Evangelion
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Evangelion


You won't die because I will protect you
—Rei

Rei Ayanami (綾波 レイ[?], "Ayanami Rei") is a fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. She is the First Child, (referred as the First Children in the Japanese version), the pilot of Evangelion Unit-00 and one of the central characters.

At the beginning of the series, little is known about Rei and her stoic personality puzzles her peers. As the series progresses, her personality evolves and she becomes more involved with the people around her, particularly her classmate and fellow Eva pilot Shinji Ikari. In the concluding events of the storyline, the audience learns that Rei's mysterious origins tie into the story's resolution. Her role in this conclusion is not made clear in the TV series, but is one of the principal plot points of The End of Evangelion.

Appearance

Rei has short pale blue hair with bangs centered to the middle and has red eyes. At the beginning of the series, she would wear bandages such as her arm and her eye one. She wears the same school uniform but wears white loafers instead, and black ankle socks.

Background

Rei Ayanami in the anime opening

No specific information is given about Rei's origin or heritage. Ritsuko Akagi states that Rei was born in a certain room deep in the lower levels of NERV headquarters, but this is all that is explicitly revealed in the series about her creation.[1] The Red Cross Book stated that Rei was created from the "salvaged remains" of Yui Ikari after Yui's absorption into Unit-01 in 2004. The connection between Rei and Yui is implied a few times during the series. Gendo introduces Rei to the NERV staff in 2010 as an "acquaintance's child" whom he is temporarily taking care of. In episode 21, Naoko Akagi says that Rei physically resembles Yui. The character model used in the 2010 scenes is based on development materials in which her age is only 4.

Rei inside Unit-00 Entry plug

Kaworu Nagisa cryptically mentions in their only conversation that she is "the same" as him.[2] This statement was expanded in the director's cut of the episode, in which Kaworu goes on to say that he and Rei are human vessels for the souls of Adam and Lilith, respectively. Later in the episode, she generates an external A.T. Field which is as strong as Kaworu's. In a pseudo-hallucinatory scene in episode 25, Gendo tells Rei that the day of Third Impact is the day for which she was created. In The End of Evangelion, she plays an important role in the Third Impact, although not in the fashion that was intended by Gendo.

Rei is shown spending unknown lengths of time in an LCL-filled tube underneath a structure resembling a giant brain in the Dummy System room, the reasons for which are not revealed. The circular wall of this room is originally depicted as being covered with DNA sequences, but near the end of the series, it is revealed to be an LCL-filled tank in which dozens of soulless clones of Rei are held. The clones are said by Ritsuko to be the cores of the dummy plugs; she also refers to them as "spare parts" and later as "vessels" for Rei. The movie pamphlet and volume 11 of the manga state that she can be replaced entirely, with her soul being transferred to a new clone body every time she dies, although her memory becomes muddled with each transfer. Other supporting evidence in the anime includes her earlier line that "if I die, I can be replaced."

Rei I, being introduced to Gehirn personnel by Gendo.

While they are the same character, these different incarnations are commonly referred to as "Rei I," "Rei II," and "Rei III," after episodes and musical pieces with the same names, and are denoted as such in the storyboards and script as well.[3] In episode 23, the controller that Ritsuko uses to destroy the clones lists numbered clones from "Rei 004" and upwards. Rei I was the very first incarnation and was murdered by Naoko Akagi in 2010 (as shown in Episode 21). Rei II is introduced in the first episode and appears in the most episodes of the incarnations. She dies when she sacrifices herself and Unit-00 to destroy Armisael in episode 23. Rei III is seen from the second half of episode 23 through to The End of Evangelion.

In the final episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, the audience is introduced to a pseudo-hallucinatory alternate reality. Here Rei's personality is completely different, and her behavior is more "normal" (for example, she shows embarrassment and anger when she thinks Shinji looked up her skirt, in stark contrast to her emotionless reaction to the incident with Shinji in Episode 05). The Evangelion spin-off manga Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days is set in this alternate universe, and its version of Rei is a central character.

In The End of Evangelion, a shining figure of Rei is shown for a few frames looking down at Misato and Ritsuko moments before they die. These spectral images also appear over the corpses of the slain NERV personnel. During Third Impact, multiple Reis appear in the NERV control room, seemingly apparitions created by Lilith. She also briefly watches over Shinji and Asuka in the final scene of the movie.[4]

Personality

"Whatever else, she needs to be painted in as a bitterly unhappy young girl with little sense of presence." Hideaki Anno, to Yoshiyuki Sadamoto on Rei's character design[5]

At the start of the series, Rei is socially withdrawn, seemingly emotionless, and rarely interacts with anyone, except for Gendo, to whom she initially displays loyalty but with whom she has a generally distant relationship. She lives by herself in a dull sparsely-furnished apartment in Tokyo-3. Toward the end of the series, Shinji comments that her apartment is very similar to the place where Ritsuko says Rei was born.[6] Rei is also shown to have an interest in psychology and genetics, including reading a book in German on the latter subject in Episode 09.[7]

"An emotional change causes certain muscles in the face to tense, producing an "expression". Rei is expressionless but is it that she doesn't feel emotion, or that she is merely unable to express it?" Yoshiyuki Sadamoto on Rei [emphasis in original].[8]

Rei's first smile.

As the series progresses, she begins to develop relationships with others and to show moments of genuine emotion,[9] to even become sad and cry.[10] Her English voice actor, Amanda Winn-Lee describes her saying, '"Rei is not totally devoid of personality, otherwise she would not be interesting." There is a small spark of humanity, but it is "clouded by this huge sense of negative self-worth and the realization that she is expendable." The joy of playing Rei is exploring that small spark.'[11] And also said: "I got into a weird mode - I can't describe it. It's a good thing I'm in a little padded room when I'm doing it because that's where she belongs. She knows she's expendable, but the thing is, she's still human so you can't do her totally catatonic."[12]

Appearances

Manga adaptation

Main article: Neon Genesis Evangelion (manga)

Rei in the manga adaptation.

In the manga adaptation, Rei appears to respond more readily to human contact than her anime version. Shinji's interactions with her are implied as the main reason of her change; by the time of the battle with the Angel Armisael, it is strongly hinted that Rei is in love with Shinji. Shinji reciprocates this affection to some degree, but is unsure of what he feels for Rei and where their relationship is going. In volume 9, he acknowledges that the gap between them has been considerably reduced since they first met; still, he hopes that this gap can be reduced further. Her desire to be recognized as a person, rather than as a "doll," puts her in some awkward, even dangerous situations. At one point, Ritsuko tries to strangle her when she talks back to the doctor.

In the battle against Armisael, when the Angel communicates with Rei, it attempts to make Rei believe that her soul is evil; that she does want Shinji for herself and is angry at Asuka for drawing Shinji's attention away. As in the anime, she self-destructs Unit-00 to destroy the Angel. However, it's hinted that the "new" Rei still has some residual memories as she wonders to herself why she is alive again after returning to her quarters.

Sadamoto claims, however, that no character was able to connect fully with Shinji.[13] Sadamoto also claims Asuka would be Shinji's symbol for his longing for the opposite sex, differently from Rei's "motherly" existence.[14] As such, he decided to give Rei more room in the manga, emphasizing Rei's maternal role.[15]

Neon Genesis Evangelion: ANIMA

Rei in ANIMA.

In Neon Genesis Evangelion: ANIMA, the third Rei from the anime is present. She is also sometimes called "Rei Trois" ("trois" being French for "three") and is able to link to the other Reis, Quatre, Cinq and Six, via mental link. This however put a lot of strain on her and therefore, her vital data has to be regularly analyzed by Magi.

Now that she is 17, she more and more resembles Yui Ikari. Because of that, she tries to stay distant with Shinji: she fears that she may become Yui herself. This fear is accentuated by the fact that she lost Gendo when the Instrumentality Project was interrupted. The second Rei is also mentioned, designated as "Deux" ("deux" being French for "two").

In the three years since SEELE’s failed invasion, Rei Trois has opened up to others, even becoming friends with Asuka. However, she still has many doubts regarding her nature and her feelings, not helped by the fact that Shinji is unconsciously seeing her as a replacement for his mother, something that Trois detests. These doubts only get worse after the psychic backlash caused by the other three Reis gaining independence. At the end of Volume 2, Rei Trois loses herself so much that she becomes mind-controlled by the SEELE-possessed Kaji. Fortunately, Shinji manages to free her, and Rei Trois cries for the first time in years, letting all of her emotions flow free.

The other Reis are clones created to pilot the three new Evangelion Units 0.0, since Misato refuses to use real kids. Originally, the three clones are semi-mindless, with Trois having the power to control them from Earth’s surface. They spend most of their time floating in orbit, ready to strike any Angel-type threat that might be detected. However, after Rei Quatre is infected by Armaros’ scales, the connection with Trois is severed, and the clones develop their own individual personalities.

Rei Quatre becomes a rogue agent, originally acting according to Armaros’ plan but eventually shifting her allegiance to SEELE. Trois identifies Quatre as the fears of Rei Ayanami made flesh, and she is the one most bothered by the fact that Shinji sees her as a mother. She seems to have a sort of romantic attraction towards Shinji, since she kisses him a couple of times; but he doesn’t reciprocate the feelings.

Rei Cinq, the tallest clone, dies at the end of Volume 1, while helping Asuka to reach the moon. Rei Six was deliberately made to look like a little girl, believing that she’d have a much easier time piloting the Eva if she had a younger body. While she’s as intelligent and fight-capable as the other Reis, Six often behaves like a kid. She likes ice-cream and dogs

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari Raising Project

Main article: Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari Raising Project

In this series, Rei is a distant relative of Shinji's (from Yui's side of the family, in homage to the original). She's the first person the reader sees as she comes to Tokyo-3.

Here, she's portrayed as an intelligent girl (on par with Asuka in the series) and expresses emotions, as opposed to her original counterpart, smiling a few times and even becoming confused when Shinji becomes flustered after she asks him whether she looked good in a swimsuit. She even laughs in one instance at Shinji and Asuka's constant bickering and defended herself with "It just seemed amusing". However, due to her unhappy childhood, she's also somewhat cold to others. In another homage to the series, Shinji again sees her stepping out of the shower naked. This time, however, she smiled coldly at Shinji before slapping him which sent him to the floor.

Later on, her relationship with Shinji gradually warmed, which Asuka felt was a "threat" of sorts. Interestingly, she even invited the boy to shop for a swimsuit with her (for a beach outing), much to his embarrassment and even blushes slightly at the idea of him massaging oil onto her at the beach. She's also the first person shown in this series to wear a plug-suit.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days

Main article: Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days

In Angelic Days, Rei is a transfer student to Shinji's school. Her personality is notably very different from her incarnations in the anime, Sadamoto's adaption, and Shinji Ikari Raising Project, and mirrors the one she has in Girlfriend of Steel 2 and the alternate reality from the final episode of the original series. She is an easily excitable extrovert, but socially inept and unaware of everyday social conventions. She takes a liking to Shinji and confides her feelings in Asuka.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gakuen Datenroku

Rei in Gakuen Datenroku

Main article: Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gakuen Datenroku

This version of Rei, while still distant, seems more expressive than other versions. She is a student at Shinji's school and is apparently his love interest. She leads a secret life, working as a "Shamash Guardian" for a group hidden in the school and dedicated to fighting against Angels. Rei wields the Lance of Longinus in combat. She has shown more emotion than most other versions of the character, such as shock at the discovery of Shinji's powers and boredom while reading a textbook. She is known in her class as being attractive but gloomy, and is also apparently very eccentric. She is very fond of a horse's head mask she had to wear for a Christmas pageant and was quite happy (in contrast to her usual personality) when she was allowed to keep it. In the final volume, Rei is revealed to be a clone of Yui Ikari, meant to take her place in the Tree of Yggdrasil, an artifact that keeps reality from collapsing. After befriending Shinji, she chooses not to go along with Gendo's plans, resulting in him angrily shooting her. In the final chapter, she is revealed to have survived her wounds and is now shown attending school alongside Shinji and Asuka, who have returned to normal lives following Gendo's death and the defeat of the Angels. She gets along with Asuka much better than in other versions, the latter part of Angelic Days notwithstanding.

Petit Eva: Evangelion@School

Main article: Petit Eva: Evangelion@School

In Petit Eva: Evangelion@School, three different versions of Rei exist, and all live together as sisters. The three Rei sisters use a different numbering system. Rei I is the 'normal' Rei, shown in her standard school uniform. Rei II is the 'alternate reality' Rei, from Shinji's imagined world where Rei was a normal girl, shown in a different school uniform. Rei III is the 'child' Rei, basically the first Rei from the normal Evangelion universe prior to her death, who carries various toys and dolls. Rei I's personality is fairly distant, but responds more readily to everyone, especially Shinji. Rei II's personality is very excitable. Rei III is childlike, and cries when she does not get her way or is bullied.

In Other Media

  • In the 2007 anime Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, Rei, alongside Asuka, as well other female characters from other Gainax works, appear in episode 6, dressed in bunny outfits working in a bathhouse. However, it is revealed by the end of the episode that those girls were instead beastmen in disguise.
    • Other characters include Mahoro from Mahoromatic, Nono, and Lal'c from Diebuster.
  • Rei makes a cameo appearance alongside Asuka, Kaworu and Shinji in the fifth issue of Marvel's Edge of Spider-Verse storyline.

Character notes

Like many of Evangelion's characters, Ayanami's surname comes from a Japanese World War II naval vessel, the Fubuki-class destroyer Ayanami. Her first name comes from the character Rei Hino of the anime and manga series Sailor Moon. This was done to get one of Sailor Moon's directors, Kunihiko Ikuhara, to work on Evangelion. Written in kanji, Rei (零) can also mean "zero", "null" and is a pun on her Evangelion 00. The band Kinniku Shōjo Tai's theme song Doko e demo ikeru kitte and its line "hotai de masshiro na shojo" (lit. "the white girl with bandages") inspired Sadamoto to draw Rei.[16][17][18] The same band produced a song named Fumimi no kodomo (福耳の子供), in which a female monologue is audible, and Sadamoto tried to portray a girl with a similar voice.[19][20] Ukina, a character from Sadamoto's previous work Koto, served as Rei's model, giving her "shaggy, bobbed, wolf-like hair".[21] Another source of inspiration was The Snow Goose, a novella written by Paul Gallico; the story describes a painting portraying the protagonist, a thin and pale girl in an empty room.[22]

Yui Ichigo, one of Rei's early designs

Anno requested a ""cool character with short hair" and designed Rei originally as a brunette with dark eyes; however, it was necessary to distinguish her from the other female protagonist Asuka Langley Soryu, so Sadamoto designed her with eye and hair colors opposite to Asuka's.[22] Initially, Anno requested her as "gloomy".[23] While Asuka was conceived as "an idol-like figure" in Neon Genesis Evangelion and a symbol of "heterosexual desire", Sadamoto designed Rei as a "mother figure",[24] thinking of her as "the Yin opposed to Asuka".[25][26] As such, he decided to give Rei more room in the manga, emphasizing Rei's maternal role.[15] One of Sadamoto's early designs include a black-haired girl called "Yui Ichigo", though this might be an early version of Yui Ikari, also alternating between green and teal hair.[27] Anno also suggested that Rei's eye color be red, a feature he believed would give her more personality and distinguish her design from those of the other characters. Her hair color changed to blue, similarly to the main character from Aoki Uru, the never-made sequel to The Wings of Honneamise.[19] Sadamoto also gave her black socks, inspired by a women's handball team he saw playing when he was still in middle school.[28] Black allowed him to differentiate her from the characters of the series released in the same period and go against their trend.[29]

Sketches of Rei's early plugsuit design

As with many other Evangelion characters, Anno transposed some aspects of his life into her character, including the choice to not eat meat and maintain a vegetarian diet.[30][31] He also took inspiration from Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic concepts and the Oedipus complex in particular, since "there was this replacement by a robot, so the original mother is the robot, but then there is a mother of the same age, Rei Ayanami, by [Shinji's] side, who's also by the side of the real father".[32] In a discarded draft of Rei's character background, Rei was a more sensual character than her final version. Sadamoto, unlike the more frank and explicit Hideaki Anno, decided to give her a much more "enigmatic" and bland eros.[33] According to Sadamoto and assistant director Kazuya Tsurumaki, she was conceived as an alien entity, but Gainax later went on to make her at least genetically human; Rei should have had both the human genes of Yui Ikari and the First Angel, Adam, associating her condition to a Devilman, a hybrid from Go Nagai's manga.[34]

During Evangelion's production and first broadcast, Anno encountered difficulties writing the character, not feeling "particularly interested" or relating to her, but he thought of her as a representation of his unconscious mind likening her to Kaworu in that regard, in contrast to Shinji, Asuka and Misato as his conscious parts.[35][36][37] She is also likened to Kaworu by staff in many other instances.[38][39] He also conceived her as "the unconscious Shinji".[40] For a long time he forgot to "explore Rei's personality".[41] In Episode 08 she does not appear in any scene, while in Episode 07 he "finally remembered her" giving Rei a brief appearance in one shot. After many episodes, he decided to focus on her and "explore her emotion", adding Rei's stream of consciousness-like monologue in Episode 14. While working on the monologue, he wanted to develop her in a "schizophrenic" direction and wondered how to portray a kind of madness. He was loaned a magazine-like book entitled Bessatsu Takarajima (別冊宝島) on mental illness that contained a poem by someone who suffered from a mental disorder, and that triggered his imagination.[42] In Episode 21, the first Rei clone, killed by Naoko Akagi in the final version of the script, would eventually survive after being strangled and having lost consciousness momentarily, awakening in an empty command room without Dr. Akagi.[43]

Anno acted instinctively, without following a well-defined plan for the development of the characters, but from the beginning he had the idea of Rei's death, then presented in the twenty-third episode.[44] Compared to most other characters, Rei received relatively few changes compared to her earlier ideas, with the notable exception that in Episode:01 she would have still defeated the Angel on her own, piloting Unit-00, though not kill it.[45] During production, Ikuhara, annoyed by the idealized image and the fetishism that some fans built around the character, proposed to Anno that they "betray" fans and show her as a real girl who gets married and "gets pregnant in the last episode", but Anno rejected the suggestion.[46] In the original finale wanted by Anno, the giant Rei added in the film EoE was not foreseen, since it was conceived at a later time.[40] Anno himself declared he considered her character "already finished" in the episode six smile scene: "In short, if she and Shinji completely 'communicated' there, then isn't she over with? At that moment, Rei, for me, was finished.[41]

Reception

Frenchy Lunning has described Rei as being Shinji's anima.[47] Rei Ayanami's success as a character, according to Hiroki Azuma, became a catalyst in the anime industry to shift away from storytelling and towards depicting characters with moe-inspiring traits.[48][49] As Rei became a more prominent character among fans, she "changed the rules" governing what people regarded as moe-inspiring. The industry then created many characters which share her traits of pale skin, shortish bluish hair, and a "quiet personality". Azuma regards Ruri Hoshino of Martian Successor Nadesico as being directly influenced by Rei.[50] IGN ranked Rei 10th in "Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time" with writer Chris Mackenzie noting Rei to be one of the most influential characters in anime series, but he still commented that she was different from similar characters since "She's a mystery we never really solve, when you think about it."[51] She had the same place in Mania Entertainment's 10 Iconic Anime Heroines written by Thomas Zoth who commented on the large number of merchandising based on her and that she started "the moe boom in anime."[52] In the survey "friendship" developed by rankingjapan.com in which people had to choose what anime character they would like to have as a friend, Rei ranked 9th.[53] While reviewing the films Rebuild of Evangelion, writers from Anime News Network commented on Rei; while in the first title, Carlo Santos criticized that Rei's personality is the same as the one from the TV series, Justin Sevakis praised Rei's response to Shinji's kindness.[54][55]

Sadamoto's design of the three female leads created extremely high sales of merchandise. Figurines of a bandaged Rei "were the most popular, outselling all else".[56] Due to her popularity driving sales of merchandise, Rei was called the "Premium Girl" by media.[57] The June 2010 issue of Newtype Magazine ranked Rei #5 in its monthly top 10 character survey. In a Newtype poll from March 2010, Rei was voted as the most popular female anime character from the 1990s.

See also

References

  1. Episode 23 ("Rei III", March 6, 1996)
  2. Episode 24 ("The Beginning and the End, or 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door'", March 13, 1996)
  3. In “The Third Character – In the case of Rei Ayanami” part, three Rei Ayanamis ask and answer their own questions. In the storyboards and the recording script, the child is denoted as Rei 1, the one in the plug suit as Rei 2, and the one in the school uniform as Rei 3, and they appear to correspond to the three generations of Rei Ayanamis. Rei 1 is heartless and Rei 3 appears to have a shallower awareness of “self” compared to the other two. The one who said she existed because Gendo needed her is Rei 2, who knew Gendo for the longest. - Platinum Episode Commentaries
  4. When Shinji comes to New Tokyo-3, he sees a girl that seems to be Rei Ayanami for just an instant. Considering how she is injured and wrapped up in bandages, when he later meets her in NERV Headquarters, the natural assumption would be to think that this was a phantom vision. But in Episode 26, "My True Heart For You," [from End of Evangelion] a different possibility is suggested. The girl that appeared for just one cut in this scene may be the Rei Ayanami who is "the existence that gazes upon man." - Platinum Episode Commentaries
  5. pg 97 of Fujie 2004
  6. Shinji/Asuka: Colleague-Complicated Feelings;Colleague-Love/Hate
    Rei/Shinji: Colleague-Favorable;
    Kaworu/Shinji: Colleague-Favorable - The Essential Evangelion Chronicle, Side B
  7. There are numerous advertisements left stuck in her door, and the entrance has countless tracks where she has gone inside without taking her shoes off. According to the premise, on the chest in the room are medical books on such topics as psychology and genetics. Rei apparently reads these intently, and they are marked with tags. Platinum Episode Commentaries
  8. pg 165, afterword, of Neon Genesis Evangelion, volume 3
  9. "It began when the director told me, "It's not that she doesn't have emotion, but that she doesn't know what it is." His technical request was that I should read my lines as flat as possible. But she's obviously not a machine; she's a human being, flesh and blood." It's a huge difference between "not having emotion" and "not knowing emotion." After all, she could develop feelings, once she learned..." Quote from Megumi Hayashibara, in her "What I learned from meeting a girl who didn't know", 1996. Translated in Neon Genesis Evangelion, volume 3
  10. "No; Rei's beauty comes from the truth that she has feelings. When she cried, it meant the waters of the pool were coming out at last. The struggle to draw your feelings forth, the reconciliation between your surface and your death - that, I believe, is where we truly become alive, truly become human begins." Hayashibara, "What I learned from meeting a girl who didn't know." Ibid.
  11. Meet the Voice of AD Vision: Amanda Winn from Ex.org.
  12. http://web.archive.org/web/20080617215942/www.fansview.com/080798h.htm
  13. All About Kaworu Nagisa interview with Sadamoto
  14. Sadamoto interview, Newtype 1997
  15. 15.0 15.1 Asuka and her relationship with Shinji have a central role in the series, while in the manga she is kept in the background compared to Rei. What is the reason for this difference?(laughs) Anno and I have a different point of view on this. The manga is less spectacular than the anime, there's less action, so I preferred to focus on the relationship between Shinji and his mother, which is the core of my work. The anime, on the other hand, precisely because it's more spectacular, has another point of view. Of course, the relationship between me and my mother is different (laughs). A manga that influenced me a lot was Hyouryuu Kyoushitsu, by Kazuo Umezuo, which talks about the relationship between mother and son. Any mother in the world wants the best for her child, and my manga is about that. - Sadamoto Days – i fan meet e l’intervista
  16. One of my favorite bands is called the Buff Girl Team and in one of their songs, there's this line a white girl in bandages. I had an image of her even before I started Evangelion. Like a girl with a dark past. I thought it'll be interesting to have a girl in bandages. And maybe she'll have the antibacterial smell like hospitals. If I had known her when I was 14, I would have hesitated to get close to her. She's cute, but her world's the farthest away from mine. But I end up admiring her. In the anime, I designed her as kind of an idol figure. - Sadamoto, Genesis 0:0 - In The Beginning, translation
  17. Sadamoto, Japan Expo 2008
  18. "Interview with Sadamoto Yoshiyuki", Der Mond
  19. 19.0 19.1 Schizo, pp. 164-165
  20. In creating Rei Ayanami, both from a character and physical point of view, were you inspired by someone who really exists, such as models or actresses?It's a question I'm often asked, the question of inspiration, but as we said before there is no single answer...for example, in the case of Rei, the director gave me as an indication "a cool character with short hair" and from there I had to figure out what to create. The main inspiration came to me by hearing a song, and the voice singing it. From that voice, I envisioned the character. I took the song to the director and said "I see her like this, Rei, a girl who has this voice". Sadamoto Days – i fan meet e l’intervista
  21. Q: What about Rei?
    A: I played around with a character, Ukina, in a story I wrote a long time ago in NEWTYPE called Koto ("The Ogre on the Desert Isle").  You take her, give her shaggy, bobbed, wolf-like hair, and you've got Rei.  Really, I just played with her a bit-the way the eyes are drawn, the basic character is the same.  Her character was locked in as translucent, like a shadow or the air.  The kind of girl you can't touch.  The girl you long for, but there is nothing about her that you can grab a hold onto

    Q: The same type of stance that Kensuke and Toji feel  about Rei?
    "A: Even more distant.  The first time you see Rei, she is all bandaged up.  The group Kinniku Shojo Tai has a song called "Hotai de Masshiro na Shojo" ("The Girl White with Bandages").  When I heard that song, an image popped into my mind, and I drew Rei according to that.  I thought, "I'd like to draw a girl like that."  This girl who is fated to pilot a robot.  I wanted to draw her even before I heard of Shinji.  There were two things that went into the decision to make her eyes red: one is the fact that she didn't have enough outstanding features, and the second is from a buisness standpoint, the makers of the game wanted her differentiated from the other characters, but personnally I think it turned out to have a great effect.  She's so quiet you can only tell her character from her gaze and her facial expressions, so she leaves the impression of having a strong stare." - Yoshiyuki Sadamoto - "My Thoughts At The Moment"
  22. 22.0 22.1 Sadamoto, Milano Manga Days 2014
  23. Q: Did Hideaki Anno exert tight control over your design process while working on animations where he was the director? A: For the past few works that I have done, I have worked with a number of directors (including Tsurumaki and Anno) and I would often be asked to be involved. The most "simple" director I’ve Ever worked with was Anno, who would typically work with exactly what Sadamoto gave him. The only information Anno told him about Rei was her age, blood type and that she was "gloomy". [...]A: In the case of FLCL, the music inspired the story rather than the characters. Haruko was inspired by JPOP music. A band Sadamoto used to listen to supposedly inspired Rei from Evangelion. [this is confirmed in the Milano Manga Days interview] - Yoshiyuki Sadamoto Panel at FanimeCon 2003
  24. Sadamoto: "The Other Side of the Story"
  25. "Interview with Sadamoto Yoshiyuki", Der Mond
  26. Asuka and her relationship with Shinji have a central role in the series, while in the manga she is kept in the background compared to Rei. What is the reason for this difference?(laughs) Anno and I have a different point of view on this. The manga is less spectacular than the anime, there's less action, so I preferred to focus on the relationship between Shinji and his mother, which is the core of my work. The anime, on the other hand, precisely because it's more spectacular, has another point of view. Of course, the relationship between me and my mother is different (laughs). A manga that influenced me a lot was Hyouryuu Kyoushitsu, by Kazuo Umezuo, which talks about the relationship between mother and son. Any mother in the world wants the best for her child, and my manga is about that. - Sadamoto Days – i fan meet e l’intervista
  27. Der Mond - The Art of Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
  28. Sadamoto, SWEET TIME EXPRESS
  29. Sadamoto, World Seifuko Project Summit
  30. “By the hand of man” and “a miracle has value when it is brought about” are two lines that are familiar from some of Director Anno’s previous works. In this episode, it is revealed that Rei dislikes meat, but Nadia: Secret of Blue Water was also a vegetarian. Director Anno himself is also famous for not eating meat. Incidentally, Rei orders a garlic ramen without the pork at a ramen shop, but the script has Rei ordering seaweed ramen. It is a rare example of pure adlibbing on the part of a voice actress in this show. - Platinum Episode Commentaries
  31. Film Book Vol. 4
  32. Parano
  33. Kodansha 2003
  34. Schizo, pp 179
  35. Schizo, pp.95
  36. Schizo, pp. 93
  37. Eva Special Talk with Anno Hideaki and Toshiya Ueno (Newtype 11/1996)
  38. 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
  39. "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"
  40. 40.0 40.1 Anno: If the planned relations had worked out - the plan was that the ‘unconscious Shinji-kun’ would be Ayanami Rei, the Shinji-kun who appears on the surface would be Ikari Shinji, and the ‘ideal Shinji-kun’ would be Nagisa Kaworu-kun. [Kaworu was] supposed to be an ideal male but when I tried putting him together he was just a strange fellow (laughs). That was something of a lack of capability on my part. - 2000 December Anno: Interview ‘with a mem­ber of Waseda Uni­ver­sity for the pur­pose of “character study.
  41. 41.0 41.1 Oizumi: Exactly. And, on the topic of substitutions, can we think of Rei Ayanami as being a person like your mother?
    Anno: That’s not quite right.
    Takekuma: There’s also nothing like the image of a girl you previously dated [in her], right?
    Anno: No. Well, Rei is probably [the character] closest to my deep psyche. I don’t really understand her. … The truth is, I have no emotional attachment to her at all.
    Takekuma: Huh? Is that right?
    Anno: Yeah. I have no emotional attachment to her. Well, Nobita-san wrote [about her] as being a symbol of schizophrenia. There were parts where that was actually what I wanted to do [with her].
    Takekuma: But she is the character best received by the fans in the outside world. Even I was drawn in by Rei at the beginning.
    Oizumi: That’s right. Megumi Hayashibara’s voice was also incredible.
    Anno: But Rei is [the character] I least understand. In addition, I’m not really that interested in her. There were parts where that’s what I was consciously doing, actively trying to put aside my presuppositions, trying to bring out the most primitive, the most core, the purest parts within me.
    Oizumi: So Rei is perhaps [something] embedded in your unconscious [that] can’t be expressed in words.
    Anno: Even in the midst of making Eva, I suddenly realized I had forgotten her. Her very existence. In episode seven, I remembered, and added a single shot with Rei. I had no emotional attachment to her at all. I think that was fine, because she didn’t appear in episode eight, not even for a single shot. -Parano
  42. When it came to Rei, I was completely blocked. I couldn't write anything at all. I had intended to make Rei a schizophrenic (分裂症的) character, but when I tried to write, I couldn't think of anything - nothing at all. Finally, I thought, when writing madness, one has no choice but to become mad. At that time I consulted a bit with my friends. When I asked if there was something composed by a madman, I was loaned a "Bessatsu Takarajima" [1] volume on mental illness. It was an "easy and reasonable" book [イージーでリーズナブルな本] (laughs), but inside it there was a poem written by a madman. That was extremely good. When I read the poem I had a strong impression, as though this was the first time that I had come close. I had a feeling like a light glinting upon the tip of a sharp knife. It was certainly not the feeling of an ordinary man. That was good. If I think about it now, this sort of 'capacity' was [already] within me (laughs). [??2] It's mad to believe that the writings of a madman are of the highest quality. I read that [poem] and was filled with images; I was able to write [Rei's monologue] in one sitting. - 2nd JUNE Interview
  43. Evangelion Original III
  44. Parano, pp 97
  45. Evangelion Proposal
  46. https://forum.evageeks.org/thread/12197/Ikuni-and-Anno/
  47. Lunning, Frenchy (2006) "Between the Child and the Mecha" Mechademia 2 p.281
  48. ejcjs - Moe and the Potential of Fantasy in Post-Millennial Japan from Japanesestudies.org.uk.
  49. Azuma, Hiroki. (2007) "The Animalization of Otaku Culture" Mechademia 2 175-188.
  50. Azuma, Hiroki. (2009) Otaku: Japan's Database Animals. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press pp. 48-52
  51. Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time from IGN.
  52. 10 Iconic Anime Heroines from Mania Entertainment.
  53. Which Anime Character Do You Wish You Could Be Friends With? from Anime News Network.
  54. Evangelion: 1.0.1 You Are [Not] Alone (dub version) from Anime News Network.
  55. Evangelion: 2.0 You Can [Not] Advance from Anime News Network.
  56. "The release in October 1995 of Neon Genesis Evangelion on Japanese TV ignited a boom in merchandise unprecedented in a country already awash with such goods. As if overnight, well over 600 different items were made to commemorate the event. Figures were the most popular, with the inimitable bandaged Rei outselling all else. The Eva girls, kitted out in swimwear and striking suggestive poses, were, overall, a huge success, and things went a bit too far…" pg 126 of Fujie 2004. See also: "Arguably, it is because of Anno's dictates on design that few Evangelion toys were initially made. But figures of Rei, in all her bandaged beauty, sold like wild fire. This is probably the first and only example of an animated [mecha] series where reproductions of the human characters outsold those of the robots." pg 98.
  57. "Rei's popularity soared in Japan, with books featuring her image on the cover selling like hot cakes. She was christened by media, "The girl who manipulates magazine sales at will", "The fastest route to the sold-out sign!" And even, "The Premium Girl."" pg 39 of Fujie 2004



Rei Ayanami (綾波 レイ[?], "Ayanami Rei") is a character from Rebuild of Evangelion movie series. She is the First Child, (referred as the First Children in the Japanese version), the pilot of Evangelion Unit-00 and one of the central characters.

Appearance

Rei has short pale blue hair with bangs centered to the middle and has red eyes. In the first movie of the series, she would wear bandages such as her arm and her left eye. She wears the same school uniform but wears white loafers instead, and black ankle socks.

In Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, when visiting the ocean research facility, unlike other characters who uses casual clothes, she still uses her school uniform.

Her plugsuit is mostly white, with black, red, and dark green accents stylized in most places of her plugsuit.

In Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, Rei Ayanami (tentative name) is given a new grey plugsuit.

Story

Rei merges with Unit-01

In Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, Rei did not show much change from her previous incarnation. However, her relationship with Gendo seems to be closer than in NGE as Shinji sees Rei and Gendo chatting happily from his Eva. The most drastic change was that when Shinji smiled at her after the battle with Sixth Angel, she did not see a flash of Gendo Ikari. In this version, at least, she is genuinely smiling at Shinji.

In Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, her character begins to develop further and her relationship with Shinji is shown much more openly than in the original series. She attempts to host a dinner party for Shinji and his Father and is shown to work very hard while preparing the food, she is seen having multiple (bandaged) knife cuts on her fingers. Asuka takes her position as the test pilot for the Evangelion Unit-03 (Rebuild) and Rei calls her to thank her. During the climax, she is devoured along with Unit-00 by Tenth Angel after her attempt to kill the Angel with N² Missile ando also saving Mari Makinami Illustrious and Evangelion Unit-02 (Rebuild) in the process.

When Unit-01 goes berserk, Shinji is shown forcing his way into the angel and pulling her out and the two embrace each other. At the end of the film, they are both trapped within Unit-01. In the preview at the end of Evangelion 2.22, there are three child Reis and one adult Rei in what appears to be a prison cell alongside Mari. The children appear to have pink eyes as opposed to the purple of the older one.

Rei Ayanami (tentative name)

The Rei that appears in the first two movies does not return in Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, instead being replaced by a clone from the Ayanami Series, mostly referred as Rei Ayanami (tentative name) (アヤナミレイ(仮称)[?]). This Rei is very different from Rei Ayanami in the two previous movies, as well as the original. She is mostly seen wearing a black plugsuit for Mark.09. Her hair is slightly longer, and her facial expression looks more inexpressive. "Rei" is neither emotional, nor does she remember her past self, like her interests or the people she have met before. The only thing she does is to carry out orders from Gendo Ikari. Her emotionless personality annoys Asuka, and devastates Shinji, causing the latter to suffer a mental breakdown after Fuyutsuki reveals the origin of Rei and the relationship with his mother. Rei starts feeling doubtful about her condition and wonders about the original Rei when she fails to regain control of the puppeted Mark.09.

These sections contain spoilers pertaining to new or unreleased content. Read ahead at your own risk!

In Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time, the new Rei clone arrives with Shinji and Asuka at the survivor's village. She slowly adjusts to village life, assisted primarily by Hikari Suzuhara, whom together with Tōji Suzuhara calls her "lookalike", realizing she is not the same Rei they knew. She expresses curiosity at her daughter Tsubame Suzuhara, and exhibits an almost child-like behaviour of sheer wonder. Rei settles as a farmer and goes to school, befriending the children of the village, as she starts to learn to socialize and finds her own individuality, distinct from the earlier Rei, and finds purpose in her life. Asuka maintains antipathy at her when she asks about Shinji's whereabouts. She goes to meet him, but he remains despondent and guilty over not saving the original Rei. Rei keeps trying to find her own individuality, and tries on new clothes, and wants a proper name for herself. At Shinji's suggestions, she settles on simply "Ayanami". However, Rei cannot maintain her form without constant exposure to LCL, and decomposes in front of Shinji, further motivating his determination to take responsibility. After the death of Rei Ayanami (tentative name), Gendo and Fuyutsuki have a conversation. In that scene, it was revealed that Rei Ayanami (tentative name) was in fact Ayanami-Type No.006. (pronounced Ayanami number 6 in the English dubbed version)

In the final battle against NERV, Shinji finds the original Rei clone inside Unit-01, now with long hair. Rei apologizes that she was not able to make it so that he wouldn't have to get into a Eva again, but Shinji tells her it's alright and that he'll take care of the rest. During Instrumentality, there is a flashback to Gendo and Yui Ikari (Rebuild) talking to each other, and reflecting on how, if they had a daughter, she'd be named Rei. Rei talks with Shinji and accepts living in a world without Evas, as a new place for her to belong, she thanks him, shakes hands with him, Shinji initiates the Neon Genesis. In the ending, Rei and Kaworu are seen as adults (with a similar age of that of Shinji's and Mari's) staring to each other.

Spoilers end here.


Notes

Neon Genesis Evangelion

The End of Evangelion

Artwork

Manga

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days

Gakuen Datenroku

Neon Genesis Evangelion ANIMA


Merchandise

Collaborations



Rebuild of Evangelion

Artwork

Collaborations

Games

Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion Z

Pachinko & Pachislot

Wallpapers

Media


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