Netflix Censored Shinji and Kaworu's Relationship in New 'Evangelion' Dub, Fans Say

Netflix's new Neon Genesis Evangelion translations have some viewers confused, as they seem to suggest the relationship between Eva pilots Kaworu and Shinji is strictly platonic. This was news to many viewers familiar with earlier English versions of the series, which make Kaworu's attraction to Shinji (and the latter's intrigued confusion by the whole thing) quite clear.

Evangelion
A still from Evangelion. Netflix

Seemingly small translation choices can often prove contentious with fans of anime and other forms of Japanese popular culture, and outcry over perceived censorship isn't uncommon. However, the Netflix translation of Evangelion seems to have considerably altered a major point in the story. Twitter users voiced their annoyance that the romantic subtext between the two had been reduced to a friendship, sharing images, memes and gifs on the social media platform Friday morning.

One of the most significant changes in the new Netflix dub revolves around a Kaworu's confession of love. In the English dub, instead of saying "I love you," he says something more vague: "I like you."

However, some viewers weren't upset with the choice, arguing the connection between the characters still comes through, even with the translation change.

This isn't the only complaint surrounding the new Netflix release of Evangelion. During a particularly memorable scene in End of Evangelion, where Shinji visits a comatose Asuka in the hospital and pleasures himself, he no longer utters the famous line, "I'm so f***ed up." Instead, he comments that he is the "lowest of the low." While this is a more literal translation of the original Japanese, many argued the profanity in the earlier English version was a better fit for the tone of the scene.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a 26-episode anime that first debuted in 1995. It follows a group of high school students tasked with piloting giant robots to defend the city from a series of extraterrestrial invaders known as angels. Created by Shin Godzilla director Hideaki Anno, Evangelion's distinctive pairing of slice-of-life hijinks with intense psychological drama has been hugely influential in comics, animation and film since its release. Despite its popularity, it's been without a western distributor for many years. The show has been expected to appear on Netflix for some time, but because of licensing, was unable to be uploaded sooner than 2019. This new, English dub is part of the licensing agreement, according to Polygon.

There was skepticism immediately after the Netflix announcement, as fans were unsure if the altered version would live up to the first translation. The new English translations are available in both subbed and dubbed versions. There are also other languages available for viewing, including Spanish, French, German and two versions of Chinese.

Netflix Censored Shinji and Kaworu's Relationship in New 'Evangelion' Dub, Fans Say | Culture