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|“||I have never thought these Evas were as frightening as I did today. Are the Evas really on our side?||”|
Ritsuko Akagi (赤木 リツコ, "Akagi Ritsuko") is a fictional character from Neon Genesis Evangelion. She is NERV's head scientist and is heavily involved in the repairs and maintenance of Tokyo-3's defenses against the Angels, particularly the Evas.
She is the daughter of Naoko Akagi, the developer of the Magi supercomputer system which controls NERV. In many ways, Ritsuko is living in the shadow of her mother, whom she both admires and despises. Naoko was the head scientist working on the Evangelion project before her death, and Ritsuko is continuing the work her mother began with the Evas, as well as continuing the development of the Magi supercomputer system. Flashbacks to a teenaged Ritsuko reveal that she is a natural brunette, just like her mother.
Ritsuko is extremely intelligent, with a strong dedication to her work and a stoic, detached attitude which is frequently contrasted against Misato Katsuragi's hotheadedness, especially during Eva combat. Her occasional jibes at Misato are a source of comic relief in the series. She has a great affinity for cats, and Misato chides her at one point for substituting her cats for human affection. She also is a heavy smoker, as evidenced by an ashtray on her desk filled with cigarette butts stained by her lipstick.
As revealed in flashbacks, she was one of Misato's first friends in college, following the Second Impact. Ritsuko was also friendly with Ryoji Kaji; while receptive to his flirting, the series gives no indication that they were ever romantically involved. As the series progresses and Kaji informs Misato of the truth of the Human Instrumentality Project and how much information has been concealed from her, Misato and Ritsuko's friendship dissolves. This fracturing is accelerated by frequent (and sometimes violent) clashes between the two over the lives of the Eva pilots during combat, as Ritsuko is willing to sacrifice the pilots if the situation appears to warrant it while Misato is dedicated to the pilots' survival.
Along with Gendo Ikari and the Deputy Commander Kōzō Fuyutsuki, she is the only person at NERV fully aware of the Evas' true nature and the purpose of the Human Instrumentality Project. It is revealed in the later episodes that Ritsuko was romantically involved with Gendo, as her mother was before her. However, she eventually realizes that Gendo is using her in the same way that he used her mother, and that he cares about Rei more than her. In revenge, she destroys the Dummy Plug system in front of Misato and Shinji. As a result, Gendo has her incarcerated within the GeoFront.
The End of EvangelionEditIn the opening scenes of The End of Evangelion, after SEELE attempts to hack into NERV's MAGI supercomputer, Ritsuko sets up a temporary countermeasure that halts the takeover, forcing SEELE to use the JSSDF to attack NERV directly. Later, she confronts Gendo and Rei Ayanami in Terminal Dogma, and, with Gendo holding her at gunpoint, attempts to activate Tokyo-3's self-destruction capabilities to stop Gendo from initiating Third Impact. However, the command is overridden by Caspar, the third MAGI personality, which was modeled after Naoko Akagi as a woman. Gendo speaks an inaudible confession to Ritsuko - to which she responds "Liar" - then shoots Ritsuko in the chest, killing her. Shortly afterwards, an image of Rei appears over her corpse, which has fallen into the lake of LCL underneath Lilith.
No definite answers have been given as to why Caspar rejected the self-destruct command. In the series Ritsuko confessed her hate of Naoko "as a woman," and just before Gendo's confession to her, she says that "her mother" had betrayed her, not Caspar.
In other mediaEdit
Rebuild of EvangelionEdit
Ritsuko is much more of a background character in Rebuild. Regarding the first film, Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone Ritsuko is primarily seen discussing with Misato. The only insight into her character is a very subtle hint that she might be having a relationship with Gendo. In Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance Ritsuko takes on a closer role to her series counterpart, with brief moments of character development occurring between her and Misato, along with Kaji.
Incidentally she seems to be more emotionally attached to the children this time around, particularly and ironically with Rei (whom she hated in the series), this is seen when Rei intends to invite Shinji to try her cooking she is wounded by several knife cuts, and Ritsuko is seen taking care of her and even borrowing her cellphone to call Asuka.
In Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo, she has a similar role to Fuyutsuki's, remaining in the shadow of Captain Katsuragi, pushing her to activate the DSS Choker to kill Shinji after the intervention of the Evangelion Mark.09.
There is little difference between Ritsuko's portrayal in the anime and in Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's manga. However, in the manga, her disdain of Rei is more evident. At one point, during one of Rei's medical checkups, she loses control after Rei rebukes her and tries to strangle Rei. Realizing that she was acting like her mother before her, she stops herself from killing Rei, but warns Rei against telling anyone what happened.
In flashbacks in volume 10, it is revealed that Ritsuko witnessed her mother killing Rei I and committing suicide by leaping from the top of the MAGI computer core. Also, Gendo approached Ritsuko on the day of her mother's funeral and asked her to take over Naoko's duties at NERV.
In Volume 13 after her failed attempt at destroying NERV, Gendo outright states that he did love her before shooting her. Badly injured, Ritsuko recovers enough to mortally wound Gendo with a shot from her gun, remarking as she dies that the only person he truly loved was Yui.
Neon Genesis Evangelion -ANIMA-Edit
In Evangelion ANIMA, after the attack on the NERV Headquarters by the Mass Production Evangelions and their subsequent destruction, she was nowhere to be found and therefore was considered MIA (Missing In Action). Her glasses and position were both inherited by Maya Ibuki.
Shinji Ikari Raising ProjectEdit
In this series, Ritsuko assists Kaworu with his covert operations in NERV and Shinji's school, where Ritsuko acts as the school nurse, and is attracted to Gendo Ikari.
Like her mother Naoko before her, Ritsuko was romantically involved with Gendo at one point. It is unclear to what extent her dedication to her work stems from her love for Gendo. After he offers her up to SEELE in order to protect Rei, she responds by destroying the Dummy Plug system.
Ritsuko has a seemingly love-hate relationship with her mother, living in her shadow throughout her own life. Naoko was certainly someone Ritsuko looked up to and admired for her skill as a scientist; it is through her notes that Ritsuko is able to defeat Ireul and, in The End of Evangelion, to set up the firewall that stalled SEELE's hacking of Magi. In the end, though, Naoko placed her scientific duties at Gehirn over the raising of her daughter; Ritsuko states that she hated her as a mother. Flashbacks show Ritsuko as a natural brunette, like Naoko; perhaps her most obvious move in distancing herself from her mother is the bleaching of her hair blonde. One of her greatest frustrations is falling in the same traps of life her mother did—namely, falling for Gendo Ikari and being a "total workaholic", as Kaji calls her. After SEELE interrogates her, she stares at a picture on her computer of her mother and Gendo standing close to each other, with Ritsuko off to the side. In The End of Evangelion, it is Naoko's programming in Caspar (her "woman" analogue in Magi) that prevented Ritsuko from destroying the Magi system; she attributed this to her mother choosing Gendo over her daughter one final time.
Ritsuko met Misato, along with Kaji, in college. Misato had been mute for two years following Second Impact, but was now a chatterbox, described by Ritsuko as making up for the years of her muteness. In a letter to her mother, Ritsuko describes Misato as someone interested in getting to know her for who she was, not otherwise: "Here's someone who is honest, even with me." (This implies that even Ritsuko's younger years were darkened by her famous mother's shadow.) The more formal Ritsuko often disapproves of Misato's slovenly lifestyle and sometimes childish behaviour, but she clearly values the friendship; the jibes back and forth between the very Zen Ritsuko and the hyperactive Misato are often a source of comic relief. However, as Misato matures over the course of the series and realizes how many secrets NERV (including Ritsuko) kept from her, her anger coupled with Ritsuko's inability to confide her feelings in others cause their friendship to unravel, revealing the difference in ethics and morals between the two women. Toward the end of the series, in moments of anger, Misato refers to Ritsuko as "Dr. Akagi", while the latter, maintaining her calm, always calls Misato by her first name.
After Misato met Kaji, he became a part of the small group of friends that included Ritsuko. Though disapproving of his lackadaisical, "frivolous" nature—and, by extension, his and Misato's inability to commit—she appears to like Kaji very much, and when he comes back into their lives years later, she is warm and receptive of him—and even his flirting. She attends Kensuke and Toji's promotion party for Misato with Kaji—much to Asuka's disdain. Despite this, Kaji appears to represent competition for Misato's affections; this comes to a head in episode 20 when Misato passes up a chance for a drink with Ritsuko for meeting Kaji, leaving Ritsuko feeling alone. By then, the cracks in her friendship with Misato are evident. While Kaji never showed any open hostility toward her, he was aware of the extent of Ritsuko's involvement in the Human Instrumentality Project and Project E, and of the secrets she kept from him and Misato.
While always strictly professional, Ritsuko took a more motherly, kindly, less intense approach with Shinji (as opposed to the more high-strung Misato), always firm but encouraging him to try his hardest time and again. She appears to like him to a certain very limited extent, and she trusts him to do as he's told. She colludes with Shinji in chiding Misato on her disastrous approach to instant food, asking to be invited over to dinner instead "when Shinji's cooking". Nevertheless, when it comes to Project E, Ritsuko is not above sacrificing the pilots' lives—including Shinji's—in order to achieve the project's ends. Upon Misato's urging, Ritsuko begins the procedure which brings Shinji back from absorption by Unit 01, though she herself states in the end that it wasn't her actions that led to the procedure's success. Shinji's cynicism allows him to excel at reading people, and he compares Misato's calm, collected, take-control attitude on board the UN Pacific Fleet to Ritsuko's. In retaliation for her interrogation by SEELE, Ritsuko takes Shinji (and Misato) down to Terminal Dogma and reveals to them the true nature of the Evangelions before destroying the Dummy Plugs before their eyes.
Ritsuko's relationship with Rei varies between the anime series, manga, and film tetralogy. In essence, she views Rei as a replacement for Yui (which, technically, she was) and thus competition for Gendo's affections. In the series, Ritsuko compares Rei to Gendo, describing her to Shinji as "a good girl, though like your father, she isn't good at...living." While Ritsuko and Rei's connection is fleetingly mentioned in the series, it is much more developed in Sadamoto's manga, where Ritsuko witnessed Rei I's murder at the hands of Naoko and her mother's subsequent suicide. As such, Ritsuko harbours much resentment toward Rei as the source of much of her unhappiness, exacerbated by Gendo's distinct interest in Rei and by her knowledge of Rei's true nature. As Rei's emotional landscape begins to flesh out through constant contact with Shinji, she realizes the nature of Ritsuko's feelings for Gendo, causing Ritsuko to snap and try to strangle her, though she stops herself midway. As Ritsuko destroys the Dummy Plugs, it is implied that just as they were "spare parts" for Rei (who in turn replaced Yui), she is herself just a tool, a replacement for her mother, who was ultimately discarded after she was no longer of use.
Ritsuko is held in very high regard at NERV by colleagues, superiors, and underlings alike, a reputation she maintains easily through her leadership skills and cool, collected composure. Her skills as a polymath are famous even outside of NERV. Her technicians, in particular Maya Ibuki, willingly follow her lead. Fuyutsuki seems to keep an eye on her work, particularly when Gendo isn't around. Her relationships with the other pilots (namely Asuka, Toji, and Kaworu) are not really explored; Asuka treats her as abrasively as most everyone else. Ritsuko is presumably responsible for the selection of the Children (since, as Kaji verifies, the Marduk Report is a sham), and is shown in both the anime and manga as being the one to personally invite Toji to join NERV as the pilot of Unit 03. The depth of her involvement with the Human Instrumentality Project and knowledge of SEELE's machinations is shown when Misato questions her about Kaworu and she correctly identifies him as the final Angel—even though (in the anime) she and Kaworu never meet.
|Primary Characters||Shinji Ikari • Misato Katsuragi • Rei Ayanami • Asuka Langley Sohryu • Gendo Ikari • Ritsuko Akagi • Ryoji Kaji • Yui Ikari • Kaworu Nagisa|
|Secondary Characters||Tōji Suzuhara • Kensuke Aida • Hikari Horaki • Kōzō Fuyutsuki • Keel Lorenz • Maya Ibuki • Makoto Hyuga • Shigeru Aoba|
|Tertiary Characters||Naoko Akagi • Kyoko Zeppelin Sohryu • Dr. Katsuragi • Pen Pen|
|Rebuild Characters||Asuka Shikinami Langley • Mari Makinami Illustrious • Sakura Suzuhara • Koji Takao • Sumire Nagara • Hideki Tama • Midori Kitakami|
|ANIMA Characters||Rei Quatre • Rei Cinq • Rei Six • Mari • Crimson A1|
|Other Characters||Maria Vincennes • Mayumi Yamagishi • Mana Kirishima|