|Kaworu Nagisa / Tabris|
|Neon Genesis Evangelion character|
|First appearance||Neon Genesis Evangelion Episode 24: "The Beginning and the End, or "Knockin' on Heaven's Door""|
|Created by||Hideaki Anno (Writer)
Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Designer)
Kyle Sturdivant (Neon Genesis Evangelion)
Aaron Krohn (Death & Rebirth and The End of Evangelion)
Greg Ayres (Neon Genesis Evangelion Director's Cut)
Jerry Jewell (Rebuild of Evangelion)
Kaworu Nagisa (渚 カヲル Nagisa Kaworu?) is a fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. He is the Fifth Child and the seventeenth angel, Tabris. He is sent to Nerv by Seele as a replacement pilot for Unit 02 after Asuka Langley Soryu's synchronization ratio falls below usability. He later breaks into Terminal Dogma to return to Adam, but after he discovers the being there is actually Lilith, he permits Shinji Ikari to destroy him. He appears in The End of Evangelion during Third Impact, communicating with Shinji in regard to the choice of whether to accept or reject Instrumentality.
Despite his very small screentime in the series (first appearing two episodes only before the series' finale, and with little to no presence in subsequent episodes), Kaworu became a popular and recognizable character, mainly due to his sex appeal. A Newtype poll in 2010 ranked him the second most popular male anime character from the 1990s.
In early designs, Kaworu was depicted as a school boy with a pet cat who could switch to an "Angel form". In vol. 9 of the manga, one of Sadamoto's artworks is a portrayal of Kaworu dressed in black and holding a black cat.
Kaworu was named by screenplay writer Akio Satsukawa. Kaworu's surname "Nagisa" comes from the Japanese word nagisa (渚?), meaning "waterside" or "shore", concerned with sea. It also comes from Japanese movie director Nagisa Oshima. Adding to these, the character "渚", when divided, can be read shi-sha (シ者?). The title of episode 24 is "The Last Shisha" (最後のシ者 Saigo no Shisha?). "シ者" includes two Japanese words read as "shisha" (the character "シ" only represents the sound "shi"). The first is "messenger" or "apostle" (使者 shisha?), while the other is "dead (person)" (死者?).
Gainax renders his name in Romaji as "Kaworu", not "Kaoru" as would be given by most romanization schemes. The reasons for the difference in the naming have not been explicitly detailed by the series' creators; one theory is that the name is based on the original kana of the name Kaoru Genji, from The Tale of Genji.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Kaworu Nagisa is the only character in the series that offers Shinji Ikari unconditional positive regard. Kaworu first appears in the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, in episode 24. He is shown sitting on a stone amongst wreckage due to the previous battle with Armisael, the Sixteenth Angel. Shinji is present, confused and frustrated about what to do since all of his friends have evacuated the city; Asuka is mentally distressed and in a ward, and Rei appears to not remember recent events. Kaworu abruptly tells Shinji music is beautiful after he stops humming the famous Ode to Joy melody from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and begins conversing with him in a kind manner. Following their initial meeting, Kaworu and Shinji begin to strike up a friendship, enjoying each other's company. Kaworu's unconditional care is also perhaps romantic in manner since Kaworu confesses to Shinji, "I mean, I love you."
After the Nerv staff become suspicious of Kaworu's high synchronisation rates with Unit-02, an alert is issued that Unit-02 has activated without a pilot inside and that someone is descending towards Terminal Dogma; it is Kaworu, who is identified as the 17th and final Angel. Shinji pilots Unit-01 to pursue Kaworu and unsuccessfully tries to stab him with the progressive knife, only to be blocked by Kaworu's AT Field. Kaworu manipulates Unit-02 to fight against Unit-01 and proceeds to Terminal Dogma, but after entering the area, appears to reach an understanding that the giant crucified there is not in fact Adam, but rather Lilith. After Shinji defeats Unit-02, Kaworu allows Shinji to grasp him in Unit-01's hand. Following a period of silence, Shinji kills Kaworu by crushing him in Unit-01's hand. At the end of the episode, Shinji converses with Misato and expresses his grief for Kaworu's death, stating "I loved him. Kaworu-kun was the one who should have survived."
The End of Evangelion
In The End of Evangelion, the Mass Production EVAs' Dummy Plugs are prominently marked "KAWORU", suggesting that Seele was in possession of clones of Kaworu just as Nerv was in possession of clones of Rei for the Dummy Plug system for the original Evas. Kaworu makes his first appearance in the film during the initiation of the Human Instrumentality Project, sharing a body with the giant form of Rei. Later, Kaworu, along with Rei, appears in Shinji's mind and argues with Shinji in regards to the case of humanity and in favor of individualism and free choice.
Rebuild of Evangelion
Promotional materials for Rebuild of Evangelion showed prominent images of Kaworu in his plugsuit with the other Children. In the first film, he briefly appears at the ending, in which he has a mysterious conversation with SEELE on the surface of the Moon. In the second film, Gendo and Fuyutsuki travel to the Moon to observe the construction of the Mark.06; much to Fuyutsuki's surprise, they see Kaworu sitting naked on top of the Eva in hard vacuum. He turns towards them and calls someone a father. In the end, Kaworu comes down from the Moon with the Mark.06 and impales Unit 01, aborting Third Impact. Afterwards he says that the promised time has come and that this time he will bring Shinji happiness. The preview of the third film shows Kaworu confronting four other pilots in an unknown location.
In the third film, fourteen years after the second film, he appears to now be working for NERV. When Shinji arrives at NERV, Gendo tells him that he and Kaworu will be piloting Eva Unit-13. During Shinji's stay at NERV, he forms a friendship with Kaworu, who teaches him how to play the piano, and stargazes with him. Later when Shinji asked what had happened to the people he knew, Kaworu takes him to ruins of Geofront and Tokyo-3, explaining that Shinji's awakening of Unit-01 caused the Third Impact and further decimated the world. He also reveals the aim of the ongoing Human Instrumentality Project: to kill all life on Earth, allowing for the creation of beings that bear the Fruit of Life.
When Fuyutsuki reveals about Yui Ayanami being inside Unit-01 and the Rei clones, Shinji has a mental breakdown. On the day of the operation, Shinji is unsure whether to follow Gendo's orders or Misato's plea to not pilot an Evangelion again, so Kaworu takes the choker off Shinji and wears it as a sign of trust. Later, Shinji and Kaworu pilot Unit-13 into Terminal Dogma on their mission to use the Spears of Cassius and Longinus to undo Third Impact; Rei follows in Mark.09. When Unit-13 reaches Lilith's corpse, Kaworu realizes that both spears are similar and pleads with Shinji to not remove them.
Despite Kaworu's pleas and an assault by Asuka and Mari, Shinji removes the spears, causing Lilith to explode into LCL. Mark.09 decapitates Mark.06 to release the Twelfth Angel, which is absorbed by Unit-13. The awakened Unit-13 flies out of the Geofront and rises into the sky, starting Fourth Impact. Kaworu reveals he is the First Angel, now "cast down" to the Thirteenth. The choker detects Unit-13's awakening and activates. To halt Fourth Impact, Kaworu allows the choker to kill him before Shinji's eyes. Before dying, he states that he and Shinji will meet again. However, it is currently unknown if he will be returning for the fourth movie.
In other media
Kaworu makes appearances in various other media spin-offs of Neon Genesis Evangelion, including various audio dramas and music CD's and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's adaptation of the anime. Here, Kaworu is portrayed as being ignorant of human emotions and taboos regarding social interaction and personal space, creating some comic relief. His role is very similar to his anime counterpart's although some details have been altered, such as his friendship with Shinji not being immediate. Aside from Sadamoto's manga, Kaworu also appears as a supporting character in other titles, such as The Shinji Ikari Raising Project and Campus Apocalypse. In these manga appearances, Kaworu is typically portrayed in a lighter tone than in the series, with focus placed on his relationship with Shinji.
Kaworu also appears in video games based on the Evangelion franchise, including the popular cross-over franchise Super Robot Wars. In the game's adaption of The End of Evangelion, Kaworu's spirit returns to take control of Unit-00 and aid Shinji in battle and help rescue Rei from inside Lilith. He also visits Nekki Basara and voices his approval of his music. He makes his final appearance during the final battle with Kaiser Ephes where he encourages the Eva pilots not give up.
As a promotion for its 10th Anniversary Special Edition of Evangelion, ADV Films published a humorous bumper sticker which reads "KAWORU DIED FOR YOUR SINS" (カヲルはあなたの罪のために死んだ Kaworu wa anata no tsumi no tame ni shinda?). Mania Entertainment's Chris Beveridge described Kaworu's death in the anime as an "extremely powerful moment" due to the fact that after a minute without dialogue, his head's shadow appears touching the water.
Kaworu Nagisa was the second most popular male character in the 1997 Animage poll; in 1998 he was ranked 6th. In a Newtype poll from March 2010, Kaworu was voted as the second most popular male anime character from the 1990s, after Shinji Ikari.
The bonus materials in volume nine of the English adaptation of the manga include an article written by editor Carl Gustav Horn comparing Kaworu to the character Satan in Mark Twain's novella The Mysterious Stranger.
Relationship with Shinji
Kaworu's interactions with Shinji and proclaimed love for him have been a persistent topic of debate among fans of Evangelion since the series' first run. Although Kaworu had a brief appearance for one episode in the original anime, he had a very prominent role in the rebuild movie, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, in which he had a very intimate relationship with Shinji. Official art also often pairs the two together, especially in the movie posters for 3.0, which some of the figures are based on. Kaworu's sexuality is ambiguous; however, the Neon Genesis Evangelion 2: Another Cases Official Guidebook states, "while his feelings of love (愛情) for Shinji are strangely strong, his romantic affections (愛情) towards members of the opposite sex such as Ritsuko and Maya are weak. Could this be because he is an Angel? Under these circumstances, forming a ‘rabu rabu’ relationship with Shinji is preferable. As the relationship is satisfactory, concern over forming other relationships is unnecessary." Some of the cast's Japanese voice actors also agree that Shinji and Kaworu are a couple. During the Symphony of Evangelion (1997) at the Bunkamura Orchard Hall in Japan, Megumi Hayashibara and Kotono Mitsuishi agreed that if Shinji were Hikoboshi, his Orihime would be Kaworu (the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi are the star-crossed lovers celebrated during the Japanese festival Tanabata). In the Shinji Ikari Raising Project game, similar to the girls, Shinji can also develop a relationship with Kaworu. Kaworu's route has a bad end but also a good end in which the two reciprocate each other's feelings and move in together.
Of course, in the fanbase there's also great controversy over the nature of Shinji and Kaworu's relationship. Patrick Drazen's book Anime Explosion! The What? Why? & Wow! Of Japanese Animation expresses the view that Kaworu's offer of love for Shinji is a tactic that Kaworu as the last Angel used to disarm Shinji. In 1998 reviewer Kenneth Lee criticized Kaworu, saying: "...the element of homosexuality is perhaps the most disturbing, gratuitous, and unnecessary aspect that presents itself in episode 24...Ultimately, the homosexuality issue seems nothing more than cheap shock value tactics to stun generation X"; he considered the entire Shinji-Kaworu relationship "ludicrous and pathetically humorous". Gainax is clearly aware that the audience associates Kaworu with bishōnen tropes, and have produced artworks such as splash pages for their website in reference to Kaworu's ambiguity and the audience's reaction to the character. However, some believe that whether Kaworu, an Angel, actually has any concept of sexuality as he is presented in the series is unclear. Mike Crandol regards Kaworu as being "representative of blind, total and unconditional love and acceptance, but like those things Kaworu turns out to not be real at all".
- 第19回アニメグランプリ ［1997年6月号］ (in Japanese). Animage.jp. Retrieved 2009-07-19.
- "NT Research". Newtype, Issue 4. Kadokawa Shoten. March 2010.
- NEWTYPE 100% COLLECTION: NEON GENESIS EVANGELION. 1997 Kadokawashoten. ISBN 4-04-852700-2. Partial translation.
- ISBN 1-59116-707-8
- "Evangelion character names". Translation of essay by Hideaki Anno about character name origins; includes a link to the original essay in Japanese. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
- Episode 24, "The Beginning and the End, or "Knockin' on Heaven's Door""
- Anime News Service, 9-6-06 (6:46PM EDT)---- Confirmed: "Evangelion Shin Gekijou Ban" Details
- EVA 10th Limited Edition Archived October 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Beveridge, Chris (January 24, 2002). "Neon Genesis Evangelion Collection 0:8". Mania Entertainment. Retrieved December 12, 2009.
- Animage, June 1998
- Drazen, Patrick (October 2002). '"A Very Pure Thing": Gay and Pseudo-Gay Themes' in Anime Explosion! The What, Why & Wow of Japanese Animation Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press p.95 ISBN 1-880656-72-8.
- "The fact that within a span of 14 minutes we are expected to believe that Shinji and Kaworu have transcended all boundaries and inhibitions to achieve an unearthly 'Love' and openness for each other is completely ludicrous and pathetically humorous...Yet, along comes Kaworu, who he's known for about 10 minutes and is a boy, no less, and Shinji seems completely accepting of Kaworu's open touches and fondles." "The Thin Veneer Known as "Evangelion"", ANN