https://aulac.tumblr.com/post/166318386 ... nating-and
Why Yui Ikari is the most fascinating (and terrifying) character of Evangelion
Yui Ikari is a trope subversion - it’s just very easy to miss. She is, at first glance, your typical refrigerated mom character, her cherished memory locked within Shinji and Gendo’s hearts, but there’s much more to our favourite scientist mom turned bio-weapon.
Yui’s core philosophy is what I would describe as sort of humanitarian and existentialist but taken to the extreme; as absurd positivity mixed with intense admiration for humanity. She loves humanity, both as a struggling collective and as struggling individuals each full of worth or potential for worth. It’s a love that’s not so much an emotional love than it is an intellectual one.
Paradoxically, she will do anything within her power, whether moral or not, to pursue this philosophy. Yui Ikari is ruthless, ripping Angels to shreds and devouring their S2 engine as well as deliberately emotionally traumatising Shinji and Gendo, all while subverting the refrigeration of her archetype.
She’s a subversion in that she not so much emotionally fulfils Shinji and Gendo, as most dead mother figures do in media, but rather leaves an aching hole in their hearts that’s never really filled. This emotional damage she very deliberately lays upon them is paramount in her plan to defying SEELE and preventing instrumentality (the unification of humans into a flawless God being, which goes against everything about her philosophy of the inherent value of humans).
Let’s explore her relationship to Gendo a bit. We know Gendo approached her since she was a daughter of SEELE but…. well…, we all know how that turned out, right? He came to love her deeply, Yui soon becoming Gendo’s sole reason to live. And I’m sure Yui was fond of him too, probably not to the same extent that Gendo is and certainly not in the conventional way a Wife would be, but at the very least more than most other humans. However, there will always be that part of Gendo that Yui found useful for her plan in defying SEELE. She got to know the guy and thought "Hey, this man is suitably emotionally needy and power hungry enough for my plan to work.” And he, by fault of his very human desire for love and validation, unwittingly follows through the role that Yui designed for him as a stagehand for instrumentality’s prevention. Yui very deliberately lets herself become Unit 01 in part to leave Gendo emotionally needy, lonely and driven enough to then pursue a plan that is later overtaken by her’s.
Her relationship with Shinji is also unusual. She doesn’t love him as his Mother, but instead sees him as..more of a protege of sorts, a vessel to inherit her ideals. He’s her case study against SEELE, that humanity CAN find meaning in their lives, no matter the horribleness of their situations. Situations she deliberately manufactures - letting her toddler son watch her perish and cursing him to a life of misery, loneliness and (likely accounted for) rejection by his father.
So if you thought Gendo was the sociopath of Evangelion, then you’d be wrong. Yui was, but the good(?) kind. She’s Rei foil in this regard, in that while Rei is extremely empathetic but does not have the social skills to express it, Yui lacks empathy but has the social skills to emulate an appearance of empathy. And it’s this maternal benevolence that betrays a Machiavellian ruthlessness that is itself another subversion.
tldr; Yui Ikari is a terrifying woman, willing to sacrifice the well-being of family (and arguably the entire cast) for her ideals.