With the next Evangelion film delayed, fans once again have time to theorize about what director and notable Ultraman liker Hideaki Anno will do next. Theories range from a secret EVA to Gendo doing the unthinkable and trying to be a good dad. One of the more entertaining theories to bubble up is the “Four Asukas” Theory — though in truth, the number could be anywhere from three to five. But just how much water does this latest theory hold?
The idea of the red-suited EVA pilot being more than one person is already essentially a given. Soryu and Shikinami are already treated as distinct people across the Evangelion canon, regardless of how (or if) that affects the story. The theory appears to have first cropped up thanks to an image of four Asukas in until You come to me, an Animator Expo short following up on 2012’s Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo. The short, meant as a showpiece for Studio Khara animators, briefly shows a line-up of Asuka as seen in her first scene in the TV series, in the hospital in End of Evangelion, in the first two films, and finally with her eyepatch in the most recent film.
The theory has resurfaced, stating that each of these iterations of Asuka is indeed a separate entity. Whether they’re multiple personalities, clones, or Asukas from different timelines isn’t clarified, though the theorists seem to lean toward the last of these. A slight alteration of the theory posits that we’ve seen only three separate Asukas so far (with Eyepatch Asuka and No-Eyepatch Asuka indeed being the same person). Either way, it goes on to say that — whether she’s the fourth or the fifth — we will see another Asuka in the upcoming film.
So just how believable is this theory? Considering this is Evangelion we’re talking about, pretty much anything goes. Considering Rei Ayanami’s whole deal and Kaworu’s meta levels of knowledge, it’s not implausible for there to be multiple Asukas in play. Technically.
A lot of the meat of the theory leans on that one shot from until You come to me, and — while it looks very cool — it might be something of a stretch to assume that visualizing Asuka four times is a secret message conveying that there are four of her. There’s a much more enticing point to that image: the fact that this post-3.0 short references the television series in Shinji’s memories. It may be a non-canonical (or at least dubiously canonical) showcase of talent, but even so, it seems as though excited fans may be missing the forest for the trees.
The real answer, of course, is that no one ever really knows what Evangelion is going to bring. This theory, or some version of it, may yet prove true. Or Anno may steer off in another direction entirely. If all goes well, we’ll know by the end of 2020.