Asuka Langley Soryu
|Asuka Langley Soryu|
|Neon Genesis Evangelion character|
|First appearance||"Asuka Strikes!"|
Tiffany Grant (ADV Films dub, Rebuild)
Stephanie McKeon (Netflix dub)
|Alias||Asuka Shikinami Langley (Rebuild)|
|Relatives||Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu (mother)|
Ryoji Kaji (guardian)
Misato Katsuragi (guardian)
Asuka Langley Soryu (惣流・アスカ・ラングレー Sōryū Asuka Rangurē, IPA: [soːɾʲɯː asɯ̥ka ɾaŋɡɯɾeː]) is a fictional character of the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. Within the series, she is designated as the Second Child and the pilot of the Evangelion Unit 02. Her surname is romanized as Soryu in the English manga and Sohryu in the English version of the TV series, the English version of the film, and on Gainax's website. Asuka is voiced by Yūko Miyamura in Japanese in all animated appearances and merchandise; Asuka is voiced by Tiffany Grant in English. In the Rebuild of Evangelion films, her Japanese surname is changed to Shikinami (式波).
Asuka's surname comes from the Japanese World War II aircraft carrier Soryu, her middle name from the American World War II aircraft carrier Langley, and her Rebuild surname from the Japanese World War II destroyer Shikinami. Her first name comes from Asuka Saki (砂姫 明日香, Saki Asuka), the main character of the Japanese manga Super Girl Asuka (超少女明日香 Chō Shōjo Asuka), written by Shinji Wada.
Character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto explained that he "first designed an Asuka-type girl as the lead character", but felt it might be too similar to previous anime that he and Anno had worked on, such as Gunbuster and Nadia. He suggested to Anno that they change the lead character to a boy, which would be more in keeping with the robot genre.
As Sadamoto and Anno designed the series, Sadamoto came to believe that Asuka would occupy the position of an "'idol' in the Eva world". He also described his belief that the relationship between Asuka and Shinji would be similar to the relationship between Jean, Nadia's love interest and eventual husband in the earlier Nadia. Asuka's personality, as well of those for the other characters, was designed so as to be understood at a glance.
Yūko Miyamura, Asuka's Japanese voice actress, said "Asuka wasn't the most open-hearted character I've ever met...every time I tried to draw myself in closer synchronization, Asuka would never allow herself to sync with 'me'... One day, I figured out that there was a wall in Asuka's heart". Much later, she stated that work on the series was "very hard" and that at times she had "wanted to erase Evangelion." Asuka's English voice actress, Tiffany Grant, felt that playing Asuka was "refreshing", as "she says the most horrible things to people, things that you'd like to say to people and can't get away with."
In Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series
Asuka is first introduced into the series in episode 8; with the arrival of Eva Unit 02 and Asuka and Shinji's battle with the Angel Gaghiel, Asuka is shown as maintaining a high synchronization ratio and exceptional skills as an Eva pilot, being very aggressive and confident in battle. Asuka was born in Germany to an unknown American father and a Japanese-German mother, Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu. She strikes a friendship with Hikari Horaki, the class representative, and while she initially tries to befriend Rei Ayanami as well, she eventually develops deep antipathy towards her. She also develops a distaste towards Shinji's friends, Touji and Kensuke. Asuka also has a crush for her older guardian from before arriving in Tokyo-3, Kaji Ryoji, as Asuka believes she is a mature woman and seeks recognition from him. Kaji, however, politely refuses Asuka's advances, tries to get Asuka closer to Shinji and also eventually rekindles his relationship with Misato.
From episode 9 onwards, Asuka lives with Shinji under Misato's care and the two get to know each other better. Asuka starts calling him "baka-Shinji", "stupid Shinji". Asuka continuously teases him about his passivity and perceived lack of manliness, but gradually comes to respect and like him as they fight Angels together. This culminates in Asuka kissing Shinji in episode 15 at her provocation, however Shinji's lack of reaction angers Asuka, and she starts to develop resentment at Shinji's growing skills, as Asuka believes Shinji is undeserving of this success since Asuka has trained her whole life for piloting, unlike Shinji. She expresses frustration at Shinji's passivity, but continues to care for him. After first being defeated in battle by Zeruel in an attempt to regain her status as the best pilot, Asuka's self-confidence (and, correspondingly, her synch ratio and effectiveness as a pilot) begins to dwindle.
This comes to a head in episode 22, when the Angel Arael attacks and Asuka, burdened by increasingly poor results in synchronization tests, is infuriated by being ordered to serve as backup to Rei. She defies orders and tries to attack the Angel alone, but is overwhelmed by a psychological attack by the Angel. Asuka is forced to relieve memories of her childhood trauma of seeing her mother unable to recognize her and instead associating her with a doll as her father has an affair with her mother's doctor, her future stepmother. Asuka's mother eventually hangs herself on the day she is chosen as an Evangelion pilot. In response to this, Asuka proclaims she will no longer need anybody and is not a child anymore, but she is also confronted with her perceived abandonment by Kaji and rejection by Shinji, as multiple scenes of her earlier in the series teasing him or showing resistance are revealed to have been attempts to provoke Shinji into reaching out to her. Asuka feels utterly alone and incapable. Shinji attempts to console her, but she refuses. Asuka becomes incapable of piloting Unit 02, and since piloting Eva has become her main goal in life as Asuka believes this can make her be liked and respected, Asuka loses her will to live and spends episode 23 roaming the streets of Tokyo-3 aimlessly. In episode 24, she is found by Nerv naked and starving herself in an abandoned, rundown building, and is then seen in a hospital bed in a catatonic state. In the series' Instrumentality, Asuka is one of the characters confronting Shinji on his view of life and has a "Case of Asuka Langley Sohryu" exploring her own character. In the alternate world sequence in episode 26, Asuka wakes up Shinji in his room, and is his childhood friend in a more mundane version of Tokyo-3.
In The End of Evangelion film
In The End of Evangelion, as the Japanese Strategic Self-Defense Force invade NERV, Asuka is placed inside Unit 02, which is submerged in a lake within the Geofront, for her protection. As she is bombarded by depth charges, Asuka wakes up declares that she refuses to die, and in a moment of clarity, realizes that her mother's soul is within the Eva and has been protecting her all along. Her self-identity regained, she emerges and defeats the JSSDF, before encountering the Mass-Produced Evas. She reluctantly asks Shinji for support, however he is unable to reach her in time. Though she successfully disables all nine opponents, Unit 02's power running out and the infinite power of the Mass-Produced Evas' S² Engines (which allow them to remain functional despite being severely damaged or mutilated) finally allow them to eviscerate and dismember Unit 02 using their Lance of Longinus replicas. Seeing Asuka's destroyed Evangelion makes Shinji go on a frenzy, which eventually culminates in him starting Third Impact. Shinji and Asuka have an extended dream-like sequence inside Instrumentality. Asuka claims she can't stand the sight of him, but Shinji responds that it is because he is just like her. Asuka then states she knows Shinji masturbated to her exposed breasts in the beginning of the movie. Asuka makes an ultimatum to Shinji as she says he wants him all to herself, and her body is sexualized before his eyes as he deals with his attraction towards her. Shinji claims he wants to understand Asuka, but she refuses. Shinji replies that Asuka will not say anything to him, which makes understanding her impossible. Shinji, in a scene reminiscent of their kiss during the series, tells Asuka he wants to help her and stay with her forever, but Asuka refuses, stating he has never truly loved anyone and is only looking at her as comfort. Shinji is furious at this rejection, and lashes out by choking her.
After Shinji rejects Instrumentality, she is the second person to return some time after Shinji in the film's final scene, her injuries sustained in battle against the Mass-Produced Evas covered in bandages. Shinji begins to strangle the seemingly comatose Asuka, but stops when she caresses his face in a manner reminiscent of Yui's, Shinji's mother, earlier caress. She then says one of her most famous sentences: 'Kimochi warui' ("I feel sick" or "How disgusting") with a cold voice.
In Rebuild of Evangelion film series
In the four-film re-imagining of the TV series, Asuka makes her first appearance in the second film, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance. Several changes have been made to her character, such as her family name being changed from Sōryū (惣流) to Shikinami (式波), continuing the Japanese maritime vessel naming convention, and rather than her having a college degree, she holds the rank of captain in the European air force, as a fighter pilot. She also doesn't share Soryu's pediophobia, and no longer has the same infatuation with Kaji, choosing to ignore an invitation to go on a trip with him until Misato forced her to go. Shikinami is also more reserved than Sohryu, and doesn't form a friendship with Hikari.
Shikinami arrives in Tokyo-3 defeating the 7th Angel by herself with ease. She introduces herself to Shinji, Touji and Kensuke but takes an immediate dislike to Rei. Asuka is seen playing with a hand puppet and telling herself she is special and has always been alone. Before fighting the 8th Angel, Asuka is unable to sleep due to anxiety, and she goes to Shinji's room and has a talk with him laying by his side, asking him why he pilots the Eva. Asuka attempts to learn how to cook in order to impress Shinji, but once she realizes Rei has been doing the same, Asuka asks her what Shinji means to her. Asuka storms out of the elevator but lets Rei hold a party for Shinji and Gendo. While Misato is having dinner with Kaji, she talks with Asuka on the cellphone as she describes how she's now more willing to talk to people. Asuka has decided to be the test pilot of Evangelion Unit 03 (whereas Touji had such a role in the original series) in order to avoid Rei's party. Unit 03 is taken over by the 9th Angel, and Shinji refuses to engage it. Asuka survives Unit 03's destruction at the hands of the Dummy Plug system, but is last seen in urgent care.
In the third film, Asuka is initially part of the rescue operation for Unit 01, which is stranded in space, and is now working together with Mari supporting her piloting Unit 08. After fighting off an initial attack by Nerv, Asuka confronts Shinji in his holding cell and tells him 14 years have passed. Asuka is biologically 28 years old but hasn't physically aged thanks to what she calls "The Curse of Eva", and she's wearing an eyepatch which glows blue with the same symbols as Shinji's DSS Choker. This surprises Shinji, and she treats him coldly when Shinji asks about what happened to Rei. When Nerv attacks again, Shinji escapes from Wille with a Rei clone to Nerv, Asuka observes his departure and claims Shinji "isn't even an idiot. He's just a brat." Later on in the movie, Asuka returns and changes her usual nickname for him for gaki-Shinji, "brat Shinji".
Asuka, again supported by Mari, confronts Shinji and Kaworu in Terminal Dogma and is flabbergast to see Shinji piloting Unit-13. When Shinji tells Asuka he wants to pull the Spears, she asks Shinji if he's trying to start another Impact, but Shinji tells Asuka she doesn't know anything and they start fighting. When Shinji pulls the Spears of Longinus and starts Fourth Impact, Asuka has her battery recharged and quickly moves in to protect the Wunder from Mark.09. Asuka activates "Code 777" and her Eva metamorphoses into a feline form, while Asuka herself grows fangs. Without time or energy to properly defeat Mark.09, Asuka self-destructs her Eva in order to save the Wunder. Later, an exhausted Asuka opens the hatch on Shinji's entry plug. Asuka briefly complains that Shinji didn't come to rescue her and is running away from his problems and, irritated at his lack of response, starts walking away, before turning back and extracting Shinji physically, as he refuses to move. Rei appears and Asuka nonchalantly assumes she's an "original Ayanami Type". Asuka grabs Shinji's wrist and they start moving along the ruins of Tokyo-3, followed by Rei.
In other media
Asuka also appears in many manga series based on the anime, including Neon Genesis Evangelion by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. The events in this manga series mirror those of the anime with some divergences apparent. Asuka appears as a main character in the series and is depicted, for the most part, similar to her anime counterpart. Asuka appears in various other manga spin-offs including the Shinji Ikari Raising Project and Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse with varying changes to her personality and characterization, including more romantic stories like Angelic Days. Asuka is usually more psychologically stable. Most of these portray Asuka as Shinji's childhood friend, similarly to the alternative universe from episode 26, and have her fight for Shinji's attentions with other characters, mainly Rei. She is older and more mature in Evangelion ANIMA, having developed a strong friendship with Shinji and even Rei.
Asuka also makes appearances in various video games alongside other Evangelion characters such as in Neon Genesis Evangelion for the Nintendo 64 as well as the popular cross-over video game franchise Super Robot Wars, where she often butts heads with the equally hot-headed and intelligent Kouji Kabuto, the pilot of Mazinger Z and Mazinkaiser. Asuka is a potential romantic option in all Evangelion videogames that include such an option, such as Girlfriend of Steel 2nd and Shinji Ikari Raising Project, often, but not always, alongside Rei and other characters. A number of official art and merchandising depicts her an Shinji in romantic situations, similar to other characters. She is also implied to have developed crushes on famous heroes such as Char Aznable (in the guise of Quattro Bageena) and Amuro Ray. However, in Super Robot Wars Alpha, Asuka jealously seizes a bouquet of roses from Shinji meant for Lynn Minmay. In Super Robot Wars Alpha 3, she snaps Shinji out of his depressed state during the battle with the Mass-Produced Evas by declaring that she could not be with someone who would simply lie down and die.
Asuka appears in the crossover Transformers x Evangelion. She piloted Ava-1 to intercept the Angel possessed Starscream calling himself Angel-scream, her Ava was scanned by the Autobot leader Optimus Prime and he gains her Ava´s size and colors, she with the help of Optimus Prime and the other Autobots defeat Angel-scream
In a Newtype poll from March 2010, Asuka was voted as the third most popular female anime character from the 1990s. The June 2010 issue of Newtype ranked Asuka Shikinami Langley No. 8 in its monthly top 10 character survey. One reviewer describes her fatal flaw as "excessive Pride", noting that her mother goes insane after taking a test pilot experience on herself just as Asuka suffers a mental breakdown or contamination when challenging the 16th Angel herself. Mike Crandol, also of ANN, states that "Again it is Asuka that it is most interesting to consider in this [semi-romantic] light. Sensing a kindred soul beneath her aggressive exterior (or perhaps admiring the determination he lacks), Shinji comes to love her, but does not know how to express it. Likewise, it is hinted that Asuka has similarly romantic feelings for Shinji, but her ego prevents her from admitting it even to herself." Pete Harcoff of Anime Critic described Asuka as providing much of the comic relief, while also being an "annoying snot". IGN ranked her as the 13th greatest anime character of all time, saying that "On the surface, she's a simple character. ... But as the series progresses we see that her pride is a cover for deeper emotions and deep, deep psychological problems." Japanese critic Manabu Tsuribe considers that End of Evangelion was concluded by Shinji finding "an other" in her.  Asuka was initially less successful and popular than Rei, however over time Rei's popularity gave in to Asuka's, particularly with the release of Evangelion 3.0. She is consistently ranked the most popular character in merchandising sales. Asuka is also credited as being highly influential in establishing the tsundere archetype in subsequent anime.
Asuka's fight sequence against the Mass-Production Evangelions in The End of Evangelion was particularly well received by critics who felt that it was her definitive moment, as otherwise she remains static for most of the film. Praise was also given to Tiffany Grant for her role as Asuka's English voice actress. Mike Crandol of Anime News Network stated that Grant was "her fiery old self as Asuka."
Theron Martin wrote that Asuka's portrayal in Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance is "distinct from the get-go," stating that she is even more anti-social than in the original anime series. Martin also wrote that despite seeming to be the "most socially adjusted Eva pilot in the TV series," the Asuka of Evangelion 2.0 "makes no pretenses about liking anyone" and that she "seems motivated as much by establishing herself in a future career path in NERV as she is by her personal pride." Eric Surrell also commented on Asuka's role in Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, stating that "the arrival and sudden dismissal of Asuka was shocking and depressing, especially considering how integral she was to the original Evangelion."
- The Evangelion 2.0 Complete Records Collection. khara, Inc. September 2010. ISBN 978-4-905033-00-4.
- "NT Research". Newtype. Kadokawa Shoten (4). March 2010.
- Sadamoto, Yoshiyuki (October 2006). Der Mond. Viz Media. pp. 22, 32, 33, 42–50, 55, 74. ISBN 978-1-4215-0767-5.
- "Evangelion character names". Translation of essay by Hideaki Anno about character name origins; includes a link to the original essay in Japanese. Archived from the original on August 19, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
- "EVA If it weren't for Sadamoto – Redux". Translation of interview with Yoshiyuki Sadamoto about designing the series. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
An easily recognizable silhouette is also important, but I designed the characters so that their personalities could be more or less understood at a glance. For example, even the color and length of the hair expresses personality. I thought that Asuka would occupy the position of an "idol" in the Eva world, and that [Asuka and] Shinji should be just like the relationship between Nadia and Jean.
- pg 166 & 167 of "A Place For Asuka in the Heart", written by Yuko Miyamura in 1997
- http://www.evamonkey.com/writings_miyamura01.php translated into English by William Flanagan. This short essay was included as a backpage supplement in the third manga volume released in the US: Neon Genesis Evangelion Volume 3, story and art by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto 1966, English adaptation by Fred Burke, published July 1999 in Canada by Viz Communications. ISBN 1-56931-399-7; it is also included in the June 2004 edition of Volume 4 published by Viz in the United States. ISBN 1-59116-402-8
- "Interview with Yūko Miyamura – SMASH 2010". Anime News Network. April 5, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- "Otakon Highlights - Evangelion Voice Actors - Aug. 7, 1998". fansview.com. Archived from the original on January 27, 2007. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
- Director: Kazuya Tsurumaki, Writers:Hideaki Anno, Yoki Enokido (November 1, 1995). "Asuka Strikes!". Neon Genesis Evangelion. Episode 8. TV Tokyo.
- Director: Akira Takamura, Writers:Hideaki Anno, Hiroshi Yamaguchi (February 28, 1996). "Don't Be". Neon Genesis Evangelion. Episode 22. TV Tokyo.
- "Episode Commentaries 21-26 - Platinum Booklets - Eva Monkey, an Evangelion Fan Website". Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- Director: Shoichi Masuo, Writers:Hideaki Anno, Hiroshi Yamaguchi (March 6, 1996). "Rei III". Neon Genesis Evangelion. Episode 23. TV Tokyo.
- "Piloting the Eva provides the means by which Shinji and Asuka acquire their sense of purpose. Emotionally stunted in all other areas of her life, Asuka has focused exclusively on the Evangelion, her "job", to give meaning to her existence. As she loses the ability to control her Eva late in the series she loses the only sense of value she knew." "Understanding Evangelion", Mike Crandol ANN
- Director: Shoichi Masuo, Writers:Hideaki Anno, Akio Satsukawa (March 13, 1996). "The Beginning and the End, or 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door". Neon Genesis Evangelion. Episode 24. TV Tokyo.
- "It's one of the most intense scenes in the film, and a perverse subversion of the dynamic between these two in the series. Asuka tells Shinji he wants her because he’s scared of Misato and Rei. She is the most accessible to him, so he tries to channel his affection towards her, but does he really care for her? It’s a question he can’t really answer, and all his uncertain feelings about women get wrapped up in this awful mess that leads him to choke Asuka. It's intense and hard to watch. This is the ostensible hero of the piece and he’s caught in this psychological hell, choking the heroine to death. This leads into the trippy reality bending sequence that brings the film towards its climax". Meaney, 2008
- Kazuya Tsurumaki, Hideaki Anno (directors) (1997). The End of Evangelion (Film). Toei Company, Ltd.
- 「ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版：破」作品情報 -キャラクター紹介- (in Japanese). Archived from the original on February 16, 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
- Hideaki Anno, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Masayuki (directors) (2009). Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (Film). Studio Khara.
- "Angel-Sealing Hex Glyphs - EvaWiki - An Evangelion Wiki - EvaGeeks.org". wiki.evageeks.org. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
- "Transformers × Evangelion - Transformers Wiki".
- "An extrapolation of these verses also incorporates the eventual similar 'fate' and punishment of parents and children. With this in mind, the seeming parallels are shocking:...Asuka's mother, after direct (1st level) contact with an Angel, goes 'insane' and eventually kills herself. Asuka, after direct contact with the 16th Angel, as well as an extremely wounded hubris (excessive Pride), has a complete mental breakdown and attempts to commit suicide, but fails; she is effectively 'dead.'" Kenneth Lee, "The Thin Veneer Known as "Evangelion"", ANN; Lee also describes Asuka in one scene as "completely misanthropic".
- Crandol, Mike. "Understanding Evangelion". Anime News Network. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
- Pete Harcoff (May 26, 2003). "Neon Genesis Evangelion". Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- Isler, Ramsey (February 4, 2014). "Top 25 Greatest Anime Characters". IGN. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
- "Prison of Self-consciousness: an Essay on Evangelion". www001.upp.so-net.ne.jp. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
In my view, The End of Evangelion ended on the phase when Shinji, the hero, found Asuka as "the other." For Shinji, Asuka is an ambiguous existence. On the one hand she lectures and inspires him because she minds him, but on the other she is also an existence beyond his control-the other that can never be interiorized. Asuka's ambiguity is also the ambiguity of the work Evangelion as it is.
- ""Evangelion" Creator Hideaki Anno Discusses Rei Versus Asuka". Crunchyroll. April 14, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
- "Eva Store's Character Popularity Poll Yields Surprising Results". Anime News Network. February 5, 2019. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
- "How To Identify Popular Japanese Character Types". Kotaku Australia. August 21, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
- Patrick Meaney (March 19, 2008). "Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion". Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- Pete Harcoff (June 6, 2003). "End of Evangelion". Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- Mike Crandol (September 24, 2002). "Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion". Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- Theron Martin (March 31, 2011). "Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance". Retrieved June 30, 2011.
- Eric Surrell (June 1, 2011). "Evangelion 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance". Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved June 30, 2011.