Author: Amanda Wells
Source: Noise In My Brain
One of the best kinds of EVA sites are character analysis pages. With this series, even
characters you have ambivalent feelings about become fascinating. Yet one character I did
like, Kaworu Nagisa, was almost never analyzed, merely adored. So I became inspired to
post my own ideas about his character and motivations. Though his appearence was short, I
ended up gleaning a fair amount and crushing it together into a totally subjective
Kaworu's Angel name is Tabris, making him the Angel of Free Will. This is quite apt, since Kaworu questions his fate ("Must one who is born from Adam return to Adam, even though it would destroy man?") and prevents Third Impact by asking Shinji to kill him. Some believe Kaworu altered his original goal because of his feelings for Shinji, and I disagree. Rather, Kaworu's feelings for Shinji strengthened a conviction that already existed. Kaworu had an interest in music and sought human contact; these inclinations don't fit the profile of someone who wants to "destory" humanity.
Also, Kaworu chose to inform Rei of their similarites (though he was vague), and she arrived to cancel his AT Field (which I see as a purely instinctive defense) with her own, thereby allowing Unit 01 to grab Kaworu. Nor did Kaworu conceal his ablility to so easily manipulate his Synch Ratio. These aren't the decisions of someone who wants no intereference.
However, Kaworu did make the attempt, perhaps not being in control of his own body. Because of this, it's possible for Kaworu to have internal conflict, despite his placid demeanor. While only present in one version, Kaworu's voice inflections could hint at the warring forces in him.
Without evidence, I think Kaworu was "born" shortly before the events of episode 24, posessing knowledge of human despair but no experience with it. This is why he can talk about pain yet be so loving. Or this could be Kaworu's individualism at work again, realizing that humankind is fundamentally apart but still forming a bond with Shinji because he wants to.
Kaworu's also a paradox; ancient and innocent (perhaps the reason a youthful character was given gray hair), having intimate knowledge of humanity's lonlieness, yet expressing feelings openly. This openess is linked with naivete, for people are taught to conform to protocols as they grow, a process that may include hiding their emotions for the good of appearences. It can also be said that prolonged experience in the world creates bitterness and retreat in some. This "innocence" could be a demonstration of Kaworu's short life.
From my perspective, Kaworu was attracted (in whatever way) to Shinji in particular. I consider Kaworu very human in his emotions, and many of us are attracted to the similar. Similarities between Kaworu and Shinji are easy to see, if you look. Kaworu feels trapped because he must return to Adam; Shinji believes he is trapped by his various fears. Both seem introspective (someone doesn't make philosophical statements out of the blue, like Kaworu does, if they're not a thinker), but their thought patterns likely differ. The exact nature of his attraction, however, is hard to discern, but it's not important to me.
Like every analysis, Kaworu's is open to interpreation, and in his case, there's still holes to fill. Why an Angel would bother going against his instinct to a degree is a mystery. However, based on interpretations, a decent analysis of Kaworu can be pulled from his one appearence. He is an individualist and a paradox, perhaps closer to the rest of the cast than he appears to be.