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- Episodes :26
- Genre : Action, Dementia, Drama, Mecha, Sci-Fi, Psychological
- Airing Date : Oct 3, 1995 - Mar 27, 1996
- Producers : Studio Gainax
Asuka Langley Preview (No Spoilers)
Neon Genesis Evangelion is the story of Shinji Ikari, called by the military organization Nerv in order to pilot the mechas known as Evangelions. Their apparent objective is to fight against the Angels, powerful and mysterious creatures seeking to reach Nerv’s Headquarters. Amid the chaos of a world submerged in environmental problems, Shinji, along with fellow pilots Rei and Asuka, unravels the origins of both Evangelions and Angels. They also try to come to terms with their own personal problems and traumas.
Asuka Langley Bio
Asuka is the daughter of an American father and a Japanese-German mother under the name of Kyoko Zeppelin Sohryu. Fiercely independent, she is a highly intelligent girl who has been training to become an Evangelion pilot since her early childhood. Asuka was 14 years old when she was transferred to the Japanese Nerv Headquarters, along with her mecha, the Eva 02. Deeply proud of being a pilot, she will do anything to be the center of attention both in battle and in daily life.
We have mentioned that Asuka Langley was the protagonist of Neon Genesis Evangelion in early drafts of the series. For market reasons, it was decided to change the protagonist to a boy, but Asuka remained as one of the most important and complex characters of the story. She can be considered as one of the early anime tsundere! Her voice actress, Yuko Miyamura, also had a hand on the character’s development, going as far as to suggest some of her lines. Anyway, without further ado, let’s see why Asuka Langley is such a great character!
Warning: the following section is full of spoilers and the occasional sensitive content. You can stop now or proceed with caution.
Asuka Langley Highlights
1. She is international
In a time where most anime characters had Japanese names despite of their appearance, the name of Asuka Langley immediately grabs attention. She (conveniently) has a quarter of Japanese blood running through her veins, so she can speak Japanese on the show. Nevertheless, Asuka was born and raised in Germany. Her mother was a scientist on the German branch of Gehirn, later renamed Nerv. Thus, we know that Asuka was close to the Evangelions since before they were conceived.
We can notice how Evangelion plays with the notion of a German-Japanese friendship, reflected on Asuka’s origins. So, where did Ano (the creator of the show) get this from? Well, at World War II, Germany and Japan were allies. We also should remember that Ano named the Evangelion characters according to battle ships and the like. So we could say that Asuka is another expression of those international relationships. If we add the fact that Mr. Langley (Asuka’s father) was American, thus granting his daughter American citizenship, we get a truly international character. No doubt that Asuka stands out with her long red hair and blue eyes, plus all the experiences her international upbringing have given to her.
2. She has a traumatic past
The fact that Asuka’s life has always been linked in some way or another to the Evangelions is not necessarily positive. Major Katsuragi (her guardian) once said that the Evas have a course, influencing the lives of those who are in contact with them. In the case of Asuka, her mother was so absorbed by her work in Gehirn that she paid little attention to her child. In a contact experiment with the Eva 02, Kyoko was left with her soul ripped, driving her insane. She acted all motherly like… with a rag doll in front of Asuka. Meanwhile, Mr. Langley fell in love with the doctor that was in charge of Kyoko’s health and eventually married her. But a person who is insane actually notices some of the changes going on around them, you know? Thus Kyoko (always talking to the rag doll) tells Asuka that daddy does not care for them. This must top high among the legendary breaking-heart scenes of anime.
Therefore, Asuka decided to concentrate on being the best possible, so that her mother would at least look at her instead of a rag doll. It is implied that, on the same day she received the news that she was going to pilot the Eva 02, she either found Kyoko dead or in the middle of the act of taking her life. It is not clear if this is a real memory or a distorted one, as it is also shown when an angel attacks Asuka. Nevertheless, the damage is there: Asuka was a little girl largely ignored by her parents, which prompted her to build a wall around her heart, to rarely cry, and to become the tsundere she later would be. This girl indeed had a traumatic past.
3. She is an overachiever
By the time Asuka is transferred to the Japanese branch of Nerv, she looks like a pretty and confident teenager. Asuka has a high IQ and has gotten a University degree, thus only attends classes because she can’t read or write Japanese. Asuka socializes at least superficially with the students from her school and enjoys general popularity. She apparently has a good relationship with her foster mother too, as she answers the phone enthusiastically at Misato’s home when she calls.
Nevertheless, the achievement area that is crucial for Asuka and thus forms an essential part of her personality, is the Eva piloting. For beginners, she cleanly dispatches Gaghiel, who attacked the fleet that was delivering Eva 02 and its pilot from Germany. She has the highest synchronization rate with the Eva on the first episodes and does not hesitate in combat, accumulating several victories and even quickly organizing the attack on Matariel. For being a loner most of her life, to be able to work in a team with others in order to defeat the Angels shows that Asuka is able to overcome any obstacle with her role as a pilot. Or at least, most obstacles, as we will see on the next highlight.
4. She has a vulnerable side
Although Asuka looks like the best of the best, we have to remember that looks are deceiving. Once she moves in with Major Katsuragi and Shinji, it is evident that life with Asuka can be a difficult ride. The girl is aggressive and, although she makes advances to interact with other people, Asuka is not very successful at it. Let’s not look further than the time she threw herself over Kaji, when he said that she was still a child. Asuka retorted hotly that no, she was a full adult. But let’s be honest, the way she also ends up sleeping by Shinji’s side was not very mature either. This moment also shows Asuka as her true vulnerable self, because when Shinji is going to kiss her, she whispers “mother”. Finally, when Arael makes her recall her traumatic childhood and how she acts towards other people, Asuka is forced to see her true self: a sad and scared little girl who wants to be recognized as an individual human being. This makes of Asuka a truly multidimensional character, who apparently hates and despises others but in reality, is deeply insecure.
5. She always comes back
We can notice that Asuka has gone through some pretty tough ordeals. Once Arael was defeated by Rei, Asuka was morally defeated to the point of not being able to pilot anymore. As we have mentioned before, this is an essential part of her personality, thus she was very close to her own demise, falling into a deep coma. Nevertheless, Asuka managed to finally recognize her own vulnerabilities. It is when she is placed inside the Eva 02 during the Evangelion movies that she is able to find the part of her mother’s soul that was left there. Asuka realizes that Kyoko was looking after her all the time, finally solving the deepest of all her problems: should she die in order to be recognized by her mother (and others), or should she keep on living because she deserves to live? Thus, Asuka awakens from the coma to give us one of the most memorable battles against the Eva series. Yes, she was defeated (ouch!), but guess who was one of the first humans to appear after at the end of instrumentality? It is said by Lilith-Rei that those who have the strongest wills to survive will be reborn. That is why Asuka is the one who appears by Shinji’s side. She will always come back!
So, long life to the mother of all Tsundere characters! Although we could consider Asuka as unlikeable at first, let’s remember again: looks can be deceiving. With her complex background, personality and outstanding skills, we can say that she is one of the best anime characters ever. Asuka is much more than a pretty face and through her story, we can see how strong wills always prevail and will be there for the people who interact with them. Even if they say they hate you at first 😉
Which are your favorite Asuka moments? Which other characters in Evangelion have a fascinating personality? We welcome all your comments and questions. See you soon!