The Evangelion franchise connects with many people through its cast of troubled characters, who develop increasingly complex relationships with each other as the series progresses.
Throughout the original series Neon Genesis Evangelion, the sequel movie The End of Evangelion, and the subsequent Rebuild of Evangelion reboot movies, many fans have continued asking the same question: will Shinji Ikari ever find love, and who will he end up with?
In the original 26-episode series, the answer to this question was thoroughly ambiguous. Now that the series has concluded following the final movie Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0: Thrice Upon A Time, we have at least one clear answer to the question, even if it’s not the answer some fans would want.
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Who Does Shinji End up With in Neon Genesis Evangelion?
In 1997’s The End of Evangelion movie, which serves as a conclusion of the original animated series, shippers were left without much detail to work with to support the pairings they wanted. After the execution of the Human Instrumentality Project and the destruction of all life on earth in The End of Evangelion, Shinji is able to reject ‘instrumentality’ and create the world anew. In the aftermath of this, it is possible for those who died to return if they have the will to do so.
What results is a world where Shinji Ikari is left with Asuka Langley, their fellow Evangelion pilot. Shinji and Asuka have a complicated relationship, but as the final scenes of this movie express, it couldn’t easily be described as ‘loving.’
Therefore, in the original version of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji doesn’t exactly ‘end up with’ anyone. But to worry about that might be missing the point a bit: Neon Genesis Evangelion is an intense exploration of the human psyche – pairing up the characters was never the point of the show.
If you’re still looking for a canon romance in the series though, you’ll need to watch the reboot movies: the Rebuild of Evangelion, which starts with 1.0, continues with 2.0 and 3.0, and ends with the confusingly titled 3.0 + 1.0.
Who Does Shinji End up With in Rebuild of Evangelion?
In the Rebuild of Evangelion, the series finds new opportunities to signal Shinji’s romantic interests. Throughout the cinematic series, which retells the Evangelion story in a completely new way, Shinji is shown to have affection for multiple characters: Rei, Asuka, Kaworu, and Mari.
Although the Kaworu & Shinji relationship is an important point of the third movie in the series and certainly the most believable pairing of the bunch, there are arguments to be made for Shinji’s affection for Rei and Asuka too. Strangely, it’s the character that’s new to the rebuild series that Shinji ends up with at the conclusion of the new cinematic version of Evangelion: Mari Makinami.
In the final movie of the reboot series Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0: Thrice Upon A Time, which also serves as a finale to the series overall, the ending scenes show us Shinji’s future, free of the machinations of his father, NERV, and the Evangelions. In his happy future, we see Shinji join hands with none other than Mari, with scenes implying they’re in a loving relationship, ending the series on an uncharacteristically optimistic note.
It may not be the ending or pairing that some fans wanted, but it’s one that reflects the changes the series has gone through in the several decades since its creation, with Mari themselves as the character that symbolizes the series’ final movement toward a new paradigm.