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Rei Ayanami (綾波 レイ Ayanami Rei?) is a fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise, a Japanese anime from Gainax. She is the First Child (First Children in the Japanese version) and pilot of the Evangelion Unit 00. At the beginning of the series, Rei is an enigmatic figure whose unusual behavior confounds her peers. As the series progresses, she becomes more involved with the people around her, particularly her classmate and fellow Eva pilot Shinji Ikari. She is revealed to be a key factor in the events that conclude the storyline. Her role in this conclusion is not made entirely clear in the TV series, but is one of the principal plot points of The End of Evangelion.


Rei Ayanami is the First Children and exclusive Pilot of Eva-00. Officially, Rei Ayanami is fourteen years old, but it is stated that all records of her background have been erased. Unusually for a child her age, Rei lives alone in an decrepit apartment. Rei attends Tokyo-3 Junior high school and is a member of Class 2-A.

Rei Ayanami is most famous for her distinctive appearance. She has blue hair, pale skin, and red eyes. It has been stated that Rei's unusual appearance was intended by the creators of the series to make her stand out. Strangely, Rei's unusual appearance is never commented upon throughout the series, even by Asuka.

Rei is a vegetarian. This is seen in Episode 12.It is not clear whether this is by choice, or through quirk of her physiology. It should be noted that series creator Hideaki Anno is also a vegetarian, as was Nadia Ra Alwar of Nadia: Secret of the Blue water.

Outwardly, Rei can seem somewhat cool and aloof, often spending time on her own reading books. Yet, she can easily be confused by emotions, and is somewhat detached from her own. This is most obvious in Episode 6, when Rei finds her self unsure how she is supposed to feel after being rescued by Shinji Ikari. In Episode 12 Rei did not come to Misato's party, even though she was specifically invited by Asuka. Rei was specifically brought to the synch-training party at Misato's apartment in Episode 09, but that seems to be because Misato actually brought her. Rei isn't simply mysterious to people she doesn't know at first (i.e. during the introductory episodes): Rei is disconnected socially even from the other Eva pilots. When Rei is invaded by Armisael in Episode 23, the Angel forces her to feel her own true loneliness and pain. In the next scene, Rei is shown crying and not even understanding why she is crying. Episode 25 further shows that Rei has a deep despair and a wish to return to nothingness.

Rei has been shown to place no value on her own existence. In Episode 19 she states that If she dies, she can just be replaced. It is only in Episode 23 that finally we understand what she means by this. This is further shown by her indifference towards her own comfort or personal space. In Episode 5, she shows nothing but indifference to Shinji when he accidentally falls on top of her, in what would be seen as a compromising position. Yet, she is also aggravated enough when he makes disparaging remarks about Gendo Ikari to slap Shinji in the face for it.

Yet she is also capable of placing value in investing herself in people. She has a strong connection with Gendo Ikari throughout the series. Rei keeps a broken pair of Commander Ikari's glasses as an memento of his rescuing her after EVA-00's failed activation test shown Episode 4. It can be suggested that Rei is seeking to stave off her own despair, by investing herself fully towards the needs of one single person, in order for her to be recognized as a person.

As the series progressed, Rei began to distance herself more from the Commander. Meanwhile a bond of somesorts began to develop between herself and Shinji Ikari, beginning shortly after the attack of the Sixth Angel, Rei was shown talking with Shinji on several occasions, something stated within the series that she almost never does to anyone else. As the series finale approached, Rei eventually chooses Shinji over Commander Ikari, and allows Shinji to control Third Impact through her. She also destroys Commander Ikari's glasses, the symbol of her bond with him.


Rei's true origins are revealed in their majority through Episodes 21 and 23. Rei Ayanami is a clone of Yui Ikari. On some level, she may also incorporate DNA from the Second Angel, Lilith, seeing as she is the vessel for Lilith's soul. Rei Ayanami was created sometime between the year 2004, and 2008, as suggested by her appearance in Episode 21. At this stage, she is a child capable of walking unaided, apparently around four years old in 2010. She is later seen in 2015 apparently aged 14. This would suggest that on some level, Commander Ikari has the ability to manipulate her growth. In Terminal Dogma, a large tank of spare Rei clones are maintained. These are referred to by Ritsuko Akagi as being 'Spare Parts' for the Dummy Plug system. The Dummy System in Eva-01 also shows the name REI on it's side when it is activated during Episode 18. These clones are the origin of Rei's "If I die, I can be replaced" statement from Episode 19.

Rei's birthplace in Central Dogma is also shown in Episode 23. It is noted by Shinji Ikari as being remarkably similar to Rei's apartment. On the concrete walls, different states of quantum particle spin and different quark names are painted. (Up, Down, Strange, Charmed, Top, Bottom- Up and Down quarks form normal matter, the other four are much rarer and have been generated only in particle accelerators so far). It is likely that this is where Rei spent the majority of her early years.

Rei's reason for creation was as a controllable link between Gendo Ikari, and Lilith. It appears to have been his intention to use Rei to control Human Instrumentality Project, and allow him to see Yui again in the End of Evangelion. The reason why the DNA of Yui Ikari was used is not explicitly stated. It may be due to Commander Ikari's desire to be with his wife once more, in whatever way possible.

In Episode 24, Shinji Ikari is able to make the link between Rei Ayanami and his own mother, wondering what Commander Ikari has planned for them. He also states in Episode 15 that Rei's hands while washing remind him of a mother's while she is washing the classroom floor.

Her origin is unknown, but Samuel's cell inserts the deceased body of first Rei and evolves into more humanoid form. Samuel/Rei DNA are the same right match mentioned by SpaceGodzilla like Clive (originally a clone of Luke), Hiroto Kiyama (flewing off into deceased Kira to resurrects as a new body) and King Makura, Malkor's father (using his own cell and Gosei Angel cell).


Through the run of the series, Rei Ayanami died at least twice. On these occasions, she was apparently resurrected through the use of the Dummy Plug system and the tank of cloned bodies. This is not without flaws, as is seen in Episode 23 when after her death fighting the Sixteenth Angel, Rei is apparently able to recognize that she is her own third incarnation. Her new incarnation differs from the preceding one (See below).

Rei 1

Rei one was first Introduced in Episode 21. She is show as a small child wearing a simple red dress. She is later murdered by Naoko Akagi, for revealing that Gendo Ikari referred to her as an 'old hag' behind her back. Rei 1 is also shown alongside her two 'sisters' and Yui Ikari during Commander Ikari's final scene in End of Evangelion.

Rei 2

Rei 2 was the incarnation of Rei for the majority of the series, until Episode 23. This Rei is shown to have a strong attachment to Gendo Ikari, and a building attachment to Shinji Ikari. It is likely that Rei 2 was created sometime after the death of Rei 1. Given that this occurred in 2010, this would suggest that in reality, Rei 2 is approximately four years old, despite appearing to be fourteen years old. She is shown with her sisters in Episode 26' wearing the same bandages that she first wore after being injured in Eva-00's failed activation test.

Rei 3/True Rei

The Third incarnation of Rei Ayanami is first seen in Episode 23, after the death of Rei 2. This incarnation of Rei shows little attachment to Gendo Ikari, attempting to break the glasses that Rei 2 had kept after being rescued by Gendo Ikari from Eva-00 after its berserker incident. This comes to a head, when Rei 3 decides to betray Gendo. In Gendo's final scene in Episode 26' Rei 3 is shown naked with her "sisters", Rei 1 and Rei 2.

Rei's depiction in the anime[]

For information regarding Rei's psychology and for a examination of her character throughout the anime:

See Rei Ayanami (In-Depth)

In Other Media[]

Rei Ayanami features in much of the officially licensed Gainax media.

  • Rei features as a character in all officially licensed Eva manga: Evangelion Academy, Angelic Days, and Shinji Ikari Raising Project.
  • Ayanami Raising Project is a dating game licensed by Gainax that features Rei as the main character.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion on the N64 features Rei and Eva-00 as playable characters.
  • Akihabara Hobby released a 1:1 scale model of Rei in 2007 (along with a large model of Eva-01) as part of Gainax's Eva Works series.
  • The OST The Birthday of Rei Ayanami features recordings of A Cruel Angel's Thesis, Tamashii No Refrain, and Fly Me to the Moon sung by Megumi Hayashibara, Rei's voice actress. The OST also features most of the music in NGE that came to be associated with Rei.

There is also much unofficial media circulating which is cantered around or featuring Rei: garage kit models, dojinshi, etc.

Manga adaption[]

In the manga adaptation by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Rei's character comes off as being a much warmer and more open, at least with regards to Shinji and despite having the same initial reaction to Shinji in the anime, she soon becomes Shinji's romantic interest.

Unique to the manga, in Vol. 01 she pilots Eva-01 against Sachiel and loses, her injuries seemingly being a direct result of the defeat. Though Vol. 03 of the manga includes the Eva-00 berserk incident from Ep. 05 of the anime, and seems to be implying that she received her injuries at that time. If so, then she was piloting Eva-01 while badly injured, and when Gendo tried to shame Shinji into piloting, he was threatening to send a severely injured Rei into battle for the second time that day! Including the Ep. 05 material may have been an attempt by Sadamoto to retroactively correct the source of Rei's injuries to match the anime.

For information regarding Rei's psychology and for a examination of her character throughout manga:

See Rei Ayanami (In-Depth)

Rei in other Eva based Manga[]

Most notorious is Rei's appearance in the Girlfriend of Steel 2 manga. She is regarded by some as being Rei in Appearance Only (RiAO), in that while she shares the same basic character design, her entire personality is different. Being based on the AU from Episode 26, Girlfriend of Steel 2 depicts Rei as a bubbly and excitable transfer student to Shinji's school, almost a mirror image of her character in the original animé series.

In the latest Neon Genesis Evangelion Academy manga, Rei is seen to be acting in a much more Rei-like manner.

In Rebuild of Evangelion[]

Rei as seen in Rebuild of Evangelion is much the same as her anime counterpart. So far, she has been seen to have the same relationships with Gendo Ikari, and maintains much the same distance from her classmates. Rei sits on her own while other members of her class are swimming, or talking in groups.

Two important differences are worth noting in Evangelion 1.0. After the battle with Sachiel, Shinji is visited by an apparition of Rei in the first of the Personal Hell traincar scenes in the movie series. Gendo and Yui discuss how Shinji would've been named Rei, if he had been born a girl. Rei is heard repeating the names "Shinji Ayanami" and "Rei Ikari" before correcting herself with "No, Rei Ayanami." when an apparition of a naked and demented looking Rei appears--in much the same way as the moment Eva-00 runs berserk in Episode 14. Shinji wakes up in the infirmary after this.

In the film's final scene where Shinji is with Rei in the entry plug of Eva-00, Rei is depicted holding Shinji Ikari's hand.

Rei's character continues to develop in Evangelion 2.0, with Rei even asking Gendo for permission to hold a dinner for her fellow pilots, and putting a very determined effort at cooking for the party. Although, Shinji is unaware that Rei invited Gendo to the party. Rei shows visible shock after hearing about the Ninth Angel incident and Asuka's fate.

After Shinji's inability to fight the 9th Angel-possessed Eva-03 which carried Asuka, Gendo activates the Dummy System and prompts Shinji to leaves Nerv. Rei decides to pilot Eva-00 against the attacking Tenth Angel with Mari's help. However, Rei is swallowed by the Angel and trapped, until Shinji pilots Eva-01. Rei at first protests from the Angel's core, saying that she can be replaced, but Shinji says that there is only one Rei before saving her. Shinji embraces Rei and thanks her for her efforts of trying to get Gendo and Shinji on good terms. Shinji's decision to save Rei awakens God Mode Eva-01 and causes Near Third Impact, only to be halted by Kaworu's intervention, spearing Eva-01's core. Shinji and Rei are said to be trapped inside Eva-01 during the Evangelion 3.0 Next Time Preview.


  • Rei in Japanese (レイ) is sometimes a synonym for "zero". Fitting, as Rei is the pilot of Eva-00, or that Rei is "zero" (or "nothing"), a case of identity that troubles her throughout the series. "Rei" spelled with different Kanji is the word for "spirit" (霊). Rei's name thus becomes a double pun, she is the pilot of Eva-00, and the vessel for the spirit of Lilith.
    • In Episode 20 Shinji(dissolved inside Eva-01) hears a conversation between Gendo and Yui before his birth, where Gendo says, "If it's a boy, Shinji. If it's a girl, Rei." While it need not mean that Gendo alone had given Rei her name, it shows that Gendo wanted to give his own daughter that name, and suggests to some extent that he sees Rei as his daughter.
    • Rei Ayanami's first name comes from the character Rei Hino of the anime and manga series Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. This was done in an effort to get one of the series directors, Kunihiko Ikuhara, to work on Evangelion. While this effort failed, some of the staff and voice actors of Sailor Moon did work on Eva as well, including one of Sailor Moon's series directors' Jun'ichi Satoh under the pen-name Kiichi Jinme. As well as the voice actresses Kotono Mitsuishi (Usagi Tsukino) and Megumi Ogata (Haruka Tenoh).
      • In the original Japanese dub of the series the characters refer to Eva-00 using the half-English term "zerogouki" ("-gouki" = "unit"). "Reigouki", however, wouldn't be an entirely inaccurate alternate rendering of it's name.
  • Ayanami (綾波) literally means "twill wave", the Kanji meaning "twill" and "wave". Ayanami was one of the Fubuki class destroyers of the former Imperial Japanese Navy. The Nihon Kaigun website's page on warship names gives the (nonliteral) alternative "wave patterns" or waves "whose beauty suggests figures woven in silk".
  • For a discussion over whether Rei 1's soul is present in Eva-00:
See Eva-00's soul.
  • For information regarding Rei's repeated association with the Moon:
See Rei and the Moon for more details.
  • For information regarding Rei's psychology and for a examination of her character throughout the TV series and manga:
See Rei Ayanami (In-Depth)
  • For an interpretation of Rei's monologue or poem:
See Rei's Monologue.
  • For an interpretation of the relationship between Gendo and Rei:
See Rei's relationship with Gendo.
  • In Episode 01, Rei mysteriously appears before Shinji in a brief instant before disappearing once more. This same scene is repeated during the final scene of Episode 26'. This effectively creates two "bookends" at either end of the series.
See Rei's Ghostly Appearances and Quantum Mechanics for more information.
  • Rei’s blue hair and red eyes are the inverse of Asuka Langley Soryu’s blue eyes and red hair, a visual reminder of their opposite personalities.
  • Rei 2's and 3's height is 145cm (4'9").
  • According to Misato it took seven months for Rei to synchronize with Eva-00. It is not clear if Rei's accident in which Eva-00 went berserk, which chronologically seems to happen right before this episode (and is seen in flashbacks in Episode 05, is what Misato is referring to as Rei's first synchronization, or if it happened sometime earlier.