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I'm about to be done with Evangelion. I just need to watch the last chapter of "End of Evangelion" and I've seen no mention of the reason why those specific kids are chosen as pilots...

I get why Shinji got picked and the same goes for Asuka, but what about the first child? Or the fourth one?

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    The answer to this is both somewhat incomplete and a massive disturbing spoiler. Are you sure you want this answered? – Gorchestopher H Aug 19 '13 at 14:00
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    The whole series is massively disturbing if you ask me, so yes, I do :) – Deleteman Aug 19 '13 at 15:14
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The pilots are chosen from a pool of children whose mothers have died, the reason for this is due to the requirements for a specific person to pilot a specific Eva-unit. They are said to contain the souls of the pilot's mother. With the exception of the clone, Rei.

Using the 2003 PlayStation video game as a supplemental canon source, here is what we know about the pilots:

From "Classified Information":
"A unit called a core is used to eliminate the discrepancies in Eva, a human being with the body of a god and a soul. The soul of the pilot's mother, which is placed within the core, acts as a medium and makes piloting possible.

Due to difficulties encountered in the development of Eva-00, the core's system is poorly constructed, and she falls behind in performance capacity as a result. Another reason for her inferiority is that Eva-00's pilot, Rei, does not have a mother."

This makes it plain that with the exception of Rei, the pilot's mother is always chosen as the Evangelion's soul.

Following this chain of evidence, the almost certain conclusion is that Evangelion Unit-03 contains the soul of Toji's mother.

The above information is from EVA Geeks.org (Source)

The theory is heavily implied in the series, and there are quotes from the creators to supplement this, but the video games put pen to paper in providing some level of supplemental canon for us.

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  • Keep in mind that some candidates are chosen for other purposes. It is my considered opinion that Touji (as well as everyone in Shinji's class) was on the list of potential candidates so that if the time came that there was need to manipulate Shinji, someone very close to him could be used. Kaji's contact (unnamed) confirmed that every child in Shinji's class was included, but none were active pilots. When the time came to take Shinji down a notch, Gendou used Touji to properly wound Shinji. I doubt that Touji would even have been able to activate his Eva, much less pilot it. – CodeWarrior Dec 26 '13 at 22:39
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I am a bit conservative, so I like the following boring definition more. From the Evangelion Proposal page 11, it mentioned that:

When choosing the pilot, the A10 nerve synchronization rate and the adaptivity to impact is the most important.

It is found by Marduk Institute that, 14 years old mother-less teenager can establish the purest and stablest connection with EVA.

I think the hypothesis that "pilot's mother's soul must be in the eva" was not clearly specified by the production team in the original series because:

  1. This add horror element to the story, which is not the main purpose of this setting
  2. It is mentioned that pilots can switch EVAs.
  3. This makes the setting of the show less believable, as the whole class are pilot candidates.
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  • I've only seen the anime, so maybe this is contradicted elsewhere, but I don't think most pilots can pilot other Evas. Only Rei does so in the original anime, piloting Unit-00 and Unit-01. I think she's a special case and we can't really judge the general rule from her. It makes sense that she can pilot Unit-01 since Unit-01 contains Yui Ikari's soul, and Rei sort of IS Yui Ikari. – Ryan_L Jul 23 '20 at 4:03

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