I love the way the Eva moves in this scene. I don't know if they did mocap or just had a reference, but it looks so real, and so animal-like. Really eerie.
Trust me, over the course of the next few episodes the tone of the show is going to shift quite a bit.
The reason why is that apparently Anno kept disappearing for days at a time, leaving the production staff to complete episodes using his notes, without his direction. Supposedly this episode and the next were episodes produced in this way.
I think that a lot of Asuka's scenes in these early episodes are setting up for subversion later in the show, but as RavenSpeaks points out above, even in this episode there are some aspects of her tropes being undermined by Toji removing his pants, etc.
Anno is definitely an otaku and I think his frustration with the culture grew out of him being a part of it and then becoming disenchanted with it (as opposed to say, Miyazaki, who is disgusted by it but was never really a part of it himself). His perspective is definitely flawed; besides sexist elements in anime, Japan, like other cultures around the world, has its own systemic misogyny and it's impossible to grow up in a culture with those elements without internalizing some of it, even if you try to be aware of it. It's pervasive.
Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of Tiffany Grant's portrayal of Asuka, except for the German. I originally watched the show in English, so when I rewatched it in Japanese, I was surprised by how little German there was. Scheisse!
Re: the misogyny in this show.
Hideaki Anno was disgusted with otaku culture at the time he was making Eva and there is a strong thread of criticism of it running through Eva. At the beginning of the series -- the first arc, as it's generally known -- many otaku tropes are introduced and utilized, everything from mecha-related tropes to panty shots. Then the show systematically takes them apart and displays just how gross they are. Case in point is the part where Shinji falls on Rei's naked body, which in another anime would have been played up as heavily erotic and in Eva is just deeply uncomfortable, because of Rei's extreme lack of reaction. Anno is essentially saying, "Hey, you want a pretty sex doll with no personality, just a body to fondle? Here's what that is actually like."
Unfortunately, an awful lot of otaku are incapable of reading that much into it, and much of the misogynistic stuff in Eva has been consumed entirely without the intended irony.
There are also a number of spots early in the series where some unchecked tropes sneak in, and from what I understand, Anno (who had been battling severe depression for years at the time he made Eva) would frequently disappear and leave the production team to work on the show with just his notes to go by. Those episodes without his specific direction tend to have more filler and fanservice.
I weirdly love the scenes at the conference where Misato and Ritsuko are the only ones at the NERV table, etc. I love that they are the ones representing NERV at this fairly testosterone-fueled atmosphere. I love how Ritsuko takes no shit (even though she demonstrates that she is a fairly untrustworthy person by the end of this episode).
There's some about Eva in general, and in episodes very specifically, that is hyperrealistic. Despite the giant robots, and the weird supernatural beings, it is committed to show the mundane aspects of the world. Science conferences, business rivalries, long awkward silences, Shinji listening over and over to his SDAT player, etc.
Aw, I didn't know about his recent bout of depression. :( I did see In the Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, the documentary about the making of The Wind Rises, in which Anno voices the main character, and it was really fun watching Miyazaki kind of bust his ass (particularly having heard about some of the hell Anno put the voice actresses through when they were making Evangelion).