won, but at least give him proper training after. And when we say proper training, I mean the training that fits the boy’s job. Shinji is now a soldier and he has to undergo basic military training. This means that simulated battles with CG targets are not enough. In real life, pilots and tank crews will eat dust at the boot camp. The daily beatings will help them prepare for battle both physically and mentally. The camp will change you, and we will see a different Shinji if NERV even considered throwing him into the mercy of a drill sergeant.

Again, I’m saying this because stress will arrive if you find yourself in a situation where you are clueless about what you will do. But training brings confidence, not to mention reduces the likelihood of a terrible death.

They let Shinji end up like this.

They let Shinji end up like this.

No Therapy To Deal With Stresses

NERV spent an undefined amount of money to keep the whole Angel defense force going. Paying the employees’ salaries costs millions, while keeping the high maintenance mecha in perfect form requires a ton of money. If that’s the case, NERV should invest on their men’s psychological and psychiatric health. In real life, soldiers suffering from battlefield trauma will undergo special therapy to get over the horrors of war. Shinji could be considered a civilian pilot turned military, and his condition required special care. Aside from an emo kid with social problems, we have the broken Misato and the disturbed Asuka. NERV could have benefited greatly if they ever considered giving their staff therapy. I mean, they don’t have to waste time finding the missing Asuka in a tub! Nevertheless, with zero regard to their staff’s health, they just made piloting an EVA a highly stressful job. And we can put the blame on them for causing Shinji to trigger the Third Impact.

Asuka's nightmare fuel.

Asuka's nightmare fuel.

The Constant Threat Of A Horrid Death

When I go to work, I always fear that I will make mistakes. That is nothing compared to what Shinji must go through. Remember that he was a wimpy emo kid without prior combat experiences. He receives little training to condition him to the stresses of combat. With that said, the fear of dying inside the horrid biological mecha triples. I will do a separate article on how gruesome an EVA pilot's death is, but the thing here is that death always looms inside the cockpit of the EVA. For Shinji, that entry plug is a potential coffin.

And death could come in many forms.

If being blown to bits is bad enough, how about being driven mad by some Angel curse (as what happened to Asuka). Though in the end, the EVA unit is a lot safer to pilot than most mecha, but that’s another article.

Closing Thoughts

Sometimes I feel it is wrong to poke fun at Shinji because in the end he is not a warrior and had no desire to be one. He is simply not a qualified pilot. NERV should find a better one, or hone the kid to man him up. But then again, where is the fun of watching if they remove the wimpy Shinji crying inside the entry plug. And it’s Anno who made him, what do you expect?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Mamerto Adan