The Marduk Institute (マルドゥック機関, Marudukku Kikan) is the supposed selection committee that screens the global population for 14 year old children who would make suitable Evangelion pilots.
Despite various statements regarding the existence of the institution, Ryoji Kaji's investigations reveal that the Marduk Institute does not really exist and is instead a dummy organization composed of 108 front companies with all pilot candidates being hand-picked from Class 2-A in Tokyo-3 by NERV. While not explicitly said, it appears the sole purpose of this class is to keep potential candidates safe and on-hand should they be required.
The entirety of the selection process including factors are entirely unclear. Whether Ritsuko Akagi alone has sole discretion the candidates, if Gendo Ikari and Ritsuko are involved together or if some other process is employed is unknown. Since Kozo Fuyutsuki and Chairman Keel Lorenz are listed on the board of directors of the phantom companies it is possible they have some involvement in the selection process as well.
For the most part, children selected to be pilots are given a numbered designation based on the order they were recruited with the only exception being the unnamed pilot of Evangelion Unit-04 who apparently was not given a number.
Selection of the First Child
During the development of Project-E at the main branch of Gehirn, Yui Ikari lost her soul in the core of Evangelion Unit-01. After failing to salvage her body, Rei was created to become the first child and acted as a test pilot during the initial activation experiments. It is unclear what her connection to Evangelion Unit-00 is, if any connection exists at all.
Selection of the Second Child
During the development of Project-E taking place in the German branch of Gehirn, Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu lost part of her soul to Evangelion Unit-02. As a result of this incident, Asuka Langley Soryu became a pilot candidate at an early age. Throughout her life, she worked hard to become a capable pilot leading to her eventual deployment in Japan.
Selection of the Third Child
While Shinji Ikari shared a similar history to the Second Child, Asuka, unlike her he wasn't selected until years after the passing of his mother. Knowing the importance of Evangelion Unit-01 and the fact that Shinji was the only viable pilot for the unit it's odd that he would only be recruited once needed, however this can be explained by his difficult relationship with his father.
Selection of the Fourth Child
Following Shinji running away from home in Episode 04, Gendo tells Ritsuko that the Fourth Child has yet to be found as per the Marduk Institute's report. Aside from the fact that this reveals that there is a Third Child who has yet to appear in the story, Asuka and Unit-02, the conversation seems meaningless. Gendo and Ritsuko both know that Marduk is a sham and NERV picks the pilots itself. Gendo and Ritsuko (with Rei following them) are essentially in private and don't need to make the conversation up. Thus it is likely true that Toji has yet to be selected, and they must be mentioning the Marduk fiction simply because Rei is present.
This still leaves at least one question: When Toji Suzuhara is selected in Episode 17, Ritsuko picks him because a core can be configured for him. Shinji synchronizes with Unit-01 because his mother Yui's soul is in it, and Asuka synchronizes with Unit-02 because her mother Kyoko's soul is in it. The Classified Information makes it clear that the Pilot/Mother relationship is true for all Evas with the exception of Unit-00, thus Unit-03 contains the soul of Toji's mother. The timespan of Evangelion construction appears to be over a span of years in case of earlier Evangelions and only a few months for the Mass Production Evangelions. Whether they select the most suitable pilot and then use the corresponding soul, or vice-versa remains unanswered.
Selection of the Fifth Child
- The "Marduk Institute" is really 108 front companies: this might be yet another religious reference, as there are 108 sins in Tibetan Buddhism, and 108 beads on a Hindu or Buddhist rosary, with a separate head bead.
- In Buddhism, 108 is also the number of steps or earthly temptations that a man must overcome to attain Nirvana.
- In Hinduism, several powerful Gods and Goddesses have 108 names. In this case, all 108 different names are merely aliases for a single organization: NERV itself. The Babylonian God Marduk, after whom the organization is named, had fifty names himself.
- In Babylonian Mythology, Marduk was the God who created humans to bear the burdens of life so that the Gods could be at leisure.
|Neon Genesis Evangelion||NERV • Gehirn • SEELE • Human Instrumentality Committee • Marduk Institute|
|Rebuild of Evangelion||NERV • Euro-NERV • SEELE • WILLE • KREDIT • JMEPRO • IPEA|
|Neon Genesis Evangelion: ANIMA||NERV Japan • NERV U.S. • NERV Germany|
|Other||Japanese Strategic Self Defense Force • United Nations|