Theory and Analysis:Rei Ayanami (In-Depth)
- In-depth page split from the Rei Ayanami article.
The following table details a few ways Rei Ayanami's name can be spelt and their meanings in English.
- For more information on the origins of Rei Ayanami's name see here.
Rei's design and character
Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, one of the founding members of Gainax and the character designer for the television series created Rei.
Sadamoto speaks in an interview, which was published in volume 2 of the official manga, about the sources of inspiration and the influences that shaped Rei's design.
|“||The first time you see Rei, she is all bandaged up. The group Kinniku Shojo Tai has a song called Hotai de Masshiro na Shojo [The Girl White with Bandages]. When I heard that song, an image popped into my mind; I thought, "I'd like to draw a girl like that," and then I drew Rei from that image.||„|
Further into the interview Sadamoto says the following.
|“||I played around with this character I called "Ukina." She came from a story I wrote a long time ago for NewType magazine called Koto no Oni [The Ogre on the Desert Isle]. You take Ukina, give her shaggy, bobbed, wolf-like hair, and it's Rei. Really, I just played with her a bit -- with the way the eyes are drawn. The basic character is the same. Her character was locked in as translucent -- like a shadow, or the air. The kind of girl you can't touch. The girl you long for, but there is nothing about her that you can hold.||„|
In the same interview Sadamoto tells us why Rei has red eyes.
|“||There were two things that went into the decision to make her eyes red: one is the fact she didn't have enough outstanding features, and the second is from a business standpoint, the makers of the Eva computer game wanted her differentiated from the other characters.||„|
|“||I designed the characters so that their personalities could be more or less understood at a glance. For example, even the color and length of the hair expresses personality. I thought that Asuka would occupy the position of an "idol" in the Eva world, and that [Asuka and] Shinji should be just like the relationship between Nadia and Jean. And then I set Rei as the opposing "Ying" portion. It was my idea to have her wrapped in bandages.||„|
We also learn from Der Mond that Rei was at some point in the pre-production stages of the show called Yui Ichijo.
Another side to the story in Rei's character design lies further back in the pre-production stages of the series when she had much darker hair and lacked her characteristic red eyes.
- See Proposal, pages 21 and 24.
In terms of Rei's character Hideaki Anno is quoted as saying the following during the May '07 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.
|“||Rei is someone who is aware of the fact that even if she dies, there'll be another to replace her, so she doesn't value her life very highly. Her presence, her existence, "ostensible existence," is ephemeral. She's a very sad girl. She only has the barest minimum of what she needs to have. She's damaged in some way; she hurts herself. She doesn't need friends.||„|
In the same interview Anno explains why he thinks Rei, and other characters like her, are popular in Japan.
|“||Anno understands the Japanese national attraction to characters like Rei as the product of a stunted imaginative landscape borne of Japan's defeat in the Second World War. Japan lost the war to the Americans. Since that time, the education we received is not one that creates adults. Even for us, people in their 40s, and for the generation older than me, in their 50s and 60s, there's no reasonable model of what an adult should be like.||„|
Rei is uninterested in school, seemingly spending the majority of the school day looking out the window, yet Rei can read German and has an interest in genetics which she reads books about during the school lunch break (as seen in Episode 8). Toji says Rei has had no friends at school since she started during the 7th grade. Rei is often absent from Class 2-A later in the series as she spends more and more time in the Dummy Plug Plant.
Rei appears in episodes: All episodes, with the exception of 8
Rei is sortied in Eva-00 in episodes: 6, 11, 12, 13, 16, 18, 23
Episodes 1 to 8
The very first time we see Rei in Episode 1 is Rei 3's (go HERE for information on Rei's incarnations) appearance to Shinji on the street near the beginning of the episode. The first time we see Rei 2, the Rei we meet for most of the series, she is badly injured and wrapped in bandages. Rei is in so much pain that she has trouble even sitting up. This evokes a sense of sympathy in us and Shinji. An extra piece of animation showing Rei collapsed on the floor in this scene was added in Death.
We learn later that these injuries were caused during the activation experiment with Eva-00 which Gendo supervised. While Gendo was concerned enough for Rei's safety during the activation test to rescue her himself, he now treats her coldly when Kozo questions Gendo sending out Rei in Eva-01. It has been suggested that using Rei in this way was a ruse to get Shinji to pilot Eva-01 when Misato and Ritsuko couldn't convince him.
Curiously, Rei's injuries in this episode are reflected in Eva-01's battle with Sachiel, Eva-01's eye and arm being damaged.
Just prior to Rei's appearance, it is mentioned by Misato that it took her 7 months to first synchronise with Eva-00.
During episode 2, Rei is wheeled pass Shinji in a hospital bed, mirroring episode 1. Instead of vacantly staring up as she was in episode 1, Rei now glares at Shinji as she passes.
In episode 3, Rei has crutches propped up against her school desk but isn't seen using them.
In episode 4, we learn that Rei is likely composed of particle-wave matter judging from the spectrum scan that Ritsuko performs. The spectrum scan is similar to the wave-pattern scan of Shamshel. Some further points which connect Rei, Eva-01 and Lilith are:
- On the spectrum scan across Rei's body in red and green, to show where Rei is injured, are circular markings which are also present on the skin of Eva-01.
- During End of Evangelion Rei re-grows her arm as Eva-01 does in episodes 2 and 19.
- During End of Evangelion it is revealed that Eva-01 has blue hair, the same as Rei.
- During the directors cut of episode 24 it is revealed that Eva-01, in the words of Seele, is "the only true offspring of Lilith."
- In the home video release of episode 23 Eva-01 is shown being grown from Lilith. The vessels of Rei which populate the Dummy Plug Plant also grow from the same location. These are again seen when the replica Spear of Longinus penetrate into the Mass Production Evangelions.
All this reinforces that Rei and Eva-01 are composed of the same matter, that of Lilith.
During the preview for episode 5 Misato gives us a good summary of Rei's position between Gendo and Shinji.
|“||Misato: Rei Ayanami limits her association with others as much as possible. The only one she seems to open up to is Commander lkari. Shinji is at a loss to understand how this girl can be closer to his own father than he is.||„|
The next two episodes give us a lot of information about Rei.
During episode 5 we learn that Rei lives alone in her apartment, numbered 402. Her apartment is part of a large block of apartment buildings on the western edge of Tokyo-3 that is in the process of being demolished. From this episode it becomes clear just how little Rei values her own personal space and comfort. When Rei emerges from the shower naked, she seems completely unconcerned that Shinji can see her. Instead, she is upset that he is handling Gendo's Glasses. Even when he falls on top of her, she treats it as a minor annoyance, and asks him to please move. She then gets up and dresses in his presence quite casually. It should be kept in mind that this scene is the first time they actually spoke to each other. When Shinji later brings the event up in order to apologize Rei doesn't seem to care. This seems to show that Rei has so little experience with other people that she has no idea of the effect that her nudity might have upon a teenage boy. Rei is only roused to anger in this episode when Shinji speaks disparagingly about his own father and Rei slaps him. Rei from here on is often seen during Shinji's psychedelic psychoanalytical sequences, in episodes 16 and 20 especially, as questioning him about his father Gendo, often defending him.
During the same episode we further learn what Shinji's classmates think of Rei and that she has had no friends since starting school.
|“||Toji: Come to think of it, she hasn't had any friends since she started here in the seventh grade.
Kensuke: There's just something about her that makes her hard to approach.
Toji: She's probably just got a lousy personality.
Ritsuko says Rei is like Shinji's father in that Rei is a nice girl, but that she is "not very adept at living".
Rei participated in Eva-00's activation experiment in Test Facility 2. When the process of synchronization reached phase 3, approaching the absolute borderline, Eva-00 suddenly went berserk and the entry plug was auto-ejected. Rei was badly injured as a result of the ejection of the entry plug, her left arm and eye being damaged. This is when Rei obtains Gendo's glasses and this is the moment when we learn why Rei treasures them.
Just prior to the re-activation experiment, Rei smiles as she puts on her plugsuit, as she recalls when Gendo came to her aid during the failed activation experiment. In the manga, Gendo's glasses case is present on the bench next to Rei in this scene.
Rei takes Gendo's glasses with her into the Entry Plug during the re-activation experiment which helps to calm her and thus the re-activation experiment is successful. After the re-activation is complete, Rei tilts her head back in the entry plug and a number of air bubbles escape her mouth, this indicates that Rei had held her breath throughout the entire re-activation experiment, showing how nervous she was. Rei also takes Gendo's glasses with her into the entry plug prior to the fight with Ramiel, as she believed she was going to die during the battle.
Towards the end of episode 5, Rei curiously watches Shinji and Eva-01 as he moves out from the cage. What is Rei thinking at this point?
During the preview for episode 6 Misato says:
|“||Misato: Shinji is saved, but his injuries cause him to act spoiled. Rei pushes him away.||„|
This implies that Rei knows that Shinji is trying to get her sympathy by acting weak and Rei rejects his attempts.
During episode 6, Rei waits for Shinji to recover in Nerv's Central Hospital in her plugsuit, she has Gendo's glasses on her lap. When Shinji has regain consciousness Rei briefs him on Operation Yashima, when Shinji says he doesn't want to pilot Rei challenges him by saying Ritsuko can re-write Eva-01's data files. Rei's intention to coerce Shinji to pilot in this scene is made more clear in the manga.
Later in this episode, Rei describes her reason for piloting the Eva as "a bond," not just to Gendo, but "with all people". The subject of bonds between Rei and others serves as a key point in episodes 26, during the Case of Ayanami Rei.
At the very end of this episode, Rei smiles at Shinji. It can be interpreted that Rei is smiling because Shinji told her to, as Rei says she doesn't know what to do, or it can be interpreted that Rei smiles because he reminds her of Gendo.
- See Rei and the Moon.
Rei appears briefly in episode 7 when Misato shows up for Shinji's parent-guardian teacher meeting.
Episode 8 is the only episode in the entire TV series in which Rei doesn't appear.
Episodes 9 to 16
Asuka introduces herself to Rei in an obnoxious way and Rei doesn't take too kindly to her. Rei glares angrily at Asuka as she introduces herself.
|“||Asuka: Hello! You must be Rei Ayanami, the pilot of the prototype. I'm Asuka! Asuka Langley Soryu. I'm the pilot of Eva Unit 02. Let's be good friends!
Asuka: Because it'd be convenient, in lots of ways.
Rei: If I'm ordered to, I will.
Asuka: Talk about odd.
Rei's line "if I'm ordered to, I will" is Rei essentially saying "the only way I'm ever going to be friends with you is if I'm forced to."
In this episode, Rei is seen reading a book written in German that contains illustrations of RNA/amino acid translation codons and a plasmid. The two pages we can see from Rei's book are reproduced below. As the entierty of the right page is not visible, some of the text is missing.
At the start of episode 10, Rei appears in a white one-piece swimsuit. Later in the episode, Rei offers to take Asuka's place as pilot of Eva-02 when Asuka is too embarrassed to pilot it. This implies Rei can synchronise with any of the current Evangelions.
During episode 11, there are a number of funny moments between Rei, Asuka and Shinji. Rei eventually takes over the role of leading the Children to the Cages after Asuka leads them around in a large circle. In this episode, we learn how much more organised Rei is than Asuka and how much more knowledgeable she is as to Nerv's layout and what to do.
After Rei takes over Asuka voices her thoughts about Rei.
|“||Asuka: This First Child is scary! She's the type who will do anything to accomplish her objectives. In other words, a self-righteous bitch.||„|
Rei voices one of her iconic lines at the end of this episode.
|“||Rei: Man has always feared the darkness, carving away at it with fire.||„|
During episode 12, we learn that Rei doesn't like eating meat. Rei orders "garlic ramen with no roast pork," giving us a rare glimpse into what Rei enjoys eating. Series creator Hideaki Anno as well as Nadia from Gainax's previous work Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water are known for being vegetarians as well.
Rei shouts at Asuka to bring her A.T.F. to maximum, the only other time Rei shouts during the TV series is during episode 16 when Shinji is absorbed into the Angel Leliel.
During episode 14, we hear Rei's monologue while present in Eva-01. Rei explores herself and the nature of Creation.
- For an interpretation of Rei's monologue or poem see Rei's Monologue.
During this episode the unit interchangeability tests between Eva-01 and Eva-00 allow Project E to begin work on the Dummy Plugs, which the vessels of Rei in the Dummy Plug Plant are said to be a central component of.
At the end of this episode, Rei is seen carrying the recovered Spear of Longinus to Terminal Dogma, Rei is also later charged with using the spear to destroy the Angel Arael.
In episode 15 Shinji openly voices his thoughts about Rei reminding him of his mother, and her potential for being a good mother in the future. Rei blushes from this comment and nervously looks around. Rei may be blushing because she is embarrassed by Shinji's comment that she'd make a good housewife, or, judging from her nervous glance, that Shinji is getting "too close to the truth" for comfort.
This episode displays an acute sense that she shares with Kaworu (as seen in Episode 24 D.C.) of being able to tell when she is being watched judging from her following line.
|“||Rei: You've been looking at me all afternoon because you wanted to ask me that?||„|
At the end of the this episode, Rei is seen in the Dummy Plug Plant for the first time.
Rei gets ticked off by Asuka badmouthing Shinji and questions Asuka's motivations for piloting an Eva.
Episodes 17 to 24
Rei appears briefly alongside Gendo discussing school, Rei mentions she will be spending some time with Ritsuko Akagi, this is possibly in relation to the Dummy Plug project.
During this episode, it is revealed that the Dummy Plug prototype has been completed.
Rei is embarrassed by Shinji cleaning her room for her, and reflects on her first use of the words "thank you" to someone else. This episode marks the first overt instance of Rei becoming more alienated from Gendo.
|“||Rei: Thank you... Words of gratitude. Words I've never used. I'd never even said them to him.||„|
|“||Toji: Oh, Ayanami, if you're lookin' for Shinji, he ain't here. [...] You don't usually care 'bout people.
Rei: Really? I'm not sure I understand.
Toji: The one you care about's Shinji.
Rei: Do I? You may be right.
Toji: Yeah, you do.
Rei hesitates in destroying Eva-03 because she knows Toji is in it.
Rei voices her concern for Ikari's health to Asuka and the subject of dreams (see End of Evangelion) come up. Rei doesn't seem to know what a dream is, or at least isn't familiar with the term in it's usual sense.
Rei questions Shinji defensively about his father as he dreams. Toji is also present in the same space and wonders what he's doing there, suggesting people who have piloted Evangelions all have some connection to that space.
Eva-01 rejects Rei and the separate Dummy Plug of her thought patterns during this episode.
Rei attempts to destroy the Angel Zeruel with an N² mine, badly damaging her Eva in the process.
Rei appears briefly in this episode at the start with the line "I'm still alive," is Rei disappointed that she is still alive?
Rei features heavily during Shinji's psychedelic sequence will absorbed in Eva-01.
It is revealed that Gendo named Rei with that name because his wife, Yui, would have named the daughter they might have had Rei.
Rei I appears as a child of five years in the year 2010 during this episode 21. Gendo Ikari accompanied Rei I on a tour of Gehirn's facilities and the GeoFront. Rei I is introduced to Naoko and Ritsuko Akagi within the superstructure under Tokyo-3 by Gendo Ikari, who introduces her to them as the "daughter of a friend." Naoko Akagi notes the physical similarity between Rei I and Yui Ikari, which is especially evident in her younger form.
The night before Gehirn was dissolved and became the 1st Branch of Nerv, Rei I had become lost and encountered Naoko on the bridge of the Command Center. Rei I, after rejecting Naoko's help called her an "old hag", and told her that Gendo himself called her that in private; that Gendo's relationship with Naoko was a fraud and he was simply just using her. In a fit of frustration and rage, Naoko strangled and killed Rei I. Naoko then committed suicide by throwing herself onto Balthasar (which she described as "herself as a mother" earlier in the same episode), one of the three Magi supercomputers below the top tier of the Command Center.
Rei reveals her knowledge about the Evangelions to Asuka.
|“||Rei: The Eva won't move unless you open your heart.
Asuka: Are you saying that my heart is closed?!
Rei: Yes, the Evas have souls.
Asuka: Those puppets?!
Rei: You should know that.
Rei also says another one of her iconic lines during this episode.
|“||Rei: I am not a puppet.||„|
Preview for episode 23.
|“||Misato (OFF): Eva Unit 00 is possessed and violated by an Angel. Rei chooses death of her own will in order to protect Shinji
from the Angel's corrosion. She disappears along with New Tokyo-3, turning into light and heat. Next time: "Tears"
When her mind and body are penetrated via bio-fusion by the Angel Armisael during Episode 23, Rei was made to truly feel and examine the loneliness and sorrow that are said to be "the form of her heart". Immediately after this Rei shed tears for the first time in her life. Rei II self-destructs Eva-00 using MODE: D of the Dummy System, paving the way for Rei III in the second half of Episode 23.
A disheveled room in the Third Annex of the Artificial Evolution Laboratory is said during Episode 23 to have been the place where Rei I was "born". This room has a resemblance to the apartment Rei II later lives in, as Shinji comments upon during Episode 23, see image to left. The Artificial Evolution Laboratory is located deep within in the bowels of Central Dogma in which Project E began.
In this episode it is revealed that the soulless Rei vessels in the Dummy Plug Plant are "the core of the Dummy System."
Ritsuko says that Rei's subconscious is composed of "water and light."
It is very probable that part of the soul of "Rei Ayanami" (actually, the soul of the Angel Lilith) from Rei I was used as the soul inside of Eva-00. This may explain the difference in personality between Rei I and Rei II, as Rei II was "missing" parts of her soul/personality. A corollary of this theory is that after Eva-00 was destroyed, the fraction of the soul of Rei/Lilith taken for use in Eva-00 was reunited with the whole. This would explain why Rei III is more emotional than Rei II (crying when she returns to her room, when Rei 2 only cried for the first time right before her death), and is no longer totally obedient to Gendo Ikari (going so far as to break Gendo's glasses from Episode 05 which Rei II cherished), her loyalty leaning more towards Shinji.
|“||Rei: Why am I here? Why am I alive again? For what? And for whom? The Fifth Child... That boy... I feel as if he's the same as me. Why?||„|
Rei III discovers she possesses the soul of Lilith as evidenced by her actions in this episode. Rei III produces an AT Field strong enough to block out all subatomic particles and electromagnetic radiation, including light.
Episode 25 & 26
The Case of Rei Ayanami, in combination with Rei's Monologue gives us the best window into Rei's character, motivations, and world-view.
When the three Reis confront each other during Instrumentality, they question how all of them can simultaneously be Rei Ayanami. Rei II replies by telling them that they can all be Rei Ayanami merely because others call them Rei. Are the three Rei's separate from each other? How much of a role does Rei I and Rei II play in Rei III's actions?
Rei I cuts right to the heart of the matter.
|“||Rei I: No, you are a person whose false soul was created by the human named Gendo Ikari. You're nothing but an object living a lie, pretending to be a person. See? There's a dark part of your heart inside you that you can see nothing of, that you know nothing of. That's where the real you is.||„|
The dark place in Rei's heart that Rei II and III are not aware of is likely Lilith. Rei II and III reject Rei I's assertion and say that they came to be Rei by the bonds they have made with other people, the bonds that have shaped them over the course of time.
|“||Rei I: But the real you is somewhere else. You just don't know it. Because you don't want to see it. You're just avoiding it without realizing it.
You're afraid of ceasing to exist. You're afraid of being erased from everyone's hearts.
Rei I plays a pivotal role during the last two episodes as a harbinger of the unpleasant truth for Rei II and III. Rei II and III have built their conceptions of their identity upon the "the thing others call Rei Ayanami" yet Rei I states that is not their true identity, and that II and III are merely afraid that they will lose their identity and the bonds that have shaped that identity, Rei II and III's response to this is quoted below:
|“||Rei III: No, it makes me happy. Because I want to die. What I desire is despair. I want to return to nothingness.
Rei II: But I can't. I cannot return to nothingness. He won't let me return.
Rei III: He won't let me go back yet.
Rei II: I existed because he needed me.
Rei III: But it's over now. He's not going to need me anymore. He's going to abandon me. I thought I had wished for that day to come, but... Now, I am afraid.
Rei II wants to return to nothingness through death, yet Gendo continually brings her back into another vessel each time she dies until his plan comes to fruition, yet Rei III is now afraid of that happening. Rei III wishes for her world and her interactions with others to continue, yet her actions in End of Evangelion speak of her acceptance of her fate until Shinji triggers something in her mind.
End of Evangelion
Rei III turns away from Gendo and towards Shinji Ikari at the last moment in End of Evangelion, passing the ability to decide the fate of all souls involved in Instrumentality to him. Rei's definite betrayal of Gendo is first marked when Rei III destroyed the glasses that Rei II cherished. For speculation on Rei's relationship with Gendo see Rei's relationship with Gendo.
In either case, Rei's fate was the same: to bring Lilith's soul "home". Though the image of Rei appeared in various forms during Third Impact, it is unclear how much of the Rei that was formed by interactions with the Lilim survived in Lilith, and whether it was Rei or Lilith interacting with Shinji during Instrumentality.
Rei I is seen for the last time when all three Rei stand together at the site of Gendo's death during End of Evangelion.
Rei shares her blue hair with Eva-01, the only offspring of Lilith, as we see towards the end of End of Evangelion.
Stages 1 to 4
Stages 5 to 8
Stages 9 to 12
- Rei II and III's height is 145cm.
- List of Rei's possesions:
- Gendo's glasses and blue glasses case with red lining.
- School uniform consisting of: green pinafore, long shirt with short sailor collar, red ribbon, crew length black socks and white plimsolls. Standard school satchel.
- A hospital gown which Rei sleeps in.
- Brown slippers.
- 5 books, all heavily indexed with scraps of paper suggesting her extensive study of them. One of these books as seen in episode 9 has an illustration of a plasmid present in it amongst other things. See sub-section 3.1.2.
- Finally, in the words of Taliesin Jaffe during the Commentary of Evil, "and about 50 pieces of underwear."
- Rei owns predominantly white underwear but also possesses mauve and beige underwear.
- List of all pages and resources relating to Rei:
- Rei Ayanami
- Ayanami Raising Project
- Eva-00's soul
- Rei and the Moon
- Rei's Ghostly Appearances
- Rei's Monologue
- Rei's relationship with Gendo
- Remember that Rei is actually part of a series of clones produced in Nerv HQ; the Rei we see here is actually the second Rei, or "Rei II". When one Rei dies, she can be replaced with another. So why would Gendo risk badly injuring his hands to save Rei if, by her own admission later in the series, she can be replaced?
- Gendo might be trying to keep up the charade that Rei is not a clone to the other Nerv personnel involved in the activation experiment; most of them do not know that she is a clone.
- Gendo might have just been swept up in the moment; he cares a great deal about Rei because of her connection to Yui, and might just not want to see any harm come to her even if she can be resurrected.
- When Shinji enters Rei's apartment, he notices that her floor is conspicuously dirty and badly scuffed by her shoes, before proceeding to take off his own shoes. In Japan, it is of course customary to take off one's shoes when entering a home, and this is a telltale sign to a Japanese audience (perhaps not quite as noticeable to a North American audience) that Rei is indifferent and aloof to her surroundings. Also, she apparently hasn't opened any of her mail in quite some time, but just lets her mailbox overflow. There is still blood on Rei's pillow from when she was injured. As she is not injured now, and wasn't wearing bandages even the day before, it appears that she just didn't bother to wash it.
- Similarly, it is possible that her Adamite counterpart, Kaworu, has no idea of how his suggestion that he and Shinji go to bed together might be interpreted.
- Rei appears unusually relaxed when sitting in the LCL of the Entry Plug, after the reactivation test ends. At several points throughout the series, Rei almost seems to "bathe" in LCL.