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The fate of man... The hope of man is written in sorrow.
—Kaworu Nagisa

Kaworu Nagisa (渚 カヲル[?], "Nagisa Kaworu"), also known as Tabris, is a fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. He is the Fifth Child and the seventeenth Angel.

Sent to NERV by SEELE as a replacement pilot for Unit-02 after Asuka's synchronization ratio falls below usability, he breaks into Terminal Dogma in order to return to Adam, but after he discovers the being there is actually Lilith, he allows Shinji to destroy him.

He and Rei appear in The End of Evangelion during Third Impact, communicating with Shinji in regard to the future of humanity and the choice of whether to accept or reject Instrumentality.


Kaworu stands before Lilith

Kaworu stands before Lilith.

Kaworu is first seen in episode 24, sitting on a stone amongst wreckage due to the previous battle with Armisael, the Sixteenth Angel. Shinji is present, confused and frustrated about what to do since all of his friends have evacuated the city, Asuka is mentally distressed and in a ward, and Rei appears to not remember recent events. Kaworu abruptly tells Shinji that music is beautiful after he stops humming, and begins conversing with him in a kind manner, referring to him as "Mr. Ikari". After Shinji asks him how he knows who he is, Kaworu tells Shinji he is "rather ignorant of (his) own position".[1]

Following their initial meeting, Kaworu accompanies Shinji to a NERV bathing room. While sitting together in the bath, the boys display a degree of comfort around one another. At one point, Kaworu places his hand on Shinji's, who allows Kaworu's hand to linger on his own, Kaworu then proclaims he likes Shinji. At the end of the bathhouse scene, Shinji tells Kaworu that he needs to go to bed, to which Kaworu is confused and asks if they will go together, to which Shinji is quick to decline, though he does spend the night at Kaworu's apartment, sleeping on the floor beside Kaworu's bed, afraid of going to his own home and facing Misato, and with Asuka having disappeared.[2] Shinji feels comfortable talking about his past to Kaworu, who then asks him if Shinji dislikes other people. Shinji explains that he doesn’t care, but that he does hate his father. He internally reflects on why he shared this with Kaworu.

After the NERV staff become suspicious of Kaworu's high synchronization rates with Unit-02, and Misato and Hyuga learn that he can set his synch rate to anything he wants, an alert is issued that Unit-02 has activated without a pilot inside, and someone is descending towards Terminal Dogma; it is Kaworu, who is identified as the 17th and final Angel. Shinji is placed into Unit-01 and pursues Kaworu, who manipulates Unit-02 to slow down Shinji in Unit-01. Shinji apologizes to Asuka as he is fighting her by proxy.

A Smile of Betrayal

Kaworu asks for Shinji to kill him.

Kaworu proceeds to Terminal Dogma, and after activating the door to open and entering, appears to reach an understanding that the giant crucified there is in fact not Adam, but rather Lilith. After Shinji defeats Unit-02, Kaworu allows Shinji to grasp him in Unit-01's hand. Shinji is hurt that Kaworu betrayed him just like (his) father did and lied to him about his identity after befriending him, but is still resistant to killing him. However, Kaworu tells Shinji that his life is complete and had more meaning after meeting him, and requests to be killed, claiming that to choose how one dies is the only true freedom. Following an extended period of silence, Shinji grants his request.

In The End of Evangelion, the Mass Production Evangelion's Dummy Plugs are prominently marked "KAWORU", suggesting that SEELE was in possession of clones of Kaworu just as NERV was in possession of clones of Rei for the Dummy Plug system for the original Evas.

Kaworu first appears in The End of Evangelion as the Human Instrumentality Project is being initiated. At first, when the giant Lilith/Rei appears to Shinji, he is terrified by it. It then transforms into Kaworu, which calms Shinji down. Rei then turns back to her original self as Yui tells him that she represents his hopes and dreams. As Shinji is asked what he wishes for, he has visions of woman's breasts being clutched, and then initially enters Instrumentality. Kaworu reappears when Gendo is confronted by Yui while Instrumentality takes place, accusing Gendo of running away from the world before getting hurt, before Gendo is killed by an apparition of Unit-01.

Later, Kaworu and Rei appear to Shinji and ask him about the future of humanity and if he wants he wants to accept Instrumentality or not. Shinji, however, says that this is merely a pretense and that he wishes to return to reality, because at least there he will know his feelings are real.


Kaworu[3] (渚カヲル) is both the 17th Angel and the Fifth Child. Although classified as an Angel, Kaworu is similar to Rei Ayanami in being a Seed of Life that inhabits a human body. Despite his human form, Kaworu does not seem to consider himself to be human, referring to humans as "the Lilin" in differentiation from himself.

Kaworu appears humming the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the same music that plays during his descent into Terminal Dogma and so serves as a leitmotif for his character. The Ninth Symphony itself incorporates an adaptation Friedrich Schiller's Ode to Joy (Ode an die Freude), a poem dedicated to the unity of all men under God. The moment Kaworu opens the doors to Terminal Dogma is in synch with the line "Und der Cherub steht vor Gott"- "And the Cherub (Angel) stands before God".

Kaworu's body appears to have been created as a result of the Contact Experiment with Adam, wherein DNA from an unknown human donor dove into and fused with Adam's flesh,[4] explaining Hyuga's discovery that Kaworu was "born" on the day of Second Impact.[5] SEELE salvaged Adam's disembodied soul into Kaworu,[6][7] whom they may have recovered in embryonic form in Antarctica.[8]

Kaworu's origin from Adam, only intimated in the anime, is flatly stated in Sadamoto's manga.[9]

Since Kaworu was delivered to NERV by SEELE, it is believed that Kaworu has been living under SEELE's surveillance prior to his appearance in the series.

Kaworu is brought to NERV as the Fifth Child to replace Asuka,[10] who is no longer able to pilot Unit-02. He is only able to pilot Unit-02 whilst its soul is in hiding. In his first test, Kaworu immediately achieves impressive synchronization results. It later emerges that Kaworu is able to achieve whatever level of synchronization he chooses with Unit-02.

Though he seems to have been sent to destroy it, Kaworu shows a marked interest in human culture, as well as human issues of pain and loneliness.

When Shinji first sees him sitting on top of an angel statue (a visual theme that binds together appearances of Kaworu[11]), Kaworu was humming part of the composer Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the fourth and final movement "Presto - Allegro assai", more popularly called the "Ode to Joy" after the poem by Friedrich Schiller, from which it is adapted. He then says that he considers singing to be the finest achievement of the Lilin (human) civilization.

Kaworu appears comfortable in his identity (far more than Rei), and also warmer and more emotionally open. However, he does show a detachment from human protocols and shares Rei's tendency to speak in universal rather than personal terms.

As the vessel for Adam's soul, Kaworu's designation is "Tabris" (Arabic: تبريس). As revealed in Newtype publications such as ADAM and used by Keel Lorenz in the Manga. Tabris (タブリス), the 17th and final Angel. He is considered the Angel of free will, which is considered a gift of God; Although Kaworu was sent by SEELE for a specific purpose, he also has his own agenda.

Unlike the Angels who came before him, but like Rei, Kaworu has a Lilin body, with no visible physical difference from a regular human except for very pale skin, light grey hair and red irises. Although his body is presumably composed of the same "particle-wave matter" as Rei and the Angels, it is impossible to say if he possesses a core and S² Engine. Tabris is the only Angel to infiltrate Terminal Dogma.

Kaworu's human body is a vessel for the salvaged soul of Adam itself, and wields all of the power that comes with it. He is in effect Adam reborn as a human. His A.T. Field is described by the Magi as the strongest yet encountered (until it is surpassed by Rei's). Kaworu is observed using it for levitation, to control Unit-02, as a massive barrier that prevents the Command Center from receiving wave transmissions, and, (evidently) to bypass the LCL Plant's locking mechanism.

By being both the First Angel (Adam, whose body and soul were separated in Second Impact) and the Seventeenth and final Angel, he is in effect both the first and the last of his kind. Kaworu is "born from Adam", and describes Adam as being the "Mother of us all". As Kaworu is the vessel for Adam's soul, that paradoxically makes him his own mother as well as of all Angels.


Relationship with Shinji

Though fans have speculated on the exact nature of Shinji's relationship with Kaworu, it is clear that Kaworu represents a sort of idealized figure to Shinji, as he appears out of seemingly nowhere when Shinji is completely desperate for any sort of connection with anyone, as all of his friends are either dead, unreachable or alienated from him. Kaworu telling him he liked him surprised Shinji as he is afraid of talking to Asuka, Misato or Rei, as Shinji has internalized his belief that nobody cared about him thanks to his own partly self-imposed isolation - afterwards, feeling that Kaworu has simply used him further reinforces this, as he thinks everyone is lying to him, because Shinji is unwilling to recognize the ambiguity and insecurity in other people, and the risk and uncertainty involved in reaching out to them himself, something Kaworu temporarily allowed him to ignore. Kaworu uses the ambiguous "suki" form which includes intimacy or friendship or anything more and can simply mean "like" or "fond of", and that he is deserving of "koui" (好意), which means simply "good will" or "favor", not "koi", "love".[12] When he mentions this to Misato later, Shinji also used the ambiguous "suki" form. This line has necessary ambiguity in order to represent Kaworu's own lack of understanding regarding levels of intimacy and societal norms, part of what shocks Shinji and allows Kaworu to bypass his barriers of self-defense, as he isn't even aware those exist, as he himself has none. When Shinji is fighting Kaworu, he states Kaworu has betrayed him, just like his father did, indicating he might have been seeking a similar form of support from him, reinforcing his role as an idealization. This metaphorical meaning of his presence is emphasized further with the reappearance of Kaworu in End of Evangelion, when Shinji is traumatized by experiencing Misato's death and seeing Asuka's dead Eva, Shinji becomes desperate, but Kaworu reveals himself to be part of Lilith to stop Shinji from going into a frenzy and allow Third Impact to begin, although Shinji only enters Instrumentality after Lilith reverts to Rei's form and melts by seeing a woman's breasts, when Yui asks him what he wishes for. Though the precise nature of their relationship is debatable and yet to be determined, Kaworu forms a strong connection with Shinji. His absence from Instrumentality and even the Congratulations scene when even characters like Aoba are present bring into question how much Kaworu affected him besides Shinji's own desperation. Shinji, in fact, seeking unconditional affection from everybody, unwilling to return their own needs, is a fact that has hindered Shinji's happiness throughout most of the series, and Kaworu, being a somewhat non-human character without his own emotional needs (whereas Rei had slowly developed those) is the only one that does that. Moreover, the way Kaworu treats Shinji as a sort of avatar for humanity also brings into question if his affection is directed towards humanity as a whole.

This, paired with the fact that Shinji had killed what he saw as a human being and someone he cared about, was part of what drove him into his state of absolute despair in Episode 25, in which he declared that he felt unworthy even of the piloting which had consumed his identity, thinking that if all he did was hurt and kill others, it was better to do nothing. By that, though, he may have condemned Asuka, who was fighting against the Mass Production Evangelions, to death. Had this not been the case, it is very possible he and Asuka could have defeated the Evas and stopped Third Impact altogether, a fact that greatly benefits SEELE. Shinji depositing all of his hopes for self-worth onto Kaworu, and having that fail him, also reinforces Shinji's notions that if he can't rely unconditionally on people and never risk rejection then he is not actually loved by anyone at all and everyone should just die, part of what motivates him to start Third Impact. In End of Evangelion, Shinji desperately seeks this same sort of unconditional affection from Asuka, and is still certain that he is unloved and unworthy, as he demonstrates he has, in fact, returned to his own childish beliefs about himself, even after the way Kaworu (whom he does not even mention) treated him, and other characters respond to him that he is, in fact, liked and treated nicely by them, but Shinji refuses to believe it. In contrast to Kaworu, when Shinji, in a similar state of desperation, asks for Asuka's own unconditional affection, Asuka refuses as she does not want to be an emotional crutch and an escape for him, and demands he gives himself to her as well, but Shinji is unwilling to give back any affection himself. Asuka says he doesn't really like anyone, as he doesn't even love himself. When Kaworu and Rei as Adam and Lilith state they represent the hope for understanding and love, Shinji replies it is just a pretense, but if he returns to the real world, at least there he will know his feelings are real.

Relationship with SEELE

Kaworu was sent to NERV by SEELE in order to advance their goal of Instrumentality through a Third Impact that would occur under their direction. Before his final battle, Kaworu is seen talking with a phantasm of SEELE that apparently only he can see and it can be assumed that he has been in previous communication with SEELE (for example being briefed on his mission to enter NERV as a pilot). The conversation indicates that they have (falsely) told them that they favor the "true successor" Angels over their own kind.[13]

It is uncertain what exactly SEELE had in mind for Kaworu. Did they plan for him to attack Terminal Dogma, or was that his own plan? We do know that once the attack commenced they wanted Unit-01 to defeat him,[14] and presumably, him being killed by Shinji was a necessary part of their plan, allowing them to start their own version of Third Impact. It also begs into question if they needed Kaworu to contact Shinji, and while this seemed to have been his own initiative, they did benefit from Shinji's state of mind afterwards, as Kaworu proceeds to go after Adam even after meeting Shinji and getting to know him, and even uses Unit 02 in order to delay him. In fact, Kaworu only changes his mind when he realizes it is in fact Lilith in Terminal Dogma, as by that point he is unable to start any sort of Third Impact regardless.

Similarly, Kaworu's subsequent actions also greatly help SEELE: had Shinji not been in a state of mind that made him refuse to pilot for most of End of Evangelion, it is very possible he and Asuka could have defeated the MP Evas and stopped Third Impact altogether. He is also responsible for stopping Shinji from going into a frenzy after seeing Asuka's dead Eva, which allows Third Impact to begin, as the Seele councilmen start chanting ritualistically.

Other media

Rebuild of Evangelion

Kaworu (Rebuild 1.0) 01

Kaworu in Rebuild

Kaworu appears in Evangelion 1.0, rising from a coffin on the moon insight of an Eva-sized giant in a white covering (Evangelion Mark.06 under construction). He speaks to Keel Lorenz (via his monolith), agreeing that "the child" is progressing as predicted in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and saying that "The Third is still the same." He ends the conversation saying that he hopes to meet Shinji Ikari. Bizarrely, Kaworu appears to be capable of breathing and even speaking in the absence of air.

In Evangelion 2.0, Kaworu is seen on the moon base (Tabgha base), when Fuyutsuki and Gendo approach it on an SSTO to inspect the construction of the new, SEELE-built Unit-06. Fuyutsuki, looking out of the spacecraft window, observes Kaworu sitting on Unit-06's finger, clad only in his trousers, and wonders whether Kaworu is human or not. Kaworu greets Gendo as "Father",[15] although the circumstances render it impossible to determine whether he used the word in a literal or metaphorical sense. Kaworu is seen putting on a plugsuit immediately before the battle with Zeruel, standing on top of the now-complete Unit-06, confirming that he is the new Evangelion's pilot. He reappears at the end of the movie and stops Unit-01 from transforming with a staff-like weapon thrown from his Eva as Kaji states that "Seele won't stand for this", addressing Shinji and saying "This time, you will find true happiness".

The preview of the third film shows Kaworu confronting the other pilots in an unknown location. It should be noted that in his appearance while piloting Mark 06 at the end of "You Can (Not) Advance" when referring to Shinji about bringing him "happiness" his expression is defiant instead of his usual smiling face.

In Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, Kaworu has a role similar to the one of the original series, wherein he gains the trust of Shinji. After initially meeting Gendo again, Shinji is told he is going to pilot with him. His actions (playing a piano duet with him) allow the latter to sync with him, similar to how Asuka did in Episode 9, unconsciously preparing the two pilots for the piloting of Evangelion 13. Shinji slowly starts to trust and confide in Kaworu. When Shinji receives Touji's school shirt, Shinji is disturbed and Kaworu is there waiting for him. Gendo and Fuyutsuki observe their exchanges, and they keep calling him "Seele's boy". Shinji expresses his distress and wonders what happened to his friends and to Tokyo-3. Kaworu takes him to see the ruins of the city, and tells him he served as the catalyst for Third Impact. Shinji says he was only trying to save Rei, but Kaworu replies by saying that humanity does not see it that way. He explains that Nerv's Instrumentality Project can be averted by pulling the Spear of Longinus and Spear of Cassius, but never mentions Seele. Later, Shinji is approached by Fuyutsuki who tells him of Shinji's mother inside Unit 01. This disturbs Shinji further and when Kaworu tells him it is time to pilot, Shinji refuses again. In order to gain Shinji's trust, he takes his DSS Choker from him and puts it on himself. Kaworu says the choker was originally meant for him.

After reaching Terminal Dogma, however, Kaworu is shocked that one of the spears have been changed. This puts him into deep thought. Asuka and Mari arrive and Asuka is shocked to find Shinji piloting again. She questions him this, and he responds that he is going to pull the spears and change the world. Asuka is flabbergast to hear this, and asks him if he is trying to start an Impact. Kaworu only returns from his stupor as Shinji is just about to pull the two Longinus spears only for his own controls to shut off, leaving him incapable of stopping Shinji. After Evangelion 13 devours and kills the Twelfth Angel he is cast down from the 1st Angel to the 13th. He then decides to stop the Fourth Impact by piercing the core of Evangelion 13 with the two spears before being killed by the DSS Choker, however, this is only accomplished by Mari forcibly ejecting Shinji as she realizes Seele are still using Shinji as a backup. Kaworu's image can be seen after the ejection of the entry plug. Before the choker detonates, Kaworu also tells Shinji not to be upset, as he claims "we will meet again."


In this manga series, Kaworu is portrayed as being ignorant of human emotions and taboos regarding social interaction and personal space, creating some comic relief. Also, some events concerning him are changed, and he appears earlier as well. He appears briefly at the end of vol. 7 in the presence of SEELE. In his appearance in book 9 (when Shinji first meets him), Shinji finds him playing a piano in the ruins of a church. He asks Shinji if he knows the name of the song, to which Shinji replies "the Ode to Joy." (In the anime, he was sitting on a rock by the sea, humming the tune of the same song.)

Kaworu in the manga

Kaworu in the manga

Another important difference in this manga is that Shinji does not initially like or trust Kaworu, and in fact, actively avoids. Just after their first meeting, Kaworu calmly kills an abandoned kitten that had been following Shinji; his pragmatic reply to Shinji's question of "why" (it was kinder to kill the kitten rather than let it eventually starve to death) made Shinji feel that Kaworu was like Rei when Shinji first met her. Later, after seeing Shinji and Kaworu arguing, Kensuke thinks to himself, "Creepy...something inhuman..." After Shinji brings Kaworu to NERV, he tells Asuka that she needs to open her heart to her Eva in order to operate it; this line was delivered by Rei in the anime. In the aftermath of the battle with Arael, SEELE interrogates Kaworu, and he mentions that he finds human emotions and attachments fascinating.

In volumes 9 and 10, Kaworu pilots Unit-02 alongside Rei in the battle with the Angel Armisael. The Angel partially assimilates Unit-02, connecting the already-assimilated Rei to Kaworu and causing him to feel Rei's love for Shinji, which makes him cry. After the battle, Shinji nearly punches Kaworu after he calls Rei a fool. Despite this, Shinji stays in Kaworu's apartment rather than go home to Misato, believing that being around the emotionally distant Kaworu would be more tolerable than being around people who would also be sad about Rei's death. He reluctantly accepts Kaworu's offer to use one half of the bed. That night, Shinji begins to hyperventilate while having a nightmare, and Kaworu uses the chance to perform CPR on Shinji, using the lack of a handy paper bag as an excuse. Shinji becomes angered and repulsed when he wakes fully and realizes what Kaworu did, and is even more angered when Kaworu asks him if what he felt while connected to Rei was love and attempts to physically advance on Shinji. Shinji is repulsed by this, and quickly storms off as he finds out Rei is still alive, visibly upsetting Kaworu. Volume 11 plays out similarly to Episode 24. Shinji refuses to kill a non-resisting opponent, and Kaworu concludes Shinji hates him. Shinji says he has never said that, and then Kaworu decides to persuade Shinji to kill him as "proof of what (Shinji) really think(s) of (him)" instead of obsessing over his own guilt in the aftermath, comparing it to when he killed the stray cat. Shinji imagines himself choking Kaworu in the same place they initially met, after Kaworu killed the cat.

In the following chapter (75), Shinji admits that he was drawn to Kaworu, even though he knew he shouldn't be because he feels guilty and that he does not need new friends after killing Touji. Shinji wonders why people get close to other people. Misato tells him it is because people are incomplete and seek each other in order to not live alone. He is not mentioned again.

The bonus materials in volume nine of the English adaptation of the manga contain an article written by the editor Carl Gustav Horn which compares Kaworu to the character Satan in Mark Twain's novella, The Mysterious Stranger.[16]

Neon Genesis Evangelion Addition soundtrack

A scene in the parodical audio drama titled "After the End" (Shuukyoku no Tsudzuki), released on the official Neon Genesis Evangelion Addition soundtrack, features all of the original Japanese voice actors who return to voice their characters and break the fourth wall, talking about how they need to produce a 27th episode and increase the appeal of the series as well as playing comically exaggerated versions of themselves as actors playing the characters of the series, and at other times, playing the actual characters themselves. When Kaworu appears, (loosely translated) Asuka exclaims "oh great, it's that homo-boy", to which Kaworu replies "I really wish you wouldn't make statements like that, when you lack any evidence for them", reflecting the debate about the character. Asuka keeps bickering with him.

Shinji Ikari Raising Project

In the noncanonical Shinji Ikari Raising Project, Kaworu is an agent sent by SEELE to infiltrate Shinji's school (much like the original). Here, he is helped by Ritsuko Akagi. He teases Shinji frequently, drawing Asuka's (and eventually, Rei's) ire. He is also implied to be the cause of a blackout at NERV (in an homage to the original outage in the anime), and is also a potential romantic interest for Shinji alongside Rei and Asuka, though Shinji seems unaware of Kaworu's intentions. Kaworu is mostly used as comic relief, and is completely absent from the story after the early chapters as it returns to focusing on Rei and Asuka. Even in this lighter setting, however, Kaworu is still allied with Seele for mysterious - and possibly nefarious - reasons.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days

In Angelic Days, Shinji met Kaworu in their childhood and this has gotten Shinji used to run away to him when he fights with Asuka, his first childhood friend, however Shinji always makes peace with her. Asuka is somewhat hostile to Kaworu as Shinji's attention is divided between Asuka, Rei and Kaworu, though she eventually mellows out. Eventually, Kaworu starts to understand Shinji's feelings for Asuka when he chooses to take care of her instead of going to a concert with him and Rei, which leads to Asuka and Shinji realizing their feelings for one another. Near the ending Kaworu, in fact, seems very happy for them and refers to Asuka as "your girlfriend" to Shinji. He also appears in a flashback with Gendo and Yui in their high school days, before disappearing again, similarly motivating Gendo to connect to Yui.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gakuen Datenroku

Campus Apocalypse Kaworu

Kaworu in Gakuen Datenroku

In this spin-off, Kaworu is a transfer student who takes an interest in Shinji, who is suspicious of his relationship with Rei. With Rei, Kaworu secretly fights against Angels and has the ability to generate an AT Field to defend against attackers and his Eva manifests as a sword. He uses the name Tabris to play online games. He, as revealed in chapter eight, is an "artificially created child" and has spent all of his life until now in facilities. He is ignorant of many social customs, and considers himself to be close friends with Shinji. Later, however, Kaworu confides to Shinji that he is really the 17th Angel, Tabris. In the final volume, Kaworu sacrifices himself in order to save Shinji, taking Yui Ikari's place in the Tree of Y'ggdrasil. Before disappearing, he confides in Shinji that it was because of him that he rejected the destructive nature of the Angels and chose to embrace humanity.

Super Robot Wars

Kaworu appears in the Super Robot Wars games in the same role he had in Evangelion. However, his spirit appears in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3. In the game's adaption of The End of Evangelion, Kaworu's spirit returns to take control of Unit-00 and aid Shinji in battle and help rescue Rei from inside Lilith. He also visits Neki Basara and voices his approval of his music. He makes his final appearance during the final battle with Kaiser Ephes where he encourages the Eva pilots not give up.

Edge Of Spider-Verse

Kaworu makes a cameo appearance alongside Asuka, Rei, and Shinji in the fifth chapter of Marvel's Edge of Spider-Verse storyline.

Notes and references

In early designs, Kaworu was depicted as a schoolboy with a pet cat who could switch to an "Angel form".[17] In vol. 9 of the manga, one of Sadamoto's artworks is a portrayal of Kaworu dressed in black and holding a black cat.[16] This is sardonically referenced in the manga as Kaworu kills a stray cat when he meets Shinji. There is also an official figure of him holding a cat.

Kaworu was named by screenplay writer Akio Satsukawa.[18] Kaworu's surname "Nagisa" comes from the Japanese word nagisa (渚), meaning "waterside" or "shore", concerned with the sea. It also comes from Japanese movie director Nagisa Oshima.[18] Adding to these, the character "渚", when divided, can be read as "shi-sha" (シ者). The title of episode 24 is "The Last Shisha" (最後のシ者[?], "Saigo no Shisha"). "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[?]).[18]

Gainax renders his name in Romaji as "Kaworu," not "Kaoru" as would be given by most romanization schemes. The reasons for the difference in the naming have not been explicitly detailed by the series' creators; one theory is that the name is based on the original kana of the name Kaoru Genji, from The Tale of Genji.[18]

As a promotion for its 10th Anniversary Special Edition of Evangelion, ADV Films published a humorous bumper sticker which reads "KAWORU DIED FOR YOUR SINS" (カヲルはあなたの罪のために死んだ[?], "Kaoru wa anata no tsumi no tame ni shinda")).[19] Mania Entertainment's Chris Beveridge described Kaworu's death in the anime as an "extremely powerful moment" due to the fact that after a minute without dialogue, his head's shadow appears touching the water.[20]

Kaworu Nagisa was the second most popular male character in the 1997 Animage poll.[21] In a Newtype poll from March 2010, Kaworu was voted as the second most popular male anime character from the 1990s.

Sadamoto claims he wrote his relationship with Shinji on the manga as similar to a primary school student to an older, middle school one that would leave a strong impression on the former, prompting him to seek his admiration, not romance.[22]

In an interview for JUNE, Hideaki Anno claimed that Kaworu was intended to be Shinji's idealised version of himself, something which allows Shinji to easily drop his defense mechanisms as he does not feel he is not exactly dealing with an "Other". Anno goes on to give examples from psychology and the process of realising the good and bad in other people and coming to terms with this duality as part of growing up and maturing in Episode 25, something which he does not do with Kaworu.[23]

Much like many other characters, Kaworu's interactions with Shinji have been a topic of debate among fans of Evangelion since the series' first run as discussed in the Patrick Drazen's book Anime Explosion! The What? Why? & Wow! Of Japanese Animation Anime Explosion!.[24] Patrick Drazen's view is that Kaworu's offer of unconditional, one-way love for Shinji is a tactic that Kaworu as the last Angel used to disarm Shinji.[25] In 1998 reviewer Kenneth Lee criticized Kaworu, saying: "...the element of homosexuality is perhaps the most disturbing, gratuitous, and unnecessary aspect that presents itself in episode 24...Ultimately, the homosexuality issue seems nothing more than cheap shock value tactics to stun generation X"; he considered the entire Shinji-Kaworu relationship "ludicrous and pathetically humorous".[26] It should be noted however that Japan had a long history of very overt homosexual relationships in media and even in anime, and that Eva would not have any need of hiding any for fear of censorship like a Western work might need to, even in 1995. Staff also seems to have not been expecting Kaworu to provoke such a strong impression of that in the first place,[27][28] as well as Kaworu's popularity as a breakout character of sorts.[29]

Regardless, Gainax is clearly aware that the audience associates Kaworu with bishounen tropes, and have produced artworks such as splash pages for their website in reference to Kaworu's ambiguity and the audience's reaction to the character.[25] This is not exclusive to Kaworu, however, as Gainax has produced official material covering virtually all possible relationships regardless of canonicity, including ones between Rei and Asuka or Kaworu himself and Rei, and he tends to have less space than material depicting Shinji with Asuka or Rei. Some videogames allow him to be a possible romantic option for Shinji as well as multiple female characters as in Shinji Ikari Raising Project though he sometimes has less scenes or no ending route like in Girlfriend of Steel 2. Spinoffs such as Angelic Days put him in a more comedic or romantic light though he still tends to have less space than other side characters, particularly Asuka or Rei, who receive the same treatment. Evangelion ANIMA also features a "Dark Kaworu" who hates humans and hates music. Additionally, some believe that whether Kaworu, an Angel, actually has any concept of sexuality as he is presented in the series is unclear.[25] Mike Crandol of ANN regards Kaworu as being "representative of blind, total and unconditional love and acceptance, but like those things Kaworu turns out to not be real at all".[30]

  1. A phrase that Ryoji Kaji says to Shinji when they first met
  2. Episode 24
  3. The name "Nagisa" is a pun. The Kanji character "Nagisa" consists of the Katakana "shi" and the Kanji "sha", forming the word "Shi"sha", or "messenger". Kaworu, after all, is the final messenger, and the word used for "Angel" in the original Japanese dub is "Shito", or "Apostle" (messenger of God). See Character Name Origins for more information.
  4. Neon Genesis Evangelion. Episode 21'.
    Man E: "The contact experiment with the donor is scheduled for the 13th of next month. There will be time for any adjustments."
    (later) Woman B: "The genes that dived into Adam have already undergone physical fusion!"
  5. Neon Genesis Evangelion. Episode 24. Platinum subtitles.
    HYUGA: But the one thing we do know [about Kaworu Nagisa] is that his birthday coincides with the Second Impact."
  6. Neon Genesis Evangelion. Episode 24'. Platinum subtitles.
    SEELE A (speaking to Kaworu): [Adam's] salvaged soul exists only within you.
  7. Neon Genesis Evangelion 2. Classified Information: Adam. "At the time of Second Impact, [Adam's] body was torn apart, and its soul flew off somewhere as a result. Adam's soul was later recovered by SEELE and incarnated."
  8. End of Evangelion Theatrical Booklet. Glossary: Kaworu Nagisa. "It is likely that he was an Angel which had been captured by SEELE in the embryo stage." (Translation by bochan_bird.)
  9. Neon Genesis Evangelion (manga). Volume 11, Stage 72.
    Ritsuko: Kaworu Nagisa... His date of birth is the same as Second Impact. Probably because, on that day, in that place, he was the final Angel to be born.
    Misato: You can’t mean... Are you saying that all the Angels were born from Adam? What did humans do to Adam on that day?
    Ritsuko: Humans tried to return Adam to an egg before the other Angels awoke. The result was Second Impact. Among the data from your father’s research team that was retrieved just before it happened, I have heard that there were indications of an attempt to use human genes in some way. If that was actually done in secret, if the Angel born at that time took human form, and if the Committee got their hands on it, then according to MAGI everything adds up.
  10. Kaworu's Plug Suit has an inverted, divided triangle symbol on its chest rather than a proper number, though he was sent to be the replacement pilot for Unit-02.
  11. See Reichu's analysis (archive) of all the visual allusions and connections to the angel statute.
  12. Some early fansubbers misheard this as "koi", but the scripts for this episode make it clear it is "koui". As for "suki", 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.
  13. One section of this conversation concerns the "Lilins' hope" The word hope, "kibou" appears several times, once, when used by Kaworu, in katakana instead of kanji:
    "SEELE 04: "There is a man trying to close the box before the hope at the bottom appears."
    Kaworu: "Hope? You're saying that is the Lilin's hope?"
    SEELE ??: "Hope exists in as many forms as there are people."
    SEELE ??: "And that is because hope only exists in the hearts of people."
    Keel: "However, our hope is becoming substantiated."
    It is likely that it is spelled this way just for emphasis, but it has been suggested that there is some wordplay going on here; spelled with a different kanji, kibou means "trick". This might be a subtle clue that Kaworu is being deceived.
  14. SEELE 02: "Humans forget their foolishness and repeat their mistakes."
    SEELE ??: "If humans do not redeem themselves willingly, they will not change."
    SEELE ??: "We will not rely on the powers of Adam or the Angels."
    KEEL: "Our only choice is to make changes with our own hands for the future. I will be praying that Unit-01 will accomplish its task."
  15. Kaworu calling Gendo "father". Retrieved 2011/02/19.
  16. 16.0 16.1 ISBN 1-59116-707-8
  17. NEWTYPE 100% COLLECTION: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. 1997 Kadokawashoten. ISBN 4-04-852700-2. Partial translation.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Evangelion character names; Translation of essay by Hideaki Anno about character name origins; includes a link to the original essay in Japanese.
  19. EVA 10th Limited Edition
  20. Neon Genesis Evangelion Collection 0:8 from Mania Entertainment.
  21. 第19回アニメグランプリ [1997年6月号] from
  22. "Speaking about Kaworu and Shinji’s relationship, I want to write it like what often happen between primary school boys and middle school boys. For the boys, instead a girl’s admire, they actually want to have admire from the other boys. That is why they imitate other boy’s behavior. The same thing happened to me. When I was a primary five student, a transfer student came to my class from Tokyo. Even though I thought “Tokyo is not great” in my mind, but I still felt that he looks handsome. He liked to say “だからさー”, though I said “it make me sick”, but secretly I thought it was very cool.(laugh) It is this kind of feeling. It is not romance……It is a delicate feeling in a delicate age." - Interview with Yoshiyuki Sadamoto from All About Kaworu Nagisa book, pages 148-152
  23. Hideaki Anno JUNE Interview discussion thread
  24. Drazen, Patrick (October 2002). '"A Very Pure Thing": Gay and Pseudo-Gay Themes' in Anime Explosion! The What, Why & Wow of Japanese Animation Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press p.95 ISBN 1-880656-72-8.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Drazen, Patrick (October 2002). "Evangelion" in Anime Explosion! The What, Why & Wow of Japanese Animation Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press p.308 ISBN 1-880656-72-8.
  26. "The fact that within a span of 14 minutes we are expected to believe that Shinji and Kaworu have transcended all boundaries and inhibitions to achieve an unearthly 'Love' and openness for each other is completely ludicrous and pathetically humorous...Yet, along comes Kaworu, who he's known for about 10 minutes and is a boy, no less, and Shinji seems completely accepting of Kaworu's open touches and fondles." "The Thin Veneer Known as "Evangelion"", ANN
  27. Schizo/Prano interview collection, "judging Hideaki Anno in his absence". I: But it caused female audiences in front of their televisions to shriek with joy. M: We never thought it will turn out like that. T: Was it not planned? M: We really only realised it afterwards and never thought of much at that time, after all we were going berserk.
  28. NGE Storyboard Collection, vol 3-4, interview with Masayuki and Shinji Higuchi "
  29. Platinum Booklets - Episode Commentaries 21-26
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