|Neon Genesis Evangelion character|
|First appearance||"Angel Attack"|
|Relatives||Gendo Ikari (father)
Yui Ikari (mother)
Misato Katsuragi (guardian)
Shinji Ikari (碇 シンジ Ikari Shinji?) is a fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise created by Gainax. He was first introduced as the protagonist from the television anime series from 1995. Shinji Ikari is a young boy who is requested by his distant father, Gendo Ikari, to pilot a mecha known as the Evangelion Unit 01 to protect the city of Tokyo-3 from creatures known as Angels that threaten to destroy mankind. While Shinji is forced to pilot Unit 01, during his time in Tokyo-3 he socializes with comrades and gains friends.
Shinji's portrayal differs depending on the media in which he is shown such as in the official manga adaptation where he is written from the author Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's point of view as well as other spinoff series. The character of Shinji became highly popular, having appeared in multiple popularity polls.
Director Hideaki Anno described the hero, Shinji Ikari, as a boy who "shrinks from human contact", and has "convinced himself that he is a completely unnecessary person, so much so that he cannot even commit suicide." He describes Shinji and Misato Katsuragi as "extremely afraid of being hurt" and "unsuitable — lacking the positive attitude — for what people call heroes of an adventure." When compared to the stereotypical hero, Shinji is characterized more by lack of energy and emotion than by any sort of heroism or bravery.
"Look at Shinji. Why does he continue to fight as an Eva pilot? The story keeps changing. He said it's because everyone tells him to. Because only he can do it. Because it has to be done to save humanity. Selfless and lofty sentiments for sure, and he believed those reasons to be genuine. Wrong; he wanted his father to approve of him. To say he was a good boy. How selfish of him, really, to be a human being." --Megumi Hayashibara
Shinji has often been seen as a version or reflection of the creator of Evangelion and Anno has referred to the plot line as a metaphor of his life.
"Ikari" means "anchor" in Japanese. Shinji was named for Gainax co-founder Shinji Higuchi; it can be translated to "child of god." Evangelion character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto based his design of Shinji on his design of Nadia, the title character of Gainax's popular 1990-1991 TV series, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.
Megumi Ogata, who voiced Shinji, found the last scene of End of Evangelion difficult to perform. She became overwhelmed with emotion and strangled Yuko Miyamura, Asuka's voice actor, during that scene, making it "very hard" for Miyamura to say her lines immediately after that. Ogata regards Shinji Ikari as one of her "most memorable" roles.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Shinji acts as the main protagonist of Neon Genesis Evangelion and makes his first appearance in the first episode where he is invited to Tokyo-3 by his father Gendo Ikari. Unbeknownst to Shinji however, his father told him to come so he could serve as the pilot of Evangelion Unit-01. Shinji reluctantly agrees and defeats the Angel Sachiel, by pure luck after Unit-01 goes berserk. After the initial Angel attack, Shinji begins to attend school in Tokyo-3 and meets Toji Suzuhara and Kensuke Aida who would become his first true friends. When the Angel Ramiel appears and attempts to destroy Nerv headquarters, Shinji and fellow pilot Rei Ayanami work together to destroy the Angel. Shinji later meets Asuka Langley Soryu, a pilot from Germany, and the two successfully defeat Gaghiel.
After Shinji is forced to fight the Bardiel-controlled Eva-03 while Toji is trapped within, Shinji decides to quit Nerv. He returns, however, after Zeruel appears and incapacitates the other Evangelion units. Shinji defeats the Angel and attains a 400% sync ratio with his Evangelion and is trapped within its core for a month before being released. After Rei is apparently killed and subsequently revived through one of her clones and Asuka becomes comatose, Shinji enters into a depression. He then meets Kaworu Nagisa and the two become friends; however, it is later revealed that Kaworu is in fact the final Angel and Shinji is forced to kill him, leading to his depression.
The End of Evangelion
The End of Evangelion continues Shinji's story, portraying his downward spiral into depression and eventual loss of the will to live. He is in this state for the majority of the film, remaining practically catatonic while all of his friends, including Misato and Asuka, are killed. After witnessing the corpse of Unit-02 being carried by the Mass Production Evas, Shinji loses his last grip on sanity as Third Impact begins. Shinji goes through many introspective hallucinations until he finally decides that he wants to live and returns to Earth. Asuka appears next to him and Shinji attempts to strangle her, but stops himself and breaks down after Asuka regains consciousness and gently caresses his face.
Rebuild of Evangelion
In Rebuild of Evangelion Shinji returns as the central protagonist in Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone where he is shown to be more outspoken than his TV counterpart. In this film, Shinji's role is very much the same as that of the anime series. He is assigned to be the pilot of Unit-01 and works alongside Rei to defeat the Angel Ramiel. In Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance Shinji continues his duties as pilot of Unit-01, albeit reluctantly. After the battle with Bardiel, wherein his father forced him to critically injure Asuka, Shinji retires from his duties and leaves NERV. When Zeruel consumes Rei, Shinji returns and defeats the Angel by seemingly fusing with the Evangelion. In 3.0, set 15 years later, Shinji is awakened to a changed world caused by the Third impact which he started. Everyone but Kaworu treats him poorly, even Asuka punching a window in front of him. A clone of Rei now pilots Mark 09, aka The Vessel of Adams. Shinji learns though he attempted to save Rei, but he finds out he didn't save her. He and Kaworu attempt to erase third impact by using the spear of Longinus and Cassius, but instead start Fourth impact, destroying Tokyo-3 even more. Kaworu then sacrifices himself leaving Shinji losing his will to live.  The fourth film is yet to be released.
In other media
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2009)|
Shinji appears in most manga adaptations of Neon Genesis Evangelion, including Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's manga adaptation. The manga generally follows the plot of the anime with occasional alterations in events. In this manga, Shinji's role is very similar to his anime counterpart, although changes in characterization are apparent. This is due to the fact the manga is written from Sadamoto's point of view involving Shinji. Sadamoto was inspired to write the manga after learning of Shinji's role in the first episode of the television series. Shinji is also a primary protagonist in the Shinji Ikari Raising Project and Neon Genesis Evangelion: Campus Apocalypse where he is portrayed in a different light than his anime counterpart.
Shinji, alongside other Evangelion characters, makes frequent appearances in video games, such as Neon Genesis Evangelion for the Nintendo 64. Shinji is also a playable character in the popular cross-over video game franchise Super Robot Wars where he and other Evangelion characters work with characters from various other mecha series.
Shinji ranked 25th on IGN's first top 25 anime characters list. Editor Chris Mackenzie commented that the IGN staff loved him "not for what he is, but for what he could be". In 2014, IGN ranked him as the greatest anime character of all time, saying that heroes "are often who we want to be", and noting he was different from it: "he was perhaps the most emotionally true-to-life character in anime history." In a Newtype poll from March 2010, Shinji was voted as the most popular male character from the 1990s. The 19th and the 20th Animage Grand Prix ranked him the best male character of the year.
Pete Harcoff, a reviewer for Anime Critic, gave a positive review of Neon Genesis Evangelion yet maintained a negative view of Shinji's character, stating that Shinji was ineffective and disappointing to watch. Shinji's role in the Rebuild of Evangelion films got a better response as he was noted to be friendlier with other characters in contrast to his role in the TV series. Theron Martin from Anime News Network listed the scene from Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance in which Shinji saves Rei as the "Best Scene" in the site's feature "The Best (and Most Notable) of 2011." Martin praised Shinji's determination in such scene as "this is the first time in the entire franchise that he whole-heartedly goes after something because he wants it, rather than because he's expected to or has no choice."
Spike Spencer, Shinji's English voice actor has received praise for his role, particularly for his performance in The End of Evangelion. Mike Crandol of Anime News Network praised the subtle nuances that Spencer brought to the role, as he felt that Spencer had improved over his previous performances where he tended to parody Shinji's inner turmoil. Pete Harcoff, while critical of Shinji's character, also complimented Spencer, stating that he delivered a solid performance as Shinji.
- Sadamoto, Yoshiyuki (December 1998) [July 1995]. "What were we trying to make here?". Neon Genesis Evangelion, Vol. 1. Essay by Hideaki Anno; translated by Mari Morimoto, English adaptation by Fred Burke. San Francisco: VIZ Media LLC. pp. 170–171. ISBN 1-56931-294-X.
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