Shinji Ikari is one of the most divisive characters in anime. Though most mech heroes are associated with certain desirable traits, Shinji is shown to have various undesirable qualities. Though some fans really dislike him because of this, you can’t deny that his subversive personality is something that makes the show as interesting as it is.
Shinji is one of the most well know anime protagonists out there. Despite being such a polarizing character, Shinji has had a huge effect on the industry. Despite that, there’s a lot about him that lots of anime fans just don’t know. Here are some of the most interesting things you didn’t know about Shinji.
10 He’s A Great Cook
It’s a lesser-known fact that Shinji is actually a pretty good cook. This isn’t really a trait that you’d expect a main character in a mech anime to have, as it’s something of a domestic skill. It’s one of the many things that made Shinji different than others in the genre.
Shinji’s reason for learning the skill is actually pretty funny as it was due to Misato’s inability that he took the initiative and taught himself how.
9 He Was Made To Be Everything You Don’t Expect From A Hero
As previously stated, Shinji is pretty much the complete opposite of any other anime “hero” type main character that came before him. He’s insecure, selfish, and rarely shows himself to be all that brave.
Hideaki Anno himself described Shinji as someone who isn’t comfortable around people, and someone who doesn’t like who he is. He lacks the positive attitude shown in many other protagonist characters, and it’s this collection of negative traits that’s made him such an iconic and popular part of anime history.
8 His Birthday is The Same As His Voice Actresses’
This next one doesn’t only apply to Shinji, but a decent chunk of the Evangelion cast as well. Shinji’s birthday is June 6th, the same as his voice actress Megumi Ogata. This is true of many of the shows cast members, except for Rei, given the ambiguity of her birth and existence.
7 His Relationship With Gendo
While it presents itself as a typical mech anime at first, a lot of what makes Evangelion tic is the relationships between the show's characters. One of the most complicated is the dynamic between Shinji and his father.
Gendo is very distant, as illustrated by him sending Shinji off to live with his teacher. At times it seems that he simply doesn’t care about his son. Shinji is shown to both want his father’s affections and ultimately keep his distance from him as well. The two are very similar to each other, though their inability to admit it keeps them from really connecting.
6 His Catchphrase
Though not really something he says that often, the line “I mustn’t run away” has become something that is heavily associated with Shinji’s character. Shinji is, of course, very quick to dismiss himself and shies away from any sort of conflict.
The line was first delivered in Episode 1 and has stuck to Shinji ever since. It perfectly sums up his greatest internal conflicts and gives you some insight into how his psyche works. Anno claimed that the line is something he used to motivate himself to finish work on Evangelion.
5 The Meaning Behind His Name
Like every other character on the show, Shinji’s name was chosen for a specific reason. If you were to look into the Japanese readings of his name, you can get a clearer idea as to who Shinji is as a character.
Ikari means “anchor” in Japanese. But, if written with different kanji, it can also mean “anger”. Since both he and Gendo share the same surname, the meaning could be aimed at either of them. Though, given their similarities, it’s likely that these are representative of the two of them as a whole.
4 He Can’t Swim
Yet another trait that furthers Shinji from the typical image of a hero is his inability to swim. Though it’s not focused on in the anime–it’s only mentioned in Episode 16–it’s still fairly important to note.
Shinji’s inability to swim once again highlights his vulnerability. It’s a small detail that helps establish to the viewer just what kind of upbringing Shinji had, as well as noting how different the world he’s living in is despite certain similarities to ours.
3 His Manga Counterpart is Very Different
There have been a lot of Evangelion manga adaptations/spin-offs over the years. Each of them is different from the other, and one thing that’s most notable is how differently they portray the main characters.
Shinji is no exception here, and you can find some pretty stark differences between him and his manga counterparts. It depends, of course, on which series you’re reading. For example, the Shinji Ikari Raising Project version of Shinji is more confident but more aloof at the same time. In the Evangelion manga adaptation, Shinji is not only more confident but more willing to stick-up for himself, tends to be more violent, and is much more cynical than the original character.
2 His Weapon of Choice
Shinji, though he's been put through various combat situations, isn’t much of a fighter. It’s not the side of him that’s focused on a lot throughout the show, but one interesting thing regarding Shinji in combat is that he tends to favor the progressive knife.
EVA’s use a number of different weapons, and, while Shini has wielded several, he tends to always fall back on the progressive knife. It’s funny considering how, though Shinji seems to try to avoid combat, he chooses a knife, which necessitates brutal, up-close-and-personal combat.
1 The Truth Behind His Design
Shinji doesn’t necessarily have any iconic features or anything that really jumps out at you visually, but he’s an incredibly recognizable character nonetheless. The story behind his design is actually pretty funny.
Shinji’s design is pretty much just a male version of Nadia from Gainax’s first anime series, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. Also worth noting is that character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto claimed that Eva’s protagonist was initially supposed to be an Asuka-like female character before they decided to move on with a male protagonist instead.