Neon Genesis Evangelion is a series unlike any other. It’s a story fills multiple manga, anime, films, and even curry house locating apps. Evangelion may be quite an adventure, but it’s a story that some may have a hard time following. As series creator Hideaki Anno might say, “Evangelion is like a puzzle, you know. Any person can see it and give his/her own answer. In other words, we're offering viewers to think by themselves, so that each person can imagine his/her own world. We will never offer the answers, even in the theatrical version. As for many Evangelion viewers, they may expect us to provide the 'all-about Eva' manuals, but there is no such thing. Don't expect to get answers by someone. Don't expect to be catered to all the time. We all have to find our own answers.” Fans may need to decipher the puzzle themselves, but here are a few key pieces that may help along the way.
10 Why Are The Angels Attacking?
Like many questions regarding Evangelion, this one doesn’t have one precise answer because the answer is unknown. So far as the NERV or SEELE can tell, the angels are either attacking mindlessly with no specific goal other than destruction, trying to reunite with their progenitor, Adam, who they have mistaken Lilith for as Kaworu does late in the series or they were actually trying to reach Lilith in order to reset all life on Earth. According to the Classified Information located in within the Neon Genesis Evangelion 2 game, “Some of them were trying to access Lilith to reset all life, some of them had nothing in mind, and some of them were trying to recover their progenitor Adam.” Which means that it’s possible all of the above answers are correct.
9 What Is NERV?
NERV, commanded by Gendo Ikari, is a special organization created with the purpose of defending humanity from the angels. While NERV is funded by the United Nations, it is essentially independent of the United Nations except for when it comes to the aforementioned funding. NERV has its origins in a secret agency called Gehirn, which became NERV in 2010 after the agency moved to its new HQ in Tokyo-03 after the completion of the MAGI supercomputers, which run both NERV and the municipal government of Japan.
8 What Is SEELE?
While NERV is funded and (supposedly) semi-beholden to the United Nations as an agency designed with the express purpose of protecting humanity from the onslaught of angel attacks, it has a dark secret. Behind NERV there is a dark society, SEELE (Zeh-Lay), controlling every move that NERV makes for something much darker than the protection of humankind. This nefarious secret society intends to initiate the Third Impact, and with it, the human instrumentality. The members of SEELE plan to combine their souls in the shell of an Eva in order to become a god-like being while leaving the rest of humanity as a giant ocean of tang. Or whatever else may happen to them after the Third Impact.
7 What Are The Seeds Of Life?
Long ago (about 4.6 billion years) a race of intelligent extraterrestrials somewhere in the Milky Way had to come to terms with the fact that their race was coming to an end. As such, they did what any forward-thinking race of hyper-intelligent beings would do in their position, create giant beings (the seeds of life) that would harbor their souls and ship them safely across the galaxy in order to ensure that similar lifeforms would again inhabit their galaxy. They created 7 seeds that carried with them either the fruit of knowledge of the fruit of life. 7 seeds that would, ideally, land on different planets and create new life. However, unfortunately for the first ancestral race, and humanity along with them, Lilith (a seed carrying the fruit of knowledge) happened to crash land on a planet already inhabited by Adam (a seed carrying the fruit of life).
6 Why are the EVA Pilots Children?
There is a common misconception among casual viewers that the pilots of the Evangelion must be children. While this is never specifically verified in any of the material, there are some answers that can be associated with the age of the children. Firstly, while it is off-handedly mentioned and possibly a red herring, it is stated in the series that the children must be born after the second impact. The most important piece of information fans have regarding the criteria to be a pilot is that the pilot must have a maternal link to the EVA. In other words, the souls of the pilots’ mothers have been integrated into the EVA, which allows the pilots to sync up with their EVA. This goes a long way to explaining why Shinji must be the pilot of Unit-01 and why pilots are rarely (if ever) seen piloting a different pilot’s EVA.
5 What’s Rei’s Deal?
While there are many truly depressed, lonely and troubled people throughout Evangelion, for whatever reason Rei Ayanami truly takes the cake when it comes to being troubled. The apathetic young girl seems almost incapable of forming human bonds with anyone other than Gendo Ikari, and seems equally incapable of caring about anything other than the missions he gives her. This may be because of the fact that Rei was created from a combination the LCL left behind when Yui Ikari was absorbed into EVA Unit-01 and a piece of Lilith’s soul. She may not be entirely human, but she definitely has a certain appeal, at least where Gendo Ikari is concerned.
4 What Is Gendo Ikari’s Relation To Rei?
Gendo Ikari may not have any true blood relation to Rei, but as previously mentioned, Rei is made from the remanents of Yui Ikari’s body. Now, in order to understand Gendo’s obsession with Rei, fans must understand the depth of his love for his wife, Yui. Gendo’s love for Yui is the kind that doesn’t end with death. It’s the type that forms a plan, a plan that will create a new reality in order to reunite with a lost love. And while he waits for that new reality, takes steps to create it, he has one small piece of his lost love, Rei. Some might think that his son, Shinji would be the piece the Gendo holds onto, but nope. Not old Gendo “dad of the year” Ikari.
3 What’s Kaworu’s Deal?
Much like Rei, Kaworu was created after a human’s DNA was combined with a seed of life (Adam). Kaworu is simultaneously the Fifth Child, the seventeenth angel and a seed of life given human form. As the seventeenth angel, he is known as Tabris, the final angel and the angel of free will. While he was sent to NERV by SEELE to help further their agenda, Kaworu much like Gendo, has an agenda of his own. He is fascinated by the human condition, emotions such as longing and loneliness captivate him and as such he is drawn to the beings around him, especially Shinji for whom he shows great love and affection.
2 What Are The Dead Sea Scrolls?
Throughout the course of the series, various people either in SEELE or NERV will make references to the dead sea scrolls. And while they happen to share the same name as the real-life dead sea scrolls, that is where the similarities end. In Evangelion, the dead sea scrolls of instructions written by the first ancestral race. They are a guide on how to use the spear of Longinus, a map of where and when the angels will arrive and if SEELE is to be believed, the dead sea scrolls are a prophecy.
1 What Is The Human Instrumentality Project?
This is it. This is what the entirety of Evangelion leads to. The Third Impact, and with it, the human instrumentality. In simple terms, the human instrumentality project is SEELE’s plan to create a new world and a new god. By uniting the fruit of life with the fruit of knowledge SEELE hopes to revert mankind to its previous state of being, a state in which there is no individuality, no ego, nothing. The souls of all mankind will be reverted into a giant ocean of tang (LCL) and suffering as they have known it will disappear altogether. No suffering. No life. Simply, pure existence.