Asuka Langley Sohryu

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Character
Name: Asuka Langley Sohryu
Occupation: Pilot of Evangelion Unit 02
Relationships: Kyoko Zeppelin Sohryu (mother)
Misato Katsuragi (guardian)
Fandom: Neon Genesis Evangelion
Other: Asuka subreddit
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Asuka Langley Sohryu is a primary character in the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. She is a redheaded German-American-Japanese 14 year old girl. Her abrasive and proud personality, hiding deeper insecurities and loneliness, is considered as (unintentionally) being a staple for tsundere archetypes.

Canon

Asuka first appears in Episode 8 as the pilot of Evangelion Unit 02 and causes a strong impression on the cast. She remains proud and haughty but slowly opens up to other characters. This culminates in kissing Shinji in Episode 15. However, she enters a downward spiral after Shinji does not kiss her back and she interprets his clueless passivity as rejection. Shinji also surpasses her test scores, which furthers her own insecurities. She suffers a mental attack in Episode 22 which forces her to relive her painful childhood memories as well as her frustration over Shinji. She runs away from home and is found in Episode 24 starving and naked on a bathtub, unable to commit to suicide but waiting for death. She has multiple exchanges with Shinji in the series' Instrumentality and is presented as his childhood friend in the alternative universe of the last episode.

In End of Evangelion, Shinji visits her in the hospital and asks for her attention, but Asuka is unresponsive in a drug-induced coma. Shinji accidentally exposes her breasts and masturbates to the sight. Later, as NERV is attacked by the Japanese government, Asuka is woken up to fight in her Eva against the JSSDF and the Mass Production Evas. She is initially successful however, as Shinji is unable to arrive on time she is eventually killed. Seeing Asuka's dead Eva is one of the motivations for Shinji to start Instrumentality. They meet later and have several exchanges with Shinji desperately asking for her attention, but Asuka refuses as she believes Shinji doesn't really love anyone and is merely using her as an escape. Shinji lashes out and strangles her, however after reevaluating his existence again, Shinji rejects Instrumentality and is the first person to return to reality. He later finds Asuka laying by his side and strangles her again, however he is stopped by Asuka tenderly caressing him, implying she might have accepted Shinji and her feelings for him. However, she also utters her "I feel sick" line. Their relationship is left open.

Rebuild of Evangelion

In the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, Asuka has a different surname, Shikinami, and is a Captain of the European Air Force. She arrives in Tokyo-3 under different circumstances and some aspects of her personality are changed, such as her interest in Kaji and her friendship with Hikari being removed, as well as Asuka herself being more of a loner. She also shares less scenes with Shinji as Evangelion 2.0 gives Rei more space. She pilots Evangelion Unit 03 instead of Touji and subsequently infected by the Angel Bardiel and Shinji refuses to fight against her and the Angel is instead defeated by the Dummy Plug system. In Evangelion 3.0, Asuka returns wearing an eyepatch and a damaged plugsuit. She is involved in rescuing Shinji and is the one that tells him that 14 years have passed, however due to the Curse of Eva her appearance stays the same. Asuka appears to have some sort of lingering feelings for Shinji although their nature is still uncertain. She pilots for WILLE with Mari as support, and fights Shinji in Terminal Dogma attempting to stop him from pulling the spears on Lilith. When Shinji does so, this starts Fourth Impact and Asuka has to sacrifice her Eva to save Wunder. She later recovers Shinji from his ejected entry plug, bemoans him on running away from his problems and, although she briefly considers leaving him there, returns to grab him and leads him, along with a new Rei clone, along the ruins of Tokyo-3. In the final film, Asuka is the "protector" of the survivor's village. She shares quarters with Mari in the WILLE and lives in Kensuke's house while not on a mission, isolating herself from the community. Asuka is shown to have several unresolved issues with her non-aging body and feelings for Shinji, treating him harshly but still showing concern. Before heading on the final battle against NERV, Asuka is impressed by Shinji's maturing and admits she liked/loved him before the timeskip. She is ultimately defeated by Nerv later, but Shinji is able to recover her, and returns her feelings before sending her back to the village, as he does with Rei and Kaworu, and leaving the Eva world. In the rebuilt world, Asuka is shown nearby Rei and Kaworu in the other side of a train platform Shinji is on before he leaves with Mari, all five pilots now in adult bodies. Much like in End of Evangelion, their fate is left open.

Fandom

Asuka is one of the most popular but also most polarizing characters in the fandom. Some fans like her strong and complex personality and relationship dynamics, her relentless drive to succeed, independence and skill, as well as her own failings and insecurities which are more prominent in the later episodes of the series. In numbers, she usually divides her popularity with Rei as one one of the most popular anime characters of the 1990s. In the 2000s, Rei's popularity had slowly faded instead giving way to Kaworu and Kawoshin, but Asuka's remained, instead giving way to Kaworu and Kawoshin.[1][2]

Memes

Hate

Asuka is considered one of the three main female characters in Eva and although Misato fans usually like her as well, she tends to get a lot of hate from Rei and Kaworu fans, who consider her annoying and insufferable, as well as hateful and abusive towards other characters.

Shipping

Asuka is usually shipped with NGE protagonist Shinji Ikari, due to their varied intimate moments and complex relationship dynamics as well as overall significance to the series and End of Evangelion. They are not as close in the manga, which instead gives more attention to Rei's relationship with Shinji, although the manga ending seems to hint that Asuka might become a part of Shinji's life again. Asuka doesn't share as many moments with Shinji in the Rebuild movies, except in the fourth and final one. Their mutual expression of felings, though in the past tense, has been variously interpreted as either confirming or sinking their relationship in the Rebuild continuity, or even the franchise at large, considering the open-endedness of the ending is debated, as is as the nature of the references to the original series and EoE, the Rebuilds' cycle dynamics, and the later release of the Evangelion 3.0 (-120 min.) prequel manga, used by supporters as confirmation of active feelings alongside a number of statements coming from staff in the initial months after release. Pairing them is equally as common, however, regardless of continuity, as well as in a number of spinoffs.

Due to Asuka's outgoing personality and sexual interest, shipping her with Rei as a crack ship, despite them developing mutual antipathy, is also practiced somewhat often. In Evangelion 3.0 however, she has Mari as a teammate, and their banter, including about Shinji, has motivated the rise in popularity of a Mari/Asuka yuri ship. Thanks to Kaworu's increased popularity after 3.0, she is also seldom shipped with Kaworu, although they never meet or talk to each other at any point in the series or movies thus far and only have a few short comic exchanges in the manga, usually by fans who dislike Shinji. It is also usually used as a troll ship as much larger portions of the fandom favor Asushin or Kawoshin. These ships have largely faded in popularity over the years, however, and are now very uncommon. A less common ship is with Hikari, her best friend in the anime. Although Asuka has a crush for her guardian Kaji in canon and this is supplanted by Shinji before long, pairing them is quite rare. Marishin and Asuken are argued by some fans to be supported by the final Rebuild film, but neither enjoy significant fan support and are instead used to aggravate supporters of the three main Shinji ships, particularly so for Asuken. Some shippers have pointed out at some staff statements to rebuff these, such as the repeated denial of Mari being based on Anno's wife, though there is no later comment from staff on Reishin or Kawoshin, but some for Asushin. Regardless, Asuka/Shinji is still by far the primary ship for Asuka.

Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Meta

Archives and Fannish Links

Resources

References

  1. ^ Eva Store's Character Popularity Poll Yields Surprising Results
  2. ^ This 2020 NHK poll has Asuka, Kaworu, Rei, Shinji, Misato and Mari as the most popular characters.