The science fiction sub-genre of giant, fighting robots or machines, colloquially known as “Mecha”, has been around since the late 1800s. However, the Mecha genre didn’t begin to reach peak popularity until the manga turned anime “Mazinger Z” debuted on television in 1972. From there the proverbial floodgates were opened as different Mecha anime began to hit the airwaves of Japan in droves. With so many different shows being released in the near five decades since “Mazinger Z”, it might not hurt go take a look back at certain shows and look at what exactly made them stand out.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Created by production studio Gainax, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” (NGE) aired from October of 1955 to March of 1996. Directed and co-written by Hideaki Anno, NGE has become one of the most largely recognizable Mecha franchises since its release. NGE is complicated to describe as a single entity as there are so many factors and characters at play within the complex universe constructed within the show. NGE is famous for its use of Judeo-Christian references and imagery, a theme that in and of itself holds conflict among the production team; with assistant director Kazuya Tsurumaki stating that the symbolism was included to make the show feel more “exotic” for Japanese audiences. However, Anno denies these claims and states that there is certainly a deeper meaning behind the use.
Ep 20. “Form of the Mind, Form of the Man/Weaving a Story 2: oral stage”
Original Air Date: Feb. 14 1996
The episode opens by recapping the last few minutes of episode 19, with Unit 01 devouring Zeruel and consuming its S2 engine. We then cut to Seele’s Human Instrumentality Committee where they discuss the events and how they are making the “script” of events that they have lined out, difficult to fulfill. The Committee discusses if they were wrong to have entrusted NERV to Gendo, despite his success for every other step. Inside the destroyed Command Room, Maya explains that the database of the Magi is already being transferred to another unit, but damage such as the one that Unit 02 sustained will be more difficult to fix. Transferring the remaining staff to the Secondary Control Room, Akagi states that Unit 01 is contained but they do not know if NERV will be able to control it.
Cut to the interior of the Eva loading bay, Hyuga and Major Katsuragi stand in front of the bandaged, armorless face of Unit 01. Katsuragi questions the safety of holding Unit 01 in the area, but Hyuga states that no signs of life or movement have been detected since the previous berserk incident. Katsuragi falls silent in contemplation as the lifeless eye of Unit 01 stares back. The Instrumentality Committee continues to review the damages done to NERV headquarters and how much money they lost, stating that they should have had a warning system in place if Gendo tried to do something underhanded. However, the chair of the Committee states that there is a warning system in place, it just didn’t alert them, with the camera cutting to Kaji inside Commander Ikari’s office. Kaji poses the question to the Commander about how he will explain the events to Seele, with Fuyutsuki quickly stepping in to simply state that Unit 01 wasn’t under NERV’s control and that Unit 01 will stay stationary until absolutely necessary. Kaji then asks a follow up, wondering if Shinji was still trapped inside Unit 01.
Inside the Secondary Command Room, Maya and Akagi attempt to force eject the entry plug, only for the signal to once again be blocked. Unable to connect to the control circuits, the primary video monitor is accessed to view inside the entry plug. As the monitor flickers on, the cockpit of the entry plug is shown, however, any trace of Shinji is absent aside from his empty plug suit, much to the shock of everyone else. Dr. Akagi states that this happened because of the 400% synch rate, that Shinji has been “taken into” Unit 01. Frustrated and scared, Katsuragi snaps at Akagi, again questioning what the Eva is, to which the doctor finally responds, “It is something created by man in man’s own image.” Katsuragi, irritated, asks if they just made a copy of whatever they found at the South Pole during the Second Impact, and that the original version would hate to see these copies. Akagi rebuts by stating that the Evangelions are not copies as they are “imbued with a human will” and that perhaps Unit 01 willed this to happen. This prompts the Major to once again strike the doctor and yell at her to fix the mess that she has created, as she has done many a time before. Rei wakes up in a hospital room the next day, grumbling that she’s still alive. That same night, at the apartment, Asuka yells at Katsuragi over the phone as she is informed that Rei is alive. We see the interior of Asuka’s room, with torn up magazines, broken china, and other destroyed objects littered about. Asuka then crawls into bed, sobbing into her pillow about not having been able to do anything to stop any of the events from happening.
On the third day, Dr. Akagi explains a plan to “salvage” Shinji from Unit 01, to which Katsuragi questions whether NERV really wants Shinji or simply access to the Eva again. Maya explains the basis of the plan, stating that Shinji is no longer bound to his “ego border”, floating around in the entry plugs LCL in a quantum form similar to primordial ooze, the theoretical liquid that all life on Earth once emerged from. Despite his change in form, all of “Shinji” is still contained within the entry plug, and that with the help of the Magi, they can attempt to reconstruct his body and anchor his dissociated psyche to the physical form. The fourth day, inside the entry plug, Shinji regains “consciousness”, realizing that not even he is in the entry plug now, despite his ability to see inside of it. Shinji then sees images of all the people he knows in his life flashing before his nonexistent eyes before remembering other information such as the Angels and how NERV is fighting against them. He remembers his questioning of the Angels’ existence and why he pilots, concluding that maybe he wasn’t supposed to ever think about it and that they are simply his enemies. As he repeats the word “enemy”, images of the various Angels continue to flash on screen before those images are replaced by images of his father. The disembodied pilot then remembers what his father did to Suzuhara and his mother. He then flashes back to his memory of Rei slapping him due to his distaste for his father, muttering that his father doesn’t need him. Shinji’s internal monologue, taking the form of Rei’s voice questions him over his hatred for his father. During this questioning, Shinji begins to wonder if his father truly abandoned him, or if he possibly ran away. These thoughts are stopped though, as Shinji recalls that he had seen Unit 01 before when he was much younger.
Cut forward in time to the 30th day of the salvage operation, we see the entry plug being unloaded from a now fully-armored Unit 01 as Katsuragi observes. As Maya compliments Dr. Akagi on devising the operation so quickly, Akagi explains that it is based on previous data from an event that occurred early on in the Eva’s development before she worked here, receiving the data from her mother. However, that operation failed. Inside the entry plug, Shinji continues to have his existential thoughts as he has not other choice than to try and remember everything to not lose who he is. He thinks of all his friends and “family” who have complimented and praised him over his work as a pilot, vowing that he’ll do it for them rather than his father. Back outside Shinji’s thoughts, the salvage operation commences, with everything running according to plan, with Katsuragi calling out Shinji’s name under her breath. As Shinji’s subconscious hears this, the operation begins to collapse as his corporeal form refuses to incorporate back into the LCL. Ordering the operation to be ceased, Unit 01’s entry plug once again rejects the signals coming from the Command Room. As the crew begin to panic, Shinji hears a voice calling out to him, only to receive the faintest vision of his mother. With pressure in the plug increasing, the entry plug is forced open as the LCL spills out into the chamber, with Shinji’s empty plug suit floating down to the floor.
As Katsuragi sobs, clutching the empty plug suit, Shinji’s wandering consciousness delves deeper into memories of his mother, noting a familiar smell around him in the blank void. He then recounts a conversation between his father and mother from before he was born, where his parents discuss naming their child; Shinji if a boy, Rei if a girl. As Shinji thinks about this conversation he couldn’t have overheard, he smiles as he realizes that his mother has been with him inside Unit 01 all along. Cut bag to Katsuragi hearing a faint noise nearby, glancing over to see Shinji laying on the chamber floor, having emerged from the Eva’s core. Cutting to the next day, the Major and Dr. Akagi drive to NERV, discussing the use of the Eva Units, contemplating how large the number of unknown variables is. Dropping off Akagi, Katsuragi drives off to a rendezvous with Kaji, to which Dr. Akagi notes to herself that she supposes she is no better than that either. As they lie in bed, Katsuragi attempts to get information out of Kaji, to which his simply dodges her questions before handing her a small capsule, telling her that it may very well be his last gift to her.
This twentieth episode takes several cues from episode 14, with the English title even referencing itself as a direct sequel to the episode. This is due to the fact that the first half of the episode recaps much of the information already learned throughout the course of the series, with much information being given again during the meeting between the members of Seele’s Human Instrumentality Committee. However, this “sequel” episode includes the tagline of “oral stage,” which is later explained as the episode begins to focus on Shinji’s mother in the last ten minutes. Although Freudian Psychoanalysis is heavily outdated and near impossible to take seriously, it is often used in an entertaining way to tell a story, with this episode being a perfect example. The “oral stage” in Freudian psychoanalysis is the first stage of psychosexual development, formed when a mother first begins to feed her child. This interaction causes a child to form their first true bond with another human, their mother. Children who are said to have not grown out of their oral stage are ones that long for affection and constant companionship from their mother. Others, in the case of Shinji can retroactively revert to this stage, especially after the loss of the mother, longing for them to be a part of their life again. This is fitting for Shinji as his reverting back to the oral stage allowed him to come to the realization that his mother’s soul, will, or whatever it may be called has been with him all this time inside, although perhaps it is trapped inside of Unit 01. This would give more context to the previous episode’s English title as well, “Introjection,” a theory in which a person takes on the attributes of a person significant to them as a defense mechanism. In Shinji’s case, this introjection took place inside of Unit 01 as his mother’s ideals and his own perception were merged into one as he was absorbed into the LCL.
Ep 19. “A Man’s Battle/Introjection”
Original Air Date: Feb. 7 1996
Held inside the loading bay, Unit 01 sits with Shinji still inside the entry plug, refusing to leave after learning of the Fourth Child’s identity. The Command Room trio and Fuyutsuki try to talk Shinji out of protesting, to which the pilot responds in anger by stating that Unit 01 has enough power left to destroy at least half of NERV HQ. As Commander Ikari watches from his chair, Shinji grows increasingly more angry, knowing his father is in the Command Room but is not speaking to him. Gendo orders an increase in pressure to the LCL fluid in the entry plug, choking Shinji and causing him to lose consciousness. Elsewhere in Tokyo-3, Dr. Akagi and Katsuragi observe the destroyed Unit 03 still laying in the blood-covered suburb as recovery crews begin to clean up the carnage. Asuka and Rei wait for Shinji to wake up in the hospital, as he was forcibly removed from the entry plug. During this time, Suzuhara wakes up, only to see Shinji in a hospital bed next to his, wondering why he ended up in the hospital as well. Falling back to sleep, Toji dreams of Shinji and Rei discussing why Shinji did what he did in retaliation to his fathers commands. Waking back up in the hospital bed, Suzuhara sees Hikari waiting for him to wake up, informing him he’s been asleep for the past three days. Suzuhara apologizes for not being at school to eat the lunch she made for him before requesting that Hikari tells his sister that nothing is wrong, despite the camera panning out to show the outline of Toji’s limbs under the hospital sheet, with his left leg clearly having been amputated.
At NERV HQ, Shinji is held in the brig until handcuffed and brought to his father’s office, where Gendo lists various charges that his son had accrued during his protest such as threatening NERV, using and Eva for personal gain, and insubordination. Instead of refuting these charges, Shinji simply states that he does not want to pilot an Eva again nor be a part of NERV. Gendo agrees for Shinji to leave before goading him on as he says that Shinji is running away again and that “You disappoint me. I doubt we’ll ever meet again.” Walking down a rural road, we see Shinji as audio of the Commander issuing orders plays in the background. Ikari orders Rei to be assigned as Unit 01’s pilot and that all records of Shinji will be erased. He also orders the Dummy Plug remain inside Unit 01 as backup. Laying in bed at the apartment, Shinji ignores his ringing phone that sits next to all his belongings, already packed up. Finally giving in, Shinji picks up as Aida questions him about leaving before the line is cut off, with a voice saying it was terminated for “security reasons.” At the train station, the Major lectures Shinji about the dangers of cutting ties so frequently to which Shinji asks about why Suzuhara was chosen. Katsuragi responds that all candidates were placed specifically in Shinji’s class, a fact that she was unaware of until recently. Just as Shinji prepares to leave, a state of emergency is declared as an Angel begins to approach the city.
Inside the Commander Room, an Angel is monitored in the distance as it fires off a beam against some of the ground artillery, piercing through several layers of the underground HQ’s armor. Unit 02 is launched but with Unit 00’s arm still recovering, Gendo orders Rei to launch in 01. As Rei begins to synch with Unit 01, the Eva violently rejects the connection with Rei to which Ikari states, “It’s rejecting me.” Unable to wait, Ikari orders Rei be placed in Unit 00 and that 01 be placed under the control of the Dummy Plug. The Angel draws nearer as Shinji watches the explosions in the background before being ushered into a shelter. Awaiting the Angel’s arrival, Asuka and Unit 02 begin to fire upon the Angel as it appears, using several different weapons that all prove ineffective against the being. With one swift attack, the Angel outstretches its arms and severs both of Unit 02’s arms, causing Asuka to charge towards it. Seeing her brash actions, Katsuragi orders the nerve connections to be cut just in time as the Angel decapitates Unit 02. As Shinji waits in an emergency shelter, Unit 02’s head comes crashing through the wall as the civilians flee in a panic. The Dummy Plug is then loaded into Unit 01, to which the Eva once again rejects the activation command.
Shinji watches on as the Angel fires a barrage of attacks against NERV and the decapitated Unit 02, only to find himself standing next to Kaji’s watermelon garden, where he finds Kaji watering the plants. Kaji explains that it is one of the places he’d be willing to die, before explaining why the Angels are always attacking NERV HQ. He informs Shinji of Adam who is being kept in the area now known as Terminal Dogma, and that if any of the Angels make contact with Adam, it will eradicate humanity by causing the Third Impact. He then explains that only an Evangelion’s power is equal to that of an Angel, meaning they are the only ones who can stop them. As Unit 00 rises in the distance, Shinji notices Rei carrying a bomb in her Evas arm, charging towards the Angel to blow it up, but the beast blocks her attack at the last moment, striking her down. As Shinji watches his friend’s death, Kaji states that only pilots like Shinji have the ability to do something about the Angels, something that only they can do.
“Shinji, the only thing I can do is stand here and water. But you, you have something that you can do. That only you can do. Nobody is forcing you. Think for yourself, and make the decision by yourself. Think about what you ought to do now. You know, so you don’t have any regrets.”
With this, a newly determined Shinji runs towards NERV HQ as the Command Room learns that the last layer of armor has been penetrated. Unit 01 continues to reject the Dummy Plug as Shinji appears in front of his father and the Eva.
During Shinji’s arrival, the Angel bursts into the Control Room to which all personnel are ordered to evacuate, leaving only Dr. Akagi, Katsuragi, Maya, Aoba and Hyuga. The Angel bursts through the display screen and readies an attack against the remaining crew before Unit 01 careens through the wall, knocking the Angel out of the room as Shinji yells in determination from inside the entry plug. Shinji forces the Angel into the Eva loading back, where the angel promptly destroys Unit 01’s left arm as Gendo watches on, covered with blood now from the limb severing. Not letting the damage stop him, Shinji forces the Angel into one of the transportation docks, shooting Unit 01 and the Angel outside of NERV HQ and into the middle of one of Tokyo-3’s forests. With the Angel pinned, Unit 01 begins to wail on the being before being interrupted as the Eva runs out of power. The powerless Eva is thrown to the ground by the attacker as Shinji panics. The Angel quickly begins to attack Unit 01, ripping off its chest armor to reveal a red sphere in the center of the Eva, similar to the spheres that act as the cores of the Angels. The Angel begins to repeatedly attack Unit 01’s core as Shinji yells at his Eva to move.
Feeling a proverbial “spark”, Shinji hears another heartbeat resonating with his as Unit 01 reactivates. 01 grabs the attacking Angel’s arm and rips it off before pushing it away, standing up as the low growling/gasping indicative of the Unit going berserk emerges from its mouth. Unit 01 attaches the severed arm of the Angel to the stump where its left arm once was, only for it to organically reshape itself into an arm similar to that of the Eva’s. As the crew from the Command Room watches the bizarre events take place, Maya takes readings of Unit 01 and Shinji’s synchronization rate, stating that it has elevated to over 400%. Dr. Akagi questions if that means “she’s” finally awake, her dialogue cut off as Unit 01 lets out its eerie, primal scream, blocking an attack from the Angel. Crawling on all fours towards the Angel, Unit 01 grunts and growls similar to a primate, prompting the crew to observe in more disgust and horror than they ever have before. Pinning the Angel to the ground, Unit 01 sinks its teeth into the beast and starts eating the Angel, to which Dr. Akagi says that it is consuming the Angel’s S2 engine. Finishing its feast, Unit 01 stands up, with muscles and biological mass bursting through the armor around it. However, Dr. Akagi reveals that the plating is not armor, but rather bindings designed to act as restraints to suppress an Eva’s “true power.” As Unit 01 roars again, Akagi states that they will no longer be able to stop the Evangelion. Kaji looks on in amusement from his garden, contemplating how Gendo is going to report the event to Seele. In Commander Ikari’s office, Gendo and Fuyutsuki watch, with Gendo smirking in amusement, stating, “It all begins here.”
As we near the end of the series with only six more episodes left, tensions begin to rise as our beloved Unit 01 as now acquired the power to break through even its most persistent bindings. But thinking about how the episode begins versus where it ends is pretty jarring. The first third of the episode is the repercussions of the fight with Bardiel. The second third is spent focusing on Shinji and his newfound bravery to finally fun away from NERV that has been interrupted by an Angel attack, leading us to the last third which is the showdown with our Angel. So many more question, I’m sure, have also arisen such as who is the “she” that Dr. Akagi has said awakened? What does Unit 01 consuming the S2 engine truly mean? Or even the classic, what are the Evangelions? While none of these questions are directly answered yet, rest assured that they will be coming very, very soon as we delve deeper into the heart of NERV in the next few episodes.
Lastly, of course, we have a new Angel that arrives. Zeruel, the Fourteenth Angel, is a humanoid creature similar to Sachiel and Israfel. What makes Zeruel distinct, however, its how much stronger it appears to be than the previous attackers, perhaps thanks in part to the long, stretchy, paper-like appendages in place of its arms. Once again, another aptly named angel, as Zeruel falls under the theophory naming convention, with its name translating to “Arm of God” in classical Hebrew. Yet, unlike Bardiel, Zeruel does have origins behind its name other than just an extra-canonical angel or archangel. Zeruels name is one of the many variations of the name of the angel Zeruch, also known as Zeroel or Cerviel. Under the name Cerviel, this mythological being was the angel who descended from Heaven to help David slay Goliath. When acting under the name Zeruch, the angel also aided the Israelites in one of their battles against the Amorites. So in the traditional sense, the mythological being has had a large amount of experience helping enfeebled people take down larger entities that would oft be beyond their strength capacity. I suppose, although our Zeruel was defeated by Shinji in the end, its appearance did assist the once feeble pilot in finding his determination to take down one of the more violent threats against NERV and his friends.
Ep 18. “Life and Death Decisions/Ambivalence”
Original Air Date: Jan. 31 1996
Attached to the aircraft from the end of the previous episode, Unit 03 and its carrier pass through a large cloud on their way to Tokyo-3. A brief spark shoots throughout the clouds as the Eva passes through it before we cut to the apartment. While he prepares for school, Shinji discusses the dissapearnace of Unit 04 with Katsuragi, who tells him that she will be leaving for the next few days to perform tests on the arriving Unit 03 at another NERV facility and that Kaji will be watching over the two pilots. The Major then begins to tell Shinji about the pilot before being interrupted by Aida ringing the doorbell, proposing to Katsuragi that he be the pilot of Unit 03. During a bus ride, Dr. Akagi and Katsuragi discuss the Major’s fear to tell Shinji the identity of the pilot. Akagi states that the pilot was having a hard time adjusting to the news as well, only agreeing to the assignment if their sister received advanced treatment at NERV HQ’s hospital.
At the school, Aida complains to Shinji and Suzuhara about Katsuragi turning him down for the position. As Aida turns his attention to Suzuhara, the once energetic jock simply mumbles a complying statement as he gazes blankly at the ceiling. During lunch, Suzuhara disappears once again, with Shinji remarking that he’s been acting odd as of late. Staring down at the school-grounds from the roof, Suzuhara is approached by Rei who confirms that she knows about his “secret”. He laments this, as now Shinji is the only one who is not in the know before trying to revert back to his old self by teasing Rei for never caring much for people other than Shinji. She questions this idea, wondering if she does care about the Third Child, with Suzuhara giving a reaffirming, “Yeah, you definitely do.” Unaware as they converse, Hikari observes the two on the roof as she clutches the lunch she made for our less than lively jock. A brief cut shows Unit 03 arriving at the testing facility before we go back to the school where Suzuhara sits outside in the sun as his classmates endure through another lecture about the Second Impact. As he stares up into the sky, Toji thinks about how he first treated Shinji when he learned about his classmate piloting Unit 01.
That evening, Asuka and Hikari walk home before stopping to talk about Hikari’s suspicions of Suzuhara and Rei, to which Asuka remarks Rei is,“a million times denser than Shinji is about relating to people.” At the apartment, Shinji and Asuka lounge around. Breaking the silence, Shinji mutters about wonder who will pilot Unit 03, to which Asuka replies in shock that he doesn’t know. Shinji perks up at her reaction, thinking she’s about to tell him, causing her demeanor to change and tell him that she has no idea who it is. In the middle of the night, unable to fall asleep, Shinji talks to Kaji and asks him about what Commander Ikari is like. Not knowing much, Kaji turns the question around and asks Shinji why he is interested. Shinji ponders for a moment before saying that he has heard so much from other people, but he doesn’t truly know anything much of his own volition. The scene ends with Shinji asking Kaji about his relationship with Katsuragi, to which Kaji goes on a long-winded monologue about the nature of men and women in order to avoid his question.
The next morning at the testing facility, the Fourth Child arrives at the testing facility, with Katsuragi noting to Akagi that she’ll tell Shinji about the pilot’s identity once the test is over. At the school, Aida, Hikari, and Shinji all wonder about Suzuhara’s whereabouts, with Aida halfheartedly joking that maybe it’s Toji since he’s absent, Shinji laughing it off. As the synchronization tests run, energy readings in Unit 03 spike as it rips itself from its confines and disconnects from its umbilical cord. As the Eva writhes around in pain, Dr. Akagi notes that there is a strange protrusion from its back, exclaiming that it is an Angel before the camera cuts to the outside of the facility as it is engulfed in a large explosion. At NERV HQ, alarms go off as reports of the explosion roll in. As the site is analyzed, the Command Center crew note a large unidentified object is moving through the wreckage, but the analysis pattern is different than that of an Angel. Gendo scrambles the on-site Eva Units to stand by and wait for the object to approach. As the Evas wait for the enemy, Shinji worries about Katsuragi, informed by Rei that Commander Ikari is in charge of the operation as the Major is MIA. As a visual is confirmed on screen in the Command Center, we see Unit 03 lumbering mindlessly towards NERV. Ikari orders an emergency ejection of the entry plug, only for the plug to be held in by a growth on the Eva/Angel’s back. However, we also learn that there are vital signs coming from the pilot, but that there is no response. Upon further deliberation, Commander Ikari states that Evangelion Unit 03 is no longer existent, and that the new being is now designated as the Thirteenth Angel.
As the target approaches, Shinji and the other pilots receive their first visual of the enemy. Shocked, Shinji worries that it could possibly be piloted by another person near his age, to which Asuka begins to tell him of the pilot’s identity before her signal cuts out as she is attacked. The camera than cuts to Unit 02 laying on the ground as Unit 03 stomps past it towards Rei and 00. AS her rifle begins to lock onto Unit 03, Rei remarks that “he’s in there.” Arching its back, the Angel quickly jumps backward and flips around, pinning Unit 00 to the ground where it secretes a liquid onto the Eva Unit’s arm to try and infect it. Gendo orders the severing of the arm, causing the Angel to retreat and head towards Shinji. As the beat draws nearer Shinji begins to express further concerns over another person being inside. Letting out a roar, the Angel hurls itself towards Unit 01, near identical to how 01 did in its first operation after going berserk. As Unit 01 picks itself up off the ground, Shinji notices the entry plug, confirming that there is someone inside. The Angel begins to strangle Unit 01, pinning it against a mountainside.
As Shinji’s vitals drop, his father questions why he will not fight, to which Shinji explains that he is willing to kill an Angel but not another person, even if it means he will die. Frustrated with his son’s judgement, Gendo orders that the synchronization between Unit 01 and Shinji be severed and that control be shifted over to the Dummy Plug instead. Stating that “it will be more use than the pilot”, Gendo oversees the initiation of the Dummy Plug as the entry plug goes dark, with Shinji yelling at his father over what his plan is. Confirming the order to attack, Gendo allows Unit 01 to fight back against the Angel, with the Eva Unit quickly pushing back against the Angel and snapping its neck before hurling it to the ground. Unit 01 proceeds to destroy the head of the Angel as Gendo watches with a smug grin on his face. 01 then proceeds to tear off the armor from the Angel, ripping its limbs off its body as blood sprays across the countryside of Tokyo-3. Shinji screams at his father to stop the attack as he tries to move his Eva. Shinji freezes in fear as the Dummy-controlled Eva pries the entry plug out of the Eva-turned-Angel, screaming in fear as Unit 01 crushes the plug in its hand. With the countryside silent, cicadas chirp in the distance before cutting to Hikari in her kitchen, contemplating what to make for Suzuhara for lunch.
Back at the testing facility, Katsuragi wakes up to be greeted by Kaji and a rescue team who inform her that Unit 01 destroyed Unit 03. As the emotion drains away from her face, Katsuragi tears up as she remembers she never told Shinji of the pilot’s identity. Back at the scene of the carnage, Unit 01 sits motionless as Katsuragi calls a sobbing Shinji who is sitting inside the entry plug still. Shinji explains that his father was behind it, with Katsuragi only being able to apologize to the broken pilot. Perking up as he hears that the rescue team has found the pilot, still alive, he turns his attention to the entry plug, seeing Toji Suzuhara’s comatose body being dragged from the wreckage. We then cut to black as Shinji screams in fear.
Well, after all the tension and build up, Suzuhara is finally revealed as the Fourth Child. But honestly, it would be kind of hard NOT to notice even by reading these last few synopses. The show tries to play it off subtly at first, but begins to go in to hard into shedding the light onto him in a way that makes the reveal painfully obvious. Shinji’s reaction to the reveal was still very emotionally charged and chilling, but only for the fact that he was almost completely blind towards the pilot’s identity. Even with the few hints he received, from his friends, it would have been hard for him to discern exactly who it was. However, while the reveal may not have been as big as Gainax wanted it to be, the disconnect in communication between Shinji and Katsuragi was certainly enough to keep the viewers in suspense as it began to affect their relationship as well. It should also be noted that the black/blue and white track suit that Suzuhara wears throughout the series is almost identical to the paint pattern on Unit 03’s armor.
That also brings us to our Thirteenth Angel, Bardiel. While its main form is not seen, it can be theorized that the Angel is some sort of near-microscopic entity much like the NERV HQ invader, Ireul. Yet, Bardiel’s form may be more organic-based in appearance as different shots reveal a fungus like growth on the Eva/Angel, with the best shot being seen as the Command Center attempts to eject the entry plug from the Unit. It is not known exactly when the Angel first took possession of Unit 03, but it is presumed that the invader initially hitched a ride during the Eva’s passing through the cloud at the beginning of the episode, hence the brief sparks that engulfed the Unit and the aircraft. While not originating from any one specific angel of note in mythology, Bardiel’s name does appear in holy texts as one of the many other angels that are named under the practice of theophory, the practice of inserting the name of God and other deities into lesser beings names. In Bardiel’s case, his name in classical Hebrew literally translates to “Humiliated Son of God,” a fitting name for a creation that has been bastardized and humiliated by being dominated by an Angel.
Ep 17. “The Fourth to be Qualified/Fourth Child”
Original Air Date: Jan. 24 1996
Opening, the Human Instrumentality Committee interrogates Major Katsuragi about NERV’s encounter with the Twelfth Angel, Leliel, as Shinji is professed to be mentally unstable after the incident. The Committee members inquire if the Angel was attempting to communicate with mankind by trying to take possession of Unit 01. Katsuragi refutes this claim, stating that the incident was just abnormal behavior with no attribution. The Committee continues to prod about the Angel’s possible interest in the human psyche, with Katsuragi continuing to explain that the motivations of all Angels is unknown. She also reiterates that the Angels do not seem to operate under a chain of command, and that any long-term goals they may have seem impossible. The interrogation concludes with Commander Ikari stating “The Angels are beginning to attain intelligence.” before another member states that time is running out.
In the interior of a hospital, we see Suzuhara visiting his younger sister as voice over of conversations between the hospital staff talk about how diligent and caring he is. Cut to NERV HQ, Rei and Commander Ikari are traveling to the lower levels as the Commander attempts to make small talk by asking the pilot about how school is going. Simply stating that there are “No problems”, the conversation is cut short as we transition to the interior of the school. During attendance we learn that Rei and Aida are both absent. Shinji questions Suzuhara about Aida’s absence to which he responds that their classmate is out filming battleships. Interrupting their conversation, Suzuhara is tasked with delivering Rei her homework. We then cut to the Control Room of NERV, alarms blaring, as multiple voices come in over the radio stating that something is missing. In the interior of Commander Ikari’s office, Fuyutsuki learns that the second branch of NERV, located in Nevada, has completely vanished without a trace. As Katsuragi, Dr. Akagi, and the other Control Crew look over data pertaining to the incident, we see a satellite view of a large crater, seemingly where NERV’s second branch was located. We then see a recording that was taken seconds before the event, counting down before a large red shock wave engulfs the surrounding area and the camera feed cuts out. During this meeting, the Crew discuss how Evangelion Unit 04 was being stored at this facility, completely vanishing along with the surrounding area and several thousand lives. Aoba reads off a report, stating that the disappearance occurred during the time of a scheduled installation of something referred to as an S2 engine.
Leaving the meeting, Katsuragi and Dr. Akagi discuss the threat of a similar event happening, with the doctor stating that the United States doesn’t want to lose Unit 03 so they have decided to store it at NERV HQ. The Major then asks Akagi about running activation tests for Unit 03, wondering about the use of the so-called Dummy Plug as they do not yet have a pilot. The good doctor hesitantly answers that she has yet to decide. Cut to a large red entry plug with Rei’s name inscribed, along with the text “Dummy Plug”. Underneath the suspended plug, Dr. Akagi and Gendo look upon it as Akagi states that it has been “loaded with Rei’s personal data, but it’s not really possible to digitize a human mind and soul.” She elaborates that the Dummy Plug is a machine that emulates a previous pilots thought process in order to make the best course of judgment in combat. Gendo states that as long as the Eva believes there is a pilot inside, it will work. He then gives the command to load the synchronization data into Units 01 and 02. We then cut to that mysterious area located in Central Dogma where Rei floats motionless in the tube filled with LCL-like fluid. As they observe Rei, Gendo and Dr. Akagi discuss the selection of the Fourth Child, to which Akagi states that there is already a candidate. The Commander then wakes up Rei and invites her to dinner as Dr. Akagi glares at the duo from behind.
Back at the school, Suzuhara overhears Shinji and Asuka fighting over Shinji not having time to make lunch, to which he remarks that they argue like a married couple. At NERV, the Major and Akagi discuss that the Foruth Child has been selected despite no official report being received as of yet. Upon learning who has been selected, Katsuragi shows hesitance, wondering about how it will impact Shinji. At the school once again, Hikari reminds Suzuhara to deliver Rei’s homework, where he asks Shinji to tag along. At Rei’s apartment, Shinji walks in, remembering that she won’t answer the doorbell. Upon entry, Rei’s room looks as disorganized as it did previously, with the only exception being the bloodied bandages are missing as her injuries have healed. Before leaving, Shinji gathers the trash littered about the room and disposes of it. Suzuhara states that its unbecoming of a man to do that kind of labor, to which Shinji teases him, stating that Katsuragi doesn’t like that kind of attitude in a man. While Shinji cleans, Suzuhara reminisces on the first time that they met, explaining that he thought Shinji was “a jerk” and didn’t seem like he’d ever care for others. During their discussion, Rei enters, seemingly oblivious to the two until Suzuhara greets her. Shinji explains that he cleaned up for her, to which a blushing Rei thanks him. As the two walk home, Rei lies in bed, repeating “Thank you” to herself, noting that she’s never said the phrase to anyone before, not even the Commander. During a ride down to NERV HQ, the Commander and Fuyutsuki discuss the future of Tokyo-3 and how the organization is going to report the disappearance of Unit 04 to the Committee.
Somewhere in Tokyo-3, Kaji attempts to flirt with Maya as he presses her for information about NERV, only to be found by Katsuragi. As Maya flees in embarrassment, Katsuragi questions Kaji about the Marduk Institute, the branch of NERV that supposedly finds candidate children to pilot Evangelions. Kaji feigns ignorance, stating that it isn’t like her to ask for help, eventually caving and explaining that the Institute doesn’t truly exists, and that it is simply another example of NERV pulling the strings behind the scenes. He then tells her to code “A-2”, which the Major recognizes as being the room number for Shinji’s classroom. Interrupting the two, Shinji walks in and tells Katsuragi that Dr. Akagi wants to see her. Left alone with Shinji, Kaji compliments Shinji about his confidence in speaking bluntly to people. Kaji then takes Shinji to a secret garden full of watermelons that he has been working on for a while as he asks Shinji if he’s ever found anything in life that he enjoyed. Kaji explains his questioning, stating that when you enjoy something, you can relate to other people and form better bonds with them. Recieving a phone call from Katsuragi, Kaji escorts Shinji back to NERV HQ for a synchronization test. During the test, it appears as if Shinji’s rates are dropping, to which Dr. Akagi hypothesizes that his psyche was probably affected by his encounter with Leliel. The Major states that this unstable state will make it even harder to inform Shinji about the Fourth Child.
Once again, back at the school, Suzuhara is called into the Principal’s office, where we hear Dr. Akagi’s voice greet him. While waiting for their friend to return, Aida and Shinji wait on the roof, where Aida tells the pilot that he learned Unit 03 is arriving soon from America. Asking shinji if he’s heard anything further, Shinji states that he isn’t in the know for that kind of information. Aida then says that he feels like the Fourth Child hasn’t been chosen before excitedly telling Shinji he should ask Katsuragi to make him a pilot as well. Aida then questions Shinji about the vanishing of the second brand and Unit 04, information that Shinji does not know about either, to which Shinji mutters that he hasn’t been informed of anything by Katsuragi. Back in class, Shinji and Hikari both glance back at Suzuhara’s empty seat before he arrives with a blank expression on his face. That evening, as Suzuhara carries out his class duties, Hikari learns that he missed lunch and that he doesn’t have anyone to cook as his sister is still in the hospital. “Casually” bringing up that she cooks too much for her sisters, Hikari begins to offer to bring lunch for Suzuhara, only for him to accept.
At Kaji’s office, Asuka barges in as he tries to complete work analyzing the synchronicity rates of the Eva pilots. Getting closer, Asuke sees a fourth graph before exclaiming in disgust about why “He” has to be the Fourth Child. In the United States, we see an aircraft take off, carrying what is seemingly a black Eva Unit, Unit 03. The episode ends with Suzuhara standing alone in the school basketball court, his blank expression still on his face as he makes a shot.
Ep 16. “Sickness unto death, and then…/Splitting of the Breast”
Original Air Date: Jan. 17 1996
Opening during a slice-of-life section, we see Shinji, Asuka, and Katsuragi in their apartment where Unit 02’s pilot once again berates Shinji for minor inconveniences that he puts her through. Asuka then turns her attention to Katsuragi, stating that she has been too soft on Shinji as of late. Inside of NERV HQ, the three pilots undergo their normal tests, where Katsuragi praises Shinji for improvements on his synch scores. This, of course, causes Asuka to complain to Rei in the locker room, who quickly leaves in light of her fellow pilots ramblings. Aboard a bus, we see Shinji silently reveling in the praise he has received, only to be laughed at by a couple of children, quickly souring his mood.
The next day, a large striped orb appears in the middle of Tokyo-3, but analysis from the Control Room proves negative towards the object being an Angel. Once again we learn that Commander Ikari is absent for the day, an issue that is made worse by the Magi reserving judgement on a course of action due to the unknown origin of the object. The object slowly floats over Tokyo-3 as the now-launched Eva Units lurk in the shadows. As the pilots concoct a plan, Asuka states that Shinji should take the lead on the operation as he had received the best scores as of late, once again going on a tirade about his improvements. Accepting the challenge, much to Asuka’s disbelief, the other two Units are assigned as back-up. As Unit 01 draws nearer to the floating orb, Shinji tires of waiting for his back-up to take position, firing on the object. Before his bullets can land, the orb disappears only for the signal of an Angel to be detected directly underneath Unit 01. A large shadow then materializes underneath Unit 01 as the orb shows back up directly overhead. As Shinji and Unit 01 sink into the shadow, Asuka and Rei rush towards his position, only for the shadow to appear underneath Unit 02 once Shinji has been fully absorbed. The shadow continues to grow and eventually begins absorbing buildings, causing Katsuragi to order a retreat, despite Rei’s insistence that Shinji may still be alive.
That evening, Katsuragi and Dr. Akagi discuss that Unit 01’s life support would be able to sustain Shinji for at leat 16 hours. As the two higher-ups discuss courses of action, Asuka takes the opportunity to again speak poorly about Shinji. However, as the pilot rants, Rei confronts her about it before the two are interrupted by Katsuragi. Meanwhile, inside Unit 01’s entry plug, Shinji activates life support and desynchs from his Eva in order to prolong his oxygen supply. Inside the War Room, Dr. Akagi informs the group that the Angel is actually the shadow that swallowed Unit 01 and Shinji and that the orb is a spherical shadow projected by the Angel. She also states that inside the Angel is some sort of pocket dimension created by the Angel’s AT Field, named the Sea of Dirac. Back in the entry plug, Shinji begins to fall into delirium as he states the LCL fluid smells like blood, pounding against the hatch to try and force his way out. At NERV, Dr. Akagi reveals the plan to drop the remaining 992 N2 mines in NERV’s possession into the center of the Angel to free Unit 01, putting emphasis on the operation’s top priority being the recovery of Unit 01, rather than Shinji. Katsuragi slaps Dr. Akagi as she states that Shinji’s life is of no concern during the operation, to which the doctor states that it is the Major’s fault if he’s dead, not hers. Major Katsuragi questions why Akagi and the Commander are so worried about the safety of Unit 01, stating that she knows Akagi is lying about disclosing all the information available.
Inside a train car, Shinji holds a conversation with himself about his own existence, discussing the fact that everyone perceives a different version of him, meaning that there is a different Shinji that lives in everyone’s minds. The inner dialogue then blames Commander Ikari for abandoning Shinji as he flashes back to the time that he was praised by his father. As Shinji begins to argue with his inner monologue, his life support begins to falter, as he thinks back to his father walking away from him as he was abandoned. Inside the entry plug, Shinji returns to consciousness only to be greeted by the now freezing LCL fluid and powerless plug suit. Helplessly curling up, Shinji begins to lose consciousness again, only to be awoken by a glowing specter that embraces him, a specter that he recognizes as his mother.
Back in Tokyo-3, planes prepare to drop the N2 mines before the shadow Angel begins to crumble and crack apart, an event with an unknown cause, resulting in the Control Room panicking. The once striped spherical shadow of the Angel quickly turns pitch black before a bloodied arm tears through the sphere , with Unit 01 emerging from the orb, screaming into the sky. As the crew watches in horror, many thoughts are prompted from them. Asuka looks on in disgust as she realizes how bestial the Evas can be. Dr. Akagi remarks “What kind of monster have we copied from?” leaving Katsuragi to think back on the existence of the Angels and Evas and how they are connected and what NERV is going to do with the Units once all the Angels are destroyed. Unit 01 finishes emerging from the sphere, landing on the ground as blood rains down across the city. The NERV crew once again looks on, speechless as Unit 01 stands in the middle of the carnage, a low growl emerging from its armored face. We then cut to Katsuragi calling out to Shinji as she rescues him from the entry plug, embracing him and crying, much to Asuka’s dismay. As Unit 01 is returned to its docking bay and cleaned off, Dr. Akagi thinks back on the events of the day with Commander Ikari, stating that “They [Evas] may hate us” and that Katsuragi may have noticed something odd about the Evas. She also states that if Shinji or Rei found out about the “Eva’s secret”, that they would never forgive NERV. The episode closes out with Shinji now waking up in his all-too-familiar hospital bed, only to this time be greeted by Rei watching over him, smelling his hand and stating that the smell of blood wont come off.
As a follow up to episode 15, this episode leaves viewers to ruminate on the information that had been given in the past, but at least for now we can talk about the new Angel. Our Twelfth Angel, Leliel, is one of the abstract Angels, arguably beating out the others in terms of its gimmick and influence. With its name originating from the Jewish Angel of Night, Lailah, Leliel is a shadowy beast that has the ability to swallow seemingly anything and store it within its pocket dimension. Aside from its supernatural abilities, we should also discuss what happens while Shinji is inside the Angel’s dimension. Despite seemingly having an internal monologue with himself, the voice of the “other” Shinji is much lower and seems to be presenting itself in a more formal manner. The other Shinji also antagonizes the pilot, bringing up his past experiences, leading to the conclusion that the “other” Shinji is actually Leliel speaking to our pilot. This has been stated to be mere conjecture for a long period of time before being officially confirmed in production booklets that accompanied the release of the first two films.
Ep 15. “Lies and Silence/Those women longed for the touch of others’ lips, and thus invited their kisses.
Original Air Date: Jan. 10 1996
The interior of a helicopter is shown with Commander Ikari and Fuyutsuki sitting inside, discussing the current events regarding the Human Instrumentality Committee. Gendo remarks that they should have nothing to complain about as everything is going according to plan. When Fuyutsuki asks about what should be done about “that man”, Ikari states that they will leave him be for the time being. Cutting presumably to “that man”, we see Kaji investigating an abandoned building, pulling a gun as a door begins to open before he learns that it is his informant. During a conversation, his informant tells him that the company he is currently investigating, Shannon Bio, is one of 108 subsidiaries under the Marduk institute, the institute that supposedly screens for children suitable in piloting Eva Units. She also states that this company is the 107th to be identified as a shell corporation. Back in Tokyo-3, Asuka tries to call Kaji, to no avail, as his phone has not been answered at all as of late. As the class cleans the room, Shinji watches Rei closely as she wrings out a cloth.
At NERV HQ, the three pilots are once again undergoing routine harmonics tests, with Dr. Akagi and Katsuragi discussing a wedding that they are attending the next day. Interrupting their conversation, Dr. Akagi asks if Shinji seems a bit more down than usual, to which Katsuragi remarks its because “Of tomorrow.” After the test, the First and Third Children ride in an elevator, with Shinji telling Rei that he has to “see his father tomorrow.” He asks her what to talk about with him, explaining that he once saw her talking happily with him. He again asks what kind of person his father is, with Rei responding that she simply doesn’t know. Bringing up the fact that Shinji has been staring at her all day, Rei questions why to where Shinji mentions that she was wringing out the cloth she used to clean at school “like a mother.”, causing Rei to show visible embarrassment and discomfort for the first time.
At the apartment, Asuka lounges around, asking Katsuragi to borrow some of her perfume to wear on a date that Hikari set her up on. Scolding Asuka, Katsuragi says that the perfume isn’t for children before walking into Shinji’s room as the pilot lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling as his father’s words of praise ring through his head. As Katsuragi opens the door, Shinji rolls onto his side, pretending to be asleep as the Major explains that no matter how he feels about seeing his father tomorrow, he shouldn’t give up on going as nothing will get better if he doesn’t attempt to change. Exiting, she tells him to keep his head high as he will be seeing his mother again too. At the wedding the next day, Kaji arrives disheveled and unshaven. Frustrated, Katsuragi straightens his tie, causing Dr. Akagi to mention that they act like a married couple, much to the Major’s frustration.
The scene then cuts to a large, open field in the middle of a desert where hundreds of monuments rise out of the ground. A close up on Shinji reveals the monuments to each be a gravestone as he stands in front of Yui Ikari’s grave, his mother. Commander Ikari arrives late, mentioning that it had been three years since the two of them last visited, with Shinji running away that past time. Shinji expresses remorse for not even being able to remember her face, causing Gendo to state that “Man survives by forgetting his memories, but there are some thing a man should never forget.” Asking his father for a photo of his mother, the Commander informs his son that he has kept no pictures or records of her and that there is no true body buried and that the monument is a mere decoration. Cutting their time short, a helicopter arrives to pick up Gendo, a helicopter in which Shinji spots Rei sitting in. Calling out to his father, Shinji finally gathers the courage to express his “enjoyment” of the time they were able to spend together before his father leaves.
That evenining, at the apartment, Shinji practices on a cello as Pen Pen lazes around. Asuka arrives home early, stating that the date was boring so she left while they were waiting in line. She then reiterates her point that “Kaji is the only man for me.” We then cut to after the wedding as Kaji, Katsuragi, and Dr. Akagi are out drinking at a bar, discussing their pasts together. Giving Akagi a gift, she recognizes the souvenir from Kyoto, only for Kaji to feign innocence and tell her that he was visiting another facility near Old Tokyo-2. The doctor than retaliates by stating that Kaji shouldn’t be digging around into matters that shouldn’t concern him because, as a friend, she doesn’t want him to get burned. As Katsuragi returns to the group, we see the two pilots at home get a call from the intoxicated Major, stating that she will be home late as she is out drinking with Kaji, to which Asuka remarks that this means she won’t be home at all that night.
Late that night, after vomiting in an alleyway, Kaji carries Katsuragi home where the two begin to talk about their history togther. The Major informs him that when they broke up it was simply because he reminded her too much of her father, and that scared her as she was afraid of being vulnerable with him as she hated her father. As she continues to ramble on, Kaji grows more and more upset, especially after Katsuragi mentions that she has begun to sound like a coward, just like Shinji. Unable to take any more of her self-depreciation, Kaji silences her with a kiss.
Once again returning to the apartment, Asuka groans in boredom before asking Shinji if he wants to try to kiss. Asuka teases the hesitant pilot, asking him if he’s afraid of kissing someone on the anniversary of his mother’s death as she may be watching him from heaven. Yelling at her that she’s not, Shinji stands up in frustration. Asuka nears closer and tells the nervous boy not to breathe before plugging his nose and kissing him. Standing still with his arms at his side, Shinji begins to turn blue before gasping for air as Asuka breaks away, causing her to run into the bathroom to wash out her mouth. Not long after, Kaji arrives with a passed out Katsuragi, whom they promptly put to bed. As he leaves, Asuka begs him to stay, the emotion draining from her face as he rejects her proposition. Noting that he smells like lavender, the perfume that Katsuragi forbid Asuka from wearing, she stands still and emotionless until Shinji asks her whats wrong to which she runs off, blaming him for his bad kiss being the cause.
The next day at school during roll call, Shinji notices Rei’s absence. We then cut for the first time to Central Dogma, panning down from a mess of tubes and wires to some sort of containment unit in the center of an empty room. A closer examination reveals Rei inside of the tube, floating inside liquid that resembles the entry plug’s LCL fluid. Opening her eyes, Rei sees Commander Ikari smiling at her, causing her to smile back. The scene then shifts again to an area labeled Terminal Dogma where Kaji is attempting to break in with his NERV ID. Feeling a gun against his head, Kaji sees Katsuragi standing behind him, informing him that she knows about his second job as an agent for the Japanese Department of Home Affairs, something that NERV has known for a while now. Kaji notes that Commander Ikari has been using him for a while now, apologizing to Katsuragi about keeping it a secret from her, though. HE then remarks that Ikari and Dr. Akagi have been hiding other things from her as well though,opening the door to reveal a large, white being crucified on a red cross, with the Lance of Longinus driven through its chest. Kaji explains that this being is the cause for the events since the Second Impact, the First Angel, Adam.
With such a big information dump and no new Angel attackers to analyze, it’s best for the time being to just let this episode sit in the mind to be ruminated over. Whether it be further comparisons being drawn in the relationship between Asuka and Shinji with Katsuragi and Kaji’s, or the now gigantic being which is referred to as Adam, who is apparently the first Angel and the first human, the information is better kept in the back of the mind and thought about until the next episode.
Ep 14. “Seele, the Seat of the Soul/Weaving a Story”
Original Air Date: Jan. 3 1996
Episode 14 is interesting as it reinvigorates the trope many long running anime series have taken of recapping the events of that have happened during the middle episode of the series. The first half of the episode sees Gendo recapping the previous events of the series in an official report, documenting all of the Angel encounters thus far. While not many extra details are given, this is the point in which we learn the official names given to each Angel. The recap also includes excerpts from letters and notes written by Shinji’s friends and other acquaintances.
As Commander Ikari finishes his brief on the previous angel attacks, we hear voices from other members of the secret Committee that we have seen before. As they chime in, text appears on the screen that reads “Human Instrumentality Committee Special Meeting Convened.” Inside the meeting room, the committee members once again berate Commander Ikari, stating that the invasion by Ireul was ahead of schedule and that if the Angel infiltrated Central Dogma, the entire Human Instrumentality project could have been in jeopardy. In response, Gendo states that the report was an error and that no invasion by an Eleventh Angel took place. Warned by the other council members that the punishment for false testimony is death, Ikari states that the Magi’s records will prove his statement to be true. Stating that the schedule is beginning to advance faster in accordance with the “Dead Sea Scrolls”, the committee ignores the discrepancy for the time being. With the head member stating that everything is going according to “Seele’s” script, we are finally given a name for the mysterious organization.
Afterwards, the camera fades between different scenery such as the clear sky, a field of sunflowers, and red sky as Rei narrates a poem over the scenes. As the poem grows increasingly erratic, Rei begins to question her sense of self, thinking about all the people that she knows. The scene ends with the image of Unit 01’s unmasked face that Shinji saw before Rei snaps out of her trance, revealing her to be seated in an entry plug. It is shown that Rei is currently undergoing a cross-compatibility test, being in Unit 01’s entry plug, with her questioning why she feels as if someone is in the plug with her, remarking that it smells like Shinji but the presence feels like someone else. With her synch rate similar to Unit 00’s, the test appears to be running smoothly. Finishing the test, Asuka and Shinji both undergo similar tests, with Shinji stationed in Unit 00’s entry plug. As Shinji synchs with Unit 00, he states that it feels weird as it smells like Rei, feeling like it only belongs to her. During he second stage, the synch rate begin
s to drop between Shinji and Unit 00. During this test, Dr. Akagi mentions the possible use of something called the “dummy plug” in the near future, to which Maya expresses her concerns. The test continues before Shinji begins to have visual hallucinations of Rei as Unit 00 begins to go berserk, similar to what happened during Rei’s first test as seen in episode 5. Ripping itself from confinement, Unit 00 again clutches at its head as it did with Rei, reeling in what seems to be pain. Again, similar to Rei’s experience, Unit 00 begins to punch the glass in front of the monitoring room, with Rei now standing there rather than Commander Ikari. However, unlike Rei’s experience in the berserk Eva, the monitoring room is unable to eject the entry plug as Unit 00 once again smashes its head against the wall of the testing chamber before powering down. Katsuragi questions if the Eva was attempting to kill Rei as the scene changes to later that night during a conversation between her and Dr. Akagi where she questions if this was related to the previous berserk incident. Akagi sates that it is unknown but she will reconfigure Unit 00 to Rei’s settings once again. As Katsuragi leaves, Dr. Akagi thinks to herself, stating “The person Unit 00 wanted to hit was me. I’m sure of it.”
Waking up with a gasp in bed, Shinji looks up at the ceiling to find he is now in the same hospital room he was placed in after Unit 01 went berserk. The Control Room is then informed that Shinji shows no signs of mental contamination but does show some memory loss from the rampage. After the call, we see Asuka laying in bed, pondering exactly who Rei is and wh
ere she came from. In the interior of Commander Ikari’s office, the Commander and Fuyutsuki discuss the meeting with Seele and how they shouldn’t provoke them any further in fear or retaliation. During their conversation, Fuyutsuki thinks to himself that Ikari is too concerned about Rei before his thoughts are interrupted by Gendo asking about the progress of the “Adam Project.” Fuyutsuki explains that the project is developing smoothly, asking the Commander about the status of something called the Lance of Longinus. Gendo quickly cuts his second in command off, stating that everything is going well as we cut to Rei inside Unit 00, carrying what appears to be the lance down a long corridor.
While the first half of the episode has little material other than what has previously been seen, the second half is relatively dense in new introductions. We learn about the Lance of Longinus, also known as the Spear of Longinus, but are not informed about its purpose, only that it is big enough to be carried by an Eva Unit and may be connected to the Adam Project, whatever that project may be. We have also finally learned the name of the organization that acts as NERV’s superiors, Seele, with the innermost circle that Gendo is in being called the Human Instrumentality Committee. However, the purpose of Seele and NERV are yet fully known, but we now know that they are following a planned schedule in accordance with some sort of prophetic documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Rei also has her moment during the episode as she begins to develop more independent thought. During her poem, Rei’s thoughts go from describing different scenery to the people she knows as soon as she thinks about Commander Ikari. This brings up Shinji and Asuka as fellow pilots, leading her to question what she is and why she is doing the things she does. She states during her poem that she is just a vessel for a soul and that she is “connected”. She also ponders the existence of humanity, wondering if Evas are humans as “Humans [are], that which is created by humans”, and wondering humans are truly creations of God. “I am a vessel for my thoughts / the entry plug, the throne for the soul”, she states as she begins to delve further into her own existential crisis. As her existentialism reaches its peak, the visuals begin to warp with multiple on screen images of Rei taking up the space as her eyes widen before snapping out of it. It is not 100% clear as to what exactly brought on this breakdown, but it was more than likely Rei being inside of Unit 01’s plug, an environment that made her feel as though someone was inside the plug with her, watching her.
Ep 13. “Angel Infiltration/Lilliputian Hitcher”
Original Air Date: Dec. 27 1995
Performing routine maintenance on the Magi computers, Dr. Akagi and Maya discuss how much the good doctor has taught the technician. After the repairs, Dr. Akagi reflects on the process in the bathroom, worrying that she hasn’t left behind a legacy as of yet as she only gets older. We then see the three pilots being put through a new autopilot test to gather data. The three are decontaminated without their clothes in order to test the harmonic rate between their bodies and the Eva Units without the plug suits. The test commences in simulation Eva Units as the Magi runs diagnostics on the harmonics rate between the pilots and their Eva. The pilots have difficulty getting used to the new test environment, with attempts to move from Rei proving futile. During the course of the tests, Major Katsuragi and Dr. Akagi discuss the origin of the Magi computers, allowing us to learn that Dr. Akagi’s mother is the one that trio of supercomputers.
After a cut to the Control Room, we see Fuyutsuki and Aoba examining a stain-like pattern on recently brought in materials, to which Hyuga remarks that it may be something trapped inside the metal, such as air bubbles. Informed of the structural corrosion caused by the stain, Dr. Akagi decides to continue the tests, worried about backlash from the Commander for interrupting such an important test. As the test continues, whining emanates from the the stain as it begins to shine slightly. This close up on the stain is cut off by an alarm in the testing chamber. The crew inside the test chamber’s monitoring room inform Dr. Akagi and Katsuragi that the corrosion is spreading further from the initial stain and has begun to contaminate other nearby areas as well. The areas are quickly quarantined in order to attempt and prevent further spread. Despite the efforts, the contamination continues to spread, prompting Akagi to release drones to attempt and neutralize the spreading contaminant. Waiting for the drones to make contact with the contaminant, the silence is broken by Rei’s screams as the simulation Eva Unit begins to move on its own as the contaminant begins to invade the control systems. Destroying the arm of the simulation body, the area is isolated as the drones fire on the growing stains, only to be deflected by an AT field. The stain begins to grow and infect the rest of the simulation Eva, being identified by the Magi as an Angel. This is when we get our second mention of the area known as Central Dogma, as Fuyutsuki orders that its quarantine from the spreading Angel be one of the crew’s top priorities.
As panic spreads throughout NERV HQ as the infection spreads, Commander Ikari orders the alarm to be stopped, demanding that the incident be reported as a mistaken alarm to the government. Fuyutuski expresses concerns over the spread of the Angel near Central Dogma, where Gendo remarks that he is correct as that is where Adam is being contained. The Commander then orders the launch of the Eva Units into the streets of Tokyo-3 in order to prevent their contamination, putting an odd amount of importance on the safety of Unit 01 over the other two. With Central Dogma fully sealed, Dr. Akagi and Katsuragi attempt to destroy the Angel by flooding the area with a concentrated amount of oxygen. The plan begins to work at first before the Angel adapts, quickly contaminating the remaining area and attacking NERV’s computer systems. Now resembling computer circuits, the Angel begins to contaminate the Magi computer Melchior to activate NERV HQ’s self destruct sequence. The other two Magi reject the request, causing the Angel to begin its infection of Balthasar as well. Under Dr. Akagi’s instructions, a firewall is set up to prevent the spread of the Angel through the Magi, leaving NERV with a brief period of time to regroup. In the War Room, the group discusses the Angel’s remarkable ability to evolve in order to survive attacks against it. Dr. Akagi proposes that they attempt to expedite the Angel’s evolution with “the end of evolution [being] self-destruction. Death itself.” In order to do this, Dr. Akagi states that the “program” the Angel has become needs to be counter-hacked in order to force it to evolve rapidly. However, this counter-hack would only be possible if the firewall is removed, once again leaving NERV to race against time.
Understanding the risks, Dr. Akagi climbs into the core of the Magi computer Casper, the interior littered with notes and scribbles left behind by Akagi’s mother, notes that serve as a backdoor into the Magi’s systems. Dr. Akagi and Katsuragi begin to work on the interior of Casper, removing panels and pipes as Akagi attempts to dig around into the interior. Reaching the core, Akagi cuts open the casing to reveal a brain-like structure that she plugs into. With the Doctor connected, the Angel and Casper race against each other in an attempt to prevent or cause the destruction of NERV HQ. With one second to spare, Dr. Akagi initiates the counter-hack, with possession of the Magi being restored to NERV and the Angel being destroyed. We then cut to our three pilots still waiting inside their testing entry plugs that were ejected earlier in the episode, pondering what is happening outside. Emerging from Casper, Dr. Akagi is greeted by a warm cup of coffee from Katsuragi. Thanking her, Akagi informs her friend of her mother’s description of the Magi, the description she gave the night before she died. Dr. Akagi states that the Magi represents her mother’s three sides; herself as a scientist, a mother, and a woman. The programming for each of the computers was created to be different in order for there to be a conflict of humanity, allowing the supercomputers to reach better conclusions. Akagi then states that she could never relate to the mother aspect of the Magi, but respected her mother as a scientist and hater her as a woman. Closing out, Akagi remarks that Casper is the computer with the “woman” thought pattern, ending the episode stating “She stayed a woman to the last. How totally like my mother.”
This is the first episode where we begin to delve deeper into Dr. Akagi’s story and why she is currently working at NERV. It is assumed that her mother worked at NERV when developing the Magi, causing Dr. Akagi to follow in her mother’s footsteps and try to improve on her work. We also learn that Katsuragi and Dr. Akagi are friends from at least high school during their conversation in the interior or Casper. During this conversation, Akagi also discusses how she is certain that the Magi uses the same type of programming that is used in the Eva Units, using a “personality transplant” operating system. We also see how insecure the doctor is about growing older as she constantly remarks about not leaving a legacy and wishing that her mother had left her with more work to do, despite her insistence that she has already bettered her mother’s supercomputer programming. Commander Ikari also has a few notable quirks about him this episode, most notably his insistence that Eva Unit 01’s safety be prioritized over the other two Evas, although this is never explained why. Ikari also brings up Adam again, the embryonic “first human being”, who is being stored near the mysterious Central Dogma.
Our Angel for this episode is certainly the highest ranking in the “abstract” group of Angels that have appeared so far. The Eleventh Angel, Ireul, has no observable form as it is microscopic, but as it begins to spread it forms a pattern similar to that of a computer circuit board. Ireul’s name translates to “Terror of God”, but has no associated archangel or angel in the three Abrahamic religions. The translation to Terror of God is quite apt as Ireul is one of the first Angels to legitimately put all of NERV HQ in a state of panic due to its ability to grow and spread. Interestingly, Ireul is the only Angel to not have been defeated by an Evangelion, but rather by itself, so far. Cointinuing on with the mystery of the Angels and Adam, this episode gives us a look at the Simulation Eva Units. These Units are headless, legless dummies that the pilots attempt different harmonics tests in. However, these Units are not armored like the combat-ready Evas and seem to be composed of some sort of organic material, demonstrated when the arm of Rei’s unit was blown off to attempt to stop the contamination, revealing bone underneath the “skin”.
Ep 12. “A Miracle’s Worth/She said, ‘Don’t make others suffer for your personal hatred.’”
Original Air Date: Dec. 20 1995
Beginning with a flashback, the camera pans over the moon as an explosion is seen at the bottom of the Earth. On Earth we see a young Katsuragi being loaded into an escape pod of some sort before the explosion encompasses the surrounding area. We then see the epicenter of the explosion, where a large pair of wings emerges from the ground as the screams of an Angel fill the air. Back in current day, Shinji, Suzuhara, and Aida are hiding out in the apartment to stay out of the rain outside. Katsuragi appears and informs Shinji and Asuka about a synchronization test later that day. Before she leaves, Aida notices a pin on the collar of her jacket, congratulating her on a promotion to which Katsuragi half-heartedly thanks him. Confused, Shinji asks Aida what he was talking about where it is explained that her pin changed to represent her promotion from Captain to Major.
At NERV HQ, the pilots of Units 00 and 02 begin lose connection with their Eva Units while Shinji continues to improve. Upon Dr. Akagi congratulating Shinji, Asuka states her frustration as his “score” is still lower than hers.” That night, driving home, Shinji congratulates Major Katsuragi on her promotion, with the Major explaining that she isn’t all too happy about it. At the apartment, Aida and Suzuhara throw a party for Katsuragi. As Asuka bickers with the duo, Shinji begins to zone out, mumbling to himself about why they have to be so noisy after Katsuragi asks him if he’s okay with these kind of social events. Shinji discusses with Katsuragi that the promotion means people acknowledged her work, so she should be happy, projecting his philosophy onto her. After Dr. Akagi and Kaji arrive, we are informed that both Commander Ikari and Fuyutsuki have left on a trip to the South Pole.
With a smash cut, we see an aircraft carrier carrying a large, cylindrical object under a tarp. We then see our first view of the South Pole after the devastation of the Second Impact. Fuyutsuki quite aptly describes the area as “Hell” as the environment has been reduced to blood-red water with pillars of ice scattered about. Gendo refutes by stating that they are under the protection of science, with Fuyutsuki replying about that kind of arrogance being the cause of the Second Impact. The two then receive a notification from NERV HQ about an Angel approaching in satellite orbit. Back at HQ, Major Katsuragi and the control room attempt to scan the Angel with satellites, with the satellites quickly being destroyed as the Angel begins to careen down towards the Earth. In the War Room, it is discussed that the Magi recommend evacuation as the Angel is going to crash itself directly into the center of Tokyo-3, the impact of the blast destroying the city and NERV HQ. With Katsuragi now being the highest ranked member currently at HQ, the decision is up to her. Choosing to evacuate and create back-ups of the Magi just to be safe, Major Katsuragi is questioned by Dr. Akagi about her new plan that is proposed at a success rate 0.00001% by the Magi. Katsuragi claims that this is her duty, to destroy Angels, to which Dr. Akagi says that she is simply trying to get her revenge on the Angels. In the Brief Room, Katsuragi informs the three pilots of her plan to use all three Eva Units to catch the falling Angel with their bare hands. The Major then discloses that the three pilots are often required under regulations to write a will. Losing radio signal from the Angel, NERV has to triangulate an estimated position to where the Angel will land.
As the three pilots ascend, Shinji once again asks Asuka why she pilots, in which she turns the question back around on Shinji. In the Control room, Katsuragi insists that the rest of the technicians evacuate as the safest place in Tokyo-3 to be would be inside of an Eva. Inside Unit 01, Shinji recalls an unseen conversation he held with Katsuragi who explains that her father was a researcher who never cared or had time to see his family, but regardless, he saved her life during the Second Impact. Snapping out of his memory, all the Evas take a runner’s starting position as the Angel closes in. All Units quickly launch into a sprint towards the epicenter of where the Angel is estimated to land, with Shinji reaching the Angel first as it veers off target. Rei and Asuka quickly catch up with Unit 01, with Rei tearing through the Angel’s AT field and Asuka delivering the finishing blow. With wireless communications restored, Commander Ikari contacts NERV, telling Major Katsuragi that she has done an excellent job. Afterwards, he asks to talk to Shinji before congratulating his son on a job well done. Despite the Major promising the three pilots a fancy dinner if they succeeded, the relieved pilots treat her to ramen instead, understanding that she wouldn’t be able to afford something so extravagant. During dinner, Shinji thinks out loud to himself about how he thinks he may pilot Unit 01 because he always wanted to hear his father say that he had done a good job.
Sahaquiel, our Tenth Angel, received its name from the archangel of the same name from the Book of Enoch of the Hebrew Bible. Represented as the Angel of the Sky, Sahaquiel acted as one of the seven great archangels that protected Fourth Heaven. The in-show Sahaquiel is one of the “abstract Angels”, a large being with one eye in the center that has long protuberances on either side with smaller shapes that resembles eyes as well. While the Angel that the episode primarily focuses on isn’t given much lore behind it, it is interesting to look at the flashback scene of the Second Impact and ponder on just what kind of Angel could have caused such devastation. That is, of course, if it was truly caused by an Angel. Nevertheless, the scene shows some sort of large wings emerging from the ground that could possibly be from an Angel or a different being of even greater power.
Ep 11. “In the Still Darkness/The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still”
Original Air Date: Dec. 13 1995
We open on Dr. Akagi doing laundry, accompanied by Maya Ibuki and Shigeru Aoba, two of the technicians that work in NERV’s control center. The trio board the train only to encounter Fuyutsuki who is on his way to hold a meeting with the City Council. Ikari’s right-hand man expresses displeasure in his needed visit as he states that the Magi computers run everything in NERV and Tokyo-3 anyway. As Fuyutsuki and Dr. Akagi discuss an upcoming test for Unit 00, we cut to an emergency alarm blaring in the testing chamber as the aforementioned test is deemed a failure. Elsewhere at NERV HQ, Katsuragi rides in an elevator up towards the surface, only to be accompanied by Kaji who forces his way inside before she can close the door. We then see Shinji on a pay phone somewhere in the city who calls his impatient father, hoping that Commander Ikari would attend an event similar to a career day at his school. Just as his father begins to chew him out, the phone lines cut. We then transition between the two previous locations, with the power going out in Katsuragi and Kaji’s elevator, as well as in the testing chamber. Upon learning of the outage, Fuyutsuki demands all remaining power be directed into powering the Magi and another area called Central Dogma. On the streets of Tokyo-3, we see Makoto Hayuga, another main technician from the NERV control room picking up laundry for Captain Katsuragi, complaining about the task when the power cuts on a nearby crosswalk light. We then are taken to our three pilots who approach NERV HQ, scanning their ID cards only to learn that they don’t work.
Concluding that the power must have been sabotaged, Fuyutsuki and Gendo comment on how disastrous an Angel attack would be. Immediately we cut to an area labled as the “Fuchu General Supreme Command Center” where we see military officials observing an object determined to be an Angel heading towards Tokyo-3. In the distance, large spider-like legs lumber in the direction of the quite literally powerless city as the Command Center attempts to reach NERV. As our various characters across the city try to use different phone lines, they all learn that they do not work for any of the emergency lines. Presuming the situation to be an emergency, Asuka deigns herself leader of the group as the three pilots make their way towards NERV HQ, as told to by their emergency manual. With phone lines down, a plane from the General Supreme Command Center flies overhead, broadcasting an announcement about the approach of an Angel. Still standing outside, Hayuga overhears the broadcast and commandeers a nearby van broadcasting the praises of a political candidate. We then see Dr. Akagi, Fuyutsuki, and Commander Ikari discussing the sabotage as a possible opportunity created for someone to infiltrate NERV’s ranks and sift through data.
Lost, our three pilots overhear Hayuga’s broadcast of the approaching angel. Rei takes leadership of the operation for a short time, leaving Shinji to ponder the existence of the Angels before Asuka assumes leadership again. Finding themselves lost, the trio emerge on the streets of Tokyo-3, where the Angel stomps around in front of them towards NERV. Perhaps out of frustration, Rei takes the leadership position once again and leads the other two down another path. Back at NERV, Hayuga relays the Angel’s approach, where Commander Ikari transfers control of the operation to Fuyutsuki temporarily, retreating back to the Eva Launch Stations and working with the mechanics to manually prepare all three Eva Units for launch. As Asuka complains about Rei being Commander Ikari’s “favorite”, against Rei’s insistence that she is not, the three pilots arrive through an air duct into the Eva Launch Area. After staring at his father in shock over the Commander’s willingness to get his hands dirty with the other workers of NERV, Shinji joins the other pilots in their respective entry plugs before the three Units launch.
As the Eva Units crawl through a shaft towards the surface, the Angel arrives above NERV, leaking an acidic substance out of one of its many eyeballs. The substance hits Unit 02, causing the pilots to fall back and regroup. With a new plan figured out, the three pilots swiftly execute the Angel with a volley of bullets from Unit 01 to the main eye as the other two guard Shinji from the acid with their AT fields. After the Angel’s defeat, the power is restored, cutting back to Katsuragi and Kaji as they attempt to free themselves from the elevator. The episode ends with the three pilots laying out on top of a hill at night as the power from Tokyo-3 switches back on, with Shinji once again openly pondering the existence and purpose of the Angels.
After finally seeing Commander Ikari for more than a minute, this episode builds upon his character in a way that, to steal a cliché, diverted my expectations. The gruff, coarse man who ignores his son other than treating him as a tool, shows how much he truly cares about the success of NERV. Gendo is willing and able to get his hands dirty and mingle with the other employees in order to manually load the Eva Units, using his own strength to lower the entry plugs into the Units. While Commander Ikari certainly isn’t a great father, he shows dedication to other aspects of his life, especially everything that he’s built up at NERV. It is still unclear how Shinji feels after seeing this side of his father as the only time we see an “interaction” is the scene where Shinji stares on in disbelief.
The Ninth Angel, Matarael, is a large arthropod-like creature that resembles a daddy long-leg insect. This is the third Angel that holds a different form, with the others being abstract or humanoid. Like Gaghiel and Sandalphon, Matarael is more similar to an animal in its appearance, behaving more like one as well as its plan does not seem especially complicated such as the aggressive Sachiel and Israfel who seemed to have more thought behind their movements and actions. This lumbering beast’s name is derived from Matariel, an angel of the Jewish Angelic Hierarchy that is described often as the fountain of rain or life. While the fountain of life aspect may not be especially fitting in this episode, the fountain of rain and water aspect connects a bit more closely as Matarael’s primary attack method is letting acid flow from its eyes and rain down upon its enemies. It is also of an important note that when the defense force that informs NERV about the Angel sees it the being approaching, it is referred to as the Eighth Angel, meaning that it may be possible that there has been an Angel attack that NERV never disclosed.
Ep 10. “The Magma Diver”
Original Air Date: Dec. 6 1995
Opening off, we see Asuka shopping in Tokyo-3 with Kaji where she expresses her excitement for going on the trip her class is taking to Okinawa. Kaji shows interest in her trip, stating that he was never able to go on his school trip as it was right around the time of the Second Impact. Cutting to the apartment that evening, Asuka begins to complain as Katsuragi informs her that she will not be allowed to go on the trip. Asuka redirects her anger towards a complacent Shinji, only for him to state that the decision should have been obvious as they are needed in Tokyo-3 in case of an Angel attack. Unit 02’s pilot then states that if NERV is so worried about Angel attacks, then they should just find out where they’re coming from, but Katsuragi quickly changes the subject to lecturing the two pilots about their grades.
Watching their friends take off in a plane, Askua and Shinji stay on standby before we see the interior of the control room, with the operators, Katsuragi, and Dr. Akagi going about their daily routine. During their time on standby, the three pilots lounge around at a pool where Shinji studies as Katsuragi. Interrupting his studying, Askua lectures Shinji on how easy the concept of thermal expansion is to understand before jumping into the pool with Rei. Even now the difference between Unit 00 and Unit 02’s pilots shine through as Rei prefers to swim methodically in practice for school, versus Asuka’s insistence on using a scuba gear to replace the experience she would have gotten on the school trip.
We then change scenes to the interior of the War Room, with Dr. Akagi, Fuyutsuki, and other control room members look over images of a volcano’s interior, discussing something being found inside. At the volcano, Katsuragi examines the interior with a drone. Upon analysis, the drone confirms the presence of an Angel at the heart of the volcano. The only image seen of the Angel is a rough-on screen image of what looks to be a human embryo inside some sort of pod. Katsuragi decides to launch an offensive attack for once before we see the interior of the dark conference room where Commander Ikari talks with the a hesitant Committee. The Committee states that the operation presents too many risks, but the capture of a live Angel would be immensely valuble. Upon the Committee’s disappearance, Fuyutsuki remarks that failure would result in the extinction of the human race, the Third Impact.
Debriefing the three pilots, Asuka eagerly volunteers to use Unit 02 to capture the infant Angel as it will require the use of specialized equipment. Enraged by her appearance after trying on the bulky, heat-resistant version of the plug suit, Askua refuses to complete the operation until Rei volunteers to go in her stead, a proposition that Asuka quickly rejects. Unit 02, in similarly bulky armor that resembles a antique diver’s suit, is delivered to the volcano as a mysterious scene plays out between Kaji and an older woman in a lift discussing the dangers of the operation. Shinji watches from Unit 01 as planes fly overhead where Dr. Akagi informs the two pilots that Commander Ikari has the UN Airfoce on standby to nuke the area in case the operation fails. Shinji scoffs at his father’s lack of caring towards so many lives before he is interrupted by the operation beginning.
Lowering Unit 02 down into the volcano with a containment device, tensions are relieved after the Eva finally delves under the surface of the magma. Continuing to descend, NERV and Asuka scan the area, unable to find the Angel as the pressure ruptures one of several cooling lines. Under the pressure, Unit 02’s prog knife is lost as the strap breaks, causing protests from the control room about continuing the operation. Katsuragi insists on continuing right as Unit 02 makes contact with the target. As Unit 02 approaches the Angel, Dr. Akagi states that there will only be once chance for capture.
Slowly but surely, Asuka carefully captures the Angel and starts to be lifted up out of the magma. Tensions relieve as the mission seems to be a success before a ghastly crying begins to echo throughout the volcano as a now fully formed Angel emerges from its embryo, break free of the cage. In order to defeat the Angel, Shinji throws down his prog knife into the volcano for Asuka to catch. As she catches the prog knife, the Angel wraps itself around Unit 02, breaking off one of the Eva’s legs and biting into the front of the Unit, damaging one of the cooling lines. As the line breaks, Asuka is reminded of the thermal expansion explanation she gave Shinji earlier that day, using the coolant from the pipes to force the Angel away from her before destroying it with the prog knife. As it begins to disintegrate, the dying Angel swings its tentacles one last time, destroying Unit 02’s support cables. As the Eva and pilot start to descend back down further into the magma, Shinji jumps in with Unit 01, rescuing them, much to Askua’s surprise.
The end of the episode closes out at a hot spring, with the pilots being rewarded and compensated for their absence from the school trip. Pen Pen, arriving in the mail as sent by Kaji, excitedly floats around, as he is described as being a rare hot springs penguin after all, as Shinji relaxes alone. Meanwhile Katsuragi and Asuka relax as the sun sets, with Asuka noticing a scar across Katsuragi’s chest that she states she received during the Second Impact. Upon Asuka questioning if the Captain knows about her past as well, Katsuragi simply remarks that “It’s all ancient history for both of us. We shouldn’t let it bother us.”
This episode once again adds to the mystery of the Angels, with the discovery of the Eighth Angel still in its embryonic stages. It could be possible that the volcanic environment is a good incubator for the Angels, if they are all born in a similar fashion, but as Dr. Akagi expresses shock at the idea that the Angel could withstand opening its mouth and swimming so fast in that type of environment, the idea loses most of the legs that it stands on. Our Eight Angel, named Sandalphon later, resembles a gigantic version of the already large, ancient arthropod anomalocaris, an odd shrimp-like creature that was one of the oceans first apex predators. Sandalphon’s name is derived from the angel of the same name from all three Abrahamic Religions. Symbolized as the angel of embryos and brotherhood, Sandalphon is a being that is best known in Midrashic writings for his purpose of being the twin brother of Metatron, the angel form of the scribe and servant, Enoch.
As the episode closes out we are left to reflect on how close the three pilots and Katsuragi have gotten and worked together in such a short amount of time. While their relationships are certainly nowhere near perfect, they are beginning to understand and sympathize with one another rather than ignoring or blowing off certain issues. However, much of the episode’s intrigue lies once again with NERV, the Angels, and now Kaji being added into the mix. We get the first appearance of the Committee in a few episodes, once again shocked and hesitant to follow one of Gendo’s plans but acknowledging that it will be for their own benefit. Kaji’s involvement also seems to remain in the dark, especially after the mysterious lift scene with him discussing the operation to an unnamed older woman. During their conversation, Kaji’s companion expresses the same concerns that Dr. Akagi and Fuyutsuki do about the failure of the operation, with the theoretical Third Impact coming to be, leading to the extinction of all life.
Ep 9. “Mind, Matching, Moment/Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!”
Original Air Date: Nov. 29 1995
The episode begins with Shinji’s classmates discussing Askua’s arrival at their school, discussing different rumors about her and where she’s from, as well as her relationship status. Discussing the school’s infatuation with Asuka, we see Suzuhara and Aida selling photographs of her, expressing their relief that their photos do not show her personality as Shinji seems to be unsure of how to react to their newfound business plan. Asuka then approaches Shinji, dragging him along to confront Rei who is silently reading alone on a nearby bench. After confronting the First Child with the proposition of earning her friendship, which Rei seems uninterested in.
Cut to Dr. Akagi at her desk as Kaji approaches her from behind, playfully flirting as he wraps his arms around her, only to glance out the window to an angry Katsuragi pressed against the window and leering at them. Resuming casual conversation as Katsuragi enters the room, Kaji states that he is going to be present at NERV as he has been put on loan. Just as Katsuragi begins to express her displeasure for this idea, emergency alarms go off to announce the presence of a nearby Angel. With Tokyo-3 still under salvage operations from the previous Angel attack, both Eva Units 01 and 02 are sent out to fight the approaching enemy. Determined to prove herself during her first fight in Japan, Asuka rushes the Angel, swiftly cleaving it in half with her Eva Unit’s axe. While Askua gloats about her success to Shinji, the Angel quickly begins to regenerate, with each half forming a separate Angel.
After another hard cut, we find the two pilots inside of a briefing room, arguing about who is at fault for the loss of the fight, with slides of the defeated Eva Units playing under a breifing announcement. Fuyutsuki lectures the two about the importance of their cooperation as they are only entitled to pilot the Eva Units to fulfill their job of fighting Angels, not to show off. Another cut takes us to Katsuragi’s office where her desk is piled high with files ranging from internal complaints to formal reports about the failed fight. Katsuragi and Dr. Akagi discuss their next course of action where Akagi hands over a floppy disk containing a battle plan that was devised by Kaji.
Back at the apartment, Shinji arrives home only to find his room full of boxes, with his belongings pushed out into the hallway. Surprised by Asuka’s voice, Shinji turns around only to be informed that Asuka has moved in with Katsuragi, and is under the impression that Shinji is leaving the apartment. Upon arrival, Katsuragi informs the two that they will be living together, along wither her and Pen Pen. The Captain then explains that the attack on the Seventh Angel will require perfect cooperation in order to prevent it from regenerating into more Angels. In order to build their level of cooperation, the two will be living with each other and rehearsing a specific attack pattern set to a music track, timed exactly to prevent the Angel’s regeneration. We then see Suzuhara, Aida, and the class representative, Hikari Horaki, arrive at the apartment, surprised to see both Shinji and Asuka answer the door. Arriving with Rei, Katsuragi invites the three of their classmates inside to watch Asuka and Shinji practice, a task that isn’t being carried out very successfully. When showing frustration towards not being able to work with Shinji, Katsuragi insists that Rei try the routine with Shinji, which the two pass with perfect synchronicity.
After Asuka runs off, Shinji follows after her, where she insists that she’ll pull off the operation only to get revenge on Katsuragi and Rei for embarrassing her. After a training montage of the two pilots attempting to live together and learning their routine, the calendar counts down to their final practice day. However, on the final day of practice, the two learn that they are alone for the night, where Asuka decides to violate Katsuragi’s orders and moves her bed to a separate room. Later that night, Asuka checks in on Shinji who is pretending to be asleep with his headphones in. Drowsy after waking up briefly, Asuka collapses beside Shinji in his bed, to which the once again embarrassed pilot gathers his blanket and sleeps on the floor across the room. Across town, Katsuragi and Dr. Akagi discuss their personal lives after a brief encounter Katsuragi had with Kaji earlier that night. Katsuragi states that dating Kaji was the “biggest blemish on her personal life.” The next morning, the Seventh Angels begin to advance through Tokyo-3, leaving Units 01 and 02 to be sent out for their synchronized mission.
The two Eva Units are sent out, with a timer starting as a orchestral music track begins to play, drowning out the sound of the duo’s synchronous attack against the two Angels. Just as the timer reaches zero, the two Eva Units destroy the cores of the Angels, only to reveal the two Units toppled over each other after the explosion following the Angel’s defeat. The episode ends on the duo arguing over their last miscalculation and the events that transpired the night before, only for Fuyutsuki and Katsuragi to look on in humiliation.
Episode 9 certainly focuses largely on the interactions between the two Eva pilots, seeing them growing accustomed to there forced living situation as they gain determination to work together, even if neither one is particularly fond of the idea. The episode also builds upon Asuka’s character more, hinting at some sort of underlying emotions as the Second Child cries in her sleep for her mother, one of the reason’s the already uncomfortable Shinji moved away from her in the room. This moment also develops Shinji’s sense of maturity over some of his peers as he remarks to himself that even though she puts on a front, inside Asuka is just a child. The beginning of the episode is also the first interaction between Asuka and Rei, who are not necessarily opposites of one another, but are almost completely dissimilar in every way including traits that would make them opposites. The quiet and soft-spoken Rei in comparison to the loud, outgoing Asuka doesn’t accept her advances towards friendship not because of her disliking Unit 02’s pilot or because of not getting along, but simply because she “was not ordered to.”
The Seventh Angel(s) that appear in this episode are similar in size and structure to the Third Angel, Sachiel, with the Seventh having a humanoid structure and masked face. This beings name, Israfel, originates from the Islamic Angel, Israfil. Israfil is one of four brothers, with his main purpose being the angel who is destined to blow into a trumpet to signal the beginning of Armageddon. Because of this connection, Israfil is often referred to as the Angel of Music, a fitting association for a being who is defeated by an attack entirely set to a musical score. Israfel is perhaps a more interesting humanoid Angel than Sachiel as the being has the ability to split and recombine itself at will, a skill that eventually lead to its demise at the hands of the two Eva Pilots. While this split could refer to the mythical Israfil’s association with his three other brothers, the dividing ability could also be representative of Israfil often being noted as the Islamic counterpart to the Judeo-Christian Angel, Raphael.
Ep 8. “Asuka Arrives in Japan/Asuka Strikes!”
Original Air Date: Nov. 22 1995
Yet another episode starts off with one of Commander Ikari’s conversations on the phone, discussing precious cargo being transported across the Pacific Ocean. Smash cut to Shinji, Aida, and Suzuhara in a helicoper with Katsuragi, arriving onboard the aircraft carrier “Over the Rainbow” in a large fleet of ships. Two quick cuts then show the captain of the fleet complaining about the presence of Shinji and company before showing a girl being kept in the shadows who watches as the group lands. While exploring the carrier, the group runs into the mysterious girl who Katsuragi introduces as the Second Child, Asuka Langely Soryu, pilot of Evangelion Unit 02. On the bridge of the ship, the captain complains to the group that he isn’t there to “babysit some kids”, where Captain Katsuragi reminds him that his main duty is transporting Unit 02. The fleet captain also refuses to transfer the authority over Asuka and Unit 02 to Katsuragi and NERV until after they have both been fully delivered. Once again, Katsuragi refutes the point, reminding the captain that in case of an emergency, NERV’s authority will override his.
We are then introduced to a long-haired man walking onto the bridge, a sight that Katsuragi seems embarrassed over as Asuka refers to him only as Kaji. After a brief scene about the captain complaining further about the involvement of Congress and the United Nations with NERV, we cut to the entire group crammed into a small elevator. We learn that Kaji is tasked with accompanying Asuka from Germany to NERV, as well as being on a business trip for NERV. Waiting in the cafeteria after their cramped elevator descent, Kaji teases Captain Katsuragi by teasing her about past relationship facts before turning his attention to Shinji, telling him that he’s famous as the Third Child who was able to pilot an Eva Unit without any training.
The group then splits off from one another with Asuka taking Shinji to view Unit 02 up close. She explains to him that Unit 02 is the first production unit, the first “true Evangelion” as Unit 00 and 01 were designed to be a prototype and test type, respectively. She also blames Unit 01’s high synch rate with Shinji over the fact that it was just a defective test model. All of a sudden an undersea explosion rocks the carrier where the two rush out to see fleet ships being destroyed in the distance by an underwater force. Attempting to figure out the origin of the attacks, the captain orders the firing of missiles on the unknown foe, only for Kaji to remark that it must be an AT field if the high-powered weaponry is not having any affect. On the bridge, Katsuragi theorizes that the presumed Angel must be attacking in a search for Unit 02. Hyping herself up, Asuka changes into her plug suit, preparing for combat, forcing Shinji to change into one of her spares, much to his dismay. Shinji voices his concerns over the lack of permission from Katsuragi to pilot Unit 02 as Asuka climbs into the entry plug, once again forcing Shinji to follow suit.
Packing his belongings and watching the attack from his room aboard the ship, Kaji talks to Commander Ikari over the phone, stating that an Angel attack wasn’t “part of their plan”. Retorting, Gendo simply states that Kaji can escape by himself, but he provided Unit 02 for this exact situation. The entry plug is inserted into Unit 02 before the Eva activates, with the fleet captain and Katsuragi arguing over the activation as the ship’s second mate remarks that Unit 02 isn’t prepared for underwater combat. With Unit 02 unable to swim to its desired location, Asuka jumps across the fleet from ship to ship in order to reach the umbilical cord, powering her Evangelion. As the unknown assailant draws closer, Asuka draws her Eva’s prog knife as the enemy breaches the surface, revealing it to indeed be an angel. The Angel pounces on top of the carrier, dragging Unit 02 underwater with it, with the umbilical cord reeling wildly as the Eva is dragged through the water before coming to a stop as the give runs out on the cable. Meanwhile, an aircraft launches on the deck of the ship with Kaji calling out to Katsuragi that he has to leave and deliver something, abandoning ship as the others try to fight the Angel.
Back underwater, the Angel opens a large mouth and traps Unit 02 inside of it, where Katsuragi demands cooperation from the fleet captain. We then go through an overview of their plan, using two evacuated battleships to direct them into the mouth of the Angel as Unit 02 holds it open, witeh the two ships firing their cannons simultaneously to blow up the interior and core of the Angel. Inside Unit 02, Shinji wrests the controls from Asuka as the plan commences, with the umbilical cable being reeled back in, the Angel still holding Unit 02 tight in its mouth. Drawing closer, Shinji and Asuka work together to pry open the Angel’s mouth, opening just in time as the battleships open fire. As a large explosion emerges from the water, Unit 02 lands aboard the aircraft carrier only to collapse due to the newfound absence of the umbilical cord.
As the fleet docks at the delivery port, Dr. Akagi accompanies Katsuragi to shore, examining data that shows that Shinji and Asuka’s cooperation broke any of the Eva Unit’s previous synchronization rates. Asuka runs up to Katsuragi and asks about Kaji’s whereabouts before we cut to the interior of Commander Ikari’s office where we see Kaji and Gendo looming over a secured briefcase that lay on the Commander’s desk. As the case is opened, Kaji remarks about the contents being the key to pulling off the Human Instrumentality Project, as Gendo confirms his suspicions, elaborating that the fetus-like being inside is the remains of Adam, the first human. The next day, at their school Shinji, Aida, and Suzuhara discuss their distaste for Asuka, only for her to come barging in through the door, introducing herself as their new classmate.
As made evident by the end of the episode, the connections to mythology grow even deeper with the presence of “Adam”, referred to as the first human being by Gendo. While Adam’s purpose is not elaborated upon further than “being the key to the Human Instrumentality Project”, it may be a small piece in a much larger puzzle. It becomes clear during Kaji and Gendo’s conversation that the Angel was searching for Adam, which Kaji had hidden away. The Angel in question, the Sixth Angel, is interesting as it does not have any evident real-life counterpart aside from its name translating roughly to “Roaring Beast of God”, suitable for the large-mouthed Angel. The design of the angel resembles a variety of undersea life, with limbs resembling a starfish, fins like a dolphin, and the head of an ancient mosasaur.
Aside from the new Angel and the introduction of Adam, the majority of the episode simply serves as an introduction to the stubborn and quick-tempered Asuka and the laid-back, professional Kaji. Despite the lack of underlying content, it remains clear that Kaji has some sort of personal, romantic history with Katsuragi, demonstrating that perhaps we will gain more insight in future episodes.
Ep 7. “The Works of Man/A Human Work”
Original Air Date: Nov. 15 1995
We start off the episode with a phone call between Gendo and an unnamed person on the phone, discussing giving falsified information to the government in order to cover up information on NERV’s actions. Meanwhile, Shinji and Pen Pen enjoy breakfast only to be interrupted by Katsuragi barging in, embarrassing Shinji with her behavior as she chugs a beer in place of breakfast. After discussing Katsuragi attending parent-teacher conferences at the school, Suzuhara and Aida arrive to walk to school with Shinji, more than likely using the excuse to fawn over Katsuragi more, something that confuses Katsuragi’s annoyed roomate. During the school day, Katsuragi arrives, causing all the boys to begin to fawn over her once again, something that Shinji again expresses annoyance over, calling her a slob.
After school, Shinji sits in the entry plug, pondering the purpose and existence of the Eva Units, remembering the moment that he made eye contact with Unit 01’s exposed eye. Shinji also notes that the LCL liquid in the entry plug smells like blood, but seems to relax him somehow, concluding that he may never understand. On the way back from activation testing, Dr. Akagi, Katsuragi, and the Control Room staff discuss the fact that the Eva Unit 02 is arriving soon from Germany with its pilot, however, Shinji does not seem to car or does not react as his face is buried in his NERV briefing book. Aboard an aircraft of some sort, Gendo finds an unnamed man sitting next to him. The man discusses a “committee” of some sort, perhaps referring to the secret committee from past episodes that Gendo has interacted with. The man also informs Commander Ikari that the UN has approved budget for the construction of Eva Unit 06 and that another unnamed country is beginning on the construction of Unit 08, though no pilots have been found. Outside the craft, we see a shot of a large crater in place of Antarctica, covering much of the lower quarter of the Earth.
Back at NERV base, Dr. Akagi begins to debrief Shinji on the truth behind the Second Impact. Named the Second Impact after the purported First Impact that occurred when a meteor struck the Earth and created the moon, the Second Impact was named thus after the cover up story that stated another meteor had crashed. Completely destroying the continent of Antarctica, the Second Impact is revealed to be the first instance of mankind encountering an Angel. During an investigation of some sort, an explosion went off and the Angel was destroyed, resulting in all the other catastrophes seen after the second impact such as global species extinctions and the loss of over 2 billion human lives. Dr. Akagi states that the purpose of NERV and the Evas fighting the Angels it to prevent a possible Third Impact from happening. The next day, we see Katsuragi fully awake and dressed in formal uniform as she tells Shinji that she will be visiting “Old Tokyo” on business for the remainder of the day. In Old Tokyo Dr. Akagi and Katsuragi attend a demonstration for a giant Angel fighting robot called Jet Alone, built by the private company Japan Heavy Chemical Industries. During the presentation Dr. Akagi questions the company’s use of a nuclear reactor in a robot designed for close quarters combat, much to Katsuragi’s dismay. As Akagi continues her questioning, the company representative and other guests begin to lambaste NERV for how unreliable it seems the Eva Units are in comparison to Jet Alone. After the conference, the guests attend the demonstration of Jet Alone’s activation.
During the activation tests, the pressure inside the nuclear reactor begins to rise, despite commands from the Control Room. In an attempt to relieve pressure manually, Jet Alone must be shut off, but the robot begins rejecting any remote input signals from the Control Room, causing the robot to march forward as the reactor reaches the point of meltdown. Determining that Jet Alone will not stop before the reactor explodes, Katsuragi demands that the password for the reactor controls be handed over in order for her to stop the robot. After finally acquiring the password, Katsuragi orders Unit 01 and Shinji to be brought to Old Tokyo to assist her in the operation. Donning a radiation suit Katsuragi is carried by Unit 01 and Shinji who are tasked with running after with Jet Alone and placing her near the entry hatch. Successfully making it aboard the robot, Katsuragi climbs inside and attempts to enter the password, which is rejected by the machine, leading Katsuragi to deduce that the programming of the robot had been tampered with. In a last ditch effort to relieve pressure, Katsuragi tries to push the control rods back into the reactor. Seconds before meltdown, programming within the console returns to normal and the pressure is immediately relieved, as if it was programmed to cease detonation from the start. In the afternoon, inside Commander Ikari’s Tokyo-3 office, Dr. Akagi expresses that everything wend “according to plan”, aside from Katsuragi’s actions. The episode closes out on Shinji walking to school with Aida and Suzuhara, displeased that Katsuragi has resorted back to her normal morning routine of drinking and acting slovenly. The duo then scold Shinji by telling him she only acts that way around him because she is comfortable enough to show that side of her around him, that she sees him as family, ending with a smiling Shinji following after his classmates.
This seventh episode focuses largely on the Katsuragi’s relationships with others, whether it be with Shinji or the entirety of NERV. We now see her comfortable around her new roommate, as explained by Aida and Suzuhara, but still takes up her role as Shinji’s guardian when necessary. In terms of her relationship with NERV, it has become clear that not even Katsuragi is in the know about everything that the organization is doing as the Jet Alone sabotage may have been planned by NERV between Dr. Akagi and Commander Ikari.
While not a lot of iconography that hasn’t already been seen is present in the episode, it should be noted that we do get a better look at the interior or Commander Ikari’s office. A standalone desk seats the Commander, with Fuyutsuki standing to his side. There is that seemingly stands out among the barren office until you notice the large diagram of the Jewish Kabbalah Tree of Life looming above, engraved into the ceiling. The Tree of Life consists of several different nodes, called sephiroths, that note different attributes and behaviors of Kabbalah mysticism. However, the sephiroths seen on Gendo’s Tree harbor strange symbols, different from those traditionally seen on any variation of the Tree. Traditionally the inscriptions within each node contain mentions of the words first spoken by God in the book of Genesis, but upon closer inspection, some of the only discernible words translate to “thunder” and “God”. Seemingly random at first, in reference to the previous episode, the name of archangel Ramiel, our Fifth Angel antagonist, translates loosely to “thunder of God”, perhaps hinting at the idea that the Tree is a potential list of all the Angels encountered or yet to be encountered.
Ep 6. “Showdown in Tokyo-3/Rei II”
Original Air Date: Nov. 8 1995
Picking up right at the end of the last episode, the LCL fluid in Shinji’s entry plug begins to boil as the blast from the Angel pierces through Unit 01 before the Unit is quickly pulled back to safety. Shinji is rendered unconscious and taken in for immediate medical treatment, leaving NERV to confront the Angel without Unit 01. After Unit 01’s retreat, the Angel produces a drill that begins to bore through the ground, making its way to NERV HQ. Inside the control room, experiments are run with dummy weapons fired at the Angel, deducing that the Angel only attacks anything it perceives as a threat within a given range. With only 14 hours remaining before the drill arrives at NERV’s headquarters, Katsuragi and the Control Room team are left to decide how best to face the near invulnerable enemy. With Unit 01 under repairs, Shinji still unconscious, and Unit 00 unable for close-quarters combat, Katsuragi proposes her only idea to Gendo Ikari, using a high-powered sniper rifle to attack the Angel from outside of its firing zone. This is also where we get the first mention of a trio of supercomputer known as the Magi, who seem to run calculations on all proposed plans ahead of time in order to determine effectiveness. With all three of the Magi concluding that the scenario could work, the probability of success is labeled at 8.7%. With approval from Gendo, Katsuragi acquires a prototype Positron Rifle from a development facility, but is still left with the task of channeling 180 million kilowatts through the rifle to break through the Angel’s AT field.
Cut to a close up on television sets across Japan where an announcement is being aired about a scheduled large scale blackout that will occur that night. Back in Tokyo-3, large cables stretch across the city, preparing to channel all the energy from Japan into the Positron Rifle. We also see a large shield that has been built for use by an Eva Unit in order to counter a blast from the Angel in the case of a misfire, but will only withstand the heat for a short period of time. With everything going according to her plan, Katsuragi declares the newly dubbed “Operation Yashima” a go. Waking up in healthy condition, Shinji is greeted by Rei who debriefs him on the details of the Operation, insistent that Shinji continue to pilot Unit 01 as he begins to question his reasons behind his piloting yet again. Rei informs him that Dr. Akagi is already preparing to synchronize Unit 01 to her inputs, turning around and leaving the distraught pilot in his hospital bed.
In the evening, Suzuhara, Aida, and some of Shinji’s other classmates gather around on the top of a hill to watch Unit 01 and Unit 00 emerge from their stations, cheering the two pilots on as they make their way towards the top of the mountain to begin the operation. Because of his higher synch rate with Unit 01, Shinji is put in charge of firing the rifle at the Angel while Rei is put in charge of protecting him with the shield. As the two change before entering their Eva Units, Shinji expresses concerns over dying from the operation, with Rei confidently remarking that she will protect him, much to his surprise. Slowly the lights across Tokyo-3 and all of Japan begin to go out as the power begins to be channeled into the positron rifle. As the two wait for the operation to commence, Shinji once again asks Rei about why she pilots an Eva Unit, to which she responds “Because I’m bound.” Confused as to what she means, Shinji asks if she means his father, to which Rei elaborates that she means “To all people.” and that she has to be strong about it because she has nothing else.
As the operation commences, Rei says goodbye to her fellow pilot, leaving Shinji in worry as he prepares to commence his attack. With the rifle’s power working, Shinji prepares to fire at the Angel, but the Angel prepares an attack at the same time, leaving the two beams from each assailant to deflect off one another. Hurriedly recharging the rifle as the drill pierces into Tokyo-3’s GeoFront, the Angel fires another beam that Rei jumps in the way of with the shield. In a race against time, the rifle continues to power up as the shield begins to melt. With one well-placed shot, Shinji destroys the Angel just as Unit 00 collapses to the ground. As the entry plug is ejected, Shinji grabs the release handles and powers through the scalding heat to pry open the door. Climbing inside, a dazed Rei stares at Shinji as he begins to tear up, scolding her for saying “goodbye” and making him worry. Being socially inept, Rei states that she doesn’t know how to deal with Shinji’s feelings, to which he responds that she could just smile in return. Flashing back to the moment that Gendo saved her, Rei begins to smile at Shinji, visibly grateful for his rescue.
As the two pilots have their first mission working together, it is important for them to begin to build up trust and understanding in one another. Even at the start of the episode, as Shinji is placed inside a machine to recover, Rei waits nearby. She had no reason or motive to do this, but perhaps she began to develop a sense of duty in caring for or curiosity towards the reluctant pilot. Even as he woke up, after debriefing Shinji, Rei listened to him voice concerns rather than immediately leaving as she would have in the past. The unclear image of Rei that Shinji began to build up in his mind dissipated as he began to interact with her more. He now expresses concern for her, going so far as to rescue her from the destroyed entry plug, much like his father did. Perhaps the hedgehog’s dilemma begins to resolve itself when two individuals are just as distant from one another.
Now that another Angel has appeared, we get another chance to talk about some of the iconography and reference work being done in the universe of the show. As mentioned, NERV headquarters contains three supercomputers known as the Magi, Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar, named after the three wise men who visited Jesus at his birth, also known as the three Magi. These three computers seem to work in tandem to determine the best course of action in cases of risky operations that NERV may have to undergo. We also get a better look at our Fifth Angel that we only caught a glimpse of in the previous episode. A large, octahedron, who’s surface appears shiny and glass-like, this Angel is the first that doesn’t show any sign of being a living organism. Rather, it appears to be entirely mechanical with no behavior other than attacking threats entering its target range and drilling through to NERV HQ. This outwardly mechanical, man made appearance furthers the confusion towards the truth behind the Angels and how unpredictable they can be in nature and now appearance. Named Ramiel, this fortress-like Angel shares the name of the archangel responsible for mounting attacks on armies, specifically attacks with large weaponry and defenses, perhaps the inspiration for the large high-powered beam and dense AT field that the Fifth Angel possesses.
Ep 5. “Rei, Beyond the Heart/Rei I”
Original Air Date: Nov. 1 1995
The episode begins with a flashback where we see Unit 00 being put through activation tests under the supervision of Gendo Ikari. The start-up tests seem to be going well at first before the Evangelion begins rejecting synchronization with the pilot, Rei. Losing control and going berserk, the power supply is cut off from Unit 00, where the unit attempts to punch through the glass of the observation room. The entry plug is ejected, but due to the activation room being a confined space, it grinds against the walls before crashing down to the ground with Rei still inside. Unit 00 is confined using a specialized Bakelite compound as it powers down. Gendo rushes into the testing room to free Rei from the entry plug. Despite the scalding temperature the release handles are at, Gendo powers through the pain and frees Rei from the plug, dropping his glasses in the process.
Hard cut to present day, Katsuragi and Dr. Akagi discuss the event, with Akagi suggesting that some sort of mental instability caused the incident. She then begins to propose another theory before hesitating and refusing to state anything further. At the site of the previous battle with Shamshel, NERV technicians examine the remains of the Angel. During further analysis, Dr. Akagi, Katsuragi, and Shinji encounter difficulties as the computer refuses to analyze the data on the type of matter the Angel is comprised of. Despite being unable to analyze the matter type, Dr. Akagi reveals that the genetic wave patterns that they have analyzed from the Angels is found to be 99.89% similar to a human’s genetic makeup. During their conversation, Shinji notices his father and Fuyutsuki examining the core of the Angel, noticing the burns on his father’s glove-less hands for the first time. Dr. Akagi then proceeds to inform Shinji of the events seen at the beginning of the episode.
Left to process the information during school, Shinji stares blankly at Rei during class. Telling Suzuhara and Aida that he’s curious about why she’s always alone, the two inform Shinji that she’s been that way ever since she started attending their school. After school, at NERV HQ, the two pilots run their daily activation tests for their Eva Units. As Shinji continues to observe Rei, he notices her actively talking to his father and smiling, something that confuses him immensely. In the evening, Dr. Akagi stops by Katsuragi’s apartment for dinner, asking Shinji to deliver Rei’s new ID card to her the next morning. Hesitating at first, as always, Shinji later agrees in hopes that he may have a chance to get to know his fellow pilot better.
The next day, Shinji arrives at Rei’s apartment, located in a run-down, littered, noisy area of Tokyo-3, much to his surprise. Receiving no answer from ringing the doorbell, Shinji enters the unlocked apartment and wanders inside. Upon entering, he see’s Rei’s room, a clinical, joyless area comprised of a bed, dresser, and medicine cabinet, with bloodied bandages and pills scattered about. Yet, the thing that attracts Shinji’s attention the most is his father’s old glasses sitting on top of Rei’s dresser. It is unclear whether Shinji recognizes the glasses, but he approaches them and tries on the spectacles. As he turns around he encounters Rei, who angrily takes the glasses from him despite obviously emerging from the shower. Dazed by the situation, Shinji tries to explain himself before turning around to notice that Rei has already left. Catching up with her at the train station, Shinji gives Rei her new card before awkwardly following her down the escalator. Struggling for conversation topics to relate to the other pilot, Shinji asks about her willingness to pilot Unit 00. In response, Rei questions Shinji about his confidence in his father’s work. As a result of Shinji quickly expressing his hatred for his father, he finds himself slapped by a now visibly displeased Rei.
After the encounter, Rei begins changing for the activation tests, a smile on her face as she thinks back to when Gendo saved her. Now back in the test chambers, the control center begins to run activation tests on Unit 00, with Rei piloting once again. As the activation begins, the camera shows a shot of Gendo Ikari’s glasses hanging from the control panel with the entry plug, with Rei possibly using it as a sort of good luck charm. Just as the activation tests prove successful, the control room is informed of a UFO approaching the area, assumed to be the Fifth Angel. With Unit 00 still undergoing testing, Unit 01 is sent out in its place. As alarms broadcast throughout Tokyo-3, the large, diamond shaped object approaches as Unit 01 is launched out into the streets. Just as Unit 01 breaches the surface, the Angel fires a highly concentrated energy blast directly into the core of Unit 01, closing the episode with Shinji’s screams of agony echoing through the control room.
After five episodes Rei begins to receive more characterization rather than being just another pilot. While she is still largely an enigma, the more Shinji interacts with her and learns about her, the more the audience learns as well. While soft-spoken and unshaken by many things, it is clear that Rei holds some sort of admiration for Shinji’s father, perhaps stemming entirely from him saving her during the failed activation test. Even during classes, Rei seems to stare out the window blankly, paying her other classmates no attention. The same can be said when Shinji actively tries to interact with her, where she ignores him unless absolutely necessary. While the pilot of Unit 01 struggles with the hedgehog’s dilemma, Unit 00’s pilot makes it difficult to discern exactly what her feelings towards things are. She seems to follow psychological isolationist theory, where a person’s emotions can be shown in extreme circumstances, but they otherwise present themselves as an emotionless being in groups of people so as not to stand out and draw unwanted attention to themselves.
The actions of Rei aslo begin to take a toll on Shinji as well. With her remaining largely unresponsive to him, he developes more and more questions about how he acted in any given scenario. During his brief visit to Rei’s apartment, Shinji was obviously shaken by his encounter with Rei, given he is still a 14 year old boy. Rei, on the other hand, paid no mind to it and simply went about her business afterwards, leaving Shinji to worry and sputter out of control as he tried to clear his name and carry out his task of giving her the new ID card. Rei’s relationship with Shinji’s father is also unknown to him, which causes him to closely observe her behavior at times as she does not seem to socialize with anyone else. During the dinner conversation with Dr. Akagi, she states that Rei and Gendo are much alike as they are both inept at one shared thing, living.
The nature of the Eva Units is still an unanswered question, with more questions being posed in the introductory flashback and no answers being given. During the failed activation experiment, Unit 00 breaks free of its restraints, roaring and writhing in agony as it clasps its hands around its head. It could be assumed that Unit 00 has gone berserk similar what has happened to Unit 01 in the past, but the interior of the entry plug is never shown so we are unable to see Rei’s condition throughout the rampage. Could the rampage have been partially purposeful on Rei’s part? Or perhaps she was on the edge of consciousness such as Shinji was. No matter the case, it seems clear that Unit 00 intended to reach Commander Ikari during the test as it was consciously punching through the glass towards his position in the viewing/control room.
Ep 4. “Rain, After Running Away/The Hedgehog’s Dilemma”
Original Air Date: Oct. 25 1995
Still wrought with anxiety and stress about his fight with Shamshel, Shinji has become a shut-in in his room over the course of the five days since the battle. Questioning if Shinji will finally decide to go to school that day, Katsuragi opens his bedroom door to ask him, realizing that he has gathered his belongings and run away. Just as she notices, Suzuhara and Aida arrive at the front door wondering about Shinji’s whereabouts as well, leading Katsuragi to fib and state that he’s training at NERV. We then cut to see our AWOL pilot on a crowded Loop Train, that circles the entirety of Tokyo-3, only getting off once the train is decommissioned for the night. The runaway sleeps for the night in the lobby of an empty movie theater before continuing his trek down the empty city sidewalk. After cutting to Katsuragi worrying about Shinji’s safety, our pilot finds himself on the outskirts of Tokyo-3, overlooking the city as fog descends. Transitioning scenes, Dr. Akagi and Katsuragi converse during one of Rei’s medical procedures, discussing a conversation that transpired between Katsuragi and Shinji the day of the battle after he disobeyed her orders to retreat. In this flashback, our pilot begins to show an air of disrespect towards his Captain as he notes that he’s the only one who can pilot Unit 01 regardless the fact that he didn’t follow orders, and despite the fact that it is an unwanted burden on him.
We then cut to Aida role-playing as militia members in the middle of a field before spotting Shinji cutting through the field as he continues his aimless journey. After calling out to him, Aida and Shinji huddle around a fire as the runaway explains a bit of his situation. Aida, however, expresses jealousy for the situation that Shinji finds himself in, being able to pilot something as special as the Evangelion Unit. Later on, the two fall asleep inside Aida’s tent before waking up the next morning to the tent now being surrounded by Men in Black from NERV who have come to retrieve the pilot. With Shinji now locked up in isolation, Katsuragi confronts the pilot and simply asks him if he is still willing to pilot Unit 01. Expressing the same views as before, Shinji is excommunicated from NERV, leaving the duties of piloting Unit 01 to Rei. Arriving at the train station, accompanied by more Men in Black, Shiji finds Aida and Suzuhara waiting for him. Upon Suzuhara’s request, Shinji punches him in order to make up for the time that Suzuhara had confronted the pilot before. The duo then discuss how they have already seen so many of their other classmates leave the city because of the Angel attacks, but how they understand due to the pain that they saw Shinji go through while piloting Unit 01.
Now hesitant, our pilot picks up his bag before being escorted into the station by the Men in Black, calling out to the other two about how he’s only leaving because of his cowardice. Cutting to Unit 01’s storage room, Katsuragi thinks back on the “Hedgehog’s Dilemma” again, realizing how exactly it applies to shinji and how he doesn’t want to let others know how he feels about anything. As the train arrives, Katsuragi speeds towards the station in her car to find Shinji standing at the station exit. Staring each other down in disbelief for a prolonged period of time, the episode ends on the two simply greeting each other with a heartfelt, “I’m home”, “Welcome home”, exchange.
Clearly calling back to the Hedgehog’s Dilemma from the previous episode, with the phrase as the English title for the episode, we take a deeper look at Shinji’s motivations and why he behaves the way he does. From the moment he arrived, he felt as though his only purpose at NERV was to Pilot Unit 01, which he did despite his hesitance. As he continued to work at NERV and train, he began to develop a sense of obligation to continue his work as a pilot to please the others around him, regardless of how he felt. He never felt special because of the position he was given, but rather because he felt as if he was the only one who could do it for the others around him. During the scene where Shinji is in isolation and talks to Katsuragi, he explains that he does it partially to prevent them from forcing Rei to have to pilot as her health conditions have not seemed to stabilize yet. Shinji clearly expresses a desire to grow closer to others and feel stronger emotions, but lacks the know-how and drive to do so in a way that wont hurt those around him; a situation that many, including myself, can relate to. During his time on the lam, when hiding out in the movie theater, Shinji notices a couple embracing and laughing in front of him. A close up on his face shows a clear spark return to his previously dull eyes before his expression changes to anger and frustration as he sees the couple kiss. So concerned about carrying out his “duty”, Shinji has not allowed himself as a 14 year old to develop socially.
In comparison to Shinji, we see how Aida and Suzuhara behave both individually and as a pair of friends. Upon first arriving to Katsuragi’s apartment, the pair express clear infatuation and surprise at her presence, presumably under the notion that Shinji lived alone or with parents. After further conversation, the two begin to express jealousy towards Shinji in terms of his living situation, as mentioned before during Aida and Shinji’s conversation at the campfire. During this conversation, Aida also informs Shinji that he also has no mother, to which we see a look of concern and understanding cross the face of our pilot, changing again from his bleak, dour expression. Aida also explains how himself and Suzuhara are beginning to understand why Shinji feels so reluctant about piloting Unit 01, with how heavy of a weight it is. He even explains that Suzuhara’s little sister scolded him for beating Shinji, saying that without Unit 01, the entire city could have been destroyed. From even this brief moment of understanding, our pilot begins to better understand those around him, leaving it up to him whether or not to move in close and fight the hedgehog’s dilemma.
Ep 3. “The Silent Phone/A Transfer”
Original Air Date: Oct. 18 1995
Starting off, we see Shinji running combat simulations in Unit 01, visibly downtrodden and weary to the point of simply going through the motions of training. Repeating the steps of “Center the target, pull the trigger”, he begins to space out before cutting to the next day at Katsuragi’s apartment. Still visibly lethargic, Shinji leaves for his first day at his new school. Upon arrival he overhears conversations between his classmates Kensuke Aida, a military buff excited by the introduction of the Evas, and Toji Suzuhara, a cocky, laid back jock. During their conversation, Shinji learns that Suzuhara’s little sister has been in the hospital for a few weeks due to the fight between Unit 01 and the Angel. During class time, Shinji discloses the fact that he is the pilot of Unit 01, causing the rest of the class to become enthralled by his endeavors. Directly after class Suzuhara assaults our protagonist outside, blaming his sister’s injuries on the hesitant pilot. Laying helplessly on the ground afterwards, Rei approaches Shinji and informs him that they have received and emergency call.
As an alarm blares throughout Tokyo-3, the students of Shinji’s class gather inside their designated safety shelters while the rest of NERV prepares for battle. As NERV monitors the approach of the Fourth Angel, a large purple beast resembling an arthropod, Shinji questions his motives for piloting the Eva once again, flashing back to his encounter with his classmates. Inside the shelter, Aida and Suzuhara sneak out to view Unit 01’s fight in person. Launching onto the streets of the city, Shinji panics and immediately attacks the Angel with the Eva’s gun, covering the city-turned-battlefield in smoke. Emerging from the smoke, the Angel uses long whips attached to its body to quickly counter against Unit 01. Still in a panic, Shinji begins to run away, leaving a trail of destruction behind him as the Angel haphazardly swings its whips in an attempt to hit him. After a direct hit, Unit 01 is thrown back towards a mountain where Aida and Suzuhara happen to be hiding, almost crushing them with its hand.
Protecting his classmates, Shinji grabs a hold of the whips with the Eva’s hands, a task that he can only perform for so long as the unit has now kicked into internal power mode from the umbilical cord being disconnected. During this confrontation, the armor on Unit 01’s hands is destroyed, exposing what looks to be normal skin-covered, albeit now burnt, hands. In order to save his classmates, Shinji allows them to climb into the entry plug under Katsuragi’s authorization. With Unit 01’s synch rate decreasing due to the two being introduced into the plug, Shinji is ordered to retreat. Going against orders and using Unit 01’s combat knife, Shinji drives the knife into the core of the Angel as the internal power timer counts down to zero. Unit 01 powers down at the same time as the Angel dies, leaving Shinji to writhe in pain and suffer in the entry plug while his classmates stare on in disbelief. Cutting back to the school, the two troublemakers discuss the fact that Shinji hasn’t been to school in the three days since the battle. With the rain pouring outside, we see Suzuhara near a pay phone in the school, contemplating whether or not to call the absent pilot before walking away, taking us to the end credits.
Episode 3 takes place in a sweet spot in the timeline of Evangelion where the characters have had a decent amount of time to comprehend and begin to deal with the issues and duties forced upon them. This is made evident by Shinji’s mindless repetition during combat simulation, standing still, targeting the simulated Angel and firing without any further action. Katsuragi has even begun to take her position as Shinji’s guardian a bit more seriously, expressing concern over the phone to Dr. Akagi about the fact that Shinji doesn’t seem to have any friends and how the cell phone she bought for him is never used. This is the point where Dr. Akagi brings up the philosophical parable of the “Hedgehog’s Dilemma”, created by Arthur Schopenhauer. The hedgehog’s dilemma tells the tale of a group of hedgehogs in a burrow during the harsh winter. Within their burrow, the hedgehogs desire to huddle closer to one another to share heat and keep each other warm, but due to their quills the hedgehogs are unable to. This concept is then applied to humans to describe a situation in which a person or multiple people express the desire to become socially closer to one another, but cannot out of fear of mutual harm and pain that would be caused to each party involved. The idea of the hedgehog’s dilemma has been modernized for newer ideologies by those that follow the concept that they cannot be hurt or hurt other people if they do not get close to them in the first place. This episode is also the first time that we see Shinji drowning out the noise around him by leaving his headphones in as he arrives to class. While it is not always clear, it is apparent that Shinji is at least partially able to overhear conversations over the sounds of music as he reacts to the information about Suzuhara’s little sister. Again, Shinji uses this defense mechanism to further disconnect and distance himself from interaction with others based on his own insecurity as a person.
This episode is also the first time where different factors of Eva combat are introduced as well. Perhaps the most important would be the powering functions of the Evangelion Units as they have to constantly be attached to a large electrical “umbilical cord” in order to stay powered. There are multiple stations around Tokyo-3 with spare power supplies in case the cord becomes damaged or disconnected. In the event that an umbilical cord cannot be reconnected, the Eva Unit kicks into internal power mode, usually leaving the pilot with a time limit of three to four minutes before the Unit shuts off. The Units also carry a Progressive Knife, usually called a Prog Knife, which can pierce the core of an Angel in order to fully destroy it.
Lastly, it would beseech me to not discuss the Angel of the episode and more of the context surrounding the overarching story. During his first class period, Shinji’s teacher lectures on an even known as the Second Impact, an apparent global catastrophe that shifted the world’s weather patterns and cause mass extinction for hundreds of different species, resulting in the death of nearly two billion people. The Angel encountered is said to be the Fourth Angel, later named Shamshel after the mythical figure in the Book of Encoch who watches over the 200 fallen angels and their 20 leaders during their period cast out of Heaven. While not much connection is given between this name being designated to the Angel, it is interesting to note that this Fourth Angel shares the same name as the Enochian Shamshel who also known as the Fourth Ruler of Heaven.
Ep 2. “Unfamiliar Ceilings/The Beast”
Original Air Date: Oct. 11 1995
Picking up right where the first episode left off, we see Shinji preparing to face against Sachiel. But before he can even consider battling the Angel, Shinji must become accustomed to the basics of controlling his Eva Unit. Focusing primarily on walking forward, Unit 01 takes only a few steps before tripping and falling flat on its face. This mishap allows the angel to grab Unit 01, breaking its arm before piercing a hold through the cranium. The trauma causes Shinji to desync with Unit 01 before we smash cut to the pure white interior of a hospital room where we see Shinji wake up. In the aftermath outside the hospital, we cut between a salvage operation and a council room. Within the salvage operation we see Dr. Akagi and Katsuragi retrieving the damaged Unit 01 as well as damage to the city. Within the council room we see Gendo Ikari talking to a group of men who reprimand him for the supposed “failure” of Unit 01’s encounter with the Angel. This scene is also the first introduction of “The Human Instrumentality Project”, a top secret project that Gendo is apparently also in charge of, with a higher priority than NERV.
Later on Katsuragi picks up Shinji from the hospital, holding a meeting with Gendo’s right-hand man, Fuyutsuki to discuss the living situation for the new Eva pilot. Despite his insistance that he’s comfortable living on his own, Shinji soon finds himself living with Katsuragi in her apartment. While shopping for groceries to hold a small celebration for moving in, Shinji overhears civilians talking about their desire to move away from Tokyo-3, especially based on the events that seemed to transpire during fight with Sachiel. A good majority of the episode’s remainder is Shinji adjusting to life with his new roommate and her pet penguin, Pen Pen, stylized as Pen² on his collar. A brief cutaway shows Gendo and Dr. Akagi discussing Rei’s current condition in the hospital while looking out at what appears to be Eva Unit 00, frozen in some sort of hardened material with a fist through a wall.
As he lies in bed, Shinji begins to worry about his inability to remember the battle before the memories come rushing back to him. Resuming after Shinji desynchronizes with Unit 01, vitals and feedback are completely silent for those monitoring in the control room. In the interior of the entry plug, Shinji sits in shock from the events. In only a few seconds Unit 01 reactivates, despite how improbable it seems due to the damage it has sustained, causing Dr. Akagi to state that it has gone “berserk”. Getting up and letting out an eerie roar, Unit 01 throws itself across the city directly onto the Angel before getting tossed aside again. Charging at the Angel once more, Unit 01 encounters the Angel’s “Absolute Terror Field” (AT Field), a nigh impenetrable force field projected by the being. Not letting the AT field stop it, Unit 01 regenerates its broken arm before ripping through Sachiel’s barrier with its bear hands by creating its own AT field. Unit 01 then attacks the Angel, pounding at the red core in the center with a bone ripped off of the being. In a panic, Sachiel wraps itself around Unit 01 before self-destructing, sending another cross-shaped explosion towering into the sky. Emerging from the blast, Eva 01 stands silent and still in the middle of the city as Shinji wakes up in the entry plug, finding himself making eye contact with the now armor-less head of his Evangelion.
The heart of “NGE” lies within the effects that the events have on the characters, not just in their everyday lives, but from a psychological standpoint. Gendo wants absolutely nothing to do with his son other than use him as a means to pilot Unit 01. Because of the detachment between father and son, Katsuragi is forced to become Shinji’s legal guardian, passing the psychosocial damage from the father/son pairing to a third party as well. Another long-lasting issue that Shinji faces is the damage that piloting the Eva does to his psyche. Because of the way that synchronizing with an Evangelion Unit works, the pilot feels what the Eva does, albeit to a lesser extent based on the synchronicity rate between the two. During his battle with Sachiel, we see Shinji panicking and grasping his left arm in pain and fear as the Angel breaks the Eva’s arm. In turn, when Sachiel begins to pierce Unit 01’s right eye, Shinji grasps the right side of his face, reeling back in pain. This trauma leaves him frozen in pain, which becomes the catalyst for Unit 01 going silent. Once the Eva is back up again and breaks through the AT field, the first thing it does is grab both of the Angel’s arms with it’s newly regenerated left hand and break both of them simultaneously. Earlier on in the episode Shinji is also seen staring at his arm as though there is some sort of phantom pain lingering there or based on the trauma he experienced and repressed from his battle.
On top of the psychological damage that the characters sustain, we also begin to have more of the lore unravel before our eyes as we learn of this secret council Gendo is a part of, as well as the “Human Instrumentality Project” that he is in charge of. Not many details are given as to what this council is yet, or what the Human Instrumentality Project is other than the fact that the other members on the council seem to be funding and leading the activities of NERV in order to achieve some higher goal. One member even makes mention of how impossible it would be to perform another cover-up now that the public is aware of the Angels. Lastly, we begin to confront the very concept of what the Evangelion Units are. Whereas Shinji simply thought them to be robots, we have now seen that they can act on their own, in a very bestial manner and that there is some seemingly organic part(s) to at least the head of the Evas.
Ep 1. “Angel Attack”
Original Air Date: Oct. 4 1995
As the pilot episode, a large majority of main characters and in-universe concepts are introduced right off the bat in order to allow the audience to gain their footing. Following the devastatingly catchy opening song “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis”, the opening shot shows a flooded city hosting a large, black and white creature swimming through the locale as a “State of Emergency” address is broadcast through the barren streets of a nearby city. We then see our main protagonist, Shinji Ikari, for the first time, waiting near a pay phone for a ride. Looking off to the side, he spots a specter resembling a blue-haired young girl before noticing the black and white entity walking in the distance, flanked by weaponized helicopters. Cut to the interior of some sort of command center or war room where we are informed the entity is called an Angel. With the Angel swiftly taking out the assailing helicopters, it continues to move through the city near Shinji, who is rescued by secondary protagonist Misato Katsuragi in her car. The two quickly escape the city just in time as an “N2 Mine”, essentially a miniature nuclear bomb, is set off on the Angel. The Angel survives, only temporarily wounded and left to recover as Katsuragi and Shinji arrive at the headquarters of NERV, a secret organization founded by the United Nations in the city now known as Tokyo-3.
Back in the war room, we see military higher-ups transferring control of the assault on the Angel to Shinji’s father, Gendo Ikari, director of NERV. After the transfer of power, Gendo insists on fighting back against the Angel with something referred to only as Unit 01. Cutting back to Shinji and Katsuragi, we learn that Shinji’s father apparently abandoned him at a young age but is now demanding he return under very vague circumstances. Transferred to the GeoFront, a large hollow area underneath Tokyo-3 where NERV headquarters is located, Shinji is taken to a large, dark room by Dr. Ritsuko Akagi, who refers to him as The Third Child. When the lights come on, Shinji finds himself face to face with a giant purple robot which Dr. Akagi refers to as Unit 01 of the synthetic human project, Evangelion (Eva).
After the startling reveal, Shinji finds himself confronting his father for the first time in three years, where it is demanded that he pilot Unit 01 in order to fight the Angel. With Shinji’s refusal, the pilot of another Evangelion Unit, Unit 00, is brought in as the Angel begins its attack on Tokyo-3. Bandaged and fighting to survive, Unit 00 pilot and First Child Rei Ayanami is brought in on a stretcher to pilot Unit 01. However, the Angel attacks again, causing debris to fall from the ceiling and almost land on Shinji before the hand of Unit 01 reaches out and protects him, much to the surprise of everyone but Gendo. Upon seeing Rei’s condition, Shinji gives into his father’s demands and agrees to pilot Unit 01. Inserted into the Eva Unit through a portable cockpit called an “entry plug” near the neck of the robot, Shinji gets a quite literal first taste of piloting as the plug fills with LCL fluid, a breathable liquid that allows Shinji to synchronize with the Eva. From there, Evangelion Unit 01 is prepared and launched into the streets of Tokyo-3 where Shinji prepares to confront the Angel hand-to-hand before cutting to a “To Be Continued” slate and the end credits with a cover of the Kaye Ballard-sung, Frank Sinatra-popularized song “Fly Me to the Moon”.
As with many first episodes, there is a lot to unpack with the pilot of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”. As the show progresses, however, the in-universe lore becomes more comprehensible to those who may not be familiar with the show at all. Episode 1 introduces the long-running conflict of Shinji’s hatred for his father as Gendo only sees and treats his son as a tool to pilot Eva Unit 01. From just the first episode, it is easy enough to build up an understanding of Shinji’s personality as someone who is very self-conscious about what others want him to do and fulfilling his own unknown desires. The first encounter with the Angel also gives the audience a peek into the Judeo-Christian symbolism and iconography that can be seen throughout the rest of the show. The first Angel we see is later known as Zachiel or Sachiel, originating from the name of the archangel Sachiel. Sachiel is often called the archangel of harmony, a concept that fits the Angel’s role of bringing Shinji to NERV, as we will later discuss. The first visual representation of the Angel’s mysticism is the explosions caused by the Angel which all expand upwards to form a Latin Cross. Even the simple excerpt from Robert Browning’s “Pippa Passes” on the NERV HQ doors and logo stating “God’s in his heaven. All’s right with the world.” gives a brief glance into the underlying motives and themes. However, this will all be covered better in due time. For now, this has been bogged down enough with episode particulars, something that will become less frequent as we move through the series and gain insight into the themes and concepts.