"Mankind has always feared the darkness."

-Rei Ayanami

Rei Ayanami (Japanese: 綾波 レイ[?], "Ayanami Rei") is one of the main female protagonists from the beloved Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. Within the series, she is d

At the beginning of the series, little is known about Rei and her stoic personality puzzles her peers. As the series progresses, her personality evolves and she becomes more involved with the people around her, particularly her classmate and fellow Eva pilot Shinji Ikari.

Why She Rocks

  1. She is easily one of the most popular and iconic characters in the series, so much so that she inspired a whole slew of similar characters in anime and manga.
    • She and Asuka are the most-marketed human characters in the Evangelion franchise, and possibly for Gainax as a whole!
  2. She is very true to her word. In both the anime and the manga, she tells Shinji that she will protect him. (Ironically, he ends up saving her after that) but in Episode 23, she fulfills her promise by pulling a Heroic Sacrifice for him.
  3. As the series progresses, she begins to develop relationships with others and to show moments of genuine emotion, to even become sad and cry.
  4. Her eyes are cold and inexpressive most of the time, which makes the rare occasions when they aren't all the more beautiful.
  5. The manga emphasizes the importance of her holding hands with Shinji, which she describes as making her feel warm and happy. She eventually gets to hold hands with Shinji one last time during Instrumentality, after which they are permanently separated from each other.
    • This is later called back to towards the end, when Gendo puts his hand in her body, where she tells him that it's not his hand that she wants.
  6. Shinji tells her at the end of Episode 6 to try smiling. She complies, in what may be the first smile she ever gave anyone that isn't Gendo (and possibly even more sincerely happy than the ones she gave him), and Shinji is awestruck by the result.
  7. She is calm and never shows any animosity towards anyone (even to Asuka, whose dislike of Rei is very evident) unless they insult the Ikaris, either of whom she would die for at any given moment.
  8. She is in many ways the polar opposite of Asuka, both implicitly and explicitly, on multiple occasions.

Bad Qualities

  1. At the start of the series, she is socially withdrawn, seemingly emotionless, and rarely interacts with anyone, except for Gendo, to whom she initially displays loyalty but with whom she has a generally distant relationship.
  2. She can be quite an extreme doormat, as she is perfectly willing to commit suicide if Gendo simply asks her to.


  • Rei makes a cameo appearance alongside Asuka, Kaworu and Shinji in the fifth chapter of Marvel's Edge of Spider-Verse storyline.
  • Her original English voice actor, Amanda Winn-Lee describes her saying, '"Rei is not totally devoid of personality, otherwise she would not be interesting." There is a small spark of humanity, but it is "clouded by this huge sense of negative self-worth and the realization that she is expendable." The joy of playing Rei is exploring that small spark.
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