Recap / Neon Genesis Evangelion Episode 01 "Angel Attack"

It is the year 2015. A large, vaguely humanoid creature swims through a flooded Japanese town, heading for the city of Tokyo-3. On the nearby shoreline, a JSSDF tank battalion has been mobilized in preparation for its arrival.

In a nearby town (which has been deserted due to an evacuation order) Misato Katsuragi is racing through the streets trying to find Shinji Ikari, a 14 year old student whom she has been ordered to pick up by her commanding officer/Shinji's father, Gendo Ikari. Shinji, having just arrived by train, finds himself alone in the town; with Misato nowhere in sight, he thinks about looking for shelter. He spots a blue-haired girl on the streets, seemingly watching him from a distance, but some fluttering birds distract him for moment, and when he turns to look again, the girl has apparently vanished into thin air. He barely manages to contemplate what he's seen before a shockwave rocks the city. Shinji looks up to see a swarm of jet fighters flying away from a gigantic creature with a mask-like face, which is closing in on the deserted town. As the JSSDF sends in the heavy artillery against the creature, he is nearly killed — but Misato arrives in the nick of time and drives him out of town.

Meanwhile, beneath the city of Tokyo-3, the JSSDF are coordinating an attack on the creature in an underground command center belonging to the organization NERV. Gendo and his sub-commander, Kozo Fuyutsuki, are watching footage of the beingís movements. They identify the creature as an "Angel", having apparently expected this attack to happen. The JSSDF generals grow frustrated when none of their weaponry seems able to injure the Angel, let alone kill it. Gendo and Fuyutsuki tell them the Angel is protected by an A.T. Field, which makes conventional weapons useless against it. Willing to bring the Angel down at all costs, the JSSDF generals authorize the launch of an N2 mine, the strongest non-nuclear weapon ever created. Outside of town, Misato and Shinji are watching the battle from a distance. Misato notices how the jet fighters are retreating from the area; knowing what it means, she covers Shinji with her body as the N2 mine goes off. The shockwave of the massive detonation sends her car tumbling off the road.

The JSSDF generals celebrate their apparent victory...until cameras come back online and show the Angel still intact. It was only lightly damaged by the attack, and it is already regenerating its wounds. Admitting their failure, the generals hand the task to kill the Angel over to Gendo and NERV, asking Gendo if he can truly accomplish what they could not. Gendo says doing so is what NERV "was made for." As Fuyutsuki asks Gendo what he plans to do — as "Unit-01" is without an operational pilot — Gendo remarks that "a spare is being delivered".

Shinji and Misato manages to get her damaged car back on the road and continue towards Tokyo-3. Shinji tries asking Misato questions about his father and his work, referring to the letter from Gendo that simply tells Shinji to "Come". She mostly evades them, then hands him a manual about NERV. The pair soon reaches their distination: an underpass with a car-elevator adorned with NERV's logo. Misato drives the car into the elevator and it begins to descent. As, they are heading downstairs, Misato says to Shinji that she can tell that he never got along with his father: "We're the same in that." Before Shinji can ask for clarification, the car enters a brightly-lit dome-shaped carven with a entire landscape and buildings down below. Completely amazed by the sight, he comments that it is "a real geofront", and Misato tells him it is "our secret base — NERV headquarters", the last fortress of mankind and the key to rebuilding the world.

Misato and Shinji, however, quickly get lost in the mazelike layout of the headquarters. Misato apologetically explains to Shinji that she is still pretty new around here, and is not yet very familiar with the place. NERV's main scientist and leader of "Project E", Dr. Ritsuko Akagi, is called in over the PA system to guide them further down. As she meets up with them, Ritsuko quickly shows herself as quite business-minded; she makes no secret about her annoyance over this interruption in her work as she reminds Misato her that NERV is already short on manpower and time. Ritsuko then notices Shinji, asking Misato if he is the boy in question. Misato affirms this, stating that: "According to the Marduk Report, he's the Third Child."

In the command center, Gendo heads down to greet Shinji. Fuyutsuki comments that it is "their first meeting in over three years" before he is told that the Angel has started moving towards Tokyo-3 again. Meanwhile, Shinji, Misato, and Ritsuko sail over a lake of coolant on a motor raft, finally arriving to a dark room. Shinji gets the shock of his life as the light turns on: he finds himself face-to-face with a giant purple creature with demonic facial features. Ritsuko tells Shinji that he is standing in front of "the synthetic human, Evangelion Unit-01" and calls it "mankindís ultimate weapon." Shinji asks if this is what his father has been working on — a fact which Gendo, standing on a shielded bridge above the group, affirms. With his conflicted feelings towards his father swelling up in him, Shinji averts himself from Gendo's gaze.

Gendo tells Misato and Ritsuko that they're going out against the Angel. Misato questions Gendo's orders, reminding him that Unit-00 is on freeze and Rei Ayanami, their on-hand pilot, is in no condition to fight — but Ritsuko tells Misato that Gendo plans to send out Unit-01 with Shinji as the pilot. Misato points out how it took Rei months to sync up with Unit-00 and expresses disbelief that the inexperienced and untested Shinji will even stand a chance. Both Ritsuko and Gendo, however, seem convinced that getting Shinji to sit in the seat will be enough. Remembering Gendoís abandonment of him as a young child, Shinji asks if this is the real reason why he has been called to Tokyo-3, which Gendo confirms. Shinji sides with Misato: he refuses to believe that he can pilot the EVA, something he has never seen before. Gendo tells Shinji that he can leave if he refuses to pilot Unit-01. Meanwhile, the Angel signals its arrival on the outskirts of Tokyo-3 by bombing the city with energy blasts.

Seeing him buckle under the pressure, Misato tells Shinji that this is his chance to stand up to his father and himself, but this only causes Shinji to close further up. Seemingly disappointed, Gendo orders Fuyutsuki to wake up Rei, who is then wheeled in on a stretcher. Shinji is shocked to see the heavily injured girl (who looks suspiciously like the girl he saw on the street earlier) as she obediently prepares herself for getting into the EVA. Another energy blast from the Angel hits; this one causes the entire command center to shake, which rocks some overhead lights loose. The lights fall towards Shinji and Rei, but Unit-01 — moving on its own accord — throws up its hand to shield them from the debris (much to Gendo's seeming pleasure). While Ritsuko calls what just happened "impossible", Misato takes it as a sign that Shinji really has a chance. Shinji rushes to help Rei and realizes that she is bleeding; overcome with guilt, Shinji chants "I mustn't run away," to himself. Reluctantly, he announces that he agrees to pilot Unit-01.

Shinji is inserted into the EVA via a removable cockpit known as an "entry plug". He is shocked when the plug is flooded with an orange liquid, but he is told that it is "LCL", a breathable fluid which will help him synchronize with the EVA. Though he's told that he will get used to it, Shinji can't help feeling nauseous at the situation. Ritsuko gets a look at Shinji's vitals in the chief command center of NERV headquarters, Central Dogma, and is delighted to see Shinji has 41% synch-rate with Unit-01 (despite his never having piloted before).

Once preparations are completed and Unit-01 is about to be deployed, both Misato and Fuyutsuki express doubts about whether the EVA can succeed. Gendo doesn't flinch; unless they fight the Angels now, he says, humanity doesn't have a future. Misato finally orders Unit-01 to be launched to the surface. When the launch ends, Shinji finds himself towering above the city of Tokyo-3, standing face-to-face with the Angel. Misato thinks to herself: "Shinji, donít get killed out there."

Episode 01: Angel Attack contains examples of the following tropes:

  • All There in the Script: The Angel of this episode is Sachiel, designated the Third Angel.
  • Bookends:
    • The appearance "Bookend Rei" will become significant again in End of Evangelion.
    • A more subtle one is Shinji uttering the line "Kimochi warui" inside Unit-01's cockpit. It is more infamously also the last line of End of Evangelion.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: For what it is worth, Shinji makes an attempt at this, but between his own conflicted feelings, the sudden circumstances he finds himself in, and his father's unmoving and cold attitude, that attempt quickly falls flat.
  • Cliffhanger: Shinji ends the episode armed with a weapon he has no idea how to control in a fight against a gigantic beast.