Navem Eos #2: Shinji Ikari and Asuka Langley Soryu

One of the most famous types of “waifu wars” stems from the popular anime series (and my personal favorite) Neon Genesis Evangelion, between the series’ two female protagonists: the soft-spoken, modest Rei Ayanami and the strong-headed, fiery Asuka Langley Soryu. To this day, debates between who is objectively the best “waifu” still continue to no bitter end, and such debates will often end up spilling into the shipping aisle too, with main character Shinji Ikari at the center. Like many others who have made their choice, I too have decided which ship is, in my personal opinion, the most proper ship for Shinji – and that’s the pairing between him and Asuka.

BACKGROUND

Eight episodes into Neon Genesis Evangelion, we are introduced to Asuka on board an American battleship, where she quickly gets herself acquainted with Shinji, Misato and Shinji’s two friends, Toji Suzuhara and Kensuke Aida. After arriving in Tokyo-3, she joins Shinji as another resident of Misato’s ever-crowded apartment. Though the two of them find the arrangement to be rather intrusive, Misato ignores their protests and the two of them are forced to make due with each other. Despite their differences, both emotionally and personality-wise, there’s not a shred of doubt in me that doesn’t believe that, in light of everything that has transpired, Shinji and Asuka are the pairing that I can stand by. No, it’s not because I think Asuka is the better female character: I refuse to get involved with a ship solely based on emotional responses, so none of that “They’re a cute couple” or “Rei is scary” or anything of the like will be seen here. Here’s a wealth of information to show my reasons for standing by this ship:

EXHIBIT A: CONSTANT COMMUNICATION

Image result for asuka shinji"
Episode 9 marked the beginning of their long, strenuous yet obvious relationship with each other.

Show me one scene where Shinji actually holds a conversation with Rei, and I can give you maybe two or three other scenes where he’s doing the same to Asuka. For example, the entirety of episode 9, the pool scene in episode 10, episode 16 before the battle with Leliel (a.k.a black spherical Angel), you name it. As a result, he’s more familiar with her than he is with Rei, despite some instances in which she is in the same scene as the two of them – so, make of that what you will.

EXHIBIT B: BOTH OF THEM (IMPLICITLY) DISPLAY FEELINGS TOWARDS EACH OTHER

Numerous minor instances throughout the series point to them having, or implicitly harboring some kind of more-than-mutual attraction towards each other, for example:

  • During Asuka’s infamous mind-rape scene in episode 22, one scene involves her catching a glimpse of Shinji in her vision, which launches her into a tirade in which she furiously declares: “What are you doing here? You won’t do anything! … You won’t even hold me!” towards him. This is quite the indicator that she saw something in him, and is annoyed that he just won’t pick up on it.
  • Interestingly enough, in that same episode, prior to that, Asuka catches Shinji talking with Rei. What comes next is a look of disgust on her face, and a comment that’s straight-up directed at Shinji, where she expresses jealousy that he’s talking with Rei.
  • Asuka’s also shown quickly hiding from Rei when she exits from Shinji’s hospital room in episode 16. You might say that “She’s concerned about him, maybe that’s why” – but when you consider that this is the same person that’s been verbally abusive towards him, doesn’t that strike you as odd that she’s hiding from his sight? Sounds like hidden attraction to me.
  • For Shinji, while it’s true that he displays a lot of struggle in trying to connect with other people, in particular his father; however, he’s also shown attempts to try and connect with Asuka despite her abrasive personality, in the hopes that they could come to some sort of understanding with each other.
  • In End of Evangelion, the person that Shinji talks to the most prior to instigating Third Impact is not Misato, not Rei – but Asuka. It’s her that especially triggers him to end the world, showing how high in regard he holds her opinions, and how important she is to him. If she rejects him, then that’s pretty much devastating news to him.

You get the idea.

Oh my God, just get in there and tell him already!

EXHIBIT C: “HEY, SHINJI – WANNA KISS?”

At the end of episode 15, Asuka asks Shinji if he wants to kiss her, and after some teasing on her part as to the matter, Shinji gives in and agrees to consent to her request. The rest, they say, is history.

That this scene speaks volumes for several reasons. First, no random girl would randomly ask a guy that she’s not even remotely interested in to kiss her. Secondly, after Shinji chokes (literally) in his attempt to reciprocate her kiss, she leaves in disgust – obviously indicating that she was disappointed in Shinji’s romantic attempt. All the more reason to show that she saw something in Shinji, whatever that may be, and instead of getting some support from him, she becomes visibly disappointed in the aftermath. Is it any coincidence that after this incident, her mood starts to spiral even more and more downwards?

Call me optimistic, but I feel that if Shinji didn’t screw up his kiss with Asuka, things would have turned out a lot less depressingly for the both of them. (And no, the hundreds of fanfictions I read about this, plus one that I wrote about back in 2017-18 have nothing to do with this opinion).

Image result for asuka kisses shinji"
Asuka kisses Shinji at the end of episode 15. The results don’t go very well.

EXHIBIT D: HIDEAKI ANNO WROTE A SONG ABOUT THEM

Believe it or not, contrary to popular belief, the music written for the Third Impact scene in End of Evangelion was not supposed to be Komm, Susser Tod. It was actually supposed to be a song whose lyrics were written by show creator Hideaki Anno, known as Everything You’ve Ever Dreamed. While not as upbeat as the former, it’s still a beautiful tune, but what’s even more telling is the lyrics. It speaks of a boy who breaks a girl’s heart with a false kiss, which leads her to reject him for good. Said girl is also said to be living a lie, a contradiction to herself. Shinji and Asuka seem to fit the bill very well for this song.

See? Even the guy who made the show sees something between them, even though the primary intention of the show isn’t built around romance.

OBJECTIONS ADDRESSED

The three ships that often come into competition with Shinji/Asuka that I can think off from the top of my head are that of Asuka/Kaji, Shinji/Kaworu and Shinji/Rei. I’m solidly confident that these ships would never work out in a romantic setting. Here’s why:

KAJI / ASUKA

Image result for asuka kaji"
Not in a million years.

This ship fails in my book for several reasons. First, it’s already been established in the series that Kaji is in love with Misato – no amount of badgering from Asuka would have been enough to change his mind. Nevermind the fact that she’s always cheerful around him and that it’s clearly obvious that she has a crush on him, Misato will always get in the way of that. And let’s just, for the sake of argument, assume that Misato isn’t in the way of them, and barring the fact that their ages are 20 years apart, would it still work? No! Kaji sees his relationship with Asuka as a primarily parent-child one. He would never want to take advantage of that status with Asuka, and he’s already rebuffed her numerous advances. It’s clear that he’s just not interested in her as anything but a surrogate daughter. End of story.

KAWORU/SHINJI

Image result for kaworu shinji"
Nah.

If anything, this is quite possibly the most popular ship in the Evangelion block. Again, I’m opposed to this ship, but the reason extends beyond religion, which I won’t make as part of my argument here. The simple reason as to why I don’t support the Kaworu/Shinji ship is because the series just simply does not devote enough time to develop their relationship beyond just a few days where Kaworu’s on Earth. Yes, he befriends Shinji and was somewhat intimate with him. Yes, both individuals get off on the right foot with each other. And yes, Shinji shows great remorse at having to kill off Kaworu because he was an Angel – and even acknowledges him as the only person that truly understood him. The connection is there – but to say the least, the ninth inning ended with the relationship stuck at first base: Shinji and Kaworu go no further than being “just friends”. A romantic relationship takes months – even years to develop, and can’t be started over one arbitrary bath scene within the halls of NERV.

REI/SHINJI

Ew no!

Supporters of this ship will, like me, point to the numerous moments where Shinji and Rei communicated with each other, or allegedly showed implied feelings towards each other throughout the series. All that’s well and dandy, but there’s only one fatal problem that just kills any hope of this relationship happening in my eyes: aside from my Catholic faith telling me to (see the Catechism of the Council of Trent’s section on the Sacrament of Confession for more details), there’s episode 23. After Ritsuko reveals to Misato and Shinji that Rei is a clone of Shinji’s mom (!!), and shows them the tank full of Rei parts, Shinji becomes visibly disturbed to the point that he even says that said character scares him. For the remainder of the series, he makes sure to avoid associating with her. In my view, any hope of this ship lasting was blasted the moment this scene came on.

“ASUKA IS MEAN”

And last but not least, if you think that Shinji and Asuka won’t be together simply because Asuka’s violent towards him, I beg to differ. Asuka is a very complicated person – having lost her mother at a young age, and firmly resolving to hide her true self from others, that’s the very reason towards her behavior. In short, she’s not displaying her true feelings, out of fear of showing weakness – so she’s putting on a facade in front of Shinji so that she doesn’t intimidate herself; the thought of such would make her cringe. To dismiss her just because of that point means that either you don’t understand Evangelion completely, or you’re just looking for any excuse to hate her. Which wouldn’t be a valid reason to discredit the Shinji/Asuka pairing.

Image result for asuka shinji"
It’s not that she’s naturally mean towards Shinji – she just doesn’t know how to put the right words to confess it properly.

CONCLUSION

All in all, Neon Genesis Evangelion is a great series no matter how I slice it – the underlying messages, the animation and the story were quite something else to watch. But, as I’ve said before, the character relationships in this series was one outstanding element that I found excellent; the pairing between Shinji/Asuka is one such example of this. There is so much writing on the wall pointing towards them being the OTP – scenes, quotes and actions that hint at them having a remote attraction to each other, hidden underneath their personalities. I would probably go on about how dope the messages and meanings behind Evangelion are – but if there’s one thing that’s constant in my mind about it, it’s that Shinji and Asuka are the perfect match for each other.

The other Evangelion ships on this ocean will never sail the stormy sea. Except for this one.

8 thoughts on “Navem Eos #2: Shinji Ikari and Asuka Langley Soryu

  1. I don’t know if you read fan fiction at all* but if you are interested I can highly recommend one about Auska and Shinji after third impact. It’s called inheritance (there is a tie in story called until you come to me on the page of the author of the fic who is called glory to our august king). The story basically follows shinji ans auskas son and explores his strained relationship with his parents. He had a troubled childhood after having to deal with shinji ptsd he got from the angel war and how this affected him and his relationship with his mother. Unlike many post third impact fics the world seems suprisingly mundane and ordinary (it more or less fell back into the same pattern with only a few minor geographical differences after most people returned from the sea). In spite of this it is very well written and all the characters seem very realistic and true to life. The author certainly seems to have researched the impact that a parents mental health has on a child. The love Auska and Shinji have for another is obvious and though they rarely express it verbally it is obviously the thing that has allowed them to survive a very stressful and sometimes dangerous marriage. The story is told through their sons perspective half in the present with him as an adult and half through flashbacks of him as a child so you can see what his life was like. There is nothing graphic in the story bar a small section of one of the chapters in which kazuya (their son) remembers losing his virginity. In the tie in story there is a bit at the beginning which talks a bit about how Auska got pregnant which is a bit risqué but it’s not a large part and can be easily skipped over without losing anything. I can highly recommend it to you if you want a good post third impact story.

    * I can fully understand if you don’t read fanfiction by the way. It has a bad reputation both for the content and the poor quality of the writing. Unfortunately a lot of the time the stereotype proves true. A lot of people on there seem to have a fixation on turning every character conceivable gay (and they have a particularly odd fixation with men getting pregnant). Also the quality of the dialogue os often utterly terrible. It’s as if these people forget how a human being actually talks. Never the less every once in a while you come across an absolutely great piece of work that your glad you read. Apart from the one I just recommended I read one recently that I found really quite edifying . I don’t know how much you know about Naruto but I read a wonderful fic which was an au that focused on the relationship between obito and kalashi . Making it clear from the start that the relationship was not romantic in nature the fic tells the story of how the two who started as rivals in the anime eventually come to view the other as a freind and eventually as a brother. I think it shows a wonderful example of what st aelred of riveaulx called spiritual freindship in which the most important person in your life is not a romantic partner or relative but a true freind. Seeing the camaraderie between the two young ninjas you get a sense of what the relationship between David and Jonathan must have been like (and also gives you a great sense of tragedy when you watch the anime and see what could have been but was lost because obito embraced hatred). In connection to this I can highly recommend CS Lewis book the four loves if you ever get round to it. I know St John Paul II really liked the book and it greatly expands on the concept of true freindship . Anyway that’s just my little story about how fanfiction can be used for good as well as evil much like anime itself. God bless you

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    1. Thanks for sharing! I haven’t watched Naruto and it’s been years since I read Shinji/Asuka fanfiction, and though at this point I probably don’t see myself going back to it due to my other responsibilities, one I especially remember is “In The Case Of Asuka Langley Soryu”, which chronicles the story if Asuka went to see a psychologist and how her life changes. Suffice to say it’s my favourite Evangelion fanfic.

      I know what you’re referring to in the second point by the bad writing, and I tend to agree. I have seen fanfics where I feel like the author needs to really read someone like Charles Dickens to improve their quality. Not to mention some of the ghey ships, are not only reprehensible but most of the time absolutely make no sense outside of satisfying one’s wicked desires.

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      1. I just noticed you said you wrote fanfiction . Are your stories still up? What’s your account name?

        On the topic of bad writing the main problem that I see is the constant exposition dumps. When you look at the reviews though you never see anything in the way of constructive criticism. It’s always wow this is great. If they are just doing ot for fun that’s one thing but if they want a career in the industry this will be bad for them. I don’t think they appreciate how difficult it is to get a job in the industry and next to no published authors earn enough to live off (which is why many of them work as teachers a job that gives them long holidays to write in). That being said when I rewatched the first season of yugioh for the first time since I was a kid (it along with yugioh gx was the only anime I watched until a few years ago) how bad you can actually be at writing dialogue and still get a job in the industry. I have noticed it got much better and less wooden in the later seasons. Once again god bless

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      2. Unfortunately I never published my fanfictions online (mostly for myself) so I don’t have an account 🤔 But to be honest with you, I am sure most people who read the fanfictions from the site do so for fun rather than for actual criticism, so there’s probably that element to it. I can only think of one Canadian fanfiction writer (for My Little Pony and Teen Titans) who is the sole exception because of how bad his stories are, people have called him out for it too.

        I’m guessing you watched the 4Kids dubbed version of Yugioh – and I’m in the same boat as you, as to how they could tolerate the bad writers for so long! Granted though dubs have gotten better in recent years, but I still stick with the subs mainly (except in very rare circumstances), I still have the cringeworthy lines from those dubs in my head, big enough to deter me from voluntarily seeing a dub series again.

        God bless you too Dominic! You will be in my prayers 🙏

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