Kids Play Outside and I Write Kaiju Dreams 

Tawanda Mulalu

Neon Genesis Evangelion usually posits three best girls, Rei, Asuka, and
Misato (who isn’t a girl because she drinks a cold beer after a hot shower

and isn’t 14), but really I think of Dr Ritsuko Akagi who is a genius 
introduced in a one-piece swimsuit as she’s checking up on the giant robot

brined in magenta liquid that Shinji – our 14-year-old boy protagonist –  
will unwillingly pilot to fight giant aliens called Angels attacking humanity –  

but Shinji pilots because Daddy says so. There’s a metaphor here. I guess
I meant to talk about how Evangelion is a deconstruction of mecha anime  

that wants us to understand we would all be better off going outside 
not spending our days arguing who is best girl (you once), and does so by

inserting Judeo-Christian symbols and Freudian psychoanalysis (secretly
the giant robots harbour the souls of the 14-year-old pilots’ mothers 

and beneath their armour they possess intestines, teeth) – I must mention
thinking is unbearable and is maybe not the best idea on a Friday evening   

searching on piracy websites in Russia for the first translation of Evangelion
I heard years ago before Netflix retranslated suki tte koto sa as “I like you” 

when a pale alien boy who looks like a normal pale 14-year-old boy 
touches Shinji’s hand in the public shower of the techno-military base where

the giant robots who aren’t giant robots are secured. Anyway, when Kaworu
touches Shinji’s hand in the public shower of the techno-military base, ADV – 

defunct first English distributor of Evangelion – translates suki tte koto sa 
as “I love you”, and I hear that slow time in high school when my best friend 

and I like the same girl (twice) and I screw him over (twice) and how once
we ride a rollercoaster side by side inside a small embarrassing theme park

I look at his face and wish to kiss him but we kiss the fast warm air instead. 

(Saturday morning, the sparrow on the sidewalk is not another theory of 
the world. A late egg makes me sick after frying it, my body is not another 

theory of the world. I must mention in this poem that I am black, but wouldn’t 
this invite in the reader’s mind the possibility of my death? While my body is

not another theory of the world, my skin is. America is waiting on the sidewalk. 
I was writing about giant robots. The metaphor I intended is the same as when 

any giant robot appears in a poem: about simulacra, about doppelgängers, about
how one frame of Evangelion recalls Goya’s painting ‘Saturn Devouring His Son’

and another frame recalls Munch’s painting ‘The Scream’. I wish I weren’t 
so obvious, but when I touch myself this recalls Hokusai’s ‘The Dream of 

the Fisherman’s Wife’. And this loop between myself – cephalopods, giant 
robots who aren’t giant robots, what racial scholars keep calling the “other” – 

and you – wife, subject, possibility, what racist scholars keep calling “oriental” – 
feels completed with touch, and touch alone. You weren’t best girl. Nor wife.

Nor sparrow. Nor was I the frame of a giant ape holding a white woman in my 
godly arms. There is no such thing as a person. People are irresponsible fish 

with legs. People are irresponsible wounds with mouths saying “I” while I 
say “you”. When I wished to kiss the boy above – say his skin is “brown” 

not “gold” not “caramel” – where were you? I visit Tokyo and new friends 
touch my hair. Please. I imagine giant robots flying fast through warm air.)

Tawanda Mulalu was born in Gaborone, Botswana. He is the author of Nearness (The New Delta Review, 2022) and Please make me pretty, I don’t want to die (Princeton University Press, 2022). His poems appear or are forthcoming in Brittle Paper, The New England Review, A Public Space and elsewhere. He mains Ken in Street Fighter.

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