Gendo Ikari
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is a fictional character from the ''
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a Japanese mecha anime The term may refer to both Science, scientific ideas and science fiction genres that center on giant robots or machines (mechs) controlled by people. Mechas are typically depicted as humanoid mobile robots. ...
'' franchise created by
Gainax is a Japanese anime is Traditional animation, hand-drawn and computer animation originating from Japan. In Japan and in Japanese, (a term derived from the English language, English word ''animation'') describes all animated works, regard ...
. In the original series with the same name, he is the supreme commander of the special agency Nerv, dedicated to the study and annihilation of a series of mysterious enemies of mankind known as
Angels An angel is a being in various s. The study of angels is known as . often depict them as celestial intermediaries between (or ) and ity. Other roles include protectors and guides for humans, and servants of God. Abrahamic religions de ...
. The man, scarred and grief-stricken by the sudden death of his wife Yui, abandons his only son
Shinji Ikari is a character (arts), fictional character in the ''Neon Genesis Evangelion (franchise), Neon Genesis Evangelion'' franchise created by Gainax. He is the franchise's poster boy and protagonist. In the Neon Genesis Evangelion, anime series of the ...
to devote himself full-time to a plan named Human Instrumentality Project, only to call him back after years of separation to pilot a giant
mecha The term may refer to both Science, scientific ideas and science-fiction genres that center on giant robots or machines (mechs) controlled by people. Mechas are typically depicted as humanoid walking vehicles. The term was first used in Japane ...

mecha
named Evangelion. His pragmatic, cold, and calculating attitude leads him to use any means to achieve his personal goals. The character, originally conceived as a modern version of
Victor Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein is the protagonist in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, '' Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus''. He is an Italian-Swiss scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowled ...
, is inspired by the personal experiences of the series' staff members, reflecting the absent and emotionally detached Japanese father figure. ''Neon Genesis Evangelion'' director
Hideaki Anno is a Japanese animator and filmmaker. He is best known for creating the anime is Traditional animation, hand-drawn and computer animation originating from Japan. In Japan and in Japanese, (a term derived from the English language, Engli ...

Hideaki Anno
's father and his abusive behavior were also an influence on Gendo; the director also took inspiration from
psychoanalytic Psychoanalysis (from Greek: + ) is a set of theories and therapeutic techniques"What is psychoanalysis? Of course, one is supposed to answer that it is many things — a theory, a research method, a therapy, a body of knowledge. In what might ...

psychoanalytic
concepts for its development, especially the
Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine Me ...

Freud
ian
Oedipus complex describes the riddle of the Sphinx'', by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, (ca. 1805) The Oedipus complex (also spelled Œdipus complex) is a concept of psychoanalytic theory. Sigmund Freud introduced the concept in his ''The Interpretation of Dream ...
. Critics have negatively received Gendo, described as one of the meanest characters and one of the nastiest parents in Japanese animation history. Reviewers criticized his unscrupulous and abusive ways, while others were more appreciative of his role in spin-offs or the
manga Manga (Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat ...

manga
version of the series, written and illustrated by
Yoshiyuki Sadamoto is a Japanese character designer, Mangaka, manga artist, and one of the founding members of the Gainax anime studio. Personal life Before Gainax was founded under the official name (it was originally called Daicon Film), Yoshiyuki served as an ...
. His role in the ''Rebuild of Evangelion'' theatrical saga, and particularly in the last film ''Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time'', received appreciation from reviewers, who commented positively on his character development. The character's typical pose with hands clasped at mouth level, known as "Gendo pose", has become popular, being homaged in other anime and manga or used for merchandise items.


Conception

Hideaki Anno is a Japanese animator and filmmaker. He is best known for creating the anime is Traditional animation, hand-drawn and computer animation originating from Japan. In Japan and in Japanese, (a term derived from the English language, Engli ...

Hideaki Anno
, director and main screenwriter of the series, took Gendo's name from a character featured in a failed
Gainax is a Japanese anime is Traditional animation, hand-drawn and computer animation originating from Japan. In Japan and in Japanese, (a term derived from the English language, English word ''animation'') describes all animated works, regard ...
studio project, an anime planned before ''Evangelion'' but never produced. For his bachelor name, he chose the word ; for his married name, he chose , to connect to the names of other characters in ''Neon Genesis Evangelion'', inspired by terms from nautical jargon or ships of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Its design was entrusted to
Yoshiyuki Sadamoto is a Japanese character designer, Mangaka, manga artist, and one of the founding members of the Gainax anime studio. Personal life Before Gainax was founded under the official name (it was originally called Daicon Film), Yoshiyuki served as an ...
, mangaka of the comic version of the series. Sadamoto, according to his statement, was influenced by the UFO (TV series), ''UFO'' television series and modeled his relationship with Kozo Fuyutsuki after that between Commander Ed Straker and Colonel Alec Freeman from the classic series. The staff chose interpersonal communication as a central theme of the series, and more specifically communication between different generations, to reflect on the incommunicability and relational difficulties of the modern world, judged almost to the breaking point. For the psychology of the character, father of the protagonist who is unable to emotionally communicate with his son, the director took inspiration from his personality, just like all the other characters in the series. The special agency Nerv was conceived as a metaphor for the Gainax studio, while Commander Ikari was described by Anno himself as a representation of his shadow (psychology), shadow, the dark and unconscious side of an individual's psyche. The director stated that he did not conceive of Gendo as a concrete father with a blood tie to his son, but as a representation of society, adding, "I don't think I projected that much [into him]". Gendo's figure was influenced by the personal experiences of staff members, including that of Hideaki Anno himself. His father, Takuyo Anno, injured his left leg in a youthful accident with a power saw and was forced to wear a prosthesis for the rest of his life. The man became emotionally unstable as a result of the accident. The young Anno grew up in a tense family environment, marked by physical and emotional punishment from his parent, who went so far as to tell him a sentence such as, "I wish you were not here". According to Kazuya Tsurumaki, assistant director of the series: In the early design stages of ''Neon Genesis Evangelion'', Gainax decided to portray Gendo as a "mysterious person in behavior and words", a staunch defender of the Instrumentality Project, expressive, tumultuous, akin to a twenty-first-century Dr.
Victor Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein is the protagonist in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel, '' Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus''. He is an Italian-Swiss scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowled ...
. Over time he would become obsessed with research, justifying any means to achieve his goal, to the point of transforming his own body and becoming a digitized human being. His goal, however, would have been benevolent, in the belief that he could realize a utopian dream capable of bringing true equality among people. In the first episode of the series, he would have called Shinji to fight against an List of Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Angel named Raziel, and in the fourth episode, titled , he would have ignored his son on his birthday, ideas that were later shelved during the production of the series. In the original intentions of the writers, he would also not have participated in a survey expedition to Antarctica, like in the final scenario; the original draft had him involved in a mysterious accident as a result of which the entire Dead Sea would evaporate, revealed in the twentieth episode of the animated series. In the finale, his true goals and the true purpose of the Instrumentality Project would finally be revealed, during which ruins of a place called , never mentioned in the final version, would be revealed. Furthermore, in the conclusion originally planned by the staff, there would have been a scene in which Gendo, separating from his son Shinji, would have said , similarly to the ending of the previous Gainax studio work, ''Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water'', in which Captain Nemo, father of the protagonist Nadia, utters the same phrase before sacrificing himself.


Voice

Fumihiko Tachiki voiced Gendo in all his appearances in the original series, as well as the later films, spin-offs, video games and the new ''Rebuild of Evangelion''. Tachiki found it difficult to empathize with or understand ''Evangelion'' and the character assigned to him, so he wondered, in his own words, "whether I hated or loved Gendo". Failing to frame Gendo's laconic phrases and intentions, he remained confused, being forced to ask how to recite his lines and interpret a particular phrase. He stated, "Honestly, when I first started the television series, I’d only just been exposed to the story. It turned out to be tough; I really agonized about how to make the character come across. I can't say it was a pleasant experience". During the sessions for the original series and the 1997 feature films, however, he received continued support from the staff, being coached and directed by Hideaki Anno and the sound director. Tachiki encountered similar difficulties for the ''Rebuild of Evangelion'' saga, and in particular for the movie ''Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo'' (2012), set fourteen years after the second film and dubbed almost twenty years after the original series. Tachiki, while disconcerted by the futuristic setting and plot changes, was helped by his accumulated experience and greater maturity, thanks to which he acted more frankly and serenely than in the classic series. For the last installment of the saga, ''Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time'' (2021), Tachiki remained surprised by the script, having to go over his lines several times while looking at the still incomplete drawings of the film. The first sessions of the voice actor focused on his dialogues with Fututsuki, with a colleague older than him, relaxing more during the recording phase. Despite the changes of characterization to the character, the staff did not ask Tachiki to dub him emotionally, but with naturalness, without passion or particular tension. Even in the case of ''Thrice Upon a Tume'', he had difficulties, given the change of direction. Particularly complicated was a scene in which he shouts Yui's name, in which he had to raise his voice; the production asked him to convey all the emotions and feelings at that moment, and, in the end, his throat hurt. In the North American A.D. Vision version of the series and the final 1997 films, he is voiced by Tristan MacAvery, except for the parts added in the director's cut and the ''Rebuild'', in which he is played by John Swasey. MacAvery claimed to have had difficulties when dubbing the last two episodes, entirely set in Shinji's inner world: "I had no idea what was going on [in the last two episodes]. I had to figure how I should read the part, flat or philosophical". Moreover, MacAvery and the other actors said there was nothing wrong with the English translation, since the Japanese original was "incomprehensible". Ray Chase (voice actor), Ray Chase voiced him in the Netflix dub, while Swasey reprised his role for the Amazon Prime Video ''Rebuild'' dub.


Appearances


''Neon Genesis Evangelion''

Gendo Ikari, originally named Gendo Rokubungi, was born on April 29, 1967. His parents are never named in the series, and no details are given about his childhood or youth. The first known fact is in 1999, when he is about thirty-two years old. In that year the man is arrested and taken to the Kyoto police department for violent conduct while he was drunk. Once locked up, for unknown reasons he designates Professor Kozo Fuyutsuki, a lecturer who teaches at Kyoto University, the local university, as his guarantor. In their first meeting, Fuyutsuki has an unpleasant feeling about him. Rokubungi, after being exonerated at the hands of the professor, becomes romantically involved with Yui Ikari, a brilliant researcher and student of Fuyutsuki himself. Even then, the professor does not see eye to eye with Gendo's actions, suspecting ulterior motives on his part. Yui is linked to a secret organization named Seele, and rumors assert that Rokubungi's only interest is to get close to the said organization and exploit the woman's talent. To secretly carry out Seele's plans, the man participates in a research group known as the Katsuragi expedition, which left for Antarctica to conduct experiments regarding a mechanism known as the S² element. On September 12, 2000, Rokubungi leaves the Antarctic continent with other members of the group, including a man named Lorenz Keel, head of Seele. The next day, for an apparent coincidence, in the Antarctic continent occurs a giant natural disaster known as the Second Impact, and all other members of the expedition perish in the incident, except Misato Katsuragi, daughter of Dr. Katsuragi. On June 6 of the following year, his only son,
Shinji Ikari is a character (arts), fictional character in the ''Neon Genesis Evangelion (franchise), Neon Genesis Evangelion'' franchise created by Gainax. He is the franchise's poster boy and protagonist. In the Neon Genesis Evangelion, anime series of the ...
, is born. After marrying Yui he changes his surname in Ikari and participates in an expedition of investigation on the Second Impact organized by the United Nations, along with other members of Seele and Professor Fuyutsuki. A little later the Seele assigns him the role of director of a structure located in the city of Hakone named Laboratory for Artificial Evolution, with the task of directing a secret plan known as Project E. In 2003, Professor Fuyutsuki collects information about the Second Impact and shows up in the Artificial Evolution Laboratory, threatening the director to make public the truth. Gendo, without getting upset by the professor's threats, takes him to an underground cavity below the Laboratory, the headquarters of an organization known as Gehirn of which he is a member. At the site, Ikari shows him a gigantic being named Evangelion, and invites him to collaborate with him "to build the new history of mankind". After careful consideration, Fuyutsuki accepted the offer, joining him in the Gehirn. The following year, Gendo assists with Shinji in an experiment to activate an Eva, namely Evangelion (mecha)#Evangelion Unit-01, Unit 01; due to an accident, Yui disappears. The director, changed by the accident, decides to leave his son Shinji to a guardian. A week after his wife's disappearance, the man announces to Fuyutsuki the elaboration of a new project, a plan known as the Human Instrumentality Project, which he describes as "the path to godhood that none have ever succeeded in before". In 2010, the Gehirn was disbanded; in its place was established the special agency Nerv, of which Ikari became the supreme commander. In 2015, after years of silence, Gendo summons Shinji to the city of Tokyo-3 to let him pilot the Eva-01 and face mysterious beings called
Angels An angel is a being in various s. The study of angels is known as . often depict them as celestial intermediaries between (or ) and ity. Other roles include protectors and guides for humans, and servants of God. Abrahamic religions de ...
. He keeps a cold attitude towards his son, telling him that he called him for utility. Following the battle against the sixth Angel, Angel (Neon Genesis Evangelion)#Gaghiel, Gaghiel, a man named Ryoji Kaji gives the commander a small embryo-like object, identified as the first Angel Angel (Neon Genesis Evangelion)#Adam, Adam. At an unspecified time, Gendo has the embryo implanted in the palm of his right hand. With time, discrepancies arise between the commander and the Seele, both intent on starting the Human Instrumentality Project, but with two different scenarios. Gendo, unlike the Seele, decides to cause a "forbidden union" between Adam, implanted in his body, and the second Angel Lilith, whose soul is kept inside a girl named Rei Ayanami. After the defeat of the last Angel, Ikari attempts to enact his version of Instrumentality to reunite with Yui, betraying Seele. To implement the plan, he enters the deepest section of the headquarters, Terminal Dogma, with Rei and inserts his right hand into the girl's body so that she can absorb Adam's embryo. Rei, however, betrays his expectations and joins the second Angel against his will, causing his plans to fail, and during Instrumentality meets the spirit of his wife Yui and is devoured by a projection of the Eva-01.


''Rebuild of Evangelion''

Gendo returns as a primary character in ''Rebuild of Evangelion'' and appears in the first installment of the saga, ''Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone'' (2007). His character remains virtually identical to the anime, summoning Shinji to pilot Evangelion Unit-01. In the movie ''Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance'' (2009), the second installment of the ''Rebuild'' tetralogy, his relationship with his son appears better than in the original anime and manga. In the opening sequences of the film, he and Shinji visit Yui's grave, despite communication difficulties. From then on, father and son begin to communicate their feelings more sincerely and spend more time together, building a more affectionate relationship than their animated counterparts. Shinji, in particular, begins to connect with his parent through the nudging and encouragement of Misato Katsuragi and, to an even greater extent, Rei Ayanami, who tries to bring the two closer together by cooking them dinner. Anno originally thought of using a similar idea for the fourth episode of the television series (Hedgehog's Dilemma (Neon Genesis Evangelion), Hedgehog's Dilemma), but the proposal was shelved during production. In the following installment, ''Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo'' (2012), set fourteen years after the previous one, Gendo continues to pursue his Instrumentality as the commander of the Nerv, apparently reduced to Vice Commander Fuyutsuki and a boy named Kaworu Nagisa. The man also presents a more aged appearance than in the classic series. In the course of the film, Gendo comes into conflict with Wille, a company headed by Misato Katsuragi created to destroy the Nerv, and orders Shinji to pilot the Evangelion (mecha)#Rebuild of Evangelion, Eva 13, maintaining the same aloof attitude as fourteen years earlier. In the concluding movie, ''Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time'' (2021), Gendo, having injected an object called the Key of Nebuchadnezzar into his body, manages to transcend humanity and enters Eva-13 to initiate the Human Instrumentality, accomplish deicide and Additional Impact. During the process, he fights with Eva-01 and Shinji inside it. Unit 01 and Unit 13, defined by Gendo as units of hope and despair respectively, are however tuned and synchronized with each other; Shinji, unable to prevail in the fight, therefore decides to argue with his parent instead of using force and violence. Ikari speaks to his son revealing his youth as a lonely boy, fond of piano and not very sociable until he met his future wife. It is revealed that for a long time he had a connection with Mari, and, at the end of the trial, he resolves his suffering by embracing Shinji and asking him forgiveness for the mistakes he made. Eva-01 and Eva-13 inflict themselves with spears, and Gendo and Yui sacrifice themselves to allow their son to continue living, reuniting for one last time. In the last two chapters of ''Rebuild'', Gendo wears different glasses, which completely cover his eye sockets. The idea came from Mahiro Maeda, who wanted to give the impression that the commander was falling into darkness. Maeda, considering the eyes as the mirror of an individual's soul, wanted the character to have no human perspective. He also projected Anno onto Gendo during production, wondering what the director's childhood had been like. Megumi Hayashibara, Rei Ayanami's voice actress, also stated something similar, finding the director sometimes in Gendo's character and sometimes in Shinji's. The director himself said in the making that he no longer felt as close to Shinji as he once did, identifying more with Commander Ikari. Furthermore, at the beginning of production, assistant director Kazuya Tsurumaki instructed mecha designer Ikuto Yamashita to create a scenario in which father and son would clash for eternity, even after losing their bodies.


In other media

In a scene from the last episode of the animated series, a parallel universe is presented with a different story than the previous episodes; in the alternate reality, Gendo appears as a normal man busy reading the newspaper in the kitchen and cohabits with both Shinji and his wife Yui, who is still alive. It is known from the headlines of his newspaper that in the parallel world of the last episode Antarctica still exists, thus no accident occurred at the South Pole. A similar version of events can be traced in the manga ''Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari Raising Project, Shinji Ikari Raising Project'' and in ''Neon Genesis Evangelion: Girlfriend of Steel 2nd''. In ''The Shinji Ikari Raising Project'', in particular, Gendo still has a troubled personality, but less severe and abrupt than his animated counterpart, keeping some characteristics of the original in a semi-comic role. In the original net anime ''Petit Eva: Evangelion@School'', a parody of the original series, Gendo plays the role of principal at a school named Tokyo-3 Municipal academy "Nerv", attended by Shinji, Asuka, Rei, and the other ''Evangelion'' characters. In ''Petit Eva'' he is portrayed as a less negative character and as a calm and strict father; he tends to act as if he has a crush on Ritsuko but still loves his wife, with whom he has a good relationship and towards whom he behaves honestly and innocently. Further differences in characterization and development are introduced in the manga version, written and illustrated by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, character designer of the animated series. The artist tried to portray him in a more balanced way compared to Hideaki Anno's Gendo; although putting him in a negative light, Sadamoto tried to better explain the reasons for Yui's attraction towards him, emphasizing his stubbornness and representing Fuyutsuki as a rebel guy. In the manga, he leaves his son in the hands of his aunt and uncle, whereas in the series the identity of the guardian to whom he entrusts Shinji is not revealed. If in the series he has Adam's embryo implanted in the palm of his right hand, in Sadamoto's version he swallows it entirely, thus developing the ability to extend an AT Field, a directional force field characteristic of Angels and Evangelion. Unlike the original series, moreover, the confrontation with the Angel Bardiel, in which Gendo orders to attack Toji Suzuhara's Unit 03, has as its resolution the death of the boy. Even after Toji's death, the man feels no remorse; his attitude arouses the ire of his son, who tries to punch him. During an attack by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, he manages to save Shinji, telling him that he has felt great jealousy towards him since birth because he was suddenly the center of his wife's attention and affection. As in the film ''The End of Evangelion'', he shoots Dr. Akagi, telling her the words "I loved you" and in turn being murdered by the doctor with a gunshot to the throat.


Characterization

Gendo Ikari is a mysterious, emotionally closed, austere, determined, calculating, ruthless, and unscrupulous man. His innate pragmatism and his phlegmatic and selfish character lead him to use any means to achieve his goals, even if it means hurting and trampling on other people's feelings. The only people who seem to be able to understand his thoughts are the vice-commander of the Nerv, Kozo Fuyutsuki, and Dr. Ritsuko Akagi, who shares his philosophy. Throughout the series, he also uses his subordinate Ryoji Kaji to his advantage, while being aware of his espionage activities, making the most of his presence. Except for Rei Ayanami, pilot of Unit 00, Gendo flaunts a detached attitude with all his subordinates, keeping calm and cool-headed in all circumstances and constantly sticking to his plans. He is confident in his war strategies and to implement them he often takes the place of the United Nations as if he considered it his right, not hesitating to use his son Shinji, pilot of Unit 01, and Ayanami herself. Moreover, his Japanese voice actor Fumihiko Tachiki stated that: "[Gendo] is not just cold or immoral. I don’t know how to articulate it, but I feel that he shows a strength that’s unique to humans". To carry out his plans, Gendo embarks on a secret affair with Dr. Naoko Akagi, a scientist, and researcher dedicated to the development of three supercomputers named Magi, taking advantage of her scientific talents. Even when the two lovers kiss, however, the man keeps his eyes open looking up, expressionless; to him, Dr. Akagi is just a tool for Instrumentality and being able to meet Yui, whom he cannot forget. According to the official film books of the series, moreover, the beginning of their relationship may predate his wife's death. Naoko, realizing that she was being exploited by her lover, committed suicide in 2010. After her death, Gendo also enters into a sexual relationship with her daughter, Ritsuko. Even Ritsuko, however, realizes that she is being used by the commander, performing actions against him that lead her to be imprisoned in solitary confinement. Gendo, maintaining a cold and detached attitude, in one scene claims to have been "disappointed" in the young scientist's conduct, words to which she replies, "Disappointed? You never hoped or expected anything from me". In the film ''The End of Evangelion'', Ritsuko attempts to destroy the entire Nerv headquarters in revenge, but the man precedes her and fires a gun at her, killing her. Gendo is indifferent to his son's life, while he seems to show particular attachment to Rei, to whom he is closer and more intimate. The man adopts these attitudes and constantly devotes himself to the Instrumentality Project following the sudden death of his wife, trying at all costs to meet his beloved again. In the fifteenth episode of the series, he visits her symbolic tomb with his son, claiming that "Yui made me know that something irreplaceable to me". On other occasions he shows an unusually human face; during the battle against the Angel List of Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion#Matarael, Matarael, for example, he helps his men to manually operate the Evangelion units, while, shortly after the defeat of the Angel List of Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion#Sahaquiel, Sahaquiel, he expresses words of praise for Shinji. Gendo ends up disappointing all of his son's expectations during the battle against the Angel List of Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion#Bardiel, Bardiel, in which he has the Evangelion 03 unit annihilated without remorse, wounding and mutilating its pilot, Toji Suzuhara, Shinji's friend classmate. According to an encyclopedia named ''Evangelion Chronicle'', his particular behavior could be interpreted as a "reverse manifestation of affection": not wanting to hurt his son, he turns away from him and avoids him completely. His path has its climax right during Instrumentality, in which he meets Yui again and utters, just before dying, the words, "Forgive me, Shinji". An official pamphlet for the film ''The End of Evangelion'' likened their relationship to the porcupine's dilemma, a concept formulated by German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. At the end of the movie, Gendo is devoured by Eva-01; according to Yūichirō Oguro, editor of extra materials from the home video editions of the series, the Eva-01 visible in the sequence may be an illusion, and the scene may symbolize Gendo's success in becoming one with his wife.


Cultural references and themes

According to cultural critic Hiroki Azuma, the character's uniform constitutes an homage to Leiji Matsumoto's ''Space Battleship Yamato'' series, while his pose with joined hands has been compared to that of Gargoyle, the antagonist of ''Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water'', the previous work by Gainax studio. Writer Andrea Fontana, on the other hand, compared the series' theme of Oedipal conflict between fathers and sons to other works in the mecha genre, such as those by director Yoshiyuki Tomino. Even Gendo's motto, "The hands of the clock cannot turn back," is similar to a phrase from an earlier Gainax work, namely "If the overflowed water could be poured out again" from ''GunBuster''. Furthermore, Japanese critic Akio Nagatomi compared him to Kōichirō Ōta, aka "Coach", and his son Shinji to Noriko from ''Gunbuster''. The character of Gendo has also been interpreted as a reflection of Shinji and as a representation of the concept of paternalism. The Nerv has been consequently interpreted by critics as a patriarchy, patriarchal society, commanded by an austere and dictatorial man who gives unquestionable orders, far from his son. It is left to the viewer's sensibilities to decide whether the series supports the macho model or instead makes a critique of it, attempting to refute the intrinsic value of the patriarchal view. His egocentric attitude has been associated by Japanese psychiatrist Kōji Mizobe with a narcissistic personality disorder. Moreover, Fifthy Wall Renaissance's Alexander Greco associated Shinji with the Individual or Ego (Freudian), Ego, Rei with the psychological concept of Soul, and Gendo with Society, Authority, and Super-ego. U.S. writer Susan J. Napier, noting how Angels are "explicitly associated" with Gendo throughout the series, has interpreted the enemies as father figures. Hideaki Anno himself described Gendo as a metaphor for the "system" and the limits imposed by society; the director intentionally depicted Commander Ikari and the Angels as "amorphous" entities, because for him society and the concept of enemies are undefined. Writer Mark MacWilliams described the series as a portrait of childhood loneliness in a broken society where the father is constantly working, comparing this depiction to the Japanese family context and children growing up in the 1990s before the collapse of Japanese asset price bubble, the speculative bubble. Moreover, Anime News Network's Jonny Lobo compared the conflict between Shinji and Gendo to the world presented by the OVA ''Megazone 23'', where parental figures are almost completely absent; according to him, however, in ''Megazone'' the protagonist Shogo Yahagi rebels against the government, the ''de facto'' enforcer of patriarchy, rather than a single individual like Gendo. In a draft of the twenty-fourth episode of the series, written by screenwriter Akio Satsukawa and later shelved during production, Kaworu Nagisa's character would compare Commander Ikari to Paul, the protagonist of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's opera ''Die tote Stadt''. Paul in Korngold's original opera locks himself in his home after the loss of his wife Marie, building a "Temple of the Past" with her belongings; the man meets a young woman similar to his late wife, a dancer named Marietta, and falls in love with her. The Nerv base therefore would be compared to a "Temple of the Past" built by Commander Ikari. In the director's cut version of the episode, moreover, Seele links Gendo's Instrumentality scenario to the myth of Pandora's box. At the bottom of the eponymous box, as in the ancient Greek myth, which Commander Ikari opens in a metaphorical key causing an uncontrollable catastrophe and releasing all the evils of the world, it remains just hope. The series also features dialogues about religion and the value of science, themes already present in other works by Hideaki Anno, in which Gendo is a protagonist. In the twelfth episode of the series, for example, he argues in Antarctica with vice commander Fuyutsuki about the philosophical implications of the Second Impact, claiming that "science is the strength of man" and that Antarctica, completely melted and devoid of life, is "a world cleansed of original sin". Writer Gerald Alva Miller described his Instrumentality as an attempt to "return to Garden of Eden, Edenic bliss". According to the book ''Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Unofficial Guide'', written by Kazuhisa Fujie and Martin Foster, a different spelling of the word can be translated as "conduct", "words and behavior". This detail, together with the name of his son Shinji, phonetically similar to the word , "God-man (Christianity), God-man", a Japanese epithet of Jesus Christ, and that of Rei Ayanami, which in kanji can be rendered as , could be linked to the Christian trinity and to the philosophical concept of "''Logos''", which in ''Evangelion'' seems to become an attribute of God the Father. In such a perspective, Rei would represent the Holy Spirit, Shinji the God the Son and Gendo the God Father, referring to the first verses of the Gospel of John: "In the beginning (phrase), In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Scholar Mariana Ortega compared Yui to a Madonna (art), Madonna nursing Shinji and protecting him from Gendo, whom she associated with the Gnosticism, Gnostic figure of the demiurge. Furthermore, for the Japanese critic Kotani Mari Gendo seems to assume the connotations of the Supreme Being of Gnosticism, also named Monad (Gnosticism), Monad. He has also been compared to Satan, Go Nagai's ''Devilman'''s antagonist; unlike Seele, who follows a plan based on faith in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Gendo wants to become a God himself, like a fallen angel who rebels against God. Throughout the series, Gendo becomes the object of sexual desire for Dr. Naoko Akagi and, at the same time, her daughter Ritsuko, in a modern retelling of the Electra complex. In the film ''The End of Evangelion'' he shoots his former lover, Ritsuko Akagi, telling her, "Dr. Akagi, actually...". The last part of the line was rendered silent, leaving it to the viewer's sensibility to imagine the missing words; according to the interpretation of some fans, Ikari says "I need you" or "I needed you", in reference to "I need you", the title of the second half of the movie. Further reference to psychoanalysis is detectable in his relationship with Rei Ayanami, since the man is emotionally close to the girl, a clone of his deceased wife, and lives a tense relationship with his son. ''Neon Genesis Evangelion'' can therefore be interpreted as a reinterpretation of the Oedipus legend and as a story focused on the
Oedipus complex describes the riddle of the Sphinx'', by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, (ca. 1805) The Oedipus complex (also spelled Œdipus complex) is a concept of psychoanalytic theory. Sigmund Freud introduced the concept in his ''The Interpretation of Dream ...
postulated by Sigmund Freud. Anno thus compared ''Evangelion'' to Ryu Murakami's novel ''Ai to gensō no fascism''. The novel's protagonist, Toji Suzuhara, attempts to kill the Japanese prime minister, whom he finds similar to his father, and according to the director he also violates his mother, who in ''Ai to gensō no fascism'' is Japan itself. The director also described ''Neon Genesis Evangelion'' as a story in which the Oedipal rivalry between Gendo and his son is resolved in the last episode; the Eva represents a mother figure, while Gendo and the first Angel Adam represent the fathers of a "multi-layered Oedipus complex," in which Shinji "kills his father" and takes his mother away from him.


Cultural impact


Popularity

After the conclusion of the series, Gendo ranked sixteenth among the most popular male characters of the time in the 1996 List of Anime Grand Prix winners, Anime Grand Prix, a large survey conducted annually by the Japanese magazine ''Animage'' . The following year in the same poll he rose to fourteenth place, becoming the fourth most popular male character in ''Neon Genesis Evangelion''. In February 1998, the magazine ranked him sixty-fifth among the one hundred most popular anime characters. Moreover, Gendo ranked in several surveys about the most attractive anime characters in different categories, as well as in a Goo Ranking survey in which he was the third most hated father in Japanese animation. The character also appeared in rankings on ''Evangelion'''s most beloved characters, usually in the top ten.


Critical reception

Gendo's character has elicited negative opinions from critics and animation fans, who have described him as a selfish and ruthless man. The website Otaku Vines ranked him sixth among the most hated characters in Japanese animation, going so far as to describe him as "the worst father in anime history" and comparing him to List of Fullmetal Alchemist characters#Shou Tucker, Shou Tucker from ''Fullmetal Alchemist''. The magazine Wired (magazine), ''Wired'' named him among the "worst relatives in television series", calling him "the most monstrous father ever". Tim Jones of the website T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews described him as "creepy", frightening, plagued by a "God complex", and unpleasant man. Screen Rant and writers at Comic Book Resources listed him among the least likable characters in the series, criticizing his abusive ways. Zac Bertschy, a reviewer for Anime News Network, has criticized the character's manipulative and self-centered attitude, calling him a "giant douchebag" and consequently defending his son Shinji, whom he says has been unfairly criticized by fans of being cowardly or wimpy. Bertschy himself praised the realism of the characterization, naming him among the most memorable antagonists in the history of Japanese animation: "Gendo Ikari is the worst dad ever imagined, and so it logically follows that he is also the most memorable villain. It's just science. I don't make the rules". Comic Book Resources' Jacob Buchalter ranked him as the second-worst character in ''shōnen'' anime. His colleague Michael Iacono, on the other hand, named him, for his "diabolical brilliance, all-or-nothing attitude, and deeply flawed character traits", among the best antagonists in anime history. Anime News Network's Lynzee Loveridge described his betrayal and actions in the film ''The End of Evangelion'' as "shocking", listing them among eight betrayals that have shocked the audience of anime fans. ''Sci Fi Weekly'' Tasha Robinson was partially disappointed with the series finale, saying it was guilty of not fully exploring Gendo's motivations or abilities. Anime News Network's Kenneth Lee also expressed a similar opinion. Lee noted how Shinji, willing to die during the fight against the Eva-04, has a similar determination to his father Gendo, saying that "it is rather frightening and interesting to see so many possible parallels between the characters", which, however, "remain inconclusive", criticizing the series for leaving "a group of suppositions that will never be answered". ''Kotaku'''s Richard Eisenbeis appreciated the developments and insights into Gendo's past introduced in Sadamoto's manga version, which he said were clearer and more interesting than the original series. It is echoed by Carlos Santos from Anime News Network, who praised the changes present in the spin-off comic ''The Shinji Ikari Raising Project''. The manga, according to Santos, with its comic moments and less dark and twisted backgrounds than the animated series, would manage to offer a more serene and enjoyable image of Gendo as a "hapless, comedic father which is good for a few chuckles". His role in ''Rebuild of Evangelion'' also drew criticism and praise from reviewers. The online magazine Visual Nippon, for example, appreciated the development of his relationship with Shinji in ''Evangelion 2.0'', describing it as more sincere and genuine than the rigid animated counterpart, and Commander Ikari's efforts to get closer to his son. Justin Sevakis, on the other hand, praised the film's opening scene, in which he visits Yui's grave along with Shinji, saying, "There's a warmness here, a feeling of great affection that wasn't so prevalent in the original [series]". Comic Book Resources's Angelo Delos Trinos, for his part, criticized his role in the ''Rebuild'', deeming the character overly powerful. The website The Vault made negative comments about the abrupt changes in the following installment, ''Evangelion 3.0'', writing that: "Commander Ikari is still a total prick, and unlike the original series, three movies in we have yet to get insight into why he’s a total prick. They just gave him some Cyclops (Marvel Comics), Cyclops headgear and called it a day". ''Anime Reign'' magazine negatively described the character's new role as underdeveloped and shadowy. A diametrically opposite opinion was expressed by Nicoletta Christina Browne of Them Anime Reviews; Browne, in particular, stated that she greatly appreciated the dynamism of the fight between Gendo's "egoistical genius" and his former Wille subordinates, since it "suits this franchise perfectly". Other reviewers have expressed words of praise for his role in the last installment of the saga, ''Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time'', in which at the end of the feature film the man's motivations and psychology are analyzed, as well as his relationship with Shinji. UK Film Review, for example, praised its "brilliant character reveal", while Vulture.com wrote that: "To longtime ''Eva'' fans, Gendo explaining himself feels monumental". Anime News Network's Richard Eisenbeis wrote that "''Thrice Upon a Time'' makes great strides in expanding and developing his character"; Eisenbeis also described its focus on Gendo as "the most important element of the film": "Even if you still hate Gendo by the end of this exploration, it's hard not to empathize with him". Reviewers have commented positively on the fact that the film gives the character more depth and the conflict with Shinji has a central part to the development of the plot. Geek Ireland praised how ''Thrice Upon a Time'' gives a sense of conclusion to Gendo and the other characters from the franchise, while ''IndieWire'' lauded the fact that the father-son dynamic with Shinji is a central part of the story this time, culminating in "some of the most emotionally raw moments ''Evangelion'' has ever put on screen". Fiction Horizon's Robert Milakovic similarly noted how their connection results in "very emotionally raw moments ''Evangelion'' has ever placed on the film". Thrillist's Kambole Campbell described the emotional openness of Gendo and the other characters as "moving", while The Future of the Force's Thomas Storai wrote that: "For me, that's what makes the conclusion so powerful and meaningful. Violence is not the answer".


Merchandise and legacy

The character of Gendo has been used to produce a wide range of merchandising items, such as sunglasses and eyeglasses, action figures, collectible models, T-shirts, culinary products, and reproductions of his clothing for cosplay. Gendo, in addition to the video games and spin-offs based on the original animated series, has appeared in medias not belonging to the ''Neon Genesis Evangelion'' franchise, such as in the ''Million Arthur'' saga video games, ''Monster Strike'', and ''Puzzle & Dragons''. The character was also used for campaigns of the Japan Racing Association and for advertisements of the Schick razor company, a collaboration that managed to attract attention among animation fans and was renewed even years after the first advertising video. In 2011 he inspired attractions set up in the Japanese amusement park Fuji-Q Highland. In 2015 he was used, along with other characters from the series, for features on the 500 ''Type Eva'', a high-speed train dedicated to ''Evangelion''. Well-known people have paid homage to him by cosplaying him, such as Minoru Takashita, president of the AnimeJapan company, Takashi Kawamura, mayor of Nagoya, and economist Takkaki Mitsuhashi, who founded a Cosplay Party for the 2010 Japanese House of Councillors election. Gendo's character also inspired the pose of a character that appears in the opening sequence of the video game ''Evil Factory'', developed by Neople. According to Vice (magazine), ''Vice'''s Ricardo Contreras, his image and austere face have achieved such notoriety that they have reached even audiences of non-animation fans, becoming "one of the most easily recognizable images of anime on the internet". On the web, he is often associated with the ironic phrase "Get in the fucking robot, Shinji", which has also gone viral. The phrase has become an internet meme and has been used for merchandise items dedicated to the series. Screen Rant's Adam Beach, on the other hand, noted how Ragyō Kiryūin's office in ''Kill la Kill'' is similar to Gendo's. Holland Novak from ''Eureka Seven'' has also been compared with the character. Over the years, his characteristic pose with his hands joined at face height, renamed "Gendo pose" by fans themselves, has achieved popularity, being quoted, homaged, and parodied in following animated series, such as by Taizo Haisegawa in ''Gintama'', which is also voiced by Fumihiko Tachiki, ''Immortal Grand Prix'', ''Himouto! Umaru-chan'', ''Haruka Nogizaka's Secret'', ''Baka and Test'', ''Hayate the Combat Butler'', ''Robotics;Notes'', ''Voltron: Legendary Defender'', by Stella's character from ''Rose Guns Days'', by Nifuji Hirotaka from ''Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku'' and by Hayato in an official cross-over episode between ''Evangelion'' and ''Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion''.


Notes


References


Bibliography

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