The current debate over human cloning and genetic engineering is tame when compared to the Frankenstein-esque scenarios so common in speculative fiction. With today’s technology, human cloning is just another device for conceiving a child. It has nothing to do with mass-producing slaves for labor on off world colonies or pilots for an army of giant robots.
So what’s the big deal? People’s fear of this new technology could stem from the megalomaniac attitudes of the scientists supporting it. Richard G. Seede, the Chicago researcher that would enjoy cloning humans for barren couples in the next three months, made a statement that epitomizes the cautionary morals of Neon Genesis Evangelion and Blade Runner, “Human cloning brings us one step closer to God.” One step too close, many would argue. This extra step causes the creator to invent monsters that that can only turn on their masters.
(Major Spoilers Ahead!)
Rei Ayanami, the blue-haired enigma and pilot of EVA-00 in Neon Genesis Evangelion, is a clone of Yui Ikari. Rei II is the one that we are familiar with throughout most of the EVA series. To destroy an Angel, she commits suicide with the self-destruction of EVA-00. In a flashback, we are introduced to Rei I, a rude child that pisses off the wrong person (Ritsuko Akagi’s Mother) and, as a result, is strangled and “retired.” The final clone, Rei III, denies Gendoh Ikari, commander of NERV and her creator, his salvation by triggering the Third Impact alone with Lilith, the crucified Angel in the Terminal Dogma thought to be the first Angel and cause of the Second Impact, Adam.
How does Rei deceive those around her and the audience into thinking she’s human?
As the Replicants in Blade Runner were reliant on false memories and doctored photos to define their memories, the Rei clones need their immediate environment. Rei II’s maturity, understanding of man and philosophical outlook stem from the fact that she has lived among humans since first grade.
Rei–Man has always feared the Darkness, so he scrapes away at its edges with fire. He creates life by diminishing the dark.
What 14 year old comes up with this? Asuka jokingly accuses her of impersonating a philosopher.
Is her experience and knowledge of the human condition even more far reaching than this? Her multitudinous sisterhood of clones lie just beyond the edge of her consciousness. She can have conversations with her other selves and still not be able to come to grips with her artificiality. Can Rei II really possess a self? Is it spread out across her clone sisters? Can it develop individually or do the dormant clones rely on her emotional and experiential input? Rei II feeds the others this information through the Dummy Plug sessions. This is the only way that Rei III could inherit Gendoh’s selfish betrayal and know that she is the last Rei. She denied herself the old emotional ties to him when she destroyed his souvenir glasses from Rei II’s first EVA test. Rei III rises above her predecessor’s ignorance of the fact that every kindness that Gendoh paid Rei II was a self serving charade.
Rei II is different than the other girls at school. Her reservations and inability to connect with any humans originates from her deep, confusing shame of not being able to menstruate. Her juxtaposition to the moon in the ending credits and throughout the series is ironic. The moon’s 28 day cycle of the ocean tides has no effect on her non-existent period. The absence of reproductive workings from her genetic makeup is sadly peculiar when you consider all the images and actions that root her to Yui Ikari, Shinji’s mother. The answer is efficiency in genetic programming. Why develop the complications and frustrations of sexuality when there is no need for a second generation. Shinji’s attraction to Rei is an attraction to his mother. Rei is disaffected by Shinji falling on her naked body when he wanders into her apartment to give her a new ID card. She only slaps him in anger later when he shows ill feelings toward his father. It is an awkward situation for the son and voyeur to see and touch his mother’s nude body but quite natural and nostalgic for the mother figure. The mystery of life is in Rei, created by man to consume man.
We are attracted to mystery and enigmatic characters. Staged emotional situations forces us to empathize with a clone. Below the surface of a quiet girl in those red eyes lies the answers to all questions, we just don’t know what to ask.
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