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Warning: this article is full of impacts, angels and spoilers. Make sure you are well protected in your capsule while you read or choose some other article instead.
There have been several anime series acquiring fame across the world, partly due to the introduction of innovative elements on their stories. Nevertheless, mecha fans will always remember a certain geeky director who released 26 episodes of blow-minding storytelling, action, powerful epic music and existentialist anguish under the name of Shin Seiki Evangelion, or simply Evangelion.
Although rather slow to captivate an international fan-base if we compare it with other more digestible animes, Evangelion’s cast of well-developed and psychologically crippled characters is widely recognized by this point. Who has not been a teenager submerged in a world of confusion and chaos like Shinji Ikari? Also, Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion’s creator) has done a superb job in re-crafting his story for the current needs of the international audience without betraying the original essence of Evangelion.
As result, now we have a slightly more decisive Shinji, but (there always is a but), the newest version of his adventures still needs an end. And while we, the fans, keep waiting until Anno-sama has enough time to work on Evangelion 4.0, we can’t help but wonder with whom Shinji will be when the end comes. Yes, we know Shinji is hopeless regarding human relationships of any kind, leaving him as some sort of doormat for the strong female characters in the series. but, how about a certain especial relationship he shared with a guy under the name of Kaworu Nagisa? Why was such a relationship special? Was it part of their destinies? Let’s take a look at why Shinji and Kaworu were born to meet each other.
Why were Shinji and Kaworu born to meet each other?
1. Because Shinji is an insecure teenager
Teenagers of the world, unite! And keep calm. At least we don’t have the crushing responsibilities Shinji Ikari has to bear at his age. Take into account that most of them were not even created by him! We could say Shinji has a right to keep away from humanity most of the time. Abandoned by his father as a kid, and later summoned to be of use to him in his shady science projects, the guy feels used. Add to this that he is on that insecure age, and we have a time bomb. As the pilot of Evangelion 01, Shinji is told to defend the world against the deadly giant beings called Angels, but as the story progresses, it is evident that there are more factions than what meets the eye.
In the original Evangelion series, Shinji unwillingly destroyed the infected Eva 03 while knowing his friend Toji Suzuhara was the pilot. On the Rebuild version, it is Asuka (one of his crushes) who gets injured in the process. This is an especially devastating moment for Shinji, as he doesn’t know for sure if Eva 03’s pilot survived. In the case of the Rebuild version, Shinji has just awoken from a “frozen” state and realizes he has been deemed as an enemy by most of the people he used to team up with. Amid the chaos and a declining world with a red sea, Shinji desperately needs a positive presence in his life.
2. Because Kaworu is the epitome of kindness
Enter Kaworu Nagisa, who was absent during most of the original version of Evangelion but won a considerable amount of screen time in Evangelion 3.0: You can (not) redo. Anyway, Kaworu’s origins still remain an uncleared mystery. It is heavily implied that he is the male equivalent of Rei Ayanami, who in the original anime was a combination of Angel Lilith and Yui Ikari’s genes. So, she is some sort of substitute mother for Shinji. Yes, that sounds very strange. In the case of Kaworu, he is Angel Tabris and has genetical information from Angel Adam, making of Kaworu the first and last Angel at the same time.
In consequence, Kaworu Nagisa apparently knows a lot more about the Angels, Seele and the Eva project than he ever says, but that does not stop Kaworu from showing off his warm and kind personality. Kaworu meets Shinji on episode 24 and by the third Evangelion movie, Kaworu becomes the calm amid the storm. Always smiling but mature at the same time, Kaworu focuses on Shinji’s needs, mainly the emotional one.
One aspect that has always been representative of their relationship is music. Since their first encounter in episode 24, Kaworu is humming the “Ode to joy” which is so characteristic to Evangelion. Shinji plays the cello on the original version of the anime, but on the Rebuild version the piano plays a big part for him and Kaworu. The scenes where they discuss music, Kaworu repairs Shinji’s damaged walkman and encourages him to play the piano “a quatre mains” are some of the most cheerful and beautiful scenes from the entire movies. You can see how Kaworu’s kindness is Shinji’s support.
3. Because Shinji and Kaworu make each other happy
Although they manifest it in different ways, it is evident that Shinji and Kaworu are happy when they are together. Shinji blushes whenever they have a casual (or not so casual) encounter during trainings or on their way in/out school. We know that Shinji does not know how to communicate properly, but does Kaworu show impatience or annoyance? Not at all.
It is implied on the first version of Evangelion that Kaworu finds Shinji’s personality interesting as a specimen of a loneliness and pain. Still, despite of his multiple traumas, Shinji is capable of doing many things. Among such things, we can see that Shinji can make Kaworu happy, as Shinji reassuringly tells Kaworu that Shinji is glad to meet Kaworu or talk to him.
4. Because they share intimate conversations together
Who does not remember when they slept over on Kaworu’s home? Shinji talks about his life before being called to NERV and how he simply existed without minding others, and how Shinji used to hate his father. It is on this scene where Kaworu tells him maybe he was born to meet him. The conversation was intimate but strange at the same time, but this shows how Shinji is able to open up and feel comfortable enough with Kaworu.
Kaworu tends to talk about humanity in complex terms, which Shinji and even the audience have to weigh on for a while, but it is clear in such conversations that Kaworu doesn’t feel contempt towards humans, he just acknowledges they are different from him. By treating Shinji with respect, Kaworu is showing his ability to love. In Evangelion 3.0, Kaworu even takes the killing device from Shinji’s neck to wear it. Which leads us to the final reason…
5. Because Shinji and Kaworu change for the better
It is implied in both versions of Evangelion that Kaworu’s original mission was to destroy humankind. Yet, Kaworu apparently decided to do something different. It appears as if meeting and bonding with Shinji played a key role in his change of mind. Thus, in the original version Kaworu requests Shinji to kill him, as humanity will not survive as long as he lives. As for the Rebuild version, Kaworu stops the Fourth impact before the killing device cuts his head, not without reassuring Shinji that it was the right thing to happen and that he was happy from having met him.
Needless to say that Shinji receives yet another shock from losing someone who understood him to such a deep level. At least on the original version, this loss opens his eyes about his own potential and how Shinji cannot remain indecisive or passive if he wants to survive. We can only hope that in future releases of the Rebuild version, Shinji will make out something noble of Kaworu’s death.
If there is something Evangelion does right and has been distinguished for since its original release, it is the way it portraits the fragility and weaknesses of its characters. But it is what the characters do with or despite such fragilities that counts in the end. By bonding together, Kaworu and Shinji became more vulnerable, but they also won strengths they could have not imagined at first. The genius with which Anno presented their story in such short screen times deserves a distinguished mention, making of this pair one of the most human and tragic ones in the anime history. There is no doubt that Shinji and Kaworu were born to meet each other.
Which is your favorite Kaworu and Shinji scene? Which are your expectations of them for the last Evangelion Rebuild movie? Which other Evangelion couples would you like us to revise? Remember that we are open to all your comments and suggestions. See you soon!