SHINJI & ASUKA
Main Media: Neon Genesis Evangelion (Anime)
Shipping Type: Canon (Speculative)
Primary Moments: Episodes 09 & 15
Major Fanon Found In: RE-TAKE (Doujinshi)
I’ll admit, when one thinks of the hit anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, romance is not one to be commonly attributed to it. It is after all a post-apocalyptic series of the mecha genre that all but kick-started the anime revolution here in the western world for most fans and to this day has collected well over 130 billion yen in revenue, especially with its recent revival/reboot film series Rebuild of Evangelion.
In point of fact, Evangelion was among the first five anime series I had watched as a child. At least, those that weren’t dubbed to the –nth power like Pokémon. It was also one that, for several years, I had absolutely no idea what the main plot was nor what had actually transpired at the end of the series. Heck, it wasn’t until I had stumbled upon the aptly named EvaGeeks Wiki that I was able to learn the full truth behind the Evangelion series.
A truth that frankly, I could spend whole pages going over so, if anyone is at all interested I sincerely recommend giving a look over for yourselves. It shattered most, if not all, of my preconceptions I had for what I had presumed the original plotline of Evangelion was.
Anyway, back to the main point of this review, Shinji Ikari and Asuka Langley Soryu are the pilots of Evangelion Units 01 and 02 respectively and the both of them are in severe need of psychological help. They are not insane in the strictest sense of the word but the both of them do not know how to act around people thanks in no small part to the severe trauma both had undergone in their childhood.
In Shinji’s case, it was the “death” of his mother Yui and subsequent abandonment by his father Gendo that led him to develop a type of “hedgehog’s dilemma” in that he’s afraid to truly get close to anyone less he hurt them and they him in return. He takes the blame for virtually everything he can and shoulders any task given to him without much of a fight if it means that it will make people happy for him, to earn their respect and attentions be they good or bad.
For Asuka it was far worse. For while Yui had been fully absorbed by Unit 01 body and soul, such was not the case for Asuka’s mother, Kyoko. Only a major portion of Kyoko’s soul, the maternal side no less, was absorbed and the rest that remained grew severely damaged psychologically and passed any affections it once had for Asuka onto a doll bearing her likeness. Kyoko’s affections for the doll swung severely between kind tenderness and cruel violence before ultimately performing a double suicide with the doll in question. Right in front of little Asuka’s eyes no less.
… Yeah, and that’s just the tip of the psychological iceberg/mind-screwing that is Evangelion. Please also note that it is these two individuals whose chief responsibility is the preservation/continuation of the human race as we know it. Yet, if the miracle had occurred and the two of them managed to successfully pair off, I think it would have been great for the two of them.
Shinji would have likely developed something of a spine, something that he was already starting to do with Asuka as she was one of the few individuals capable of getting a rise out of him and getting him to stand up for himself. Asuka herself would have likely simmered down from her usual hotheaded superiority and learned something akin to humility and opened her self, her true self, more to people, something that she had only really done with Shinji.
Unfortunately, due to the ambiguous ending of the first series, and the continuation of the Rebuild film series, the ship that is Shinji & Asuka remains in port for the time being with the only true sailing coming from a remarkably well-done doujinshi that I shall speak of later in this review.
While I shan’t spoil the end film of the series, because there’s a path of such mind-screwing that I can’t even begin to properly define, I will at least go over the main moments that occur in the series that point to a potential coupling of the two.
In the anime series, there are two major moments that hint towards the affections of Shinji and Asuka, primarily coming from Asuka herself no less. The first moment, found in episode 09, is during the night before the final battle with the Angel Israfel. In preparation for the assault, the two pilots had undergone a series of synchronization training that went so far as to have the two of them doing everything together from opening a door to brushing their teeth.
Needless to say, there was much comedy to be had in those particular moments.
Anyway, the night before their guardian/commanding officer, Misato Katsuragi, does not come home from NERV and the two are left alone for the first time. Shinji tries to spend it image training for the upcoming battle while Asuka, sensing opportunity, tries to drive home the point that the two of them are completely alone in the apartment but, unfortunately, the hints fly so far above Shinji’s head I wouldn’t be surprised if a passing bird hadn’t been clipped as a result.
Asuka storms off into Misato’s room, directly across from the room the two had been sharing rather than going to her own room down the hall and further away from Shinji, before opening it to display her… ah… ahem, figure to Shinji as she proclaims the door to be the impenetrable Wall of Jericho and that children shouldn’t stay up late.
In reverse order, Asuka is quite obviously hinting that she doesn’t consider herself, or Shinji, as children and they can, and should, do things that only adults should do. Considering the two are risking their lives, sanity, and souls with every new Angel they face I would agree with her to a certain degree on that front.
As to the “impenetrable wall” of Jericho that’s actually not true. The Wall of Jericho is famous not only for falling down but falling down at the words of those bidding entry into the city. In essence, Asuka was telling Shinji that if he asked, she would open the door to him.
Unfortunately, reading and/or studying the Bible was not one of the things Shinji had done so that clue flew so far above his head that the impact crater can be seen on the moon.
What follows after that is Asuka apparently sleepwalking to sleep across from Shinji with another display of her… ahem, womanly charms. Hormones finally deliver a severe slap to Shinji’s brain and he starts to lean in to kiss her until he hears her whisper for her mother. Taking a surprisingly chivalrous turn, Shinji covers Asuka in a blanket and retreats to the opposite side of the room with a firm declaration that she is still a child herself.
Later on in the episode’s end, the two are arguing with one another wherein Asuka accuses Shinji of trying to kiss her the night before rather than staying up late image training. When he calls her a cheat and admits his surprise that she was in fact awake the whole time Asuka tries to recover by stating that she had only been kidding. Whether or not this is true or Asuka’s attempt at saving grace is anyone’s guess at this point.
The next and most telling moment occurs in episode 15 wherein Asuka manages to successfully trick Shinji into kissing her by way of teasing him and insinuating that she wants to do so because she’s bored. This is of course coming from a girl who subtly tries to invite said boy into a room with her and uses her chest as an example of physics, specifically thermal expansion.
I blame Shinji’s social ineptitude once more that he doesn’t get the hints but one cannot also blame Asuka for shooting said hints high into the stratosphere either.
Anyway, Asuka and Shinji manage to kiss but, unfortunately, it is ruined slightly by Asuka whom felt that Shinji breathing through his nose would tickle her and so plugs it firmly shut and proceeds to kiss him long enough to leave him literally breathless.
In his bid for the right to breathe, Shinji not only pushes Asuka away he also shows express relief at being able to regain some air into his lungs. A sight that Asuka wrongly believes to be a severe lack of similar affections and so retreats to hide away her shame and despair by way of gargling her mouth clean with mouthwash.
That sound you hear is the sound of a many a shipping fan’s palm meeting their face by the way.
There are a few more moments sprinkled about throughout the series but unfortunately that’s the most that we see in the series proper and I shall not spoil the film’s ending. Thankfully there is some gratification to be had in the form of the fan-made series RE-TAKE.
As I stated earlier, there is a fabulous doujinshi series entitled RE-TAKE wherein Shinji’s consciousness post Third Impact manages to implant himself in his past self following the events of episode 16 and the defeat of the Angel Leliel. At first, Shinji believes it all to have been a horrible dream until events start to transpire the same path and he does everything he can to change the future but not without hindrances. For not only do his actions have their own repercussions, both good and bad, but Shinji is also haunted by the apparent ghost of a post Third Impact Asuka as well, one that does not take too kindly to his growing affections with the Asuka of the changing past.
All in all, it is a marvelous series whose art and storytelling plays true to the original anime series save for one slightly unfavorable grace. The original doujinshi is, unfortunately, explicit in the sense that it does portray Asuka and Shinji being… intimate shall we say, with one another to a point that makes a major plot development later on if you catch my meaning. However, while I can understand that Japanese laws towards such things are different than those in America, I am not comfortable with such things and as such have presented the all-ages version found in the link above. So sorry to all you hentai fans, this is blog is staying as close to PG-13 as it can.
To wrap up this really long review do I think that Shinji and Asuka could work as a couple? If certain events had transpired differently at the beginning of their relationship together, I do but do I think that they would remain so? I think that they would yes. The two might be different as night and day but they have as many similarities as there are differences between them. Honestly, if the Evangelions, the Angels, and such were taken out of the picture or at least put to the wayside, I think that the two of them could become quite the pair.