Author: Sarah Myer (Enthusiast)
Shinji Ikari is not the sort of person who many would consider to be a hero. The main character of the popular and controversial anime series "Neon Genesis Evangelion," Shinji is a socially-clumsy young boy who lacks the most basic self-image or confidence in himself. Despite this weakness, he is the one who will ultimately decide the future for mankind. Stating the phrase "I mustnt run away", he accepts the position of humankinds savior. The most striking aspect of him as a person is that he has an importance, despite his weaknesses and flaws. This fact is what I live my life by, because Shinji embodies the part of me that is afraid to do what I know I must. I am encouraged to be true to myself by this characterization in Shinji. I have always known that I want to be an artist specializing in the anime style and voice actress for that anime industry, even though the industry is highly competitive, low-paying, and largely obscure to a public that might not even respect it as a true art form. Just as Shinjis destined purpose was frightfully extreme in outcome, so are the choices that I make for myself.
Shinjis lack of self-esteem stems from many parts of his life, but he eventually realizes that he must not think of himself exclusively as the boy who decides the future. Instead, he realizes, he must understand why he has accepted such a duty and why he feels he has no other choice. Why exactly do I want to pursue such a difficult career? Why do I feel so passionate about defending my belief in anime as an art form against popular opinion? Why, despite the possibility of failure, do I still feel hopeful about a future of my own making? Because I cannot imagine doing anything else for happiness. Shinji realized that he must accept his destiny because he was the only one who could, and in turn that made the title "Hero" a permanent part of "Shinji". My desire to create art, to be in charge of my own destiny, is hardly comparable to Shinjis disinterest in his unwanted job as savior. However, both paths put in front of us are impossible to look away from. For Shinjis need to change himself from a coward into a makeshift hero on the most basic of levels- for me to fully understand and embrace what I have already decided to work so hard for- seeing such a character on the screen made me realize many aspects of my lifes ambition that I had never realized were present. I had ignored the part of me who was scared, unsure, and hesitant about my future.
The awareness that Shinji has brought to my life is most important to me. Whether I am afraid or certain of my future, I know that I have no choice but to stay true to my ambitions. Betraying my ambitions would be to deny who I am at the very core. Shinjis story continues through my life and rides on my successes and failures as an artist, and I have only to fully realize the path on which I started.