Beneath the cryptic religious symbolism, unexplained sci-fi jargon, and abstract interior monologues, my reading of Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) has always been simple: Evangelion is the story of a boy realizing what it means to connect with the people around him. Thus, for my entry into the TV Dictionary, I paired “realize” with Evangelion due to the thematic congruence between the two.
The structuring of my video was a process of subtraction. After a broader first draft that attempted to use every definition of “realize” I could find, I restricted my essay into focusing only on the final two episodes of Evangelion, in which the protagonist goes on an interior journey of self-discovery through his subconscious. These episodes are rich in abstract imagery, and the sort of commentaries on selfhood, connection, identity, and semiotics that led me to choose “realize” as my word in the first place. I attempted to create an arc throughout the essay that traces the protagonist’s journey of self-realization through the different definitions of “realize.”
The constraints of the TV Dictionary project provided a fulfilling challenge for me. As someone who has traditionally worked with extensive voice-over narration in my videographic work, being forced to work only through juxtaposition gave me a new appreciation for the power of the image and comparison. Not having to worry about voice-over also meant I was able to pour more attention into presentation: I had a great deal of fun styling my on-screen titles after the iconic title cards present in Evangelion, and trying to evoke a feeling of the 1990s, memory, and nostalgia through VHS filters over the text.
In all, I’ve learned a great deal through participating in the TV Dictionary that I will certainly carry into my future projects. I hope that my work can offer a new, or at least streamlined, perspective on Evangelion as a story about how we express ourselves and our identity, interpersonal connection, and the simple yet profound realization that we must take care of ourselves.
James DeLisio is a filmmaker and undergraduate student at the University of California, San Diego. He was a selected filmmaker in the 2023 Adam D. Kamil Media Awards, and received a Hometown Media Award from the Foundation for the Alliance of Community Media. His videographic criticism has been published online, as well as in collaborative works like the TV Dictionary. He is a moderator within The Essay Library, a collective where he helped organize two of the Essay Library Anthologies, which received honorary mentions from Sight & Sound in 2021. His filmmaking practice explores personal identity within grassroots communities, and his videographic criticism concerns themes of transnational cinema, generic intersections, and embodiment in film.