Among one of the most recognizable and well-known anime characters out there, Rei is a key part of what makes Evangelion the massive phenomenon it is. The show is known for its focus on characterization and the exploration of various characters’ personalities and psyches. Though it does the same to Rei, she remains one of Evangelion’s hardest to read characters to date.
As popular as she is, there’s still a lot about her character that goes under the radar. After all, most fans can’t know every little thing about every character. Aside from the really important stuff, there are some interesting aspects to Rei which go unnoticed by many viewers. Here are some of the most notable.
10 Manga Differences
Evangelion, though conceived as an original anime, has received various manga adaptations. There’s the original manga adaptation of the show which adds its own flavor to the characters and narrative, as well as various spin-offs. In each of these, Rei is different from her anime counterpart.
Rei is much warmer and kinder in the original manga adaptation. The changes are very noticeable and make it seem like she’s a somewhat different character altogether. This is also present in her various other manga representations. Some fans have labeled this as RiAO or Rei in Appearance Only, as the changes in personality make it seem like she’s a different character entirely.
9 The First Kuudere?
Kuudere is a sort of character type that appears in anime. It’s a very commonly used trope that’s characterized by series' calm and composed characters. The word comes from the Japanese pronunciation of the English word “cool” as well as the Japanese onomatopoeia for being love-struck.
Rei is one of the most popular examples of this character type and is one of the earliest as well. Though it’s hard to determine whether or not she was the first anime character to display these traits in regards to how they pertain to the trope’s definition today, Rei is synonymous with the term to many.
8 Her Connection to EVA-00
While we all know just what EVA’s are, their nature isn’t easy to explain. Neither is their relationship to their pilots, though in the simplest terms it is heavily implied that each pilots EVA contains the souls of their mothers. Every pilot in the show has a dead mother. Everyone except for Rei, due to her nature as a clone. Because of this, it is speculated that the soul inside of EVA-00 is actually that of the first Rei.
7 Various Incarnations
As previously stated, Rei is just a clone; specifically of the Angel Lilith and of Yui Ikari. Throughout Evangelion’s narrative, there have been various incarnations of Rei. At the very least, there are three that you can be sure about.
The first Rei died long before Episode 1 and was killed as a child by an enraged Naoko Akagi. Rei II is the clone that is present throughout most of the series. She dies in Episode 23. Rei III is present towards the tail end of the series and is ultimately responsible for giving Shinji handing control of Third Impact. Each of these incarnations are shown to be different, at least slightly, from the other and have their own character traits and personalities.
6 Her Voice Actress Is A Certified Nurse
Active in the industry since 1986, Megumi Hayashibara is one of the most well-known voice actresses out there in regards to Japanese animation. Hayashibara has been in a number of popular series from Maison Ikkoku, to Ranma ½ and Cowboy Bebop.
Aside from all of her great voice acting work, there’s something else about Hayashibara that sticks out. She’s a registered and qualified nurse, something you don’t expect out of someone in the entertainment industry. It’s not all that important to Rei’s character, but a fun bit of trivia no less.
5 The Meaning Behind Her Name
Just like every other character on the show, Rei’s name was chosen for a specific reason. There are many different meanings behind her full name that gives some more insight into her character.
Rei is zero in Japanese, which is interesting given not only the EVA she pilots, but her lack of identity, as well. The kanji for her name can also be read as “spirit,” which is funny when you think of the mystery surrounding which person's soul is in her EVA. She was also named after Rei Hino from Sailor Moon in an attempt to get one of the show's directors, Kunihiko Ikuhara to work on Evangelion.
4 Her Effect on the Industry
Like almost everything in Evangelion, Rei had a major impact on the anime industry. She is often looked at as a trendsetting character, and has had a sizable effect on the industry.
Rei’s popularity—particularly that based on her visual and personal characteristics—would serve as a catalyst for the more “moe” characters prevalent starting from the early 2000s onwards. You can see tons of different anime characters that share some sort of her physical traits, as well as personality in some regard.
3 Her Relationship With Shinji
Character relations are what drives Evangelion, and none are more important to the series than Shinji and Rei’s. Though their relationship is fairly awkward throughout the earlier parts of the series, the two eventually find some common ground.
Though not the most overt, the dynamic the two share is, compared to their respective relationships with other characters in the series, one of that is mutually beneficial to both of them. Sadly, it’s short-lived.
2 Rei and the Moon
Rei is often associated with the moon throughout Evangelion. This visual motif is constantly revisited in various shots and scenes along with the show’s opening credits. This connection to the moon can be seen as a way of teasing Rei’s connection to Lilith. Interestingly enough, Asuka is associated with the sun, though to a lesser extent, throughout various shots in the series and films.
1 Visual Differences to Asuka
As fans of the show will know, Asuka and Rei are two completely different people. The two are in constant conflict, and their polar opposite personalities just don’t allow them to interact in a healthy way.
This contrast is actually visualized in both of their character designs. Rei has blue hair and red eyes, while Asuka has the opposite; red hair and blue eyes. It’s a small detail but one that illustrates their dynamic perfectly.