Evangelion Unit 01: Explained! Why it is special than other Evas

Neon Genesis Evangelion is filled with iconic Eva Units, but none come close to competing with Unit-01.

Unit-01 is the only unit capable of triggering the Third Impact, and unlike every other Eva, it's a direct clone of Lilith.
This obviously sets Unit-01 apart from its brethren and explains why the mecha plays such a crucial role in the franchise.

But given the nature of this anime, the audience is bound to be left with questions that they might've missed the answers to.

For example, why is Unit-01 the only Eva that goes berserk often? Or why are Shinji and Unit-01 so important in the plan to destroy humanity?

The answers to these questions aren't obvious, and you need to read between the lines to understand the gravity of the situation.

Today, let's revisit the show and discuss some of Unit-01's most impactful moments, as well as understand why it did what it did in the show!

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Why Did Unit-01 Go Berserk?

Evangelion Unit One

Eva Unit-01 went berserk to save Shinji's life. Since Shinji was in no shape to continue the fight and would've died without assistance, Yui's soul took over the Evangelion and went berserk, killing Leruel and eating its S² in the process.

Yui, Shinji's mother, was prompted to take control because of her desperate desire to save him. But I suspect there's another factor in play here.

It is said that since Yui completely (and willingly) gave her soul to her Evangelion, she is the only one who can gain unrestricted control over her Eva.

Still, it doesn't explain why the Unite would become so wild and eat the S² organ. That wasn't necessary to protect Shinji, was it?

Why Did Unit-01 Eat The Angel?

The Evas are sentient cyborgs— meaning that they are equal parts machine and equal parts, human. However, it is implied that due to the lack of an S² engine core, these giants require an external source of energy to operate and are therefore technically incomplete.

Unit-01 ate the Angel Leruel to gain its S² engine core. This made it the first-ever "complete" Evangelion, and Unit-01 could now operate with unlimited energy. Gaining S² was also a crucial step in the Eva's goal of triggering the Third Impact.

Think of it this way

Think of it this way: plants rely on the sun to perform photosynthesis. But if an extra organ could grant them the power to photosynthesize independently, how much more efficient would they become?

Except Evas aren't as peaceful as plants and are generally fixated on destruction. But still, the point is that the S² organ increases its efficiency.

Overall, Unit-01 went berserk for two reasons: primarily, to protect Shinji against the Angel Leruel. But secondarily, to gain the S² organ and become one step closer to causing the cataclysmic event known as the Third Impact.

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Is Eva Unit-01 A God?

Evangelion Unit One

Eva 01 was a clone of Lilith, and after consuming the S² organ, it also gained the properties of Adam.


This made 01 capable of altering reality and causing the Third Impact. This is why it was called the "god" and the "devil" throughout the show.

However, it's important to remember that Neon Genesis Evangelion never intended to refer to Unit-01 as the Abrahamic God, despite the biblical references in the show. NGE calls Eva-01 god and devil because of the overwhelming power it holds, but what it means is a 'god-like/devil-like entity that's powerful beyond our grasp.'

In fact, in the anime world, any overpowered entity with the ability to impact the whole planet is considered god-tier — but in a Lovecraft-esque way, instead of the Christian definition that runs along the lines of "the creator of the universe."

I suppose this difference often gets lost in translation, but the distinction is similar to "love" in Japanese. There are different words for each kind of love (romantic, platonic, etc.), unlike the umbrella term in English, where the meaning is deduced based on the context.

Similarly, the way they refer to Unit-01 as god vastly differs from the way Westerners refer to the Abrahamic God.


Why Were Shinji And Unit-01 Needed For Human Instrumentality Project?

Shinji Ikari

Eva 01 was the only Evangelion capable of triggering the Third Impact, which was needed for the Human Instrumentality Project. And since Shinji was the only one who could pilot 01, he played a crucial role in the project too.

The reason why 01 could trigger the Third Impact like I already explained, was because Unit-01 was the only Eva with both Adam and Lilith's biology integrated into itself.

As for Shinji, he was the only one who could pilot Unit-01 because his mother's soul was absorbed into the mecha, making him the only person who could "sync" with the biology of the unit. Everyone else that tried to operate Unit-01 couldn't sync with it and was therefore rejected by Eva.

  • Writer of this post


I’m a 23-year-old Japanese anime geek. I love anime and it is the thing that sustains and refreshes my life. I want more people to know about anime. That's why I write articles about my favorite anime.


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