"I've heard this story countless times already."
"The person in charge exists to take responsibility."
"You are free to examine the Magi's data recorders. There is no record of any such incident."
Nerv is a paramilitary special agency nominally under the control of the United Nations. Nerv's official purpose is to lead the defense of mankind against the Angels, to stop them from initiating a Third Impact after the destruction that was wrought by Adam during Second Impact in 2000, through use of the Evangelions, which they constructed. Nerv is headed by Commander Gendo Ikari. Deep down however, also lies a mission where the ultimate, clandestine goal is to carry out the Human Instrumentality Project.
Officially, Nerv is a private organization under the direct supervision of the United Nations , being granted limited authority over local administration, and, to an extent, over United Nations military forces as well. However, Nerv is essentially independent from the United Nations, apart from matters of funding. As a result of conventional military forces' inability to combat the Angels, the battle strategy is often left to the discretion of Nerv's highest ranking personnel without any direct external interference. Nerv is capable of guarding its own position through whatever means necessary, including sabotaging a rival defense contractor's prototype combat robot, "Jet Alone."
Nerv's origins lie in the research organization known as Gehirn, which was renamed and reorganized into "Nerv" in 2010 after its headquarters at Tokyo-3 and the Magi supercomputers were completed. Unlike Gehirn, whose existence was officially a secret (with the UN Artificial Evolution Laboratory serving as a front), Nerv is semi-public. Secretly, Nerv is backed by the mysterious organization Seele, a power cabal covertly controlling the United Nations. Nerv and Seele's ultimate goal is to eliminate the Angels so that they can use the Eva Series to carry out their plan to initiate Third Impact and elevate humanity to the next stage of evolution, as per the Human Instrumentality Project. However, Gendo Ikari has his own plans for initiating Third Impact, and secretly plots against Seele's machinations.
Nerv apparently makes or contracts out for production its own merchandise and accessories for its employees (like many real-world large organizations). In this episode we see coffee mugs and even disposable paper cups that have the "NERV" logo on them.
Global branches and facilities
There are several global "branch" bases of Nerv. Most of them host their own Magi supercomputer systems and have Evangelion construction and support facilities:
- For more information, see "Nerv headquarters".
Other Possible Facilities
Although the highest-numbered "branch base" revealed in the series was "Nerv-03," there is no indication that there weren't more "branch bases."
A set of Magi supercomputers, "Magi 06," is located in Beijing, China. Many of the other sets of Magi supercomputers are located in prominent Nerv bases. In Episode 07, while on a plane a Chinese agent discusses with Gendo Ikari the construction of future Eva Units, and says that his country will produce Eva Unit 08. Thus it is possible that another branch base, or at least a prominent Nerv facility, was located in Beijing.
Nerv globally employs many thousands of people, including scientists, technicians, paramilitary security forces, and support staff.
The standard uniform for Nerv personnel is a khaki uniform with triangular patches at the shoulders. Personnel in command positions (Gendo, Fuyutsuki, even Kaji) wear a monotone tunic. All Nerv personnel have a triangular clip over their uniform's left breast which seems to denote rank.
- Headed by: Misato Katsuragi
The Tactical Operations branch is responsible for coordinating the Evangelions in actual combat, as well as directing Nerv's conventional security forces and defense grid in battle against the Angels.
Nerv's internal security forces are tasked with defending the organization from terrorist attacks and other small-scale conventional threats: Nerv was intended to fight the Angels, not other humans. As a result, Nerv is actually ill-equipped to repulse a frontal assault by conventional human military forces. It is quite probable that Seele intentionally made extensive cuts to Nerv's defense budget for conventional weapons, for the express purpose of making Nerv weak against attacks by human military forces (as Aoba put it, he wouldn't have been surprised if Seele hadn't been planning to invade Nerv HQ since its construction).
Security staff wear khaki uniforms like those of the operating staff, as well as red berets. For weaponry, they normally carry either Heckler & Koch MP5A4 or Steyr MPi 69/81 submachine guns.
Misato Katsuragi (a captain later promoted to major) wears an officer's uniform which consists of a red beret and red jacket (which she usually wears open except on formal occasions).
- Headed by: Dr.Ritsuko Akagi
The Technical division is Nerv's science branch, responsible for the research and development of the Evangelions, as well as their maintenance and repair. It also analyzes scientific data obtained about the Angels, attempting to gain greater insight into them to aid the Tactical division in defeating the Angels.
Each Nerv facility hosts a large corps of mechanics, electricians and other staff dedicated to maintenance, repair and construction. The standard tech uniform consists of orange coveralls and a cap.
Those involved in actual research and development and Eva testing wear the standard khaki Nerv uniforms. Dr. Akagi herself wears a lab coat instead of a uniform.
- Intelligence: Information collection and analysis are handled by the black-suited agents of the Nerv Department of Security Intelligence, as are the surveillance and protection of key personnel.
- Public Relations: Nerv has its own PR subsection, which handles propaganda and media blackouts directed towards the general public to control information about the Angels and Evangelions. For example, in Episode 03 the official information they release to public news outlets is that no one was hurt in Eva 01's battle against Sachiel, when in reality at the least Toji Suzuhara's little sister was badly injured.
The command structure of Nerv does not appear to exactly follow the established pattern of any single current national military or organization.
A definitive ranking list was never provided. The observed Nerv rank structure includes (in descending order):
- Commander (Gendo Ikari)
- Vice-Commander (Kozo Fuyutsuki)
- Major (Misato Katsuragi, after Episode 12) (Denoted by two lines on rank insignia)
- Captain (Misato Katsuragi, before Episode 12).
- First Lieutenant (Makato Hyuga, Shigeru Aoba, Maya Ibuki)
Certain persons, such as Ryoji Kaji, appear to have great freedom inside Nerv facilities despite not fitting into the established ranks. Despite being designated as a "Special Inspector," Kaji does not appear to have a specific rank, nominally working for Nerv's internal affairs division, where he is in fact a triple agent (as Misato points out, he doesn't actually have a "real" job at Nerv; Kaji is there to secretly perform tasks for Gendo, while in turn secretly investigating Gendo). Dr. Ritsuko Akagi herself, a very high ranking member in the Nerv command hierarchy and head of the entire Technical division, is never listed as having a formal rank. Ritsuko's full title at Nerv is "Chief of Project E, Dr. Ritsuko Akagi of the Bureau of Technology's First Division."
In terms of the chain of command, control of Nerv HQ actually falls to Misato Katsuragi if both Gendo Ikari and Fuyutsuki are absent. This happened only once (pointed out as being an unprecedented occurrence) in Episode 12, soon after Misato was promoted to Major (thus it is not entirely clear if she was at this position in the chain of command when she was still a captain, but there's nothing to suggest that she wasn't). Misato Katsuragi and Ritsuko Akagi, as the department heads of the Tactical and Technical divisions, respectively, seem to hold a more or less equivalent position in the Nerv hierarchy.
The exact rank relationship between Misato and Ritsuko is a bit murky, as several times throughout the series they give countermanding orders: ultimately it appears that Misato overrules Ritsuko on tactical matters, involving actual combat and military deployment of Evas, while Ritsuko overrules Misato on technical matters, such as if an Eva has become so badly damaged in a fight that the pilot cannot remain inside. This leads Misato and Ritsuko into conflict multiple times during the series, as Misato prioritizes the lives of the Eva pilots and will favor ejecting a pilot that is in danger, while Ritsuko prioritizes the survival of the Evangelions and considers the pilots to be ultimately replaceable compared to them. In terms of Nerv's secret agenda, Misato is "out of the loop" on many matters known only to Gendo Ikari, Fuyutsuki, and Ritsuko. This ultimately puts Ritsuko in the position of de facto third-in-command for Nerv's secret agendas, of which Misato knows nothing.
In Rebuild of Evangelion
Nerv remains largely unchanged within Evangelion 1.0 and Evangelion 2.0, with only a slight change in the rank structure, Misato being a Colonel at the beginning rather than a Captain, and the addition of new Nerv facilities, such as the Taghba Base on the Moon. All in all, Nerv is basically the same as the TV incarnation.
However Nerv's structure undergoes major changes in Evangelion 3.0 with the majority of Nerv's command structure forming a new organization know as Wille. Meanwhile, back at Nerv Headquaters, only Gendo, Fuyutsuki, Kaworu Nagisa, and a clone of Rei appear to be the only remaining members of Nerv.
Global branches and facilities
- "Nerv" is German for "nerve," following the pattern that Nerv's predecessor organization "Gehirn" is German for "brain," and Seele is German for "soul." The proper pronunciation is something along the lines of "nehrf," and it is phonetically approximated into Japanese as nerufu. The casts of the English dubs by ADV Films and Manga Entertainment do not provide as accurate a rendition: they simply say "nerv" exactly like the English word "nerve."
- "Nerv" is often spelled using all-capital letters in the series, however it is not an acronym. Furthermore, it is not spelled with all-capital letters on the "Welcome to Nerv" pamphlet that Shinji is given in Episode 01 of the original series; in Evangelion 1.0, however, the pamphlet that Shinji receives has it capitalized as "NERV," and why this change was made is unclear. Nonetheless, "NERV" is just how the word is often romanized by the Japanese production team; other words like "Adam" or "Second Impact" are spelled as "ADAM" or "SECOND IMPACT" at times in the series. This is merely a quirk of translation.
- . Nerv's formal title is "Special Duty Organization Nerv," and is technically supposed to be a subdivision of the United Nations. In practice, it is a totally independent organization to which the UN is subservient, so this title is rarely used.
|Seele | Gehirn | United Nations | IPEA | JSSDF | Wille|
|Special Agency Nerv:|
|Nerv Headquarters | Nerv 1st Branch | Nerv 2nd Branch | Nerv 3rd Branch|
|Nerv 7th Branch (Tabgha Base) | Bethany Base | Golgotha Base|