It’s been running through my dash today the headcanon of a selfless Kaworu, but I really think he isn’t selfless, he is indeed pretty selfish! Only that he is not in a way most people are.
1-Just like Homura he is a boy in love. And love is about selflessness, okay, but there is some selfishness in it; because when you love someone you most likely want this someone to be happy, even if it is against other people’s happiness. And just like Homura, he did something and this something may not be the correct choice, he just did it because he would feel better making Shinji happy (because he loves him so much!). But, he doesn’t care about other people.
2-Still, he showed some little selfish parts of him both in manga and in anime. He wanted Shinji -not anyone else, but Shinji- to kill him, he even told Shinji this was his last request. In the manga series, he put Shinji in a corner and told him that if he loved Kaworu, he would kill him. If he was totally selfless, he wouldn’t act like that at all (“Kill me with your own hands so that you won’t ever forget me” is not a selfless thought, is it?). In the manga he also acted as a jealous young boy that knew nothing physical distance and even thought he found out that Shinji felt uncomfortable about it, he kept going. He was pushing Shinji all the time to make him like Kaworu (and he won in the end, yeah).
Kaworu was of course following some orders but in the end he did what he wanted to (with the few choices he had, of course). And I can understand he feels grateful towards Shinji because he granted his last will! (
I haven’t watched 3.0 so feel free to kill me if I have something wrong) That’s why now he wants Shinji to be happy. He is his beloved one. But he only needs Shinji to be happy, the other ones -well, fuck them, he doesn’t care, he just need them to make Shinji happy?-. So I find it there is some selfishness inside his selflessness towards Shinji. That’s my opinion, love is never a pure act selfless. That’s because nothing is entirely black or white, it has its grey-scale.
And this just makes the character even more interesting. He has this… nice guy aura (anime and movies) but also gives some creeps (manga). He is not just a good guy (like everyone in the series! Wow these people are really complex). He is a fucking guy in fucking love and this is why I have a lot of feelings whenever I start talking about him. He just loves in a way almost no one does. It is beyond my ability to describe.
Now this is just my opinion, or headcanon, whatever you want to call it. I don’t want to start any wars, nor I want to bother anyone. I’d love to hear anybody’s opinion about this topic, too. It may or may not change my mind and I’m always open to some learning!
Kaworu Nagisa from the television series and Sadamoto’s manga are entirely different characters with no connection between their characterizations. Different personality, different motivations, different facial expressions & speech patterns, different philosophies, to the point that you can pretty much literally go down a checklist where everything they do & say are diametrically opposite to each other.
Where Sadamoto’s Kaworu says he was doomed to die that day, anime Kaworu says that he is destined to live forever. Where anime Kaworu & Shinji hold hands in the bath, Sadamoto’s Shinji recoils and announces his distaste of Kaworu in the showers. Where Sadamato’s Kaworu wants to die to make sure Shinji will never be able to forget him no matter what, anime Kaworu wants to die because “yours is not the existence that should end”.
The “selfless” badge applies to anime Kaworu (in all his current incarnations, original TV series, Rebuild, Petit Eva) and his variations only. This is a badge that is not mere headcanon and it has been canonly been applied to him where he’s called “unconditional love”, “sacrifice for others”, “Kaworu died for your sins”, “idealized self” etc etc in official merchandise/interviews/and such. (Official stuff for the TV series & Rebuild movies only)
While saving Shinji is of paramount importance to Kaworu, his TV series and [SPOILER] versions die to save all of humanity, not just Shinji. Saving humanity is point blank brought up by Kaworu there. He’s given a very messianic type of characterization (which they weren’t even trying to camouflage anymore with the soundtrack to Evangelion 3.0 with their God’s Gift & such titles).
Which isn’t to say he doesn’t have flaws (considering it dooms him over and over and over again and drives Shinji crazy, that selflessness may be considered such. Even if he may have moments of selfishness — which I can not think of regarding the anime version, but hypothetically, if they existed, it still wouldn’t change the overall selflessness of his nature), but he’s not a human character in the anime and and is not meant to be.