Gendo Ikari

Evangelion ScreenshotName: Gendo Ikari
Title: NERV Commander
Age: 48
Birthday: April 29, 1967
Sex: Male

Gendo Ikari (initially Gendo Rokubungi) is the Commander of Special Duty Organization NERV, and is responsible for research and development of Project E and the Human Instrumentality Project. He is husband to Yui Ikari and father to Shinji Ikari, the Third Child and pilot of Evangelion Unit-01. He is also the guardian of Rei Ayanami, the First Child and pilot of Evangelion Unit-00.

While a brilliant scientist in his own right, Gendo is somewhat of a ruthless politician. He is often seen as a master of puppets in the series, one of the few characters who know and control everything. He tends to be very cold, distant, and unapproachable to most people, even his own son Shinji, who he had given away following the death of his wife Yui Ikari.

Evangelion ScreenshotAs bloody and cold as Gendo appears in the series, his motives can nonetheless be considered noble. His wife Yui, whom by all accounts he genuinely loved, had vanished during a contact experiment with Evangelion Unit-01 in 2004 (her body and Soul were actually absorbed into the construct). Following the incident Gendo comes up with a plan to highjack the Human Instrumentality Project in an attempt to be reunited with her.

Gendo's cold ambiguity towards his son is one of his major character flaws. He is naturally a very anti-social individual, one who has himself admitted that he is not used to being liked, and that hate is much more familiar. This is perhaps also why he is so in love with Yui, who seems to complement his flaws with her strengths. Ironically, this is exactly what the Human Instrumentality Project is supposed to do for all of humanity.

Evangelion ScreenshotWhile Gendo's plans for the Human Instrumentality Project may be considered selfish, he also disagrees in principle with SEELE over their scenario of total destruction and rebirth. This becomes evident once he makes his final stand against them, for which he is branded a traitor and sentenced to death. It is unclear if Gendo actually cares about mankind or if that is simply Yui's influence, who was opposed to the idea.

However, while Yui worked and died on Project E in her efforts to stop SEELE and bring about a brighter future for their children, some believe that Gendo inadvertently violates her principles in his efforts to bring her back. Others still see it as Gendo choosing to sacrifice the world to save her.

Eventually Gendo attempts to initiate the Third Impact by merging Rei Ayanami, Adam (whose embryo he had grafted onto his hand), and Lilith. Fortunately at the last moment Rei rebels, and upon merging with Lilith instead gives control of the Instrumentality process to Shinji Ikari. As a result the Human Instrumentality Project follows neither SEELE's nor Gendo's scenario, as seen in The End of Evangelion. As Gendo is complemented by the Instrumentality process, he is confronted by Yui and asked to atone for the pain he had inflicted upon their son Shinji. He is then consumed by Evangelion Unit-01 and supposedly killed.

Analysis

  • Why has Gendo changed his last name?

    When Gendo Rokubungi married Yui Ikari, he took up her family's name instead of vice versa. This occasionally happens in Japanese society when the wife's family is of a higher social standing or wealthier than the husband's. Another situation is when the wife has no brothers to carry on the family name. Either may be the case with Yui Ikari, as she is not shown to have a brother, and is also in fact part of a very powerful family, with her father being a member of SEELE as mentioned in the PlayStation 2 game Neon Genesis Evangelion 2.
  • Carrying his own Cross

    The cross-shaped shadow that is cast behind Gendo Ikari as he sits at his desk following the death of his wife Yui Ikari, is an allusion to the Passion of the Christ, the depiction of Christ's suffering in the New Testament of the Bible. As part of Christ's persecution and torture, he is made to carry a cross on his back, upon which he is later crucified on. The scene cleverly depicts Gendo as carrying his own symbolic cross, a great burden that would ultimately be his undoing—the Human Instrumentality Project.
  • Romanization of Gendo Ikari

    Due to the romanization process (the representation of a different writing system using the Roman alphabet by the use of transliteration or transcription) that is used to translate Japanese into English, at times subtle variances in spelling have been observed. These variances typically involve silent vowels and have little to no bearing on pronunciation. In this case, Gendo Ikari is also typically referred to as Gendou, Gendoh, or Gendō. All variances refer to the same character.
  • Hideaki Anno's Anime Expo '96 Interview

    Gendo is the type of person who can see and think about the welfare of an organization as a whole. In other words, he'd do anything to succeed. He takes drastic and extreme measures, by fair means or foul, or by hook or by crook, in order to accomplish his own purpose. In some ways he's mean, he hardly cares about Shinji.
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Last Updated
July 11, 2014
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