'Evangelion' Presents: Gendo Ikari, Anime's Worst Dad

It's one of the most easily recognizable images of anime on the internet. You may have seen it before without knowing who it was, or even what anime it comes from. A man, sitting at a desk, his hand's steepled over his mouth, glasses glaring against some artificial light, leaving us with only two stark white ovals where his eyes would be. This image of Gendo Ikari, father to Neon Genesis Evangelion's protagonist Shinji Ikari, presents him as an imposing, calculating, and stoic figure. He always has a plan and he's always in control. Turns out, that is all a front to a man who's low emotional intelligence constantly puts the people around him in grave danger, and all for a plan that he and he alone knows the true ramifications to. We discuss Gendo, the true nature of the Eva Units, and more on this extra long episode of Waypoints. You can listen and read an excerpt below:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43j9nn/evangelion-presents-gendo-ikari-animes-worst-dad

Hey all, this is just a heads up for: in Episode 22 of Neon Genesis Evangelion, called “Staying Human” on Netflix, the English subtitles on Netflix use the word “r*pe”. This is not in the English dub, or the original Japanese, just the English subtitles. (It’s a pretty questionable translation of the text.) Putting this out there for people who need to know.

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You guys are probably going to get a few replies to this affect, and it’s been a while since I’ve studied any of this so my memory is very hazy, but Danielle hit the nail on the head when she said a Dirac sea is kind of a conceptual way of dealing with the consequence of mathematics.

The Dirac equation, which is a quantum field theory model of `matter’ particles like electrons, admits solutions with both positive and negative energies. This conflicts fundamentally with the ‘principle of least energy’ in physics; if there’s an infinite sea of negative energy values, then particles would want to lose energy and decay away into these negative energy states (also releasing an infinite amount of energy as radiation as they did so, would be a problem.)

Dirac’s solution to this is a conceptual one; the negative energy levels must all be occupied. Matter particles have an interesting property that no two can have exactly the same “state” (i.e. energy, momentum, and other properties) at any given time. (This is the “Pauli Exclusion Principle”) If all the negative energy levels are full, then its impossible for particles to lose energy and drop into a negative state, and the paradox is resolved. Dirac further stated this “sea” of fully occupied negative energy levels is basically just ‘the vacuum’, regular empty space as we observe it in the absence of any matter.

I guess when Eva evokes the Dirac sea it basically wants to suggest that some localised hole in it has opened up and just swallowd up all the regular matter particles into its low-energy states.

Edit: Further cool things: this also explains the phenomenon of ‘pair-creation’, the fact that sometimes a pair of anti-matter/matter particles can be created from a very energetic photon. In the Dirac Sea model, the photon was absorbed by one of the negative energy particles, which was then ‘excited’ up to a positive energy level. We observe the resulting ‘hole’ in the dirac sea as an antiparticle.

Edit 2: Just a note, the Pauli Exclusion Principle might sound arbitrary but it’s very important. Again, the least energy principle might suggest that everything would want to occupy the lowest energy level possible. But the PEP basically rules this out and explains why we observe any kind of structure in matter at all.

I have no idea what the imaginary number space is supposed to be though??


I really liked Rob’s analysis of Gendo as an Agamemnon-like figure who relishes in irredeemable actions he takes. I recall Gendo smiling as he activates the dummy plug being where I made my only note for all of Episode 18: “Gendo loves this shit.”

Dude is literally just a petulant child. He’s those kids laughing at Shinji on the bus but with a stoic mask. I think because of this my reading of the Command staff trying to calm Shinji after Episode 18 is a little more sympathetic than Austin’s. For me it was less “But Mr. Gendo said!” and more “Shinji you need to calm the fuck down because you’re not having a tantrum. Your anger is justified. Gendo is having a tantrum and he will take it out on you.” It was the only reading I could have after the shots of literally everyone except Gendo completely horrified at what they’ve just seen. I dont think it was even the correct response, I just found it hard to read as them more explicitly siding with Gendo


the opening theme killed me, thank you.


It is a very childish and sexist compliment, but it comes from a very deep-seated place of affection.


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Is anyone here reading Sadamoto’s manga adaptation of NGE? The one that debuted before the anime but didn’t finish publishing until 20 years later? I think it’s an interesting companion piece in that it presents a different vision of how Eva could be if Shinji were just a smidge better socially adjusted with the rest of the cast.

Apparently it goes off the rails of the anime toward the end? The changes aren’t mind boggling at this point—an extra slice of life scene here, some deeper character backstory there—but I find it adds texture and slows down the breakneck pace that the anime gets wrapped up in, particularly in this set of episodes. Kaji is less shitty in this version?? And so is Asuka??? The manga sells the relationship between Shinji and Kaji much better and gives him reason to look up to him as a mentor figure. The biggest change thus far from the anime is that Toji dies instead of surviving by a hair. Also Shinji is contrived to be present when Kaji reveals the giant Angel hidden under Nerv to Misato. I imagine this will have Ramifications.

For those who want to follow along, Vol1-3 correspond to the first pod, Vol4-5 are second pod, and Vol6-7 are pod three.


4 + hours ! Thanks for this , had a long painting job today and the time flew by.

I can not stop thinking about the connection between Caddyshack and NGE, the train of thought that leftthe station in the last thread just kept going.

Warning spoilers for NGE and a suggestive screencap from Caddyshack.
Its all very dumb and i couldnt think of a Ritsuko equivalent, but I really like the image of Misato and chevy chase looking cool in a car.

Man I’ve really loved this rewatch series so far. So much so that this is my first post (hi!)

I got into EVA a couple years ago on my friend’s insistence and we marathoned it over a couple of days. I think the ideal way to watch this show is to go in as blind as possible and have someone to go WTF? to. It’s kind of a cliche at this point but there was nothing I’d ever seen like it before. It’s a show that’s stuck with me the most out of almost anything since then, flaws and all and I adore hearing first timers thoughts and reactions. This is my third time watching it (I followed the rewatch last year on reddit) and I’m still noticing new details and foreshadowing in throwaway lines and those super quick cuts.

One thing I do want to push back on is the crew’s assessment of that short little scene with Kaji and Shinji in the garden in ep 17. They’ve (rightfully) had it up to here with Kaji’s bullshit at this point and mock his attempt to reach out to Shinji. To me though this scene is the first time I can think of that anyone has talked to Shinji or befriended him, just to be nice, no ulterior motive. Every relationship Shinji has is varying degrees of transactional. Gendo clearly could give a fuck about his son’s well-being. Misato’s “gotta keep this kid on the level so the robot keeps working” is unofficially part of her job. Even Kennsuke is constantly mining him for details on NERV and access to Misato.

Shinji is (rightfully) skeptical when Kaji asks him to get tea. Shinji’s not a girl to hit on, what could Kaji possibly get out of this? Nothing. I think Kaji is genuinely reaching out here.

They didn’t even mention it but when Kaji asks “is there anything you do like?” and Shinji says nothing its heartbreaking. Shinji doesn’t even bother to front with something clearly made up. If Misato had asked him the same thing he probably would have felt compelled to lie to spare her feelings and assuage her fears. But Kaji accepts his answer and doesn’t admonish him for it like Asuka certainly would.

None of this is to try to rehabilitate Kaji’s “problematic” to put it extremely lightly behavior but I do think Kaji has an arc in this show, its just his character is by FAR the most outdated stereotype and it gets harder to watch him every year.

Feel free to push back on this, if we weren’t reading too much into little inconsequential things, we wouldn’t be discussing EVA would we?


Kaji also gets a slightly better arc in the Rebuild films. It fleshes out his relationship to both Misato and Ritsuko, and shows him being a lot more supportive to the children.

He is still a problematic character with issues, but it at least makes him seem like a real person and not just a shitty stereotype

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It has been a treat to rewatch NGE and listen to y’all discuss. I especially like the mix of new viewers and old.

Cado, your synopses for the pods are great. I like to read them before getting into the episodes because they give me something to hone in on. So please proof read them! Now, I may be the only one to fret about the following, so bear with me. Do take note of the difference between contractions and possessive versions of “who” and “it.” “Who’s” is a contraction for “who is” or “who has,” while “whose” is the possessive. The former is like “there’s” and the latter is like “theirs.” Likewise, “it’s” contracts from either “it is” or “it has,” and “its” is the possessive that my phone may autocorrect annoyingly disregards : / Again, I hope I don’t come off as a grammatical disciplinarian.

Austin calling SEELE “seal” is deeply upsetting and I want to riot.

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Taking a page from Rob’s book

(even if I call them ‘sey-ley’ <_< )

I’m glad we finally got some pushback on Asuka this episode, but I still think the crew are vastly underselling just how toxic her behavior is. I have no doubt she has been through some shit. But you could say the same about literally every single person on the planet, doubly so for the other NERV agents. Still, Asuka is the only one who tries to build themself up by tearing down everyone they come in contact with.

They keep giving her the excuse that “that’s how she shows affection.” That doesn’t make it okay. It would be bad enough for her to rationalize her own guilt at goading Shinji into attacking the Dirac angel unprepared to herself. But she can’t keep her complete lack of empathy to herself. She has to inflict it on everyone around her. She’s more than happy to goad people, even people she ostensibly likes, to their potential deaths to mask her own petty jealousy and insecurity, and then mock anyone who dares show concern. Her toxicity is radioactive.

I’m sympathetic towards Asuka. Like I said, I am sure she’s been through some shit. But she is the absolute worst kind of friend and teammate.


I forgot to mention how great it was to have Danielle back!


This pod was a journey.

Starting to remember why I always unironically felt bad for Maya. I don’t remember if the show ever explores it but the fact that her life seems like it’s comprised mostly of “something bad is happening we need you do to this thing” only to have a computer be like “uhhhhhnope” 100% of the time must suck.

Good thing she isn’t Asuka, I guess.


I don’t think they go into it because they are pretty fed up with Kaji by the time they get to that point, but for me the reason him reaching out feels so flat, is because he’s dodged a lot of responsibility up til that point.
Misato’s relationship with the kids may be somewhat transactional, but she also has the responsibility of caring for two teenagers while also more or less running a major organization thrust upon her. Kaji is like that “cool uncle” who you like and wanna hang out with, but who only gets to be the cool uncle because he only has to see you a couple times a year.
He doesn’t have to make good on any of his motivational posturing because his relationship with Shinji is really just that conversation, then he’s done.

I find Asuka to be a deeply frustrating character, but I think the reason they cut her a lot of slack is because she is only 14. That’s like… barely high school. Maybe not even depending on where you are. She is for real a child. And a child that’s dealing with a lot.

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