Short Answer: During the end of Evangelion, Rei Ayanami shows her love for Shinji Ikari by deciding to support his wishes and desires instead of following the orders of her commander, Gendo Ikari. However, throughout the show, it was never clarified whether Rei’s love for Shinji is romantic or familial. Whatever her love was for Shinji, in the end, she supported him by making his desires come true with the Third Impact.
Are you interested in learning more about Shinji and Rei’s relationship? If you are, then let’s take a deeper look at how their relationship came to be.
Rei Ayanami’s Background
Rei Ayanami is a 14-year-old teenage girl who appears in the Neon Genesis Evangelion Series and other sequels or rebuilds for the series. She was born after Shinji’s mother (Yui Ikari) finished her Human Contact Experiments. She was created artificially by NERV using Yui Ikari’s LCL that remains in Eva unit 01. As such, she is considered to be a clone of Shinji’s mother.
Rei Ayanami is a clone that is created without self-awareness. This means that she’s still wondering about her existence. It’s only until later in the series when she finally gains self-awareness that she is a clone.
Rei Ayanami’s ability in piloting Eva is very consistent. Although not as good as Asuka’s, Rei Ayanami’s ability is still good enough to defend humanity against the Angels. Her synchronization with other pilots is also very good. She may come off as cold and emotionless but from multiple battles, we can see that she values her teammates.
Rei Ayanami’s appearance is similar to Yui Ikari as she also has the same DNA as her. Rei Ayanami’s resemblance to Yui Ikari can be seen from the shape of her face, eyes, and eyebrows. However, we can find differences in the color. Aside from her appearance, Rei Ayanami’s personality is also complex and odd. Again, this is because of her lack of self-awareness. She is very quiet and doesn’t interact much with people except when she’s talking to Gendo Ikari.
How they affect each other
The relationship between the two runs throughout the series. To know more about Rei’s love for Shinji, we need to learn and understand what’s the purpose of their relationship and how they both affect each other.
From the very first episode of the series, Rei Ayanami already had an effect on Shinji Ikari. It was because of him seeing her about to pilot an EVA, even though she was severely injured, that gave made Shinji decide to become an EVA pilot. Shinji knew that if Rei Ayanami went out to fight an Angel while being severely injured, death was sure to come for her. At that moment in time, he took her place as the pilot of EVA unit 01 in order to protect her and the rest of Tokyo-3.
As the show moves forward, Shinji looks for friendship within Rei but instead, he is met with a reserved personality. Rei may have considered Shinji as her friend, but it’s more likely that she just saw him as an ally as she didn’t understand the concept of friendship as she was then. Shinji still considered her as his friend though and he uses her as one of his reasons to fight the Angels. She is someone that Shinji wants to protect.
As the show progresses, Rei learns more about emotions through Shinji. She learns the value of friendship, the value of caring for others and the value of loving oneself. Before she met Shinji, Rei only lived to fulfill Gendo Ikari’s orders but because she met Shinji, she becomes more aware of her own feelings and finds it in herself to make her own decisions instead of being Gendo Ikari’s puppet.
Does Rei Ayanami care for Shinji Ikari?
Rei Ayanami’s quiet personality makes it hard to guess whether she cares about Shinji or not. Throughout the series, Rei’s concern for Shinji doesn’t really stand out until later in the final movie (The End of Evangelion) where Rei Ayanami realizes the one that really needs the instrumentality is Shinji Ikari instead of his father. Knowing this, Rei betrays Gendo to fulfill Shinji’s wish because at this point, she cares more about Shinji than what Gendo orders her to do. This proves that even though Rei didn’t always look like she cares for Shinji, her final act really proves that she cares for Shinji.
Who does Shinji Ikari love?
Living alone without a parent is pretty hard, especially when Shinji was still a child, resulting in him always craving affection. As such, when he became a teenager and met a lot of new people, Shinji got hit with a wave of emotions. A lot of people show affection for him and he begins to love back the ones who care for him such as Misato, Rei Ayanami, Asuka, Kaworu, and others. There is no specific person that Shinji loves, he loves all of his friends equally. He doesn’t really have a romantic relationship with someone because Shinji suffers from insecurities and he basically hates himself. Shinji finds it difficult to open up with others and so he finds it difficult to express love for others.
Did the Third Impact happen because of love?
The Third Impact in the Neon Genesis Evangelion and the End of Evangelion can happen even if there isn’t love involving in it. However, The Third Impact in the series is always related to love, even Gendo’s goal in the Third Impact is to reunite with his dead wife (Yui Ikari). Shinji’s version of the Third Impact happened because Rei Ayanami cares for Shinji and being the key to the Third Impact, she granted Shinji’s wish. The only Third Impact version that doesn’t involve love in it is SEELE’s version.
In the Rebuild version however, the Third Impact happens because Shinji really cares about Rei Ayanami. During the fight between Zeruel and Shinji, Shinji and Eva unit 01 becomes berserk and tries to save Rei Ayanami from Zeruel’s core. Eva unit 01 then created the chamber of guf and because of this, the Third Impact begins.
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Our final thoughts:
Although Rei Ayanami doesn’t seem really care about Shinji Ikari, that is just her reserved personality. Deep down, Rei Ayanami really cares for Shinji, her final act in the show really proves that she loves Shinji and that Shinji deserved to be happy. Therefore, the Third Impact was successful because Rei really cared about Shinji, even though Third Impact can still happen without love involved in it.
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