I didn't like how Toji became a pilot in the original.
Really!? I think it's a great plot point, very unexpected and surprising if you didn't know the story prior, and it really marks a huge turning point in the series. Though of course having Asuka put in that situation would still heavily affect Shinji, I actually think its really significant that his "normal" friend, who was entirely unaffiliated with NERV is the one who ends up getting severely injured/killed. I really think that that would be a bigger blow to him, even if Asuka was equally or even more important to him. So I actually think that whole Unit 03 plot works better in the TV series/manga, and I'm sad that they changed that, though I guess it was nice to see Touji not suffering a tragic fate.
But I understand why they changed it to Asuka, since they had a much more limited amount of time to convey the story, and Asuka wouldn't have much of a role otherwise. The problem with Asuka is that in the series, she is more of like a secondary protagonist. She really isn't hugely significant in the overall plot, as compared to much of the rest of the cast. Instead, she has her own arc that the audience follows which coincides and overlaps with the main plot (Shinji's story). She has the B subplot to Shinji's A plot. Since they are so limited on time this time around, they had to better fit her into Shinji's A plot so that she still has some significance. Of course she has had some development even in the new movie, but it is significantly reduced, and I expect that to be the case in the concluding parts of the movie series. Well, that's how I see it anyway.
As for Mari, I'm still not sure, but I do like her. She does seem to be important to the new story, judging by the preview for Q, at least. I just hope it's not really contrived. I don't remember if I read this from a credible source or not, but I remember seeing something that said they actually were not intending to add Mari as a pilot at the point when Jo
was released (or even giving her a name for that matter). They had her in the preview for Ha
after the credits for Jo
, but she was only originally intended to just be in that scene, as just a background character observing the events taking place. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFNqBw6SE04
The narration has no mention of a pilot for Unit 05, and Mari's scene here is quite different than what made it into the final film. Supposedly fan reaction to her was so great that they upgraded her and added her into the story. Anybody else ever read anything like that? I swear I read something like that, but I really don't remember where... I'm pretty sure it was a credible source though, because otherwise I don't think I would have took it seriously. Maybe it was the movie pamphlet for Jo
? I'll have to pull it out again and check.
But anyway, it really seems like they are just making this stuff up as they go along, so the above doesn't surprise me too much. I mean, when they originally announced the project, the first three parts Jo
were more-or-less all supposed to follow the original series pretty faithfully, and only the final part was supposed to deviate in a significant way (and they were all supposed to be released in the span of less than two years LOL). Look how that ended up. I also remember reading some article/interview released right after Jo
was released, in which someone from Khara (I don't remember who) pretty much said that they hadn't really worked on Q
at all yet, and that probably meant story and all. They probably just had some abstract plot points that the wanted to use, and that's what they put into that preview at the end of Jo
Anyway, my post has become far too long, so I'll leave it at that. I really hope we get to see something about Q