Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Postby Sen » Sat Oct 28, 2017 12:57 am

Hi guys! I recently wrote an analysis of Yui ikari on tumblr, posted it, then realised that there wasn't much commentary on it seeing as how Tumblr isn't much of a platform for weirdoes to talk about decades old anime. So I decided to post it here, among my other fellow weirdoes. =P

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.

This is really just a convoluted way to say that Yui Ikari is my favourite characer of Evangelion Anyway I'm open to people's thoughts!
Last edited by Sen on Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Postby Mr. Tines » Sat Oct 28, 2017 4:51 am

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Re: Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Postby Sen » Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:29 am


Hey thanks for digging these up, comrade. ;)

Will take a deeper look later, but what interests me about these threads are how quick people are to put a black and white dichotomy on Yui's character. A perception of her, you could say, that if put on a real person would definitely lead to something harmful. Doesn't that remind you of a theme of the show? :devil: Luckily, there seems to be more people with more nuanced approaches in the thread and even some simply pointing out that Yui never had much screentime.

I know I call her a sociopath but in another light she could very much be seen as a heroine, a matyr even. We tend to think Sociopaths are evil, but what of Sociopaths with goals that are genuinely beneficial to humanity? In a way, a sociopath like Yui represents a higher, even benovolent ideal better than most people. Representing an ideal requires a person to deliberately dehumanise them-self, (even becoming a God, which in many cultures can be all powerful personifications of Ideals), something that seems to come very naturally to Yui than it does to the rest of us. She's also able to get the right people into just the right positions for everything to work out, ensuring her ideal actually comes out on top.

I wanted to so aggressively paint a blacker picture of Yui because I had initially thought she was a character that most people dismissed. Looks like I was wrong and so now I'm inclined to disagree, contrarian that I am. =P

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Re: Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:04 am

Is mshe a sociopath? Her actions also seemed aimed at protecting Shinji. And she basically gives him the push to end instrumentality.
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Re: Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Postby Sen » Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:30 am

View Original PostAsuka'sBigBrother wrote:Is mshe a sociopath? Her actions also seemed aimed at protecting Shinji. And she basically gives him the push to end instrumentality.

Hey just because you protect someone (or something) doesn't mean you care for them per say, only that you need them to be alive and functioning.

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Re: Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:10 pm

View Original PostSen wrote:Hey just because you protect someone (or something) doesn't mean you care for them per say, only that you need them to be alive and functioning.

Yeah, sure, Yui gave Shinji the choice of what to do with the world, and encouraged him to live a real life rather than an escapist fantasy for the lulz.

This idea that Yui doesn't value other life doesn't align so well with her trying to preserve life as we know it.
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Re: Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Postby Sen » Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:41 pm

View Original PostAsuka'sBigBrother wrote:Yeah, sure, Yui gave Shinji the choice of what to do with the world, and encouraged him to live a real life rather than an escapist fantasy for the lulz.

This idea that Yui doesn't value other life doesn't align so well with her trying to preserve life as we know it.

...I'll ignore your passive aggressive jab and simply say that from the screentime she gets, Yui doesn't come across as especially emotional. Almost all of Yui's spoken dialogue sounds robotic, her expression doll faced. She treats every person and concept as if she was back in her own laboratory - at a distance with gloves and forceps. Intellectually, she knows the philosophy, but does she really feel it considering that she's willing to turn herself inhuman? She seems a bit too perfect to be so.

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Re: Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:34 pm

View Original PostSen wrote: ...I'll ignore your passive aggressive jab
That's more of a "jab" and more "passive aggressive" than what I said bro (:|
and simply say that from the screentime she gets, Yui doesn't come across as especially emotional.
Which doesn't make her a sociopath.
Almost all of Yui's spoken dialogue sounds robotic, her expression doll faced.
Specific examples? Especially on the "doll face" part.
View Original PostSen wrote:She treats every person and concept as if she was back in her own laboratory - at a distance with gloves and forceps.
I can agree she puts people at a distance but that doesn't mean she doesn't care about other people. She definitely cares about Shinji, hence why she gets him to take them out of instrumentality, and then makes sure Shinji's comfortable with the decision.
View Original PostSen wrote:Intellectually, she knows the philosophy, but does she really feel it considering that she's willing to turn herself inhuman? She seems a bit too perfect to be so.

I mean, she does also act on the philosophy and side with life over what's essentially a collective suicide. And we see her worry about Shinji's well being. Not to mention that her clone in Rei does genuinely care for both Gendo and Shinji.

She's willing to go far for her goals, but that doesn't mean she's absent of concern for others, especially those she cares about like Shinji. In the end, she left it to Shinji to do what he wanted and left life pondering Shinji's happiness.
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Re: Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Postby Sen » Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:41 pm

View Original PostAsuka'sBigBrother wrote:That's more of a "jab" and more "passive aggressive" than what I said bro (:|

Awww sweetie, if you didn't mean to be sarcastic then I apologise for accusing you of it. No hard feelings?
View Original PostAsuka'sBigBrother wrote: Which doesn't make her a sociopath. Specific examples? Especially on the "doll face" part.

I admit, I'm using an outdated term like Sociopath rather liberally. I guess it'd be more accurate to say that she has low Empathy, or otherwise isn't someone to be particularly swayed in either direction by emotion.

As for an example, I'll refer to this.
Image
She's always wearing this serene and placative look, her facial expressions modest. While she may change her small smile to an equally small frown, she's not prone to the wild fits of the emotion that the rest of the cast are suscept to. Neither does her tone of voice nor dialogue, imo, hide an inner torment, like in Gendo or Rei.

View Original PostAsuka'sBigBrother wrote:I can agree she puts people at a distance but that doesn't mean she doesn't care about other people.

See, to me, this is a bit of a contradiction. Keeping people at a distance means you can't understand them as intimately., that is you can observe the organism but not its individual cells. So how can you claim to actually care about someone, when you're relying on a shallow understanding of them and their problems? This, I think, is a core theme of Evangelion.

View Original PostAsuka'sBigBrother wrote:She definitely cares about Shinji, hence why she gets him to take them out of instrumentality, and then makes sure Shinji's comfortable with the decision.
I mean, she does also act on the philosophy and side with life over what's essentially a collective suicide. And we see her worry about Shinji's well being.
This definitely makes sense. A Yui that above all emphasises Shinji's agency seems to point towards a Yui that's actually seems to love him. However, is Shinji's choice purely out of free will, or a product of the circumstances that Yui deliberately manufactures? You could apply this logic to anyone, really.
View Original PostAsuka'sBigBrother wrote:Not to mention that her clone in Rei does genuinely care for both Gendo and Shinji.
The whole point of Rei's character arc was that she was her own person, not someone Gendo can project his grief on, but just Rei Ayanami...just herself. Implying that as 'Yui's clone" seems kind of counter to this.

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Re: Yui Ikari Character Analysis

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Postby Asuka'sBigBrother » Sun Oct 29, 2017 11:14 pm

View Original PostSen wrote:Awww sweetie, if you didn't mean to be sarcastic then I apologise for accusing you of it. No hard feelings?

I was being sarcastic, but my sarcasm really wasn't intended to offend. I just like using sarcasm. Anyhow, this isn't relevant, let's move on.
View Original PostSen wrote:. I guess it'd be more accurate to say that she has low Empathy, or otherwise isn't someone to be particularly swayed in either direction by emotion.

Perhaps.
View Original PostSen wrote:As for an example, I'll refer to this.
Image
She's always wearing this serene and placative look, her facial expressions modest. While she may change her small smile to an equally small frown, she's not prone to the wild fits of the emotion that the rest of the cast are suscept to. Neither does her tone of voice nor dialogue, imo, hide an inner torment, like in Gendo or Rei.

Well, yea, the rest of the cast isn't really a great example of being able to express empathy well. Honestly, I think you're reading too much into this. She has limited screen time and we don't really get the opportunity to what she thinks inside. Her actions are a better way to analyze her. And the "doll face" doesn't really seem unique to her.
View Original PostSen wrote:See, to me, this is a bit of a contradiction. Keeping people at a distance means you can't understand them as intimately., that is you can observe the organism but not its individual cells. So how can you claim to actually care about someone, when you're relying on a shallow understanding of them and their problems? This, I think, is a core theme of Evangelion.


It's not contradictory at all. People can care for each other without properly expressing this. We see this with Asuka who clearly cares for Shinji(endangering her life for him, checking he's alright in the hospital, telling him to value himself ect.) and yet she doesn't confide in Shinji or truly expose herself to him(at least willingly) on a close and personal level.

We see this with Gendo whose fear of relationships caused him to distance himself away from him, and yet he wants to be condemned and punish for how he treated Shinji.
However, is Shinji's choice purely out of free will, or a product of the circumstances that Yui deliberately manufactures? You could apply this logic to anyone, really.

The circumstances and people around us are always shape who we are. That doesn't change regardless of whether or not Yui cared or didn't care for Shinji. That Yui steered Shinji to valuing life over a lack of it tells us about her own values.
The whole point of Rei's character arc was that she was her own person, not someone Gendo can project his grief on, but just Rei Ayanami...just herself. Implying that as 'Yui's clone" seems kind of counter to this.

Except that Rei shows she's her own person by choosing Shinji over Gendo, the exact same choice we see Yui make. Rei's choice to favor Shinji over Gendo aligns with Yui arranging for Shinji to make the choice rather than Gendo putting her faith in her son over her husband. Rei's relationship with Shinji symbolizes the love felt by a mother for her son. Rei doesn't contradict the concept of Yui caring for Shinji, rather, she symbolizes it.
" Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." -ANDY


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