Fine-Tuned: Shot Analysis of Shinji’s Runaway in Evangelion

‘Runaway’ scene from Evangelion shot-breakdown

03:54 – Shot of front of train with train noises. Raining. Colours dark and gloomy.

03:57 – Close-up of bag on top of train. Voices announce arrival at station.

04:00 – Shot of Shinji from angle. Hair covers his eyes, expressionless. Emphasizes detachment.

04:03 – Extreme close-up of music player. Clicking noise. Very soft music indicates change in track.

04:07 – Shot of interior train from top view. Shinji close-to-centered amidst crowd. Music from his music player can be heard. Shinji turned insignificant by the angle of the shot.

04:12 – Dissolve into shot of less people.

04:17 – Dissolve into shot of less people. Ambient music from player has still been playing.

04:21 – Dissolve into shot of less people. A man fallen asleep next to Shinji with book on his face.

04:26 – Dissolve into Shinji Alone. The bag on top of him makes you realize the close-up at the start was Shinji’s bag.

04:30 – Extreme close-up of music player. Clicking noise. Indicates another track change or repeated track.

04:33 – Front shot of Shinji, head downwards. Rain can be seen through windows. Buildings huge black monoliths.

04:45 – Dissolve into shot with two extra schoolgirls at Shinji’s sides. Girl talks but no words come out.

04:49 – Dissolve into Shinji’s form squeezed between the two schoolgirl skirts.

04:53 – Same shot, train enters tunnel turning the whole train compartment pure black with brief silhouette.

04:56 – Fade to black. Clicking noise of music player. Music was playing from 04:33 till 04:53 when sound was drowned out by roar of tunnel.

04:59 – Sudden cut back to front shot of Shinji. His full form can be seen. Head is still tilted down. Train has stopped. City in the background blur as if soft-focus. Announcement that train is terminated.

05:21 – Shinji looks up and says that he has to go back. Anno let the announcement and silence carry on for 22 seconds before Shinji looks up just to accentuate the detachment.

05:24 – Extreme close-up. Music player clicks.

05:25 – Shot close-up of puddle of water in a street reflecting a couple of neon-lighted stores. Noise of people selling their ‘goods’. Reveals to be red-light district.

05:28 – Sideway close-up of Shinji carrying bag. Close-up on the bag. The lights behind blurred like soft focus as Shinji walks not listening to the talking of sleazy pimps and prostitutes trying to sell their wares.

05:31 – Close up sideways profile of Shinji’s face. Still listening to music through earpieces.

05:33 – Sudden cut to flashing light with screaming. A movie camera light from front view.

05:35 – The whole cinema is shown in establishing shot. Cinema mostly empty. Shinji is at the very corner. Sounds from movie plays. Flashing light of movie camera continues.

05:39 – Shot of one of the seats. Ragged feet with socks sticking up obviously from a beggar sleeping.

05:41 – Top down view of a beggar sleeping on the floor of cinema stretching his body the length of 3 seats. Movie is about First Impact.

05:43 – Shot of front of cinema. Man stretched out with sunglasses reading a book and ignoring film.

05:44 – Shot of couple from back.

05:47 – Far away shot of Shinji watching movie with hand on his cheek, too small to draw facial features.

05:50 – Top down shot of Shinji. Hair covers eyes. He turns his head.

05:53 – Reveal of what he turns to. Over the shoulder shot of Shinji looking down at couple in seating ahead of him.

05:55 – Close up shot of Shinji’s face with black empty emotionless eyes.

05:57 – Shot from back of couple making out.

05:59 – Close up shot of Shinji’s face, light returns to his eyes.

06:02 – Shot from back of couple continuing to make out. Girl puts arms around guy.

06:04 – Close up of Shinji’s face again.

06:07 – Shot from back of couple. Guy seems to nuzzle face in girl’s chest.

06:08 – Close up of Shinji’s face, he blinks. Eyebrows turn downwards to indicate slight irritation.

06:10 – Slow pan across small area in cinema outside of the film. One vending machine and the sign leading to toilet. Shows Shinji sleeping on the sofa at the cinema.

06:17 – Atmospheric shot of city at sunrise. Composition of dark pinkish sky behind a monolith of a building. Criss-crossing of telephone pole wires. A few unlit neon signs.

06:26 – Shot of pink cloudy sky.

06:29 – Dissolve effect to a brighter red cloudy sky. Indicate that sun is rising. (Start of the ‘red panic’)

06:30 – Bird’s Eye View scroll downwards through street. Eventually scrolls to a small figure of Shinji walking down the street with long shadow.

06:39 – Shows Shinji as a small figure walking past a giant black monolith of a building. Brilliant symmetrical composition. All the buildings and trees seem to cast off a faint red glow or aura.

06:49 – Top down close up of Shinji’s face. Ambient noise of cicadas begins to crescendo into pure noise. Shinji has terrified look. Camera skewed sideways.

06:53 – Shot from back of Shinji. Camera skewed diagonal. Noise crescendos. He seems to face the pink sky. Turns to his right.

06:57 – Extreme close up of Shinji’s frightened face turning.

06:58 – Vast far away shot of Shinji’s back showing him in relation to three different layers of the trees, then the buildings, then the sky. The layers seem to shift as the camera slowly draws back. Noise Crescendos.

07:05 – Close up side profile. Shinji covers his ears and shuts his eyes tightly. Runs forward.

07:07 – Following shot of Shinji’s shadow on the ground. A ‘noir’ shot. Noise crescendo stops for running sound.

07:12 – Vast far away shot of Shinji’s small form disappearing down the street. Taken from ‘over-the-shoulder’ of a street light. The vast dark shadows of buildings drape the street in dark red. Street light turns off.

07:14 – Birds eye view of Misato from the ceiling of her room. Soft focus blurred light in her room can be seen which covers half her futon. Various books and magazines and stuff all around her.

07:18 – Misato opens the door to Shinji’s empty room. She’s put to the side to emphasize the emptiness. Window glows with light.

07:21 – Side close up of her face looking in. Says ‘Idiot’.

07:24 – Far away front view of bus driving down street. Japanese landscape of mountains and blue sky is seen in the back.

07:28 – Front view of Shinji. His form is sitting on a rock next to a small shrine. Face turned downwards so eyes can’t be seen. Form made insignificant by the shrine and the bus stop sign. Bird twittering.

07:31 – Wide scenery shot of some kind of Japanese country-like place. Single hut seen in middle.

07:35 – Shot of clouds drifting past.

07:36 – Shot of Birds Eye View of road Shinji is walking on. Looming shadow of clouds drift past. The road is flanked by fields of green. Shinji’s form is extremely small.

07:39 – Shot sideways of Shinji’s form walking past through silhouette of trees. Past him a lake can be seen. His head is tilted downwards, as if looking at the ground.

07:42 – Closer shot sideways of Shinji walking. Blueness of lake can be seen here as it takes up most of the shot.

07:43 – Further away shot sideways of Shinji walking. Field of sunflowers seem to drown his form in yellow.

07:47 – Scenery shot from far away view of vast large foggy Steppes.

07:53 – Pan across mountains to reveal Shinji’s form from back staring off into the foggy vastness. Wind blowing.

08:01 – Front direct shot of Shinji looking at camera. Hair blowing in the wind with fog all around him. He looks off.

08:05 – Vast massive panorama pan across green landscape to the city. Seen from Shinji’s back. Connected to last shot.

08:13 – Side shot of Shinji sitting down with bag next to him. Fog is all around him.

08:16 – Far away side shot reveal he’s sitting at the edge of a cliff after climbing over a fence. (Caspar David Friedrich shot)

This entire portion is a great example of using the art to mirror the character’s state of mind. Unlike the bus scene in Madoka which is a magical transcendent beautiful moment, the art here entirely hinges on Shinji’s subjectivity. 03:54 – 05:24 takes place entirely on the train. There is no visual flourish or anything, just pure detachment and showing Shinji’s sterile alienation towards his environment. The arrival of the schoolgirls seems to have some connotation of sexual repression and frustration but analyzing it as that would be too Freudian and speculative. The sudden cut from black to Shinji sitting at 04:59 is a violent contrast, from sudden black to white. Furthermore it lingers on him for a full 20 seconds as the announcement of the train termination continues. This is really a pure example of Anno’s pregnant emptiness.

The entry into the red light district is a journey into the seedy ‘Heart of Darkness’. Unlike that moment when Johan sends a kid to the red light district to traumatize him from Monster though, which is played more like a trial by fire for the kid, this is a wholly psychological moment meant to represent the dark side of his psyche. It’s also the moment where we get a slight glimpse into Shinji’s juvenile irritations and (this time true and non-symbolic) sexual frustration at the cinema when he voyeuristically looks over a couple and then gets annoyed. This is also a brilliant moment of telling a story purely through images.

This whole scene also has a commentary on Modernity and its alienating effects laden in. The ‘red panic’ takes place with an onrush of noise and also a ‘destabilizing’ of Shinji by always seeking to subvert his form in one way or another (skewed shots, terrified close-ups, placing the camera on his shadow running). This moment takes place in the city where everything is dyed blood and the buildings seem to blow up into huge dark looming shapes above Shinji’s small human form. As opposed to this, when he reaches the countryside he approaches with a state of tranquility and calm detachment. It also signifies him calming down (though given this is Eva it’s not long before he’s thrown to a whole new array of madness) and being able to stand on his own feet again even though he’s still flanked by the fog and confusion of adolescence.

Throughout the whole scene Shinji is always made smaller through the shots or disoriented. His form is mostly huddled or insecure, either his face can’t be seen or he’s slouching and facing downwards. The only shot where he looks directly forward takes place on the cliff facing the fog, when he has regained his composure and looks down upon the city he just fled from. He’s always being swallowed up by something. He’s swallowed up by the crowd around him on the train, by the strangling red city in the ‘red panic’, and finally by Nature itself in the countryside, though in the last case he’s less swallowed than achieves a kind of zen realization about the insignificance of all things.

If more directors knew how to atmosphere and editing this well there would be a hell of a lot more great works in the medium.