Hot off the heels of the Western release of the final entry in the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise, Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time, CBR has bizarrely attempted to claim that the film’s explanation of Rei Ayanami’s existence as a manufactured clone is proof positive that the character is a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
[Warning: Minor spoilers for Evangelion 3.0+1.0 follow below]
In an article headlined Evangelion: 3.0+1.01 Casually Confirms a Major Character as LGBTQIA+ published on August 16th, CBR writer Reuben Baron attempts to argue that “one smaller revelation [seen in the film] that has gone mostly unremarked upon on the English-language internet is the casual confirmation that Rei Ayanami is somewhere on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.”
“The reveal occurs a little over an hour and two minutes into the two-and-a-half-hour film when Fuyutski is preparing for the Fourth Impact,” explains Baron. “In these preparations, he remarks upon ‘The resurrection of the Advanced Ayanami series, untainted life forms made with pure souls free of sexual distinction.’ The Japanese phrase translated as ‘free of sexual distinction,’ ‘雌雄 も なく’ (‘shiyuu mo naku’), can also be translated more directly as ‘without sex.’”
Thus, he concludes, “What this specifically means for Rei Ayanami is up for some interpretation, but all interpretations would place her as one letter or another in the LGBTQIA+ acronym.”
“If Fuyutski is talking about physical sex, then this means Rei is intersex (with prominent feminine-coded secondary sexual characteristics),” says Baron. “If he’s talking about gender, then Rei is agender/non-binary. While it might be more of a reach, it’s also within the realm of possibility that being ‘free of sexual distinction’ could make Rei either pansexual or asexual.”
However, anyone familiar with the story and characters of Neon Genesis Evangelion will be quick to recognize that not only is Baron’s argument based on a severe misreading of the franchise’s plot, but also on his own obsession with LGBTQ+ representation.
While the film’s script does in fact describe the Advanced Ayanami series of clones as ‘pure souls free of sexual distinction’, or ‘without sex’, this phrase does not indicate that Rei is either asexual or non-binary.
Rather, Fuyutski is referring explicitly to the fact that the Advanced Ayanami series are manufactured products, engineered without even the ideation of sexuality or the ability to have sex, due to the fact that they exist as disposable ‘tools’ for Gendo Ikari to use in establishing a connection to Lilith, the progenitor of the Evangelion units.
As they are essentially little more than objects, Rei’s existence as a being ‘without sex’ is less an identity, and more the horrific result of scientific experimentation meant to strip the clones of their humanity.
In other words, the advanced Ayanami series are not asexual or non-binary, but rather physically, mentally, and spiritually incapable of engaging with the entire concept of sex, as it has literally been written out of their DNA.
This is far from the first time that the identity-obsessed did themselves a disservice by attempting to paint an anime character who suffered unwilling medical experimentation as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Previously, the character of Gren in Cowboy Bebop was heralded for his existence as a ‘non-binary’ individual, based on his posession of both sets of human genitalia, despite the fact that this aspect of the character’s body was the result of brutal, forced medical experimentation.
Evangelion 3.0+1.0 is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.
What do you make of CBR’s claim that Rei Ayanami and her clones are asexual/non-binary? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!