Why did Shinji choke Asuka in The End of Evangelion?

Fans were left very confused after they witnessed Shinji choking Asuka whilst caressing his face, however, Shinji soon realized something important as he broke down in tears and stopped strangling her.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion is a 1997 Japanese animated psychological science movie by Hideaki Anno. The movie serves as a parallel ending to the television series, Neon Genesis Evangelion. The movie’s story picks up where the television show’s twenty-fourth episode ended. The movie won the Animage Anime Grand Prix in 1997, despite having received mixed reviews. In 2014, a Time Out poll of filmmakers voted the movie as one of the 100 best animated films of all time.

The film follows teenager, Shinji Ikari, who is a pilot in a giant cyborg Evangelion Unit 01. These machines were designed to fight hostile supernatural entities, angels, which are creatures threatening to destroy humanity. Ikari is seen visiting a fellow pilot, Asuka Soryu in hospital. Asuka Langley Soryu is designated as the pilot of another giant mecha, Evangelion Unit 02. She develops a competitive and outgoing character to get noticed by other people and affirm her own self, due to childhood trauma.

Throughout the movie, viewers witness Asuka resisting to accept Shinji into her heart by demeaning him, yelling at him, and rejecting the efforts he makes to get closer to her. In the film, Asuka is placed in Unit 02, which then submerges in a lake for her protection. She soon realizes that she does not want to die, and shortly after she emerges, she has to fight the Mass-Production mechas alongside Shinji. After the fight, Shinji and Asuka are seen waking up on a shoreline.

Shinji expresses that he wants to understand Asuka, but she refuses. This sends Shinji in to a furious frenzy and he begins to strangle Asuka, but stops when she caresses his face. Asuka then says the last line in the movie, 気持ち悪い” (Kimochi warui), which means to accept someone who feels weird, foreign and disgusting to her. Shinji breaks down in tears as he realizes Asuka intends to stop rejecting him.

Shinji and Asuka both realize their own vulnerability in the situation. Shinji now knows he cannot wait for someone to accept him, while Asuka knows that she can not keep rejecting everyone.