Contemplation Guide to Evangelion Episodes

Introduction

"If you don't understand it [Neon Genesis Evangelion], it is your own problem."

-- Director Anno Hideaki

This Guide is an attempt to provide some points for contemplation when viewing the immensely philosophical episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion. This is NOT a guide for first-time viewers and it does NOT contain detailed episode descriptions. Instead, this Guide tries to bring out many of the issues and questions raised in the TV series (by Director Anno no doubt) and provide different points of view to these questions for the viewer's contemplation purposes while watching the episodes.

As such, most viewers watching the TV series for the first time will find this Guide useless in figuring out "what happens" in each episode. For these viewers, there are this Spoiler-Free Episode Guide, a Complete Episodes Guide and the Literal Translation Project. Those following the Evangelion Fan Web Ring should skip this site and move on to the next. For a good list of sites on Evangelion materials, go to The International Eva Alliance Page, or even search the Internet under the keyword "Evangelion". Those looking for flashy graphics, picture gallaries and cool multimedia should also look somewhere else.

Dedicated fans who have gone through the episodes several times, however, will find the questions and points in this Guide interesting, to say the least.

In addition, this Guide should be read AFTER the viewer has gone through another document in this set, the Analysis of Evangelion Characters According to the Sephiroth Tree of Life. Throughout the passages below, references will be made to that document.

Some excellent sites that contain intelligent information are Gendo's Ultimate EVA FAQ, EVA Intro, The Eva Sage and Evangelion Forum on Thought and Inquiry. The reader is advised to go through these sites before proceeding with this Guide.

Comments and suggestions are most welcome.

After I get my hands on a copy of the movies, I shall write guides for them also. Meanwhile, be patient.

Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5Episode 6
Episode 7Episode 8Episode 9Episode 10Episode 11Episode 12
Episode 13Episode 14Episode 15Episode 16Episode 17Episode 18
Episode 19Episode 20Episode 21Episode 22Episode 23Episode 24
Episode 25Episode 26

Episode 1: Angel Attack

  • So, the beginning of it all. The main theme of Neon Genesis Evangelion, time and time again and throughout the series, is the question "Why?" As in, "Why do Man do what they do?"

    The deep question of this opening episode is that of responsibility. Why should Shinji pilot the EVA machine, something that he has never heard of or seen before that moment? Does he have a "responsibility," simply because he "can"?
  • Shinji first starts claiming, "I can't do it." He then changes to, "Why should I? I have nothing to do with it."

    Humans also give these reasons a lot in real life. "I can't do it." "I don't have the qualifications." "It is not my work." "It is not my responsibility." "It is somebody else's work, and somebody else should do it." "I didn't make this mess and I don't have anything to do with it." "I did not ask to do this." Cumulating to the ultimate, "I did not ask to be born in the first place."
  • Does the fact that Shinji has the "capability" to do the work (while others don't) imply or even demand that he then has the "responsibility" to carry it out? Where is free will, when a person can be criticized by exercising his will not to do something that isn't his responsibility in the first place?

    According to Kabbalist ideas, some responsibilities are actually part of the Great Work. The Kabbalah believes that the world (created by God) is created imperfect, and God needs humans to help make it perfect again. As such, humans are almost born with a sense of "original responsibility" (as opposed to Original Sin).

    Ikari Gendo, Shinji's father, seems to subscribe to a simpler view -- that Man is defined by his "actions", not anything else. (See character analysis)
  • In this episode, Shinji finds a temporary answer in a bandaged-up little girl (notice especially his need to remind himself, "I mustn't run away..."). Needless to say, this answer is so skin-deep and simplistic that it will not survive the next episode. Throughout the series, Shinji will keep asking himself, and everybody else around him, the same question, "Why?" He will keep finding answer after answer, and rejecting these answers almost as quickly as he finds them.

    There are some who conjectures that it is Director Anno who is saying, "I mustn't run away." After escaping the world for several years, he came back to produce this series. Does Anno believe he has a responsibility as well? This will actually be probed to death in the last two episodes.
  • The second big question in Evangelion is "What?", as in "What is Life," "What is Death," "What is Man," "What is God," "What is Human," "What is Machine," "What is a Soul," "What is Loneliness," "What should be," "What shouldn't be."
  • Notice that Angels are actually called "Shi-to" in Japanese, literally meaning a "disciple" or "messenger" of God. If Angels are messengers of God, then what "message" are they bringing?
  • Notice the cross-shaped explosions. Those are meant to be a cue that this series has religious overtones (and a lot of them). For instance, if you observe closely, the NERV (German for "nerve") logo is a fig fruit (with a fig leaf on top), and the tag line below reads "God's In His Heaven, All's Right With the World" -- a quote from the poet Robert Browning (1812-1889), but sort of taken out of context. The original is Browning's lovely poem Pippa's Song:
  • The year's at the spring,
    And days's at the morn;
    Morning's at seven;
    The hillside's dew-pearl'd;
    The lark's on the wing;
    The snail's on the thorn;
    God's in His heaven --
    All's right with the world!

  • Browning's Pippa's Song has been quoted and attacked by countless preachers, most of whom have never read the complete poem. Actually, Pippa was an impoverished and exploited orphan girl slaving in a silk mill under horrible working hours and conditions. She knew very well that all was not right with the world, and should know it better than anyone else.

    In the total setting of the poem, then, Pippa's Song must be taken to mean: not unmindful of, but precisely in spite of all the sufferings, injustice, evil, and sin that here besets us, if we can still believe that God is in his seat of authority (i.e., if we can still refer all of existence to him and receive it as coming from him), then, behold, all is right with the world.

    Contrast this Browning quote with the following passages from the Bible:
    1. But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases. Psa 115:3
    2. Don't be rash with you mouth, and don't let your heart be hasty to utter anything before the Lord: for God is in heaven, and you are on the Earth: therefore let your words be few. Eccs 5:2
  • In addition, actual designs of various EVA robots parallel medieval Christianity's description of the various "Barons of Hell" (this is taken from EVA Intro):
    1. One Baron of Hell was said to have a featureless face except for a single large eye. (EVA-00)
    2. The Baron of Darkness was described as having a large singular horn and numerous great gnashing teeth. (EVA-01)
    3. Another Baron of Hell was described as blood red and a face with four eyes and two mouths. (EVA-02)
    4. The fourth Baron of Hell was said to be black as pitch and had unnaturally long arms. (EVA-03)
  • Notice that "EVA" is German for Eve -- Adam's wife in the Bible. Actually, Adam's first wife in Jewish mythology was Lilith, the Mother Earth, whom he disposed of to mate with Eve, and who in turn mated (according to some) with demons to produce monstrous offsprings [Lilims] or (according to others) with Cain to produce the rest of non-Chosen Mankind. The myths show that Lilith was essentially the World's first feminist, who refused to be a subsidiary to Man and insisted on being His equal.

    EVA is also a short-hand for "Evangelion", meaning "Gospel". Therefore Neon Genesis Evangelion literally means "The Gospel of a New Genesis".
  • Notice also that Misato almost missed Shinji and would have failed her very first responsibility. She is destined to struggle with responsibilities throughout the series. (See character analysis)

Episode 2: A Foreign Ceiling [Beast]

  • Notice how the first fight ends right in the middle, without letting you know the outcome until the very end of the episode. This is a strong indication that Evangelion is not about robots fighting monsters. Then what is it about?
  • A lot of hidden messages will appear gradually in this episode.
  • Notice Gendo's remarks, "I understand. Besides, Man has little time left." What does he mean? Does this parallel the "anticipated comings" -- e.g. second coming of Christ, Final Judgement Day, etc.? Or does he mean that Man has little time left until we destroy ourselves from our own doings (of evil, of arrogance, of pride, of selfishness, of greed, of self-importance etc.)?
  • Notice Ritsuko and Misato's conversation, when Ritsuko mentions that Shinji's nerves are in a mess and Misato reminds her that it is Shinji's "mind" she is talking about. Ritsuko is destined to keep focusing on the scientific and logical side of reality, and subsequently to fall because of it. (See character analysis)
  • Misato's responsibility complex strikes again, when she welcomes Shinji into her home. And her house is a mess, indicating that she is one giant slob. (See character analysis)
  • When Misato shows Shinji the city of Tokyo-3, she ends with, "This is the city you protected." For Shinji, this doesn't answer his question, "Why?" But it does give another temporary answer.
  • Notice that Misato tells Shinji to take a bath and wash away (forget) all the unpleasant things. Shinji will later lie in the bathtub thinking about that phrase, when he knows that taking a bath does notliterally wash away the unpleasant. Compare this bath idea with baptism.
  • Notice that Misato will realize (also when she is in the bathtub) that defeating the Angel does not automatically translate into happiness or a sense of triumph (as in most animes). This is either because she doesn't approve of the way children are used to achieve this aim, or because she hasn't answered her own question of "Why?"

    Meanwhile, almost as if Director Anno does not trust us, Gendo will remind us again that he doesn't care what the children think as long as his objective is achieved. (See character analysis)
  • The most important messages are in the second half of the episode. Shinji will ask, once again, "why" he is here, sleeping in a foreign room staring at a foreign ceiling. Physically, he is here because he made a choice in the last episode. However, mentally he has not found the answer to "why?" and it keeps bothering him.
  • Needless to say, notice the cross-shaped explosions.
  • "That is the... true face of EVA," Misato's comment sums up the entire fight, which lasted merely a few minutes. All of you fighting fans (a.k.a. Dragon Ball etc.) must be ultimately disappointed. Don't worry, you will be disappointed more in the future.

    The true face of EVA is scary. It actually has a ghostly resemblance to... an Angel. Such scariness in the hero symbol is becoming more and more popular in recent anime (witness Spawn, Blade, etc).

Episode 3: The Telephone that Never Rings [A Transfer]

  • Shinji's robotism shows through clearly in this episode. (See character analysis)

    Ritsuko will interpret it as "He just obediently goes along with what others instruct him to do... That is how he gets on with life, isn't it?"
  • The philosophy of "hedgehog's dilemma" is discussed in this episode.
  • When Touji punched Shinji, there goes his standard disclaimer, "I didn't ask to do it." He hasn't found his answer yet (and considering his intelligence, we are beginning to wonder whether he ever will).
  • Rei is so cool and impersonal (almost inhuman) in this episode that it strikes a dark cord within many. (See character analysis)
  • Notice the shape of the Angel when Misato comments, "They never consider our feelings, do they? They're the type that women simply hate." Does it have phallic overtones? What does the Angel look like?
  • Shinji will ask his famous question again, "My father isn't here, so why am I still piloting it [this EVA]?" This is an indication that he is reaching a second answer, that he is doing it because his father asks him to (and children should obey their fathers).

    Almost immediately, however, this answer is being eroded, when he remembers that Gendo did not even visit him at the hospital when he was injured.

    Should human simply obey instructions given by authority, or given by elders? What, if any, is Man's obligation towards verifying and understanding these instructions? When do we obey and when do we not? This is a deeper question than it appears on the surface.

    Progress to replace the words "authority" and "elders" with the word "God".
  • During the battle, Touji interprets Misato's retreat command as a "run away." Shinji will immediately react by his now-famous "can't run away" theme.

    Misato says, "You fool." Shinji is a fool.

Episode 4: It Rains after he Ran Away [Hedgehog's Dilemma]

  • This episode is all about "obligation." Compare this with Episode 6, which outlines Rei's obligation (or self-obligation).
  • Shinji runs away, and Misato is failing her responsibility. (See character analysis)

    Misato is not surprised that Shinji runs away. Considering Shinji's intelligence and inner strength (or lack thereof), we are not surprised either. Misato will call him a fool again. Shinji is a fool.

    Misato even tells him off on "obligation": "It's me who is responsible for your conduct, isn't it? You know you have an obligation to obey my orders. Do you understand?"

    Shinji's last words are, "I'm the only one who can pilot it. So I will." He is beginning to accept this implied "obligation" with his born capability, even when he did not ask for it.

    Misato summarizes with the observation that piloting EVA only brings Shinji grief and agony. Why does it bring grief and agony? Because Shinji still cannot handle why he does it, and so far all his answers (even the one connected to his father) are not very satisfactory.

    Most humans feel pain doing something they do not want to do. Some feel pain also because they don't understand why they are doing what they are doing.
  • And what is Shinji doing all this time? He is riding in circles in Tokyo-3's loop train line. Killing time, apparently, since he has nowhere to go.

    Then he goes to watch a movie about the Second Impact. Notice the dialogue in the movie: "Doctor, it's easy to die. However, you have an obligation to care for this hellish world..." Will Director Anno ever trust us to get his point without so many cues? Compare this obligation with Shinji's obligation...

    Shinji then walks up the mountains to look down upon Tokyo-3. He must be thinking about the "why" question again, and Misato's simplistic answer two episodes ago.
  • Kensuke will deal another blow to Shinji, "How I envy you -- you live with such a beautiful lady and pilot the EVA. Oh, just once I wish I could pilot it to my heart's content!"

    While Shinji struggles with his obligation to pilot EVA, Kensuke will die to have a go. Isn't this part of the world's imperfection?
  • In the very end, Kensuke will show us his real worth when he says, "He who fights is a fool if he [thinks he] stands no chance of winning." It is now clear that he rejects the idea of "original-obligation".

    Almost immediately, Shinji will paraphrase this comment and refuse to pilot EVA again. He explains, "I'm not cut out for it." Contrast this with his original reason (in Episode 1) that he cannot do it because he is not trained.

    Then again, almost immediately, he drums up his obligations, "Yet, Ayanami [Rei], Misato and Ritsuko..." -- the obligation of protecting Rei because "it is not fair to force everything onto her," the obligation towards Misato for having confidence in him, the obligation towards Ritsuko because he is the only one who can do it.

    Misato will retort sternly with, "This has nothing to do with anybody else." The answer that obligation comes from external is now, formally, dead. One must now face the demons inside one's own heart.
  • When Shinji finally leaves, he is shown to feel gloominess. Is he attached to EVA somehow? Or does he still feel obligation nudging him deep inside?
  • And then one of the longest still scenes in anime history (there will be another one in Episode 24). We do not hear words, but we can sense Shinji's internal struggle.

Episode 5: Behind Rei's Heart [Rei I]

  • We see Rei and Gendo very clearly in this episode. (See character analysis)
  • Shinji will start hating his father (with a bit of jealousy perhaps) from this episode on. The answer that he "does it" (pilots EVA) for his father is dead. ("Of course I can't trust a father like that!") This point will appear again and again in later episodes and, as expected, killed off immediately.
  • Misato's habit begins to show (to an ultimate climax in a later, almost dedicated episode). (See character analysis)

Episode 6: Final Battle at Tokyo-3 [Rei II]

  • This is the Battle with the Giant Blue Grain of Salt.
  • We see Rei even more clearly in this episode. (See character analysis)
  • The main question, of course, is again "Why?"

    Rei's answer is her emotional bonds, "to everybody," she is quick to fill in. An emotional bond is another form of obligation.
  • As far as we can tell, Shinji's "protect Rei" answer is killed off with a bang here. Before long, he is going to run out of answers, but other characters will start to help provide fresh perspectives.

Episode 7: A Creation of Man

  • This episode is the battle with "the ugliest robot to ever come out of anime."
  • Misato's poor habits and lack of responsibility come to a climax in this episode (Contrast with Episode 5). (See character analysis)
  • In this episode, Shinji is crowned the title of "Defender of the Earth." However, unlike normal anime, it does not come across as a glory for him: "Defend the Earth and peace... I use EVA for the sake of defending Earth. What is EVA? An entry plug which smells of blood and somehow calms me. Nothing. Nothing I know."
  • When asked by Shinji why she is doing this, Misato replies, "Well, I have to do what I can. Otherwise, I'll regret it forever." This is similar to her last instructions to Shinji in the movies.

    Obligation clearly shows through, but this time another answer is raised: that one must fulfill these obligations because of one's conscience. In other words, Man has an obligation to do what is "right." But who defines right and wrong?
  • Shinji will toy with this answer for a while.
  • The idea of a machine being a "Man's Creation" (vs. the all-important creation of God) will be elaborated much further in later episodes (e.g. Episodes 12, 14 and 23).

    Notice Ritsuko's argument with the Jet-Alone developer at the conference, especially with regards to the benefits and advantages of machines over human beings: that machines do not go into mental stress (vs. material stress), and that machines are always in control while humans may not be (true?).

Episode 8: Asuka to Japan [Asuka Strikes!]

  • Asuka makes debut in this episode, with a bang, literally. (See character analysis)
  • When complemented by Kaji how he succeeded in piloting EVA without training, Shinji excuses it as luck. Kaji comments that "luck is a part of your [Shinji's] destiny -- it's your talent." Another answer to the "why?" question is forming here.
  • In this episode, Shinji is the eternal pessimist and Asuka the eternal optimistic (perhaps due to her supreme self-confidence or due to her need to be seen as the best).
  • ADAM is shown here, confirming the religious overtones.

Episode 9: For a Brief Moment, Minds Overlapped [Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!]

  • Asuka's answer to the "why?" question is to show her worth to the world, to gain praise and recognition for her abilities and her achievements, to sustain her pride that she is the best in the world. She has no illusion with obligation and will not hesitate to disobey orders if it does not suit her own agenda.

    She will elaborate on this answer in a later episode.
  • Notice that Asuka brings out the "Walls of Jerico." Ironically, the walls of Jerico came crashing down with a simple yell from the Isrealis.
  • Notice the "core" of this angel (which has the ability to split into two equal beings and recombine again) is in the form of the Chinese Yin-Yang symbol. Yin (white) and Yang (black) melds together to form the symbol of "Taichi", or Oneness, or Tao.

    Notice how the actual fight resembles a dance, a poetic composition instead of a fight between robots and monsters, as in normal anime. Notice also how, in the lapse of a few seconds, following the beats of the music, four faces flash past one after another, ending with Misato. One cannot but have utter respect for Director Anno.

    This is another episode where the actual fighting almost becomes laughingly unimportant. Such trend, unfortunately for a few, will continue.

Episode 10: Magma Diver

  • Rei hasn't spoken for many episodes now, and will continue to remain silent. (See character analysis)
  • Asuka's loose sense of obligation shows through beautifully when she refuses to pilot her EVA because she (and her EVA) look too ugly. She finally agrees not because of responsibility or obligation, but because she cannot bear Rei touching her EVA.

    It is at this time that one must start thinking: why is there such a difference in reasons to pilot EVA between Shinji and Asuka? And Rei for that matter of fact? As such, is Shinji's internal struggle simply unnecessary because there are so many different possible answers?
  • When Shinji finds out that his father has ordered the UN to stand-by with N2 bombs just in case they fail ("but failure will be the end of Mankind"), it is to be the final nail on the coffin of his justifying doing something because he is ordered by his father.
  • Notice a rare moment of Asuka's despair when she sinks into the magma, and a similarly rare moment of Asuka's softness when she realizes that Shinji has rescued her. One must admit this brief moment shows Asuka as her best.

Episode 11: In the Still Darkness... [The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still]

  • Why is Rei so cool?
  • The title is an awful rip-off of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

    In reality, NERV forgets to pay the electric bill.
  • There is an explanation of what MAGI is in this episode. The conversation in the train indicates an idea that ruling a city by a supercomputer is more efficient than doing it by humans.

    Expand this idea to doing anything with computers (i.e. machines) versus with humans. This issue has been investigated once in a past episode. It will crop up again and again because in the center it is a question on what a human is, and what worth it is being a human.

    The group will soon (and immediately, as Director Anno's style) realize the fallacy of their argument when Tokyo-3 goes off-line. A job done by a machine may malfunction (do humans fare better?). A machine may be controlled by other intelligence (because machines don't think? What differentiates humans from machines if we simply do what we are told?).

    It is a lesson for all of us whose lives depend on machinery. A machine has no soul. Because the soul of the machine is human.
  • Gendo has a comment that reflects deeply into the nature of human beings: "In the end, humanity's worst enemy is humanity itself."

    Compare this with doctrine of "the Enemy Within [Oneself]." Are we destined to be our own worst enemy? Are we destined to struggle but to defeat oneself?

    Contrast this with several religions (most notably Buddhism and the Kabbalah) where it is said that the source of evil is in the heart (or within oneself). Also contrast this with other religions (most notably western Christianity) where evil takes on a more solid and noticeable third-party form (e.g. Satan).

    Are humans responsible for evil? Is God responsible for evil? Or, as many misquote Christianity, "the Devil [Satan] made me do it?"
  • Shinji and Asuka will debate the idea of an "enemy" in this episode, as well as the nature of the Angels. Shinji cannot understand why humans are battling the messengers of God. Asuka suggests, quite simplistically, that because they attack humans they are therefore enemies of humanity. Her idea is a simple "self-preservation" or "self-protection" obligation.

    Is the definition of an enemy based on attack and violation? If so, was Touji an enemy of Shinji? Does it matter "why" the attacks happen?
  • In the end, Shinji, Asuka and Rei will resume this discussion on top of the hill.

    Shinji will comment that the stars look beautiful without the city lights -- a strong question of whether humans are destroying natural beauty (and therefore the God-made beauty) with artificial creations. This issue is deeper than on the surface. Are humans destroying God by playing God (i.e. creating light)? Are humans stepping over bounds by creating EVA's? This question will be examined more in later episodes (e.g. Episode 14).

    Rei's answer, "We fear darkness and, to survive, chase it away with flames," is a classic. We can only marvel how Rei constantly comes up with such philosophically superior observations. (Or perhaps they are Director Anno's?) Are humans doing what we do and playing God games simply to cover up a deep fear inside?

    Similarly, do humans fear Angels and, in order to survive, chase it away with EVA's, even though they do not know what they have created?

    Shinji is the first to bring out the suggestion that Angels attack humans because we are special (or that we are special by having donesomething). This suggestion will be revisited in a later episode.

    Asuka will flatly reject that Angels have a reason to attack humans because it will save her from examining her own conscience.

Episode 12: The Worth of a Miracle [She Said, Don't Make OthersSuffer for Your Personal Hatred.]

  • The battle of the "post-modernist painting" Angel. Director Anno must have a good sense of humor also.
  • To further the "Man's creation" point (Contrast with Episodes 7, 14 and 23), Gendo goes to Antarctica. According to Kouzou, the definition of "Hell" is a world without living things (or without souls?). The next few lines are immortal:
Kouzou: This is "Hell."
Gendo: Nevertheless, human beings are standing here, living.
Kouzou: Because we're protected by the power of science and technology.
Gendo: Science is the power of human beings.
Kouzou: It's that arrogance that caused the tragedy 15 years ago, the Second Impact. This is the result. It's too harsh a punishment for us, though, considering the crime. This is just like the Dead Sea!
Gendo: And yet this is a purified world, a world lacking the impurity of the Original Sin.
Kouzou: I hope for a world where people can live, no matter how steeped in sin.
  • In Gendo's interpretation, science and technology control the world and protect us. Humans therefore has the ability to counter nature, and to counter God, by this technical power.

    Kouzou instead thinks that Man has become over arrogant and, by depending so much on technology and forging into forbidden (sacred?) areas, we are inviting punishment from God.

    In a later episode, science and technology will be equated to the fruits from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which Adam and Eve ate in Eden. In the Bible, God banished them from Eden to prevent them from also eating the fruits from the Tree of Life, therefore living forever -- arguably referring to the S2 device that enables an Angel (and EVA) to exist indefinitely.

    The MAGI system will prove to be wrong for the first time (and will fall once again immediately afterwards, in the next episode. Eh... Director Anno, you still don't trust us, do you?). And the antithesis of MAGI's ultimate technological wonder: the intuition of a woman. (In the next episode, it will be the dogged will of a woman.)

    Why are there so many evidences that science and technology are falling inferior to infinitely-more-fallible human beings? What do humans have that machines do not? This topic will be investigated to death in later episodes (e.g. Episodes 17, 20 and 23).
  • In this episode, Misato tries to answer the question "why?"
  • Upon hearing the comment, "It certainly seems that to pilot Eva was the reason the kid [Shinji] was born," Misato shows her understanding by observing that Shinji is not happy piloting his EVA.

    Why is Shinji not happy? This is a cue to link up with previous questions, with Shinji's "why?" question, and to Misato's acknowledgement that she was not happy defeating the Angel, all in much earlier episodes.

    When will the guy ever find his answer? But wait, very soon (a.k.a. Director Anno's style) he will find one.
  • Notice that Asuka will reiterate her reason for piloting EVA: To show the world her talents, and to justify her existence (Contrast with Episode 9). It is Shinji who asks her; apparently he still hasn't found his answer (and he admits it blandly). But has Asuka found her true reason? How many of us in humanity need to justify our own existence with external show of deeds? Do actions really define a person?
  • Ritsuko praises Shinji's progress on the synchronization test. Shinji first reacts indifferently, claiming that it doesn't make him happy, only to antagonize Asuka.

    Later, at the party, he will realize that being promoted (and in his case being praised) means that others are appreciative of his work.

    He finds another answer when his father praises him, albeit only slightly. For the first time, he feels good being praised. Shinji will then jump to the conclusion (and deceive himself for the time being) that he actually pilots EVA to hear those words of praise. Although Asuka calls him an idiot (he is an idiot) for thinking this way, she must have felt the same because she constantly seeks to be praised by the world.
  • Misato's reason comes out right after being accused by Ritsuko of selfishness -- for her own revenge -- Misato has finally shown her vice. (See character analysis)

    Her reason is to avenge her father. However, even she doesn't really believe in this reason 100%, but it has kept her going until then. She doubts whether she really wants to exorcise his ghost by "repaying" him of his debt to her (paralleling Shinji's now-infamous "can't run away" theme). After this episode, she is destined to start asking the "why?" question again and struggling just like Shinji.
  • Notice the point of "causing" a miracle (usually something that happens when God intervenes) to happen by human will. Contrast this also with the Jet-Alone miracle, obviously man-made. All miracles in this series are Man-made. Can they be considered real miracles then? Or do we only treasure miracles that we play no part in, because then we know some "higher being" is hearing us and therefore boost our own self-importance? Misato's comment says it all, "the value of a miracle is in creating it."

Episode 13: Invasion [Lilliputian Hitcher]

  • NERV installs Windows NT and an Angel promptly hacks into the system via the Internet.
  • This is the first episode that we have an Angel different from a typical monster. Kouzou raises a good question: until then, EVA's have been defeating Angels. How is one to defeat a microscopic Angel inside the computer? From then on, Angels will become weirder and stranger.
  • This episode is also a direct challenge to the superiority of the machine (Gendo: "MAGI against us"). Also note the idea that joining a large number of small, simple units can create a large intelligence (similar to a human brain). The total is greater than the sum of parts.
  • The MAGI system is composed of three bio-supercomputers, named after the Three Wise Men who came to adore Jesus when he was born in Bathlehem. According to the Bible, they brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

    Consider the possibility that gold represents the physical materialism of a scientist, frankincense representing the spirit and emotions of a woman, and myrrh representing the healing/protective instincts of a mother.

    Also contrast the three-in-one configuration of MAGI with the concept (mystery) of the Trinity. Does God work under similar rules of "democracy"? Does gold symbolize the Power of the Father, myrrh the Healing Power of the Son, and frankincense the Spirit?
  • Misato suggests destroying the MAGI system, but she obviously underestimates the dependence of the entire city to MAGI.
  • Also notice Gendo's philosophy, "the ultimate end of evolution is self-destruction." Is he (or Director Anno) implying human evolution? Or does life constantly seeks death, when death is the ultimate destination, the "undiscovered country"? In the last episode, death will also be defined as the "true freedom."
  • The MAGI system has three parts: the logic and rationale of a scientist, the love and protectionism of a mother, and the illogic/irrational of a woman. Ritsuko's mother fully understands that human beings (and reality) have all sorts of dilemmas within, and forces within constantly battling each other. To ignore these other illogical or emotional side(s) is to reject reality itself. Such is the difference between humans and machines.

    In the end, what saved all is the dogged (and illogic) will of a woman. Contrast this with Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House: "But a man does not sacrifice honor for love's sake!" "Millions of women have done so."

    Ritsuko detests the illogic side(s) of her mother and will ultimately fall because of it. (See character analysis)

Episode 14: SEELE, the Throne of Souls [Weaving a Story]

  • "Seele" is German for "Soul".
  • A recap of previous episodes.
  • Notice Kensuke's comments, which confirms Rei's death-wish (See character analysis):

"...at that time [in Episode 6, against the giant blue grain of salt], EVA-00 protected EVA-01 with her life against the enemy's particle beam. ... it is due to a single reason -- Ayanami [Rei]. I have the impression that she regards herself as having a very tenuous existence. But it cannot be described as pessimism ... she already has that in abundance"

  • Notice also that the Dead Sea Scrolls are brought up in this episode, referring to some prophecies about future events about the human race. Also mentioned is the Human Completion Project.
  • Notice the poetry-like inner-realization of Rei, especially when referring to:
  1. Water is something pleasant. Command Ikari [Gendo]...
  2. Flowers, all alike, all useless.
    (Is Man the same?)
  3. The smell of blood, and a woman that does not bleed.
    (It is conjectured that Rei does not have menstruation)
  4. Humans, made from the red soil.
    (Man created from the soil by God)
  5. Humans, made by other men and women.
    (Mankind then propagates)
  6. Cities... a Man's creation.
    (Man creates cities)
  7. EVA... a Man's creation.
    (Man also creates EVA's. Are we going too far?)
  8. Humans... a God's Creation.
  9. Humans... a Man's Creation.
    (Man creates human beings. We are definitely going too far. Notice the difference between creation and propagation)
  • Especially notice the constantly recurring theme: A Man's Creation (Contrast with Episodes 7, 12 and 23). At the end, Rei will also question who she is, and who everybody else is. It is almost an existential question.
  • The Dummy Plug system is also mentioned here. At the end, the Lancea Longinus is mentioned and we see Rei piloting EVA-00 carrying it walking somewhere...

Episode 15: Lies and Silence [Those women longed for the touch ofother's lips, and thus invited their kisses]

  • In this episode, Kaji shows some of his true missions. What is his "real-job" and what is his "part-time job"? (See character analysis)
  • Shinji has been staring at Rei for the entire morning doing classroom cleanup. This later provokes an embarrassment in Rei -- true emotions for the first time. It is obvious that Shinji has somewhat of a crush on Rei. He also feels troubled meeting his father and asks Rei for her advice. Perhaps also a bit of jealousy as well.
  • Shinji is actually troubled with the fact that he does not know how to place his father -- does he hate him, or does he like him? Does his father hate him ("Go home!") or does his father like him ("You have done well.")? He doesn't seem to have the answer, not surprisingly.
  • The meeting of father and son to Yui's grave outlines some philosophical points, from Gendo's words: "People live on by constantly forgetting. However, Yui has taught me that there are things that one should not forget. This grave is nothing but an empty symbol. Everything is in my mind, and that is all that matters." (See character analysis)

    In the very end, Man should not constantly be seeking the external manifestation of things. As an old saying goes, it does not matter that something/someone is gone, it/he/she lives on in our hearts.
  • Notice Kaji's conversation with Misato and Ritsuko. Ritsuko mentions that the two contradictory aspects of homeostasis (preservation of current status) and transistasis (power to drive change) is life. This supremely parallels the Kabbalah set of philosophy -- the self-reinforcing dynamics of Form and Force.

    Kaji then pushes the point further by equating these two aspects to men and women. Obviously, then, men symbolize Form and women symbolize Force, just as in the real world where most men are logical and rational and most women are emotional and forceful.
  • In this episode, Misato also admits that she joined NERV "to forget everything [about her father]," to "run away and escape from his spell," and only to "pretend to avenge his death by defeating the Angels". Compare this with Episode 12 when she did not want to admit the truth.

    She then realizes that she is also a child and her "run away" instincts is nothing more than Shinji's same feelings dressed up in a more mature-looking coating. She realizes that she has no right to criticize Shinji.

    Why do humans constantly find that children are less simplistic and childish than we think? Why do many religions (especially Christianity and Taoism) insist on Man going back to a child-like form before salvation?
  • At the end of the episode, Kaji shows Misato the figure of Lilith (he mistakes it as Adam). And Adam is confirmed to be the First Angel. On Lilith's face are seven eyes symbolizing the Seven Heavens and the journey through them to be face-to-face with God. Why is Lilith nailed to a cross like Jesus?

Episode 16: Deadly Disease [Splitting of the Breast]

  • Asuka will begin to deteriorate here, once Shinji beats her in synchronization. She will continue on this spiral of self-destruction until the very end. (See character analysis)
  • Shinji, on the other hand, will begin to feel happier and happier about being praised. Being "Number One" certain boosts his morale, making him active and less robot-like. He even takes an initiative and wants to fight a "man's fight." (Contrast this with Episode 19) Has he finally found his answer why he pilots an EVA? Or is this just simple vanity? Unfortunately he will find out merely minutes afterwards.

    Director Anno will never allow poor Shinji enough time to feel good. His over-confidence will lead him to danger and he will immediately be seeking for help from Asuka, Rei and Misato (all women, and to think that he just said this is a "man's fight").
  • Asuka and Rei discuss about pride and vanity, then question the validity of piloting EVA in order to be praised (ouch. The answer killed again!).
  • Ritsuko will scheme to drop 999 N2 bombs on an unsuspecting Shinji.

    She also explains the mysterious shadow cast by the Angel as a "Sea of Dirac" -- a consequence of Paul Dirac's beautiful equation (usually called the Dirac Equation) that founded the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED), the most successful scientific theory in human history to date. The Dirac Equation admits certain negative-energy solutions, which create negative-energy states (all practical, real-life energy states are positive; there was no negative energy before then) in a quantum field. Such negative energy states create "Dirac Holes" which are otherwise called the "Dirac Sea". The particles filling these holes are "positrons", same as electrons but having positive charge, matching their electron twins. Positrons (and anti-protons) were discovered by experiments later on.

    In this series, the "Dirac Sea" concept is apparently used to illustrate a parallel universe, another infinite space parallel to this space, a space inside a space. However there are others, more fitting descriptions of parallel universes which were not used (e.g. higher dimensions, black holes, parallel space). Why did Director Anno choose the very specific term of "Dirac Sea" to illustrate his point, a concept familiar only to a small handful of advanced quantum theoretical physists? One possible reason is discussed here.

    One must realize that Director Anno is, at heart, not a physist but a philosopher. And the "Dirac Sea" concept is intimately connected to the concept of "negative energy" that he really wants to illustrate. What is energy? In a non-scientific, philosophical point of view, energy is something that causes change and motion/Action. What, then, is "negative" energy? It is not merely a lack of energy (that will make it small, not negative), but an antithesis of energy, something that not only resists change but enhances stability, reinforces the status quo.

    Therefore negative energy is an energy that maintains and upholds. We cannot directly detect negative energy ourselves, because all measurements and observations are made on changes or motion. However, we can detect negative energy by the amount of change force that it resists, and by the sudden increase of likelihood to change when it disappears.

    The world inside the Angel's shadow is no doubt a very static space (it can almost be called a statis field). It reinforces Shinji's natural tendency towards security and inaction, and requires much energy for him to break free again.

    Ultimately this brings us to the fundamental philosophical question: What is the normal state of the world? Is change the only certainty, as some says? Or is the world made static and requires energy to induce changes/Actions? In other words, when something is static and unchanging, is it merely due to a lack of change-inducing energy or is it due to a force of negative energy maintaining it? What is the true nature of the world?
  • Inside the shadow, Shinji will go through a period of self-discovery. He discovers that his own "self" is actually formed by two "selves," one external and one internal. It parallels the psychological idea that there is a conscious and a subconscious within humans.

    The argument also goes that the Shinji's in the minds of others all different, and yet they are all the same Shinji. This is strangely similar to a debate on original meaning versus interpretations, and in existentialism -- is the essence of something in itself, or does it depend on an external interpretation? Does the interpretation/observation of something actually "creates" it (quantum physics)? Does a branch falling in a forest make a sound when nobody is watching/listening? Does the world exist when nobody is watching/observing?
  • Shinji will also perform a complete review of his thoughts and feelings up to that moment. He accuses himself of faults, admits he hates/does not hate his father, and enjoys/should not enjoy praise. In the end, he realizes that he is only escaping from himself, and that the ultimate challenge he has is actually to face his true self.
  • And then, once again, the Yui in EVA-01 saved him.
  • The blood-covered EVA-01 looks eerie and alien -- another indication that humans have over-stepped the line into forbidden country. Asuka suddenly begins to wonder what "machine" she is actually piloting, and even Ritsuko realizes that Mankind has been copying from a monster, creating a monster itself. She has never feared EVA as much as that day. And her comments, "it may hate us" parallels the idea of the created hating the creator. Does Man hate his own Creator?

Episode 17: The Forth Children

  • Notice Misato's comment that using the S2 engine prematurely is a poor idea because it is not fully understood. Ritsuko adds that EVA is a similar case. Another indication that human beings have stepped over the sacred line and produced something that we don't fully understand.

    But how frequently do humans stop to think about this issue of should and shouldn't, when there is an unknown power to be harnessed? Using a tool that we don't understand to harness its power is merely a means towards satisfying Man's insatiable vanity and pride.
  • Ritsuko also comments on the Dummy Plug system. It has Rei's personality digitized and stored. However, as Ritsuko points out, a human's "mind" and "soul" are not digitizable (quantifiable). Then what is Mind itself? And what is Soul? Contrast with Episodes 12, 20 and 23.

    If a machine already stores all the personality and memories of a human being, is it then a human being by itself? Compare this with the "Turing Test" definition of artificial intelligence. What differentiates a machine from a human being? Is this difference a soul?

    If we push the cabilities of a machine to its limit, when it can mimic all the thought process and actions of a human being, does that make a human being in the machine? In such a case, this machine can be the ultimate "processor of logic." Yet, what differs it from a true human being? Are all of us depending on science and technology for all our lives' purposes nothing but logical processors ourselves? Are we nothing but machines?

    A device that can only imitate a human being's thinking and personality is, according to Ritsuko, merely a "machine." It is nothing but a "fake copy" (counterfeit) of a true human. Does the ultimate logical scientist realize something about the limits of science?
  • Rei says "thank you" to Shinji, saying those words for the first time in her life. She seems shocked at this growing emotion inside her, but it is actually a part of her journey of self-fulfillment. (See character analysis)
  • Again, Gendo and Kouzou's conversation is immensely philosophical, almost paralleling their first conversation in Antarctica:
Kouzou: The city is a paradise that humans made.
Gendo: When humans are driven out from paradise, they fled to the Earth -- a world of death. We humans, the weakest of living things, created here a paradise of our own, via the sentience and intelligence acquired due to that weakness.
Kouzou: To protect us from the fear of death, and to satisfy ourselves with pleasures, we created for ourselves a paradise... This city is indeed a paradise; this city, equipped with weapons to protect us.
Gendo: A city for cowards fleeing from the outside world full of enemies.
Kouzou: Cowards live longer. That's one good thing. Tokyo-3 is NERV's camouflaged fortress.
  • In the end Gendo says, "events missed by the Dead Sea Scrolls are possible," indicating that the Dead Sea Scrolls may not contain all the prophecies of the future. It is possible for mankind to write his own future; nothing is 100% destined.
  • Kaji also discusses the difference between weakness and compassion: "One who knows pain is kinder to others. This is different from weakness." This will set the stage for future episodes when Shinji will constantly show compassion towards others.
  • Shinji will be the last person to know Touji is the Forth Children. Of course he has never heard of the accident in the States and EVA-03. When is he going to pick up more clues in his life?

Episode 18: The Choice of Life [Ambivalence]

  • Rei discovers herself more after Touji pointed out that she worries about Shinji.
  • Kaji makes a good point that people only "think" they understand others; instead, it is almost impossible to completely know a person. There is a lot more to a person than meets the eyes. Life is interesting because of this constant quest to know and understand somebody else. In this case, he means that Shinji does not understand his father afterall. And it is true, he doesn't.

    Typically Kaji, he then pushes the issue to the area of male-female relationship: "For us [men], women exist on the other shore. There is a river wider and deeper than the ocean between men and women."
  • This is also the episode where Shinji disobeys Gendo's orders because he won't kill an enemy with a human sitting inside -- a child the same age as he is. Reflecting on Kaji's comments in the last episode, we know that this cannot be called "weakness." Shinji is also taking initiative, rare for him.

    The brief conversation between father and son is worth reviewing. Shinji refuses to fight because there is a human being in the other side. Gendo believes that the ends justify the means -- that the enemy is an Angel, and that to avoid death Shinji must fight. It is a brief battle between Shinji's idealism and Gendo's practicality. In the end, of course, practicality wins. (See character analysis)
  • People in NERV marvel at the power of the Dummy Plug, but at the same time also disgust over the savagery involved. The Dummy Plug is a counterfeit of a true human pilot, sans the soul. Does the soul make a difference here (compare Shinji and the Dummy Plug)? Is something without a soul merely a savage machine?

    To push the idea further, does civilization come from the soul? What is a soul? Is it a structure that restricts us from savage actions, forbidding us from certain selfish and self-gaining acts at the expense of others? If so, then, is civilization the product of restriction, just as the world is a creation of God's withdrawal, the imposition of form on top of raw force (a Kabbalist idea)?

Episode 19: A Man's Fight [Introjection]

  • In this episode, Shinji finally finds himself and his own initiative to walk away from EVA. He also realizes that he hates his father ("that man"). (See character analysis) However, Director Anno will not let him leave so easily.

    Contrast this episode with Episode 16 and observe how much Shinji has grown in merely three episodes.
  • Touji dreams of Shinji and Rei discussing about understanding the feelings of others. Rei accuses Shinji of not trying to understand his father, while Shinji accuses his father of not trying to understand him. Rei then points out that Shinji is in an act of escape, rejecting unpleasant things by not trying to understand his father.
  • Rei clearly shows her dark side with her comment, "I'll do it. Even if I die, there will be a replacement." And she will be doing almost a suicide mission. (See character analysis)
  • Notice Kaji's words to Shinji that turns him: "Shinji, I can do nothing but water here. But for you, I bet there is something which YOU can do and ONLY you can do. Nobody is forcing you, but think for yourself and decide by yourself ... WHAT you should do now. Well, I hope you have no regrets."

    Just as Shinji is about to retreat back to his security, Kaji brings up the "obligation" (and perhaps guilt?) reason again and, for the first time since the very first Angel battle, Shinji volunteers to pilot EVA into battle again.

    Notice also Misato's parting words when Shinji is leaving: "I have projected all my hopes and dreams on you... Everybody in NERV has no choice but to do that." How much does this "selfish" statement serve to bring up Shinji's sense of obligation (or guilt)?

    When asked by Gendo why he is back, Shinji simply replies, "I am the pilot of EVA-01." He is accepting his "responsibility" as an EVA pilot. Or is there something else? Does saving NERV and the people he knows (including Rei and Asuka) adds anything to his decision? Compare this with his reason for getting into EVA during the first battle -- to protect Rei.

    During the battle, he firmly accepts his obligation as he realizes that the lives and deaths of everybody depends on the outcome. And he fights a Man's Fight, without asking for help from either Asuka or Rei or Misato (as in the earlier episode with the "shadow" Angel). He realizes that he is piloting EVA so that others may live, so that Mankind may live, and it is not acceptable for him to fail, even though he did not start the fight. After a large circle of false hits, Shinji has finally found his answer to the "why?" question. For now.

Episode 20: The Form of Heart, the Form of Man [Weaving a Story 2:Oral Stage]

  • In the last episode, EVA-01 absorbed the S2 device of the Angel and incorporated it into itself.
  • Kaji is described by SEELE as "a bell around Ikari [Gendo]'s neck." Which side is he working for? NERV? Or SEELE? Or the Japan Ministry of Interior? Apparently he is working for all sides, and for no side. (See character analysis)
  • Ritsuko and Misato again discuss the true nature of EVA -- inevitable after the horrible events of the last few episodes. Ritsuko continues to define EVA as "that which was created by humans in the human image." (Contrast this with the creation of Man by God) In addition, according to her, it is not simply a copy of an Angel because "a human mind is in it." Whose mind is in it (I suppose we can all guess by now, after EVA-01 consistently moved by itself three times to protect Shinji)? And does the possession of a mind (one of the two elements that differ humans from machines, mentioned in a previous episode) makes EVA different from an animal/machine/Angel?
  • According to Ritsuko, Shinji has melded with the LCL in the entry plug, because his "ego" no longer holds his physical form together. In other words, a human being is a "soul" held together as a physical form by "ego." This discussion confirms the existence of a soul in a human being which, for some reason, is less soul-like as the normal sense but resembles a "force" of nature that can be confined and detected. Contrast this with Episodes 12, 17 and 23.
  • Meanwhile, Shinji's conscious in the primordial soup won't want to return. (See character analysis) He questions once again his reason to piloting EVA: "Why am I fighting, even though it leads to such bitter experiences?"
  1. The first reason he reviews is to provide revenge for Misato's father, although it should have been Misato's reason, not his.
  2. The second reason is Asuka's "enemy" theory -- that whoever/whatever threatens our well-being or safety is an enemy and should be combated.
  3. The third reason is a modification of the enemy theory -- that whoever/whatever hurts our beloved or our friends should be combated.
  4. The forth reason is the "father" theory -- his father told him to do it.
  5. The fifth reason is the "obligation" theory -- nobody can do it, except himself. (For a brief moment, he resorts back to the "can't do it" rejection.)
  6. The sixth reason is a modified obligation -- other people are kind to him because he is an EVA pilot, therefore he must continue piloting to repay their kindness.
  7. The seventh reason is simple identification and responsibility -- he will pilot EVA because he is its regular pilot.
  8. The eighth reason is to fight the enemy and win -- this is different with the previous "enemy" reason because, this time, to lose is to lose for Mankind and to win is to save Mankind from destruction; and humanity depends on him. It is an obligation to fight because of a fundamental value, similar to a Great Work (Kabbalist idea).
  9. The ninth reason is to gain praise from others.
  10. The final reason is Asuka's reason -- to show off to the world.
  • He also reviews why he hates his father -- mainly because Gendo deserted him and ignores him. With this, he confronts the dark truth that Gendo likes Rei more than he and he is jealous.
  • The "rescue plan" was completed ten years ago -- apparently referring to Yui's accident and Ritsuko's mother attempting to rescue her. According to Ritsuko, that attempt failed.
  • By the end of his time in the primordial soup, Shinji asks himself what he really want, and everybody else (all the female) ask what he really want, and whether he wants to join with them permanently, body and soul.

    The he smells of his mother, Yui. And his mother telling Gendo (and indirectly to him) that, if one has the will to live, then everywhere is heaven. And even in Hell will one find happiness. Contrast this with a vast number of more mythical religions (Buddhism, several sects of Christianity, etc.)

    Then he returns.
  • Asuka is dangerously close to breaking point in this episode. She has been beaten once again, and is rescued by Shinji, of all people. Her exterior dressing of confidence and pride is coming crashing down. (See character analysis)

Episode 21: The Birth of NERV [He was aware of that he was still achild]

  • In this episode, Kouzou recounts the events leading to the Second Impact and the creation of NERV and the EVA's.
  • By incorporating the S2 engine of an Angel, EVA-01 is now unlimited in its time of activation ("from five minutes to eternity... that is quite a quantum leap."). The SEELE committee considers this as the creation of a God by humans and further condemns it as blasphemy -- that human beings should not be playing God by creating other living things, let alone creating a God.

    However, it is worth thinking about SEELE's definition of a God: something that combines the intelligence/knowledge of human beings and the life-force/eternity of an Angel. In other words, it parallels God's dialogue in the Bible, "Man has already eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil... let us banish them from this garden... lest they eat from the Tree of Life also and live forever, just like us." Man's achieving eternity (via the S2 engine) is considered Man stealing from the Tree of Life and as such is blasphemy itself. Contrast this also with the idea of science and technology in Episode 12.

    When Kouzou sees an EVA prototype, he exclaims that it is a prototype of a "God".

    And after Yui's disappearance, Gendo will formally propose to SEELE the Human Completion Project, a scheme "to turn Humans into Gods". Note that in many Eastern and Near Eastern religions, it is actually possible or desirable for humans to "become God(s)" or at least to reach the presence of God through his/her own efforts, as opposed to Western Christianity with its top-down approach. Buddhism is an extreme that is actually built on the foundation that all Buddha's were once men (or women) and it is everybody's final goal in his/her numerous lives to gradually become a Buddha himself/herself. The Sephiroth Tree of Life central to Kabbalistic thought is actually a pathway for Man to follow so that they can seek God, and become one with God, through their own efforts.

    There are hints that his definition of "God" is similar to that of the SEELE committee. Notice also the cross-shaped silhouette behind Gendo in that scene -- does it look like he is carrying the cross? (See character analysis)
  • It is now also confirmed in this episode that Rei is intimately related to Yui.
  • Ritsuko, the eternal scientist, finally admits that things between man and woman are difficult to understand, because they are not logical. Her mother apparently suffers from no such delusion and indicates that she may lose her happiness if she takes emotional matters logically. Ritsuko will have trouble even with the logical definition of "happiness". (See character analysis)
  • That same night, Ritsuko's mother will be angered by the taunting of little Rei and strangle her, all the same time yelling, "if you die, there will always be a replacement." She obviously thinks that Gendo is using Rei as a tool, just like he is using her, because she says, "You are the same as me," before she commits suicide. (See character analysis)
  • Kaji dies in this episode.

Episode 22: At Least, Look Like a Human Being [Don't Be]

  • This and the next two episodes are extremely important and extremely philosophical.
  • This episode starts with a recap of the events surrounding Asuka's mother. Notice the words of Asuka's father: "Perhaps all humans are really dolls."

    The doctor will philosophically reply, "Humans make dolls in their own image. If God exists, we might just be dolls for Him." This is a supremely profound statement, paralleling the very questions asked by philosophers in ages past -- Why did God create Man in His own image? What is Man's purpose or plan for Man? Is Man merely a tool of God, to achieve a Higher Purpose for Him? Can God be evil? Why does a perfect God create an imperfect World? Why does a blameless God create a world full of sin and evil? These are all Kabbalist ideas.
  • Notice Misato's thought process: "EVA's, born from ADAM. We have no other way to defeat the Angels, besides utilizing the very cause of the Second Impact. In other words, we human beings use even the things that tried to destroy us. Such is human nature."

    It is important to also note Misato's disgust with human beings who insist on utilizing things that they don't understand, and who harness dark powers beyond their understanding and beyond their control. Like children playing with fire. But such is human nature, or is it?
  • Asuka goes down badly in this episode. It starts off with her remark to Shinji, "It's the end for me when I get sympathy from you!" and ends with just that. Fatalism.

    Misato and Ritsuko both know that she can't cut it any more. Not that EVA's have never been beaten before and it is unacceptable to fail in a mission, but that Asuka's pride has been injured so badly by Shinji, of all people, that she can no longer connect to her EVA.

    In the elevator, Rei will caution Asuka to open up her mind/heart, or else EVA will not move. Asuka seems to be surprised that there is a mind within EVA -- according to her theory, EVA is a weapon and should have no mind of its own. And Asuka retorts by saying that it must be the end of her to get sympathy from Rei.

    She also calls Rei a "doll" -- contrast the "God's doll" concept above, reinforced by Asuka's mother with the doll as well as Asuka's firm refusal to cry at her mother's funeral: "I am not going to cry. I decide for myself.". (Director Anno still doesn't trust us) Rei denies that she is a doll, but Asuka poses a challenge: if she is ordered to die by Gendo, she will gladly die -- a fact that Rei has to admit. According to Asuka, this is the definition of a "doll" -- no self-initiative, controlled by someone else. EVA, a weapon to Asuka, is also a "doll".

    Ironically, in the end, Asuka will refuse to be a backup for Rei, and it will be Rei who saves her, causing her ultimate downfall. In the next episode, Rei will choose to die, but not by order. (See character analysis)
  • Notice that the Lancea Longinus (supposedly the spear used to pierce Jesus's side on the cross) is exceptionally huge (for a person to hold up to pierce Jesus in the first place) and resembles the double-spiral of DNA.
  • Also notice that Gendo rejects Misato's fear that if EVA comes accidentally in contact with Adam, the Third Impact will occur. This is possibly because the figure hanging on the cross is not Adam (as Kaworu will find out in a future episode) but Lilith.
  • Finally, nobody is supposed to miss the background music when Asuka is "zapped" by the Angel's light: The Hallelujah Chorus in Handel's Messiah. Few people are not moved upon hearing this majestic piece. In fact, legend has it that Handel was so moved as he wrote this most stirring portion that he was heard to say, "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself!"

    But regardless of how forceful and compelling this chorus is, it is not supposed to be the climax. The Messiah concludes with the vision of St. John, the splendor of heaven, and the Lamb of God. Voices and instruments begin singing "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain..." The Lamb of God is the finale as well as the true climax.

    Notice the background music that is playing when Rei throws the Lancea Longinus at the Angel -- it is Worthy is the Lamb. The grand finale indeed.

    One final note: The Hallelujah Chorus and Worthy is the Lamb are the only two segments in Handel's Messiah taken from the Book of Revelation ("Hallelujah" in 19: 6 and "Worthy is the Lamb" in 5:12). This confirms the Apocalyptical tone of the series.

Episode 23: Tears [Rei III]

  • Misato starts the episode by repeating the phrase, "A telephone that doesn't ring." This is a direct referral both to the last episode and to Episode 3 ("The Telephone that Never Rings"). Is she finding loneliness as Shinji did earlier?

    Ritsuko's cat dies. Notice Misato's earlier comment that Ritsuko fills up her loneliness with pet cats.

    The issue of "loneliness" will be explored in depth in this episode.
  • Asuka is a complete wreck, and she will not pilot another EVA after this episode until the movies. She hates everybody and she hates herself. She vows never to get into her EVA again, but when the next Angel appears, she does so again. She will then ask herself repeatedly, "Why am I doing this? Even when I don't care any more. Am I still attached to this thing?" In other words, she has realized that her usual answer to the "why?" question is dead and she is desperately in search of a new answer.

    Of course, with her self-confidence and pride utterly destroyed, she falls into a vicious circle and can never get synchronization up to move her EVA.
  • Gendo's personal agenda is revealed here, bit by bit. SEELE begins to realize that he is going to betray them. (See character analysis)
  • Notice the shape of this Angel: a loop of DNA-like double-spirals.

    For the second time, an Angel has tried to probe into an EVA pilot's mind, but this time going further to meld with Rei. We can see the true face of the Angels, and they are far from monsters (or "enemies" as Asuka will portray them). They seem to have almost a fascination or curiosity to learn about human beings, especially the Mind of a human being. Why are Angels so interested in a human's Mind? Contrast this fact with the stated fact earlier that Man is unique to have a Mind and a Soul (in fact, in this series, the terms "Mind" and "Soul" are sometimes used interchangeably).

    Compared to Angels, Man spends preciously little time in trying to understand the mind of an Angel. Do Angels have independent thoughts (as mentioned in an earlier episode)? Do they evolve and learn? What are their motives? This episode (and the last one, as well as the next) will show us that Angels are not as simplistic as Asuka thinks.

    This brings us to the conjecture mentioned by some that Angels are really not monsters and are not malevolent, but they simply seek to be united with ADAM (the fact that this action will bring about Mankind's ruin is not a fault of theirs) and human beings are simply in the way -- by first shrinking ADAM to embryo-size (the object carried in by Kaji) and then putting up a whole line of defenses -- Tokyo-3, EVA's, tanks, cannons -- to prevent them from achieving this goal. As such, it can almost be said that "Man" is the malevolent side.

    This trend of Angel attempting communications with Mankind will continue and reach a climax in the next episode.
  • The Angel attempts to meld with Rei and to understand her emotions. She/it first interprets Rei's emotions as pain, but Rei realizes that it is actually loneliness. She gives a further definition of loneliness: "To hate being by oneself? There are many around you, but you are by yourself -- such is loneliness."

    Rei's loneliness has a different source from Shinji's. Shinji refuses to let others into his world (as will be shown in the next episode), choosing to close himself inside the security of the fortress of his own heart. His loneliness is a conscious choice. Rei feels lonely because she is so different from all others, that her life can always be replaced. Her loneliness is a consequence of having little in common with the masses.

    In the end, the Angel will observe accurately that Rei's heart is full of sorrow. And of course, Rei will die (again) before this episode is over, in order to save Shinji. It is uncertain when and how her feelings towards Shinji start growing to such a state, but apparently she is realizing it for the first time. Perhaps it is also due to her having a piece of Yui's soul. Nevertheless, this is the first time that Rei consciously chooses death for her own reason, defying orders of others. (See character analysis)
  • Misato will also find her own loneliness, when Shinji refuses her attempt to comfort him. She then realizes that she yearns so much for the company of others, and it doesn't really matter who, that she is actually lonely in her heart.
  • Ritsuko finds her loneliness when she realizes that her affair with Gendo is but an illusion, that Gendo cares about Rei, an "empty vessel", a "human-shaped thing" according to her, more than he cares about her. She cannot understand how she will be beaten by a doll, by an empty vessel, and because of this, she repeats the actions of her mother almost verbatim. (See character analysis)

    In the end, she will realize that she has been in a grand illusion all this time, and that she and her mother have all been fools. Misato will interpret it as the tragedy of people being "possessed" by EVA -- just as herself. In other words, a person possessed by EVA (and the God-like powers this knowledge gives) will feel their loneliness.

    One must also consider the point that, at least in a theoretical sense, when humans operate based on logic alone, they will invariably come to the same conclusion and walk on the same path towards the same direction, over and over again -- and one of the major principles of science and logic is repeatability of results and predictability. Whilst most of these directions and decisions may be correct, in the few times that they are not, logic and science are destined to drive humans to make the same mistakes over and over again, almost verbatim. Contrast this with Ritsuko's situation.
  • The truth about Rei is revealed in this episode.

    First notice the place where Rei was born (cloned): the Artificial Evolution Laboratory, with the seven-eye symbol of Lilith.

    Shinji is reminded that he saw Yui disappear in that fateful accident.

    And the truth about the Dummy Plug system. Apparently each one has a Rei body in it, with digitized personality and thinking mimicked by a computer. According to Ritsuko, these are all "empty vessels", without souls (only the true Rei has a soul and therefore she is different from all these objects); these are merely "human-shaped things".

    In other words, the human body is nothing but a vessel for the soul, and a body without a soul is nothing more than a human-shaped thing. Contrast this with Episodes 12, 17 and 20. Also contrast this with the difference in behavior between Rei in EVA-00 and the Dummy Plug (with a counterfeit Rei in it) when dealing with the 13th Angel (EVA-03).
  • The grand finale of the "Man's Creation" point (Contrast with Episodes 7, 12 and 14), in Ritsuko's words:

Man picked up a God,
(ADAM?)

and set out joyfully to claim Him for himself.
(Man wants to possess God, or to gain God's powers for himself)

Because of this, Man was punished, 15 years ago.
(Punished by God for this transgression, in an accident that brought Hell to Earth)

The God that Man spent so much time seeking vanished from him.

However, Man then tried to revive God by himself, and it was ADAM.
(Man does not give up, but tries to re-create what was lost with his own powers. What arrogance)

From ADAM was created objects in God's image, and that is EVA.

  • Interestingly, contrast this with a dialogue in Jurrasic Park (the movie). Is it talking about the same arrogance here?

God creates dinosaurs,
God distroys dinosaurs,
God creates Man,
Man destroys God,
Man creates dinosaurs...

Dinosaurs eat Man,
Women inherit the Earth.

  • Notice the parallel symbolism: according to Judaic mythology, the End of the World (or the Apocalypse) has arrived when all the souls in heaven's library/warehouse (the "Hall of Gaff") are exhausted and the first child is born on Earth without a soul. Can Rei (or Rei's replicates) be the first child(ren) born without a soul? Contrast this also with Ritsuko's follow-on words (below) that indicate, in fact, EVA's may be the first creation born without a soul. In either cases, is Man bringing about the Apocalypse onto Himself by His own deeds?

Yes, that is a human being.

EVA's, which did not have a soul ab initio,
now has a human soul.

All of these are only salvaged.
The only one which truly contains a soul is Rei.
Only she has a soul.
None of the others have a soul.

The Hall of Gaff is empty.
These Rei-like things here do not have souls.
They are nothing but empty vessels.

I will destroy them, because I hate them.

  • Also notice the music playing in the background during Rei's last moments and during Ritsuko's relevation. The full name of the track is Thanatos, If I Can't Be Yours. Thanatos is the God of Death in Greek mythology. Therefore, the background music track is Death, If I Can't Be Yours. How well it does fit into the situation!

Episode 24: The Last Messenger (Angel) [The Beginning and the End,or Knockin' on Heaven's Door]

  • Notice that in the title of this episode, the term "Angel" is reverted back to "messenger". Perhaps an Angel has always been a messenger of God (see Episode 1). What messages are they bringing?

    Contrast "the last Messenger" and Mohammed as the "last Prophet (or Messenger, in Islam)" of God.
  • Asuka is completely destroyed. She has lost all reasons to exist. (See character analysis)
  • Shinji does not know how to deal with the knowledge that Rei is actually a clone of his mother, and all his subconscious feelings about Rei suddenly make sense.

    He will start retreating into his own world of security by rejecting everybody else: he cannot face Rei (knowing the secret about her), he cannot face Asuka (when can he tell her about Rei?) and he cannot face Misato.

    Kaworu then makes his appearance just at Shinji's time of confusion. This is a bit pre-arranged.

    Misato will realize that she has been a poor guardian. (See character analysis)
  • By this time, the Angels apparently understand humanity, well enough to understand Man's sorrow and pain, together with his happiness and joy. Kaworu's philosophy is extremely interesting, among them:
  1. Songs [music] bring joy (he is humming Beethoven's Ode to Joy). Music is the highest culture that Lilims [the off-springs of Lilith, or Mankind] have created.
    (This implies that science, technology and logic are not the entire beauty of Creation)
  2. Rei is the same as him.
    (An Angel)
  3. Shinji has a home to go back to, which is a nice thing and should make him happy.
  4. Shinji is constantly afraid to communication with people and to avoid contacts because of his fears of being betrayed or being hurt. However, the price of such avoidance is sorrow. Mankind cannot eliminate sadness forever because everyone is alone (and therefore lonely), but they can forget [the bad events] and live on.
    (Contrast this with Yui's comment to Gendo, revealed at Yui's grave in Episode 15)
  5. Humanity always feels pain in their hearts because the heart is easy to wound. That is why living is painful.
  6. He calls EVA-02 as the "altered ego of ADAM", the "servant of Man".
    (EVA is created from ADAM to serve Man)
  7. EVA's are detested by humans, but yet humanity is using what they detest in order to survive.
    (Man detests EVA's because they are similar to Angels, the creation from ADAM)
  8. An AT Field is a wall surrounding (protecting, shielding) the Mind that everybody has. It is an impregnable, holy region -- the light of the Mind.
    (To parallel Shinji, humans use their own AT Fields to shield their hearts form each other, to avoid being betrayed and hurt, but this also causes loneliness)
  9. What is Man's destination? The hope of Man is the thread of sorrow.
    (Man therefore must live with sorrow)
  10. Notice Kaworu's decent down the levels of the Central Dogma to reach the gates of Heaven. Contrast this with Dante's decent into the Nine Levels of Hell in Inferno.
  11. Those born from ADAM (i.e. Angels) must return to ADAM, and in the process annihilating humanity.
    (He soon realizes that the object on the cross is not ADAM but Lilith)
  12. He then wishes to die so that Mankind can live. He hopes Shinji can succeed in stopping EVA-02 and destroying him so that this can come to pass. To him, life and death are equivalent. Actually, death to him is the only true form of freedom. He chooses death so that Mankind can live, because it matters to Man whether living or not. Man needs a future.
  13. Notice another long still-scene, one of the longest in anime history. Contrast this with the still-scene in Episode 4.
  • Shinji constantly blames himself for killing Kaworu, who is a better person than he is. Does that mean that a better person should always live at the expense of a lesser person? Is reality as simplistic and cold as the evolutionist "survival of the fittest" concept? On the other hand, is reality as extreme as "the best man/woman wins"?

    Misato corrects his fallacy by pointing out that only those who have a will to live deserve to live on. Contrast this with Yui's words again.
  • We could leave this episode at this point, but to provide for extra contemplation, the following are lyrics to Beethoven's Ode to Joy, sung by a huge chorus in the final movement of his Ninth Symphony. Ironically, Beethoven wrote "The Ninth" during the saddest and darkest period of his life (the saddness includes, but definitely not limited to, his becoming completely deaf -- he never heard what his immortal music sounds like, except with his heart). In the midst of his misfortunes, Beethoven's diary revealed that he turned to God for inner joy. Notice how strangely appropriate these words are in the episode setting. We all should feel compelled to salute to Director Anno.

Ode to Joy

Translation from Notes to Ode to Joy, March 1998

O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere
anstimmen, und freudenvollere.

Freude, schöner Götterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuer-trunken,
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wieder
Was die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,
Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.

Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
Eines Freundes Freund zu sein,
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele
Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!
Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle
Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!

Freude trinken alle Wesen
An den Brüsten der Natur;
Alle Guten, alle Bösen
Folgen ihre Rosenspur.
Küsse gab sie uns und Reben,
Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod;
Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben,
Und der Cherub steht vor Gott.

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen
Durch des Himmels prächt'gen Plan,
Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn,
Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.

Freude, schöner Götterfunken, usw.
Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt!
Brüder, über'm Sternenzelt
Muß ein lieber Vater wohnen.
lhr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such' ihn über'm Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muß er wohnen.
O' friends, not these sounds!
Let us strike up something more
Pleasant, full of gladness!

Joy -- beautiful divine spark,
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
O' Heavenly One, your holy shrine.
Your magic once again bonds together
What custom strictly divided,
All Mankind become brothers
Where your gentle wings hold sway.

He who has the great good fortune
To be friend to a friend,
He who has won a dear wife,
Let him mix his rejoicing with ours!
Yes -- and whoever has but one soul
Somewhere in the world to call his own!
And he who cannot, let him steal away,
Weeping, out of this company.

Joy is drunk by every creature
From Nature's breast;
Every good one, every bad one
Follows her rosy pathway.
She gives us kisses, and wine,
And one friend, tried unto death;
Even to the worm ecstasy is given,
And the cherub stands before God.

Gladly, as his Suns fly through
The magnificent plan of the heavens,
Run, my brothers, your own course
Joyfully, like a hero off to conquest.

Joy, beautiful divine spark,
Let me embrace you, O' millions!
This kiss is for the whole world!
Brothers, above the starry firmament
A loving Father must surely dwell.
Do you fall down, O' millions?
Are you aware of your Creator, world?
Seek Him above the starry firmament!
For above the stars He must dwell.

Episodes 25 and 26

  • These episodes are a gigantic recap of every philosophical point raised in the previous 24 episodes. Therefore, to write a guide for them will be to rewrite this entire guide.
  • The viewer, having gone through the first 24 episodes, will not have any difficulty in recognizing most of the issues and discussions appearing in these two episodes.
  • Make up your own decisions and find your own answers to Director Anno's questions.

See Also: Analysis ofEvangelion Characters According to the Sephiroth Tree of Life

Revised by Aaron Clark