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|“||Are you stupid?||”|
Asuka Langley Sohryu (惣流・アスカ・ラングレー, "Sōryū Asuka Rangurē") is a 14 year old fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise and one of the female main characters. Asuka is designated as the Second Child ("Second Children" in the original Japanese versions) of the Evangelion Project and pilots the Evangelion Unit-02. Her surname is romanized as Soryu in the English manga and Sohryu in the English version of the TV series, the English version of the anime movie and on Gainax's website.
Asuka is only one quarter Japanese, which accounts for her Japanese name but European appearance. Asuka is a native of Germany, having been raised there, though her nationality is technically American. Asuka's native language is German, and in both the series and the manga she tends to curse in German. Asuka was born to an American father (unknown) and a German/Japanese mother (deceased). She is a child prodigy and has earned a university degree in an unspecified field as a teenager; she also speaks fluent Japanese, but has trouble reading and writing kanji. Asuka had years of training starting from a young age to become a pilot for the Evangelion. She is characterized by her red hair and equally fiery temper. Asuka is very proud of being an Eva pilot, and near-constantly wears her A10 nerve clips in her hair, because she wants everyone around her to know that she is a pilot. Asuka's iconic catch-phrase (always directed at Shinji) is "anta baka?!" (あんたバカァ?!), "anta" being a contraction of "anata" meaning "you" and "baka" literally meaning "fool" or "idiot". The official English dub renders this as "What are you, stupid?!"
Asuka has red hair and blue eyes. She dresses up in a signature school uniform that includes a blue dress, white socks and a pair of black shoes. Asuka's hair is held together with her Interface Headset. To complete the ensemble, a red bow on her collar provides a centerpiece as well as a bit of contrast against her blue outfit.
Her mother, Kyoko Zeppelin Sohryu, was a scientist of Gehirn's German branch of the Evangelion Project. When Asuka was four years old, Kyoko participated in a contact experiment with Unit-02 similar to the experiment performed by Yui Ikari with Unit-01. She survived the test but became insane, believing that Asuka's doll was her daughter and refusing to acknowledge the real Asuka, referring to her as "that girl over there." She eventually commits suicide by hanging herself; Asuka found her body when she went to tell Kyoko the good news that she had been chosen to become an Eva pilot.
After Kyoko's suicide, Asuka's American father remarried a German doctor. This new mother is immediately repelled by Asuka's defensive nature, and finds herself unable to become attached to her. While talking to Shinji Ikari, Asuka states that she doesn't hate her stepmother, but she feels as if she could never replace her real mother.
During Kyoko's funeral, Asuka's grandmother had said to Asuka that she was "a strong girl", but it was alright if she needed to cry. However, Asuka protested against the idea and told her grandmother that she had to take care of herself for now on. From that day on, Asuka promised herself that she would never cry again. This causes her to repress a great deal of emotions, not to mention the emotional scarring that came from her mother's illness and death, leaving her twisted and vulnerable towards the end of the series.
Character and Relationships
Asuka is a very proud individual, especially in her piloting, and comes across to others as proud and strong, with a very high opinion of both her appearance (particularly her recently "busty" body) and her skill as an Eva pilot. She is stubborn and finds it difficult to express her true feelings to others. She does not like being looked down upon or told what to do as she wants to be viewed as an adult. She is aggressive and can be very opinionated. However, this personality is a front that protects a very vulnerable and insecure girl, a side which the viewer sees in her dreams or thoughts. She is often violent and intrusive of other people's space, especially Shinji's. She also has a strong need to be self-sufficient, and has a great deal of difficulty dealing with her self-perceived failure when she does need help; as her seiyuu Yuko Miyamura wrote of her experiences playing Asuka:
"Just to let you know, Asuka wasn't the most open-hearted character I've ever met...every time I tried to draw myself in closer synchronization, Asuka would never allow herself to sync with me. Even in the end, she would never step across the line and draw closer to me. The last scene in The End of Evangelion was done, and still she had never stepped across that line and come forward. One day, I figured out that there was a wall in Asuka's heart."
Thus her relationship with Shinji is one of the core aspects of the series, and affects both characters on multiple levels (see next section).
Her best (and seemingly her only close) friend is her class representative, Hikari Horaki. Although Asuka and classmate Toji Suzuhara constantly argue, she gives Hikari advice about pursuing Toji. Asuka is openly infatuated with Ryoji Kaji, her former guardian after her mother died, and makes a number of advances toward him which he politely refuses. For this reason she envies her and Shinji's guardian, Misato Katsuragi, especially after Misato and Kaji rekindle their romantic relationship. The "Director's Cut" of Episode 24 also shows Asuka violently confronting Shinji and saying he's lying when he tells her that Kaji is dead.
In her early appearances, Asuka has a high synchronization ratio and displays exceptional skill as an Eva pilot. She is also very aggressive and confident in battle, which works both for and against her as the series progresses. After being defeated in battle by the Angel Zeruel, Asuka's self-confidence (and, correspondingly, her sync ratio and effectiveness as a pilot) begins to dwindle. This comes to a head in Episode 22, when the Angel Arael appears. Burdened by increasingly poor results in synchronization tests, Asuka is infuriated when she is ordered to serve as backup for Rei. She launches herself in Unit-02 and tries to attack the Angel alone but is overwhelmed by its attack, which forces her to relive the painful memories of her past and causes her to suffer a mental and emotional breakdown. She loses the will to live and is incapable of piloting Unit-02 again in the series.
The End of Evangelion
In The End of Evangelion, Asuka is placed inside Unit-02 for protection from the Japanese Strategic Self Defense Forces assault on the GeoFront. With Unit-02 submerged in a lake and bombarded by depth charges, Asuka declares that she does not want to die and, in a moment of clarity, realizes that her mother's soul is carried within the Eva and has been protecting her all along. She regains her self-identity, engages and defeats the JSSDF, and is later confronted by the Mass Produced Evas. During the battle, she successfully disables all nine opponents; however, Unit-02's power runs out, and the MP Evas' S² Engines allow them to remain functional even after being severely damaged and/or mutilated. They proceed to eviscerate and dismember Unit-02 using their Spear of Longinus replicas, thus causing Asuka's body to actually suffer the wounds inflicted to the machine and apparently killing her (her Entry Plug is never seen being destroyed, but the NERV staff appear to believe her dead). During this final assault, Asuka is briefly able to reactivate Unit-02 through pure fury, but only enough for it to move its arm slightly, nowhere near the full "berserker" mode that Shinji is able to achieve. Her final words before death are a whispered "I'll kill you", repeated more and more frantically. She is mysteriously alive and corporeally present at the conclusion of the movie, after Shinji rejects Instrumentality.
Asuka's interactions with Shinji
Throughout the series, Shinji carries out a deceptively straightforward love-hate relationship with Asuka, who is going through puberty and deeply confused and uncertain:
"The thing I would like to say to the friend in my heart is, "Asuka, you're just a fourteen-year-old kid, aren't you?" Fourteen is a time of life when you are thrown against the wall of life. You are forced to learn. It's puberty, where you decide what kind of life you're going to live, right? Evangelion came to its climax just as you hit that point, but after that, what would your choices be, Asuka? What good would you try to do? What kind of adult would you grow into?"
Shinji and Asuka are attracted to each other, but neither is able to properly express their feelings. Asuka's overbearing attitude and inability to admit her vulnerabilities keeps her from opening up to Shinji. In the episodes shortly after their first meeting, she seems to enjoy flirting with him and teasing him sexually, but this is mixed with frequent verbal abuse. Nonetheless, it is through her bullying and perfectionism that Shinji finds the confidence he needed to work hard at synchronizing his movements with hers to defeat the Angel Israfel in Episode 9. She and Shinji kiss in Episode 15, but she pinches his nose shut and nearly suffocates him. As the series progresses and her abilities as a pilot diminish, the resulting damage to her ego causes her to become increasingly harsh and cutting to Shinji. The Director's Cut of Episode 22 reveals that, despite her actions, she still wants Shinji's affections and is saddened, frustrated and angered by his shying away from her (unable to recognize that her taunts and aggression are keeping him from getting close to her). During Arael's attack on her psyche, when she thinks about Shinji, she states (internally),
"Why are you there damn you?! You don't do anything! You won't help me! You won't even hold me!"
She also seems to be very jealous of Shinji's friendship with Rei, which deepens her disgust toward Rei and fuels her venom toward Shinji, especially in the later episodes.
The fractured state of Asuka and Shinji's relationship becomes a key factor on events in The End of Evangelion. At the start of the movie, Shinji is shown with Asuka in her hospital room, begging her for help and trying to rouse her from unconsciousness. He accidentally pulls loose her vital sign monitors, exposing her breasts; he masturbates to this sight, but afterward is horrified and disgusted with himself for doing so. His guilt and increased self-loathing add to his previous traumas and cause him to become so uncaring of his own existence that he does not resist when the invading JSSDF soldiers try to kill him. This forces Misato to save him and to try to rouse him from this state so that he can escape the GeoFront in Unit-01. The beginning of Instrumentality and the trauma of seeing the mangled remains of Unit-02 in the hands of the MP Evas cause Shinji to enter a schizophrenic fugue state in which he and Asuka are back in Misato's apartment (interestingly, at the exact time when he and Asuka first kissed). Again, he begs Asuka for help, claiming to be afraid of Misato and Rei, while also revealing his true feelings for Asuka ("I want to stay with you...You're the only person who can help me.") Asuka denies his pleas, attacking (in her view) the selfish nature of his perceived motives. Overwhelmed with his own hopelessness, Shinji loses control and strangles her. Several indicators suggest that the depiction of Asuka in this scene is Shinji's perception of Asuka rather than Asuka herself.
However, in the aftermath of the film's finale, Shinji appears on a beach with none other than Asuka. He tries to strangle her; she does not physically resist him, but instead lifts her hand to stroke his face - incidentally, as Yui had done just moments before. At this he collapses, weeping, onto her chest, and as the film ends she says, "気持ち悪い。" ("Kimochi warui", translated into English in the subtitles as "I feel sick", and as "How disgusting" in the dub). The exact meaning of the symbolism in this scene, as well as the intended meaning of Asuka's final words, are unclear and heavily debated. As the series ends there, the specifics of her and Shinji's subsequent lives are left up to the audience. One theory is that she and Shinji assume the roles of the new Adam and Eve, in spite of Yui's revelation to Shinji that all of humanity has the chance to return to physical form if they choose to do so. Official artwork seen on posters and DVD boxes for The End of Evangelion depicts Shinji and Asuka, side by side, looking out over the ruins of their world. It is implied that this occurs very soon after the final scene.
One point of debate regarding the final scene is whether or not Asuka is actually Asuka, as she is drawn with brown eyes rather than blue, and her left eye and right arm are bandaged, a mirror image of the bandages that Rei had when Shinji first met her. This has led some to argue that the Asuka that is with Shinji is an amalgam of Asuka, Rei, and Misato. Others believe that these resemblances are merely figurative or coincidental, since souls can't combine now that the Third Impact has ended. This argument posits that Asuka's eyes are still blue, only appearing brown like Misato's because of the notably red lighting of the environment, and that the bandages simply coincide with the injuries she suffered while battling the mass produced Evas and have no more significance than a call back to Rei's previous injuries. This argument is backed up by color analysis of the cel of that scene, which was later published as a card.
Adaptation by Sadamoto
In the manga adaptation by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Asuka is somewhat tamer than her anime counterpart. Though still arrogant, self-centered and even physically violent at times (seemingly even more so than in the anime), she's on slightly better terms with Shinji. She first appears in volume 4 of the series.
There were many changes to the sequence of events concerning her. In the anime, her first battle (against Gaghiel) took up an entire episode and included an (arguably vital) assist from Shinji. In the manga, her solo defeat of the angel is only briefly mentioned in a video clip about her shown by Dr. Ritsuko Akagi to Misato, Rei, and Shinji.
Shinji's first actual meeting with Asuka also is depicted differently. In the anime, their first meeting is aboard the naval carrier Over the Rainbow, and Asuka allows Shinji into the cockpit of Unit-02 while she fights Gaghiel. In the manga, Shinji, Toji, and Kensuke first encounter Asuka at an arcade, where she is unable to grab the toy she wants from the machine she is playing and furiously begins to kick the machine. Asuka then notices the boys staring at her and demands a "viewing fee" from them for seeing her panties (100 yen, as opposed to the anime in which Toji's "viewing fee" is a slap across the face). She and Toji begin to quarrel, and then Asuka accidentally bumps into a thug and is threatened by his gang. Asuka then proceeds to single-handedly take on—and defeat—the entire gang. Shinji is punched in the face by one of the thugs during the melee, and not until he arrives at NERV headquarters does he learn that the girl he has just met is in fact Asuka.
In the fight against Israfel, instead of staying in Misato's apartment, she is put in a special room with Shinji, monitored via a hidden camera by Misato. Also, her background is changed so that she is actually a test-tube baby. Asuka's mother and her husband were unable to conceive a child, and divorced after he had an affair. When he re-married and was able to have a daughter with his new wife, Kyoko decided to be artificially inseminated. The result was Asuka. Asuka's "father" is barely mentioned, though she claims that he was a renowned scientist and that the sperm bank was part of a eugenics program. However, despite her knowledge of her "father's" achievements, Asuka still suffers from an inferiority complex. In her mind, the circumstances of her conception mean that she is nothing more than spare parts or that she is artificial in nature, although she puts another spin on this while talking about it with Shinji, telling him, "I was born through the combination of an elite sperm and an elite egg…I was a chosen being, a special person." The feelings of inferiority that accompany these opinions are what drive her to overachieve and overcompensate. Also, Asuka has repressed the memories of her mother's insanity and death, making Arael's attack on her psyche especially traumatic; it is revealed that at some point before her mother's suicide, she tried to strangle Asuka.
Also, the manga re-imagines the infamous hospital opening scene from The End of Evangelion with Asuka and Shinji, beginning much the same way it does in the movie. However, from here it diverges incredibly. Shinji shouts that the Asuka he wants isn't the girl lying before him and Asuka seems to awaken from her coma temporarily to strangle Shinji. Luckily, NERV hospital staff separate the two and Shinji is led out while Asuka angrily screams that she hates everyone. Shinji breaks down crying outside soon after seeing his father and Rei pass by him almost unnoticed.
The manga also re-imagines the battle between Asuka and the MP Evangelions from the End of Evangelion. While she is defeated by the MP Evangelions, neither her nor Unit-02 suffer the same fate as they do in the movie. Just when the MP Evangelions are about to finish her off, Shinji arrives in Unit-01 and defeats them. While initially wondering if Shinji was waiting for the right moment to appear, Asuka is grateful that Shinji saved her. However, just when they thought it was over, the MP Evangelions reactivate due to them having S2 Engines. Afterwards, Asuka watches as Unit-01 fully awakens, is stopped by the Lance of Longinus, which returned to Earth, and is crucified by the MP Evangelions. She then tearfully watches as the MP Evangelions drag Unit-01, with Shinji still in it, into the atmosphere and begin the Third Impact. Her transition guide is Kaji, which she takes to mean that Kaji loved her all along. She reverts to LCL.
The final stage of the manga depicts a re-imagined world after Shinji rejected Instrumentality, a world in which none of the Children appear to have been Evangelion pilots. After disembarking a train at a station in Tokyo, Shinji hears a cry for help from the train carriage: a girl is unable to disembark due to the crowd of people getting on. Shinji grabs hold of her hand and manages to pull her through the crowd and onto the platform: the girl is revealed to be Asuka. As they introduce themselves, they both experience a strong feeling of déjà vu, as if they have met before. After an awkward moment, Asuka gives Shinji a special "thank you" by thanking him in German ("Danke schön!") before each goes off on their own way.
Neon Genesis Evangelion -ANIMA-
Asuka as a human
Asuka, who's 17 in ANIMA, has fully recovered from her mental trauma she suffered during the end of the anime. She's now very cheerful and cares a lot for Shinji and even for Rei, something that would have been unbelievable 3 years ago. She still pilots the Unit-02 which is later modified into the Evangelion Unit-02 Type II.
Asuka as an Evangelion Synthesis
When Asuka (piloting her Eva-02 Allegorica) got infected by some unknown ancient living organisms during her fight against Armaros on the Moon, she somehow merged with her Eva, resulting in the creation of a Human-Evangelion Synthesis.
The best description for her would be that of a giant woman with Evangelion-like details throughout her body than an Eva per se. She sports an all-red armor, despite the fact that Asuka was using the silver-armored Eva-02 Allegorica at the time of her infection. She still uses the Allegorica but the unit is now part of her own body, being her "hair". That means that she is now able to fly whenever she wants. She also still has an Entry Plug, even though it is virtually useless.
The main problem for this entity is her behavior. She has more or less the mentality of a baby, toying with tanks and having next to no knowledge about the world.
She was nicknamed "Crimson A1" by NERV JAPAN, much to Hikari's dismay. The latter said the others to call her "Asuka" in order to return her to her former human self. After a failed attempt to bring back Asuka to her normal self, she was absorbed into another dimension.
She would later come back as an enemy as the Torwartα1. The latter has virtually the same appearance as Crimson A1 but with a black and a much more darker red color scheme.
Shinji Ikari Raising Project
In this manga version, Asuka is a childhood friend of Shinji's. Although she still makes fun of him, she's also shown to have romantic feelings for him. As such, she was jealous when Rei joined them in school. Asuka's been peeped at by Shinji. (On one occasion where she wore a kimono, she unwisely allowed Shinji to rest his head on her lap. For the "accident", she gave the boy a slap.).
In a flashback sequence, she is shown telling Shinji to stop crying ("You're a man, aren't you?") when they were little kids.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gakuen Datenroku
Asuka is generally the same as she is depicted in the original manga. She routinely insults Shinji and will not tolerate failure or rookies. She is an artificially created child, like Rei and Kaworu. She is the only one of the three to have had parents or go to school prior to her current one. It is later revealed that on one of her first assignments, Asuka was forced to kill her parents after Angels took possession of their bodies. Despite her hatred of Angels, she still befriends Kaworu after he reveals his true heritage to her. Unlike other versions, she also seems to get on well with Rei, and is visibly upset when Rei is shot by Gendo Ikari. At the close of the series, she is shown attending school alongside Shinji and Rei, starting up a normal life after Gendo's death and the defeat of the Angels.
Asuka's Japanese surname comes from the Japanese WWII aircraft carrier Soryu. Her German surname comes from the American aircraft carrier Langley, also from WWII, while her mother's name refers to the nearly completed Nazi aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. Her first name comes from Asuka Saki (砂姫 明日香, "Saki Asuka"), who is the main character of a Japanese comic "SuperGirl Asuka" (超少女明日香, "Cho-Shojo Asuka") written by Shinji Wada (和田 慎二, "Wada Shinji"). Her mother's first name, "Kyoko", also comes from that comic's character Kyoko Aoi (葵 今日子, "Aoi Kyoko"). "明日 Asu" means "tomorrow" and "今日 Kyo" means "today" in Japanese. The scene in which Asuka's mother, following her mental breakdown refuses to acknowledge Asuka & pretends that the doll is her daughter seems to be taken almost verbatim from a scene in Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (manga). Anno had previously worked on the film version of Nausicaa & had expressed an interest in creating a side story centered around one of the supporting characters, but was denied permission by Miyazaki.
Non-franchise Video Games
Asuka appears in the Super Robot Wars game series, where she often butts heads with equally hot-headed and intelligent Kouji Kabuto, the pilot of Mazinger Z and Mazinkaiser. She is also implied to have developed crushes on famous heroes, such as Char Aznable (in the guise of Quattro Bageena) and Amuro Ray. However, the writers of the Super Robot Wars are evidently believers in Asuka and Shinji's suppressed feelings for each other. For example, in Super Robot Wars Alpha, Asuka jealously seizes a bouquet of roses Shinji meant for Lynn Minmei. In Super Robot Wars Alpha 3, she snaps Shinji out of his depressed state during the battle with the mass-produced Evas by declaring that she could not be with someone who'd simply lie down and die.
In KOF: Maximum Impact 2 the character Leona Heidern has an alternate costume that resembles Asuka's plug suit. She also has a costume that resembles Rei Ayanami.
|Primary Characters||Shinji Ikari • Misato Katsuragi • Rei Ayanami • Asuka Langley Sohryu • Gendo Ikari • Ritsuko Akagi • Ryoji Kaji • Yui Ikari • Kaworu Nagisa|
|Secondary Characters||Tōji Suzuhara • Kensuke Aida • Hikari Horaki • Kōzō Fuyutsuki • Keel Lorenz • Maya Ibuki • Makoto Hyuga • Shigeru Aoba|
|Tertiary Characters||Naoko Akagi • Kyoko Zeppelin Sohryu • Dr. Katsuragi • Pen Pen|
|Rebuild Characters||Asuka Shikinami Langley • Mari Makinami Illustrious • Sakura Suzuhara • Koji Takao • Sumire Nagara • Hideki Tama • Midori Kitakami|
|ANIMA Characters||Rei Quatre • Rei Cinq • Rei Six • Mari • Crimson A1|
|Other Characters||Maria Vincennes • Mayumi Yamagishi • Mana Kirishima|