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Clockwise, from the top left corner: Yin, Hecate, Noël, Kanade, Ayase, Tabitha, Yuki, Hazuki. Center: Rei.

The Rei Ayanami Expy is a character archetype most common in Anime and Light Novels, which was clearly started, or at least very, very heavily influenced by the character of Rei Ayanami, from the Neon Genesis Evangelion series.

The Rei Ayanami Character Archetype includes the following:

Rei Ayanami herself fit every single element of the above description. Later, many, many other characters were created basically with the premise "What if Ayanami Rei would have been a robot/ a high school student/ a bit more human/ a bit more alien/ etc.", and the continued popularity of these characters also inspired others to follow the basic archetype in ways that couldn't be called direct Expy followers of Rei herself.

Common but optional characteristics include the following:

Compare Phlebotinum Girl, Char Clone and Shana Clone for a similar phenomenon. See also Kuudere, Emotionless Girl, and Stoic Woobie

Examples of Rei Ayanami Expy include:

Trope Namer

  • Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion, being the Trope Namer, likely deserves a bit of elaboration: Beginning the series, she is NERV's only active Evangelion pilot before Shinji, who was only recruited because Rei had been heavily injured during a test run of her assigned Evangelion, Unit 00. Throughout the series it is implied that Rei is something of a surrogate daughter of Shinji's father, Gendo, but the truth is somewhat stranger: Rei is actually a partial clone of Gendo's dead wife and Shinji's mother, Yui, with the addition of DNA from Lilith, one of the gigantic "angels" who NERV is supposed to fight against. Gendo planned to use Rei as a key part of Instrumentality, in hopes of reuniting with his wife. Also, there are several hundred Reis, and Gendo is entirely willing to sacrifice the current one and defrost the next if he feels its necessary. Its implied that her emotional distance comes not from being unable to feel emotions, but rather that even though she feels emotions just as strongly as other humans, her isolated upbringing means she does not know how to express them.
    • In what is undoubtedly a twist of Irony, a great part of Rei's character development deals with her having no control over her clones and not being able to rebel against Gendo because she knows she can be replaced, and none of her clones have souls aside from the one currently 'active'; both of these things make it difficult for her to establish an identity and are part of what gives her Hidden Depths. Then you take a look at this page, and realize that most of these clones similarly lack such depths.

Anime & Manga

  • Yin from Darker Than Black.
  • Lain from Serial Experiments Lain fits everything here, except she has brown hair.
  • Another borderline example, Subaru from .hack//Sign. She has short, bright blue hair, brown eyes (close enough to red), is quiet and very soft spoken as well as showing signs of being shy in RL. Also In real life, she is in a wheel chair from a terrible accident she keeps secret, and is a Meganekko. The series shared a character designer with Evangelion, so it's plausible it was a deliberate reference between the two characters.
  • Eureka from Eureka Seven. Very light turquoise hair, a Human Alien and is an Ill Girl and Emotionless Girl prior to Character Development, as well as slipping back into it on occasion afterwords.
  • Hazuki from Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, though she doesn't have any dramatic plotline related to it, she is just weird.
  • Fairy Tail has two very downplayed examples, since they only really fit the trope in their first appearances:
    • Meredy, a young girl with short-cut pastel-coloured hair and a petite body, is very stoic and her voice in the anime is very soft. She even calmly starts to dispatch Erza and Juvia, claiming with a cold expression that it's her mission to do so. She's also fiercely devoted to her parental figure, Ultear, going as far as to wanting kill Gray, the person she hates for killing Ultear's mother. After the timeskip, her personality has completely changed and she now is very cheerful.
    • Yukino Aguria, a shy, obedient girl with short silver/light blue hair. After the Grand Magic Games, however, she's much happier.
  • Parallel Trouble Adventure Dual has the character D, who pretty much is a straight up Expy of Rei (this show has been described as Evangelion meets Tenchi Muyo), being a bio android who acts like a robotic Emotionless Girl. She does however lack Rei's appearance, (which is probably because of legal issues). However she does have lime green hair. Green is close to blue, right? Right?
    • Actually, they were sneaky about that. They attached Rei's background (pilot before the protagonist who was badly injured) and silver hair to Yayoi, a different female character.
  • Mytho from Princess Tutu is a male example. Duck spends much of the first season working to restore his emotions.
  • Quon from RahXephon is visually quite distinct, but she has the "speaks softly in riddles," "mysterious origins," and "possibly more than human" aspects going for her. In a series that's known for having tons of expies of Neon Genesis Evangelion characters, she's the Rei analogue.
    • One of them. The other analogue is Mishima Reika: speaks constantly in riddles, always appears in places she's not supposed to be present at and generally provides lots of the show's Mind Screw. Eventually revealed to be Ixtli, the RahXephon's inner personality that physically manifests as the teenage version of Mishima Haruka, Ayato's Patient Childhood Love Interest and Love Interest he doesn't remember. Her purpose is to guide Ayato into Yolteotl in order to tune the world.
  • Shakugan no Shana plays this straight with Hecate, but at the same time subverts it with Wilhelmina Carmel, whose only similarities to Rei are her unusual hair colour and Sugar and Ice Personality.
  • Ren from Elemental Gelade (her name is even one letter apart from Rei) has waist length blue hair, green eyes and speaks in a monotone voice. Not only is she an Edel Raid (girls who can bind their soul with their Pledger and turn into a weapon) but is a Shichiko-hoji, one of the most powerful Edel Raids. Of course this means that everyone wants their hands on her. In the beginning of the show she hated Coud because he’s a human, but later starts developing feelings for him and became a couple at the end.
  • Noël from Sora no Woto. White-haired, pale skinned pilot and mechanic of the crew's Spider Tank that hardly speaks, when she does she uses a monotone and has a Dark and Troubled Past coming back from when she was a Child Prodigy. More lively when drunk.
  • Nozomi from Mayoi Neko Overrun
  • Kisaragi from Happy Lesson
  • Crona from Soul Eater, complete with Ambiguous Gender.
  • Yuki Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi, to the point where her name is a pun on Rei's--Rei can be read as "ice", Yuki as "snow", and both Nagato and Ayanami were Imperial Japanese naval warships. Curiously, Yuki is described in the novels as having black hair (since in the Haruhi universe people have normal hair colors) but in the anime and even in the novels art, it appears of a purplish blue similar to Rei's
  • Tabitha from Zero no Tsukaima.
  • Cheza from Wolf's Rain has been mentioned in a similar context. Being half-plant qualifies her as not fully human, and she always refers to herself as "this one" rather than "I". (Third person self-reference is also a characteristic of extremely polite or courtly Japanese speech, so not all usage of that qualifies under this trope.) She's also quite emotionless, although she does perk up quite a bit in the presence of wolves.
  • Shimei Ryomou of Ikki Tousen (Battle Vixens). Complete with bandage over one eye.
  • Minami Iwasaki from Lucky Star.
  • Primula of Shuffle in the anime emotions cause her magical powers to go haywire. In the visual novel they're hoping she can gain emotions to show the program she's part of is a success, putting her into a human environment is part of the program, her magic has little to do with it. In both she is an artificial lifeform.
  • Eucliwood Hellscythe from Is this a Zombie?
  • Gen Urobuchi seems to enjoy turning this trope on its head.
    • Fate/Zero: Irisviel von Einzbern is an Artificial Human (a homunculus, to be exact), with silver hair and crimson eyes. When she first met Kiritsugu, she was emotionless and with no sense of self. However, after spending more and more time with Kiritsugu, she gradually becomes more and more human-like and by the time the series starts, she's the most cheerful, optimistic young woman you could ever have the good fortune of meeting.
    • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Homura Akemi is part subversion, part inversion. She's a 14-year-old Emotionless Girl with strange powers and purple eyes, and a mysterious connection to the main character. However, she was a completely normal girl before she got her powers, talks frequently (perhaps more so than any other character), is very opinionated, almost never gets injured and has black hair, which, considering the setting is Japan, makes her the only main character with a plausible hair colour. She used to wear glasses, but doesn't anymore. She is a Byronic Heroine, taking orders from absolutely no-one and actually spends most of the series telling the other characters what to do, and for most of the series is the only one taking action against the Big Bad. She also never shows a willingness to sacrifice herself for her cause, and in fact considers the very idea of a Heroic Sacrifice to be naive and idiotic.
  • A rare male expy in the anime adaptation of the yaoi manga Sensitive Pornograph as the Extreme Doormat character Aki. He has her hair, dark reddish brown eyes and even has his arm and right eye bandaged similarly by the end of it.
  • Mai from Nichijou has demeanor but she's The Gadfly personified.
  • Echo from Pandora Hearts has the appearance and demeanor, but her Split Personality Noise is most definitely not this.
  • Nemu from Bleach.
    • Ulquiorra could be considered a male example.
  • Mizore Shirayuki from Rosario to Vampire, somewhat. Ironically less frosty than the typical example.
  • Miyu (or, more correctly, M.I.Y.U.), from both Mai-HiME and Mai-Otome.
  • Sen Yarizui, "the Ice Witch", from Ben-To.
  • Mamiko Kuri from Narutaru.
  • Sextum in Mahou Sensei Negima fits most of the attributes, although she doesn't show any interest on becoming more human in her few appearances. Her twin 'brother' Fate might fit in as a male example of the trope. Ako looks the part, but doesn't really act like one.
  • Kei Ayamine from Muv-Luv "would" have been one going by her name, but is more of a The Gadfly and Kuudere mix.
  • Vanilla from Galaxy Angel.
  • Ayuki from Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl matches to a degree. She's a slender Meganekko with a Bob Haircut. While not exactly stoic, she's quiet Deadpan Snarker who prefers science and learning over romance.
  • Mei Misaki, from the Another horror/mystery light-novel series most certainly qualifies. An Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette with emphasis on eerie, dark short hair, skin so pale it is in a shade of grey, red eyes, an eye-patch resembling Rei's usual bandages, a deeply stoic demeanor and the overall feeling of creepy cuteness/cute creepiness exhaled. Visually, she is basically Rei with pitch black hair.
  • Kirika Yuumura, from Noir is another brunette with similarities - Initially emotionless, although she does cry in episode one (although she's crying because she can't feel regret, not because of the dozen men she just killed), soft-spoken and created as a weapon. Her eyes are at the red end of brown, getting redder whenever there's an open fire around - used to great effect when her 'true self' comes out towards the end of the series. The series ends with her choosing between being human, or being a weapon.
  • Ririchiyo from Inu × Boku SS is a Shana Clone and Rei Ayanami Expy hybrid.
  • Inori Yuzuriha from Guilty Crown shares many traits with Rei, in both personality and situation. Stoic, seemingly emotionless? Check. Red eyes? Check. Deeply devoted to her boss, and, later, the main character? Check. Action Girl? Check. Artificial Human based on one of the male protagonist's family members who nevertheless has boatloads of UST with him? Um...check. The only way for Inori to be a more thorough example would be if she had blue hair instead of pink and piloted one of the show's mecha.
  • Jo of Burst Angel. Dead ringer, aside from a rougher appearance. She's even referred to as an angel of death.
  • Yusaku Fujiki the main hero of Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS is a male example. He fills some qualities of a Rei Ayanami expy quite well like Rei he has a Mysterious Past and is very emotionless,aloof and stoic with No Social Skills.
  • Pegasus Kouga's long-lost twin sister Aria, alias the New Athena, from Saint Seiya Omega.

Video Games

Live-Action TV

  • Naki of Kamen Rider Zero-One is the first non-binary example of the trope[1] The fact that they're a Humagear who aren't used to, if not all barely, feel emotions even before reaching Singularity, having associated with their series' antagonists and their eventual Heel–Face Turn thanks to their connection with one of the protagonists also helps.

Web Original

  1. due to their actor, Satsuki Nakayama being an asexual/agender despite the character and actor being Bifauxnen at the time until Nakayama came out as a transgender male a year after Zero-One ended.