Gendo Ikari (碇 ゲンドウ Ikari Gendō?) is a fictional character from the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise. He is the commander of Nerv. While all of the English versions romanize his given name as Gendo, Gainax's website romanizes it Gendoh, and some fansites romanize his name as "Gendou".
In Nerv, Gendo is responsible for the research done on the Evas and the Human Instrumentality Project. He is the father of the Third Child, Shinji Ikari. At the start of the series, he is the only person having an effective connection to Rei Ayanami.
Gendo is a brilliant scientist and politician (the master of puppets in the series) who works diligently for his organization; however, he is an extremely callous person and a cold and distant father towards his son, and has no qualms about using and discarding people to achieve his goals:
"Gendo is the type of person who can see & think about the welfare of an organization as a whole. In other words, he'd do anything to succeed. He takes drastic and extreme measures, by fair means or foul, or by hook or by crook, in order to accomplish his own purpose. In some ways he's mean, he hardly cares about Shinji."His last lines in The End of Evangelion reveal his regret and the true motivations for his ruthless behavior. He intended to use Third Impact to become God and create the better future for humanity together with his wife Yui Ikari, whom he intended to rejoin at the conclusion of Instrumentality. However, when Rei defies him he realizes that his efforts are in vain and that he ignored the real wishes of Yui. She intended to bring about a brighter future for their son Shinji, whom Gendo has sacrificed in order to bring her back. In essence, Yui's dreams and principles were violated to resurrect her. He was also afraid that his love for Shinji would instead hurt him and therefore distance himself from him. Shortly after, in the surreal sequence Unit 01 is shown grasping Gendo in its hand before decapitating him, showing him reduced to LCL by the anti-AT Field.
In the new Rebuild of Evangelion franchise his overall role and actions (at least concerning the first film) have remained consistent.
Gendo Ikari was born as Gendo Rokubungi (六分儀, meaning sextant). Though virtually nothing is known about his childhood or young adulthood, there are vague hints that he may have grown up in a traumatic or emotionally straining environment. During study, he met Yui Ikari, with whom he started a relationship, and Professor Kozo Fuyutsuki, with whom he became friends. Many who knew him thought that the only reason for his and Yui's relationship was her connections to Seele; however, over the course of the series and films it becomes clear that his connection to Yui went far deeper. He and Yui were married at the beginning of the 21st century, wherein he changed his surname to Ikari. (In Japan, as in much of the world, it is highly uncommon for a man to take on his wife's surname after marriage, and could be seen to symbolize submission or "un-masculinity" on Gendo's part. It should also be noted that this detail is not revealed until later in the series.) In 2001 their son Shinji was born. They both worked together at Gehirn, from which Gendo became the leader. After the failed activation test of Unit 01 and Yui's apparent death during this event, Gendo became very cold and distant (even towards Shinji, whom he sent to live with a teacher and had very little contact with). Gendo also entered into affairs with both Naoko Akagi and, later, her daughter Ritsuko, seemingly casting doubt on his commitment to Yui; however, it is implied that Gendo was simply using them to achieve the means to accomplish Third Impact. Thanks to Yui's connection to Seele, he also came in contact with the organization and started to help them with their plans for the Second Impact.
A massive malfunction during the first activation test for Unit 00 caused the Eva to go "berserk." To prevent Rei from being seriously injured, the entry plug was ejected, and Gendo pried the plug's superheated door open with his bare hands to extract Rei. His hands have severe scarring because of this, and he is never shown without wearing gloves (except in episode 5, when he briefly takes them off and Shinji sees they are burned, and Ritsuko explains why).
Although Gendo pretends to follow Seele's orders without question, he has his own agenda and tries to out-manipulate the committee. His final outspoken rebellion towards Seele comes from his desire to initiate Third Impact under his complete control. He implants Adam's embryo in his hand (only shown in Death and Rebirth and the Director's Cut Edition) and tries to merge with Rei to achieve this purpose.
In The End of Evangelion, Rei finally defies Gendo forwardly and separates with him (after absorbing Adam) to merge with Lilith and start Instrumentality on her own. Seeing that all his plans to be reunited with Yui have come to nothing, Gendo begs Rei to return to him, she refuses. After Instrumentality is started, Gendo confronts specters of the various Reis as well as Kaworu and Yui herself. Gendo confesses that he is afraid of the "invisible bonds" formed by those around him, and that he was afraid to confront his son after Yui's death. A vision of Unit 01, with much of its armor missing, (the real Unit 01 is at that moment within the Tree of Life, and still fully armored) is seen holding Gendo in much the same manner as Kaworu in Episode 24. Gendo states that "...this is my retribution", and the spectral Unit 01 bites off his torso as he utters his final words: "Forgive me, Shinji." The camera then shifts back to Terminal Dogma, where the lower half of Gendo's body is seen, still standing, with his torso severed.
Neon Genesis Evangelion manga
Gendo's role and overall character in the manga is pretty much the same, with only a few differences. Gendo is shown to be more antagonistic towards Shinji than in the anime, first shown when he calls his son a coward when he refuses to pilot the Eva. Later, while Shinji is recovering, Gendo checks on Rei in the hospital with Shinji watching them and even makes eye contact with him, though other than this he doesn't acknowledge him.
After the battle against Bardiel, where the pilot of Unit 03, Toji is killed, he calls Kaji and tells him to bring Shinji to him. Gendo begins to read off the list of criminal charges Shinji has acquired. Shinji asks his father if he has anything to say to him, which Gendo does not answer, causing Shinji to respond by trying to punch him. While held by Kaji, Shinji literally begins to scream at his father, telling him that he never wants to see him again. Gendo's response to this is the same as in the anime, to have Shinji removed from NERV's records. When Zeruel attacks, after Rei fails to activate Unit 01, he heads down to the cage to try and get the Dummy System to work, which proves to be futile. Gendo, in his first act of distress, frantically asks why Unit 01 (and by extension, Yui) is rejecting him, to which Shinji's picture appears on the screens, genuinely surprising Gendo, which is only furthered by his son's reappearance at the cage.
Just as in the anime, SEELE begin to have serious doubts about both Gendo's motives and loyalty after Unit 01 absorbs Zeruel's S² Engine. This results in them sending Kaworu Nagisa in order to keep an eye on him. During Shinji's time in Evangelion Unit 01, he imagines himself killing Gendo. Afterwards, Gendo once again continues to follow the anime adaption, through his defiances of SEELE, while he continues to further his plan to take control of the Human Instrumentality Project. He later swallows Adam instead having it grafted to his hand. Additionally, Adam later appears on his left hand instead of his right hand.
During the Invasion of NERV, he saves Shinji from being killed by JSSDF soldiers by projecting an AT Field from his left hand, which now has Adam embedded within. Gendo also reveals the extent of his madness with his plans to use Third Impact to become God and asks his son to pilot Unit-01 once again to aid in his plans, since after all Shinji has experienced he can now understand Gendo. He covers Shinji and Misato's escape to Unit-01's hangar, certain that Shinji will do as he is told.
Rebuild of Evangelion
Gendo's relationship towards his son takes more central focus in Rebuild than in the TV series.
Shinji Ikari Raising Project
In the manga adaptation of the game, Gendo is shown in a humorous light, much unlike his anime counterpart. His antics, often embarrassing for Shinji, frequently end with him being hit by Yui. During a blackout at Nerv, he shined his torch in a scary way, which promptly earned him a smack from Yui. Another time, Gendo is reading a newspaper when Yui asks him if he told Shinji something (like she told Gendo to do). Gendo's response was to sweat and shake nervously and the scene ends with the sound effect of Yui hitting Gendo. Gendo is also shown to be a rather charismatic figure during this time, moving several members of Nerv staff (notably all male) to aid with the "pedaling for power" plan.
Also, the perceived "father-son rivalry" between Gendo and Shinji in Evangelion fandom is parodied here, as both men decided to "compete" to see who could pedal the fastest. The contest was actually a way to generate electricity for Nerv HQ, which had been hit by a blackout. The incident also pays homage to the original anime, where Gendo helps in the manual launching of the EVAs against the invading Angel. Interestingly, both Fuyutsuki and Rei were shown to put in their share of work before dropping out due to fatigue.
Gendo's last names (Rokobungi and Ikari) mean "sextant" and "anchor" in Japanese, respectively. His first name was taken from another anime project prior to Evangelion that was aborted.
Script error Nicolas Demay was disappointed that although Gendo was portrayed as being a "normal" father in the alternate universe shown in episode 26, that in Angelic Days, Gendo's portrayal returns to that of a "heartless taciturn" man. Zac Bertschy has described Gendo as being "a giant douchebag". Tim Jones described Gendo as having an ""I want to be God" complex".