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Why the EVA Unit Is a Terrible Mecha

Updated on September 7, 2017
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Mamerto I. Relativo Jr. is an engineer by profession, but a writer by night. When he is not blogging, he does fiction writing.

I fell in love with Neon Genesis Evangelion when I first saw it. The series is unique in every sense, from the pseudo-religious storyline to the mecha designs. They are beautifully animated with smooth actions and vivid characterizations. I could say that they influenced later mecha iconography, as we started to see sleeker giant robots in later anime shows.

Sadly, the show loses steam as it comes towards the end. Like a badly conditioned boxer that gasses out in the later rounds, the fast-paced action gives way to a gibberish ending that few could understand. The characters don't help either. We are hoping Shinji Ikari will mature into an Amuro Ray-like figure in the end. Instead, he becomes a bigger, world-destroying crybaby that will make you palm your face.

As for the mechas, I love the quick and nimble EVA units. They can’t really be compared to Gundams as they are very unique. They are cool, terrifying, and fierce.

They're also pretty low-tech.

By super robot, or even real robot standards, the EVA units are not exactly advanced. Yes, they are an effective fighting tool. Seeing how one can dismember an Angel despite having a sniveling pilot certainly makes the EVA units no joke. However, the technology they use will leave a modern engineer scratching their head. Being an engineer myself, the EVA unit don’t boggle the mind the same way as other robots have. Here are the reasons why.

1. Getting in Is Not Easy

This is the first problem I see with the EVA units. In the heat of the battle, the last thing you need is not being able to access the cockpit quickly.

The white tube thingy is the entry plug.
The white tube thingy is the entry plug.

To enter the mech, the pilot will first board the entry plug. This is the capsule that houses the cockpit. This will then be inserted into the spine of the unit (in the back of the head).

Inserting the Plug to the Unit 01
Inserting the Plug to the Unit 01

Okay, so they came up with a creative way to let the pilots in. At least I will give them credit for not copying the belly cockpit of the Gundams or the jet flight deck of the Variable Fighters (Macross). The entry plug is a homage to the core fighter of the original Gundam and the Jet Plider of Mazinger Z, but do note that it can’t fly. It is just an unpowered capsule with the pilot’s cabin inside. And you need a crane to insert the thing into the mecha. You heard that right, entry is not exactly as smooth as other giant robots. What if you are in the field and you have no heavy equipment, or man power to insert the plug?

2. They Are Powered by a Stupid Umbilical Cord

As an engineer, I found this rather laughable. Why connect a moving vehicle to a stationary power source? Yes, I understand that it takes massive amounts of energy to make a large unit move. After all, an EVA unit could reach a height of 129 feet or more. But why rely on a source that could hinder a unit's flexibility?

The thing on the back is a power umbilical cord, which will remind you of a cellphone charger.
The thing on the back is a power umbilical cord, which will remind you of a cellphone charger.

Any good soldier knows that mobility is the key to victory. In real life, an EVA unit will have trouble moving around with a large wire hanging on its back. What if the thing gets snagged in a corner, or an Angel severs the wire in a fight? It was a good thing that they came up with the S2 Engine. This guarantees an unlimited operating time and less awkward movements.

3. They Cannot Fly

In The End of Evangelion, the EVA-01 sprouted wings. But throughout the show, they stayed rooted on the ground and preferred slugging it out.

At least they can run!
At least they can run!

This is too bad since coming up with a means for flight could give the mechs an unparalleled advantages over the Angels. But the developers chose to limit its mobility on the ground. Non-flying mecha have many disadvantage, from limited agility to logistics. A cargo jet is required to transport the unit. That’s why in a real fight, I’ll put my money on the Variable Fighters or the Gundams over the EVAs as they can fly way above their reach.

4. They Can Only Be Piloted by Overly Emotional Teenagers

This is probably the sole reason why I won't buy an EVA unit. When the world is in danger, I'll look for other giant robots.

Would you trust the fate of mankind on someone like this?
Would you trust the fate of mankind on someone like this?

I always wondered why they chose a big baby like Shinji Ikari to shoulder the responsibility of protecting the world. They just put the fate of humanity in the hands of an emotionally troubled teenager. Asuka Langley is a better choice, until she ran away and hid naked in a bathtub. Sure, they have Rei Ayanami, but she couldn’t handle it alone. There are better people out there, why settle for immature teens? As it turns out, they don’t have much of a choice. For some reason, only children whose mother died in the Second Impact could pilot the EVA units. The people who ran NERV had no idea that they just sealed humanity’s fate. It was Shinji’s fault that all life on Earth was reduced to a primordial soup in The End of Evangelion.

5. Harder to Maintain

This monster of a machine requires monster effort to maintain. Saving the world suddenly became a monstrous undertaking.

Keeping the EVA unit in cryostasis is one way of maintaining it.
Keeping the EVA unit in cryostasis is one way of maintaining it.

To keep the EVA unit in working order, you need an army of specialists, staff workers, an underground complex, and specialized equipment. You also need to keep the monsters in cryostasis as these are a biological cyborg after all. They are more demanding than normal mecha, being made of flesh and blood. In the case of the Variable Fighters in Macross, maintenance is the same as normal jets. Some units of Gundams are even hardier. In the Wing series, the mobile suits are subjected to abuse with little to no care.

6. Costly to Maintain and Operate

As noted above, maintenance of these mechas require an insane amount of staff and equipment.

And all of that stuff costs a crap ton of money.

That is just the maintenance cost. We have yet to add the ammunition, weapons, pilot training, energy bill, and everything else needed to send the EVA into combat.

7. Made of Flesh and Blood

The bigger you are, the more fragile you become. A creature with flesh and blood will collapse on its own weight once it reaches a gigantic size.

Underneath its armor, the EVA is an organic bio-weapon.
Underneath its armor, the EVA is an organic bio-weapon.

But assuming that the EVA units are structurally different, with bones and muscles different from normal creatures, being organic still presents a different set of problems. The cyborg EVAs are less hardy than normal metallic mechas. The flesh and blood could become diseased when ignored, and I’m still wondering where NERV gets the spare parts for repair.

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    • profile image

      bariumfox 10 days ago

      episode 1 actually makes it clear theyre not mechas

    • profile image

      Xyc 3 weeks ago

      Evangelion is not Gundam. You can’t compare them

    • profile image

      Christian 4 weeks ago

      Except EVA's are not mechas.

      SPOILER

      It's a monster in an electronic-controlled armour.

    • profile image

      Mamerto I. Relativo Jr. 6 weeks ago

      Thanks Kosse Moore for stopping by!

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      Kosse moore 6 weeks ago

      Yeah, the eva's design philosophy was definitely driven by the symbolic ideaology of the show. Because yeah, a 5 minute battery is totally useless. Personally i thought these odd little limitations gave the writing team interesting concepts to write the characters out of. The designs certainly are not great for mecha combat overall when conpared to other shows. But the limitations certainly gave a different flavor to mech battles. Great read!

    • Mamerto profile image
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      Mamerto I Relativo Jr 2 months ago from Cabuyao

      Well animes could be silly sometimes, but I love them. In fact their silliness are their charm hehe.

    • profile image

      Tamara Moore 2 months ago

      I use a lot of Anime pics in my posts and i found this to be quite entertaining...lol.

    • Mamerto profile image
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      Mamerto I Relativo Jr 2 months ago from Cabuyao

      Thanks for stopping by Jeremy! Right now I'm watching the rebuild series and I could say it still have the charm if the original series. Newer anime fans must see this! Together with the Gundams, Ghost in the shell and Miyasaki animes, this is a certified legend.

    • Jeremy Gill profile image

      Jeremy Gill 2 months ago from Louisiana

      Enjoyed the read, and I hope Evangelion reaches newer generations of anime fans.

      Another popular complaint about the series is the final two episodes, which contained almost no actual ending. At that point, the makers of the show essentially ran out of money, and literally couldn't afford to create new animations.

      Considering that, I think they did okay with what they had (almost nothing), but objectively the final two are quite dismal; thankfully, the movie End of Evangelion alleviated the issue.

    • Mamerto profile image
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      Mamerto I Relativo Jr 2 months ago from Cabuyao

      Why thank you Norman for some feedbacks :)

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      norman 2 months ago

      and the ignorance of the article is too terrible:

      1. it was intended to be close near the Eva's brain, so it can be controlled properly

      2. the umbilical cord in Evangelion is not intented to POWERUP the Eva. it was intended to CONTROL the Evangelion.

      3. LOL. this guy obviously had no idea about EoE

      4. because ITS A MUST. and oh I forgot, being "connected" is important too, thats why the main recipe in creating an Evangelion is to put the "soul" of the pilot's relative (mostly moms) to make it synchronized

      5. the year of Evangelion rolls in year 2k. so yeah.

      6. its not costly if the world depends on it LOL (remember Pacific Rim bruuuuh)

      7. what grind my gears? Evangelions are BIOmechs. what do you expect?