Shinji Ikari is the main character of the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion and the reboot movies Rebuild of Evangelion. He is the Third Child and pilots EVA-01 against the Angels, a series of supernatural beings that threaten humanity.
History (TV Series)
Shinji Ikari was born in 2001 to Gendo Ikari and Yui Ikari, a year after the Second Impact. When he was three years old, he bore witness to his mother's "death" during the first EVA contact experiment. A year later he was abandoned by his father and sent to live with his teacher.
Piloting the EVA
In the year 2015, Shinji is summoned to Tokyo-03 by his father, who leads an organization known as NERV who operates directly under the United Nations and whose job is to prevent anything like the Second Impact from happening again. Before he can reach his father, however, he is caught in a battle between the United Nation's forces and the Angel Sachiel. He is rescued by Misato Katsuragi, who brings him to NERV headquarters, where it is revealed his father wanted him to pilot a giant robot known as the Evangelion Unit 01, or EVA-01, which is the only weapon able to defeat an Angel. Shinji initially refuses, but agrees after an injured Rei Ayanami is brought in to pilot it in his place. Shinji is then sent to fight Sachiel, and only wins after the EVA goes into "Berserk Mode". After the battle he is sent to live with Misato Katsuragi and is given the task of fighting Angels whenever they appear and is enrolled in a nearby school.
Lack of Drive and Resolution
At school, after a dispute over Shinji piloting the EVA, he becomes friends with Toji Suzuhara and Kensuke Aida after defeating Shamshel, another Angel. Shinji, unable to pilot the EVA any longer, runs away. He is soon apprehended and brought to Misato, but Misato tells him to leave since he lacks the drive needed. Shinji goes to the train but finds he cannot leave and he and Misato reconcile. He soon spots and becomes jealous of the bond seemingly shared by his estranged father and Ayanami Rei, pilot of EVA-00. The two develop a friendship during a cooperative battle between the two and the Angel Ramiel.
The Third Child
Shinji accompanies Misato in a mission to pick up the incoming Second Child and pilot of EVA-02, Asuka Langley Soryu, who is coming in from Germany. The arrival takes place on sea and is monitered by the United Nations Naval Fleet. However, the fleet is attacked by the Angel Gaghiel and the pair both team up in EVA-02 to defeat it, since Shinji's EVA-01 is not present. Afterwards they arrive back in Tokyo-03 and Asuka is enrolled in the same class as Shinji. Soon after Tokyo-03 is attacked by the Angel Israfel. Both Shinji and Asuka are sent to defeat it, but are overwelmingly defeated when the Angel splits in two and is able to take advantage of how unsynchronized the two are. Asuka is then sent to live with Shinji and Misato and, after days of training, the two are able to defeat Israfel. Shinji later acts as backup during Asuka's fight with the Angel Sandalphon in a volcano and ends up saving Asuka and EVA-02 when the heat restraints begin to fail.
During a power outage, NERV HQ is attacked by the Angel Matarael. It takes Shinji, Asuka, and Rei working together under emergency power storage to defeat the Angel. Soon after they defeat the Angel Sahaquiel, which was found in orbit and dropped like a bomb over Tokyo-03. After being praised by his father following the battle, Shinji reveals to Misato that he pilots the EVA in hopes of being praised by his father. The next Angel, Ireul, attacks NERV like a computer virus and as such none of the EVA pilots are involved in its defeat.
Overestimating Leliel and mistake
Shinji's ego quickly inflates due to him passing Asuka to have the highest EVA synchronization ratios, so much to the point that he attempts to fight the Angel Leliel alone. However, it is revealed that Leliel's spherical form is an illusion and EVA-01 and Shinji are trapped in the Angel's "shadow". While trapped in there, the EVA's power supply and life support systems fail and Shinji has a mental breakdown. Shinji then passes out and finds himself in a dreamscape where a younger version of himself forces him to confront his relationship with others. When Shinji wakes up, he finds the EVA's life support systems have failed and he comes to the belief that this is where he will die. As he gives in to hysteria, he has a vision of his mother. As NERV begins a desperate final assault on the Angel, EVA-01, despite being out of power, enters Berserk Mode and rips out of the Angel, defeating it. Shinji is retrieved from the entry plug and wakes up a short time later in a hospital.
Fourth Child Tragedy
After Toji Suzuhara is chosen as the Fifth Child he is put through tests with EVA-03. However, the EVA becomes possessed by the Angel Bardiel and kills almost everyone at the test besides Toji (who is inside the EVA), Misato, and the head NERV scientist Ritsuko Akagi. Gendo orders all three EVA units to be dispatched and declares the EVA itself to be the Angel. After Asuka and Rei are both defeated, Shinji refuses to attack the Angel, knowing that there is someone his age inside (although he is unaware that it is his friend). Gendo orders control of the EVA to be switched to the Dummy Plug program, an artificial intelligence based on Ayanami Rei. The Dummy Plug savagely attacks EVA-03, much to the horror of Shinji, who at this point is reduced to an onlooker. Shinji is even more horrified when he realizes that the retrieved pilot is a horribly maimed Togi. Shinji is then brought before his father, accused of insubordination, and declares he no longer wishes to pilot the EVA. Gendo tells him that if Shinji runs away they will likely never meet again, which Shinji confirms is his intent.
Saving Tokyo 3
Before he can leave, Tokyo-03 is attacked by the Angel Zeruel and Shinji is lead to a civilian shelter. Meanwhile at NERV, EVA-01 is refusing to synchronize with both Rei and the Dummy Plug, leaving only EVA-02 and a damaged EVA-00. During the battle, Asuka is defeated and EVA-02 crashes through Shinji's shelter. After watching EVA-00 fail to defeat the Angel, Shinji goes to NERV and agrees to pilot EVA-01 after learning if any Angel were to reach Adam, the world would end. During the battle, however, EVA-01's power runs out. Suddenly, Shinji's synchronization ratio jumps to 400% and the EVA springs to life and decimates the Angel, a later examination reveals that at this moment, Shinji's physical form dissolved into the EVA. Shinji spends 30 days inside the EVA due to his unwillingness to come out.
Ayanami's True Nature and NERV's Dark Secrets
After the defeat of Arael and Armisael, head scientist Ritsuko informs Shinji that his movements are no longer restricted and he is taken into Terminal Dogma. There, he witnesses Misato suprise Ritsuko at gunpoint, demanding to be given information that up to this point she had been denied. Shinji and Misato are then shown the Evangelion Graveyard, where Ritsuko reveals Shinji witnessed his mother's absorption into EVA-01. They then reach the Dummy Plug Tank, where dozens of clones of Rei float around. Ritsuko then gives a monologue on the nature of Rei, NERV, and the Evangelions, after which she begs Misato to kill her. Misato refuses, Ritsuko breaks down weeping, and Shinji stands stunned at the events he just saw.
Meeting Kaworu Nagisa
Following the battle against Armisael, Asuka is left in a comatose state. Seele sends Kaworu Nagisa to replace her, and he instantly bonds with Shinji. Kaworu reveals himself to be the Fifth Children. Following synchronization tests in which Kaworu scored exceptionally well, Kaworu shares a public bath with him.There Kaworu talks about human nature and then tells Shinji that he likes him. Not being able to go back to Misato's apartment due to her complicating their relationship, Shinji stays with Kaworu for the night. During that night, Shini muses about his life, and Kaworu says he may have been born to meet Shinji. Later, when Kaworu seizes EVA-02, descends to Terminal Dogma, and reveals himself to be the final Angel, Shinji is devastated and follows his father's orders to pursue with EVA-01. He is, howvever, unable to stop Kaworu and he reaches Terminal Dogma, where he believes Adam to be. Kaworu instead finds Lilith there and changes his plans, asking Shinji to kill him to that humanity could be safe. Following a long pause, Shinji does so. He later expresses grief over this action, killing someone he saw as human.
Third Impact (End of Evangelion)
Following the death of the final Angel, Kaworu Nagisa, Shinji visits Asuka in the hospital. He accidentally turns over. This reveals her breasts and he masturbates, quickly regarding himself as disgusting afterwards. The next day, during SEELE's attack on NERV, Misato finds Shinji about to be killed by SEELE soldiers. She kills them and takes Shinji to an underground parking lot. Misato drives Shinji deep into NERV HQ, past the Evangelion Graveyard. They learn via a stolen radio that EVA-02 has been activated and Asuka is awake. Misato orders Asuka to destroy SEELE's Mass Production Evangelions, which is a line of EVAs they produced, piloted by Dummy Plugs based on Kaworu Nagisa.
They reach the chamber holding EVA-01 (but not without Misato being mortally wounded by SEELE soldiers) and Shinji claims he cannot pilot it, listing all his faults. Misato gives a passionate speech, gives him her cross necklace, and then kisses him deeply. She then pushes him into the elevator, promising to "do the rest" when he got back. As the elevator begins to descend, Shinji notices Misato's blood on him and he begins to sob. When he reaches the chamber containing EVA-01, he is unable to get in the EVA. He is surprised when it moves of its own accord and grasps the platform he stands on.
Part 2 begins with Shinji inside EVA-01. He triggers a cross shaped explosion which destroys NERV HQ. It then rises out of the ruin, spreading a pair of bright wings. Inside the EVA, Shinji notices the MP EVAs eating EVA-02's remains and screams. Human Instrumentality begins and Rei merges with Lilith, killing Gendo. A giant Rei rises out of the ruined Geofront. The MP EVAs begin to merge with Rei, terrifying Shinji. Rei's face then changes to Kaworu's, which puts Shinji at ease. A giant spear known as the Spear of Longinus fuses with EVA-01, forming the Tree of Life.
Shinji returns to his dreamscape. There, a young Shinji is asked by a group of children to help build a pyramid. He agrees but the other children leave him and he destroys it in frustration. He then sees flashes of Asuka, Rei, and Misato, and sees images of Misato's past. He is then brought to a train, where he reveals his frustrations about the ambiguity in those three relationships. He then goes to when he and Asuka kissed, and she yells at him for being afraid of everyone and only seeking her as an escape. He strangles her.
Shinji tells the giant Rei that it would be better if everyone died. A colossal Rei, hundreds of miles tall, forms and humanity begins dissolving into a sea of primordial fluid (LCL). The Tree of Life, still containing EVA-01 and Shinji, is absorbed into the giant Rei. Shinji then findings himself laying in a sea of LCL with Rei over him, and he declares this isn't what he wanted. Rei then reverses Instrumentality, and it is assumed that the world started over.
Some time later, Shinji is seen with only Asuka nearby, being the first person to return after him. Shinji attepts to strangle her again, but stops when she caresses his cheek. Shinji starts to cry, and she simply says "Disgusting/I fel sick".
Rebuild of Evangelion Series
The manga goes in almost the same way of anime, but there' also some significant changes:
- He was not fight against Sandalphon, Matarael, Ireul, Leliel alongside Asuka and Ayanami as those angels are omitted/
- Shinji, Toji, and Kensuke first encounter Asuka at an arcade, where she is unable to grab the toy she wants from the machine she is playing and furiously begins to kick the machine. Asuka then notices the boys staring at her and demands a "viewing fee" from them for seeing her underwear (100 yen, as opposed to the anime in which Toji's "viewing fee" is a slap across the face). She and Toji begin to quarrel, and then Asuka accidentally bumps into a thug and is threatened by his gang. Asuka then proceeds to single-handedly take on—and defeat—the entire gang. Shinji is punched in the face by one of the thugs during the melee, and not until he arrives at NERV headquarters does he learn that the girl he has just met is in fact Asuka.
- During the training session to synchronize their teamwork against Israfel, they had to lived in a special room together, much to their dismay. But the training session was success as does in anime nevertheless, though unlike in anime, when their Evas ended up pile on each other and Asuka blames Shinji for it, Shinji and Asuka ended up sleeping inside their Evas due to exhaustion as they silently perfected their synchronization teamwork exercizes for all night previously.
- Shinji is noticeably more apathetic, depressive, and prone to being angry more than he does in anime, as he tries to punch his father's rutless action in having his Eva under dummy plug mode that eventually killed both Toji and his Eva that infected by Bardiel.
- Shinji appears to be attracted to Rei Ayanami, and their relationship is far more developed than in the anime. However, at the same time Shinji had a crush on Asuka too.
- When Shinji visits Asuka in the hospital, he confesses his love to her in a way, claiming, "The Asuka I want to protect isn't this empty shell!" However, instead of shaking her and revealing her body, Asuka wakes up, and chokes Shinji, until she is subdued by the nurses due to her psychological injuries by Arael.
- Shinji in manga was far more determinant to save Asuka and her Eva from the Mass Production Evangelions than in anime as when he saw his Eva still frozen, he begged his mother's soul inside it to free so he can pilot it, and therefore, successfully save Asuka by killed the surviving Mass Production Evas before they could deliver the final blow. But unfortunately, his heroic attempts were not entirely successful due to the said Evas turned out resurrected themselves.
- When Shinji rejected Instrumentality, he had the world restored to normal like before the Second Impact and also reincarnated with a better life: In this revived world, he was never an Evangelion pilot, had a few friends who cheered him on, and meets Asuka and Kensuke's reincarnated selves for the first time on his way to a boarding school in Tokyo (in mid-winter, a season Japan hadn't had since Second Impact that now has been restored). It is unclear how much of the pre-Instrumentality world carries over since the world's restoration, although the déjà-vu Shinji experiences on seeing Asuka and Kensuke, as well as "relics" resembling Angels or rather, the fossilized MP Evas, suggests that some significant portion of it has.
- Shinji Ikari is probably one of very few anime heroes (or, for that matter, heroes in general) whose perversion is not played for laughs or provides an advantage. This is because his rather infamous action of disrobing Asuka while she's in a coma in order to make love to her (since he has something of a crush on her), only to accidentally ejaculate on her (and his hands) is treated as a sign that Shinji is losing so much hope to the point where he would resort to actions like this in order to "make him happy" (he himself is disgusted, yet someone pleased at his action). He may also be suffering from necrophilia (a sexual paraphilia in which one is attracted, aroused, or excited by lifeless or unmoving corpses/bodies).
- It is possible that the three main protagonists of Gainax's super robot "trilogy" (which consists of Gunbuster, Neon Genesis Evangeliion, and Gurren Lagann) each represent an aspect of Shinji's personality. Naoko Takahashi's personality is similar to his joyous and hopeful side, Simon's personality is similar to his realistic, yet pragmatic side, and Shinji himself represents the cynical side of his personality (though he starts out hopeful, he ends up suffering from depression due to the sadness and "hope spots" of his life, and isn't given hope again until the Rebuild of Evangelion trilgy, and even then he still has depression, father issues, and possibly necrophilia).