Dr. Naoko Akagi (赤木ナオコ, "Akagi Naoko") is a fictional character from Neon Genesis Evangelion. She was the chief scientist of Gehirn, NERV's predecessor organization, and designer of the Magi supercomputers, which she copied her own thought patterns onto. Naoko felt that the Magi represented the three aspects of her personality: herself as a scientist (Melchior-1), herself as a mother (Balthasar-2), and herself as a woman (Casper-3). She was also heavily involved in the creation of the Evangelion Project with Gendo Ikari.
She is the mother of Ritsuko Akagi by an unknown father.
Most of Naoko's story is told through her daughter Ritsuko and Episode 21 of the series. Previously the head scientist for Gehirn, she worked with Gendo and his wife Yui Ikari on the development of the first Evangelion. A brilliant scientist, she was the basis for the original Magi system, making many notes on it and knowing the machine literally inside and out. Being based on her personality, the calculations of this computer would go on to shape Japan's system of government, many deferring to its decisions.
After the disappearance of Yui, she began a relationship with Gendo, however this was short lived. When confronted by Rei I, the girl told her of Gendo's true opinion of her. Flying into a rage, Naoko strangled the girl to death before, realizing what she had done, throwing herself from the platform to her death, dying on collision with one of the Magi system blocks.
Her influence would continue beyond her death, with the Magi playing a strong role throughout much of the series, particularly in relation to Ritsuko's character and particularly in the Invasion of the Angel Ireul and during the The End of Evangelion.
Naoko has the same good-natured but distant relationship with her daughter that Ritsuko has with others. Naoko has even admitted to leaving Ritsuko on her own for too long; she blames Ritsuko’s difficulty with men on this, and admits to herself that she acted like a mother only when it was convenient. Despite being very aware of her faults, there is no sign that Naoko ever tried to change them.
Naoko was sexually involved with Gendo Ikari after the death of Yui Ikari, though it is suggested that Naoko wanted Gendo before, as she described Yui’s disappearance as being exactly what she’d hoped for. Naoko seemed to accept that Gendo couldn’t forget about Yui and perhaps also that Gendo would have no deep attachment to her as a consequence.
However, Naoko still strangled the first Rei Ayanami when the child said that Gendo considered Naoko as an "old hag" and no longer useful (Rei’s resemblance to Yui might also have been a factor, as Yui’s face appears superimposed over Rei 1’s as she speaks to Naoko). This might indicate that Naoko was more strongly attached to Gendo than she appeared, enough to kill at the thought of his rejection, though sheer anger over being discarded might also have been part of Naoko’s motivation.
Naoko then died from a fall from the top of Central Dogma onto the Magi computers below. It is unknown if someone assassinated Naoko, though there is no suggestion of this. From the look of horror on her face after strangling Rei it seems that she was horrified enough at what she had done to take her own life (the manga adaptation by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto explicitly shows that Naoko committed suicide).
When Ritsuko Akagi tried to self-destruct the Magi in Episode 25' , Casper-3, the "woman" aspect, rejected the command. The shocked Ritsuko interpreted this as Naoko choosing Gendo over her own daughter.
- The "brain" seen inside the Magi system in Episode 13 is likely not Naoko’s literal brain, as her head would have been too damaged in the fall for the brain to remain intact.
- Naoko, like Ritsuko, is named after the famous Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi.
- "Naoko" comes from the name of a friend Hideaki Anno knew in elementary school.
- Some have considered Naoko the candidate for the mysterious soul in Evangelion Unit-00. This is a largely discredited theory. See Eva-00's Soul.
- In Episode 21, Rei Ayanami calls Naoko an "old hag". Coincidentally, Mika Doi, Naoko's voice actress, played Misa Hayase on The Super Dimensional Fortress Macross (for which Anno worked as animator), and that character, too, was called an "old hag." In an earlier version of the episode, Rei would eventually survive after being strangled and having lost consciousness momentarily, awakening in an empty command room without Dr. Akagi.
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