Netflix's Neon Genesis Evangelion Makes Major Change to Shinji, Kaworu Relationship

Iconic '90s anime television series Neon Genesis Evangelion is finally on Netflix, making it available to legally stream worldwide for what appears to be the first time ever. That availability hasn't come without some bumps in the road, however, and that includes a significant change between characters Kaworu and Shinji.

In the new Neon Genesis Evangelion English dub, the English voice actor for Kaworu now says "I'm saying I like you" in the 24th episode, "The Last Cometh," while the text reads, "It means I like you." In the previous English dub and sub, rather than "like," Kaworu explicitly says "love." There are further changes which essentially reflect this new understanding between the two, and really the important part here is to understand the shift from "love" to "like."

Now, I don't speak or read Japanese, but according to multiple different accounts, all of this hinges on the somewhat ambiguous "suki" used in the line, which can mean a variety of things up to and including both like and love, depending on context. For many fans, translating it to "like" effectively neuters the relationship between the two, while others argue that the new translation adds further complexity. You can check out a comparison of the two English scripts below:

Dan Kanemitsu, the man credited with translation at the end of every episode of Evangelion on Netflix, responded to a tweet asking about this exact change in the anime's script. He composed a lengthy response, which boils down to noting that he tried to remain faithful to the source material while also essentially arguing for the ambiguity in the new translation.

"While I am not in a position to refer specifically to the decision involved in the scene you described, in all my translation of any title, I have tried my best to be faithful to the original source material," Kanemitsu tweeted. "Bar none."

"The power of storytelling sometime depends on the ability of audiences to establish emotional relationships with the characters, as well as, recognize intimacy between people based on inferences," he continued.

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"It is one thing for characters to confess their love," Kanemitsu added. "It is quite another for the audience to infer affection and leave them guessing. How committed are the characters? What possible misunderstandings might be talking place? Leaving room for interpretation make things exciting."

What do you think of the changes made to the relationship between Kaworu and Shinji? Do you agree that ambiguity adds something to the nature of it, or do you prefer the more straightforward confession of the previous translation? Let us know in the comments!