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Kyoko Zeppelin Sohryu (惣流・キョウコ・ツェッペリン, "Sōryū Kyōko Tsepperin")is a fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. She is Asuka's mother, was a key scientist in the German division of Gehirn (what would later become NERV's Third Branch) and the development of Unit-02, the first Production Type (the second and third of which were later produced by the two American branches of NERV). She was the subject of the Contact Experiment with Unit-02, but during the experiment her soul bonded with the EVA, causing severe mental damage to Kyoko. She became mentally unstable, believing that one of Asuka's dolls was her daughter rather than Asuka. She was admitted to a mental institution shortly after the experiment. Her husband entered an affair with Kyoko's own doctor, which eventually prompted Kyoko's suicide in 2005.
In the manga, Kyoko and her husband were unable to conceive a child, and divorced after he had an affair. He re-married and had a daughter, while Kyoko visited a sperm bank and was impregnated. She tried to poison Asuka against her ex-husband's daughter, referring to her as "that girl," but after the contact experiment this dissociation was transferred to Asuka's doll. At one point, Kyoko tried to strangle Asuka.
One of the dolls that Kyoko was carrying was decapitated; Asuka acquired the head and carried it with her as she watched her mother through the hospital glass. Kyoko throttled another, and, ultimately, used it to commit a "double suicide", hanging both herself and the doll-Asuka — a spectacle the real Asuka had the misfortune of seeing.
While Kyoko was confined at the hospital, her husband began to carry out an affair with her doctor. Little discretion was taken from the start, as the two engaged in sexual acts in the room adjacent to Kyoko's; and, by the time of the funeral, they were already married. Individuals attending Kyoko's funeral provided insinuations that Langley's infidelity was the ultimate driving force behind the suicide itself.
Although Kyoko physically died, the maternal component of her soul, at the very least, continues to survive within Unit-02. Evidence suggests that the remainder was salvaged into Unit-02 following the suicide, as well: In flashbacks to Episode 22 and Episode 25, we hear the insane Kyoko begging Asuka, "Please die with me!"
Also, in the Episode 25' scene where Asuka finds her mother within Unit-02, Kyoko repeats, "You mustn't die! You must live! You're alive!", several times. However, the familiar "Please die with me!" is mixed in twice among her inspirational words, thus suggesting that the insane Kyoko and the maternal Kyoko were incorporated together.
Asuka only learns that "[Mama] was always watching over" her and "protecting" her shortly before the two of them do at last die together: Kyoko, as Unit-02, is ravaged and killed by the Mass Production Evangelions, taking Asuka with her.
Kyoko in Other Media
In Sadamoto's manga, Kyoko is seen more clearly in Asuka's Arael-induced flashbacks, although her design is completely different from that in the anime.
Kyoko conceived Asuka with donor sperm after her husband had an affair and left her for not being able to conceive. Kyoko's former husband had a child by the woman he had an affair with. Kyoko pushed Asuka to be better than 'that other woman's child'. During her hospitalization for mental illness, Asuka was able to gain access to her, and Kyoko throttled her, an event Asuka later reenacts with Shinji.
Kyoko also appears in the Shinji Ikari Raising Project visual novel video game, where she shares her design with Sadamoto's manga. Here, she is characterised as somewhat clumsy, and easily falls asleep (such as when she sleeps through an evacuation order). She also embarrases Asuka frequently by imagining Asuka and Shinji married someday.
- The "z" in "Zeppelin" is pronounced like the English "ts".
- The name "Zeppelin" was possibly taken from the German General and inventor of the Zeppelin airship, Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin and also from nearly-completed Nazi German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin