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There are also those who desired this disastrous outcome. A world untainted by original sin that no man may enter.
—Gendo Ikari

Gendo Ikari (碇ゲンドウ[?], "Ikari Gendō") is a fictional character in the Evangelion franchise. He is Shinji Ikari's father and the Commander of NERV. He played a major role in the research and construction of the Evangelions and the Human Instrumentality Project.

Gendo abandoned his son, Shinji, when he was a toddler and throughout the series, he was uninterested, distant, and harsh towards Shinji. In the movie, The End of Evangelion, Gendo and Rei are in Central Dogma in front of Lilith. He asks Rei to lower the A.T. Field so he can see Yui, his deceased wife again. Rei is supposedly made from some parts of Yui and when her AT field is lowered she and Gendo will dissolve into the "soup of life" (or "primordial goo") uniting Gendo with the pieces of Yui. She denies him saying, "I will not be your puppet" and cuts off part of his hand into her body. Despite his want to be reunited with his wife, he has affairs with Naoko Akagi, the developer of the Magi, and her daughter Ritsuko Akagi, head scientist of NERV. There is no love in these relationships and Gendo only does it to gain their favor or have them keep secrets.

Profile[edit | edit source]

48 years old, Gendo has an appearance of a typical middle-aged man. He has a hair shape similar to Shinji's, but grows a lion's mane. His usual attire is a NERV black commander's uniform with gold lines sewn on the edges of the jacket, and green triangular identification pieces sewn at the sleeves and the necklace. Beneath the uniform, Gendo wears a red sweater. Other than his commander uniform, he rarely wears other outfits.

Gendo wears a pair of white gloves to conceal his severely-burnt hands caused by the Unit-00 berserk incident. Gendo also wears a pair of glasses with squared lenses during that time, but later on changes to round-shaped-lenses glasses with a red or brown filter, which reflects light on large screens.

Gendo does not seem to have any sort of interest in contrast with other NERV crew members, but has a habit of crossing his hands whenever he sits down, hiding his mouth. He is mostly calm and does not react visibly in alarming situations. He rarely smiles or laughs, but is however seen occasionally smiling at Rei, and one time during the battle against Sachiel.

From Evangelion 3.0: You Can (not) Redo onwards, Gendo is 62 years old and is the commander of the ruined NERV. His overall appearance does not seem to change, except for the slightly-longer hair and thinner cheeks. He wears a visor in replacement of his glasses.

Overview[edit | edit source]

In NERV, Gendo is responsible for the research done on the Evas and the Human Instrumentality Project. He is the father of the Third Child, Shinji Ikari. At the start of the series, he is the only person having an effective connection to Rei Ayanami.

Gendo is a brilliant scientist and politician (the master of puppets in the series) who works diligently for his organization; however, he is an extremely cold and distant father towards his son and has no qualms about using and discarding people to achieve his goals.

Personality[edit | edit source]

"Gendo is the type of person who can see & 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."[1]

His last lines in The End of Evangelion reveal his regret and the true motivations for his ruthless behavior. He intended to use Third Impact to bring his wife Yui Ikari back to life. However, he realizes that his efforts are in vain and that he ignored the real wishes of Yui. She intended to bring about a brighter future for their son Shinji, whom Gendo has sacrificed in order to bring her back. In essence, Yui's dreams and principles were violated to resurrect her. Shortly after, Unit-01 is shown grasping Gendo in its hand before decapitating him, clearly rejecting Gendo's actions (however, this death sequence is questionable, due to its surreal appearance - though it is quite possible that he was turned to LCL like everyone else, the vision of Eva-01 being just a manifestation of his self-loathing).

Background[edit | edit source]

Young Gendo Ikari.

Gendo Ikari was born as Gendo Rokubungi (六分儀, meaning sextant). Though virtually nothing is known about his childhood or young adulthood, there are vague hints that he may have grown up in a traumatic or emotionally straining environment. During study, he met Yui Ikari, with whom he started a relationship, and Professor Kōzō Fuyutsuki, with whom he became friends. Many who knew him thought that the only reason for his and Yui's relationship was her connections to SEELE; however, over the course of the series and films, it becomes clear that his connection to Yui went far deeper. He and Yui were married at the beginning of the 21st century, wherein he changed his surname to Ikari. (This is the practice of mukoyoshi, where a man is adopted into a family through marriage in order to carry on the family's surname. It should also be noted that this detail is not revealed until later in the series.) In 2001 their son Shinji was born. They both worked together at Gehirn, from which Gendo became the leader. After the failed activation test of Unit-01 and Yui's apparent death during this event, Gendo became very cold and distant (even towards Shinji, whom he sent to live with a teacher and had very little contact with). Gendo also entered into affairs with both Naoko Akagi and, later, her daughter Ritsuko, seemingly casting doubt on his commitment to Yui; however, it is implied that Gendo was simply using them to achieve the means to accomplish Third Impact. Thanks to Yui's connection to SEELE, he also came in contact with the organization and started to help them with their plans for the Second Impact.

A massive malfunction during the first activation test for Unit-00 caused the Eva to go "berserk." To prevent Rei from being seriously injured, the entry plug was ejected, and Gendo pried the plug's overheated door open with his bare hands to extract Rei. His hands have severe scarring because of this, and he is never shown without wearing gloves (except in episode 5, when he briefly takes them off and Shinji sees they are burned, and Ritsuko explains why).

Although Gendo pretends to follow SEELE's orders without question, he has his own agenda and tries to out-manipulate the committee. His final outspoken rebellion towards SEELE comes from his desire to initiate Third Impact under his complete control. He implants Adam's embryo in his hand (only shown in Death and Rebirth and the Director's Cut Edition) and tries to merge with Rei to achieve this purpose.

In The End of Evangelion, Rei finally defies Gendo forwardly and separates with him (after absorbing Adam) to merge with Lilith and start Instrumentality on her own. Seeing that all his plans to be reunited with Yui have come to nothing, Gendo begs Rei to return to him, she refuses. After Instrumentality is started, Gendo confronts specters of the various Reis as well as Kaworu and Yui herself. Gendo confesses that he is afraid of the "invisible bonds" formed by those around him, and that he was afraid to confront his son after Yui's death. A vision of Unit-01, with much of its armor missing, (the real Unit-01 is at that moment within the Tree of Life, and still fully armored) is seen holding Gendo in much the same manner as Kaworu in Episode 24. Gendo states that "...this is my retribution", and the spectral Unit-01 bites off his torso as he utters his final words: "Forgive me, Shinji." The camera then shifts back to Terminal Dogma, where the lower half of Gendo's body is seen, still standing, with his torso severed.

Other media[edit | edit source]

Rebuild of Evangelion[edit | edit source]

Gendo's character does not appear to have gone any significant change in Rebuild of Evangelion, he shows no signs of emotional attachment to Shinji and remains being cold and not very talkative, always followed by Fuyutsuki. In Evangelion 1.0, Gendo appears to be even colder than normal, as he simply watches when Shinji's entry plug boils during the 6th Angel's attack, and immediately orders the replacement of Eva-01's pilot by Rei when Shinji fails to annihilate the 6th Angel as a sign of distrust, only to cancel this idea after Misato's plead. However, he appears to be showing signs of change towards his son in Evangelion 2.0, which is perhaps the most noteworthy part throughout the Rebuild tetralogy.

In the beginning of 2.0, Gendo and Shinji have a short conversation during their visit at Yui Ikari's grave. When Gendo is about to leave, although Shinji does not board the Commander's aircraft with him, Shinji tells his father that he is happy that father is able to stay with him for a while, followed by Gendo's unobvious reaction. After the 8th Angel's attack, Gendo, who is at the Moon with Fuyutsuki, complements Shinji for defeating the 8th Angel through telecommunication means. He also accepts the idea of going to Rei's dinner party along with Shinji and is even about to pick him up before being informed the Eva-03 incident. Gendo expresses a bit of worry towards Shinji when the 9th Angel strangles Eva-01, questioning Shinji about his hesitation and telling him that "You will die (if you don't fight back)". Concerning Shinji's situation, he orders the use of the Dummy System. A more cannibalistic Eva-01 tears down Eva-03 and severely injures Asuka (which apparently Gendo is not aware of). After this incident, the relationship between Gendo and Shinji breaks down completely, as in the TV series, erasing all related data about Shinji from NERV and permanently forbidding him to pilot Eva-01, with the Dummy System as a replacement.

Gendo reacts visibly during the 10th Angel incident when Shinji calls him "Father" once again and pleaded him to let him pilot Unit-01. He watches, satisfied, as Unit-01 begins turning into a godlike being, knowing that his plans are soon to come to fruition. Gendo affirmed to Fuyutsuki that they knew Shinji and Rei were capable of awakening Unit-01 and starting Near Third Impact.

Gendo and Fuyutsuki seem somewhat closer and more united in their approach to their common goal. Furthermore, Gendo does not appear to have a relationship with Ritsuko like in NGE, as of Evangelion 2.0.

In Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, Gendo has become a even colder person, only briefing Shinji in the ruins of NERV, about how his plan to use Evangelion 13 to achieve his goal, however, he ironically welcomes his son with kindness by letting him in front of Evangelion 13's incubation chamber. Gendo now wears a visor similar to that of Keel Lorenz, and can be seen speaking to the disembodied Lilith head at former-NERV headquarters about fulfilling the contract with Lilith later on. After Lilith's body is destroyed following the freeing of the two Longinus spears, the head explodes and covers Gendo in blood, who tells Fuyutsuki it's time to begin (his plan). Finally, Gendo appears once again speaking to the SEELE monoliths once the Fourth Impact has initiated and thanks them for their role of guiding humanity so far, while Fuyutsuki shuts them off one by one. Gendo appears one last time after the aftermath of Fourth Impact, discussing with Fuyutsuki about how most of it went according to SEELE's scenario, but thanks to them Eva 13 awakened with the death of Kaworu Nagisa. He mentions that Misato's actions were also expected, suggesting that everything is happening according to his plan.

Fuyutsuki ambiguously states that Gendo is paying every price for this, including his own soul, during his conversation with Shinji. Kaworu refers to Gendo as "King of Lilin".

These sections contain spoilers pertaining to new or unreleased content. Read ahead at your own risk!

In Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time, Gendo and Fuyutsuki are steering the Black Moon towards Antarctica. Fuyutsuki wonders if Gendo made Shinji suffer the same loss as him through the original Rei. Arriving at the epicenter of Second Impact, they attempt to restart Eva 13. When Wille and the Wunder arrive, Eva 13 manages to destroy and absorb Eva 02 and Asuka with it. Gendo is in the Erbsünde ship restraining the Wunder when Misato and Ritsuko confront him. Ritsuko shoots him, but he's unaffected, thanks to using Nebuchadnezzar's Key to surpass his humanity. Gendo explains the purpose of the Impacts, and sets about starting the Human Instrumentality Project, entering Eva 13.

Inside a Minus Space he fights Shinji inside Eva 01. Shinji appeals to Gendo to stop and talk. Gendo shows Shinji an "imaginary Evangelion", a Black Lilith predicted by the theories of Dr. Katsuragi. Misato sacrifices herself to hold back Gendo's "Additional Impact". Shinji finally succeeds in talking to Gendo inside a train. Shinji's present-day train transitions to a Showa-era train as he speaks to Gendo, and he and sees a vision of Gendo's past experiences and life, and how Yui's loss traumatized him. When Shinji decides to restart the world, he is then pushed out of Eva-01 by his mother Yui, and they are embraced from behind by Gendo in Eva-13. Gendo and Yui, Eva-01 and Eva-13 together sacrifice themselves to allow Shinji to survive.

Spoilers end here.

Sadamoto's manga[edit | edit source]

Gendo as he appears in the manga.

Gendo's role and overall character in the manga is pretty much the same, with only a few differences. Gendo is shown to be more antagonistic towards Shinji than in the anime, first shown when he calls his son a "coward" when he refuses to pilot Unit-01. Later, while Shinji is recovering, Gendo checks on Rei in the hospital, but barely acknowledges his own son.

Gendo activates Unit-01's Dummy System in the battle against Bardiel, resulting in the death of Tōji Suzuhara, the pilot of the possessed Unit-03 (an event exclusive to the manga; Tōji survives in the anime but is left horribly crippled and missing a leg). After Shinji uses Unit-01 to damage the cage, Gendo calls on Kaji to bring Shinji to his office. Shinji asks his father if he has anything to say to him, which Gendo does not answer. Shinji's responds to this by trying to punch him, but is held back by Kaji; Shinji screams that he never wants to see him again. Gendo's response to this is the same as in the anime, to have Shinji removed from NERV's records.

When Zeruel attacks and Rei fails to activate Unit-01, he heads down to the cage to try and get the Dummy System to work, which proves futile. Gendo, in his first act of distress, frantically asks why Unit-01 (and by extension, Yui) is rejecting him, to which Shinji's picture appears on the screens. This, and Shinji's sudden reappearance in the cage to do battle against Zeruel, surprises Gendo.

Just as in the anime, SEELE begins to doubt Gendo's trustworthiness after Unit-01 absorbs Zeruel's S² Engine. This results in them sending Kaworu Nagisa in order to spy on Gendo and NERV. Gendo increasingly defies SEELE while he continues to further his plan to take control of the Human Instrumentality Project. He later swallows Adam instead having it grafted to his hand.

During the invasion of NERV by the JSSDF, Gendo saves Shinji by projecting an AT Field from his left hand, which now has Adam embedded within. Gendo reveals the extent of his madness, telling Shinji that he has never loved him and that he used to feel jealous of the attention Yui gave to him, as well as detailing his plan to use Third Impact to become God and destroy humanity while reuniting with Yui. Gendo asks Shinji to pilot Unit-01 once again to aid in his plans, since Shinji has experienced loss and can now understand Gendo. Misato appears, however, and urges Shinji not to listen to his father.

After aiding Shinji and Misato's escape from the JSSDF, Gendo descends into Terminal Dogma to convince Rei to merge with Adam. As in The End of Evangelion, he shoots Ritsuko when she attempts to self-destruct NERV Headquarters to stop them. However, much to Gendo's surprise and anguish, Rei rejects him and destroys Adam, merging with Lilith without ever having absorbed the latter. After Rei/Lilith ascends from Terminal Dogma, Gendo is shot through the neck by a still-living Ritsuko in her final act. A vision of Yui confronts him as he lays dying, asking him to remember the first time he felt love for Shinji. After confessing that he has only caused his son pain, Gendo remembers Shinji as a newborn baby—the first time he felt love for him, and realizes that what Yui wanted (through the Evangelion project) was a better world for them to live in as a family. He thus redeems his soul in his final moments.

Neon Genesis Evangelion -ANIMA-[edit | edit source]

In Evangelion ANIMA, Gendo does not appear a lot as he mysteriously disappears after the Human Instrumentality Project is aborted when the Mass Production Evangelions are destroyed. His current fate is unknown.

Shinji Ikari Raising Project[edit | edit source]

In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Shinji Ikari Raising Project, Gendo is shown in a humorous light, much unlike his anime counterpart. His antics, oftentimes embarrassing Shinji, often end with him being hit by Yui. During a blackout at NERV, he shined his torch in a scary way, which promptly earned him a smack from Yui. Another time, Gendo is reading a newspaper when Yui asks him if he told Shinji something (like she told Gendo to do). Gendo's response was to sweat and shake nervously and the scene ends with the sound effect of Yui hitting Gendo. Gendo is also shown to be a rather charismatic figure during this time, moving several members of NERV staff (notably all male) to aid with the "pedaling for power" plan.

Also, the perceived "father-son rivalry" between Gendo and Shinji in Evangelion fandom is parodied here, as both men decided to "compete" to see who could pedal the fastest. The contest was actually a way to generate electricity for NERV HQ, which had been hit by a blackout. The incident also pays homage to the original anime, where Gendo helps in the manual launching of the EVAs against the invading Angel. Interestingly, both Fuyutsuki and Rei were shown to put in their share of work before dropping out due to fatigue.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gakuen Datenroku[edit | edit source]

At the start of the manga, Gendo is stated to be overseas, having left Shinji in the care of Ryoji Kaji. About halfway through the story, Gendo is revealed to be behind NERV, the organization fighting the Angels. Shinji notes that something is amiss, as Gendo acts far colder and distant than he did when Shinji was a boy. At the story's climax, it is revealed that this Gendo is a doppelganger from an alternate universe, who came to this one as part of an ill-fated attempt to replace his universe's Yui following her death. After discovering that this universe's Gendo had been killed in a lab accident (the same one that resulted in Yui becoming trapped in the Tree of Y'ggdrasil), the alternate Gendo took his place.

He initially plans to have Rei Ayanami take Yui's place in the tree (thus freeing her), but the plan changes after Rei becomes fond of Shinji and refuses to give up her own existence. Gendo shoots Rei for her betrayal and attempts to use Shinji as a replacement, but is ultimately killed by falling debris from Y'ggdrasil, implied to have been caused by Yui.

Character notes[edit | edit source]

Gendo's last names (Rokobungi and Ikari) mean "sextant" and "anchor" in Japanese, respectively. His first name was taken from another anime project prior to Evangelion that was aborted.[2]

With different kanji "Ikari" can translate to "anger" or "rage".

In the Evangelion 3.0 You can (not) Redo theatrical book, Gendo's name is depicted as "Gendoh Ikari".

References[edit | edit source]

  1. from Hideaki Anno's Anime Expo '96 interview, pp20-3 in the November 1996 Newtype, as translated by Miyako Graham in issue 43, pages 40-41 of Protoculture Addicts and as quoted by Lawrence Eng [1][2][3]
  2. Evangelion character names; Translation of essay by Hideaki Anno about character name origins; August 19, 2007
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