Although many people consider Gendo to be an evil person,I am not among them.As Sudostef said in one of his videos,
Misconception as a whole is a byproduct of one’s inability to understand.To have misguided thoughts on a subject without understanding one’s reasoning.Evangelion’s characters are often treated to such judgement by many of the viewers who fail to see the significance of their characters.Gendo is often victim of such judgement.Gendo is not a person who is embodied with evil intentions,he falls more in the line of a tragic villain.He was so blinded by his
Motivation and desire that he failed to see the faults in his doing.
Gendo’s character can be broken down to 4 parts.
1/His Relationship with Yui and His Reasons to Trigger Third Impact
2/His Relationship with Shinji
3/His Relationship with Akagi
4/His Final Resolution
Gendo may be a tragic villain but he’s not a good person by any mean.Even before he took control of Nerv,we see him as a pretty rude person.Gendo originally had the same intention as Seele.At first Gendo approached Yui because of her talent and her connection with Seele but Gendo genuinely fell in love with Yui and when Yui dies,the circumstance leaves him with great despairity and ultimately causing him to abandon Shinji.It’s not hard to tell that Gendo did not have meaningful relationship with anyone before because no one understands him.Yui was the first person to understand him and losing her took a great toll on him.Both Seele and Gendo intended to initiate the third impact but Gendo and Seele had one simple little difference and that difference was Yui Ikari.Gendo was so blindly driven by his desire to be reunited with Yui Ikari that he was prepared to go any length and mean to achieve that.He used and sacrificed countless people in his way including his own son Shinji and Ritsuko Akagi possibly the only person with whom he had any slight bit of affection other than Yui.
Gendo would do anything and everything in his power to achieve his goal.Gendo’s such tendencies often caused suffering for Shinji.Gendo used Shinji into getting what he wanted but he didn’t actually sacrifice Shinji.Yui’s soul was entrapped within Unit 01.Gendo knew the power that Unit 01 could yield,he knew that Unit 01 will protect Shinji no matter what.Although Gendo appeared to have inability to understand or sympathize with Shinji,he actually understands Shinji more than Shinji understands himself.Asuka and Shinji are basically the same character.They aren’t complete individually but one completes the other.Gendo was aware of that to some extent.Although it’s not clear in the anime but the manga hints the fact that it was originally Gendo who issued the order for Asuka to stay in Misato’s apartment.He never completely manipulated Asuka or Shinji but having Asuka there helped him to keep some strings on Shinji to keep him within the boundaries of his interest.Many people think that Gendo intentionally set up Asuka to be violated by Arael.It’s plausible but I don’t think he originally intended to have damages of such extent on Asuka.Shinji never knew his mother’s face due to Gendo getting rid of all photographic evidence of Yui’s existence.The reason for it was because Rei is partially a clone of Yui.If Shinji or anyone ever saw Yui’s face,they’ll figure out this secret.Shinji didn’t know this and thought that Gendo got rid of all of those because he didn’t care for Yui.Adding another negetive aspect in Shinji’s mind about Gendo.We talked a bit before about Gendo’s ability to understand Shinji more than Shinji understands himself.Gendo suffers from the same issues Shinji did.One of the most prominent theme of Evangelion is The Hedgehog’s Dilemma.It’s a psychological issue that indicates despite one’s goodwill, human intimacy cannot occur without substantial mutual harm, and what results is cautious behavior and weak relationships.Gendo was never the type of person who can express himself to other people.After Yui’s death Gendo started to fear intimacy because of his strong love for Yui.Gendo abandoned Shinji not because he didn’t care for him because he was afraid that he’ll only hurt him more.He left Shinji with a teacher.Although he sees the fault in his doing towards his dying seconds but it was already too late.So,he does the only thing that he possibly can at that moment,try and apologize to Shinji.It should be noted that in the third impact,none of Shinji’s psychological interaction addressed the issues that Shinji had with Gendo.I don’t think Shinji forgave him but he was starting to understand everyone more than he did before.
Gendo’s plan needed a considerable amount of support but being pretty much an insensible jerk he couldn’t get that.So,he took shelter under the shadows of manipulation.From manipulating Fuyutsuki’s admiration and affection of Yui to Shinji’s desire to understand Asuka but none suffered as terrible fate as the Akagis.Naoko Akagi was a brilliant scientist and was in love with Gendo.After Yui died,Naoko wanted to comfort Gendo even if it was by sexual measures.Gendo was aware of Naoko’s feelings and he gave into her desire to keep her happy.Having Naoko in control meant great advantage in achieving his goals.Naoko was in the delusion of thinking that Gendo was starting to return her feelings but when Gendo brings the first of Rei clones in the laboratory,she knows that she can never replace Yui.She ended up killing Rei in the heat of the moment and when she realizes what she has done,she commits suicide knowing full well that Gendo will never forgive him.Little did she know that Gendo had set her up.Naoko’s daughter Ritsuko had a very strange relationship with her mother.Ritsuko respected her mother’s brilliance in the field of science and aspired to be like her but at the same time she hated Naoko’s womanly side.Naoko was always too absorbed in her work to have any bonding with Ritsuko.Despite hating her mother Ritsuko couldn’t help but be like her.She wanted to have everything her mother had and be better at those.Ritsuko falls in the same trap as her mother did.She engaged in a sexual relationship with Gendo which harmed her more than she could take but unlike Naoko’s case,Gendo started to feel something for Ritsuko.Ritsuko felt betrayed when she realized that Gendo will never return her feelings.So,she decided to destroy the Rei Clone Dummy Plug System to ruin Gendo’s plan.In the last desperate act,she tried to destroy Nerv and would’ve been successful in doing so if not for her mother.Ritsuko’s plan heavily depended on her mother and she was sure that her mother will support her because she thought that her mother would also feel contempt for Gendo for using her but the womanly side of Naoko chose Gendo over Ritsuko.This is where comes one of the most talked about scenes in anime history.Gendo’s silent word to Ritsuko.When Ritsuko goes to the central dogma Gendo says something to her that we as audience don’t hear.We only see Gendo’s lips move.The answer of this silent word is given throughout the entire End of Evangelion.If I try to explain that then we will need all night and I don’t even think I can explain it as perfectly as a lot of other people.So,I’ll link a page where it’s brilliantly explained.
The answer to Gendo’s Silent Word:https://wiki.evageeks.org/Theory_and_Analysis:Gendo%27s_Sil…
In short,Gendo’s silent words were “I needed you”. Ritsuko wanted to know why was he doing what he did to her.Gendo could’ve killed her without giving an answer like he setup Naoko’s death but he answered Ritsuko and told her the truth.He atleast wanted to give Ritsuko some means of comfort.At first Ritsuko was stunned by this but she realized that it was both the truth and the lie.She was sacrificed in favor of Rei but at the same time she was significant enough in Gendo’s mind to atleast being offered some closure.
At the very end Gendo saw his mistakes after Rei betrayed her and handed Shinji the power to control Human instrumentality.When Gendo meets Yui in the end,he tells her that he hopes that everything will be alright.He’s already dying so,he isn’t talking about himself.He’s more concerned in his dying moment about Shinji’s well being.
Gendo was never truly evil.He originally started out with a noble cause but he lost his way along the path.He is a true romantic at heart and it’s his blind love for Yui that caused him to take shelter under such evil deeds.Gendo is not a good guy or a bad guy.He’s just another Human Being.Selfish,Afraid and Confused.Just like every other character of Evangelion.