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Rei Ayanami is the enigmatic first child and the pilot of Eva Unit 00. She also shares a small relationship with Shinji
Nobody really knows where Rei comes from (with maybe the exception of Gendo Ikari). The first time she appeared she was described by Gendo Ikari as one of his friend’s daughter and that she was only taking care of her. The truth is that Rei is not human, but a clone of Yui Ikari and Lilith. With time she becomes the pilot of the Eva unit 00.
Rei has become somewhat famous for her appearance. She has blue hair, pale skin and red eyes. She barely speaks to anyone but Gendo, though as the series progresses she develops relationships with other characters, especially Shinji Ikari. Her relation with Asuka is notably worse, because Asuka only sees Rei as Gendo’s doll and a puppet. She shows some emotion during episode 15, when she seems embarrassed after Shinji tells her she would make a good mother.
At school, Rei usually doesn’t pay attention to class and just sits and looks outside the window, she also sits separately from the other girls during swimming class. Touji tells Shinji that Rei never made a friend. Though it seems she does enjoy reading books as seen in episode 9. Later in the series she’s more absent from class and spends most of her time at the Dummy Plug plant.
She has been shown to place no value for her own existence, as she usually says that “she is replaceable” (possibly referring to the dummy plant filled with her clones). Though in episode 23, the Angel Armisael forces her to feel her loneliness and pain. After this Rei starts crying and doesn’t even know why she is crying.
Ritsuko describes Rei as “a nice girl, but not very adept at living". She’s also indifferent to the way other people see her or towards her own personal space, as seen in episode 5 when Shinji accidentally falls on her naked body.
Rei was first introduced by Gendo Ikari shortly after Yui’s death when she was 4 years old. She is actually a clone of Yui with possibly some parts of Lilith’s DNA. She is murdered by Dr. Naoko Akagi after Rei reveals to her that Gendo calls her an “old hag”, Naoko kills herself afterwards and Gendo replaces her with a new clone, referred to by fans as “Rei II”. During the time between this and Shinji’s arrival she became the designated pilot of the prototype Evangelion Unit 00.
She is later seen in episode 1 of the series after Shinji refuses to pilot the Eva. Gendo brings her as replacement; she is wearing bandages and noticeably in pain after an accident in Unit 00. After seeing her in so much pain, Shinji decides to pilot Unit 01 and fight the angel.
A flashback scene reveals how Rei got her injuries, when Eva Unit 00 went berserk and ejected the entry plug which started bouncing around the room. Gendo quickly went to the scene and opens the hatch with his bare hands, despite the fact that it was still very hot. His glasses broke and Rei took them and we learn why she treasures them.
A few weeks after the events of episode 4, Shinji is asked by Ritsuko to deliver Rei’s ID card to her house. When he goes to her house Shinji accidentally falls on her naked body, he apologizes but she doesn’t seem to care, showing little emotion about the issues. Though she gets angry when Shinji tells her that he can never trust a man like his father, so much that she slaps him.
Rei starts the re-activation of Unit 00 which is successful, but just as she finishes, Ramiel, the fifth angel, attacks. During episode 6, Rei waits for Shinji to recover in Nerv’s hospital, when he wakes up she briefs him on operation Yashima. Later in the episode she tells Shinji that she pilots the Eva because she has a bond not just with Gendo but “with all people”. After the battle against Ramiel finishes, Rei smiles at Shinji for the first time.
In episode 9, Rei meets Asuka Langley Sohryu, the pilot of Eva Unit 02, they do not get along as Rei gets somewhat annoyed that Asuka doesn’t let her read in peace.
She does not participate in any battle against the Angels until episode 11, when Matarael attacks. Rei acts as the leader during the power blackout (despite Asuka referring to herself as such) and leads them to Nerv’s HQ. She supports Shinji and by giving him the weapons to defeat the Angel while Asuka acts as the defense. After this, Rei participates in the battles against Sahaquiel, Leliel, Bardiel, Zeruel and saves Asuka using the spear of Longinus against Arael.
In episode 23 Rei fights Armisael, but the Angel tries to possess and violate her. Rei is forced by the Angel to see her loneliness and sorrow that come from her heart, Rei cries for the first time and is surprised to see her tears. When Unit 01 comes to save her, Armisael’s end takes Rei’s form and touches
the Eva’s face. Rei realizes that her desire is to be with Shinji and decides to absorb the angel and sacrifices herself by self destructing the Eva to save Shinji. This results in a huge explosion that destroys the entire city, just before the explosion Rei sees the face of Gendo Ikari smiling at her.
Once again Rei is replaced by a new clone, “Rei III”. Though she seems to have no memory of saving Shinji and soon tells herself “I think I’m the third”. She comes back to her apartment, where she sees Gendo’s glasses, she tries to break them and starts crying but she has no idea why.
Meanwhile Ritsuko reveals to Misato and Shinji the soulless Rei vessels that lie in a tank in the Dummy Plug Plant, she tells them that Rei's subconscious is composed of "water and light”. During the next episode Rei discovers that she possesses the soul of Lilith, the second angel.
In the last two episodes of the show, Rei I reveals all the secrets about the being known as Rei Ayanami to Rei II and Rei III. In episode 25 the three Reis confront each other during instrumentality, Rei questions how she can be three people at the same time, to which Rei one answers she’s “a person whose fake soul was created by a human named Gendo Ikari” that she’s “nothing but an object living a lie and pretending to be a person” and that there’s “a dark part inside you that can see nothing of, that you know nothing of. That’s where the real you is”. This dark part could refer to either Lilith or Yui Ikari.
During instrumentality it’s revealed that Rei II wants to return to nothing, yet Gendo Ikari continues to bring her back every time she dies and Rei III is afraid of returning to nothing because she wants to continue living in the world and interact with other people.
In The End of Evangelion, Gendo’s intentions with Rei are revealed, he wishes to use her to control the Human Instrumentality Project and being able to see Yui again. But Rei betrays him saying she’s “not his doll” and chooses to save Shinji instead. Gendo begs her to come back to which she replies “Ikari-kun is calling”. She approaches Lilith and is eventually absorbed by her, forming a giant Rei and she goes to where Shinji is. As pre-instrumentality begins; Shinji is told that Rei is the embodiment of his wish and Rei asks him what is it that he wishes for.
Instrumentality begins; Rei interacts with Shinji in many different ways. As the Third Impact starts, an image of Rei appears before everyone in the form of those they love and trust the most before they turn into LCL and she collects their soul. It is unknown at this point how much of the being known as Rei Ayanami is left within Lilith’s body. When Gendo Ikari turns into LCL, Rei II picks up his glasses as all three versions of Rei stand together.
Rei helps Shinji to reject instrumentality and she tells him that she’s “the hope people can one day understand each other” as well as the word “love”. The last thing she says to Shinji is “People can restore their bodies as long as they imagine themselves within their own heart”.
Shinji rejects instrumentality and is lying down in a post-third impact earth, when he turns his head he sees Rei wearing her school uniform standing over a sea of LCL, this image disappears as quickly as it appeared. That’s the last time Rei is seen in the series.
In the manga adaptation of the series, Rei is much more open and warmer than she is in the anime. She’s also Shinji’s romantic interest.
In the Angelic Days manga, which takes place in an alternative reality; Rei is portrayed as a clumsy, excitable girl who likes flirting with boys, the exact opposite to her original persona.
In the Shinji Ikari Raising project manga she is more like a combination of her anime personality and the personality of the manga adaptation. In this one she is Shinji’s cousin and is also involved romantically with him.
In the latest manga, Evangelion Academy, she acts more like her anime persona.
Her personality and appearance doesn’t seem to be changed in The Rebuild of Evangelion: You’re (not) Alone, though she appears in a new scene during Shinji’s mind trip after he fights Sachiel. This scene takes place in the Personal Hell Traincar seen in the series and other movies. Also in the final scene, after Shinji rushes to get her out of the entry plug after defeating Ramiel she holds Shinji’s hand.
During the course of the series, Rei dies twice. She is replaced by Gendo with another clone. She’s aware that she is replaceable as she often says this when fighting the fourteenth angel. Rei III is aware that she is the third one.
The first clone, she is murdered by Naoko Akagi in 2010.
She’s 14 years old and is seen in most episodes of the series. She has a strong bond with Gendo Ikari and develops a relationship with Shinji during the course of the series, she dies in episode 23 after self destructing her Eva to save Shinji from Armisael.
Seen from the second half of episode 23 through The End of Evangelion. She is not as attached to Gendo and betrays him to help Shinji in the end.
Rei’s poem is a famous monologue given by Rei while synchronized with Unit 01 as she comments on different images being showed to her (possibly by Yui’s soul inside Eva 01).
Mountain... Heavy mountains. Things that change over time.
Sun... A unique object
Water... Something comforting. Commander Ikari
Flowers... So many of the same... And so many unneeded.
Sky... Red, red sky. The colour red. I hate the colour red.
Blood... The smell of blood. A woman who never bleeds.
Man made from red soil.
Man made from man and woman.
City... A human creation.
Eva... A human creation.
What is a human? A creation of God?
Is man a human creation?
The things I possess are a life and soul. I am a vessel for a soul.
Entry plug, the throne for a soul.
Who is this? This is me.
Who am I? What am I? What am I? What am I? What am I?
I am myself. This object is me.
This is the me that can be seen, yet I feel as though I am not myself.
Very strange. I feel as if my body is melting.
I can no longer see myself. My shape is fading.
I feel the presence of someone who is not me.
Is someone there, beyond this?
I know this person. Major Katsuragi.
The pilot of Unit 02.
Who are you?
Who are you?
Who are you?
The title credits
Episode 6, when Rei says goodbye to Shinji
The end credits
Episode 25, when Rei sits in a moon spotlight
This could refer to Lilith’s Black Moon which transported her before colliding with the earth and causing the first impact (Rei is supposedly a clone of Lilith). Another visual motif is that of Asuka and the sun, this is seen as a contrast between their personalities.
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