Rei Ayanami (綾波 レイ Ayanami Rei) is a fictional character from the Japanese media franchise Neon Genesis Evangelion created by Gainax. She is the First Child (First Children in the Japanese version) and pilot of the Evangelion Unit 00.
Seiyū: Megumi Hayashibara
(English): Amanda Winn Lee (TV/Films), Brina Palencia (Rebuild)
(Italian): Valentina Mari
(Brazilian): Priscila Concépcion
(Spanish, Spain): Gaby Ugarte,
(Spanish, Latin America): Circe Luna
(German): Marie Bierstedt
Rei Ayanami is a clone of Yui Ikari. On some level, she may also incorporate DNA from the Second Angel, Lilith, because she is the vessel for Lilith's soul. Rei Ayanami was created sometime between 2004 and 2008, as suggested by her appearance in Episode 21. At that stage, she is a small child, perhaps around four years old in 2010. She is later seen in 2015 apparently aged 14 (she would have to be the same age as Shinji since they are in the same class). This would seem to suggest that Commander Ikari has the ability to manipulate her growth in some way. In Terminal Dogma, a large tank full of spare Rei clones is maintained. These are referred to by Ritsuko Akagi as being "spare parts" for the Dummy Plug system.
The reason Rei was cloned was to create controllable link between Gendo Ikari and Lilith. It seems to have been his intention to use Rei to control Human Instrumentality Project, and allow him to see Yui again in the End of Evangelion. The reason why the DNA of Yui Ikari was used is not explicitly stated. It may be due to Commander Ikari's desire to be with his wife once more, in whatever way possible.
Rei in Japanese (レイ)
is sometimes a synonym for "zero". Fitting, as Rei is the pilot of Eva-00, or that Rei is "zero" (or "nothing"), a case of identity that troubles her throughout the series. "Rei" spelled with different Kanji is the word for "spirit" (霊)
. Rei's name thus becomes a double pun, she is the pilot of Eva-00, and the vessel for the spirit of Lilith.
Through the run of the series, Rei Ayanami died at least twice. On these occasions, she was apparently resurrected through the use of the Dummy Plug system and the tank of cloned bodies. This is not without flaws, as is seen in Episode 23 when after her death fighting the Sixteenth Angel, Rei is apparently able to recognize that she is her own third incarnation. Her new incarnation differs from the preceding one (See below).
Rei 1 was first Introduced in Episode 21. She is shown as a small child wearing a simple red dress. She is later murdered by Naoko Akagi, for revealing that Gendo Ikari referred to her as an 'old hag' behind her back (displaying behavior noticeably different from her later incarnations).
The term "Rei 1" is also used in the script for the distorted image of Rei that is seen inside Eva-00, suggesting strongly that the part or the whole of Rei 1 was used for Eva-00's soul. For more on this theory, see Eva-00's soul. Rei 1 is also shown alongside her two 'sisters' and Yui Ikari during Commander Ikari's final scene in End of Evangelion.
Rei 2 was the incarnation of Rei for the majority of the series, until Episode 23. This Rei is shown to have a strong attachment to Gendo Ikari, and a building attachment to Shinji Ikari. It is likely that Rei 2 was created soon after the death of Rei 1. Given that this occurred in 2010, this would suggest that in reality, Rei 2 is four years old at the most, despite appearing to be fourteen years old. In addition, it is theorized (see Eva-00's soul) that she has only part of Rei 1's soul. She is shown with her sisters in Episode 26' wearing the same bandages that she first wore after being injured in Eva-00's failed activation test.
The Third incarnation of Rei Ayanami is first seen in Episode 23, after the death of Rei 2. This incarnation of Rei shows little attachment to Gendo Ikari, attempting to break the glasses that Rei 2 had kept after being rescued by Gendo Ikari from Eva-00 after its berserker incident. This incarnation appears capable of Angelic abilities including an A.T. Field (all but stated aloud in Episode 24) and rapid regeneration. Rei 3's distaste for Gendo results in her betraying him and handing control of Third Impact to Shinji in Episode 26'. In Gendo's final scene in Episode 26', Rei 3 is shown naked with her "sisters", Rei 1 and Rei 2.