Neon Genesis Evangelion is filled with iconic Eva Units, but none come close to competing with Unit-01.
But given the nature of this anime, the audience is bound to be left with questions that they might've missed the answers to.
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!
Human Instrumentality Project in Neon Genesis Evangelion - Explained!
Human Instrumentality Project is a plan to force humanity to undergo evolution by bringing the Third Impact under NERV's control. It is meant to unite all the Lilin Souls as one being after the Third Impact.
Why Did Unit-01 Go Berserk?
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.
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.
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.
Evangelion: What Was Fuyutsuki's Purpose? Was Fuyutsuki In Love With Yui?
Why did Fuyutsuki join Gendo and work tirelessly to bring about the end of the world with the Third Impact? Was it because of Yui? Let's find out!
Is Eva Unit-01 A God?
Eva 01 was a clone of Lilith, and after consuming the S² organ, it also gained the properties of Adam.
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?
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.