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Kaji Ryoji (加持リョウジ, "Kaji Ryōji") is a fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. He is employed by NERV as a special inspector. He wears a ponytail, has a constant chin stubble, and is always referred to by his surname. His given name is romanized as Ryoji in the English manga, English version and original, untranslated version of the TV Series, Ryouji on Madman Entertainment's website, and as Ryohji in the English version of the movie and on Gainax's English Evangelion website.
Kaji appears to be a triple agent, working as a special inspector for NERV, while secretly investigating the organization for the Japanese Ministry of the Interior, and at times seemingly acting as a cat's-paw both for and against Gendo Ikari and SEELE. In addition, he seems to maintain personal motivations beyond loyalty to any organization, and speaks frequently of his desire to "find the truth." Kaji can be said to have a green thumb, as he cultivates a watermelon patch close to NERV HQ (This is only seen in the anime; he is watering the watermelons while Zeruel is attacking the GeoFront.).
Kaji and Misato Katsuragi were lovers during college, but they had long since broken up by the start of the series and do not see each other again until she flies out to the UN fleet ferrying Unit-02 and Asuka Langley Sohryu to Japan. After he returns to NERV headquarters, Kaji and Misato flirt and fight, Kaji teasing Misato, and Misato constantly calling him "stupid."
Most of the time, Kaji is very easygoing and jovial, always remaining cool and composed and maintaining his detached sense of humor even during times of crisis. He also flirts unabashedly with his female peers and coworkers, which further draws Misato's ire. Despite his irresponsible public persona, Kaji demonstrates a great level of personal responsibility and worldly wisdom in his personal interactions. He acts as something of a father figure to both Asuka and Shinji Ikari, particularly the latter. Asuka is openly infatuated with him, something he coolly and repeatedly deflects. A common interpretation is to see Kaji as Shinji's positive adult mirror, with Gendo as a more negative model. Similarly, Misato and Ritsuko are mirrors for Asuka, as are their respective relationships. He offers Shinji contemplative advice and tries to help him understand the nature of social dynamics. Behind all of this, however, Kaji hints at being a very melancholic and lonely individual, plagued by doubts of his own sincerity and whether he is capable of true love. The only times during the series - including his death - in which Kaji seems to be truly sincere are during his philosophical discussions with Shinji and his dialogue with Misato in Episode 15.
Kaji is ordered by SEELE to kidnap Deputy Commander Kōzō Fuyutsuki so that he can be interrogated. Kaji follows his orders, but disobeys SEELE by rescuing Fuyutsuki later and returning him to NERV. Prior to this, he remarks that his NERV I.D. card is the color of blood; also, during their last meeting, Kaji gives Misato a small capsule which contains the information for the Human Instrumentality Project, then says "This may be the last gift I give you." He then leaves Misato a farewell phone message, indicating that he knew he would likely be dead when she heard it. Fuyutsuki even remarks that his actions will cost him his life. Kaji is eventually shot and killed by an unknown assailant. In the anime, Kaji remarks to his killer, "You're a little late, aren't you?" which has led to debate among Evangelion fans as to the identity of the killer, who is described in the episode Film-book as "a third party working either for SEELE or for NERV's Intelligence Division". The film-book also states that the killer was not a main character. This fan impression shocked Anno so much that it was directly addressed in the Director's Cut version of Episode 21, perhaps the single case of a clear-cut retcon in Eva.
In other Works
In Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's manga of the series, Kaji is given a back story which was not given in the anime and which relates to his behavior. In the aftermath of the Second Impact, Kaji and his brother were orphans and members of a group of children who united in order to survive the chaos. One day while stealing food from a JSDF facility, he was caught by soldiers, who threatened to kill him if he did not reveal the location of the gang's hideout. Kaji chose to betray his brother and friends, who were killed by the guards, and he has been plagued by guilt ever since. His role in the story is identical to that given in the anime, but there are a number of differences. He talks with Shinji and helps him to remember his mother's disappearance, and tells Shinji of his past to motivate Shinji to return to NERV after the fight against Bardiel (this takes place in a hidden supplies cellar rather than a watermelon patch). In the anime, Kaji is shot and killed by an unknown assailant; however, in the manga, it takes two shots, and Kaji chides the murderer for his poor aim. As he is dying, he sees the shadowy figures of his brother and friends and greets them.
Kaji later appears during Third Impact as Asuka's transition guide.
In Neon Genesis Evangelion: ANIMA, Kaji has a major role in the stopping of the Human Instrumentality Project. Indeed, he leaked the attack plan of the Mass Production Evangelions from SEELE to NERV. For this he suffers a far more complex fate for betraying SEELE than in the original anime or Rebuild: Kaji later tracks SEELE for Misato after the failed assault on the GeoFront but ultimately falls into a trap, resulting in his capture.
He is then brainwashed by Keel Lorenz for his successful attempt to steal information from the organization (as happened in the original anime) and of their plan to deceive the JSSDF into attacking NERV, quickly providing it to Misato; on one hand this ultimately gives Misato exactly what she needs to make a plan to counter the JSSDF assault and provide Shinji the motivation to repel the Mass Produced EVA attack but Kaji's open love and loyalty for Misato and friends is sacrificed when he is tortured and forced to wear Keel's Visor, allowing Keel to control and brainwash him; he is then shown to become a hand picked successor to NERV JAPAN by SEELE in light of Misato's apparent capture by Rei Quatre with Ritsuko, Shinji, Asuka, Toji, Hikari, and much of the original NERV staff fleeing, along with SEELE wanting to 'correct' Gendo's deception and failed take over of Third Impact.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gakuen Datenroku
In this manga, Kaji is Shinji's guardian, a journalist, and photographer who was once a subordinate of Shinji's father. He appears to recognize Kaworu Nagisa upon their first meeting and he also has ties to Misato Katsuragi. He disapproves of Shinji's nightly walks, particularly in light of recent disappearances.
- His family name, "Kaji" is written with the characters for 'increase' (加) and 'hold' (持) in Japanese. Kaji is named from the Japanese word for "rudder", forming a triad with Gendo and Shinji, whose surnames come from the words of other ship components, "anchor" (Ikari) and "sextant" (Rokubungi). His first name comes from the hero Ryoji Sawada from Minako Narita's manga Aitsu. Interestingly, he is nevere refered to by his first nam, not even by Misato. His design, like that of Gendo and Fuyutsuki, comes from the TV series UFO, specifically Captain Foster.
- It is also the Japanese term for Adhiṣṭhāna, a form of divine guidance or assistance in Buddhism , possibly referring to his role as a supportive figure to both Shinji and Asuka. It is also somewhat of a departure from the Christianity / Judaism themes of the anime.
- Interestingly, Kaji in ANIMA combines aspects of Gendo from Rebuild (he wears Keel's visor whilst commander of NERV JPN, a step further extreme even from that incarnation of Gendo) and Keel Lorenz (he becomes deeply immersed in the secrets of SEELE and their true objectives with the planned Fourth Impact)
- In the game Secret of Evangelion, Ryoji Kaji was killed by Kyoya Kenzaki, his old friend.
- Misato's implied sex scene with Kaji in Episode:20 was said by Anno to actually be a massage scene to TV Tokyo in order to get permission to air it. Misato had no line in the script, so Anno left it up to her voice actress Kotono Mitsuishi. The script simply gave her a note by Anno: Mitsuishi-sama, I look forward to working with you. Respectfully yours, Anno.
- This was addressed by Newtype at the time: "While a lot of fans think that it was done by Misato, Director Anno raised the possibility that it could have been done by Japan government or Seele agent".
- …Who killed Kaji? What’s your version of it?
This is a question that many Japanese fans also wonder about. Kaji wanted to investigate a deeper part of NERV (SEELE) and learn of its secrets. He was tricked by one of his informants and then killed. It wasn’t Misato or Ritsuko. Tsurumaki, FUNime March 2002 interview
- When it was first aired on TV, it seems no few fans suspected that it was Misato that shot Kaji in this episode. In the "video version," dialogue explaining that SEELE has discovered that Kaji has delivered a sample of Adam to Gendo and has made his position precarious has been added and the way the scene where Kaji is shot conects to the next scene has been changed. It leads the audience to think that the culprit is someone on SEELE's side. - Platinum Episode Commentaries
- Character Name Origins
- Filmbook Vol. 6
- 3.0+1.0 July 12th stage greeting
- "What astonished viewers when it aired was not the main plot of Shinji's cosmic struggle, but rather the final love scene of Misato and Kaji. The scene was showing a bedside stand the whole time, and only the audio of the off-screen dialogue was describing it, but it was a wet (sexual) scene in and of itself. In particular, the line "Ew... don't put anything weird in there." had the same destructive power as the Second Impact. The scene with the opened contraceptive device on the bedside table is really graphic. Misato's panting voice was not specified in the dubbing script, but was left up to Kotono Mitsuishi. The script had the words "Mitsuishi-sama, I look forward to working with you. Respectfully yours, Anno." The text of the dubbing script of each story is recorded on the DVD. If you want to enjoy the details of Eva more, you might want to read it. - Oguro commentary #53, translation