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Gendo -- Chesed, what Man will do for love

Essay by Stephen Chung


To many, Ikari Gendo is a "Grade A Jerk." He constantly tops the polls on the most hateful Evangelion character.

This hate of Gendo is curious on the surface, especially due to the fact that he so loved Yui that all of what he did was to be with her. He loved Rei like a daughter (and some says a little more than that). He actually showed signs of compassion and emotions at times (not much). 

Of course he also used everybody in sight, deceived everybody in sight, and betrayed everybody in sight for his own agenda: but the world is full of successful people doing the same thing and as such does not fully justify the extent of hatred he generates. In today's world, one would justify his actions by the ends he seeks, which is Yui. Should he not, then, be considered a tragic hero instead of Satan-incarnate?

In order to understand Gendo fully, one must dig into the sephira he impersonates -- Chesed. The vision of Chesed, of love, ironically was his one single driving force. In fact, even more ironically, Gendo was the only person in the entire show who had a strong sense of love, except for perhaps the love-hate relationship between Kaji and Misato, and the enigmatic affair between Ritsuko and him. Gendo's true love, of course, was Yui and everything he did started after Yui's disappearance. That such an apparently evil person was actually driven by love parallels the tragedy of Chesed.

Gendo lived constantly under the illusion of self-righteousness, that he was "right" to do what he did. It was obvious that he considered himself the only one knowing everything, and that his actions were all correct per se. If someone disagreed with his judgement, it could only be because he/she was wrong. Gendo is never wrong.

Such illusion breeds the vices of Chesed, the very dangerous combo of tyranny, bigotry, hypocrisy and gluttony -- his will was absolute, as in the use of the dummy plug against EVA-03 and the use of EVA-01 to rescue Rei; nobody should dare to challenge him, not even Ritsuko whom he would discard in a heartbest; his bigotry showed when he used the power and secret mission of SELLE to further his own agenda; his hypocrisy abound; and his gluttony showing through in his never being satisfied of the current state. Since Chesed can magnify all other vices through its emotional energy, so it magnifies hate in all of us when we view such a person. Such is the scariness of Chesed.

The qlippah of Chesed is ideology -- and it is this qlippah that Gendo works for-- the ideology behind human completion and being with Yui. Only until the very end did he finally discovered the virtue of Chesed -- that of humility -- when Rei III refused to be used as his doll in the movies. When confronted by Yui during the Third Impact, he would finally admit that "I am wrong. I have been wrong all these time."

Such is the tragedy of a person driven by love to extremes, discovering humility only too late.