"Children" is a term used to refer to the 14 year old pilots of the Evangelions. The term is used even for a single pilot, hence Shinji Ikari is the "Third Children". The original Japanse dub of the series intentionally used "children" plural, and it is not a translation error. However, the official English dub by ADV films changed this to "Child" (i.e. "Third Child"), as they felt it sounded unnatural in English.
The Children are:
- Rei Ayanami - First Children
- Asuka Langley Soryu - Second Children
- Shinji Ikari - Third Children
- Toji Suzuhara - Fourth Children
- Kaworu Nagisa - Fifth Children
The numbering system is based on the order in which the Eva pilots were selected. Asuka enjoys taunting Shinji by referring to him as the "Third Children", pointing out that she is the "Second Children", as if being selected before Shinji somehow quantifiably makes her superior to him.
Rebuild of Evangelion
In the Rebuild of Evangelion series, the expression "(n)th Children" is not used. Instead, the pilots are referred to in terms such as Ichibanme no tekikakusha (一番目の適格者, "The First Qualified Person/Candidate") Dai Ichi no Shōjo (第一の少女, "First Girl"), Sanninme no kodomo (三人目の子供, "Third Child"), or Dai San no Shōnen (第三の少年, "Third Boy").
- According to an FAQ from the Eva Mailing List, the term "Children" is used for the pilots so Nerv can hide the fact that Rei--despite being the "First Children"--has clones, which makes her several Children instead of one.
- The term "Children" is also used for the final Tel-op in Episode 26 ("And to all the Children, congratulations!"), giving the term a more universal feel instead of just referring to the Eva pilots. チルドレン (children) is used as furigana for 子供達 (kodomo tachi) here.