Shin Seiki Evangelion - 27: Evangelion FAQ (with spoilers)

Title:Shin Seiki Evangelion
Episode:27: Evangelion FAQ (with spoilers)
As Stretch is posing questions in his episode reviews I'm using this "episode review" to provide answers to those questions which will contain full spoilers. Don't read this section if you haven't seen the complete series yet!
[latest modification: 2010-10-10, Devil Doll]
First and foremost, there have to be some fundamental explanations.

Shin Seiki Evangelion ("The Gospel Of A New Century"; "Neon" is a mistranslation by GAINAX) is, among other things, a report about the battle of inheritance of the Earth by God's children. As Kaworu explains in episode 24 there are two "candidates" for inheriting earth: a) the Children of Adam (who ate from the Tree of Life) and b) the Children of Lilith (who ate from the Tree of Wisdom). Adam's children are the Angels, Lilith's children are humankind; technically humankind can be considered the 18th Angel (as Misato explains to Shinji in the EOE movie). The 1st Angel is Adam; the 2nd Angel is assumed to be Lilith (it is never explicitly stated though). Shinji's first battle is against the 3rd Angel. Be sure to read the Kabbala part about Lilith to understand why humankind actually are the demons in this show while the Angels are the True Humans; this is backed up by Adam being detected inside the White Egg (in Antarctica) while Lilith was detected inside the Black Egg (in Japan).
Then again, the Angels are obviously created by humans (cloned from Adam) to provide challenges to humankind; note how the final three angels are exploring the nature of human beings (instead of just trying to kill them), thus posing questions to them leading them to a higher plane of existence (it is most obvious during Kaworu's conversations with Shinji). The Dead Sea Scrolls apparently describe the following scenario: "Mankind has to overcome their biggest deficit, being separated into creatures isolated from each other by their A.T. fields, so face and defeat all Angels and then perform the ritual to form the Tree Of Life as to unite all humankind into one super being." That's exactly what SEELE's "scenario" is, while Gendou added some modifications (and thus betrayed SEELE in the end).

1. [episode 1] Why did Shinji seem to glimpse Rei on a deserted street, before they had actually met?
This is one of the two great mysteries of the series (the other being who shot Kaji), and never explicitly explained. But there are enough hints given to form a theory.
Technically speaking, Rei is an Anti-Angel: All Angels (and all EVAs) are clones of Adam but Rei is a clone of Lilith (with a soul combined of Lilith and Ikari Yui). During Yui's first synchronization attempt with that EVA (who didn't possess any soul at this stage) she was "swallowed" into it; Fuyutsuki tried to salvage Yui (because he loves her - this is explained in the Director's Cut version) by separating Yui from EVA-01 and happened to create Rei as the result of this attempt (in episode 20 Ritsuko refers to this event when salvaging Shinji from EVA-01, and mentioned that "it failed": Only a part of Yui's soul could be salvaged, that's why Rei as a character appears so lifeless).
Because of her origin (she contains Angelic material) Rei has abilities not unlike those of the Angels: In episode 24 (during the battle against Kaworu) you'll see Rei appear at the location despite all transport routes have been blocked - so she must be able to teleport, which she might have done in episode 1 as well.
My take of this scene is that Rei is given the aura of mystery at this stage already to let the audience focus on her abilities and origin (ultimately leading to the secrets of SEELE/NERV), with Misato playing the role of a guide for the audience. So the image of Rei is a teaser for the audience at this stage.

2. [episode 1] Why has a 14 year old boy been selected as the EVA pilot? At one point, Misato comments that "According to the Marduk report, he's the third child". What does this mean?
The "14 years" being a reference to those children being born after the Second Impact seems to be the only "explanation" given in the story. Actually I don't think their age matters at all (NERV is giving false explanations about their goals and actions every now and then) - they just have to be able to synchronize with the soul in their EVA.
Note that the Marduk Institute (named after the Babylonian god ↗Marduk who is said to be given children as human sacrifice) doesn't really exist; the pilots are selected from Shinji's classmates (by Ritsuko, as we learn in episode 17) because NERV has control over the souls of all their mothers! Asuka's mother committed suicide; Kensuke tells Shinji he's a half-orphan as well; Touji is the only one to visit his injured sister because his father and grandfather have to work, so he has no mother; Hikari cooks bento for her sisters because she has no mother as well. It looks as if SEELE/NERV have some technique to preserve the soul of a human being (in the Chamber of ↗Guf?) until implanting it into an EVA.
Actually, things are even more confusing, as Shinji is referred to as the "Third Children" (sic! No typo; the English dub is wrong here; the Japanese seiyuu use the English term "children" instead of the Japanese term which would make the plural even more obvious to the Japanese audience). The First Children is Rei who is a clone, so the plural term "Children" can be taken literally in her case; the second Children is Asuka. (There is a theory popular amongst fan-fic writers that Shinji actually is a clone as well - after all, what's so different between the origin of Rei and the salvation of Shinji from the Angel in episode 20? Then again, Shinji is referred to as Third Children right from the start.)
My take is that originally all pilots were considered to be clones after the creation of Rei, but NERV decided otherwise as they began to understand more about the synchronization process, then using mother/child combinations for EVA and pilot.

3. [episode 1] Is Shinji's relationship to Gendo a coincidence?
Shinji is the son of Rokobungi/Ikari Gendou and Ikari Yui. There's no Angelic material involved. Gendou is a normal human being, he just happens to be in love with Yui who was already recruited by SEELE because of her outstanding gene technological skills. Both Yui and Gendou have been members of SEELE ("soul" in German) and formed GEHIRN ("brain" in German) to make the Third Impact happen; after Yui's accident and the death of Akaki Naoko GEHIRN was disbanded and the successor organization named NERV ("nerve" in German) was formed, under Gendou's administration.
Gendou's motivation for working in the SEELE/NERV project had been the idea of optimizing humankind (as described in the Dead Sea Scrolls translated & controlled by SEELE) but after Yui's accident his motivation changes: Now he's trying to use the Third Impact to become reunited with Yui (which is explained in the End Of Evangelion movie).

4. [episode 1] What exactly are the EVAs? At one point, Unit 01 is described as a "synthetic life form".
According to Ritsuko's explanation in episode 23, EVAs are human beings. Humans are "playing god" by creating their own, next-generation humans to fight the Angels. (Watch Elfen Lied for a similar scenario.)
Every EVA is a clone of Adam's body filled with the soul of a human being (a mother, preferably). The soul in EVA-01 is, as we know, the soul of Ikari Yui; the soul in EVA-02 is the soul of Asuka's mother, Soryuu Kyoko Zeppelin; it is never revealed who the soul in EVA-00 is but as Rei is not a human being she can probably synchronize with any EVA, just like Kaworu (being an Angel) can control EVA-02 and synchronize to a degree of "400%".
Note that Gendou is aware of all this, that's why Asuka never has to perform compatibility tests with other EVAs (NERV knows already that they would fail) and no one has to perform compatibility tests with EVA-02.

5. [episode 1] Why is Shinji able to "synchronize" so well with EVA-01?
Because the soul in EVA-01 is the one of his mother, Yui. Rei can control EVA-00 as well as EVA-01 - being a Yui clone, Rei shares some genetical material with Shinji which explains why they're rather compatible as pilots. (And whatever Rei exactly is, any romantic relation with Shinji would most likely be considered incest...) Interestingly, EVA-00 goes berserk when Shinji tries to pilot it, so Shinji apparently isn't compatible enough for whatever soul may be inside of this "test EVA".

6. [episode 8] What was that fetus-like thing that Ryoji delivered to Gendo (and where did he get it)? I didn't write down exactly what he said, but did Gendo describe it as the "first human" (or something like that)?
That was Adam, the 1st Angel (and as Angels are just alternatives to humankind, the First Human as well). It was detected inside its egg (the "White Moon") in Antarctica, and while the scientists attempted to get control over it (and shrink it to the size we see it during episode 8) Adam apparently was able to destroy all their A.T. fields (note how the Antarctic Sea turned into a sea of LCL), killing more than a billion people in the process. (This event is named the "Second Impact" according to NERV's disinformation policy, and described in more detail during the Director's Cut of episode 21.) From the shrunk Adam then SEELE was able to generate/clone the Angels (we know that because Kaworu is created by SEELE, see Director's Cut for episode 24).
Kaji Ryoji, working as double agent for both SEELE and Gendou, stole Adam from SEELE and delivered it to Gendou so that NERV could prevent any victory of the Angels against the Lilithians, as any contact between an Angel and Adam would instantly trigger the Third Impact to occur and humankind to perish. Later Gendou gets Adam's body implanted into his own hand (as to have maximum control about the situation) which is one main reason why we see him wearing gloves for most of this series.

7. [episode 9] What is the "AT Field" which somehow renders the Angels virtually invulnerable to conventional weaponry? In the opening sequence the words "Absolute Terror" flash by, but that must be just a codeword, because how would "terror" deflect shells and rockets?
The Red Cross Book explains: "Abbreviation of 'ABSOLUTE TERROR FIELD'. An absolute domain deployed by the Angels and Eva that forms a physical barrier. This field boasts enormous defensive power, and is able to greatly diminish the power of all weapons. The Evas' ability to neutralize A.T.Fields is a major reason why they were viewed as the only weapon capable of countering the Angels. However, not only Angels and Eva, but also humans possess A.T.Fields, and it is these A.T.Fields that separate humans from each other and give them their physical forms. Nagisa Kaworu described A.T.Fields as 'the barrier of the heart that everybody has.'"
The Third Impact is effectively the disabling of all human A.T.Fields, thus uniting the individuals forming mankind to one super being, which is the goal of the "Human Complementation Program" by SEELE as the united humans are assumed to complement each other instead of living for themselves.
Note that the Japanese term for this A.T. field is Zettai Ryouiki which had quite a semantic drift since then.

8. [episode 10] Humans somehow provoked the original Angel, which blew up with fantastic power. If this event has been labeled the "Second Impact", what and when was the First Impact? Would that be when the Angel first landed in Antarctica, but without any particularly harmful effects?
The first angel, Adam, never "landed" in Antarctica, it was discovered there inside the White Moon and excavated by the Katsuragi expedition (of which young Misato was the only survivor). Shrinking Adam to the size we can see in episode 8 apparently caused the Second Impact, as we learn in the Director's Cut of episode 21.
According to the textbook with which Shinji and his classmates study the history at school the First Impact is ↗the collision of a Mars-sized object with the Earth which caused the Moon to be separated from the Earth 4.5 billion years ago. As NERV's disinformation policy claimed another asteroid impact being responsible for the Antarctica events the name of "Second Impact" was only logical.
Some other sources (IMHO wrongly) have the "First Impact" refer to the asteroid that hit earth in the Yucatan area (Mexico) around 65 million years ago (and is said to be responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs).

9. [episode 10] If EVA-02 needed the special suit to survive within the magma, how was Shinji and his EVA able to enter it near the end? He didn't have any protection, did he, and didn't the fight take place at nearly the maximum depth? Of course, he has already survived being near a couple of nuclear blasts...
The attempt to retrieve this embryo angel was a first, so NERV didn't know exactly how much the EVAs (with or without additional protection suit) were able to endure. Note how Asuka encouraged Misato to let her dive deeper into the volcano than her EVA's suit was tested for... she was convinced she couldn't fail. Similarly, Shinji didn't exactly ask Misato for permission when he rescued Asuka, he just did what he had to do for a fellow EVA pilot. The A.T. field of the EVAs must have been helpful in this situation of course.

10. [episode 17] The first time I watched Evangelion, I asked myself why the fate of the human race was being gambled on Old Testament prophecies. If I remember correctly, the Dead Sea Scrolls were found around 1947, but their exact content was kept a closely guarded secret by Israel until relatively recently. This led to speculation that they might contain something embarrassing--or, for the sake of anime, maybe a terrifying prophecy? Perhaps the "second impact" is supposed to have been predicted by the scrolls, and when it really did happen humanity frantically set to work preparing for the likewise predicted return of the Angels 15 years afterwards.
The publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls started in 1991, a relatively short time before Shin Seiki Evangelion was aired in 1995. To my understanding SEELE is a group that "decoded" a "hidden meaning" about mankind's future from these scrolls, kept their knowledge a secret and aimed at making these "predictions" come true by searching for the angels (of whom Adam and Lilith were then found in their respective "moons" in Japan and Antarctica) and causing the Third Impact, dissolving the A.T field of all human beings. The second impact was at least a known risk to Ikari Gendou who returned from the Katsuragi expedition only a few days before the incident, taking with him (and thus saving for SEELE) all scientific material of that team. And note that the 17th and final Angel (Kaworu) was created by SEELE.

11. [episode 17] At one point Gendo makes the comment that "Incidents not depicted in the Dead Sea Scrolls may occur".
Well, it depends on whom he makes that comment to. The only person who that can be is Fuyutsuki, and he's the only one to know that Gendou isn't exactly executing the plans of SEELE but aims at his own variation of the Third Impact, placing the fate of humankind into Rei's hands whom he believes to do what he'll tell her (reunite him with Yui).

12. [episode 17] "The Marduk Institute doesn't exist. NERV is pulling the strings all by itself" -- Kaji. Uh... I thought the Marduk Institute was part of NERV. 'Guess not...
You - as well as everyone else, including SEELE! - are to assume the Marduk Institute were a (relatively) independent institution selecting pilots according to their "technical specification" (which is only known to the EVA constructors but likely to be "a child whose mother's soul we control", given what we know about the souls inside the EVAs). What SEELE didn't know (but ordered Kaji to find out, and he performed his job excellently) was that in fact NERV controlled the Marduk Institute and thus the pilots' selection process, making it impossible for SEELE to foist a loyal (to them) pilot to NERV. That's why Kaworu (who follows SEELE's orders, not NERV's) had to be forced on NERV by a direct order from SEELE, showing Gendou how much reputation he lost in SEELE's eyes.

13. [episode 19] "It would seem that all of the students in your class are fourth-level candidates"--Misato. So it would seem that Shinji's classroom is in fact a repository of the most promising Eva pilot candidates.
In fact these are the only possible EVA pilot candidates, as all of them seem to have a mother whose soul SEELE has access to.

14. [episode 19] "Is it refusing me?"--Gendo. Gendo says this when Unit 01 refuses to accept Rei as it's pilot. What's curious is that he didn't say "Is it refusing her?"...
My personal translation of this line is: Is SHE refusing me? Note that the Japanese version leaves this word ambiguous but from the context of the scene IMHO it is Yui (!) who is refusing to obey Gendou, being the soul inside EVA-01.

15. [episode 19] "If I die, I can be replaced"--Rei. Having seen the series once before, I suspect that Rei wasn't just referring to a classmate taking her place...
Watch Rei's statement in episode 23 about "being the third already". Rei knows her own clone nature.

16. [episode 19] "It is said that if an Angel comes into contact with Adam, who lies sleeping beneath this very ground, humanity will be eradicated in the third impact"--Kaji. Kaji seems to have access to the top secret interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Yes, because he's on SEELE's payroll spying on Gendou. Still his line contains one wrong statement: Adam isn't "sleeping beneath this very ground" any more at this point in time, he's already implanted into Gendou's hand.

17. [episode 19] Some seem to have dreaded that an Eva would be "set free" someday, others expected it--Gendo may have even been looking forward to it.
Yes, Gendou intended to use EVA-01 as the source of the Tree of Sephiroth while SEELE intended to use the Longinus Lance for this purpose. That's why removing the Longinus Lance in episode 22 puts SEELE under pressure.

18. [episode 20] What's an "S-2 Organ/Unit"? In an earlier episode, an "experimental S-2 Unit from Germany" was mentioned. It sounded like some sort of substitute for all or part of an Eva/pilot team. Is it anything like a "dummy plug"? Did Unit 01 devour the Angel to acquire it?
The "S2 engine" (according to the super-↗solenoid theory of Prof. Katsuragi, Misato's father) is the energy source of the angels. If an EVA managed to get any such engine it would become independent of its energy supply by the umbilical cord and thus greatly improve in functionality - that's why SEELE tried to construct such engines (and equipped their series EVAs with them, as seen in the EOE movie). In fact EVA-01 ate the angel's core to get an S2 engine for itself, thus getting greater independence from NERV. This has nothing to do with the dummy plug; the S2 engine equals the engine of a car while the dummy plug equals some auto-pilot of a car.
The first attempt to supply an EVA with a S2 engine failed (and eradicated the whole U.S. subsidiary of NERV) but SEELE continued the research, and in the EOE movie all 12 "series EVA" have their own S2 engine (and dummy plugs as pilots with the sign "Kaworu", i. e. apparently Kaworu clones much like NERV's dummy plugs are Rei clones).

19. [episode 20] So, Shinji being dissolved and absorbed by the Eva makes possible a sync ratio four times greater than ought to be possible?
Those sync rates are one plausibility problem in the series but 100% isn't the assumed theoretical maximum, it's more like the required rate to successfully activate and reasonably control an EVA. (See Kaworu's ratings in episode 24.)

20. [episode 20] So an Eva contains a human will. I think I already know who that will came from, the question is, how was it transferred to the Eva?
The technical details remain undisclosed, other than referencing the "Chamber of Gaf" later in the series. But both Yui's and Zeppelin's soul were merged into their respective EVAs during experiments for making mental contact between humans and EVAs, i. e. both were accidents; the first soul to be implanted intentionally into an EVA must have been Touji's mother into EVA-03.

21. [episode 20] One thing I'm still unclear on: did the Angels originate on another planet, or have they always been here on Earth?
Again, this isn't explained in full detail but we do know several things: Adam and Lilith were found in their respecive "moons" (in Japan and Antarctica), and Kaworu was obviously constructed by SEELE. There's no evidence that other planets are involved.

22. [episode 20] Ritsuko: "Well, theoretically Shinji's life force still exists in there... All of the substances which composed Shinji are preserved in the plug, and his soul exists there as well". - When dealing with Evas and Angels, who can say what makes sense and what doesn't? I see why keywords like "surreal" and "spiritual" were used to describe this series.
Everything Ritsuko says makes sense, as she's the executive of the whole EVA construction project. Nobody knows more about those details than she does. The "spiritual" keyword rather refers to the whole ↗Dead Sea Scrolls and ↗Kabbalah references (↗Tree of Sephiroth etc.); the "surreal" keyword mostly refers to episodes 25 and 26.

23. [episode 20] "You hurt Toji and killed my mother!" --Shinji (to Gendo). Shinji blames his father for his mother's death? Could this be a reference to the incident Ritsuko mentioned in which someone other than Shinji was "absorbed" (and the recovery attempt failed)?
Yes. This is better explained in the manga (where the neighbors spread a rumor about Gendou being responsible for Yui's disappearing), the anime only shows a Japanese newspaper article about the incident (which isn't translated in the English version) for a short moment. The EOE movie explains that Shinji has this wrong: Yui herself made the choice to stay inside EVA-01, so Gendou isn't to blame for what happened back then.

24. [episode 20] Has Shinji realized that his mother, Yui, has merged with Unit 01? Is he talking about a past "runaway" which separated him from Gendo for most of his life?
At least we know that Shinji was at the NERV headquarter on the day when Yui vanished. And amnesia due to a shock is a common theme in anime - I could name a number of series using it (unfortunately this would be a major spoiler for most of them). At one point in the series Shinji remembers that he has seen an EVA before, and that this led to him running away from his father. It's unclear how much about the "soul within an EVA" issue the boy is aware of but note how explicitly Asuka is aware of her mother during her battle in the EOE movie.

25. [episode 20] Shinji seems to have a sort of love/hate relationship with the Eva. On one level he is disgusted by the tasks he's asked to accomplish, but he also relies on being successful for his self-esteem.
More importantly, Shinji has a love/hate relationship with his own existence (just like Asuka, Misato, Ritsuko, ... well, basically all important characters of this series). Shinji finding an appropriate attitude towards his own existence is the most important substory of the whole series and will be instrumental for the outcome of the 3rd impact (and as such, for the fate of humankind in this story).

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