Neon Genesis Evangelion left an indelible mark on anime. And whether you first watched the classic mecha on a fan-subbed VHS or Netflix’s streaming release, it likely left an impression on you as well. Character designs and genre conventions aren’t the only way the Evangelion is remembered, though. Below are lines from some of the most exciting and memorable moments from the series.
Spoilers for Neon Genesis Evangelion, End of Evangelion, and Rebuild of Evangelion.
“This is mankind’s ultimate multipurpose decisive weapon, the synthetic human Evangelion, Unit-01. Built in absolute secrecy, it is mankind’s trump card.” – Ritsuko
The introduction of Unit 1 to Shinji and the audience is a defining moment in each of our lives. What exactly the iconic mechs are, and what “synthetic human” even means will haunt the rest of the series.
“I am not a doll.” -Rei
Known simply as “the elevator scene,” the famous confrontation between pilots Rei and Asuka epitomizes the unseal modes of storytelling fans love. While the original scene is punctuated by a prolonged, uncomfortable silence, the scenes return in Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance marks a radical departure in Rei’s character that hallmarks the film series.
“It means I love you.” – Kaworu
In what was the first gesture at queerness on the screen for many young anime fans, Shinji and Kaworu’s relationship in the original series is entangled with the show’s questions of identity and self-worth. Unfortunately, the moment is marred in Netflix’s controversial script.
“As long as the Sun, the Moon, and the Earth exist, everything will be alright.” – Yui
Despite her few appearances throughout the series, Yui’s influence is felt just beneath the surface NERV and the Human Instrumentality Project. As we learn of her fate, contained somewhere within Unit 1, Yui comes to embody an existential philosophy that guides Shinji back to humanity.
“You’re all you have and you never even learned to like yourself!” – Asuka
Asuka’s words cut deep. From the depths of Shinji’s self-loathing in End of Evangelion, Asuka pinpoints the failure that leads to the apocalyptic conclusion of the anime’s alternate ending.
“It’s almost cruel.” – Gendo
This is my personal favorite line from the entire series. Watching Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone, there’s a sense that something’s up. The world has gone weird, and character growth feels like it’s constantly at odds with what is expected of each pilot. In an exchange near the end of the film, masterminds Fuyutski and Gendo let on that they know what’s going on — and that it’s all a part of their plan. Gendo solemnly delivers his lines, invoking the iconic OP A Cruel Angels Thesis, and the title card hits. I get chills every time.
“I don’t care what happens to me. I don’t care what happens to the world. But I’m bringing Rei back.” – Shinji
Accompanying the narrative point-of-no-return, Shinji selfishly breaks the script by saving Rei and breaks the world by initiating the Third Impact early. Finally, Shinji does something for himself, and of course, it messes everything up.
“The curse of the Eva’s.” -Asuka
Though it’s briefly mentioned in the first Rebuild film, the curse of the Eva’s is brought into focus by Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo. Still a bit of a mystery, the fate of the curse will hopefully be revealed in the forthcoming Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time.
“Keep practicing, just repeat the same thing over and over until youre finally happy with the way it makes you feel. That’s all you can do.” -Kaworu
For all that he seems to care about Shinji, Kaworu has his own agenda. Spoken while the couple play piano in the third Rebuild film, it might be what Shinji wants to hear after bringing the world to the edge of apocalypse, but it sure looks like the rest of the cast would love it if he just stopped getting in the robot already.
“Get in the robot.” – All Of Us
While it’s never said so directly in the anime, the meme is what many of us think of when we think about Shinji. While it’s initially heart-wrenching to watch Gendo manipulate his scared child into piloting a monstrous weapon, by the End of Evangelion many of us wanted to yell at Shinji ourselves to get take responsibility for his emotions, exercise the agency he does have, and save everyone.