Shinji staring at his hands... trope? coincidence?
I think it's just a general trope that people usually look at their hands once they've done something extremely foul, or something extremely foul has happened. Usually when they've killed someone, when it comes to mind. Gives you the feeling that they're doing something screwed up, or something screwed up has happened.
Wow nice one. It really is a universal thing of horror to look at one's hands in a sort of...WHAT HAVE I DONE sort of way. Interesting, I wonder if that's from globalization or just a natural human reaction.
makes me think of when macbeth looks at his hands and sees the blood on them!
Hands in general are a motif for negativity . On top of the motif of looking at Hands, Shinji's nervous twichs are also a motif of negative emotions expressed through hands.
I wonder if this was an intentional or subconscious motif. The latter would be very interesting in regads to anno's life.
Yep, there's definitely a big hand motif going on in Evangelion. It's confirmed pretty much in EOE, right after Shinji chokes Asuka when they flash all the cel paintings they go over a lot of 'hand' moments in the series. Almost every major event of the series features some sort of hand gesture or action (three separate chokings, crushing Toji's cockpit/Kowaru, Asuka stroking Shinji's face). There's a ton of repeated shots of Shinji's hand waving/clenching by his side, often used to signify hesitance (episode 11 phonecall to Gendo, episode 19 before piloting 01, etc.)
Hands are our primary way to physically interact with each other, and our actions with our hands reveal a lot about our thoughts/feelings. Every time hands are used/shown in Evangelion, it symbolically reveals something about the character/s we otherwise wouldn't know. Hands, as a motif, remind us that this show is ultimately about human interaction.
There's definitely a visual call-back to hands being 'dirtied' in EVA. Blood is seen as extremely filthy in Shinto ("The most imprtant value in Shinto is cleanliness both physical and spirtual and pollution, which is mainly identified with blood and death, must be avoided as much as possible but can be erased through elaborate ritual.") and the idea of cleanliness is pretty pervasive in traditional Japanese culture.
So, IMO, the idea of Shinji's hand being dirtied by blood, and then later on, by semen, is a strong reinforcement of those themes of sex and death, another symbol of Shinji's downward spiral AND a visual cue about what doing Gendo's bidding is doing to him. He's literally getting his hands dirty because of Gendo (Rei's blood) and then on his own accord (masturbating over Asuka).
Remember the shot that lingers and focuses on cleaning the blood from Unit 01's hand after killing Kaworu.
I guess also the hands are the part of the body you use to make physical contact with people first so perhaps there's that element, plus the actual act of looking at your hands sort of reinforces your life and actions, so for Shinji perhaps it's almost like reaffirming his existence and his actions?
Also as Afarit says I think it definitely has something to do with his relationships with both Rei and Asuka, the motherly blood bond and her constant deaths/births, and Asuka who Shinji clearly see's as an extreme other that is very desirable yet usually unobtainable.
Also this could tie in with EoE when Asuka strokes Shinji's face as he's strangling her, that's like the only time anyone ever does something physical towards him like that (besides Misato and Asuka both planting a kiss on him at separate times but then I don't think he wanted a kiss necessarily, he doesn't want to be kissed he just wants to be touched)
The hand throughout evangelion is used as a symbol for connection with other people. Just like the hedgehog's dilemma, when you connect and become close with others you can hurt them.
The way I understood it is that basically a lot of symbolism in the series that ties into the whole overarching plot of Shinji choosing to go along with the human instrumentality program or against it. Sex and the exchange of sexual fluids is one of the most intimate things human beings can experience. It's the closest we can physically be to another person. Death on the other hand (no pun intended) is the furthest as you are cut off entirely with all other living things. As to why hands specifically; a lot of our actions are done through our hands (creating something, destroying something, even sometimes we speak through our hands wether it be typing, writing or gesturing); realizing you have an active an conscious choice by doing something with those hands or even the choice to do nothing at all is very thought provoking; at least to me when I was watching the series. think about it, our hands hold our fingerprints, no two people are the same (even identical twins could at times have different sets of fingerprints depending on how they were moving in the womb). These 10 digits can show how much we care for others but in turn also cause great pain and sorrow. We have sent fellow human beings to the moon and back by building computers and ships. It's rather crazy how much we have accomplished and how much you can accomplish as a person. Hope my ramblings have made some sense.