What are the Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion?

What are the Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion
Credit: Gainax

What are the Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion
Credit: Gainax

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a highly enigmatic mecha anime with plenty of religious imagery and symbolism that left us with questions long after the anime ended. The infamous Angels whom the main characters must fight are among the show's greatest mysteries. So, what exactly are the Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion and why must Shinji fight them?

What Are the Angels In Neon Genesis Evangelion?

The Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion are complex beings with a genetic code that's similar but distinct from that of humans.

Angels are initially introduced as monstrous entities that humanity must fight against.

Some angels have limbs or other body parts that make them appear humanoid with others leaning more toward the monstrous side - and some don't look like monsters at all.

With Angels' appearances being so varied they have one thing in common; none of them looks anything like the angels we are used to in Christian narratives and imagery.

Neon Genesis Evangelion doesn't offer straightforward answers about its Angels, but they owe their existence to the First Ancestral Race - humanoid but extremely advanced species who released the Seeds of Life to spread life to planets.

The only known Seeds of Life in the fantasy anime's universe are Adam and Eve - the first and second Angels respectively. The rest of the Angels we encounter throughout the show come from Adam.

The seventeenth and last Angel we encounter in the anime, Kaoru Nagisa, looks completely human, having gathered information from his predecessors.

Finally, Neon Genesis Evangelion steps into an eerie and confusing realm by revealing the entirety of humanity to be the designated eighteenth Angel.

They are also known as Lilin, as they are descendants of Lilith rather than Adam.

While Adam's children, the Angels, each have distinct shapes, humanity as a whole is treated as a single Angel - hard to grasp, but the theme of individuality versus collectivity is a strong one in the anime so it gives you food for thought if not answers.

Are the Angels Evil?

What are the Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion 2
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Credit: Gainax

Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion are complicated being that cannot be associated with good or evil as we understand it.

Apart from Kaworu who takes human form and interacts with Shinji as a boy, the other Angels never voice their thoughts

It's assumed that the previous Angels are simply beings that differ from humans. They seem almost animalistic in their goals but they likely possess their own set of morals that cannot be understood by humanity.

Of course, the issue becomes more complicated when you find out that humanity is the eighteenth Angel. Given how diverse humans are, it's almost impossible to perceive them as a single entity.

Perhaps, then, assigning morality to the anime's Angels - who are diverse themselves, given how much nicer Kaworu is towards humans - is as futile as trying to assign a single morality to humans as a whole.

Related: Who Killed Kaji in Neon Genesis Evangelion?

Why Are the Angels Attacking Humanity?

What are the Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion 3
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Credit: Gainax

Initially, it is not known why the Angels attack humanity in Neon Genesis Evangelion. You can come up with an idea or two by watching the show but there's no official explanation.

Many fans assume that Angels were after Adam, seeking to reunite with him and become the dominant forces of the earth. It's possible that some of them did not have ulterior motives we can understand other than, perhaps, destroying humanity for reasons that aren't entirely clear.

Like many other aspects of the anime, the Angels are a mystery but it's fun - though a bit disturbing too - to learn and speculate about them!

Related: Where to Watch and Stream Neon Genesis Evangelion Original Series and Movies

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