|“||What are you, stupid?!||„|
|~ Asuka Langley Soryu|
Asuka Langley Soryu is the Second Child and the designated pilot of Evangelion Unit-02. She is 1/4 Japanese and 1/4 German (from her mother Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu's side), although her nationality is American, as is, apparently, her father's, where she met Misato Katsuragi and Ryoji Kaji. After traveling to Japan with Kaji, Asuka moved in with Misato Katsuragi and Shinji Ikari and became one of the major characters in the series.
Asuka Langley Soryu is one of Neon Genesis Evangelion's main protagonists, chosen as the Second Child by the Marduk Institute. First brought into the series in episode 8 "Asuka Strikes!", she has a extremely high sync-ratio with her EVA that both Shinji and Rei Ayanami cannot parallel.
She is first introduced as a brass, headstrong and confident character who is disliked by a vast majority of the lead characters, often seeming unsympathetic, insulting and a control freak to some of her peers. She is also incredibly prideful and balks at the thought of anyone else surpassing her. Shinji is uncomfortable and somewhat awkward around her, probably because he can't seem to comprehend Asuka.
Although this side of Asuka is predominant, she only acts this way towards characters she has expectations for and/or gets in her way. Towards older people like Kaji, Misato and her family, she acts carefree and joyful. This also goes for some of her friends. She is supposedly "the most popular girl in school" for her confidence, and good looks. The boys even sell pictures of her around the school. She brags to Shinji and Rei about Her popularity. She also uses her popularity to get praise from elders like Misato and such.
Asuka is somewhat of a child genius, having earned a university degree as a teenager, as well as being able to speak fluent Japanese, although she gets bad grades because she has difficulty reading and writing in Japanese (Kanji).
Her guardian in the series is Misato Katsuragi, who is also the guardian of Shinji. Because of this, they live together in Misato's apartment. She dislikes the home at first, because she is not accustomed to living in Japan.
She is voiced by Yuko Miyamura in the Japanese version of the anime, Tiffany Grant in the original English dub by ADV Films, and Stephanie McKeon in the newer English dub on Netflix.
Asuka is a very proud girl, especially in her piloting, and comes across to others as proud and strong, with a very high opinion of both her appearance and her skill as an Eva pilot. She is stubborn and having difficulties in express her true feelings to others. She does not like being looked down upon or told what to do as she wants to be viewed as an adult. Not only that, she is aggressive and can be very opinionated.
However, this personality is a front that protects a very vulnerable and insecure girl: As abruptly revealed by Arael whom tearing her mind apart, due to contact experiment on Eva Unit-02, Asuka's mother have her soul torn into two and one of the half ended up entered the Eva's core while the rest still on her body. Unfortunately, this caused her to go insane and almost kill Asuka before finally committing suicide, traumatizing her. Asuka is often violent and intrusive of other people's space, especially Shinji's. She also has a strong need to be self-sufficient, and has a great deal of difficulty dealing with her self-perceived failure when she does need help. Thus, her relationship with Shinji is one of the core aspects of the series, and affects both characters on multiple levels.
Her best (and seemingly her only close) friend is her class representative, Hikari Horaki. Although Asuka and classmate Toji Suzuhara constantly argue, she gives Hikari advice about pursuing Toji. Asuka is openly infatuated with Ryoji Kaji, her former guardian after her mother died, and makes a number of advances toward him which he politely refuses. For this reason she envies her and Shinji's guardian, Misato Katsuragi, especially after Misato and Kaji rekindle their romantic relationship. The "Director's Cut" of Episode 24 also shows Asuka violently confronting Shinji and saying he's lying when he tells her that Kaji has been killed.
When Asuka is introduced to the show, she brims with confidence. As a foreign girl in Japan, and a hot redhead at that, she gets a lot of attention from the boys in her class. She takes great pride in being a genius prodigy and makes fun of Shinji for being stupid. Her greatest pride is her Evangelion, Unit-02.
She seems to hate Japan, making loud, rude comments about how there is no privacy because of screen doors, sleeping on the floor is strange to her, and complains about the lack of space. She thinks of Rei's coldness as weird, and thinks Shinji is a wuss. Initially, Asuka and Rei don't get along well, symbolized by the fact that Rei is a vegetarian and Asuka thinks that it's stupid to be vegetarian because animals eat other animals. So from day one, she projects this air of smug superiority to almost everyone she interacts with. And from day one, her personality is contrasted starkly to that of Rei.
Her pride takes a few serious blows later down the road, and we see her mental state come gradually unglued. In one episode, she fails to launch a synchronized strike on an angel because she cannot work well with Shinji. In that episode, we see her becoming very jealous of Rei Ayanami. Rei could probably do what Asuka is training for better, but Asuka refuses to let Rei take on the mission. She wants to train to do the attack, but just isn't good at coordinating her movements with other people. She spends a lot of time bitching and arguing and not a lot of time doing the work an Eva pilot is tasked with. She might be intelligent, but she lacks the maturity necessary to work with people.
And then it gets even worse, when an angel is able to make Asuka confront repressed memories of her traumatic past. Apparently, her mother committed suicide, and her step-mother (who had been her father's mistress) didn't want a damn thing to do with Asuka as a child. So lacking a stable mother figure, Asuka wanted to be strong and independent. But that explains why she has such a hard time socially and why she bullies others. She's actually deeply insecure, and projects confidence to hide her fears. She's basically the female version of a guy projecting a macho tough-guy image to hide his insecurity.
Asuka was born and raised in Germany, living a horrible childhood that left her scarred for life. Her mother, Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu was a scientist in the Germany branch of The Evangelion Project. When Asuka was only 4 years old, Kyoko participates in the Evangelion Unit-02 project, an experiment similar to of Yui Ikari's with Unit-01, in which Yui was absorbed by the Evangelion and presumed dead. Kyoko survives, but is left mentally unstable. Kyoko's husband leaves her, and she is left crying every night over him as Asuka watches.
As Kyoko is in a poor mental state, she believes a doll of Asuka's actually is Asuka as a newborn. The real Asuka is only known as "that girl over there" to Kyoko that has given her a trauma of doll's. Her mother became unstable to the point where she strangled Asuka, so she can "die with me!". One day in the near future where Asuka is still a little girl, she is selected to become a pilot of Evangelion. Running home to tell her mother this and that "people are really nice to me now", she opens the door to her house, revealing that her mother has hung herself. Asuka stares at her, stating "Mama looked so peaceful". After this, she vowed to "not depend on anyone".
Asuka hated her stepmother as she was Kyoko's doctor who married her father. They both learn to live with each other however, she seems cheerful when getting a call from home. When Shinji was intrigued of this, she replies that "I just put it on".
She later becomes responsibility for Ryoji Kaji, her new Guardian. She has a massive crush on Kaji, going as far as to expose herself in front of him, telling him to "look at me!".
Asuka's relationship with Shinji is one of the factors in the series and somewhat complex. She does not admit to liking Shinji in front of anyone and seems far too into Kaji to care about anyone else. She is extremely prideful at lets that get in the way to the extent that she can't be open about her feeling's. She often insults Shinji and blames him saying that "All you do is apologize, what kind of man are you!" and "I cant believe I lost to a loser like you!". And on various fronts tries to flirt with him in a indirect way. However all this does is confuse Shinji into ignoring her or telling her "Why don't you be nicer to me!", this gives him the impression that she hates him. Asuka also is disappointed when Shinji gives her these responses.
Asuka gets jealous when other girls like Rei talk to Shinji, however she either takes it out by confronting the girl who he is talking to or Shinji, then insulting them. Probably the closest point where Shinji and Asuka together was when they kissed that was Shinji's first and rumored to be Asuka's first kiss as well. Even this was in no way a declaration of a relationship between them. It simply came out of nowhere when Asuka and Shinji are at home, and Asuka asked "Have you kissed a girl before?". Immediately after what was supposedly a long time kissing, Asuka started insulting Shinji saying "I can't believe I kissed you! Your pathetic!" Then stormed off to her room.
They both like each other but cannot be open with each other. The relationship both intensifies and goes to hell in End of Evangelion. Shinji goes to Asuka who is currently in a comatose state in the hospital, and pleads that he needs her help. However she doesn't wake up. He keeps tugging her shoulder trying to get her to wake up but it is no use. Accidentally, he pulls her away from her bed sheets and her hospital gown. Exposing her breast, he then masturbates over her, showing that Shinji is deeply attracted to Asuka. When he sees that she has been eaten alive by the MP-EVAs, he screams and appears to lose his mental stability. During the time he is in The Human Instrumentality Project, he and Asuka both conflict with each other. There are flashbacks to Asuka repeatedly insulting Shinji and Asuka saying "You can't understand me, how could you possibly think of understanding me?!".
Asuka surprisingly tells Shinji that "I know all about your little jerk off fantasies about me, you can do it right here. I'll even watch you. But If I cant have you all to myself, then I don't what any of you" that is proving that Asuka is willing to accept Shinji but in a very controlling manner, although Shinji just responds saying "Why cant you just be nicer to me"?
Still during The Human Instrumentality Project, at place they first kissed, Shinji tells Asuka that "I need you and I want to help you", Asuka turns him down saying "You don't need me, anyone will do, you don't care who it is!". Asuka continues to go on in this manner but Shinji eventually breaks down and chokes her. In the final scene of End of Evangelion, both are back alive in the real world that is post-apocalyptic of the Third Impact. Shinji starts to choke Asuka who is lying down, however she raises her hand against Shinji's cheek (similar to what his mother used to do) then Shinji broke down crying. Asuka's final line is "How Disgusting/I feel sick". Whether Asuka says this is out of betrayal as in "How Disgusting" you would have choked me. Or spite, as in "How Disgusting" you are is ambiguous. It can also express discomfort at their situation and/or the experiences of Instrumentality. Overall the interpretation of this final line resides on whether or not they can learn to love themselves and whether they can at the very least reconcile and be able happy, together or not, from now on.
From the moment they cross paths, Asuka and Rei are bitter enemies, even though they have to work on the same side. Asuka asks if she can be friends with Rei, because it would be "convenient", but Rei declines this invitation, saying she would only be friends with Asuka if ordered to. This exchange starts both of them on a path of jealous, bitter rivalry. It also shows that their characters are written in such a way that one is usually characterized in contrast with the other.
In literature, these are called foil characters. A foil is a character who is not necessarily an antagonist or enemy, but who does oppose another character because they disagree due to some kinds of fundamental differences. These differences are used to highlight the characters' traits. By calling attention to what makes these characters different from each other, the author is showing their characters rather than simply describing them. Things and people are often described well using comparison. That's all this is.
From the contrast of Asuka and Rei, we can see a lot of things about each of their personalities (as I illustrate using a table below). And, because they conflict with, and argue with each other, we see another literary phenomenon; the antithesis. With antithetical characters, writers not only use contrast as a device for characterization, but they highlight the meaning of the conflict of the story. For example, in Evangelion, the conflict of Asuka vs. Rei captures a lot of conflicts thematic to the story. Rei represents unity, harmony, the Japanese way, coolness, logic, and conformity. Asuka represents the opposing views of Western ideals like individualism and independence. There are many Red and Blue Oni characters used in anime, to show contrast this way. But Asuka and Rei do the most in terms of making their interactions center around meaningful, philosophically poignant, conflict.
Even if both can be seen in an negative light, with Asuka coming off as conceited and arrogant, and Rei coming of as cold and soulless, both of these characters contribute a lot of psychological and philosophical weight to the events of Neon Genesis Evangelion. They open up a dialogue about east vs. west, feminine vs. masculine, and harmony vs. individualism, among other important philosophical conflicts. There's always more to say about these two fascinating, and similarly troubled, adolescent girl characters.
Rebuild of Evangelion
- Main article: Asuka Langley Shikinami
In the Rebuild of Evangelion continuity, Asuka's surname is Shikinami, making her Asuka Langley Shikinami. She first appears in the second movie and holds the rank of captain in the Euro airforce. Like most of the other characters in Rebuild, her personality is largely the same, but more mentally stable. All in all, she gets along better with other people than her first incarnation, not repressing her feelings for Shinji as much and eventually even making peace with Rei. The biggest physical difference to Asuka in this continuity is that she loses her left eye much earlier in the story.
In the second movie, Asuka is 14, like in the original series. By the time of the third movie, she is 28, but retains her teenage body because of the growth retardation effect of LCL.