Gendo and Shinji (Relationship)
Gendo and Shinji have one of the most complicated, and central relationships in all of Evangelion. The relationship is ostensibly one of mutual distance, but underlying feelings -- positive and negative -- remain.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Assessments and Interpretations
- 3 See Also
- 4 References
Birth and Naming
Shinji is Gendo's only child with Yui. While Shinji is dissolved inside Eva-01, he hears a memory of Yui and Gendo discussing what their child will be named. Gendo chose the name "Shinji" for a boy, and "Rei" for a girl.
Gendo abandoned Shinji some time after Yui was fused with Eva-01 during her Contact Experiment, sending him to live with his teacher. A recurring visual associated with this an image of a young Shinji, crying next to a train line. During a dreamscape presented to him while inside the Angel Leliel, this image is expanded on with one of Gendo walking away from the platform, his back to Shinji, suggesting that this was the place where Gendo personally abandoned Shinji.
Additionally, in the Leliel dreamscape, Shinji is accused of running away from the relationship himself. It is suggested that the young Shinji's own reaction to Gendo's trial for Yui's murder was a factor in their poor relationship. During the later dreamscape while Shinji is dissolved within Eva-01, Shinji openly accuses Gendo of having killed Yui.
Subsequent to this abandonment, Gendo and Shinji did appear to make yearly visits to Yui's grave on the anniversary of her "death". On the last of these -- three years before the series begins -- Shinji ran away from the graveside and did not meet Gendo again.
Reunion in Tokyo-3
Upon his arrival at Nerv HQ, when Misato asks Shinji for his ID card, Shinji hands her the letter Gendo sent. All of the printed words on the letter have been erased with black highlighter, replaced with a handwritten message in the same from Gendo which reads "COME -- Gendo Ikari". Moreover, Shinji has scribbled over Gendo's words in red pen and torn up the paper out of frustration at his father, later taping the pieces back together (perhaps after getting a load of Misato's picture!).
Later, while fused with Eva-01, it is revealed that Shinji's original intention in coming to Tokyo-3 was to tell Gendo that he hated him.
Following Sachiel's attack, Shinji is brought to Eva-01's Cage to meet his father, who is standing above in the control room. Gendo orders Eva-01 to sortie. When it becomes clear that Shinji is the intended pilot, he still asks Gendo why he has been summoned after his previous abandonment and with no prior notice. Gendo explains that he has need of Shinji now, and that Shinji will be shown how to pilot, but when Shinji persists in declaring that he is unable, Gendo loudly issues an ultimatum: Pilot the Eva now -- or leave. Shinji is stunned by this, and afterward cannot muster the courage to pilot.
Gendo ascertains the situation, then orders Rei to pilot Eva-01, as her "spare" Shinji is unusable. Shinji, recalling his abandonment, concludes that he was not needed all along.
Shinji eventually does agree to pilot, after seeing Rei's suffering, and after being saved from falling hanger lights by Eva 01 -- which drew a confident smirk from Gendo. However, Shinji later recalls this encounter, and Gendo's cold ultimatum to pilot or leave, on several occasions.
"Natural to be Apart"
|"Natural to be Apart"|
Shinji and Gendo live separately in Tokyo-3 and rarely interact with one another. While leaving the hospital after his first sortie against Sachiel, Shinji encounters Gendo at an elevator. The pair silently stare, not speaking a word, with Shinji eventually turning away, refusing to enter the elevator with his father.
Shinji is initially assigned to live on his own, though he is instead taken in by Misato. When Ritsuko asks about this, Fuyutsuki explains to her that for Gendo and his son, it is more natural to live apart than together. When Shinji attempts to leave Tokyo-3, Gendo makes no effort to stop or dissuade him.
While touring Shamshel's remains, Shinji sees the burns on Gendo's hands, and learns from Ritsuko that they were the result of Gendo's rescue of Rei during the failed reactivation of Eva-00. Later, while in the Evangelion Cage, Shinji witnesses to his amazement Gendo and Rei speaking cordially together.
During Gaghiel's attack, Gendo tells Kaji that he has sent Shinji as a reserve pilot. During the mission to capture Sandalphon, Shinji learns Gendo has ordered the UN Forces to bomb the area with N^2 weapons if the mission fails.
Shortly before the blackout at Nerv and Matarael's attack, Shinji calls Gendo from a payphone somewhere in the city above. After being placed on hold by an operator -- and subjected to phone system chimes -- Shinji is connected to a curt and impatient Gendo. Shinji requires a few seconds to find his voice, then hesitantly tells Gendo that the children in school have been asked to tell their parents of an upcoming career discussion interview. While Shinji has taken this literally, Gendo contemptuously dismisses the notion, telling Shinji that he has delegated such matters to Misato, who is now Shinji's guardian. As Gendo tells Shinji not to call him again over such trivialities, the phone line is cut off as power fails.
Praise from Gendo...
During the blackout and Matarael's attack, Shinji witness Gendo manually preparing the Evangelions for launch. Ritsuko tell Shinji that Gendo had faith that the pilots would arrive.
|Praise from Gendo...|
While Gendo is absent at the South Pole, Sahaquiel attacks. Following the angel's defeat, and Shinji's role in this, Gendo contacts Nerv HQ and praises Shinji personally, calling him by name for the first time since they met in Tokyo-3. Shinji later tells Misato that he pilots Eva 01 in order to hear such words of praise from his father. Gendo's praise and Shinji's need for it become a recurring topic in many of the psychological dreamscapes Shinji later experiences.
Shinji is scheduled to visit Yui's grave along with Gendo. It will be the first time the two have been there in three years. On the day beforehand, Ritsuko notices that Shinji is downcast over the prospect. Shinji attempts to ask Rei for advice on what to say, and asks her what Gendo is like, but Rei claims not to know. At home, Shinji reflects on his encounters with Gendo: at the Evangelion Cage, the elevator, during his manual preparations, and on Gendo's words of praise.
The next day, Gendo and Shinji visit Yui's grave, which lies in an immense graveyard. Shinji lays a wreath of flowers, and Gendo comments that it has been three years since they visited the grave together. Shinji admits that he ran away at that time. Evidently, this was the last time the pair met before Shinji came to Tokyo-3.
Shinji says that he cannot remember what Yui looked like. Gendo tells him that people survive by forgetting their memories, but that some things should not be forgotten. Gendo says that Yui taught him about what is irreplaceable, and that he comes to her grave to confirm this. Shinji asks Gendo about pictures of Yui, but Gendo tells him that they have all been destroyed, and that the grave is purely decorative due to Yui leaving no corpse. Gendo says that he keeps everything in his heart.
As a VTOL arrives, Gendo announces he is leaving. The pair regard each other for a moment before Gendo starts to walks off. Shinji, catching a glimpse of Rei aboard the VTOL, suddenly calls out to Gendo, causing him to stop and turn. Shinji tells Gendo that he is glad to have had the chance to talk. Gendo gives a brief acknowledgment and departs, with Shinji leaving separately. When he arrives home, Shinji plays on his cello.
This encounter is practically Gendo and Shinji's only real face-to-face conversation.
Shinji inside Leliel
|Shinji inside Leliel|
After Eva-01 and Shinji are trapped inside Leliel for several hours, Shinji begins to panic, calling for help and desperately banging on the Entry Plug to be let out. As he calls, the last name he invokes is his father's, and he says it in such a way that implies that he wouldn't expect his father to save him even if Gendo knew he was in trouble.
After falling unconscious, Shinji finds himself in a dreamscape, faced by a younger version of himself in a dusk-lit train carriage. Here, Shinji is forced to confront his relationships with others and in particular with his father.
Shinji's fear of others hating him is discussed, and Gendo's abandonment is pointed to as the source of this fear. Shinji states that while he thinks he still hates Gendo, he is no longer so sure; Gendo's praising of him by name has changed things. The young boy accuses him of chewing the cud of Gendo's praise, but Shinji says that by believing in them he can keep on living. The boy rejects this notion.
As the dreamscape continues, Shinji is forced to view what appears to be a memory of Gendo's abandonment of him. The recurring image of a crying young Shinji is shown, along with images of Gendo slowly walking away, while Shinji asks Gendo whether or not he is an unwanted child. The present day Shinji is then shown, in his plug suit, standing at the train platform and angrily screaming after Gendo as he walks away.
The image shifts the younger Shinji, who accuses the Shinji of having been the who ran away. A series of newsprint and media images flash by, detailing the public scandal surrounding Yui's death, the subsequent investigation, and Gendo's apparent trial and acquittal. Voices accuse Gendo of killing Yui, but Shinji refutes them, saying that his mother was smiling; a photograph of Yui and an infant Shinji is show, though Yui's face is mostly obscured.
As the dreamscape ends, Shinji again sees an image of Gendo walking away, but hears Gendo's voice telling him not to run away.
When Bardiel takes over Eva-03, Shinji is forced to confront the angel alone, but will not fight back, even as the Angel begins throttling Eva-01 and, by extension, himself. Gendo, interrupting Fuyutsuki's order to cut the synchronization rate, calls Shinji by name and asks why he will not fight. Shinji protests that there is still a person inside Eva-03 who should be saved, and he cannot simply kill them. Gendo dismisses this concern, telling Shinji that Eva-03 is now an Angel, and that, if he does not fight, then he will die.
Shinji refuses, saying that dying would be better than killing another person. At this, Gendo angrily stand up and orders that the synchronization between Eva-01 and Shinji be cut, and control switched over to the Dummy System. When Maya states that the system is not fully complete, Gendo says that it will still be of more use than the pilot. Shinji's synchronization is cut, and as he hears the Dummy System spinning up, he asks what Gendo has done.
Once the Dummy System activates, Eva-01 proceeds -- to Gendo's satisfaction and the horror of everyone else -- to dismember Eva-03 in a brutally visceral manner. As this proceeds, Shinji repeatedly begs Gendo to stop, but can only pull uselessly at the controls while the Dummy System continues to control the Eva. Eventually, Eva-01 reaches Eva-03's Entry Plug -- which still contains the pilot, and proceeds to crush the plug in its hand over Shinji's final screams to stop.
It is only after the battle that Shinji learns that the pilot was Toji.
Fallout and Crisis
On his return to Nerv HQ, Shinji seals himself inside Eva-01 and threatens to use the Eva to destroy the headquarters. Ignoring the protests of the Bridge staff, an enraged Shinji accuses Gendo of trying to kill Toji with Shinji's "own hands" -- that is, those of his Evangelion. Shinji demands that Gendo explain himself, but Gendo does not respond. Instead, he orders that the Entry Plug's LCL pressure be raised to the maximum, saying that Nerv has no time for a child's tantrum. Shinji is knocked unconscious by the change in pressure.
Shinji has to be cut out of the entry plug, and is taken to recover in hospital next to Toji. Toji sees a strange vision of Shinji talking with Rei in a dusk-lit train. Rei asks Shinji why he acted in such a way. Shinji says that Gendo had betrayed him, even after their conversation together by Yui's grave. Rei presses Shinji on whether he has really tried to understand Gendo, but Shinji withdraws.
When Shinji wakes, he is brought before his father in handcuffs. Gendo list Shinji's offenses, and asks if Shinji has anything to say. Shinji says that he no longer wishes to be an Eva pilot, or stay in Tokyo-3 anymore. Gendo bluntly tells him leave, and Shinji declares he will return to live with his teacher.
As Shinji turns to leave, Gendo accuses him of running away from his problems again, presumably referring to when Shinji ran away from Yui's grave three years before. Gendo says that Shinji has disappointed him, and that they are unlikely to ever meet again. Shinji agrees, saying that is want he wants.
|Return to the Eva Cage|
After Shinji leaves the Geofront, Gendo places a call ordering that all information on the Third Children be deleted, and Rei made the pilot of Eva-01. However, during Zeruel's attack, Eva-01 refuses to synch with either Rei or the Dummy Plug. When this occurs, Gendo ponders if Eva-01 is rejecting him personally; Shinji's anger and rejection seem to have bled over into the Eva.
After wrestling with his conscience, speaking with Kaji, and seeing the sacrifices of both Asuka and Rei, Shinji resolves to pilot again, and runs down to the Evangelion Cage. In the meantime, Gendo has gone to the cage control room in a futile effort to get the Dummy Plug to work, and is startled to hear Shinji calling to be allowed to pilot Eva-01.
Upon seeing Gendo in the control room, Shinji hesitates. In an inversion of their first encounter, it is now Gendo who asks Shinji why he is here. After some hesitation, Shinji loudly proclaims that he, Shinji Ikari, is the pilot of Eva-01. Gendo regards him silently.
Shinji subsequently sorties, arriving just in time to stop Zeruel destroying the Command Center, and wrestles the angel out to the Eva cages, where Gendo stands on a platform observing the fight. When Zeruel blasts off Eva-01's arm, Gendo is half soaked in a spray of blood, but continues to look on in silence. After a berserk Eva-01 consumes Zeruel and begins howling, Gendo is shown to be watching with Fuyutsuki from his office.
Shinji inside Eva-01
|Shinji inside Eva 01|
While Shinji is trapped inside Eva-01, he experiences an extended dreamscape which features Gendo prominently. While Shinji reflects on his reasons for fighting, images of the Angels flash across the screen, along with the word "enemy". As Shinji chants "enemy" over and over, gradually these images are replaced with images of Gendo. As the sequence reaches a crescendo, an apparition of Gendo set against a red background suddenly appears, towering over Shinji with glowing eyes and blue skin.
At this, Shinji becomes enraged, denouncing Gendo for both hurting Toji, and for killing his mother. Following this, in images which recall his final attack on Shamshel in Episode 03, Shinji is seen bathed in red light, screaming as his images morphs into that of Eva-01, which stabs upwards with the Progressive Knife, presumably towards Gendo.
This is interrupted by an image of Rei, her back turned to Shinji. Rei asks Shinji why he hates his father. Shinji replies that Gendo abandoned him, and doesn't need him. Rei asks if she is Shinji's substitute, and Shinji agrees, saying Rei was the reason he was abandoned. But Rei says that Shinji ran away himself. Shinji rejects this loudly, repeating that Gendo is to blame for everything. As images flash by of Shinji's arrival in Tokyo-3, Shinji reveals that his intention on coming to the city that time was to tell Gendo that he hated hated him.
The dreamscape then shifts to revisiting of Shinji's first meeting with Gendo in the Evangelion Cage. This time, Shinji asks if Gendo is saying that he must put himself in danger. Gendo replies much as before, saying that he needs Shinji, and that no one else can pilot Eva. Shinji again says that he has never seen Eva-01 before, and could not possibly pilot, but this is denied by Shinji himself, who appears dressed in his plugsuit. Shinji then says that he did know the Eva, and realizes that, in the Evangelion Cage, he was running away from both his father and his mother.
Whilst Shinji is trapped inside Eva-01, Gendo is ostensibly unconcerned; Kaji has to raise the point that Gendo's son is trapped inside during a meeting.
Following the Zeruel incident, Gendo freezes Eva-01, preventing it from being used. When Arael attacks Eva-02, and begins to probe Asuka's mind, Shinji declares that he will rescue her in Eva-01. Both Fuyutsuki and Gendo, however, overrule this, with Gendo saying that he will not risk any corruption of Eva-01. When Shinji protests that Asuka is in danger, Gendo bluntly states that he does not care, and orders Rei to use the Spear of Longinus. This is Gendo and Shinji's last conversation.
Following Ritsuko's tour through Terminal Dogma, Shinji reflects on what he has seen in the Dummy Plug Plant and on the connection between Rei and his mother Yui. Shinji holds Gendo responsible for everything and wonders about his ultimate plans.
During Third Impact, as the ghostly Reis began liquifying all Lilith-based life, Yui appears before Gendo in Terminal Dogma. After telling her that he has awaited their reunion for a long time, Gendo confesses that he only causes Shinji pain when the two are together, and says it is better that he does nothing. When Yui asks if he was afraid of Shinji, Gendo tells her that he doesn't believe he is worthy of anyone's love. Yui, Kaworu, and Rei all comment on how Gendo has himself run away from others and the world.
Gendo then states that this is his retribution, and is shown being held by a demonic Eva-01. Gendo asks Shinji for forgiveness, just as Eva-01 bites him in half.
Assessments and Interpretations
Gendo's abandonment of Shinji forms the central element of their relationship. Gendo's own unwillingness to form relationships, coupled with Shinji's fears of Gendo after Yui's death, have lead to their mutual estrangement, made permanent by Gendo's decision to live apart from his son.
Shinji has been profoundly damaged by this event, both in his relations with others and with himself. Shinji harbors deep resentment towards Gendo for this abandonment, driving him still further from his father. However, Shinji's resulting apprehensiveness leads him to seek acceptance and praise from others, and ultimately from his father, and to gain this through piloting Eva 01.
However, as revealed in his confession, Gendo believes that he can only ever cause Shinji pain, and so maintains his distance, making Shinji's efforts ultimately futile. Nevertheless Gendo has a need for Shinji to pilot, and is forced to summon him, and ultimately keep him close at hand in Tokyo-3. Gendo continues to use Shinji in his role as a pilot, while still rejecting his own role as a father.
The Crutch of Praise and Piloting
Thus Gendo and Shinji are locked in a dysfunctional relationship. Shinji needs Gendo's acceptance, and seeks this by piloting the Eva, even though he does not want to. Gendo in turn does not want to keep Shinji close, but needs him as a pilot, even though he knows it cause Shinji pain. While their relationship temporarily improves under this arrangement, with Gendo praising Shinji, and the two eventually being able to visit Yui's grave together, ultimately the exploitative nature of this relationship is brought to a head in the Bardiel fight: Shinji is unable to do what is necessary to win Gendo's acceptance, and Gendo will use Shinji in whatever way is necessary regardless of how much this hurts him. Without the crutch of praise and piloting, their relationship falls apart.
- Shinji (Profile)
- Gendo (Profile)
- Shinji and Rei (Relationship)
- Shinji and Yui (Relationship)
- Gendo and Rei (Relationship)
- Gendo and Yui (Relationship)
- Gendo and Ritsuko (Relationship)
- Evangelion Character Designs
- See Episode 20.
- See Episode 16. Young Shinji: You're the one who ran away. Man (OFF): That's right! He may be guilty of killing his own wife! MAN (OFF): He killed his own wife!
- See Episode 16.
- See Episode 20. Shinji: Damn! Damn! Damn! How dare you hurt Toji and kill my mother! Father!
- During Episode 01, Fuyutsuki comments that Shinji and Gendo have not seen each other in three years. Additionally, in Episode 15, Gendo states that it has been three years since he and Shinji have been at Yui's grave together, with Shinji admitting that he ran away back then.
- See Episode 16.
- See Episode 02
- See Episode 02