Theory and Analysis:Gendo's Silent Words

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I: A Puzzle to Solve[1]

Evangelion is like a puzzle, you know...

--Hideaki Anno[2]

This article will attempt to resolve the mystery of the infamous "unheard line" that Gendo utters to Ristuko in ep25' (Air) of EoE: "Akagi Ritsuko-kun, honto ni... _ _ _" ("Ristuko Akagi, truly... _ _ _"), to which she replies, "Usotsuki!" ("Liar!"), whereupon he shoots her dead. There have been many theories or "best guesses" put forth as to what he actually said, and the topic has been thoroughly discussed and debated, sometimes ad nauseam, by the on-line Eva fandom, ever since EoE came out back in 1997.

However, this debate has always been fruitless, in that no definite conclusion was ever reached. This is because it has always been assumed up until now that Anno posed this mystery, and then simply left it to the audience to supply their own "answer", based on one's individual interpretation of the scene. We now believe that this is a mistaken assumption. Here is the sole official statement on the issue (from The EoE Theatrical Programme, aka 'The Red Cross Book' or RCB):

Ritsuko fades away with her final word, "Liar." But what was this "Liar" in reference to? The script for this last scene only has Gendo saying: "Ritsuko Akagi, I truly...." followed by Ritsuko saying: "Liar (gets shot)". I can imagine many words that might follow "I truly....", but I can't decide on any in particular. That is the complexity of Gendou and Ritsuko's relationship.

From Ritsuko Akagi's inner feelings as a scientist, she could be considered a woman who blindly gave her love to Gendou Ikari, and also a foolish woman that walked the same path as her mother Naoko who committed suicide after being betrayed by Ikari. I personally wanted her to end as a convenient, submissive woman who simply wanted to die righteously. But in the previous movie (D+R) she ended as a deeply jealous woman filled with nothing but hatred toward Ikari.

Feeling unsatisfied with this, I looked for a way to accept her death at the hands of Ikari. This made the interpretation of "Liar" very important. But the voice-over grew nearer and nearer....

Director Anno must have noticed how I felt. When it came time to do the voice-over, he showed me a single, hidden hint at the last moment. With that one incredible hint, I, and Ritsuko Akagi, were utterly defeated. It hardly needs saying, but Director Anno is incredible. Truly awesome -- a genius...

--Yuriko Yamaguchi (Ritsuko's seiyuu)[3]

The point that everyone has been missing is why Gainax included this anecdote in the RCB. This is actually their one tip to the audience of what's up, because the truth is, the 'incredible, hidden hint' that Yamaguchi mentions is not an exclusive secret that only she and Anno are privy to; rather, it is something accessible to the audience. When she says 'hidden', what that really means is director Anno's favorite kind of hidden, which is to say "hidden in plain sight", right there in the movie!

This article will demonstrate that Anno posed this mystery, not to confound the audience, but rather as a puzzle to be solved: as the movie proceeds subsequent to the enigmatic 'unheard' line, he supplies some clever "connect-the-dots" hints relating to where to look for the answer, and then he provides the answer (in a suitably subtle fashion), and he even offers a very sly "heads up" when the time comes, to alert the audience that the answer is imminent!

II: A Story That Repeats

Eva is a story that repeats.

--Hideaki Anno[4]

NGE, taken as a whole, is a work wherein narrative and/or thematic threads are woven into a marvelously complex web by means of pervasive visual (and, less often, verbal) self-reference. That is, when you notice that some visual aspect of a scene seems to be recalling something you saw earlier in the series, it's very often the case visual reference = narrative significance. (That is not to deny at all that there are plentiful instances of simple recycling of animation to cut corners production-wise.) EoE, in particular, is chock-full of these visual call-backs and mirroring, from the beginning of the series... the end:

And there is mirroring internal to the movie, as well:

Sometimes, the mirroring can be of the obscure sort that you'll probably only notice with the help of the step-frame button:

Of particular interest are the ~15 minutes or so of new scenes and/or re-done animation known as the New Production Cuts (NPC). This is new material added to the Home Video versions of episodes 21-24 (designated 21'-24') or included in the movie recap of the series 'Death'. This material was written and produced in conjunction with the post-broadcast project that ultimately became the movies D+R and EoE. Many of the NPC scenes serve to anticipate and/or inform certain scenes in EoE, so that the audience is invited, as it were, to consider the EoE scenes and their antecedents in the NCP together in order to more fully understand what is going on:

III: Find Our Own Answers

We all have to find our own answers.

--Hideaki Anno[5]

Very often in NGE, when you see something going on in a scene that seems to reference or recall something that happened or appeared in a previous scene, it is natural and worthwhile to ask yourself "OK, what are they trying to tell us here?" In other words, there's very likely some connection between the two scenes being deliberately drawn, but what is it, exactly?

By way of example (and one which, as it turns out, will prove to be quite relevant to the topic at hand), in the #26' Komm Süsser Tod 'Bridge-crew-goes-sploosh' sequence, when "Misato" glomps onto Hyuga and plants a big, wet smooch on him, one is naturally reminded of the farewell "adult kiss" she bestowed on Shinji in #25', just before she died. It seems like there must be some sort correspondence between the two scenes, but what is this significance? If you look at this sequence as a whole it all suddenly comes into focus. There is definitely a non-trivial pattern or scheme to how the Bridge Crew's individual fates are presented, and when this scheme is arranged properly in your mind's eye, the "hidden hint" regarding Gendo's line that Miss Yamaguchi mentioned above becomes apparent.

The scheme goes basically like this:

#1: Rei appears as dead (or ostensibly dead) character.

#2: Some detail of how said character behaves or is depicted relates back to the circumstance attending her death.

#3: The presentation of each Bridge-bunny/transition guide scene serves as an ironic pay-off to some other scene from the series or from EoE itself.

So, applying that scheme to each of the bridge-crew, we get:


1. Rei appears to him as Misato:

2. Referencing the farewell "adult kiss" that Misato shared with Shinji shortly before she died...

...the fake Misato bestows a sort of 'French Kiss of Death' on Makoto:

Makoto's reaction entails a struggle between fear (from his rational awareness that this can't be real) and euphoria (as his deepest desire is suddenly coming true).

3. Irony alert:

It seems that Makoto doesn't mind dying, as long as he's with Misato...


If Unit 01's signal disappears and another change occurs...

HYUGA: I know. We set this place to self-destruct, right? It'll be better than letting them set off the Third Impact.

MISATO (OFF): I'm sorry.

HYUGA: It's okay, as long as I'm with you.

--Episode 24

Well, after all, Rei in EoE is all about fulfilling people's wishes...


1. Aoba's case differs from the other three, since he was never established to have any romantic feelings for anyone. (One could imagine he had some high school sweetheart for whom he still carries a torch, but it would be meaningless to the audience to have some unfamiliar character suddenly pop up in this scene and turn him to LCL.) Instead, he gets "just plain Rei". His case seems intended to illustrate that even if one rejects Rei and tries to flee, you can't run or hide; in other words, you can't escape the inevitable. But, by having Rei appear in the form of the clones in the Reiquarium that were destroyed by Ritsuko in #23 the theme of "the dead coming for the living"[6] is retained even in his case:

2. However, as elaborated here, a case can be made that Rei herself may be, at least as of the beginning of #26', no longer "alive" in any normal sense. After destroying the Rei clones in Ep.23, Ritsuko is asked by Gendo "Why did you destroy the dummy system?", to which she replies "Not the dummy system, what I destroyed was Rei", and by Ep. 26' whatever she had in mind by that seems to be coming to fruition, as

Rei's A.T. Field can no longer hold her shape

as Gendo helpfully observes. From this perspective, Aoba's scene would conform with #2 in the scheme outlined above, in that having Rei appear as the clone horde serves to refer back to the scene in #23 where the existence of the Reiquarium clones is revealed...

...and abruptly extinguished...

...but keep in mind that Ritsuko's stated aim here is to destroy Rei. In other words, Rei appears to Aoba in a form that references the scene where she herself was, in a sense, "killed".

3. Irony alert: In #25', when the bullets start flying, Aoba berates Maya as she cowers under the console...

...but he himself meets his end with a pitiful shriek, cowering under the console:


1. Rei appears to him as Yui

2. "Rei floats above Fututsuki "like an angel" according to the Renewal script for Ep. 26'[7]. Note also how, when she transforms into Yui, the tail of her lab coat flutters up into a shape reminiscent of an angel's wings. The motif of Fuyutsuki's 'angelic' perception of Yui first shows up in #21, with the post card she sent announcing her marriage to Gendo:

But that image doesn't work for the purpose of our scheme, because the scene where it appears has no particular connection with Yui's "death".

However... There is something that definitely does work with regard to the scheme, in that it is the last image we have of Yui in her mortal incarnation, immediately before she conducted the Contact Experiment with Unit-01, wherein she "died" (or, at any rate, was "erased from this world", in Naoko Akagi's words):

From the Full OP; originally from the Director's Cut Reiquarium images.

Note that, for some reason, there's something like a pair of little wings on the so-called "dive suit"[8] she's wearing. Here's a close-up from the original #23' version:

It had been speculated that, since this thing she's wearing is called a dive suit, the idea perhaps was that she actually dove bodily into the Eva's core, and the wings were intended to help her navigate her way once inside, but that notion is shot down down because it's strongly implied that the CE entailed the use of an entry plug[9]. Thus, it looks like the wings don't really serve any apparent purpose beyond visually anticipating the Yui-as-angel we see in Ep. 26'.

3. Irony Alert: The last thing Fuyutsuki says to Gendo as they part in #25':


The JSSDF have committed almost an entire division... It's only a matter of time before they take us over completely.

(Gendo rises from his seat)

Gendo: Professor Fuyutsuki, take care of things here.

Fuyutsuki: I understand. Give my regards to Yui.

As it turns out, they both see Yui before long. The irony, such as it is, lies in how their respective reunions with her play out, and Fuyutsuki's last words tend to invite consideration of the contrast:

Yes, he did...

Gendo sees Yui at last


1. Rei appears to her as Ritsuko:

(note that, having shown her transform into the other characters in the previous instances, the movie doesn't need to show Rei here; we know what's going on by now...)

So far, we've seen that the first three individual segments have followed the pattern/scheme laid out above to a tee. Thus we can reasonably surmise and expect that this segment will contain some element that refers back to the scene where Ritsuko dies in #25'.

First off, though, observe this rather curious line by Maya:

Answer to what? What was she looking for? What is she talking about? Most people end up scratching their heads over this line, because it seems apropos of nothing in particular; it doesn't seem to follow logically from the previous line about AT Fields disappearing, and while one could argue that the part about "Is this what I was looking for?" could anticipate her being embraced by her Sempai, etc, please note that she says the words "Is this the answer?" before Ritsuko even appears.

Therefore, given the enigmatic quality of this line, some "thinking outside the box" is called for; so let's try looking at it another way. Maybe what she's saying here is more significant than who's saying it; i.e., Anno wants the get the idea of the words "answer" and "was looking for" into the audience's head going into this scene, and Maya gets the line basically because she's the only one left to say it. Thus, this line could very well be intended as a "heads up" to the audience that some "answer (you're) looking for" is coming up in this scene, and note, as well, the focus of the cut on her keyboard, suggesting the vehicle whereby said answer will be delivered.

With all that in mind...

2. When you look back at Ritsuko's confrontation with Gendo in #25', there are various elements to consider: she stands up, draws her gun, has her say, attempts to set off the self-destruct bomb, it doesn't go off, Gendo tells her something, to which she responds "Liar", bang. However, the common element that stands out between the #25' scene and the #26' scene is that both contain an "unspoken line": Gendo's muted lip flapping in the one, and the 'unspoken' line that Ritsuko types out on Maya's laptop in the other:


GENDO: "Ritsuko Akagi, truly...

I needed you."

(Naturally, the context requires the use of the past tense; if he still needs her, it would make no sense to shoot her.)

I should point out that "I need you" is probably a slightly more subtle hint for the original intended audience, who, of course, would have been guessing what Gendo said in Japanese, so connecting a hint in English back to something presumably said in Japanese would be a bit more of a mental leap.

3. Irony alert: The script note for Cut #335 describes Ritsuko as wearing an "insincere smile" as she embraces Maya; thus, in #25', we have Gendo telling the real Ritsuko, "truly, I needed you", to which she replies "Liar", and in #26' we have a fake Ritsuko, with a fake smile, telling Maya "I need you"...

IV: What are they trying to tell us here?

Not only has a compelling case been made that the movie contains sufficient hints and clues to solve the mystery of what Gendo says, one could also argue that, in the context of the scene, "I needed you" makes more sense than anything else one could come up with. Careful examination of the scene will reveal certain visual hints at what Gendo is likely thinking of when he says what he says.

When one looks at Ritsuko's confrontation with Gendo in #25', there's a "where have I seen this before?" apect to the composition of the scene; and one need only think back to their previous confrontation in #24, to realize why it looks familiar.

Ritsuko on the left, sitting with her back towards him, Gendo standing on the right, and a large, red NERV logo in the middle:

Ritsuko on the left, Gendo (with Rei) on the right, and a large, red, hexagonal thing in the middle.

Note also, that the scene starts with Ritsuko sitting with her back towards him:

It's unknown for certain what the red hexagon is, exactly, but it is suggested elsewhere[10] that hexagons are characteristic of the original, pre-Lilin, internal structure of the Geofront. Be that as it may, it appears that the red hexagon's purpose in this scene is to occupy the compositional space of the red NERV logo in the #24 scene, in order to make the correspondence of the two scenes more readily apparent. But if there is deliberate mirroring going on here, what, if any, narrative significance is intended thereby?

The most likely answer is that the #25' scene should be considered a continuation, in a certain sense, of the #24 scene, i.e, that in some way things pick up here from where they left off between Ristuko and Gendo when they last met. In other words, that when Gendo finally speaks up in #25', he is addressing the last thing Ritsuko said to him in #24:


Commander Ikari... The cat died. The one I'd left in my grandmother's care. I hadn't paid any attention to her for so long, but now, suddenly, I'll never see her again.

IKARI: Why did you destroy the dummy system?

RITSUKO: Not the dummy system, what I destroyed was Rei.

IKARI: I will only ask you this once. Why?

RITSUKO: Because I am no longer happy, even when you make love to me. Why don't you just have your way with my body?! Like you did that time!

IKARI: I'm disappointed in you.

RITSUKO: Disappointed?! You never hoped or expected anything from me to begin with! Nothing from me! Not anything! Nothing!

(note that Gendo 'disappears' from the scene at this point)

RITSUKO: What am I supposed to do, Mother?

--Episode 25' Renewal Script

We will take this up again momentarily, but now let's examine Ritsuko's response to Gendo's words:

Ritsuko with a tearful smile.

She absorbs [the words] and speaks. Ritsuko: Liar.

At first she seems stunned by what he said:

But then her face settles into a more composed expression, as she absorbs his words:

Note how she briefly drops direct eye contact with Gendo, like what almost all people unconsciously do when they go into that sort of internal 'cogitation and review' mode, in the midst of a conversation.

Having thought about it for a second or two, she renders her verdict, with a sort of anguished smile (note the tears welling in her eyes as she speaks):

It seems when she respond "Liar" to his "truly, I needed you", that in the brief interval where she was thinking it over, she was going back in her mind to that one moment that precipitated all her subsequent (and, from Gendo's POV, crazy and traitorous) behavior, when she realized that she had been 'thrown to the wolves', in favor of Rei:


We would like for things to proceed smoothly. We do not wish to subject you to any more degradation and suffering.

RITSUKO: I do not feel humiliated whatsoever.

?? (OFF): A strong-willed woman. I can understand why Ikari would want you by his side.

?? (OFF): But the person who handed you to us is none other than Ikari.

KEEL: He refused to hand over the pilot of Unit-00 for questioning. He sent you as a substitute, Dr. Akagi.

RITSUKO (MONO): I was sent in place of Rei?

--Episode 23'

V: Utterly Defeated

With that... I, and Ritsuko Akagi, were utterly defeated.

--Yuriko Yamaguchi[11]

So, to recapitulate, here is the scene, with both the 'overt' and 'implied' parts of the conversation:

Episode 24...

Gendo visits Ritsuko in her cell

...then, in Episode 25':

The confrontation and the silent line

VI: Credit Where Credit is Due

Personally, I'm content in believing Gendo said, "Ritsuko Akagi, I truly... needed you."

--Brendan Jamieson (Evaotaku)

Just to be clear, it should be acknowledged that Evaotaku came up with the answer a long time ago (in fact, it's quoted on the first page of this thread[12], from back in 2004! But, he doesn't explain his reasoning for reaching that conclusion, so I suppose we just have to take it as his 'gut intuition', and leave it at that. However, I had long felt that his answer 'felt right', and I'm happy to have proven here that the movie itself confirms his conclusion.

Before wrapping this up, it's probably relevant to point out Ritsuko's final words in EoE (in the Pre-3I Instrumentality sequence):

"Misato: I probably just did this to prove that I existed."

Asuka: "How idiotic! It's just two lonely adults comforting each other."

Ritsuko:We want to feel needed, even if it's only physical.

And one more final point -

In light of all this, how would you assess Anno's intent in naming the final scene "I need you"?


Anno shared a hint about Gendo's unspoken line to Ritsuko in End of Evangelion with her voice actress, but it remains a secret.[13]

  1. This article is based upon Shin-seiki's post in this thread.
  2. Protoculture Addicts $43, NewType 11/1996
  3. "Red Cross Book" Seiyuu interviews
  4. Statement made about the upcoming Evangelion Movies, Feb. 2007
  5. Protoculture Addicts $43, NewType 11/1996
  6. Shin-seiki post (Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:37 am)
  7. Eva Commentary, Episode 26' Scene 08B
  8. Eva Commentary, Episode 21, Scene 6, Cut 169
  9. Eva Commentary, Episode 21, Scene 6, Cut 171
  10. Screenshot from Episode 23
  11. "Red Cross Book" Seiyuu interviews
  12. Post by Treeves056 (Sat Aug 21, 2004 3:42 pm)
  13. "Feeling unsatisfied with this, I looked for a way to accept her death at the hands of Ikari. This made the interpretation of "Liar" very important. But the voice-over grew nearer and nearer.... Director Anno must have noticed how I felt. When it came time to do the voice-over, he showed me a single, hidden hint at the last moment. With that one incredible hint, I, and Ritsuko Akagi, were utterly defeated."- Red Cross Book - Seiyuu Retrospective