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

Maybe you've known that for years, but he's so bad that it still had to be said.
July 12, 2019, 4:13pm
A screenshot from Neon Genesis Evangelion, a close up of Gendo Ikari's face with his hands steepled in front of his mouth. His glasses are glaring, just barely failing to fully block out his eyes.
Image courtesy Netflix

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:

Austin: Shiji's's like "Yeah, that's fine. I'll go back where you left me." And before he can, Gendo sticks in the the the dagger, the guilt dagger, in his back, and tries to guilt him. He says "I'm disappointed in you for running away again. I guess you're probably won't see each other ever again." Then Shinji's like, "Yeah, I hope so" and walks out the fucking door. Fuck out of here Gendo!

Patrick: I clapped!


Austin: Me too! Fuck outta here Gendo!

Patrick: That's my boy!

Austin: That's right. God damn, "That's my intention as well." Yes! And then Shinji Charlie Brown walks home. Just like, [in a womp-womp cadence] slow walk.

Rob: Away from his dad's Star of David desk.

Austin: Hah, yeah! Gendo orders the deletion of Shinji's pilot file, he re-assigns Rei to pilot Unit-01.

Patrick: Seems a little extreme.

Austin: Yeah! Uh-huh.

Patrick: Like, give it a day. Shinji done this before.

Austin: Give it a day! You got into a fight.

Rob: But Gendo isn't any better emotionally regulated.

Danielle and Austin in unison: No!

Rob: There's this conflation of fake stoicism,

Cado: The only reason it didn't happen before was Misato.

Rob: Yeah. People look at a guy like Gendo and they think he's got himself under control, he has excellent self-mastery because he's so impassive and restrained but like, it's hollow. It's completely hollow like, yes, he doesn't betray any emotions because he doesn't allow himself to have any. That's not healthy. But if you look at actually what he does he's impulsive and angry and vindictive.

Danielle: And cruel!

Rob: Yeah, he's absolutely in thrall to whatever surge of emotion he is feeling and then he denies he ever had one, and it was all perfectly rational.

Austin: He looks so well put together but really his feet are in a bucket of ice, right? The fears that the show wants to give you is "what if Shinji grows up to be Gendo?" And the revelation is "Oh, Gendo never grew up." Gendo thinks of people in his life as toys. Gendo objectifies people constantly.


Danielle: He objectifies a 14 year old girl, all day.

Austin: He objectifies a 14 year old girl constantly. He does not have the emotional intelligence to connect to the people who are giving themselves over to his command and talk to his control. And so it's like not even "will Shinji grow up to be Gendo?" It's like will Shinji-

Danielle: Just turn into him.

Austin: Right, just never grow up at all.

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