”Shinji isn’t here,” reports Megumi Ogata, over and over.

Evangelion is, without question, one of the most respected, influential, and attention-commanding anime series of all time, and so you have to imagine that Megumi Ogata, the voice actress who plays Eva’s main character, teenage mecha pilot Shinji, is pretty proud of that point on her resume. Every time there’s a new Evangelion fan event or creative collaboration, it’s proof that the franchise that her character sits at the center of is not just remembered, but still being experienced and engaged with by new fans to this day.

And yet, when organizers need a splashy, eye-catching visual to promote the latest promotion, quite often Shinji is nowhere to be found.

“Shinji isn’t here (・_・、),” tweeted Ogata along with the above snapshot, which shows the entrance of a pachinko parlor celebrating the installation of Evangelion-themed gambling machines with what appear to be life-size murals of every other principal Eva pilot in the series…but not Shinji. A similar snub happened at 7-Eleven, which had an Evangelion clear file freebie offer last summer which included Shinji in some illustrations but none of the ones on display.

“I stopped by 7-Eleven, and they’re having a new Evangelion giveaway promotion! But…once again, Shinji isn’t here (・_・、)”

And in perhaps the unkindest cut of all, the traveling Evangelion and Katana collection, which is making its return to Tokyo after a six year absence with a new, updated exhibit at the Shinjuku Takashimaya department store art gallery this Friday, has a beautiful illustrated flier with the Eva pilots decked out in kimono and posing with Japanese swords and daggers, once again with Shinji, of course, omitted from the group photo.

“Shinji isn’t here either… (・_・、)”

▼ Video preview for the Evangelion and Katana exhibition

Fans offered their sympathies to Ogata for Shinji once again being pushed out of the katana-shine spotlight, leaving comments like:

“Looks like no one told the organizers that the protagonist is Shinji.”
“I bet Kaworu and Shinji wish they could be holding a sword together…”
“So did Shinji run away after all?”
“You can almost hear Shinji saying ‘Well, I wouldn’t look cool in a kimono anyway.’”
“When you stop and think about it, it’s weird that the main character isn’t featured.”
“If you think of this as a group shot of the potential love interests that doesn’t feature the man character, that kind of thing happens a lot.”

There’s actually some profundity to the last comment, in that in a lot of anime, the intent is for the audience to see themselves in the main character, and to latch onto a side character as an object of adoration. Especially with Evangelion, Shinji is a collection of insecurities and growing pains, and many would argue it’s those who appreciate Evangelion’s heavier, more serious thematic elements who watch to follow Shinji’s narrative arc. While the rest of the cast have their own complexities as characters, they’re also given much more conventional charisma which allows for their individual cults of personality, which is why Rei is the one with her own paint color, Asuka the quickly selling lingerie, and Mari the screen time in the long-awaited trailer for the fourth, and final, Rebuild of Evangelion movie.

But in a rare case of recognition, Ogata was happy to discover that in the promotional image for the Evangelion Artwork Selection exhibition, which is being held as part of a set with the katana display, Shinji is present! …sort of.

“Shinji is here! Faintly!! ヽ(;▽;)ノ

Congratulations Shinji, and remember, it’s OK for you to exist.

Related: Evangelion Katana and Art Work Selection official website
Source: Twitter/@Megumi_Ogata via IT Media
Top image: Evangelion Katana and Art Work Selection official website
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he owns a kimono similar to the one Kaworu is wearing.