A Lesson in Depression

I do not post every anime experience I have here, but occaisionally one that I feel is important to share appears. That said, recently I finished watching Neon Genesis Evangelion including the special movie End of Evangelion.

The best word to describe my reaction is "meh".

Don't misunderstand me, the series itself was quite enjoyable. It isn't even the fact that the culmination of the series is a guy getting a little self esteem that bothers me. After some analyzation, the nature of my lack of appreciation of the ending of the series became evident.

I don't understand depression, I am close to my father, and I'm not a woman.

Those three facts distance me from all of the major characters and the vast majority of the pertinent minor characters. In fact, only one character in the entire series is understandable to me. Kensuke, the nerdy warfare buff who probably knows more about war and the technologies thereof than the Pentagon, was the only person I truly understood. The rest of the characters in this movie were either women, clinically depressed, undeveloped or distant father figures.

The distant father figures and women are rather self evident in how I might not be able to understand them. However, depression is something else altogether. How can I not understand depression? It seems rather absurd to a lot of people, trust me on that one.

To sum it up, I've never been depressed. There was one time I came close, but it wasn't anything near serious compared to what my friends have told me of their bouts with depression. My experience lacked anything resembling self-loathing, hatred towards anything or thoughts of suicide. It was more along the lines of just a very bad day, misery, and a little bit of being miffed at the actions of a few people.

Certainly, there are numerous times where I have no desire to accomplish anything important, but aside from the time I mentioned that feeling has never been accompanied by anything and has simply been me being lazy.

Because of my lack of experience being depressed, I have a hard time understanding depression. While I don't necessarily escape the "lack of will to accomplish anything" facet, everything else rarely pins me down. Thus, the desire to end it all, the feelings of self loathing, etc. are all foreign concepts. Quite simply having never been depressed, I can not understand depression on any truly useful level.

I can, on a very limited level, understand aspects of depression. Depressed people often have trouble coming out of depression, they demean themselves, sometimes they lash out at the world, they are often hostile to attempts to help them, etc. Unfortunately for me this basically equates to the same thing as understanding the general behavior patterns of a cat. Knowing how the cat acts does little but help me avoid, and only for the most part, getting clawed across the face.

It is this lack of empathy and sympathy stemming from my lack of understanding of the continually depressed main character Shinji that brings out the "meh". While through the first 3/5ths - 2/3rds of the series it was bearable for me, right when things get trippy (and when I'd usually be getting really into things) Shinji's depression just becomes too overwhelming for someone who is simply watching things from the outside. As a form of entertainment, watching a person sit in the bottom of the hellhole of depression for twenty-six episodes doesn't really click with me.

Again, the big climax of the series is that this guy finally gets some self-esteem. Even watching the special movie doesn't change that, and simply exacerbates my particular problem by finishing up bits of the plot when Shinji was still depressed, and since the point at which he gains some self-esteem doesn't come until the end of the movie anyway...


I recognize the series as being excellently done and definately entertaining, but unfortunately because of my background I can't appreciate it fully. I was entertained, and the series is one I would even suggest to others. I just don't know whether to count myself fortunate for not having battled depression seriously, or to wonder at my misfortune that I can't fully relate to a very real problem many people face.

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