Secrets of the Ayanami Series: Pt.I
Updated: Dec 19, 2020
One of Q’s greatest and most unexpected moments (in a movie full of awesome and unexpected moments) was Fuyutsuki using shogi as an excuse to unleash exposition onto poor Shinji. Intimate, claustrophobic, utterly surreal, and giving Motomu Kiyokawa a much-deserved moment in the spotlight. There's a great deal of insight into NTE's lore to be gained just from this scene alone, and due to its importance I'm going to be taking a closer look, specifically at the storyboards. Part I will cover the familiar material comprising most of the expodump, and Part II will look at a very interesting segment that didn't make it into the final movie.
Translation is by yours truly. I've left out some of the camera directions and sound effects, as they aren't important for our purposes.
Close-up of the photograph.
Shinji (off-screen): “Huh?”
Close in much further on the photograph.
[Note:] Gendo is not in the photograph. It features just Yui and Shinji, or Fuyutsuki with the two of them. Fuyutsuki has held onto the photo stubbornly.
C-0847: Gendo not being in the photo is easy to overlook, but when you know it wasn't an arbitrary decision, things suddenly feel very different. And the storyboard note specifies that Shinji also be in the photo. Meaning, Fuyutsuki chose to hold onto a photograph that included Yui's son, but not Yui's husband. There's a lot going on between the lines there. I wouldn't expect a twist like "Fuyutsuki was Shinji's father all along", but bear in mind the very strong possibility that Shinji was not created the "old-fashioned way" in NTE. (This thread, though out of date, provides a basic primer.) That is, Fuyutsuki could have played an important role in Shinji's genesis this time around, and so, due to his attachment to Yui, feels attachment to Shinji as well even if they aren't biologically related. As for whether the note implies that NTE!Fuyutsuki wishes Yui had been his, and resents Gendo for "taking" her -- I'd honestly prefer not to retread that ground, as the exploration of an unconventional family dynamic is more interesting to me, but Gendo's absence from the photograph is rather damning...
Shinji in profile view, taking the photograph into his hand.
Close-up of Fuyutsuki.
Fuyutsuki: “Your mother. Her maiden name was Ayanami Yui. She was my student at the university.”
Close-up of Fuyutsuki’s finger extracting a shogi piece with one smooth motion.
Fuyutsuki: “Now, she manifests as Eva Unit-01’s control system.”
Close-up of shocked Shinji in profile view.
He’s totally speechless.
S.E. (Sound of a transformer working)
Fuyutsuki: “Hmm. So the power’s finally been restored.”
Switch over to red-tinted main lights.
A giant cruciform rack appears, comprised of a concavity shaped like the back of an Eva and suspended from enormous wires.
Shinji looks at this.
Fuyutsuki: “The earliest model of the Eva control system.
Here, Yui-kun tested her proposal to directly enter the core, using herself as the experimental subject.”
C-0852: “Control system” here is seigyo system (制御システム). This is the same term Fuyutsuki used earlier in C-0849 to rather vaguely refer to Yui’s current status. In what way is Yui really comparable to a red cross-shaped Eva mold? Good question…
[Closer view of previous shot; fused with C-0852.]
C-0853 shows “Eva-01.α” written on the Eva control system rack. (I guess I’ll just call it the CSR for short.) This is not present on the CSR in the final film. We haven’t seen much of the designation “Eva-01.α” outside of Anno’s Eva-01 drawings (see below), but all the α (lowercase “alpha”) denotes is that this is Eva-01’s initial build.
Shinji from the front, still in a state of shock.
Fuyutsuki (off-screen): “You were there watching, but your memories were erased.”
Yui diving directly into Eva-01’s core. (Plugsuit is 1st gen.) Flashback.
C-0855: Yui’s getup being a first generation “plugsuit” is an interesting bit of trivia. The name is rather odd, though, since entry plugs don’t seem to exist yet. NGE went the route of calling Yui’s suit a “divesuit” instead, and that feels like it would have fit better here as well. The description even uses the English word “dive” to describe what she’s doing!
Close in on previous. Flashback.
Close in even more. Yui now clearly discernible. Flashback.
Fuyutsuki (off-screen): “In the end,”
The light turns on behind Fuyutsuki, revealing an Ayanami Series manufacturing plant.
Nothing but heads, set inside clear tanks.
“Yui-kun vanished here, and all that remains is her data within the Ayanami Series.”
C-858: The description column here really clears up one of more baffling visuals in a movie full of baffling visuals. The darkness directly behind Fuyutsuki being able to hide a Rei factory is going “full surrealism” no matter how you cut it, but knowing that there’s an actual purpose behind all those Rei heads eases the mind at least a little. This shot feels like a companion to the earlier one of the Eva arms hanging in midair somewhere in Nerv HQ, the implication being that both Evas and Reis are being mass-produced for some unknown purpose. The term “Ayanami Series” makes the parallel between Rei and the Evas that was already present in NGE that much more concrete; as different as they might seem superficially, they’re all artificial human beings created in a state of bondage.
“Yui-kun vanished here, and all that remains is her data within the Ayanami Series.” A rather obnoxious line and I’m still not entirely how to interpret it. Fuyutsuki has already admitted that Yui still exists as Eva-01’s control system, so she clearly hasn’t “vanished”, has she? Having said that, I get the feeling that some kind of semantics game is being played here with a bigger goal in mind. Fuyutsuki speaks of Yui “vanishing” and talks about her “data” being left behind, a theme that is echoed in Kaworu’s mysterious pre mortem monologue to Shinji. Food for thought, anyway.
Another bit of trivia is that “Ayanami Series” is written in all katakana (アヤナミシリーズ). “Ayanami” is normally written in kanji (綾波), but that changes starting in Q, with the introduction of a new Rei (usually called "Rei Q" in English-speaking fan circles, but officially designated the rather cumbersome "Tentative Name: Rei Ayanami"). In reference to both Rei Q and the Ayanami Series in general, the “Ayanami” is written not 綾波 (kanji) but アヤナミ (katakana). In Rei Q’s own dialogue, it’s written アヤナミ as well, even if she’s quoting someone else for whom it’s written 綾波.
Very mysterious stuff. I assume it has something to do with that “tentative name” business, but I’m not entirely sure what. One important clue, I think, is the fact that kanji by their very nature as a writing system are imbued with meaning; they represent a concept first, and sounds are associated with them secondarily. With katakana, there is no inherent meaning in the characters themselves; they are simply sounds. This suggests that Rei 2, whose surname is written 綾波, inherently possesses something that the other clones are lacking. Rei Q and the other “Tentative Names” (explained here) are blank slates, created empty and without meaning. Poor Rei Q must discover her own purpose -- and I wonder if choosing her own name will be part of that.
Close in. They’re all smiling.
(OFF) “The Ayanami Rei you knew is one of Yui-kun’s”
Close-up on the center of previous.
C-0859-60: Translated here as “replicas” is 複製体 (fukuseitai). One could translate it as “clone” if they were so inclined, but normally Japanese would just use the word “clone” straight (クローン). This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Ayanami Series isn’t created using cloning technology, but I figured I would leave things a bit vaguer out of respect for the original phrasing. FYI, the term Kaworu uses later to refer to Rei Q (shortly after 13 and 09 enter Central Dogma) is different from that used here; he calls her a リリンの模造品 (Lilin no mozouhin), literally a “Lilin imitation” or, less elegantly, “Lilin knockoff”. Fukuseitai feels somewhat neutral, whereas mozouhin clearly refers to an inferior copy. Does this choice reveal an anti-Rei bias in Kaworu? Seeing his reaction to Near Third Impact in Ha's post-credits scene, I wouldn't be surprised.
Flashbacks to Rei, with Gendo at the very end.
(OFF) “She is being stored inside Eva-01, same as your mother. All of it was planned by Ikari.”
Shinji profile view, close-up.
Hanging his head, still shocked.
C-0861: “Being stored” is 保存されている (hozon sareteiru). It can refer to computer data being stored on a drive or saved to disc, which feels appropriate given the “living data” motif that’s going on. The concept of Shinji’s memory being erased (C-0854) ties into the same set of ideas.
(Note: Restricting the commentary to the storyboards alone was a strange side effect of how this post evolved. The neat details that can be gleaned from the final film, Groundworks book, and Rebuild of Evangelion 3.33 featurette definitely deserve to be covered, and I may later revise this post accordingly.)
That's all for now! Next up is the second (and far more interesting) half, then more trailer analysis!