Episode 23

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Episode Information
Episode #23
Title 1:
Title 2: Rei III
23 C141 rei-namida.jpg
Written By Hideaki Anno, Hiroshi Yamaguchi
Directed By Masahiko Otsuka, Ken Ando
First Aired 3-6-1996
Video Release Date 3-5-1997 (Japan-Video/LD), 5-29-2001 (US-DVD)
Angel Appearances Armisael,
Eva Sorties Eva-00, Eva-01, Eva-02
Episode chronology
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"Episode 22" "Episode 24"


Asuka sinks into deep depression after Arael's mental probing, and is unable to pilot when the new Angel Armisael arrives. Armisael begins physically fusing with Eva-00 and threatens to do the same to Eva-01, prompting Rei to sacrifice herself to save Shinji, only to appear alive soon afterwards. Under threat by Misato, Ritsuko opens the door to a room in Terminal Dogma to reveal the dark truth about Rei Ayanami.


The episode begins with a recording of Kaji's voice telling Misato and Ritsuko that he's sorry. Shinji waits outside Misato's room with Pen Pen, not knowing how to help her.

Asuka has run away from home and is not coming to school, staying instead with Hikari Horaki. Hikari is concerned as Asuka does nothing but play video games all day, but doesn't know what to say to her. At night, she tells Hikari how useless she feels, and Hikari tries to cheer her up by telling her she did her best. But her words are no comfort to Asuka who starts crying.[1].

Seele is furious with Gendo over the use of the Spear of Longinus, which is now heading for the moon, and plans to send Gendo another warning to keep him in line, stating that they need someone who knows the truth. Ritsuko receives a telephone call from her grandmother and learns that her cat, which has been in her grandmother's care, has died. She tells her grandmother that she will visit her mother's grave, since it has been over three years since she last visited. After the conversation ends, she says, "So that child is dead"[2].

In a meeting with Seele, Gendo explains that it was his priority to destroy the Angel, not preserve the Spear, a statement at which the Russian committee member openly scoffs. Fuyutsuki calls, telling him an Angel is approaching, and Gendo leaves the meeting. Chairman Lorenz begins to seriously consider the possibility that Gendo intends to betray Seele.

Armisael[3] appears, having crossed over Goura. Rei is sent out in Eva-00, with Gendo requesting that Asuka and Eva-02 are send out as backup. When it is pointed out that Asuka's sync score is miserably low, Gendo coldly comments that if nothing else, she can be used as a decoy. The Angel's unusual A.T. Field variations puzzle the Magi, and until the Angel's abilities are clear, a tense standoff is maintained. Rei is told to pull back and observe it, but the Angel changes shape and attacks the Eva. Shooting it with the sniper rifle is useless, and the Angel erodes the A.T. Field and begins biofusion with the Eva. A network of vein-like patterns grows over Rei's body, corresponding to the growth on her Eva. Misato launches Eva-02 and orders Asuka to lift off, but her synch level is so low she can't move her Eva. She is immediately ordered withdrawn by Misato.

Soon, Rei feels the presence of someone else inside the Eva. She briefly wonders if it is "the her inside the Eva", but quickly concludes that it is something alien. She sees Armisael take her own form, and talk to her. Armisael shares her emotions with Rei who identifies them as loneliness. (Armisael didn't understand what she was feeling.) Armisael indicates to Rei that she (Rei) is lonely too. Rei actually cries, and is surprised to see her own tears. Armisael creates a monstrous growth from the Eva's back in which the shapes of all the previous Angels, her dead siblings, are visible, possibly trying to resurrect them to cure her own loneliness. Misato is horrified at the sight, and Gendo orders Eva-01 out of its freeze. Asuka remembers that Gendo refused to do the same for her, see Episode 22, and falls further into despair.

Shinji arrives on the field, and has Eva-01 extend its A.T. Field, but this immediately attracts Armisael's attention and it swiftly attacks Eva-01 through its other end, destroying the pallet rifle. Shinji grabs Armisael in an attempt to ward it off, but it begins fusing with Eva's hands, causing a similar taint to appear on Shinji's own hands. When he stabs the Angel, it howls like Rei. To his utter horror, miniature Rei faces appear out of his biofused hands, telling him "It hurts". Armisael's end takes Rei's form, and caresses the Eva's face, causing veins to appear across it. Rei realizes that her desire is to be with Shinji. She makes a decision and determined she proceeds to reverse Eva-00's A.T. Field, saving Shinji by violently pulling the Angel away from Eva-01. Armisael is dragged screaming into Eva-00's core, causing it to swell up in a grotesque parody of pregnancy. Ritsuko realizes that Rei is trying to contain the Angel inside the core, but it is close to overloading from the stress of the task. Rei is ordered by Gendo and Misato leave the Eva, but Rei quietly refuses, pointing out that without her, there will not be an A.T. Field to hold the Angel in place. Instead, she sacrifices her life activating Eva-00's self-destruct mechanism, causing the core to violently implode. Just before the core explores, Rei sees an image of Gendo's smiling face. For a brief moment, Eva-00 changes shape; taking the form of a giant Rei that reaches for something unseen, before violently exploding. The resulting huge explosion destroys most of Tokyo-3's city centre. Shinji, Misato, and everyone else can only watch in shock. After a moment, a visibly shaken Misato gathers herself enough to order a rescue team be sent out immediately for Rei. Unable to look at her old friend, Ritsuko quietly questions if there is anything left to rescue.

Ritsuko and a contamination squad scour the impact site as the waters of Lake Ashinoko start flooding the area; they find Eva-00's Entry Plug containing Rei's charred remains and Ritsuko orders it to be salvaged and the finding classified as top-secret.

Shinji is devastated by Rei's death, and Misato attempts to comfort him the only way she knows, by trying to initiate a sexual encouter[4] [5][6]. Horrified, Shinji rejects her.

Fuyutsuki and Gendo meet in the Dummy Plug Plant. Fuyutsuki speaks on how Rei is a product of his own despair, but also the vessel of Gendo's hope, even now. He notices that it was maybe unreasonable of him to think that Gendo would forget. Soon afterwards, Misato receives the news that Rei has been found alive and is in the hospital. Shinji meets a bandaged Rei and thanks her for saving him, but she has no memory of the event and eventually guesses that it is probably because she is "the third one". Later, Rei returns home to her apartment and immediately discards her bandages, revealing her injures to be fake. Looking around, she spots Gendo's old glasses lying on the dresser. She picks up the glasses and begin to crush them in her hands, but pauses when she realizes that she is crying. She muses on how it should be the first time she has seen tears, but it doesn't feel like the first time.

Back in his office, Gendo talks with Fuyutsuki, telling him that he is lifting most of the security restrictions on all the pilots, including Rei, for the time being. Fuyutsuki questions if Seele won't realize that Rei's survival is highly improbable and raise a fuss about it, but Gendo tells him not to worry; he has offered them something else. Seele puts Ritsuko through torture and shame as she stands naked before the monoliths. Keel tells her to just be honest with them, as they do not wish to demean her any more than they already have, but Ritsuko tries to put on a brave face, saying that she doesn't feel humiliated at all. The French member commends Ritsuko for her strong will, noting that he can understand why Gendo would want someone like her at his side, but reveals that it was actually Gendo himself who sent her to them in place of Rei.

Enraged by this revelation, Ritsuko calls Shinji after Seele has released her and tells him to see her at once. Misato follows, with a gun. Ritsuko shows Shinji and Misato the room where Rei was born, and the Eva Graveyard. Finally, she shows them the dark secret of the Dummy System, the tank full of soulless Rei bodies that serve as its core[7]. She proceeds to press a button to destroy the Rei clones in full view of both of them. Outraged, Misato asks her if she realizes what she has just done. Ritsuko spitefully rejects the idea that the clones were people, and dismisses them as just being "things shaped like people." As her voice starts breaking, she notices that she still ultimately lost to them. In the end, even after everything she had done and endured for him, Gendo still chose to protect them - to protect Rei - over her. Ritsuko completely breaks down crying, lamenting how she managed to fail in the exact same way her mother did, and asks Misato to just kill her now. Misato refuses as he looks on her old friend in pity, wondering to herself about the tragedy that seems to befall everyone involved with the Evangelions - noting she is one of those people too.

On-Air Version Differences

Main article: Guides:Episode 23 OA vs. DC

  • The battle with Armisael is much shorter. The "Tower of Angels", the battle with Eva-01 and the scene of Eva-00 transforming into a giant glowing Rei are all absent.
  • Rei's animation is much more "cartoonish" and less detailed. Her expressions may be considered more vacant and neutral.
  • Ritsuko's expression can also be considered more "neutral", and the expressions and the subtle animations that hint at her emotional state after her release are missing.
  • There are far fewer rejected Evas in the Eva Graveyard, and the Rei tank is much smaller.


See also: Theory and Analysis:Ritsuko's Interrogation

  • The sequence leading up to Rei's death uses imagery reflective of conception and pregnancy. When the Angel first breaches Eva-00, the monitors make sure to repeatedly display the word "Penetration"; Rei blushes and convulses in a sexual manner. Once the Angel has mostly invaded the Eva, its belly begins to swell in a manner very reminiscent of pregnancy. This imagery is juxtaposed with Rei's realization that she wants Shinji.
  • Ritsuko is strongly implied to have been sexually abused. The original Japanese uses language that is very particular, almost pornographic in nature, and can easily have a strictly sexual double meaning, for instance "陵辱" (usually present as "degradation/degraded" in the localization), can effectively mean "rape", and it is also delivered in a rather mocking manner. Furthermore, Ritsuko's line that she doesn't care what happens to her body later this episode further implies this.


  1. The scene of Asuka and Hikari sleeping together contrasts directly with the scene between Shinji and Kaworu in the next episode. Asuka sobs into her pillow and is facing away from Hikari, while Hikari looks straight up and doesn't look at her when she talks. While Hikari seems somewhat sad about Asuka but not overly concerned for her, Asuka is too ashamed of herself to face Hikari. A previous scene between Shinji and Kaji had both of them facing opposite ways, showing a reluctance to talk to each other.
  2. There has been speculation that Ritsuko and her grandmother are speaking in code about Kaji's death during their phone conversation about the cat (see Episode 15 for more details). However, the evidence of this seems to be nowhere near sufficient.
  3. Armisael, along with Arael in the preceding episode and Tabris/Kaworu in the next, form a bizarre triad. In addition to communicating with human beings, Armisael represents an Angel's halo, and along with Arael and Tabris forms a complete angel- halo, wings and human form.
  4. "Misato stretched out her hand to Shinji. At this time she may have intended to offer her body to com­fort Shinji. However, this was merely substitutive behaviour in order to assuage her own loneliness." -Filmbook Vol. 9
  5. When Misato sits down on Shinji's bed, a chair in the background is strategically placed so that, from our camera angle, it looks like a large phallus protruding from Shinji's groin. As Misato sits right in front of the chair, it is quite likely that a sexual message was intended.
  6. When Misato enters Shinji's room after Rei's death she says "This is just about all I can do for you." ADV's English dub mistranslates this as "I want you to know that I'm here for you." It's unclear whether they were deliberately trying to hide her sexual intent, or if this was just a flub.
  7. When the Director's or New Production cut of Ep. 23' was originally released, mysterious images flashed off and on in the Reiquarium during Ritsuko's tirade. (See Analysis of the Episode 23' Reiquarium Images for details). These images were absent in the on-air version. For some unknown reason, these images were removed for the Renewal version, making it resemble the on-air version, although the other changes to the sequence still stood, such as the extra Eva remains and the larger Rei tank.

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