I did a piece months ago on how horrible it is to die as a mobile suit pilot. The Gundam series never missed a chance to remind the audience that piloting a giant robot is not glamorous. Inside the confines of the cockpit, you will be flying into battle facing the morbid possibility that you could be blown to pieces, burned to death, crushed, impaled, vaporized or get shredded by shrapnel. You could consider yourself lucky if you just lose a limb. If you're really lucky, you might die a quick death, though your friends may risk their sanity by looking at your burned and unrecognizable corpse.
So how about being an EVA pilot?
People admit that Shinji had the right to cower at the prospect of piloting an EVA. The intense training sometimes failed to protect the pilots from a grim fate. And Shinji wasn’t even an elite pilot to begin with. He was just a school boy being forced inside the confines of the entry plug. Throughout the show, he only received basic pilot training; he never had a mental or emotional health check. Was his father actually trying to kill him?
I always thought that Shinji was unqualified as a pilot, though I did try to put myself in his shoes. I listed some of the worst ways someone could perish inside the bowels of an EVA unit.
One of those survivors.
EVA Pilot Deaths Are Not Glamorous
In terms of pilot casualties, the Evangelion series boasts the lowest. I still remember the relatively graphic deaths of Gundam SEED/SEED Destiny, while the recent IBO series included the unfortunate lead character as a victim. Even in Macross, someone had to die to add drama to the show. Aside from the many nameless Veritech pilots getting blown to bits, Roy Focker was among the many to fall in battle.
However, the depressing EVA series has had low pilot casualties.
In the original NGE, the only true “casualty” was the clone Rei Ayanami (the second cloned formed) when she blew herself up to save Shinji. Nevertheless, she was an artificial likeness of his mom