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Evangelion Unit-01 (エヴァンゲリオン初号機, "Evangerion Shogōki") is the first non-prototype Evangelion unit, and is referred to as the "EVA-01 TEST TYPE". It houses the soul of Shinji's mother, Yui Ikari. It is mainly piloted by Shinji Ikari. Unit-01 serves as the flagship model for the series.
Evangelion Unit-01 is, like all Evangelions, a giant artificial human (Jinzo ningen) with brown skin. It has a mouth similar to that of a human as well as two round green eyes. The face also has four small nostrils and red blood. Its true appearance is concealed under armor, called Type-B Gear, also serving to limit its real strength. The Unit-01 armor is a prototype model, and therefore different from the following models. This consists of two blueish large plates covering the pectorals, as well as three triangular pieces on the abdomen up to the crotch. The armor is predominantly purple with green stripes on the arms and details in black. Its gorget is made up of several pieces of yellowish/orange color. Its most characteristic element is undoubtedly its helmet, unique for each Eva, with its prominent horn and its "collar", vaguely evoking that of a single horn oni.
The armor also adds several other elements necessary for combat and piloting. First, there is the system to accommodate the Entry Plug and the umbilical cable in the back of the Evangelion below the neck. For combat, the armor has shoulder pylons that can be open to store and remove the progressive knife.
Unit-01 stands out from the other units as it frequently acts independently (the "Berserk Mode"), without the instructions of a pilot and without any apparent power source. Unit-01 will also take action to protect its pilot while sometimes servicing other interests. The Evangelion's resident soul, Yui Ikari (Shinji's mother), appears to be responsible for such events. Unit-01 is called the "Test Type", perhaps because of the experimental way in which it was created: although Unit-01 seems to be an Adam-derived cybernetic organism like all other Evangelions, it is the sole Evangelion to have been born from Lilith.
Created in the Third Annex of Gehirn's Artificial Evolution Laboratory in Hakone from 2003 to 2004 and deemed a functional Evangelion unit in 2014, Unit-01 is piloted by Shinji Ikari (with Rei Ayanami or a Rei dummy plug as backup pilots) and has the best battle record of all the Evangelions.
Upon savagely disfiguring the fourteenth Angel, Zeruel, it proceeded to devour the Angel and assimilated its S² Engine, making Unit-01 the first physically complete Evangelion prior to the construction of the Mass Production units. The S² Engine seems to be used only at Unit-01's discretion; after acquiring it, the Unit is still sent into battle with an umbilical cable. Just before Unit-01 absorbed the S² Engine, it used one of Zeruel's arms to regenerate its severed left arm, demonstrating the Angelic ability of regeneration. The Mass Production models were also equipped with NERV-developed S² Engines but it is a common misconception that they also have the ability to regenerate (see entry below).
As a result of Third Impact, at the conclusion of The End of Evangelion, Unit-01 is left floating adrift in space, fossilized and still containing the soul of Yui Ikari, where it will outlast the sun and moon, as an eternal testament that the human race existed.
Unit-01 plays a very similar role in the manga as its anime counterpart.
In the Neon Genesis Evangelion: ANIMA continuity, during the Mass Production Evangelions' attack on the NERV Headquarters, the Evangelion Unit-01 Type F sortied in battle equipped with the Type F equipment while Asuka and Evangelion Unit-02 were used for Human Instrumentality. Three years later, the Evangelion Unit-01 would launch again due to the unexpected attack of the EVA0.0 (Quatre). Unit-01 would be critically damaged by Quatre's gamma-ray laser cannon. The Evangelion Unit-01 would be damaged to the point where Shinji was transformed into LCL and Yui had to pass on the full control over the unit to him, thus making him become one with Unit-01. This lead to the self-regeneration and the evolution of the Evangelion. The Unit-01 later sortied to confront the Angel Carrier Type-2 as the new Super Evangelion.
In Petit Eva: Evangelion@School, Evangelion Unit-01 is shown as a human-sized robot and attends NERV Academy along with Shinji, Asuka and the Rei sisters. Here, he is depicted as a banchō who likes to train. As seen in the first episode, he eats batteries. Another episode shows he has his own training area underneath the school.
- The howl of the Unit-01 is actually the voice of Megumi Hayashibara, Yui Ikari's seiyū, pitched-down.
- Unit-01's original name, 初号機, means "Unit First".
- The design of the Digimon character Argomon was based on Evangelion Unit-01
- In Episode:01 Ritsuko tells Misato that the odds of Eva Unit 01 activating are "0.000000009%. "O9 System" seems like a fitting thing to call it". This is a pun in Japanese, so the English dub inserted an extra line clarifying this, with Ritsuko explaining that "O-Nine" is a pun on "Oni", the Japanese word for "demon". Eva-01 is also designed with a traditional "Oni" as an inspiration.
- The color of Evangelion Unit-01 was a combination of gray, red and orange when the production started. This was revealed in the Hideaki Anno Exhibition.
Notes and references
- 森山奏moriyama soh（enDOLPHIN）・玩具イラストレーター (@alnico6221). "アルゴモン究極体の色指定決定稿は自分の案じゃないんですが、最初から盛っていたパープルとグリーンのおかげでEVA初号機っぽい不気味な怪獣感が出たかもしれない、と思いました。" April 20, 2020, 20:29 PM. Tweet.
- Interview with Hideaki Anno, Aerial Magazine
- Ikuto Yamashita, The design concept is "Enormous Power Restained"