Being a anime series with unstable characters, and mind screwing imagery/plots, it's often hard to believe that Neon Genesis Evangelion has moments like these.
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- For all the bleakness in episode 6, the final scene after the action is very heartwarming.
Shinji: [through sobs] Don't ever say that ... don't say that you have nothing else — just don't say that. And don't say goodbye when you leave on a mission. ...It's just too sad.
Rei: ...I'm very sorry, but I don't know how to express myself in situations like this.
Shinji: Why don't you just try smiling?
Rei: [looks confused for a moment, then gives what is probably the first smile in her whole life that wasn't aimed at Gendo. And it's absolutely gorgeous.]
- The end of episode 26 counts too. Probably.
- "It's OK for me to be here!"
- The way that Shinji seemed, in his psyche, to be undoing all the damage that was done throughout the series, and the way that everyone openly showed how much they cared about him were especially heartwarming; if only End of Evangelion had ended similarly, minus the confusion...
- Both endings are canon, so it's possible that Shinji did find peace with himself. The last scene shows that he's still a little troubled, though.
- He did find peace with himself in End too, or at least overcame his issues. One of his final lines as he returns from instrumentality is "I am....myself". The fact that Shinji is now able to calmly make a self-affirming statement like that (basically saying "I am what I am and I accept that") indicates that he has overcome his self-hatred. Plus he has resolved to continue living in reality in the hope of finding his happiness. Shinji finally understands that pain is an inevitable part of life and reality and chooses not to run away from it anymore, even with the knowledge that he'll eventually be hurt again. Shinji may not necessarily be happy yet, but he has indeed changed and grown as a person (and has even become a stronger person than his father). It's just not as overtly optimistic as the TV ending. However, he still hasn't made peace with Asuka, which is what the final scene is for (see the entry for End below for more info).
- The entire cast congratulating Shinji for his self-realization. Especially when his mother and father simultaneously congratulate him.
- To put things straight, the scene before the congratulations shows Shinji rejecting his own personal isolated fantasy world and the world of Instrumentality, which cracks to pieces as he realizes that he can learn to like himself and live in the real world without depending on piloting Eva for other people's approval. He even SAYS as much! That's why the cast (well, the cast that exists in his mind anyway) is congratulating him afterward. It's the most heartwarming moment in the show.
- The entire ending exchange:
Kaji: A person's truth is so simple, that most ignore it to concentrate on what they think are deeper truths.
Gendo: You, for example, are simply unused to what it is to be liked by others.
Misato: You've never learned how to deal with fearing what others feel about you and so you avoid it.
Shinji: But, don't the others hate me?
Asuka: What are you, stupid? Haven't you realized it's all in your imagination, you megadork!
Shinji: But, I hate myself.
Rei: One who truly hates himself cannot love; he cannot place his trust in another.
Shinji: I'm a coward. I'm cowardly, sneaky and weak.
Misato: No, only if you think you are, but if you know yourself, you can take care of yourself.
Shinji: [introspectively] I hate myself. But, maybe...
Shinji, Asuka, and Misato: ...Maybe I could learn to love myself.
Shinji: Maybe, my life can have a greater value. That's right! ...I am no more or less than myself. I am me! I want to be myself! I want to continue existing in this world! My life is worth living here!
(The gloomly and foggy soundstage Shinji has been trapped in cracks open and he finds himself on a sunlit small blue globe with the cast of the series. All are applauding him and yelling "Congratulations!")
Shinji: [smiling gratefully] Thank you all!
- Shinji telling Rei that she wrings out washcloths like a mother, and Rei blushing.
- Similarly, when Shinji and Toji go to Rei's apartment to deliver some class bulletins and Shinji starts cleaning up around the place, causing Rei to blush and thank him when she finds out.
- At the end of episode 10, for a brief, fleeting moment, we get to see Shinji — for once in his life — able to relax and just enjoy a soak in a hot spring. For someone who is all too frequently tormented for the viewers' entertainment, seeing him genuinely happy for once is truly heartwarming.
- It also featured some great moments between Shinji and Asuka. When Asuka is being pulled back out of the volcano, Shinji asks if she's alright, and smiles when she replies with her usual bluster when before he had been annoyed by it. Later. Asuka expects to die as the cord holding her Eva has been severed and she starts falling back into the magma...only to have Shinji in Eva-01 grasp her Eva's hand, causing her to give her first genuine smile of the series and affectionately tell him "Don't over-exert yourself, idiot." For all the bickering and conflict that arises between these two, they still care about each other a lot.
- Kaji chaperoning Asuka to the clothes' store in episode 10. It's probably the last thing he wants to do with his time, but he's doing it regardless.
- At the beginning of Episode 7 we see Shinji and Misato squabbling over her slobbish ways and he later complains about her. Then when Misato has to go inside the prototype robot to stop it from rampaging he begs her to come back safely and is extremely worried for her.
- At the end of the episode, we see Shinji complaining about Misato being a slob again, but this time Kensuke and Toji tell him how stupid he is, because the fact that Misato is comfortable enough to be herself around Shinji shows that even though they were primarily brought together by conflict and unpleasant circumstances, they're family now. The look on Shinji's face as he realizes this is what sells it.
- After Asuka's infamous Mind Rape, Asuka is staying at Hikari's house and is not recovering very well, so Hikari tells her that she shouldn't feel bad about herself, and that she and what she has as an EVA pilot done is good and important.
- Episode 4, anyone? Toji and Kensuke coming to see Shinji off, followed by Shinji's apology to them ... then Misato shows up, thinking she's too late, then finally spots him. Followed by a more genuine welcoming home than the one two episodes ago.
- The ending of Episode 11. Though they clashed throughout the episode, and will clash even worse in the future, for one night, on a hill under the stars, Shinji, Asuka, and Rei were actually at peace with one another.
- Similarly, the meal they have with Misato at the end of Episode 12. Especially notable because Asuka specifically brought them to eat noodles because she knew Misato couldn't afford a steak dinner, and because Rei said she didn't like meat and Asuka wanted her to be there. It's one of her nicest moments.
- In the same episode, Gendo actually congratulates Shinji on a job well done.
- Shinji going out of his way to protect Rei, which would've gotten him into big trouble with Misato. Instead...
- Misato: We're not usually good at something the first time we try it, are we? But you did great for your first time, really. You can't blame yourself for what happened to Rei.
Shinji: "But I...I was so scared that I couldn't even move! Rei got hurt because she was protecting a coward! And after all that, she still said, "Thank you."
Misato: Because you did it. You protected us. All of us.
- Rei/Kaworu/Yui's messages in the Instrumentality sequence are pretty heartwarming.
- Episode 24, Kaworu tells Shinji he feels empathy for him. When Shinji questions him, Kaworu simply says, "I love you". And we're totally cool with it.
- Mainly because it's not Ho Yay for the hell of it that Kaworu's talking about. While Shinji may have been sexually attracted to Kaworu in some odd way, what Kaworu was feeling was pure, unconditional love for someone else and he has no trouble sincerely admitting it. Things get worse sometime after this of course, but Shinji really needed what Kaworu was showing him during that time.
- It's a minor thing, but in episode 9 after Asuka runs off, Shinji (prompted by Hikari), runs after her- and doesn't change out of his aerobics outfit. Shinji Ikari, the boy who dwells for hours on what others think of him and doesn't want to be hated, went out in public looking like a fool to find Asuka, and even after he finds her, stays with her awhile. That little, fond smile he has on his face as she talks about avenging her wounded pride just sells it.
- A very minor one, but after their Almost Kiss, Shinji lets Asuka sleep on his bed, moving on the other side of the room. He still was attentive enough to cover her with a blanket.
- Yui's soul making contact with Shinji near the end of Episode 16. The scene just feels so warm and loving, like a mother should be.
- Misato sobbing uncontrollably at the sight of Shinji unharmed, then hugging him tightly in Episode 16 proved somebody genuinely cares about Shinji after all.
- Even better since when he wakes up in the hospital, Rei is there next to the bed... and Asuka was hiding just outside the door.
- Knowing that although the Gainax Ending looks bleak, there is now a new hope to humanity. Shinji and Asuka might be the only souls left on Earth, but there's still billions more people who can come back if they wish.
- Hikari sitting next to Touji's bedside. That girl definitely loves the guy, and after what he's gone through, he deserves her love.
- The series' ultimate message. For all the cynicism and truly mind-shattering imagery of the show, all Gendo, SEELE, the cast (particularly Shinji and Asuka) and, hell, all of humanity wants is to be loved and accepted.
- Throughout all of episode 19, Misato. Her desire to have Shinji back, cursing out Ritsuko and her "damn science" for not being really helpful at all...she really loved Shinji.
- At the beginning of the episode, while Shinji is still hospitalized, both Asuka and Rei are seen in the waiting room, simply talking about him without any tension between them. Asuka sounds particularly worried about his mental state, and even Rei, despite her usual emotionless mood, looks quite sad.
- The moment when Shinji grieves over Kaworu.
- Misato telling Shinji how proud she is of him during his fight with the first Angel, after she allows him to stay in her apartment.
- Hell, Misato offering her apartment to Shinji in the first place.
- In episode 3, everyone in Shinji's class getting excited when they find out he's an EVA pilot and crowding around to ask him questions. Even if it comes across as mildly Innocently Insensitive since Shinji (and the audience) know what being an EVA pilot is really like, it feels good to see people actually being friendly to Shinji for once. God knows he needs it.
- In End of Evangelion:
- Asuka finally makes peace with her mother. While being inside of her Eva on the bottom of the Geofront Lake and getting bombarded by the JSSDF, she comes to the realization that her mother's soul was all along in the Eva, meaning that, in a way, she was always protecting her and watching her over. We are then shown the touching scene of Asuka as a joyful child reaching her mother's hand. The realization gives her the strength to snap out of her Heroic B.S.O.D. and fight the army back. After all the crap Asuka went through, it's really touching to see her smiling with joy for the first time in the series◊.
- Misato's smile as she sends off Shinji for the last time.
- Right before Maya turns into LCL, Ritsuko appears, hugs her and quickly types something on Maya's laptop, which is sitting next to them. Then we get a shot of the screen as the LCL splashes on it, and written on it is "I Need You".
- If you can get past the minimalistic creepiness of the epilogue, there's a subtle but powerful moment in the Bittersweet Ending. After Asuka comes out of the Sea of LCL, Shinji, at the edge of his sanity, strangles her. In spite of everything that's happened between the two of them, rather than to return the favor, Asuka does the impossible: she caresses his face. The simplest gesture of human attachment is enough for him to stop, regain his composure, chooses to stay by her side (as shown by the poster art associated with the film, which is canon according to Anno). This may double as an Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moment depending on your interpretation of the scene, but it's hard to tell for some people due to the overall tone of the film.
Other Evangelion media
- Neon Genesis Evangelion Angelic Days Chapter 2-4 has its take on the battle with the Third Angel. Shinji demands to be sent out to battle in place of Kaworu, and ends up in trouble almost right away, forcing Rei to put herself in danger for him, which in turn makes him have to fight for her. After the battle, Shinji sees Rei holding her bandaged hand over her eye. Shinji feels bad for impulsively rushing into battle for her, and feels it's his fault that she got injured. But what does Rei have to say after all this?
Rei: [smiling cheerfully as ever] It bled a lot, but it's no big deal.
Rei: Shinji. You saved me. Thank you.
- Heck, just knowing that somewhere out there there is a universe where Shinji, Asuka, and Rei are sane and happy is heartwarming enough.
- "I'm only asking you to believe this: If...I mean, no matter what happens to me, I will not be sorry to die, because I had that time with you."
- Doubles as a Tear Jerker.
- In the manga, Toji and Kensuke rush to the train station hoping to say goodbye to Shinji. They see the train pass and are dismayed...only to see Shinji and Misato hugging in reconciliation.
- The fact that Misato realizes Shinji is just a lonely kid who desperately wants to be loved and chooses to empathize with him instead of telling him that he's being useless and to toughen up like everyone else is a heartwarming development in their relationship in general.
- Shinji and Rei's little heart to heart. It really shows how well they get along with each other, with Shinji opening up to her while Rei responding and actually making the first move in inviting him into her apartment for tea. If this wasn't Evangelion, they really would have become great friends.
- Later on in volume 9: "Could I...hold your hand again?"
- Rei's Heroic Sacrifice to save Shinji is much more played up in the manga, and it's just as heartwarming as it is tear-jerking.
- Asuka and Shinji practicing the dance routine to defeat Israfel together. After squabbling and fighting with each other ever since they met, they finally reach an understanding. The little smile they share with each other as they perfect the routine is adorable.
- Asuka telling Shinji that he did pretty well 'for a klutz', then both of them falling asleep like exhausted puppies.
- It should be noted that at the time they are still in their entry plugs with their EVAs on top of each other.
- Asuka's immediate reaction to Toji's predicament in volume 6 is concern and saying that they have to save him. Remember, this is Toji, whom Asuka probably gets along with least out of all her peers. Yet she still cares.
- Shinji saving Asuka from what was her cruel fate at the hands of the MP-Evas in End of Evangelion, and Asuka being grateful and smiling at him for it, showcasing Character Development from before where she would have been pissed off and embarrassed at being saved.
- Shinji's rejection of Instrumentality in chapters 93 and 94 is even more heartwarming (with a little bit of Tear Jerker mixed in) than it is in End of Evangelion, due in large part to an extended conversation with Rei within Lilith. Rei tells Shinji that the world he returns to will be one where walls around people's hearts prevent them from understanding each other, where their hands and words will hurt him. Shinji responds that that may happen, but he must confirm it for himself, find the purpose of his existence, and that "it's possible for two hearts to commune the way ours did that day," flashing back to the time when Shinji and Rei held hands and truly connected. Several flashbacks then show hands being used to hurt Shinji and by Shinji to hurt others, followed by hands used in friendship and comfort. Shinji then tells Rei that he wants to hold her hand once more, and the two proceed to clasp hands, triggering the beginning of Instrumentality's end. Rei then tells Shinji that, "I am glad that I met you. I was nobody and empty. But now I am full of what you taught me. I am very happy. But this is goodbye." She then smiles, and asks if her expression is the appropriate one, referring all the way back to chapter 19/episode 6 (and this page's image). At this Rei lets goes of Shinji's hand, and still smiling, passes on as Lilith falls apart.
- The ending, particularly the epilogue. It may be a Bittersweet Ending, but it's as happy a one as Evangelion can have. Shinji's rejection of Instrumentality resets reality to before the Second Impact took place, which fails to occur in this new timeline. Back in 2015, Shinji arrives at the train station to head off to Tokyo, with his aunt asking him to call her once he arrives, and the atmosphere is filled with snow, something the old world would have never seen since the 20th century due to the Impact shifting the climate. Soon after, he runs into Asuka and Kensuke separately, with the implication that they'll become friends again this time around.
- Despite all Gendo's done up to being from a mortally wounded Ritsuko, that Yui manages to forgive him at all as he lay dying says it all. And it's also implied in the ending that she took his soul with her into EVA-01.
- Also, we see that Gendo's earlier declaration of having never loved Shinji was a lie to both Shinji and to himself. He did love him but was terrified about it since he was afraid he would end up hurting his son just like his own father hurt him. And so tragically, he distanced himself from Shinji instead...which hurt Shinji just as badly. But in the end, Gendo's dying words are that he wants his son to live.
- Asuka, completely broken and trapped inside her own Eva, begins to freak out and starts sobbing that she doesn't want to die. Suddenly, a comforting hand rests on her head, and Asuka looks up to see the spirit of her mother smiling at her. Asuka then realizes that her mother has always loved her and has been protecting her all along; the woman who shunned her for a doll and tried to strangle her wasn't her real mama, so there's no need for her to agonize over it any more. Finally snapping out of her deep depression, Asuka proceeds to kick some ass before she tearfully smiles and thinks about how her mother has always been with her.◊
- Misato's death. After pulling an epic dying moment of awesome, Misato to is revealed to be reunited with Kaji.
- Doubles as an obvious Tear Jerker.