Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As I previously discussed on my Ani.Me blogging space, I've really been getting into some of the Neon Genesis Evangelion "spin off" manga; including series like Angelic Days, or The Shinji Ikari Raising Project, or Campus Apocalypse. I haven't read the original manga to NGE, only these "alt universe" titles.
I started with Angelic Days (vols. 1-2), but more recently began The Shinji Ikari Raising Project (vols. 1-2) and look forward to trying out volume 1 of Campus Apocalypse. I must say, I do like the "softer side" of Asuka we get to see in the former two narratives above. Asuka is reimagined as Shinji Ikari's childhood friend and therefore (by the laws of Anime & Manga) a rival to be his soulmate, specifically the rival of Rei Ayanami. This is the Asuka the fans WANT, the true textbook Tsundere.
I do feel I should go back and read the actual original NGE manga for comparision, but I don't think Asuka as she appears in the original NGE anime is actually unproblematically classified in the Tsundere category. She's more often just a crazy b*tch, and the only reason I cut her slack is because her mom went crazy & committed suicide, and little Asuka was the one who found the body. That will f*ck anyone up. Asuka in the original NGE really mainly has eyes for Kaji, practically rending her dress and throwing herself at the older man and all but demanding him to f*ck her. He brushes her off, of course. Asuka does show some awkward, halting affections for Shinji, like the time she tries to cook for him, or demands him to kiss her, or slips into his sleeping quarters and lies beside him in only her underwear. Shinji demands to know what she thinks she's doing, but she shushes him and asserts herself, lying next to him but with her back turned.
In End of Evangelion, Shinji masturbates over Asuka's comatose body at the hospital, and then later after Shinji decides to rebuild the world, his "new Eve" seems to be Asuka. It is Asuka whom he reforms from the primordial soup of prexistence. There is some ambivalence about what Asuka says to Shinji...something along the lines of "you disgust me", "you sicken me", but some critics allege in the Japanese original that it could even be a hint at morning sickness, i.e. with Asuka pregnant.
The Rebuild movies, at least for 1.0 and 2.0, seem like they yield to fan pressure and give them the more straightforward Tsundere Asuka who may be conflicted about how she feels about Shinji but definitely shows strong attraction to him on some level, and jealously at Rei as a potential rival to Shinji's affections. Her affectionate feelings to Shinji are amplified in the Rebuilds 1.0 & 2.0 from what they were in the original NGE and the End of Evangelion finale.
Having started Angelic Days and The Shinji Ikari Raising Project, I definitely get the appeal of this "softer side" of Asuka. It makes her a more likeable character and someone with a lot of love in her heart, even if on the surface she's in denial about how she feels, and it takes Rei Ayanami actually actively flirting with Shinji to goad Asuka into action and force her to think about her actual feelings for Shinji, deep down. I also admit I like the more talkative and friendly-but-shy Rei Ayanami--and again, this popular-with-fans version of Rei is what we are served up in the Rebuild movies, whilst in the original NGE Anime, Rei is more emotionally distant and cold. She only perks up around Gendo Ikari (Shinji's dad) and for literally no one else, at least to begin with.
I won't even get into all the Meta-Rei weirdness of End of Evangelion, which has to be seen to be believed.
In other manga related news, I recently finished Vol.4 of the Oreimo manga, and am going to finish volume 1 of the English manga for Watamote ("No matter how I look at it, it's you guy's fault I'm not popular!") this weekend, most likely. I'd like to start Vol.1 of Campus Apocalypse, which recasts the NGE characters into a kind of "boy detective" narrative. I was hoping to request the latest Toradora manga via Interlibrary loan (which is how I'm reading the rest of these) but unfortunately the latest volume I haven't read (Vol.6) was only published this year and is thus too new to loan for most libraries. Vol.5 was published (and bought by me) in 2012. It took another 2 years for this Volume 6 to get translated and published. I put it on my Amazon wish list for future reference.
With respect to Digital Manga, I've held off so far buying any Viz or Yen Press digital manga. I have however purchased older Original English Language Manga via Amazon Kindle, and some of them are actually very good and entertaining. I've also enjoyed reading the Avatar: The Last Air Bender graphic novels via Kindle as well. The most fun OEL I've read so far has been Amazing Agent Luna, along with Nightschool: The Weirn Books. It's really handy to read these in Kindle and I hope more actual Japanese manga decide to experiment with availabilty via Kindle rather than via a publisher's proprietary app like Viz or Yen Press. One also hopes the Japanese manga publishers learn that they can't get away with charging the same price for a hardcopy or paperback edition as they do for the digital copy. American publishers always charge less for their Kindle editions as an incentive to buy. Japanese publishing needs to learn the same lesson but so far have not.