Mirai no Kodomo - Ikari Shinji

Ikari Shinji

Ikari Shinji is the main character in Shin Seiki (Neon Genesis) Evangelion, the Third Child, and Pilot of Evangelion Test Type Unit 01.

Standard Notes: This is my opinion of this character. Very little of this is fact; this is my analysis of Ikari Shinji based on what I have seen of him, which includes the movies (Death, Rebirth, and End of Evangelion), and what knowledge of him I have gleaned from numerous EVA FAQ's and discussions (see link list on main EVA page).

The boy needs therapy right?

Well, no more so than any of the rest of us.

And he's the future of mankind. HE is what we're depending on.

When we think of Heroes, we don't think of boys like Shinji. We think of strong, confident men and women with dedication and a love of humanity. Shinji is therefore something of an anti-hero, but in the end it is HIS decision - do we stay as we are or do we move on?

Aren't you glad our future will be decided by someone so...mentally stable?

Okay Okay I'm stopping now. Call it procrastination.

Shinji is a daunting task. The entire TV show and the movies ARE Shinji's character analysis, but if you want to go through my view of it here, so be it.

Just remember you were warned.

ALSO: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. I have tried avoiding them as best I can in other character analyses, but it is UNAVOIDABLE in Shinji's case. Gomennasai, I do apologize but I can't do him justice without mentioning key facts. If you dislike spoilers, READ NO FURTHER.

Ikari Shinji - his mother died when he was young, her soul sucked away into a giant robot. I have to admit, it's not the normal way to lose a parent. His father became obsessed with finding a way back to her, and hit upon the Third Impact as a way to do it (we won't get into Gendo's analysis here, thankyouverymuch). Once all mankind was one, he could be with Yui again.

And so what does it say that Shinji, who so desperately missed his mother, chose not to go through with it?

That he has more strength of character than his father does. Yes! YES! When it came right down to it, Shinji had what it took to make a decision that affected ALL OF HUMANITY.

Could YOU make that decision if someone asked you?


You can call it insanity, apathy, anything you like. I'm an optimist at heart.

Okay let me back up a bit...

Shinji has three women in his life through the series and movies, the three women we see in his little mental moments towards the end of the series: Rei, Misato, and Asuka.

Rei is his past. She's his mother, after all. Sort of. His affection for Rei is because a child instinctively KNOWS its mother. Mom. After all these years. In the end, she really proves it, first sacrificing her second body for him and then choosing him over her husband. True maternal instinct.

Also there's obviously an attraction there because of the Oedipus complex that all boys experience. 14 might be a bit late to be going through it, but he couldn't really go through it any earlier. And Rei II was so obviously focused on GENDO for most of her "life" that it certainly didn't help things any. Neither did Shinji's already considerable Dislike for his father.

But Rei is his mother, his past, what was and yet also what was not. You must move on.

Misato is his present. She is a lot like Shinji - she runs away from close relationships, afraid of being hurt. On a more literal level, he lives with her and she is the commanding officer on his missions in EVA. She is his spiritual and physical PRESENT, and they are close to each other because they know they are kindred souls. And yet there is still the sense of two magnets of the same polarity - jerking away from each other. Because they are still afraid of being hurt.

Perhaps magnets isn't the right analogy. They are close to one another, but in a strange sort of way. In a comrades-in-arms sort of way. Because they know that they are both fighting the same battle - loneliness.

And Asuka, of course, is his future. Again, I am an optimist. Hideaki Anno has said that you can make of The End of Evangelion what you want of it. I choose to believe that Asuka somehow survived the Mass Production EVA attack (perhaps EVA 02 managed to protect her somehow - a last ditch maternal instinct. One never knows.) and that she and Shinji are now the new "Adam and Eve" as it were.

If Shinji is afraid of Asuka, it is not only because of her aggressive attitude or his own fears of rejection and being hurt - it is because the future can be scary sometimes. It is not always easy and sometimes running away feels safer. But Shinji has learned well the mantra Misato has given him - "I mustn't run away."

As far as Shinji and Kaworu...well...Shinji is not used to hearing the phrase "I love you." Love and affection are not normal to him and yet he craves it, as all human beings do. But then to find out that Kaworu was an Angel, that he (Shinji) had been deceived...that hurt. And beyond that, Shinji was confused. He'd never been given a good answer to his question (that he poses to Asuka), "Why are we fighting Angels?" He didn't UNDERSTAND why he was fighting and he didn't understand why he has to kill the one person who has expressed some sort of affection for him.

Confusion and hurt and pain...it all mixed together in Shinji's brain and created anger. The one time he really believes he can be close to someone else, he is deceived and hurt and confused as a result. That is really why he killed Kaworu, a decision he later regretted.

So Kaworu was a possible future, which Shinji discarded. Kaworu's death, Asuka's comatose state - Now Shinji has seemingly run out of futures and he wants to die. This is when Misato, his present, steps in again. The only future left to him, he believes, is death, but Misato saves him from the assassin squad and gets him motivated again...at the cost of her own life.

Rei dies, Misato dies - past and present are gone and ONLY THE FUTURE REMAINS.

Shinji is an unlikely hero. Being 14 is hard enough, being an orphan (for all intents and purposes) is hard enough. But all of that and forced to be the savior of humanity?? If someone had OFFERED him the choice, he'd have turned it down. But in the end, Shinji, with all his whining, his constant repetition of his mantra, his fears and his low self-esteem, pulls it together under desperate circumstances and comes through.

Shinji is Hope. If HE can make it through that HELL, then surely, can't we all?

We see the underlying conviction in Shinji a few times. My favorite is Episode 1. Faced with the choice of letting an injured girl (Rei) go into battle, even though she is trained and he is not, even though his father, whom he despises, is the one MAKING him do this, he shows enough strength to declare, "I'll do it! I'll pilot it!"

Don't tell me that's simple COURTESY, because I know plenty of guys spineless enough to have let Rei get in there while they book it for the nearest shelter. And I can't honestly say that I'd have the guts to do what Shinji did. It's a scary situation, an unfamiliar one. And yet, faced with what he must do, while he initially wants to run, he does in the end accept it.

And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is bravery. Being afraid but going ahead anyway. If you aren't afraid, you are stupid. But acknowledging that fear and yet going ahead because it is the right thing to do - that is true courage.

And, in EVA at least, that is Shinji.

P.S. - "Mirai no Kodomo" for those who don't know, means "Future's Child".

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