Why I Sympathize With Gendo

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Fat_Necron
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Why I Sympathize With Gendo

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Postby Fat_Necron » Fri Jun 28, 2019 10:25 pm

Greetings and salutations chums, I am a newly indoctrinated fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion and have come before the mighty and oh-so critical fanbase to share my theories.

Before I begin please keep in mind I have only watched the series to episode 20. Unlike a lot of people these days binge watching shows isn't really my jam. I have a personal preference to watch a few episodes and mull over the events of said episodes before continuing on to a few more. So saying that I'll probably finish the last six over the weekend.

Anyway I want to begin with sharing my theories on my favorite character, Gendo Ikari. Again I haven't finished watching the first show yet feel compelled to share my interpretation of him, thus far. So without further ado, here is my perspective!

Gendo Ikari: The show kicks things off with establishing Gendo as lawful evil pragmatist sort while emphasizing his neglect for Shinji. Alright the casual viewer can despise him right off the bat and effectively create sympathy, thus interest for Shinji's first dilemma; piloting the Unit-01 for his father. Shinji doesn't like his father so doesn't really want to acquiesce... Err, that's my reasoning. Personally I think the idea of a 14 year old kid saying No to piloting a giant robot to monsters is bullshit so my head canon corrects it. Yea yea, he's scared and I get it but enough about that.
So we move onto a peculiar scene where Gendo takes time out to congratulate Shinji for the nights gong-show. Err, perhaps it was the second Angel. Either way he congratulates him which I found fairly interesting. See my own father abandoned me and as a child I didn't understand. I'm 27 now and know considerably more. The thing is a father, whether they abandon their child or not, retains a paternal connection to their children. After Shinji's battle Gendo makes a point to congratulate him despite the ensuing catastrophe. why; because he's a father..

You might think I'm reflecting my own experiences here so let me dive a little deeper.

When I was watching the episode depicting the incident between Unit-00 and Rei Gendo was the first on scene to pry open the hatch. Later on in the series it's stated that if his wife has a daughter, the child would be named Rei, and if a boy Shinji. Okay, we're getting somewhere. As it stands I'm not too clear on the relationship between Rei, Shinji, and Gendo but I'm certain he feels responsible for Rei to one degree or another. I'd wager Rei is a clone or some form of distant offspring of Gendo, however we're not talking about that YET! What stood out most prominently is his paternal instincts. Given the time before Unit-00 was shut down and sealed by that red stuff, Gendo was inside the chamber. I hypothesize he was already entering the test area while Unit-00 was going ape shit. That's quite the pair of brass balls considering he himself just witnessed what that thing is capable of dishing out.

Anyway, Gendo pried the hatch open, scolding his hands, unsure whether or not Unit-00 would reactivate, all for the sake of saving Rei... Interesting. You wouldn't see that from too many folks these days. It could be argued he was being pragmatic sighting he was securing a pilots safety, however its stated later on there's a whole host of candidates.

So why am I banging on about this so much, what's the point of this? Welp I will get to that but I have one more important example to illustrate; Shinji and Gendo visiting his mothers grave. Probably the best example of Gendo's character as he uses this small allotted time to impart advice and wisdom to Shinji. He talks a lot, says a lot though forgets context, or so that's how I felt about it. He's far too blunt, too honest and pragmatic. Shinji is a fragile soul who hasn't calloused to the grim reality of his era he exists, there being Angels and all, or really matured. That said, Gendo is incredibly busy yet speaks with the utmost honesty with the intent of being someone he never was; a father. What he said is rather cold yet when you're put in his shoes and mull it over it does make sense. He doesn't want Shinji lingering in the past, in the shadow of his fathers betrayal. He wants him to move onto greener pastures with or without him. He did the same, in a weird way. The man tossed way his old life completely though I suspect there's a good reason.

I have made some key points here but that still doesn't justify his neglectful betrayal, and frankly, I don't think nothing will. Episode 19 and 20 put the pieces into place. Any other circumstance Shinji would have been facing down a god damn firing line for threatening Nerv with an Eva. This is the third or forth time Unit-01 went pseudo-sentient with Shinji as the pilot. Whether or not his sync ratio is exceptional doesn't matter when its clear he's a volatile element as seen with the series... But why isn't he replaced? Well that's Gendo's doing. He clearly states Shinji's crimes and allows him to say his peace. When he walks away Gendo says I'm disappointed in you... Intriguing.

No fucking way in hell Shinji would walk out of Nerv with all those state secrets, I absolutely refuse to believe that. Yea, Misato told him there would be personal restrictions on his life but lets be reasonable; there's simply too much risk... But I digress so back on topic.

The scene at the end of episode 20 with those council members clarified my suspicions; Gendo is their only hope. Perhaps a bit of an embellishment but hear me out. After the Second Impact everything essentially went to hell in a gift wrapped box, bow and all. Nerv was established following those events and now we have Eva units. Pretty cut and dry, right? Not so much. There's a lot complexities involved here, a lot of hard decisions, and too much dirty laundry. Quite often we see the U.N threatening Nerv, most prominently when they're attempting to capture that dormant Angel. If they failed everyone would be ousted and left a fine bloody paste. That's quite the amount of pressure to be under. I honestly can't think of any historical figures who could endure such immense pressure. Any mistake could have your head, constant budget fluctuations, competing industries, so on and so forth. There's a lot of variable involved. Not only that, he's literately stationed where Adam is, that one Angel all others seemingly want.

To put it simply; that pressure alone would see lesser men crumble beneath the burden.

Gendo is a complex soul burdened with humanities survival. He is leading the organization that his entire species depends on for survival. I do believe he killed his wife and abandon Shinji, however it's difficult to discern why. On one hand I can see why- he's detaching himself emotionally from everyone and everything. Perhaps an extreme reaction yet the stakes at hand do lead to some morally ambiguous area's. You can't be expected to care after your own child and wife when billions are at stake? In a pragmatic sense I can see why he did. With the world at stake and him being the only one capable of carrying the burden it seems logical the task itself would define him. Not his wife or kid but this mission to save humanity. Anything short of his absolute attention could see the world at large come crumbling at a moments notice. He killed his wife to remove this variable yet not his son. Why didn't Shinji die, as well? Because he's still a father and has that paternal bond with his child.

Ugh, I'm at work and need to cut this short. Tomorrow I will share my thoughts on Rei and Unit-00. For now I am sorry to cut this short but I hope you enjoy what I've typed.

Cheers!

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Re: Why I Sympathize With Gendo

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Postby UrsusArctos » Fri Jun 28, 2019 11:30 pm

For all the callous things that Gendo does, Gendo is a man who is so full of self-hatred that he's afraid to be Shinji's father - and that refusal to be a father "for Shinji's good" only makes Shinji more miserable than if he tried to be a good dad. Gendo's flaw is taking a very common fear of young fathers and extending it to the point of cowardice with his son.

Like my avatar indicates, Gendo was always one of my favorite NGE characters even if I didn't approve of a number of his actions.
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Re: Why I Sympathize With Gendo

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Postby Alaska Slim » Sat Jun 29, 2019 10:36 pm

The problem though is that Gendo used his "I'm not Good with people" mentality as an excuse to treat everyone in an extractive or transactional manner. The only exception seems to be Yui.

But even when she was around, he was still like that with other people. We see that in the way he brought Fuyutsuki on board, and possibly Ritsuko's mother.

The idea he'd do this to Shinji, who Yui would have explicitly wanted him to comfort, has him come across to me as highly self-absorbed.

Not just unable to feel other people but unwilling to learn. He's the show's demonstration of "Sickness unto Death"... fulfilling the expectations of his own self-loathing by his lack of effort. His own (internal?) emotional validation is all he cares about.
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Re: Why I Sympathize With Gendo

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Postby Reichu » Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:09 pm

Sympathy isn't the same thing as approval. Ursus says as much.

Characters like Gendo are important, since they show many of us what we could potentially become. That's the value of being able to relate to them. If you can't acknowledge that you have anything in common with a fictional character who turned out pretty badly, what are you going to be able to do to turn yourself away from the same fate? It's "easy" to do nothing and simply resign yourself to trauma and the self-fulfilling prophecy, and blockade yourself from any future emotional pain. It's harder to fight it and become a better person, a journey that requires being vulnerable with both yourself and with others.


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