If I were to vanish from the earth today without warning, without a trace, I feel like I could at least take some noncorporeal satisfaction in knowing that I would have left behind two small — trivially minuscule, really — impacts on lives far beyond my own.
The first: I used (abused?) 1UP.com blogs and reviews as a bully pulpit from which I forcibly hammered the word “metroidvania” into common parlance. Today, it’s used all over the place; it shows up in press releases; developers use it to describe their own work. No, I didn’t coin the term, but by god, I crammed it down tens of thousands of throats until people convinced themselves they liked the taste of it. So that’s something. Maybe not a good something, but something.
The second is the phrase “Shinji, you suck. Get in the robot,” which, bizarrely, continues to pop up fairly often whenever Neon Genesis Evangelion is discussed. I’ve seen it a lot this week, since Monday was the fictional date on which Sachiel’s surprise attack on Tokyo-3 took place in the anime, and it’s elicited plenty of musings and recollections about the series.
It’s been entertaining to read people’s musings about Evangelion this week. I don’t have much to add to the conversation; honestly, I didn’t really understand the series until much more recently. I enjoyed it on the level of a deconstruction of anime clichés and for the sheer “I can’t believe they did that” factors as the show entered its final stretch, but I didn’t appreciate the heartbreaking catharsis that writer Hideaki Anno invested into Shinji Ikari until I grew up and learned to see the world as others experience it. I can credit that to having a genuinely happy childhood, surrounded by friends and a stable family who loved me and one another — a background I would never trade for anything, especially not the ability to more deeply comprehend a kind of depressing cartoon. I grew up loved and in many ways sheltered, so I didn’t have the basis for empathizing with Shinji (and, through the transitive property, Anno). I have a deeper appreciation of it all, now, though, mostly through years of absorbing the requisite experience and knowledge secondhand.
As I write about this, I realize the Evangelion Thumbnail Theatre seems like a pretty lousy thing to count as my legacy. It’s so juvenile and amateurish in hindsight, especially considering the deeper themes of the show that I didn’t comprehend at the time. So… I guess I need to come up with something more meaningful before I vanish from the face of the earth. (I still take pride in the entry for the final episode, though — even though its spot-on precision happened more or less entirely by accident.)
All that being said, I have some fond memories of that project, too. Receiving an email with .wav files from Tiffany Grant and Tristan Avery in which they sneered “Shinji, you suck,” in the voices of Asuka and Gendo Ikari was probably my first “holy crap” moment on the Internet. Someone famous recorded satirical dialogue I wrote! Wow! I guess these days all the cool kids watch the subbed version, but those cost like $20 extra (per volume! of which there were 13!) back in the VHS days. I experienced Anno’s animated personal crisis dubbed in English, so I still get a kick out of those familiar voices reciting dialogue from my dumb little parody project.