He is a petite, 14-year-old introvert who wants nothing more than a simple, quiet life and to reconnect with his estranged father. But destiny plays a joke on him, throwing him onto the front lines of brutal battles, fighting monstrous enemies over and over again. Confused and traumatized, he tries to run away. But when he realizes he cannot escape from his fate as a child warrior, he fights on.
That’s the trajectory of Shinji Ikari, the protagonist of Hideaki Anno’s 1995 sci-fi anime classic Neon Genesis Evangelion, which began streaming on Netflix in June. The show revolves around his physical and psychological struggles as he accepts his father’s request to pilot Evangelion Unit 01, a powerful giant cyborg designed to fight the beings known as Angels. Ikari initially fights to win the approval of his father, the head of a secret military organization. Eventually he accepts his fate as the only one who can stop the Human Instrumentality Project, which aims to merge all human souls into one entity.