What Is Canon?

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The Tiers of Canonicity

One of the difficulties in analyzing Neon Genesis Evangelion is the large number of secondary sources, some of which seem to be contradictory. Just how does one determine what is and is not canon? A very handy rule of thumb was invented for this purpose by Shin-seiki, a frequent poster at the Anime Nation and Eva Monkey forums. These would later coalesce to form EvaGeeks in the mid-2000s. This tool is known as Shin-seiki's Tiers of Canonicity and is a proven system, both simple and effective, for resolving contradictory statements among various sources.

  1. The anime itself and its scripts and storyboards. The Director's Cuts of Episodes 21-24 are the final or official version and take precedence over the On Air version in the event of any theoretical contradiction.[1][2]
  2. Statements made by the show's creators, principally Hideaki Anno.
  3. Official supplemental sources such as theatrical programs, Newtype Filmbooks, and Cardass Cards.
  4. The Manga, which is actually its own continuity. At best it can be used to support the anime when they are in explicit agreement; it should never be used to contradict the anime.
  5. Statements made by those responsible for adapting Evangelion for release outside of Japan. In the English speaking world this would be representatives of ADV or Manga Entertainment.

Lower tiers are canon only if they do not contradict the evidence presented in higher tiers. Info from lower tiers should also be treated with somewhat more skepticism than higher tiers.

This system is a widely accepted method in Evangelion discussion circles and is therefore accepted as a guideline for the presentation of material on this wiki.

The following are some examples of each tier.

Tier 1: The Anime Itself and its Scripts and Storyboards:

Storyboard Collection 1

The primary Canon is the evidence presented in the series. For example, when Misato reveals to Shinji in Ep. 19 that all of his classmates are Eva pilot candidates, that is official and no lower-tiered source can contradict it. You can then combine it with evidence from elsewhere in the show such as Toji's implication in Episode 03 that his mother is dead, and the revelations that the souls of Unit-01 and Unit-02 are the pilots' mothers, and conclude that Unit-03's soul is that of Toji's mother.

The scripts and storyboards have yielded some important gems of information. For instance, the script for The End of Evangelion explicitly describes the "Mother" from the sandbox scene as Misato.

Everything added to the director's cuts is first-tier canon and was put there to set up something that happens in EOE. Shin-seiki has promised to write an essay that will go over this scene by scene. Please refer to Guides:Episode 21 OA vs. DC and so on.[3]

The production drawings that were applied to the final show also classify as first-tier canon. The same applies to genga, the drawings done by the keyframe animators, and "roughs", which are drawings created inbetween the production drawings and the actual genga.

In case of direct conflicts between first-tier sources, Renewal takes precedence over the Unremastered version, Director's Cut versions over On-Air versions, and End of Evangelion over the two ending episodes of the TV series. Non-contradictions include Renewal's removal of the mystery images superimposed over the Rei clones in Episode 23' because nothing in the show actually contradicts them. Drafts and unfinished scrips in general, like the Ep 24 drafts, the unfinished EoE screenplay or details from the 10+ different drafts for Eva 2.0 presented in the 2.0 CRC should be treated as non-canon, though they help illustrate the production process and evolution of the story and characterization.

The production process roughly for an Evangelion episode roughly boils down to:[4][5][6]

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion Proposal early concepts, further discussion
  • Draft 1: Scriptwriter after getting Anno's outline
  • Draft 2: Scriptwriter after board meetings - he takes in suggestions from staff, but this is still not a consensus nor does it receive Anno's blessing, as he still has no direct involvement.
  • Definitive Draft: as present in Evangelion Original, this is the first one includes Anno's treatment of it, and after that he he actually approves it.[7][8]
  • Storyboard stage, which also gets Anno's treatments.
  • Refined script sent to the seiyuu
  • Final script, as published on the DVDs.

Tier 2: Statements made by the show's creators, principally Anno.

The most famous example of this is Anno's statement that Kaji was not shot by any of the main characters, but by a nameless assassin sent by either Nerv's or Seele's security division. Anno rarely comments on NGE, so when he does you know that he feels that it's an important issue. In this case, he was so shocked that many people believed that the assassin was Misato that he issued an explicit denial and even retconned the "evidence" for Misato supposedly killing Kaji in the Director's Cuts version of Episode 21. As there is no credible evidence in the only higher tier, the series itself, that Misato is the assassin, Anno's statement is canon.

Take care to consider how not all staffers should be treated equally, however:

Anno himself was sometimes coy in his own interviews
  • Hideaki Anno is generally considered the "creator" of Evangelion, and it can be broadly assumed that Evangelion is his brainchild, as he had ultimate control over everything, except some commercial aspects, like A Cruel Angel's Thesis, merchandising etc. However, Evangelion is still a collaborative work, and he has taken suggestions from other staffers. Regardless, his is the final word.
  • Kazuya Tsurumaki was assistant director, storyboard artist, and assistant character designer for Evangelion. He has had significant influence in adjusting several aspects of Evangelion, and can generally be considered the "No. 2" in Eva.
  • Yoshiyuki Sadamoto was the character designer, and made several very important suggestions in the early stages of the conceptualization of Eva, like making Shinji, a boy, as the main character, instead of an "Asuka-like girl". However, he had little to no participation in the making of the actual series, as he was focused on the Evangelion manga, initially intended to be promotional material for the series
  • Other writers like Yoji Enokido and Shinji Higuchi and artists like Ikuto Yamashita and Mitsuo Iso have more specific and limited participation and influence. Enokido and Yamashita are good examples because they both had some very wild ideas for the series which were rejected more often than they were accepted.
  • There are other staffers like editors and artists of lesser importance whose opinions should be treated as such. While they are of course entitled to them, the fact is that they are not writers or directors and thus have no influence in the actual making of the story and characters.
  • Voice actors are a complicated case. Yuko Miyamura, Asuka's voice actress, has notoriously provided input to EoE's ending, with Anno changing Asuka's original line, which he was unsatisfied with, after asking her how she thought Asuka would feel in her situation. Ritsuko's voice actor has also given insight into Gendo's unspoken line in the same movie. However, these same voice actors have often given many, many opinions that range from the bizarre to the simply wrong. One can generally trust them when it comes to describing production, but when it comes to the actual story, they should be considered as opinions, just like other minor staffers.

It's worth taking into account that some goals, opinions and objectives change over time. For instance, the December 2006 issue of Newtype magazine has producer Toshimichi Otsuki mentioning "the new story takes place in the same period as the 1995 TV series",[9] which implies that the major events from the new movies occur relatively close to the time they occur in the TV Series. However, the events in the Rebuild series have clearly been had their dates moved forward, with 2.0 taking place in 2017-2018 for an as of yet unknown reason. As such, Otsuki was either simply wrong, or he was expressing something that, while true in 2006, was eventually changed when the movies were released. It's also possible he was simply not specific enough, and while events like Second Impact seem to take place at roughly the same time in the Rebuilds, the rest of the story had their dates changed. That is why one should always pay attention to the surrounding context, date, and who exactly said it. Remember also that interviews aren't guidelines proper, but also conversations, and interviewees can joke, be coy, mislead, or give half-answers. Anno in particular loves doing this.

Large collections of them can be found here:

Statements by Evangelion Staff on EvaGeeks

Gwern's source anthology

EvaMonkey's Written Statements page

Evangelion 1.0 Complete Records Collection

Evangelion 2.0 Complete Records Collection

Resources:Evangelion Q Records Collection

Evangelion 3.0+1.0 Assorted Translations

Tier 3: Official Supplemental Sources.

See also: Neon Genesis Evangelion Timeline.

All thirty issues of Evangelion Chronicle

Tier 3 is where the information starts to get a little less reliable, and must be carefully checked against the evidence presented in the series. For instance, the Red Cross Book states:

"[Angels (SHITO)] Beings originated from the source of life called Lilith. They take various sizes and shapes: from a giant octahedron to a minute Angel the size of bacteria, or even a "shadow" Angel without tangible form. Borrowing Fuyutsuki's words in episode 26', it seems that Angels are beings which got the "Fruit of Life" whereas humanity got the "Fruit of Wisdom". In other words, "Angels" are another form of humankind with the same potential as humans. Thus, humans are the 18th Angel."

The first line of the above is blatantly incorrect because it contradicts the evidence presented in the series that Adam gave birth to the Angels. For instance, Kaworu in episode 24, calls Adam "our Mother" before realizing that he is actually looking at Lilith. The above reference as to the Angels' origins is therefore not canon. This does not mean, however that you should throw out the Red Cross Book altogether. It should be considered reliable in places where it does support the evidence presented in the series, for instance:

"[Rei Ayanami] The First Children, and dedicated pilot of Eva-00. A young girl who apparently lacks emotions. Her body was created from the salvaged remains of Yui Ikari after Yui was taken into the Eva, and numerous Rei clones were then prepared in Terminal Dogma so that when one Rei dies she can be replaced by another. The present Rei is the third. The first was killed by Dr. Naoko Akagi, and the second died in battle against the 16th Angel. Although the personalities of these three Rei differ from one another, this is due to environmental factors. Their soul is one and the same, and it appears to have been that of Lilith. At the final stage of the Instrumentality Project, Rei betrayed Gendou, returned to Lilith of her own judgment and entrusted the future to Gendou's son -- Shinji Ikari. Birth date: unknown"

The above is perfectly in keeping with what we see in the series and is thus canon.

Differences among Tier 3 sources

Not all sources are created equal, however. Anime supplemental sources, not unlike those present in other media, can be of varying degrees of reliability, consistency, and oversight or even acknowledgment by the show's actual creators.[10] Several explicitly non-canon material can be taken as "official proof" if one is not careful enough, or presented as such, knowingly or not, partly thanks to the language barrier relative to Japanese sources. The "gold standards", in order of release, usually are considered to be:

Filmbook, Volume 1
  • The Newtype Film Books (1996) provide sanctioned commentary and some background info for each episode. They mostly state the obvious but can be useful in clearing up some things that aren't completely clear or ambiguous. A notable example is how they mentioned the then common theory that Misato had killed Kaji in Episode 21, which would later be retconned in the Director's Cut version. [11]
  • The Death and Rebirth program book and the Red Cross Book (1997), the popular name for the End of Evangelion program book, were created very close to the series' or in this case EoE's release, even if they are not necessarily written by Anno and co., it's the sort of stuff that they'd have the most oversight over. These books were distributed in Japanese movie theatres with the original theatrical showings of D&R and EoE. Program books or pamphlets such as these are distributed to moviegoers in Japanese theaters in order to provide context and information for viewers. Naturally, because D&R is mostly a recap of the series, it also applies to it.
  • Newtype 100% Collection (1997) is a guide produced by Newtype magazine. This was actually made in conjunction with Gainax, and includes many officially verified information and interviews. Newtype also released another guide in 2005.
  • The Cardass Masters Game (1998) is of less clear reliability, but uses the RCB text almost verbatim and was, of course, released very close to the series and EoE. It was the most recent and comprehensive information source for the series in the early years of the Evangelion fanbase.[12] Despite appearances, it is strictly focused on retelling canon events, and later sources also match it. The Cardass cards, in fact, are sold as tidbits of information for educational purposes on various subjects from dedicated vending machines in Japan.
  • The ADV Platinum Commentaries are in fact translations of the bonus material contained in the Japanese Renewal of Evangelion release,[13] omitting some staff interviews.[14][15] They provide interesting official insight and commentary, particularly the Episode Commentaries. Again, they match other official sources, and recyle most of its content, therefore anything missing from others can be taken to be valid if it's here.
  • The Classified Information (2003) files are in a bit of a gray zone. They were not written by Gainax but instead were written by the NGE2 game developers in order to provide further context to the series, after interviewing Gainax staff.[16][17] This is hardly an ideal arrangement, but the CI are used because they are so useful and overall help explain so much, and in fact, there is additional evidence that the First Ancestral Race and other elements present in it were conceptualized by the writers before, but were eventually not featured in the anime, only to be slowly re-introduced over time. Even so, they are not present in any other supplemental material (nor have they been subsequently referenced or blessed by specific creators) and although they are not contradicted by them, it should still be understood that they are used on fanon and semi-canon basis.
  • Evangelion Chronicle (2007) is an encyclopedia-like collection that provides all sorts of information, and it is also considered the most recent "gold" standard. It's worth mentioning that even this mostly consists of recycled information or simply stating the obvious, making previous guidebooks more or less redundant.[18] Like most "1000 Facts About Your Favorite Franchise" guides, a lot of it is inconsequential, "filler" information, and it is presented in an inconsistent manner, as it was entirely made by outsiders, even if it does have supervision by Gainax.[19] It also means it is not necessary to have Chronicle itself to access essential or generally relevant information. Chronicle itself is made up of a staggering 50 volumes in total (30 covering NGE), but there is also a digest version aptly called The Esssential Evangelion Chronicle, of just two volumes.

However, several sources are written with more questionable veracity, oversight, or consistency. Because there is such a gargantuan variety of additional Evangelion material, there is no reason to believe that every single one of them, let alone every single thing written in them, is approved, overseen or even known by the show's creators. Thanks to this, there are multiple inconsistencies and contradictions among them. This is when things get complicated. Often, these books do little but fill 150+ pages with fluff that's either regurgitating things that are plainly obvious in the series itself, and *maybe* things that are present in other, less readily available but also previously existing sources like storyboards. Text present on the very early Newtype Film Books was reprinted verbatim in Newtype 100% or the Cardass cards not long after, but also Chronicle a decade later, as well as many other publications throughout 30 years, which means that there are also many redundant publications. This is hardly unique to Eva, as all sorts of media can attest to having "99 Things You Must Know About Your Favourite Media Franchise" publications that bring little new info to the table. Sometimes they will include an interview or two that might give insight into something new, though those are also to be treated separately from the rest of these publications, as mentioned above.

Misattributions and non-canon sources

Opinion of a third-party journalist misattributed to Anno;
Evangelion Chronicle Character Guide

There are several sources that are circulated around the Internet as "official Evangelion sources" that are anything but. Several manuals and guides are written with specific purposes and are not and are not even claiming to be canon, despite being "approved." It should be noted, however, that licenced, official, and canon are not the same thing. For instance, "licenced" material includes dozens of pornographic doujinshi anthologies that were collected and re-printed under Gainax authorization. Though these are "licensed", they are not even trying to claim they are official. The only real difference those have from completely fan-made material is that they have an ISBN and might be sold beyond fan markets. There are also fan books that have multiple problems, and those include both books that were licenced by Gainax (much like these doujinshi) or completely fan-made ones. There is also a wide variety of promotional material that present, for instance, "Q&A for true (character) fans!" that are created with such obvious commercialism in mind that they should hardly be taken seriously, particularly when they directly contradict other more "serious" sources very often. Similarly, there are third party sources and guidebooks that are not official but include interviews with staff members and others, like the Ogata interview on the EoE choking scene from Koji Ido's Evangelion Forever.

This also applies to guides, manuals and such written specifically for video games and spin-offs. They only exist to inform the reader in regards to what is present inside the continuity of those spin-offs, not the series itself. This, naturally, also applies to merchandise, figures and such. Some sources, like the Eva Fan Club are also "official" but simply consist of fan letters and theories, and do not constitute official statements by the creators. Likewise, the Rebuild movies and Sadamoto's manga are official, but are not canon as they are part of their own, separate continuities. Canon proper is what is seen in the series. Also note that, thanks to the relative mainstream popularity of Eva and anime in some non-English speaking Western markets compared to its relatively niche status in the US and UK, particularly in the 90s and early 00s, there are many more licensed translations of Evangelion supplemental material, for instance, the Newtype 100% Collection has translations in at least Spanish and French. In keeping with the inconsistency with supplemental material overall, they even share some mistakes including some paragraphs entirely altered from the Japanese originals, and some fans have used these "new" paragraphs as evidence in the past. As such, it's a good idea to try to check the Japanese originals whenever possible, as mistakes and even double translations seem to exist in the European translations also. There have also been instances of Chinese releases being presented as the Japanese originals, and because these languages share a writing system (kanji), that might fool an untrained eye if one does not verify it.

It's also worth noticing that sometimes official sources are misquoted or misclaimed. For instance, there are several cases where an interview with Anno or another senior staffer has been wrongly represented, sometimes what the interviewer says or asks is attributed to the interviewee themselves, or sections of the publication that contain the interview, but are not part of the actual interview, are attributed to these Eva staffers.[20] For instance, Anno or Tsurumaki can get interviewed for a magazines (in a regular issue of such magazines and not special guides like Newtype 100%), and fan letters inside that magazine, or articles written by the magazine's staff or other writers concerning the anime, have been claimed to have come straight from Anno in the past, despite the interviewee only having control over what is said in their own interviews and the actual magazine making a clear differentiation between them. Be wary of these affirmations - as a rule of thumb, if someone says that "Anno said this" or "Anno said that", or simply said "an official Evangelion/Gainax source", without providing the specific source, it is very likely they are simply repeating hearsay, rumours, or distortions, unknowingly or not.[21]

Particularly, considering Gainax has not been in control of the Evangelion brand for almost a decade, and the fact that there are many other Evangelion staffers that have given interviews, particularly considering Anno's stance that he will not explain everything,[22] quoting "Gainax" or "Anno" specifically is usually an indicator of this, especially if "Gainax" is mentioned in regards to the Rebuilds or if "Gainax" is claimed to have made a recent statement - or really anything past 2007, as by then all the staff actually responsible for Eva had already moved to Khara. Thankfully, there are ample resources collected by fans over time that you can refer to yourself, with hundreds of pages of material collected in the links present in the beginning of this article.


A relatively inoffensive example about inconsistencies in material is how Asuka's birthdate is stated to be December 4th, 2001 in multiple supplemental material. This is following anime industry convention of matching characters' birthdates with their voice actors'. Except, these materials also state Asuka as being 14, when evidence president in the show indicates that she was actually 13, at least up until the last episodes, during the vast majority of the series. It doesn't invalidate the information per se, but it goes to show how some of it is inconsequential or not having had any actual influence in the series, as it wasn't an actual part of building her character.

A more particular example is the complete series' timeline provided in the Ayanami Raising Project game. Unlike NGE2, this game doesn't seem to have any involvement from Gainax writing staff. However, while this timeline might prove useful at least to orientate a fan, it bizarrely states events during Episode 18 and 19, and events during Episode 23 to have happened in January and March of 2016, respectively, despite Maya's laptop in End of Evangelion placing the latter events date in 2015. It also contradicts the dates shown in Episode 9, with Israfel's destruction being safely attributable to September 11th, 2015. The computers in Episode 20 also show Shinji's 30-day long absorption to be during 2015. This is one example of a "poor" supplemental source directly contradicting the series. It also contradicts dates from the D&R program book.

This isn't necessarily a problem however, as the timeline contained within the game can easily be taken to only apply to the game's own internal continuity. It is, however, an example of why one should avoid using non-canon material as evidence to be used for the series, even though this material is fully licensed and official.

There are several bigger offences, however, to less "objective" points that seem to be closer to being a matter of interpretation, or are simply not set in stone as the material might appear to be. For instance, the height of the Evangelions in the series varies widely during the series, from 40 to 200 meters tall, but Chronicle gives them a single height. It also provides heights for the characters that are not consistent within the series. Many aspects such as these are generally inconsequential and can be taken to be more of a general interpretation, as even the animators that reproduced Sadamoto's design weren't guided by them, partially because Sadamoto himself did not specify any such strict standards. The aforementioned example regarding Asuka's birthdate was possibly even made by the Chronicle writers themselves, as a nod to that practice in the anime industry, but should generally not be taken an important factor in the series, given, again, the complete lack of even an allusion to them in the series, as has been proposed by some theories of certain episodes having specific meanings and/or timeframes based on these birthdates.

This is something of a grey zone, however, as there are instances where this does have a concrete impact, since this is also the case with the Classified Information adding back significant lore in a somewhat retroactive manner after Anno had eventually excised it from the original series, only to gradually re-add it. Unlike the birthdates, however, this has real impact on understanding the show, despite being totally absent from it, as it actually was part of the writing process and worldbuilding. As such, exercise caution and try to consider authorial intent and common sense. Neon Genesis Evangelion Proposal is a document regarding the very early conceptualization of Evangelion and should obviously not be used as source for anything depicted in the actual series.

Tier 4: The Manga

Several events are exclusive to the manga continuity, some are used in fanon to compliment the series

As stated above, the Evangelion manga has established its own canonicity, separate from the television series. When debating the series, the manga can be useful mainly as a supplement. For instance, if the manga and the series both say that Kaji misidentifies Lilith as Adam then it must be true. What one should never do is try to claim that facts that are present only in the manga are also true in the anime. For instance, the notion that Asuka is a test tube baby is true only in the manga; in the anime, the man identified as her father is, in fact, her real father. Evidently, this is a direct contradiction to the anime. Some people claim that the manga should be considered canon in instances where the anime is silent, such as Kaji's backstory, but even that seems to be very ill-advised. Shinji's backstory is also expanded upon but, unlike Kaji's, it contradicts what we do know about him in the anime in several points. Sadamoto has explained more than a few of his writing decisions as being the result of him experimenting with what he thought would be interesting, and in many cases this was done many years after NGE and EoE were released, and thus shouldn't be taken as being part of the same creative impetus as Anno's, but rather as another author's interpretation and extension of them.

Unlike it is sometimes assumed, the manga is in fact not the original version of the story, but instead it was created as a supplemental designed to promote the TV series and was continued thanks to the series' popularity. Sadamoto has also repeatedly stated that the manga is his own individual work and should never be used as a reference for anything in the anime or the Rebuilds.[23][24][25] Sadamoto has also stated he made the manga entirely on his own, without consulting anyone, in contrast to the anime's more collaborative production,[26] in an effort to "separate it from the anime".[27] He has also denied links to the Rebuild movies.[28]

Tier 5: Statements Made by Those who Distribute Eva outside of Japan

These are the least reliable of any of the official sources. It's evident, in fact, from some of their statements that the people at ADV and Manga Entertainment have a less than perfect understanding of Evangelion, sometimes giving credence to some of the most infamous "theories" that have sprung up in the online community. For instance, in her EOE commentary, Amanda Winn Lee seems to support the bizarre theory that it's not really Asuka on the beach at the end of the movie, but instead it's a "combination girl" of Asuka, Rei and Misato. The "evidence" presented for this is that her eyes are the wrong color. The trouble is that they aren't the wrong color, they're just reflecting the scene's ambient lighting in certain shots. In other shots one can see that they are, in fact, their normal blue. Likewise, in ADV's Episode 19 commentary, their special guest Sean McCoy states that the Unit-01 berserk incidents are Shinji's subconscious taking over the Eva, and that Unit-01 taking the S-2 Engine into herself represents Shinji declaring independence from his mother and becoming a man. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The evidence presented in the series is that the berserk incidents are Shinji's mother Yui, Unit-01's soul, taking control. The berserk incidents always take place when Unit-01 is out of power and can't be controlled by the pilot, and Ritsuko even says "She's awakened." Our List of Common Misconceptions page lists over 50 items, and the public statements of ADV staff, as well as their innacurate translations and creative liberties when adapting Eva, have been directly responsible for around a third of them.

In short, statements from these sources need to be taken with several grains of salt: they are fans of the series, and they've watched it a great deal, but they do not know significantly more about it (as in access to "behind the scenes information") than basic fans do.

  • The (in)famous Mythology of Evangelion bonus feature in ADV's Platinum Collection, is a good example of ADV's staffers greatly overreaching and presenting their own theories as fact, even when they are grossly inaccurate. This would be bad enough, but they also make several false claims about Anno having said this or that. This is also contained in the EoE DVD audio commentary track, affectionately called the Commentary of Evil. There are also several instances of cast members claiming they did not understand what was going on at the show.[29]
  • Carl Horn is the editor of the manga in English, and several spin-offs as well. He has several industry contacts and experience, and has displayed an intimate knowledge of Eva, Anno and Gainax, and written (and apparently translated) a number of informative material and analysis. He is not part of ADV, as the manga was localized by a different company.
  • The Netflix release is the first one that seems to have received close oversight from Evangelion's creators. This is in contrast to ADV, which took some considerable creative liberties and produced several inconsistencies and mistranslations that have created misconceptions among fans for twenty years. You can see this explained in detail here. Because of this, the Netflix localization should always take priority now. Khara's in-house translator Dan Kanemitsu is responsible for this release, but he has very limited statements in English.

Separate continuities, like Rebuild of Evangelion

NGE is rarely this fluffy.

The Rebuild of Evangelion series classifies as a wholly separate continuity with its own backstory, which may not be applicable to the TV series and shall be treated as such. The rules outlied above applied to RoE as well, but should be preserved within their own scope as a broadly separate work from the series. Anno has, characteristically, been coy or opaque about it and left it for audiences to interpret it, but there is a variety of statements from other staff and cast that reinforce this, like how Asuka's voice actress Yuko Miyamura explicitely separates Asuka Langley Sohryu from Asuka Shikinami Langley as different characters, and even details being oriented to do so during recording. The same applies to Neon Genesis Evangelion manga, who has been even more explicitly in separating it. Of course, it is inevitable that Rebuild of Evangelion is a spiritual successor to the series and at least partly driven by reanalyzing the show. It is also, however, openly intended by Anno as a springboard to expand the franchise and have new continuities opened by other creator, as detailed on List of Common Misconceptions#On the Rebuilds ending Evangelion and the future of the franchise. This means then that that events within the Rebuild films need to be treated as their universe.

Spin-offs and games

Besides the anime, manga and Rebuild movies, the Evangelion franchise also includes a wide variety of spin-off manga such as Shinji Ikari Raising Project and Angelic Days, as well as games such as Girlfriend of Steel. Along with a multitude of merchandise, this material is made by outsourced companies and authors with no link to Evangelion itself, and are produced for purely commercial purposes, with no Gainax/Khara oversight. Though they are technically "approved" by them, in effect pretty much all possible and impossible scenarios are depicted in these materials, as long as they can make money. Neon Genesis Evangelion 2 is a good example of this in the video game side of things, with its over 20 absurd scenarios such as Ritsuko seducing Kaworu and Aoba dating Maya - this should, of course, be treated separately from the Classified Information.. On the spin-off side of things, things range between "sanitized" romantic comedies like Angelic Days featuring much more stable and altered characters and the constant ecchi bombardment of SIRP, to Evangelion Anima on the other extreme, with loli neko Mari, multiple loli Rei clones, Asuka fusing with her Eva and more. Anyone that is actually familiar with the extra-canon Evangelion spin-offs should be able to tell how completely disconnected from the "main" Evangelion continuity they truly are.

It is thus, highly inaccurate to say they are official, let alone "approved/endorsed by Anno". In fact, Anno himself is directly quoted that he is indifferent to what other authors do with his franchise, and that it is all "a matter of economics". This should hardly come as a surprise, since the bulk of anime profits are not in fact generated from merchandise and licenced material sales, not home media, box office or even advertising.

Secondary and Tertiary sources

Evangelion, being a massive cultural phenomenon in Japan, has been written about extensively by independent parties. These range from other anime and manga creators with or without direct or indirect influence on Evangelion, such as Ikuhara, Miyazaki, Go Nagai and others, but without actually being a part of the production process. While their opinion on Eva is certainly valuable from an artistic and cultural perspective, they are not sources by themselves on determining what is canon.

Take into consideration how scholarship classifies primary, secondary and tertiary sources. From Wikipedia's guide on source usage:

  • Primary sources are original materials that are close to an event, and are often accounts written by people who are directly involved. They offer an insider's view of an event, a period of history, a work of art, a political decision, and so on.
  • A secondary source provides an author's own thinking based on primary sources, generally at least one step removed from an event. It contains an author's analysis, evaluation, interpretation, or synthesis of the facts, evidence, concepts, and ideas taken from primary sources.
  • Tertiary sources are publications such as encyclopedias and other compendia that summarize primary and secondary sources. Wikipedia is considered to be a tertiary source.

In Eva's case, this can include some third-party sources like The Unnoficial Guide. Those are questionable for the most part, but might have some information not found elsewhere, though it can be hard to identify them as such. This also applies to news articles and such. Japanese publications like Newtype are generally more trustworthy, though Western sources can vary. Some publications like AnimeNewsNetwork are of consistently high quality in their fact-checking and editorial consistency. However, other sites can fail at those at the most basic levels, often including serious misinformations and misconceptions, particularly when Evangelion is in the news and can attract clicks. Exercise caution in using them.


  1. Guides:Episode 21 OA vs. DC
    Guides:Episode 22 OA vs. DC
    Guides:Episode 23 OA vs. DC
    Guides:Episode 24 OA vs. DC
  2. Example of Anno using the DCs to directly change supposed plot points: [List of Common Misconceptions#Someone we know killed Kaji/Misato killed Kaji|Someone we know killed Kaji/Misato killed Kaji]]
  3. Death & Rebirth consists as canon too as it does not actually contradict anything in the series and is instead just a retelling, not unlike Episode 14's montage. See Death's string quartet scenes. However, because it was actually made by Masayuki (see Tier 2) for mostly promotional reasons, any argumentation based on framing and such is not to be taken as overriding the anime.
  4. "In TV anime, as the staff meetings between producers and the directors proceed, the screenwriters write the script.The manuscript goes through the "first draft", "second draft", and the script becomes the "definitive draft." The director draws the storyboard based on the script that has become the "definitive draft". The storyboard is the movie’s blueprint, which has been filled in with the composition of each cut, acting, lines, second count and the like. In anime, the greater part of the director’s "directing" process occurs in the phase of drawing this storyboard. It is not unusual for the contents to change in the storyboard stage. There are also cases when it becomes almost a completely different story.
    Among all 26 episodes of the TV version of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, Director Anno himself wrote the scripts for five episodes, and is credited jointly with other screenwriters for the scripts of 20 episodes. The number of scripts that were jointly credited are the definitive drafts of scripts based on plots by director Anno written by screenwriters and gone over directly by director Anno. [..] Just by looking at these numbers, you will understand how much director Anno pulled the series together by his personal authorship." - Evangelion Original I
  5. "The process of how these scripts reached the point of definitive drafts is exactly as follows.
    First, Anno prepares a memo that simply writes out each episode’s idea. The screenwriters write a script based on that memo. Going through staff meetings that center on the director, the screenwriters go through the second and third drafts and for the time being are finished. In addition, Anno directly goes over the scripts that the screenwriters have finished and the script becomes the definitive draft.Not matter how high their level of completeness is as TV anime scripts, the times when the scripts completed by the screenwriters do not match Anno’s sensibilities or creativity, do not pass.After the script’s definitive draft, Anno ends up revising and correcting even further in the storyboard stage. You can say there is a thorough system for producing the film according to Anno’s intent. - Evangelion Original II
  6. "This book is a collection of scripts for "Neon Genesis Evangelion." Excluding the stories whose scripts Anno handled directly, the scripts traced the following process in reaching the point of definitive drafts. First, Anno prepares an idea memo for each episode. The screenwriters write a script based on that memo and go through staff meetings that center on the director. On behalf of the staff, the screenwriters go through the second and third drafts. And then Anno directly corrects and revises the finished script and it is completed. As you’ll understand if you see the text, in scripts that are completed this way, the directions regarding the screen image are meticulous and the action and staging are quite concretely depicted. Therefore, the storyboard that is written in characters (letters), that is, the "wordboard-al" hue is also strong." - Evangelion Original III
  7. Example from Episode 13, which unusually had larger contribution from Mitsuo Iso: "The script is a collaborative effort by Mitsuo Iso, Akio Satsukawa, and Hideaki Anno. The original idea and plot for this episode was proposed by Mitsuo Iso, who is also an animator." - Platinum Commentaries 07-13 "While contributing to all episodes as a key frame animator, he also – in addition to what’s been credited – proposed a number of setting details affecting the script direction and the work as a whole. On episode 13, “Angel Invasion”, he was involved as screenwriter and assistant settei artist. This was his screenwriting debut. He shares the “Screenplay” credit with Akio Satsukawa and Hideaki Anno. Since the script contents that Iso completed were over twice the usual amount, they were recompiled by Akio Satsukawa and turned into the final manuscript through Director Anno’s edits." - Mitsuo Iso Animation Works: Preproduction
  8. Reverse example from Episode:04, which had deep staff discussion but uniquely had less involvement from Anno: "In actuality, this episode was once omitted in terms of the series composition and it was planned that what is now Episode Five would come after Episode Three. But as production progressed, staff members voiced their opinion that perhaps there was a need to depict Shinji’s relationship with the people around him after Episode Three, and thus, this episode was made, greatly changing the contents from what had originally been conceived. Because of this, the script for this episode written after the script for Episode Five had already been finalized. This is the one and only episode of all the TV and movie episodes in which Director Anno did not have a direct hand in the plot and script." - Platinum Commentaries 01-06
  9. Transcript of NewType Magazine, December 2006
  10. This is also commented by the editor of the Filmbooks:
    "The difficult thing [when creating filmbooks] is to establish rules as to how much to write -- How much information which is not explicitly stated in the work (secret settings, etc.) can be released? How far is allowed? This is because these criterion are rather subtle and vague. For example, there are cases where it is okay to publish facts (settings) that are public knowledge among staff, and other cases where these facts absolutely must not be made public." - Filmbook Remix, Vol.II
  11. The theory that Misato had killed Kaji is one of the oldest misconceptions in Eva fandom. This theory shocked Anno so much at the time that he'd later rectify it in the Director's Cut version of Episode 21 by changing the previous "evidence" for this, a shot of her room's door with her name on it, which was changed to just a shot of her apartment complex. This is one of the few cases of a straight-up retcon in Evangelion. This was controversial enough to be addressed by Newtype at the time: "While a lot of fans think that it was done by Misato, Director Anno raised the possibility that it could have been done by Japan government or Seele agent". The film-book also states that the killer was not a main character.
  12. Early discussion on this from 2001
  13. Evangelion Platinum #7 - no 0:0
  14. Neon Genesis Evangelion: Renewal of Evangelion DVD-BOX
  15. Genesis 0:0, trasncript available here
  16. Forum thread on this
  17. "To solve the mysteries you must understand the world of Eva itself
    The Eva 2 game draws you into the world of Eva once again. During production, the developers did their best to understand everything about Eva, and tried to incorporate what they learned into the game. Without their efforts, it would've been impossible to re-create the world of Eva. Hiroshi Shibamura of Alfa System prepared a thick questionnaire and conducted an interview with Hideaki Anno, the director of both the TV series and the films, which lasted more than ten hours. The interview included questions such as, "What do you think about each of the Gundam series?" (to help program the "Anno AI" in the game) and "What was the first Angel?" (to further understand the story behind Eva). Director Anno and his staff answered the questions frankly, and the game reflects that.
    However, it won't be easy to find answers. The quickest way to gather clues is to play the game repeatedly in as many different roles as possible. There are some deceptive characters, such as Gendou (you can never tell whether he's telling the truth). And after all of the hard work, much of the information obtained may turn out to be contradictory or just plain false. That is because a correct answer from the standpoint of one particular character isn't necessarily correct from the standpoint of another. On the other hand, mystery-solving is only a part of it. Instead of trying so hard to find the right answers, just keep playing around in the puzzling world of Eva to discover clues about the "Official Answer," which GAINAX is said to have presented in the game."
    - Newtype USA Jan 2004
  18. A notorious example is Cardass' excerpts dealing with the masturbation and choking scenes in EoE. This is of course a matter of heavy debate at the time and remain so to this day, but the 1998 descriptions from Cardass match earlier material like the Red Cross Book and later material like 2008's Chronicle almost perfectly, both the digest Essential version and the full one, sometimes repeating large swathes of text verbatim or with minor alterations (which can also be attributed to translation differences).
  19. A review of Chronicle by one of the most prominent translators of the early Evangelion fanbase, back when it was released. Note she details who actually wrote Chronicle. This might seem like a specificity to Chronicle, but it's in fact the standard to Eva supplemental materials as well as those of other anime:
    So in other words, near the front of the very first issue they confirm one of the biggest mysteries that is never clearly stated inthe show (Lilith =2nd Angel) while at the same time labeling as unclear which SoL the various EVA were made from even though that is clearly stated in the TV series + movie. Boggles the mind, doesn't it? And this happens a lot -- known facts are presented as uncertain, while other information is presented as definite."
    "Gainax's involvement in Evangelion Chronicle is basically that of original rights holder (royalties!) and "Overall Supervision". However, Gainax does not appear to be directly involved in the writing, editing or publishing. Of course the source material comes from Gainax and I am sure that they have a lot of input, but the magazine itself is authored by TRAP, edited by Wave Inc. and Meglomania Inc., published by Wave Inc., and distributed by SonyMagazines. So again, Gainax's involvement is that of "Overall Supervision" like with the RCB."'
    "For example, who wants two pages of information on the "High Officers of the United Nations Forces" or the "Female Operators of Nerv"? (Well, okay, maybe the female operators... *cough*) Or how about two pages on the "UN Heavy Fighter" aircraft, or as scheduled for issue 03, the "Prog Knife"? (How can one make two pages of *interesting* information on a hand-held combat weapon!?) And then there are the 3-4 pages at the back of each issue that list and give brief descriptions of Eva product lines like the music CDs (issue 01), LDs (issue 02), and so on."
  20. |This article also contains a section on specific misappropriations, many of them present in the forum thread below.
  21. An example of a forum user making all of these mistakes at once.
  22. Statements by Evangelion Staff: Protoculture Addicts #43 (NewType 11/1996) "Evangelion is like a puzzle, you know. Any person can see it and give his/her own answer. In other words, we're offering viewers to think by themselves, so that each person can imagine his/her own world. We will never offer the answers, even in the theatrical version. As for many Evangelion viewers, they may expect us to provide the 'all-about Eva' manuals, but there is no such thing. Don't expect to get answers by someone. Don't expect to be catered to all the time. We all have to find our own answers." -PA #43, translated by Miyako Graham from 11/96 Newtype
  23. " A: I think that the theme of the animated version is that the main character's attitude changes little by little. I think that in the anime, Anno wrote the script in his own words, and that is why the change occurs. And the reason for the subtle changes between the animation and the manga is that Yoshiyuki Sadamoto is writing the script using Anno's characters. I think the anime is...I can't say cuter. But it has the feel of an honors student. The manga is a little more twisted...the feeling of a flunk-out. I think the reason behind this is that Anno was his class president in elementary and junior high schools, and flunking out was something he couldn't do, whereas I never had that problem. (laughs)" - Sadamoto's "My Thoughts at the Moment", 1996
    Though this interview is from April 1996, Sadamoto states that he "wrote the script of the manga using the anime "as a base", further implying that the Evangelion anime was produced first (even though the manga was released first).
  24. "Thank you. But that being said, you can’t use the manga to complement the Anime. This manga is just what I draw when I thought “it is should be like this, right?” Nothing more, nothing less."
    "No, unlike Anno, I don’t have a life worth telling.(laugh) Perhaps I won’t express myself overall……But I can’t just copy Anno’s work. In this condition, I have to come up the theme myself, try to use different methods to describe. Every version of EVA has a different ending, I think the manga will have a different ending, too. As a work, entertainment is more important, so I can’t make the work same as the anime. But if I make the manga something completely different, then it can’t be called EVA. So not too close, not too far away. Rebuild is in the same position." - All About Kaworu Nagisa interview with Sadamoto
  25. "This time, I tried to keep the celluloid images for animation and the painted illustrations for manga quite separate from each other. I wanted to have the animation staff draw the celluloid images. I separated the animation from the manga. They complement each other, or at least they complement each other's weaknesses, so (at least in my mind) I tried to avoid drawing celluloid as much as possible this time." - Sadamoto Saturn Illustrations
  26. "As for the Evangelion manga, Sadamoto claims to have made it entirely by himself, without consulting with anyone, so any differences with the anime were all decided solely by him; this is in contrast to the anime where all decisions were made as a group, all sitting in the same room and arguing." "Sadamoto replied in the negative, as his only work as a mangaka is nothing more than a reworking of a pre-existing work." Milano Manga Festival: Reportage dei Sadamoto Days
  27. "First off, for the original [aired in 1995] animated series of Evangelion, we, including the Director [Hideaki Anno], all didn’t know a whole lot about Christianity but it seemed interesting so we went ahead and started the project. While the anime was airing, we started to learn more and started to add more ideas from Christianity. For example, the appearance of Lilith and even adding some new content at the last episode of the series. We just kept on applying new ideas that we learned while the show went on, although it's pretty ironic to talk about it now.Regarding my manga, I really wanted to separate it from the anime. So I decided to not research it at all. Some of the ideas may have came from Shinto... hmm now that I think about it, there aren't many reincarnations involved in Shinto. Well, it could be the Eastern way of thinking, the thought of where does the soul goes. So I didn't do any research about religion for the manga." - Yoshiyuki Sadamoto Interview @ JX USA 2013
  28. Interview with Sadamoto, includes his confirmation that the Mari bonus chapter was just fanservice Next question is about Evangelion Rebuilds, do you know about the symbol of the last movie (repeat sign in music)? Sadamoto: Just to start, I’d like to clarify my position on the Rebuilds. I’ve only done the main character designs so… (laugh) Ah I see. It’s this (shows the symbol of Rebuild 3.0+1.0). We weren’t even able to read the title. Sadamoto: (looks) Right, I’m sorry but it’s the first time I see it, to tell you how little my implication is. [...] A question about the Evangelion manga, were you completely free on the script or were you consulting director Anno? Sadamoto: There isn’t any script. When you make anime there are the storyboards, right? We were just sharing them, so I’m on the same level as a fan. I just wrote it on my own, looking at the storyboards. So I didn’t consult anyone, and of course no one from the TV series’ staff intervened in my manga. So, in the last page of the manga there is Mari, one of the Rebuild’s characters… Sadamoto: Oh, that’s not in the storyline, it’s just an extra chapter for the manga volume. It’s even apart from the movies, like fanservice. Just something you mustn’t think too hard about. (laugh) It’s just something that went through my mind, I thought it would be funny if it were like that. I see. So it was not a request? Sadamoto: It wasn’t and… since she appeared in Jo, Ha and Q, I wondered what her role in the story would be, and when I asked the staff, they told me that it won’t be possible to really go further in one film, so they had to tie the main story up, and that Mari may have almost no screen time. So I wondered what the point was, and decided to add a little bit of her story in the manga, on impulse. So it’s really not something the staff of the movies thought about or asked me to do, just something you can consider as a play of mine. I see, since you know, fans tend to read deep into that kind of thing. Yamaga: Yeah, particularly on Evangelion. They think every little detail has a meaning. (laugh) Sadamoto: Well, but of course when we see Mari in Jo or Ha and see her call Gendo Gendo-kun or smell Shinji’s odor, she’s doing many strange things. Besides she seems to like songs of the Showa era very much since she’s singing them. [...] But again, it’s only me imagining all this. (laugh) Has director Anno decided about that? Sadamoto: Like I said, director Anno hasn’t approved or refuted that idea, he has nothing to do with what I just said.
  29. "The last two episodes of Eva I had no idea what was going on," said Tristan MacAvery, who played Gendou. "I had to figure how I should read the part, flat or philosophical." MacAvery and the other actors said there was nothing wrong with the English translation, that the Japanese original was incomprehensible. - Otakon Highlights - Evangelion Voice Actors - Aug. 7, 1998