Rei in Neon Genesis Evangelion
(Netflix)

The 3 Best Female Characters in ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’

Some anime are hard to rewatch because the content is difficult to absorb a second time around. And Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of those for a lot of folks. If you don’t remember (or haven’t watched the anime yet), the plot is as follows: As vicious monsters—hellbent on destroying humanity—descend to Earth, a squad of pilots is the main line of defense against them. A teenager, Shinji (Casey Mongillo), reluctantly joins the squad—which is under the command of his shitty father (I said what I said), who has chosen giant machines that aren’t remotely what they seem to fight back. 

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The depressive nature of the show, which is due to the creator’s own depression, is part of what makes it difficult to watch (even more so if you also suffer from a mental illness).  But if you’re someone who enjoys content that explores deep and sometimes dark subjects, it’s worth sitting through. Neon Genesis Evangelion also happens to have some incredibly complex female characters (who are memorable and hold tight to their individuality). Even when they may be intentionally written to be unlikable. Below are the top 3 female characters throughout the show.

Note: Please keep in mind that I’m discussing the English Netflix dub below. So, if you don’t recognize the voice actor names, that’s why. 

Asuka Langley Sohryu

asuka being bossy in Neon Genesis Evangelion
(Netflix)

Asuka (Stephanie McKeon) is commanding, stubborn, emotionally stunted, and super dedicated to her position as the pilot of Unit-02. But she’s more complicated than that—she uses aggression/pretending to be more adult as a way of hiding how insecure she is. She’s a teenage girl, who want to be mature as a result of having a traumatic upbringing. Asuka’s vow to never cry again after the death of her mother stunted her emotional development. So, while she may seem aggressive or annoying at times, this is actually to mask that her character has a very emotionally/mentally tortuous journey throughout the show. And especially in the film, The End of Evangelion, which serves as a parallel ending to the series. 

Misato Katsurgai 

(Netflix)

Hot women with kind hearts may seem boring or cliche, but Misato is far from boring. And she is a tragically damaged character. She does her best for those she cares about though—even if she has a hard time connecting outside of physical intimacy. The death of her father during the Second Impact is the central cause of her issues. Aside from her trauma though, Misato is a very charming character who you can’t help but be endeared by. Without her, the show would be an entirely different one, and much less tragic.

Rei Ayanami 

Rei in Neon Genesis Evangelion
(Netflix)

Without spoiling too much (for the sake of folks who want to watch), Rei (Ryan Bartley) is a very crucial character in Neon Genesis Evangelion. At first, she’s very mysterious, appearing as an emotionally disconnected girl who doesn’t have any friends. But for some reason, she’s loyal to Shinji’s father, Gendo (Ray Chase). As the series progresses, she becomes close to Shinji, which makes sense once her backstory is revealed. Her character arc, overall, is tragic and hard to watch. But tragedy sometimes helps make a great character.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Author
Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.