Theory and Analysis:Ritsuko's Interrogation

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One of the most discussed aspects of Neon Genesis Evangelion is Ritsuko's extreme reaction to her interrogation by Seele, which lead to her betrayal of Gendo and the destruction of the Reiquarium. Was Gendo's sending her to be interrogated in Rei's place in and of itself sufficient to provoke such a reaction, or did something else happen that is not explicitly stated? This article makes the case for the theory that Ritsuko suffered through a sexual assault off screen before her interrogation. The opposition argument will also be stated.

The Proponents' Argument[1]

Cat Scene

Transcript

Phone Call From Grandmother
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(From left to right)

  • Nerv HQ. Late at night.

The sounds of rush construction work resonate. The exterior is almost as it was before.

  • An ashtray on a desk. Full of cigarette butts (with lipstick on them).

Ritsuko (on phone) I see, so she passed away.

  • Cold coffee and a coffee maker

Yes, probably, even cats eventually reach the end of their lives.

  • Her office desk. Ritsuko's backside.

Don't cry anymore, Grandma. I will. When I get some time, I'll come home for a bit. I haven't visited Mother's grave in three years either. I'll call you next time. Okay, I'm hanging up now.

  • She switches the phone off.

SE <<BEEP>>

  • Although she is growing weary, she speaks matter-of-factly.

So, she died.

  • Ritsuko's office.

The cat ornaments on her desk.


Analysis

This scene is simple, and, at the same time, enigmatic. Its 'surface' meaning is straight-forward enough; Ritsuko's grandmother calls her to let her know that her cat had died. The question is, "Why was this scene included?" The cat was only vaguely alluded to one before in the previous episode: ...Misato: "I won't listen to this from someone who conceals her loneliness with pet cats."... It's fair to say that this scene must bear some some symbolic or metaphorical weight, otherwise it would not be here. Anno obviously intends it to mean something, because the first thing out of Ritsuko's mouth in Episode 24, in her confrontation with Gendo, is "My cat died..." The significance of this scene will come into focus when it is, in a sense, continued in the second half of Episode 23, so the Cat Metaphor will be elaborated upon at that point in this article.

It is interesting to note how Ritsuko refers to the late cat as "that child" (you can distinctly hear her say "ano ko")[2]; there is likely some significance to her choice of words.

Seele and Gendo

Transcript

Seele Questions Gendo
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From left to right

  • SEELE:

It is impossible for us to recover the Lance of Longinus.

SEELE: Why did you use it?

SEELE: We still do not have the planned number of the Eva series.

  • Gendo:

I made destroying the Angel my top priority. It was an unavoidable situation.

SEELE: Unavoidable, was it? You should make your excuses more convincing than that.

SEELE: Your recent actions have become intolerable.

(SE) [phone rings]

  • Gendo:

Fuyutsuki, I'm in conference... Understood.

  • (hangs up phone; shuts drawer)
  • An Angel is curently drawing near.

Let us continue this at another time.

  • SEELE:

If your seat is still waiting for you, that is.

  • (Gendo's hologram disappears)
  • Keel:

Ikari... Does he intend to betray Seele?


Analysis

The reason this scene is included, even though it doesn't include Ritsuko herself, is that it adds the necessary context of Seele's increasingly suspicious and antagonistic relationship with Gendo by this point in the story. As Fuyutsuki anticipated in the previous episode, the Committee is in an uproar over Gendo's decision to use the Spear of Longinus against the Fifteenth Angel (and thus conveniently get rid of it):

SEELE: It is impossible for us to recover the Lance of Longinus.

SEELE: Why did you use it?

SEELE: We still do not have the planned number of the Eva series.

Note how both the Lance and the Eva Series are brought up here at the start. This touches on the divergent ends and means that Seele and Gendo had in mind for initiating Third Impact and it is beyond the scope of this presentation to get into all the details thereof. But it is clear that Seele had been counting on utilizing the Lance, and that Gendo needed to eliminate it from the equation. Thus Seele was ultimately obliged to go to 'Plan B', which entailed using the Eva Series.

Gendo: An Angel is curently drawing near. Let us continue this at another time.

SEELE: If your seat is still waiting for you, that is.

Also note this:

Keel: Ikari... Does he intend to betray Seele?

From the beginning of the series, we see that the rest of the Committee seems to have it in for Gendo, but Chairman Keel seems more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. In the EVA 2 game, we're told that Yui Ikari was the daughter of a high ranking Seele member[3], thus Gendo effectively 'married into' the organization. There are also a few hints that there was a more personal relationship between Gendo and Keel than with the others. Note, for instance, how Episode 21' (and Death) has the two of them in effect sharing a good laugh at the expense of the the Katsuragi Team scientists who unwittingly do their dirty work in initiating Second Impact (while Gendo, of course, knew enough about what was in store to leave Antartica the day before), and how we see Gendo hobnobbing with Keel during the subsequent cover-up:

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However, after the events of Episode 19 (EVA-01 acquiring an S^2 organ), Episode 21' (Kaji suggests that Seele may already be catching on to his complicity in stealing the Adam Sample), and Episode 22, (the Lance ending up in lunar orbit), even Keel is starting to get wise to Gendo's apparent perfidy. The events of Episode 23 involving Ritsuko are basically about Seele's ruthless determination to find out Gendo's true intentions...

After Armisael

Transcript

Unit-00's Entry Plug is Salvaged
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From left to right

  • Radio A: The 16th Angel's constituent material is still undetected. In the process of resuming the current search.

Radio B: EVA-00's core parts are heavily damaged from the high pressure resulting from the heat.

  • Radio C: The Level C contamination zone is spreading towards the southwest. Maintain the curfew for the next 48 hours.

Radio D: Announcement D16 acknowledged. From this point forward, please carry out the processing independently, without the SSDF's approval.

  • Man: Dr. Akagi!
  • Ritsuko:

What happened here will be classified top secret. Take back the plug. Dispose of everything else.

  • Man:

Roger that. Let's get to work! Quickly!


Analysis

This scene illustrates an interesting point about Ritsuko's role at Nerv.

If you look at the backgound radio chatter and the sub translation of the line in question ( "Take back the plug. Dispose of everything else."), it is apparent that Ritsuko's job here was to retrieve Rei's mortal remains, which were required for the process of investing her soul in a new body. Furthermore, the radio chatter seems to indicate that, while there is no trace of Armisael, there were bits of Zerogouki lying about, and it seems that that is what Ritsuko is referring to with "Dispose of everything else".

All through the series, up to this point, when Gendo has important, secret jobs to carry out to further his own agenda, there are two loyal and devoted minions that he can turn to: Rei gets the heavy lifting jobs; as in Episode 14, and Episode 22[4], while Ritsuko has a hand in just about all of NERV's nefarious and morally compromised undertakings, as we see, for example, in Episode 07, and Episode 17[5]. Here in Episode 23, Ritsuko gets the job of cleaning up the aftermath of Rei's self-sacrifice, but, with time running short for both Gendo and Seele, it will prove to be her last such task, as she is about to find out the hard way that, between Rei and herself, she is the more expendable...

Seele Discussion

Transcript

Seele Conspires
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From left to right:

  • SEELE:

At last, we have defeated up through the 16th Angel.

  • SEELE:

That leaves only one Angel described in Seele's Dead Sea Scrolls.

  • Keel:

The promised time is near. Our journey has been long and the sacrifices have been great.

SEELE:
Indeed, first the Lance of Longinus, and now the loss of Unit 00.

  • SEELE:

We have more than enough reasons to relieve Ikari of his command.

SEELE:
That man is smart enough to know the significance of why we allowed Fuyutsuki to return safely.

  • SEELE:

We need another human sacrifice to counter Ikari.

Keel:
And we need someone who knows the truth.


Analysis

This scene is a prime example of the spare and economical style of writing that Anno often resorts to, especially towards the end of the series. These few lines are packed with significance, but, in some cases are so subtle and cryptic that it is easy to miss their full import . Seele, on this and other occasions, tend to refer to very dark and grim matters obscurely and euphemistically. They know what they're talking about, but it is necessary for the audience, to subject their words to close examination in order to divine the true meaning.

The scene starts with a visual countdown of the Angels, 3 thru 16 (mostly omitted to save space), to emphasize the point made in the dialog, that the scenario contained within the Dead Sea Scrolls is coming to a head, and time is running out. Both Gendo and Seele are aware of this, and that is why the barely polite facade of having a common agenda that had prevailed between them for most of the series is really starting to crumble by this point. As indicated in Scene 02 above, when Gendo deliberately put the Lance out of reach, it was obvious even to Chairman Keel that he was up to something. The shortness of time, and not quite knowing Gendo's intentions, is making the Committe feel as though events might be starting to slip out of their grasp, which explains the ruthlessness which they will resort to presently, in order to ascertain just what it is, that Gendo is trying to accomplish...

Some conclusions can be drawn from an examination of the dialogue:

SEELE:

At last, we have defeated up through the 16th Angel.

SEELE:

That leaves only one Angel described in Seele's Dead Sea Scrolls.

Keel:

The promised time is near...

This is pretty straight forward, though the use of the phrase "the promised time" is worth noting, as a relatively innocent-sounding reference to the Apocalypse that Seele is seeking to bring about.

Keel:

...Our journey has been long and the sacrifices have been great.

SEELE:

Indeed, first the Lance of Longinus, and now the loss of Unit 00.

SEELE:

We have more than enough reasons to relieve Ikari of his command.

Previously (in #20), when the other Committee members suggested that perhaps it was a mistake to have given Gendo control of NERV, Keel answered "But, he was the only one who could achieve all our goals". Gendo has had a certain job security, as long as there were Angels to be defeated, and the phrase "all our goals" is no doubt a reference to the Human Instrumentality Project, the fulfillment of which is Nerv's true purpose, and which Keel seems to think only Gendo can accomplish. So, they're not going to dismiss him just yet, but that doesn't mean that they haven't been willing to take some actions intended to "send a message" to Gendo that he was under suspicion, and that there was a price to be paid for insubordination.

SEELE:

That man is smart enough to know the significance of why we allowed Fuyutsuki to return safely.

This line often causes viewers to scratch their heads; in Episode 21 Kaji is shown to have rescued Fuyutsuki. But there it is in black and white: according to Seele, they let Fuyutsuki go. What's more, examine the rest of the sentence: "That man (i.e. Gendo) is smart enough to know the significance of why we allowed Fuyutsuki to return safely." This indicates that there was a message for Gendo implied by the fact that he got Fuyutsuki back alive (and the fact that they seem to regard Fuyutsuki getting out of that situation alive as a special circumstance sort of implies that the "default" expectation would have been that Gendo would have never seen Fuyutsuki again). This naturally puts the scene in Episode 21, when Kaji tells Fuyutsuki that "the guards are asleep" in a new light. Presumably, if Seele had been serious about retaining custody of Fuyutsuki, Kaji would have never got anywhere near him.

That brings us to the next line:

SEELE:

We need another human sacrifice to counter Ikari.

Talking about a "human sacrifice" in connection with Fuyutsuki's kidnapping and "rescue" could only mean Kaji.

There has been much discussion of "Who killed Kaji", on every Eva forum, but these lines are not quoted often enough (probably because they show up two episodes after Kaji's death). A crucial piece of that puzzle is staring the viewer in the face here: not who killed him (as Anno himself has stated, it was not a series character, but some anonymous goon), but why he was killed. When these two lines are put together, what they seem to be saying was that Gendo was allowed to get Fuyutsuki back, but at a price that was to be paid in blood. Fuyutsuki's life was bought with that of Kaji. This is what the the "message" was, that Seele was signaling by returning Fuyutsuki alive, that Gendo was presumably smart enough to understand: "We still need you, because no one else can carry out Nerv's true mission (HIP), and we will even let you have your right hand man back, BUT: just to let you know that we are serious, and are playing for keeps, one of your other minions, who has betrayed us (on your behalf) more than once, will be eliminated, so you don't get the idea that we let Fuyutsuki go out of the kindness of our hearts."

This should put to rest any theories that Gendo had Kaji killed, or worse, killed him himself. Kaji's murder, as far as those who ordered it were concerned, was an act that was directed at Gendo, as a warning, a "shot across the bow"...

Finally examine these lines together:

SEELE:

We need another human sacrifice to counter Ikari.

Keel:

And we need someone who knows the truth.

Since the events of Episode 21, Gendo once again has been treacherous, particularly by getting rid of the Lance, which has really got the Committee riled up, and convinced them that he is pursuing some unknown agenda of his own, thus they are contemplating "another human sacrifice" to counter Ikari.

A favorite trick of Anno as a director is to segue from one scene to the next by having someone refer to a character indirectly, without mentioning their name, then start the next scene with a close-up of the person in question. He resorts to this technique dozens of times, but one example will suffice:

Who Could They be Talking About?
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Here we see them employ the same technique when talking about Kaji, then later about Ritsuko.


It is evident that the "someone" that they want to talk to ascertain "the truth" is Ritsuko. It is not clear how much they got out of Fuyutsuki, but there is one other person close to Gendo that they haven't talked to yet, and, given the ominous context of "We need another human sacrifice to counter Ikari", it would seem that they have something unpleasant in mind...

Memories

Transcript

A Nostalgic Photograph
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From left to right:

  • Ritsuko's office.

The cat ornaments on her desk.

  • Ritsuko resting her chin on her hand up.
  • Her gaze shifts.
  • She presses the Return key on her BOOK computer.
  • Ritsuko's head in front. A photograph of Ikari, her mother, and Ritsuko as a senior high school student is displayed on the screen.
  • Pull in on this. A sulky-faced Ritsuko.
  • Ritsuko gazes, resting her chin on her hand.
  • Likewise, Ikari and her smiling mother.
  • Ritsuko's back, the picture pulls back


Analysis

This scene starts with the same shot of the cat figurines that ended Scene 01 from the first half of the episode, thus linking the two scenes visually and thematically. Also, following immediately upon Scene 04, in which Seele indicated that they intended to target "someone who knows the truth", in order to "counter Ikari", this scene sets up the viewer for what is about to befall Ritsuko by subtly hinting that her relationship with Gendo is more than just a professional one. That the two of them were lovers only becomes patently obvious later on, as she breaks down at the end of this episode, but Anno is establishing at least a hint at the relationship here, since it will presently serve Seele as a vulnerability to exploit in prying information out of Ritsuko that, of course, was not applicable in Fuyutsuki's case.

This scene has no dialog, so whatever hints and clues are to be gleaned here will require a careful consideration of the images presented. What stands out in this scene is how it shows Ritsuko gazing, a bit nostalgically, at an old picture that shows her with Gendo back when she was a schoolgirl. What are they trying to tell us here? That is, to establish that there was something personal going on with them, they could have just shown a more recent picture with the two of them side by side, thus the choice to present an image that goes back to when Ritsuko was still a teenager has to have some significance. The likely reason is that the point is to let us know that her romantic feelings for Gendo go way back, and started out as a schoolgirl crush. There is also further evidence in composition of the photograph to back this up.

First, let's look at the image itself:

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Ritsuko's head in front. A photograph of Ikari, her mother, and Ritsuko as a senior high school student is displayed on the screen.

Note how the picture is composed with Naoko between Ritsuko and Gendo, and that Naoko is close to Gendo, rather than centered between them. One could even claim that Naoko has a slightly smug smile here, but that is a matter of interpretation...

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Pull in on this. A sulky-faced Ritsuko.

Is she sulking because of Naoko's presense?

Once you know what to look for, the evidence that Ritsuko's feelings for Gendo were present from the start is apparent in a couple scenes from earlier episodes:

As Ritsuko and Misato were unwinding with a cup of coffee, after defeating the 11th Angel, Iruel, Ritsuko makes a rather startling personal admission.

Episode 13 (Platinum Edition subs):

Ritsuko's Feelings About Her Mother
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From left to right:

  • Ritsuko:

The night before she died, my mother told me that the MAGI are three aspects of herself: herself as a scientist, herself as a mother, herself as a woman. The MAGI is those three aspects struggling for dominance. She intentionally left in the dilemmas of human experience. Actually, each of the programs are slightly different. I don't think I'll ever be a mother, so I don't understand her as a mother. I respected her as a scientist.

  • However, as a woman, I even hated her.
  • Misato:

You're rather talkative today.

  • Ritsuko:

It's been known to happen.


As always, it is instructive to pay attention to Ritsuko's expression and body language. Also note that in Episode 05 she takes a swig of coffee after revealing that the Angel's pattern matched 99.89 percent of human DNA; this is a cue to the audience to "pay attention to that last line, because it's going to turn out to have some important pay-off later"...

The line that really stands out here, "I hated her" is pretty harsh, why would she say such a thing, especially as all the flashback scenes in Episode 21 that show the two of them together seem to indicate that she was relaxed and friendly around her mother.

However, there is one scene #21 that brings into focus why she would hate her mother "as a woman":

Episode 21' (Resurrection DVD subs):

Caught In the Act
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From left to right:

  • Naoko:

Are you really sure?

  • Gendo:

Yes, I have no regrets concerning my work.
Naoko:
Liar! You can't just forget about Ms. Yui, right?

  • Naoko:

But I don't mind.


Here we learn to reason for her harsh words. That distressed look on Ritsuko's face in the last cut seems to indicate her bitter realization that, while she's been off getting a PhD in anticipation of what would be a dream assignment for her to work at Gehirn alongside Gendo, her own mom has been taking advantage of Yui's tragic demise to move in on the Chief. Her "hatred" of her mother stems from the fact that she turned out to be a rival for the affections of Gendo.

Furthermore, consistent with the principle that thematically significant situations always seem to repeat themselves in NGE, there is this scene, which, while it came earlier in the series, occurred later chronologically than the flashback, and is analogous to the scene in Episode 21 in terms of the basic situation being depicted.

15 (Platinum Edition subs):

Another Loss to a Rival
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From left to right:

  • Asuka:

Mr. Kaji!

  • Kaji:

Well, I'll be leaving now.

  • Asuka:

Why don't you stay with us, Mr. Kaji?

  • Kaji:

I'd be laughed at if I went to work in this.

  • Asuka:

It'll be okay.

  • Asuka

Hey, c'mon Mr. Kaji, it'll...

  • Kaji:

Later!

  • Asuka:

He smelled of lavender.




What makes this scene analogous to the one in #21 is this: In each case you have a young woman (Ritsuko/Asuka) coming to the sudden, unwelcome realization that the charismatic older man (Gendo/Kaji), on whom she has a serious crush, is already "taken"; that is, is in a more age-appropriate intimate relationship with another, older, woman (Naoko/Misato), who happens to have a maternal (in Misato's case, quasi-maternal) relationship with the younger woman.

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The similarity of the expressions also demonstrates that these two scenes relate to one another. Notice too the lack or deficiency of father-figures in their lives: Ritsuko was raised without one entirely, while Asuka despised her father for abandoning her mother and taking up with another woman. This made them likely candidates for falling for an attractive, "older guy" type who shows up in their lives in their teen-age years.

It is not rational or logical for this situation to inspire hatred of her mother on the part of Ritsuko, but there it is: jealousy is simply an innate aspect of her character. As she herself is fond of pointing out, matters involving relations between men and women aren't logical. Her heart wants a certain man, and any woman that comes between her and the one she has set her heart on will be the object of her hatred, even her own mother.

As for Asuka, it will be noted that from that point on, her attitude towards Misato becomes steadily more negative and resentful. In Episode 16, she berates Misato for her "indecent relationship"; in Episode 18, she's avoiding face-to-face contact with her; and by Episode 22, she complains bitterly about having to "breath the same air" as Misato and Shinji.

With all that in mind, examine this little scene from Episode 21.

21'(Resurrection DVD subs"):

Visiting Day?
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  • Naoko:

Oh, Professor Fuyutsuki.

Fuyutsuki:
Akagi, you too?

Naoko:
Yes, this is the best place to research the fundamental theories for the bio-computers of the future.

  • Fuyutsuki:

I see.

Naoko:
I intend to name it Magi.

Fuyutsuki:
Magi? After the three wise men from the East? Is this what you wanted to show me?

  • Naoko:

No, this way, please. Ritsuko, I'll be right back.


Now, there are many plausible reasons why a teenage girl might be hanging around her mother's workplace, but considering the indications of Ritsuko's feelings offered in some of the other scenes as described above, the likely reason is that she was lurking around down there in order to catch a glimpse of Gendo.

The cat ornaments on her desk seem to be a sentimental representation to her of her relationship with Gendo. Ritsuko is obviously what is known as a "cat person": Ritsuko admits she doesn't think she'll ever be a mother. Misato states that Ritsuko is hiding her loneliness with pet cats. She refers to her late cat as "that child". Her Newtype character profile states that her hobby is collecting cat ornaments.

I'd say she's a prime example of "Cat Person Personality Syndrome"

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Ritsuko has, with the exception of Rei, the fairest complexion of any female character in the show (and she emphasized that by bleaching her hair), while, as you can see, Gendo has the darkest complexion among the main characters. Thus, white cat = Ritsuko, and black cat = Gendo.

Interestingly enough, a cute image of a pair of cats shows up in Episode 26:

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The cuteness factor of the cat ornaments might seem to be a little out of character for someone like Ritsuko, but that sort of thing is quite typical of a Cat Person. And while Ritsuko is probably the only person in the world to whom it would make sense to represent her relationship with Gendo with something so cute, it is worth remembering what Yui, who knew him better than anyone, had to say about him: "Oh, Fuyutsuki-sensei, he's such a cute man, it's just that no-one knows it."

Sending Ritsuko

Transcript

I have offered something else to Seele's old men.
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From left to right:

  • Gendo:

That's right. The First Child will be maintained in her current condition. There is no need for new restrictions. The same goes for the Second and the Third. They only need to be watched.

  • Fuyutsuki:

But Chairman Keel and the rest will raise a fuss when they learn that Rei is alive.

  • Gendo:

I have offered something else to Seele's old men. We needn't worry.


Analysis

Gendo's lines about keeping an eye on the three pilots serves as a reminder that the Children are, and have been, under constant surveillance. This comes up later when Ritsuko "calls off the dogs" when she contacts Shinji later in this episode, and in the next one, when Nerv Intelligence supposedly loses track of Asuka for a whole week, then conveniently "finds" her in the nick of time.

Fuyutsuki correctly anticipates that the Committee's suspicions will (quite naturally) be aroused by Rei's rather improbable "survival" of the blast that vaporized Tokyo 3, but Gendo's response implies that he has already heard from them about it: "I have offered something else to Seele's old men."

Later Keel tells Ritsuko: "He refused to hand over the pilot of Unit-00 for questioning. He sent you as a substitute, Dr. Akagi."

Those lines taken together indicate that a deal has already been struck.

Rei is the indispensable key to Gendo's own secret agenda, so there is simply no way that he is going to allow Seele to get their hands on her. However, the situation as it stands at this point between Gendo and the Committee is not such that he can get away with blatantly defying them; in order to preserve the necessary fiction that he is still operating under their authority, he has to give them something to satisfy their demand. Scenes 04 and 05 above have tended to indicate that, in fact, it was Ritsuko that they were really interested in, but that raises the question: if, as seems at least probable, the Committee's demand to see Rei was mostly a feint, how could they count on it being Ritsuko that would be sent in her stead? This doesn't really seem to be much of a plot hole; the precedent was already established (in Episode 17, with Misato standing in for Shinji) that Nerv could get away with sending an adult as a proxy rather than subjecting the young pilots to interrogation by the wily old men of Seele. Among Gendo's top people, the Committee had already interrogated Misato and Fuyutsuki, so whom did that leave? In that sense, it was Ritsuko's turn. Once Gendo had nixed the idea of turning over Rei, one would imagine that all Seele had to do was drop a hint or two that Dr. Akagi would be a satisfactory substitute, and Gendo would have been happy to oblige them, since, keeping Rei out of their clutches was his sole priority in this situation.

Given Gendo's demands in Episode 24 that Ritsuko explain her actions, it is doubtful that Gendo had any guilty foreknowledge of what was in store for Ritsuko; rather, it seems that he thought he was simply foisting the Committee's demand off on her, with the idea that she would basically serve to keep the old men off his back for the time being. He almost certainly thought that he could trust Ritsuko to handle this task, believing that she was intelligent and loyal enough to stand up to Seele's questions without giving away anything important. If he thought there was any chance that she would be broken and betray him, he likely would not have sent her, and just taken his chances with Seele's next step. He was, of course, playing right into their hands, and failed to take into consideration Seele's extraordinary cunning; but it would be the unfortunate Ritsuko that would pay the price...

Ritsuko's Interrogation

Background Info

We have now reached the key scene, where the truth about Ritsuko, Gendo, and Seele finally comes into focus. First however, the stage must be set by examining a couple scenes that occurred earlier, that give the viewers some hints concerning just what sort of organization Seele is, and how they operate. The series keeps the background and true intentions of Seele pretty much a mystery, at least until EoE, when they start their maniacal chanting, praying for the world to end, and it becomes apparent that they are, in fact, an apocalyptic death cult. The manga, on the other hand, spells things out a bit more clearly:

From Manga Vol V:

Kaji: "Seele, that's the name of the organization behind your father. They're a secret society. Some people think they've been running the world for hundreds...thousands of years. They paid for Nerv. Built it. Seele possesses the "Dead Sea Scrolls." The scrolls serve as their Bible...among other things. In some way the scrolls too- or the secrets within them- are older than people believe...as old as humanity itself. If what I've turned up is true...the entire history of the human race is written there. Just so you understand...by "entire" I mean our present and future as well- not just a record of the past. Seele, working with your father, laid out a certain plan, based on those prophesies. I've never been able to figure out if they're using him, or he's using them...but this whole battle with the Angels is only the initial phase...of that plan."

Of particular interest is the suggestion that they're a secret society that has been operating behind the scenes for hundreds, or even thousands, of years, controlling the world by manipulating individuals and institutions.

In Colombia, and other places in that part of the world afflicted by powerful drug cartels, there is phrase that describes how they get their way with police, judges, politicians, etc. : "plata o plomo", that is, "silver or lead". You're given the choice between a bribe, or a bullet. There are indications that this is Seele's way of doing things, too.

21 (ADV's original subs)

Fuyutsuki:
Your organization, Seele, or whatever it's called, is at the base of many ugly rumors. I don't like the way it manipulates the committee by force.

Gendo:
You're still too scrupulous. No completely chaste organization can survive in this day and age.

And, a bit later, an indication that Seele takes care of those who serve them and their interests:

Fuyutsuki:
I've checked into your finances as well. Bringing up a child and educating him is expensive, but isn't this a bit much?

Gendo:
Very impressive, Professor Fuyutsuki. Perhaps you should be teaching economics.

(Gendo has a pretty dry sense of humor...)

On the other hand, we see that a certain amount of coercion was utilized in bringing Fuyutsuki into the fold:

21' (ADV's new DC subs)

Fuyutsuki:
I have already handed the data over to Ikari. It's not something that can be accomplished by an individual after all. There won't be a repeat performance of the stunt I pulled earlier. And I've sort of received a warning. Getting rid of me couldn't be easier for them, it seems.

The only reason that Fuyutski is even alive here is because Gendo, and especially Yui, wanted him on the team at Gehirn. If he had been anyone else, loudly proclaiming his intention to expose Seele's complicity in bringing about the catastrophe of Second Impact, he would certainly have ended up face down in a ditch somewhere in the middle of nowhere...

And, of course, we have the more recent example of Kaji; as MDWigs so aptly put it,

"SEELE had him killed, not in an important way, they just sent a security agent to shoot him...",

basically, as it turns out, just to "send a message" to Gendo. So, the obvious point is: Seele are Not Nice People. They attach very little value to individual human life, and are utterly ruthless in pursuit of their aims and agenda.

As for Ritsuko, unfortunately her prospects in this situation are pretty grim: Seele knows, given how loyal she is to Gendo, that there is no way she could be persuaded to betray him through any sort of bribe or other non-coercive means; coercion, in this case, is required to yield the desired result. But probably only an organization that has had centuries of practice at manipulating people could conceive a scheme of such breathtaking cynicism and cruelty as what they will implement here, in order to "flip" her, that is, to put her into a frame of mind where she will willingly betray him. And then they will send her back as if nothing has happened, but her heart will be seething with bitterness at her (perceived) betrayal by him, and her keen mind will be contemplating how best to exact her revenge...

Transcript and Analysis

Upon realizing what was really going on in this scene, one of our in-house translators was asked to examine the original Japanese script that was included in the Renewal release. She very helpfully whipped up a full, cut-by-cut treatment, which can be found here: [2] (the page includes a couple other scenes from #23'; scroll about a third of the way down to get to Scene: Ritsuko's Interrogation)

This scene amounts to a sort of grotesque "Good-cop/Bad-cop" routine, but the audience only sees the "Good-cop" half of the equation here; the "Bad-cop" part that preceded this isn't shown, but is left to be inferred by the audience.

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Ritsuko, firm in manner, in the nude,...

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Ritsuko (backside) standing in front of monolith, ...making no attempt to cover her body.

Keel:
"We would like for things to proceed smoothly. We do not wish to subject you to anymore degradation and suffering."

When Keel says "We would like for things to proceed smoothly...", the sinister implications of his words reveal what a vicious old thug he actually is, despite his "gentlemanly" manner. It's similar in implication to what he says in Episode 25': SEELE 01:
"I had hoped to solve this peacefully, but they leave me no choice. Take over the entire headquarters directly, at once!!"

In both cases, we see Seele's thuggish, all-or-nothing mind-set: resolving the situation "peacefully" means giving them everything they want, while refusal means, in Ritsuko's case, the prospect of more "degradation and suffering", and in Episode 25', sending in the JSDF against Nerv, with orders to just kill everyone...

When this scene was translated, what was discovered tends very definitely to validate the conclusion that Ristuko was subjected to outrages against her person; as our translator points out in her translation notes for cut 260, the definition for ryoujoku, the word translated variously above as "disgrace", "shame', "insult", and "degradation", is given as "insult, disgrace, rape..." That "disgrace" and "rape" would turn out to be shared connotations of the same word would be considered, by modern Western standards, an appallingly old fashioned, patriarchal way of looking at things, but would not be unusual in Japan.

The script comments are very revealing here: "Ritsuko, firm in manner, in the nude,..." tends to confirm the interpretation of Ritsuko's body language in this scene. Despite the horrors she has been subjected to, she is standing tall, with her head up, glaring in defiance at her tormentors.

"Ritsuko (backside) standing in front of monolith "...making no attempt to cover her body." Obviously the point would seem to be that she is NOT trying to cover herself, but rather, is standing before the old villains with pride and defiance, not wishing to give them the satisfaction of seeing her cringe or cower.

Ritsuko:
"I do not feel humiliated whatsoever."

Ritsuko's only available strategy to cope with this horrible situation she finds herself in here, is to try to tough it out..., and note that Ritsuko deliberately replies to Keel's "ryoujoku", disgrace or humiliation with a connotation of rape, with a different word, "kutsujoku", which lacks that connotation. She simply says that what they had put her through did not make her feel ashamed, i.e., it didn't work.

SEELE:
"A stong-willed woman. I can understand why Ikari would want you by his side."

Again, more "Good-cop" role playing here, offering a compliment, perhaps genuine; for it truly is remarkable, under the circumstances, that she isn't on her knees here, crying in anguish (that comes later, of course...) "I can understand why Ikari would want you by his side" is a sly tip off that Seele knows all about her intimate relationship with Gendo, which has everything to do with why she is here; it give them a unique vulnerability to exploit, as shall be revealed by what comes next:

SEELE:
"But the person who handed you to us...

68ACF7IP75VVJFFNJ5V6I09BF-03.jpg

..is none other than Ikari."

23 ritsuko interrogation UP 2.jpg


The same blank face, but she can no longer hide her unrest and finally yields the slightest expression

Ritsuko:
"!..."

All the hell they put her through before was just "preparation", or set-up, for this, the moment when the trap is sprung. The insidious perfection of their plan, which Gendo, in his eagerness to keep Rei out of their clutches, managed to play right into, is made plain by the fact that at this point, they don't have to lie to Ritsuko; the truth will serve their purpose here better than any lie they could come up with.

This is a wonderfully directed moment, as we see Ritsuko's eyes flash ever so slightly, just at the precise moment when the French Seele member utters the word "Ikari-kun". Ristuko's "acting" in this episode, thanks to the subtlety of the character animation and Yuriko Yamiguchi's amazing VA is impecable.

4ICMH0JO6CJT5D1VOABH9UDQ5-05.jpg

Monolith No. 01 Keel:
"He refused to hand over the pilot of Unit-00 for questioning. He sent you as a substitute, Dr. Akagi".

This is the final, decisive whammy: it is the notion that Gendo chose to hand her over to Seele's tender mercies in favor of Rei that makes this whole nefarious plan work.

VKGLMN1U82I0R1RFNCPKVGE2S-06a.jpg

Ritsuko reacting to the present state of affairs with an entirely cold expression, side profile close-up

Ritsuko:
"I was sent in place of Rei?"

Normally, Ritsuko is a very logical thinker, but her natural jealousy, compounded by the outrages she has just been made to endure, seem to be negatively affecting her thought processes here, because she seems to uncritically accept Seele's crafty insinuation of Gendo's complete complicity in what has happened.

Raped

One word particularly stands out in the above scene:

Keel:
"We would like for things to proceed smoothly. We do not wish to subject you to anymore degradation and suffering."

... "anymore"... "subject you to <anymore> degradation and suffering"...

So, what had they been doing to her, up to this point to justfiy the word "anymore"?


Ritsuko's own words spell it out: "I only needed to think of him and I could endure any kind of humiliation! I didn't care what happened to my body!

and (to Gendo in Episode 24') "Why not have your way with my body?! Like that time!"

The conclusion is clear: Ritsuko was sexually assaulted.

Naturally, this wasn't done by the Committee in person; they're not physically present here, they're just holograms. The rape would have been carried out by the Seele minions who actually have her in their custody to prepare her for her interrogation by the Committee.

From this, it becomes understandable that she is in this state:

"Kill me if you want to. No, I'd be happy if you did."

It also pays to put what happens to Ritsuko here in the proper context, which is the very grim turn that the story as a whole takes in the last few episodes. First off, after Misato and Kaji resume their love affair at the end of Episode 20, Kaji is uncermoniously killed off in Episode 21:

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Then, in Episode 22, Asuka suffers a mental invasion, or Mind-Rape:

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Next, in Episode 23, Rei undergoes Assimilative Angelic Tentacle Rape:

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Each of the main female characters has now been hit where it hurts the most.

The Counter Argument

While the above has become the majority view, there are still some who strongly object to the Ritsuko rape theory, arguing that the evidence is insufficient and that the surface interpretation of the above incidents is more likely. This section will state their objections.

Dialogue Interpretations

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

The opponents of the theory do not believe that this line refers to some terrible thing that had already been done to her, but rather it refers to her nudity, and insinuates that the interrogation has not begun in earnest yet, a thinly veiled threat that they are prepared to use any means necessary to get the answers they want from her. i.e., They may very well be threatening sexual abuse, but none has already occured.

"I do not feel humiliated whatsoever"

In the opposition view, this refers to her being sent before them stripped naked. Of note here is that her demeanor corraborates her words that this humiliation is of little consequence to her and only a humiliation in the conventional sense. She is not emotional about it whatsoever.

The surprise and twitching that Ritsuko exhibits when told that Gendo had sent her are only in referrence to her being sent before Seele by Gendo in lieu of Rei; she has been scorned and is now forced to fully realize his utter lack of concern and feelings for her.

"I only needed to think of him, and I could endure any kind of humiliation!"

Is argued to be just a reference to her demeanor before Seele because of her devotion to Gendo. It could also be a referrence to her having always harbored the knowledge that he didn't care for her at all, the fact that their relationship was essentially a secret which would of course lead her to feel as if he were ashamed to be seeing her,

"I didn't care what happened to my body!"

Is seen by the opponents as a referrence to being used by Gendo for sex or simply for manipulation, not to her treatment by Seele. Even if she was passionate for the other person and thus enjoyed the sex, when a woman finds out that she has been used, she may reasonably consider it a type of abuse and violation of her body and her trust.

"But he... He..."

Is once again argued to be a referrence to his having been only using her all along and then discarding her at his convenience to Seele in lieu of Rei, not a reference to something too terrible to mention.

"If you want to kill me, do it. No, I would be happy if you would do it."

The opposition agrues that her despair over having lost to Rei and being used all along by Gendo, is sufficient to trigger this reaction; It further demonstrates how invested she was in him. Assuming a rape during her interrogation is not neccessary.

"Why not have your way with my body, like that time?!"[6]

Once again it is argued that this refers to Ritsuko's relationship with Gendo, not to her interrogation. It likely refers to some unrelated occasion in the past where Gendo, not Seele sexually abused her.

Plot Based Objections

The opponents to the Ritsuko rape theory also object that so pivotal an incident would never be simply hinted at in Evangelion. While some things are not directly stated, but instead are left for the viewer to piece together from clues and hints, such as Rei 1 as Unit-00's soul, Lilith as Rei's soul, Seele having Kaji shot, ect., this is not the case with formative incidents about important characters. It is explicitly stated that Shinji saw his mother absorbed by Unit-01, that Misato's hated father died to save her, triggering her conflicting feelings, and that Asuka found her mother's body hanging from the ceiling. An incident that informs all of Ritsuko's actions for the rest of the series and EOE would likewise be explicitly stated.

It has also been objected that Seele is botching the standard good cop/bad cop routine. In real life the good cop shows up in the nick of time to save the suspect from the bad cop; the grateful suspect then spills his guts to the good cop. Once the bad cop does his worst, in this case raping Ritsuko, it is argued that the good cop's arrival would have no effect. Wouldn't this just turn her against Gendo and Seele? Why would she do Seele's bidding after this sort of ordeal?

The Counter-Counter Argument

These objections are, of course, not without validity. Thus the response made by the proponents of the Ritsuko rape theory must be examined.

Dialogue Interpretations

Here the proponents argure that the opponents are wrong to insist on a surface interpretation. If there were only one or two clues, a case might be made that they are inadvertant. But when there are close to a dozen, you can't just dismiss them. The opponents seem to be willfully ignoring the evidence. The proponents also argue that Gendo's sending her in Rei's place would not be enough per se to invoke this reaction. Ritsuko already knows how important Rei is to Gendo. They site the scenes in Episode 17 and other episodes of her glaring at them when they are together.

17 C041a.jpg


Gendo has already refused to let Seele question Shinji; he plainly won't give them Rei, a much bigger prize. As they've already questioned Misato and Fuyutsuki, this leaves Ritsuko. She had to know this, and would not have been shocked. What brought her position home to her was the extent to which Gendo favored Rei over her. He knows he's dealing with a ruthless evil orginization that has already threatened to kill Fuyutsuki, and actually has killed Kaji. Even Yui had to escape into Unit-01 to avoid assassination. To Ritsuko's mind, Gendo should have known that they would do whatever it took to break her. She considers Gendo responsibile for the violation she suffered; in effect he is the one had his way with her body.

Plot Based Objections

Proponents have a couple of objections to the "Anno wouldn't just hint at this" theory. The first is that Evangelion was a prime time show; he wouldn't have been allowed to deal directly with a rape. Hints are the best he could do. Also, they say, those who object in this manner are putting themselves into the director's chair and making pronouncements about what Anno would or wouldn't have done, instead of dealing with the evidence that shows what he actually did do.

They refute the "it doesn't work like this in real life" argument simply by pointing out that Evangelion isn't real life. Also, it's not necessarily the case that Seele ordered her to destroy the Reis or blow up Nerv HQ; they could simply have turned her against Gendo, learned what they wanted, and then sent her back to do her worst.

References

  1. Based in large part upon Shin-seiki's original statement of this theory in this thread: [1]
  2. ADV's original Subs had: "So, the cat died."
    The dub has: "Yeah, so even cat's can die..."
    Platinum has: "So, she died."
    The Literal Translation Project has: "So, that cat died."
  3. Classified Information
  4. Impaling Lilith with the Spear of Longinus, and using it against Arael, respectively.
  5. Confirming the sabotage of Jet Alone, and chosing Toji as the new pilot, respectively
  6. The controversy over this line has been exacerbated by translation difficulties. The original line in Japanese omits the subject and has no pronouns at all. "Why not (have ones way with) my body, like that time?!" This is an impossible sentence in English, and must be corrected by changing "have one's way" to "have your way". However, many translations go beyond this and render the line as, "Why don't you have your way with my body, like you did that time?!" The superfluous "you"s add specificity where none exists in the original. i.e., in Japanese it isn't clear who abused her "that time". Normally, this would just be a harmless choice in wording, but in this case it is improper because it makes the translation sound more like she is refering to Gendo than is justified by the Japanese wording.