"The Final Messenger" is the twenty-fourth episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Asuka's depression spirals out of control, so SEELE sends Kaworu Nagisa to NERV to serve as the replacement pilot for Evangelion Unit-02. Shinji and Kaworu develop a bond and become friends. However, it is soon revealed that Kaworu is the final Angel, and has been sent by SEELE to infiltrate Terminal Dogma. Kaworu commandeers Unit-02, forcing Shinji and Unit-01 to attack and defeat it. Kaworu reaches Terminal Dogma, but discovers that the giant, crucified being there is not Adam, but Lilith. He then implores Shinji to kill him to allow humanity to survive. Shinji hesitates, but grudgingly kills Kaworu. Misato tries to reassure Shinji that he did the right thing, but he remains guilt-ridden over his decision to kill Kaworu.
A young Asuka runs to find her mother after learning she has been chosen to be an Evangelion pilot, only to find that her mother has hanged herself. In the present, a bewildered Asuka learns of Kaji's death from Shinji. Asuka runs away, eventually finding a wrecked house to stay in. She lays in a bathtub naked and emaciated, lamenting that life is not worth living if she cannot pilot her Evangelion. One of NERV's intelligence agents finally finds Asuka and returns her to NERV Headquarters.
Shinji stands before Evangelion Unit-02 wondering where Asuka is, and unsure about how to tell her about the truth of Rei's origins. He then goes to the shore of the new lake marking the former site of Tokyo-3. Shinji mourns the fact that he has no friends left after Toji and Kensuke have moved away. He admits he is too scared to face Rei after discovering who she really is. Shinji's thoughts are interrupted by a boy humming "Ode to Joy." The mysterious boy introduces himself as Kaworu Nagisa, and tells Shinji that he is the Fifth Child.
Misato is suspicious of Kaworu and his too-convenient arrival after Asuka is rendered unfit for duty. Her suspicion grows when Kaworu's synch ratio with Unit-02 is incredibly high, even though the Evangelion's core had not been reset. Kaworu soon meets Rei, hinting that he is aware of her true nature.  Kaworu then takes a public bath with Shinji, stating he is deserving of grace and that he likes him. Shinji ends up spending the night in Kaworu's room. He tells Kaworu about his life before he joined NERV, and his hatred for his father.
Meanwhile, the monoliths of SEELE discuss the fact that NERV, which was intended as an organization to execute their scenario for Instrumentality, has now become Gendo's "plaything." Keel says that Gendo will pay for betraying SEELE. Gendo is then shown standing in front of Unit-01, revealing that the embryo of Adam is embedded in his hand. He refers to the purple Evangelion as "Yui," and says that the time for his dream to be fulfilled is coming soon.
Kaworu stands on a headless angel statue amidst the ruins of Tokyo-3. He observes that humans, whom he calls "Lilin," cannot be gods. Fifteen monoliths of SEELE appear around him, explaining that Gendo's true intention is to become like a god. The monoliths admit that humanity, as the progeny of Lilith born from the Black Moon, are the usurpers of the children of Adam born from the White Moon: the Angels. SEELE reminds him that while Kaworu has Adam's soul, Gendo is in possession of Adam's body. The monoliths express their faith in Kaworu to execute their will. Misato observes Kaworu from a long distance, confused about his morning routine of taking walks and talking to himself. Kaworu turns around and seems to look directly at the distant Misato, startling her.
Meanwhile, Hyuga gives Misato the information she asked him to steal from Maya. Hyuga has learned that Kaworu has the ability to intentionally manipulate his synchronization rate with the Evangelions. Misato then visits the imprisoned Ritsuko, who tells her that Kaworu might be the final Angel.
Ritsuko's guess proves to be true.. Kaworu activates Unit-02 without the use of an entry plug and heads toward Terminal Dogma. It is suggested that Kaworu is able to do this because he and all of the Evangelions, except Unit-01, are children of Adam. In addition, the soul within Unit-02 has withdrawn itself as a response to the psychological trauma inflicted on Asuka by Arael, the fifteenth Angel. NERV sensors render Kaworu as Pattern Blue: he is indeed the final Angel. Fuyutsuki expresses disbelief that SEELE would send an Angel to NERV, but Gendo tells him that the "old men" have decided to use NERV to skip a step in fulfilling their version of Instrumentality.
Shinji is beside himself with disbelief that Kaworu could be an Angel, but Misato orders him to take Unit-01 and join the battle. When he sees Kaworu towing Unit-02 towards Terminal Dogma, Shinji yells out that Kaworu has betrayed him, just like Gendo. Misato asks Hyuga to be prepared to trigger the self-destruct for NERV headquarters if Unit-01 fails to stop Kaworu.
Shinji absently apologizes to Asuka for fighting her Unit-02. Kaworu notes that because the Evangelions are born of Adam, humans should see them as abominations. He is perplexed that in a desperate attempt to survive, the progeny of Lilith would actually resort to employing Adam-based life forms. Shinji attempts to attack Kaworu with his progressive knife, but his weapon is blocked by the final Angel's A.T. Field. Kaworu explains that all life possesses an A.T. Field, which he describes as the "inner wall that we all possess." He then expands his A.T. Field to an unprecedented level of power, blocking NERV's ability to monitor the situation.
NERV sensors then detect a second A.T. Field within Terminal Dogma that neutralizes Kaworu's field. Rei, the source of the second A.T. field, stands above Terminal Dogma watching the confrontation. Kaworu hovers before the crucified being in Terminal Dogma, which he calls "Adam." However, Kaworu quickly realizes that the giant life form is not Adam, but is actually Lilith. Kaworu contemplates this discovery as Unit-01 discards the defeated Unit-02 behind him.
The victorious Unit-01 grabs the final Angel in its hand. With his A.T. Field neutralized, Kaworu asks Shinji to grant him his final wish: death. Glancing knowingly at Rei standing above them, Kaworu tells Shinji that only one of the Angels or humanity can exist on Earth. After spending time with Shinji, Kaworu has decided that humanity deserves to live. Grudgingly, after a long hesitation, Shinji kills Kaworu. A severed head is seen dropping into the pool of LCL beneath Lilith.
Later, Misato and Shinji are standing at the lakeside site where Shinji first met Kaworu. Misato tries to convince Shinji that eliminating Kaworu was necessary in order to save humanity. Despite her attempt, Shinji remains haunted by killing Kaworu, someone he saw as human.
Differences between the OA Version and the Director's Cut
- New scenes were added to the DC version of this episode:
- Asuka's shocked expression after slapping Shinji at the news of Kaji's death (along with the spilled coffee-pot from The End of Evangelion).
- The brief appearance of the embryo of Adam on Gendo's palm.
- The expanded conversion of Kaworu saying Rei is "the same as him".
- A scene in which Kaworu converses with the SEELE monoliths at the lake, while Misato spies on him.
- Lilith's appearance is altered to reflect the regrowth of its lower body in the DC version of Episode 22.
- The DC version shows a preview of the video version of Episode 25' Air, (Consisting of animatics of Asuka battling the MP Eva Series, Ritsuko surprised at Casper's betrayal as well as Misato saying goodbye to Shinji).
- Kaworu (after humming "Ode to Joy", to Shinji): "Singing is great. Singing enriches the soul. It's the crowning achievement of the civilization that the Lilin created. Don't you feel the same... Shinji Ikari?"
- Kaworu (to Rei): "You're the First Child, aren't you? Rei Ayanami. You're the same as me. So, both of us ended up in the same form as the Lilin while we inhabit this planet.
Rei: "Who are you?"
- SEELE member: "NERV, the organization formed to be SEELE's executive branch..."
SEELE member: "It was created in order to put our scenario into practice."
SEELE member: "But now, it has become an organization in the possession of one individual."
SEELE member: "Precisely, we must take it back."
SEELE member: "Before the promised day."
Keel Lorenz: "NERV and the Eva series must be in their true forms. Ikari, you will bear the responsibility of your malfeasance towards SEELE."
- Gendo (standing in front of Unit-01): "The time that has been given to us runs short. But the Spear of Longinus that stood in the way of our desire is no more. Soon, the final Angel will appear. If we destroy it, our wish will become true. Just wait a little longer, Yui."
- Misato (to Pen Pen): "I'm glad we're on the outskirts of the city, because it kept you from all that. But there's no guarantee that will be the case next time. So the Horaki family will be taking care of you starting tomorrow. This will be a goodbye for a while, Pen Pen."
- Kaworu (to himself): "Humans cannot create anything out of nothingness. Humans cannot accomplish anything without holding onto something. After all, humans are not gods."
- Kaworu places his hand on Shinji's the same way Misato placed her hand on his in the previous Episode. While the sexual intentions on Misato's part are plainly obvious, and drew Shinji's immediate disgust, he does not react to Kaworu's touch, and is in fact confused about what he has in mind. Despite implications, Kaworu's gesture might merely have been a sign of trying to comfort Shinji rather than a sexual advance. In one interview, Masayuki mentions the storyboard says Kaworu merely touches Shinji's hand, instead of holding it, but he did not notice this when animating it as Gainax was in a hurry to deliver the episode. Meanwhile, Seele meets to discuss Gendo's betrayal of their trust. The next scene is Gendo discussing his goals with Unit 1's soul, and it is revealed that Adam's embryo has been grafted into his hand.
- The Next Episode Preview after the end of Episode 24' is a preview for the video-released version of EoE's first episode, Episode 25' (Which consists of animatics of Asuka battling the MP Eva Series as well as Misato saying goodbye to Shinji). The video version of 26' Next Episode Preview is shown after Air's video version (This consists of live-action footage of Studio Gainax). The video version of The End of Evangelion was released on LD and VHS along with Episodes 25 and 26 of the series as Genesis: 13.
- There is a rather popular theory that Asuka attempted to commit suicide, such as by sliding her wrists in the beginning of this episode, but there is sufficient evidence to prove she instead was starving herself and simply waiting to die, having lost the will to live, but did not want to die either. See Theory and Analysis:Asuka and the Bathtub .
- "シ者" includes two Japanese words read as "shisha" (the character "シ" only represents the sound "shi"). The first is "messenger" or "apostle" (使者, "shisha"), while the other is "dead (person)" (死者).
- Evangelion character names; Translation of essay by Hideaki Anno about character name origins; includes a link to the original essay in Japanese.
- According to a translation of the original script (as opposed to the final version used in the show), Kaworu originally referred to Eva-02 as the "slave of the Night Demon(Lilith)" instead of "servant of the Lilin."
- Kaworu's supernatural ability to set his synchro ratio in Evangelion Unit-02 as he wished was because he possessed the soul of Adam, and his line for Rei being "the same as him" is a clue about her being the vessel of Lilith's soul. However, this was confirmed at Terminal Dogma, after she projected an A.T. Field to help Shinji in defeating Unit-02.
- Rei is i repeated likemd to Kaworu by Anno and other staff - Eva Special Talk with Anno Hideaki and Toshiya Ueno (Newtype 11/1996)
- When you disassemble the character for his last name, “Nagisa”, it becomes “shi” and “sha”. Thus, it is a play on the sub-title, “The Final Messenger (saigo no shisha)”. The “Nagisa (shore)” also forms a pair with Rei Ayanami's “nami (wave)”. - Platinum Episode Commentaries
- "I: And Rei and Kaworu is the same type of existence right? The “you are like me”.
Z: Both possessing the genetic code of Angels. - Schizo/Prano interview collection, "judging Hideaki Anno in his absence"
- Some early fansubbers misheard this as "koi", "love", but the scripts for this episode make it clear it is "koui". The ADV VHS, ADV DVD and Netflix/Khara subs render this as "sympathy", "regard" and "grace", respectively
- When Kaworu tells Shinji he "likes/loves" him the word he uses is "suki," which has a varying and ambiguous meaning, that includes simply friendship or intimacy. The original ADV VHS subtitle translation gives the word as "like," while Platinum and the English dub use "love." The Netflix release, translated by Khara, chose to use "like" again. Khara's own official translator has publicly defended this change, and the ambiguity it retains from the original text.
- Hideaki Anno has also denied "carnal feelings" on Shinji's part:
"—— Speaking about the blushing, is it because Shinji was happy that someone said they like him?
Anno: Yes, Shinji-kun didn’t experience carnal desire there" - June Interview
- Kaworu and Shinji lie down just like Asuka and Hikari did in the previous episode, but while Hikari seemed disturbed at Asuka's condition and Asuka was sobbing away and unwilling to face her, Shinji opens herself up to Kaworu, who listens to him attentively, despite not saying much on his part. Shinji still chooses to stay on the floor, however.
- Kaworu standing of the statue is clue that he is the final Angel, and the missing head is signal of his death
- See Theory and Analysis: Kaworu's Agenda for details of Kaworu's talk with the monoliths over the lake (only in the Director's Cut version), his monologue as he made his way to Terminal Dogma and his realization when he was there.
- Kaworu/Tabris is the last of a triad of Angels to try to understand and contact humans. As such, he forms part of the classical depiction of an Angel as a beautiful human being with a halo and wings. Arael, representing a pair of glowing wings, and Armisael, representing a halo, complete the form of an Angel along with him.
- He is the last apostle written in the Dead Sea Scrolls of Seele. The twelfth, fourteenth, and fifteenth Angels were interested in the human mind and probed into it. He may be the completed form of the apostle born from the end of that information gathering.[...] For Shinji, Kaworu is the one who he thinks can help him. Also, for him at this point, a woman would have felt unreachable [after Kaji's death]. How ironic that the person with the best communication skills in this film, which is based on the theme of communication between people, is a non-human. At the end of this episode, Shinji laments the fact that he killed Kaworu, but Misato tells him that he died because he didn't have the will to survive. Shinji responds, "That's cold, Misato." The relationship between Shinji and Misato here is in contrast to the relationship between Shinji and Kaworu. In contrast to Kaworu, Misato is firm and realistic. [...] Maybe Misato wanted to say something kind here, but Misato has her own feelings and her own reasons. We can't always act in accordance with others. Because Kaworu is not human, he is not coiled up inside himself, and he has little desire for others. Perhaps this is why he is able to be so carefree with others. It's ironic, after all. [...] "That's cold, Misato." is a line that shows the harshness of the world and the loneliness of people. As of Kaworu, the dialogue at the end of the episode is also excellent:SHINJI: "An AT Field!" KAWORU: "That's right. That's what you Lilin call it. The sacred domain where none may trespass. The light of the soul. Lilin, you know, don't you? That the AT Field is the wall that everyone has in their heart?" SHINJI: I don't understand that! Kaoru-kun!Or, "Life and death are of equal value to me. Dying of your own will. That is the one and only absolute freedom there is." SHINJI: "What? Kaworu, I don't understand what you're saying! Kaworu..." The narcissistic phrasing of Kaworu and the fragmented mysteries of the story make for a very good match. The fact that Shinji says "I don't know" in response to Kaworu's incomprehensible comments is also very kind to the audience. It is easy to understand that what Kaworu is saying is a mystery. Not only in this scene, but throughout the series of "Eva", there are many cases where the point is clearly presented as "this is a mystery". This is the difference between "Eva" and other works that only have complicated settings and do not allow viewers to be interested in the contents. In episode 21, Kaji died, and in episodes 22 and 23, the characters were damaged and their minds were torn apart. For that reason, Kaworu's approach to Shinji in episode 24 must have spoken to him. Both in Shinji's mind and in the minds of the viewers. Having killed Kaworu, the one who he thought could help him, Shinji is now trapped inside himself, and the story is heading towards destruction. At the same time, the narrative also destroys the framework of so-called story anime. - Oguro Staff Commentary #57
- H: Why hand-holding though? M: Because that's what the script said. H: (flips to the relevant page of the script) it says “touched his hand”. Isn’t it touched, but you drew “hold” (laughs). M: Because that's what the artist drew and I wasn’t really too concerned and ok-ed it. (laughs) there was basically no time. - NGE Storyboards Collection, Vol.3-4