As of late, I've been thinking Neon Genesis Evangelion due to many critiques I've confronted that I do not agree with. Most importantly, I had a old friend tell me his least favorite character was Ritsuko and he did not like the kind of woman she was. Nowadays I want to kill him and this is my first shot. In this essay, I will be explaining why I adore Ritsuko and the experience of being very confused about gender while being not straight so be aware this will include a lot of my own experiences. I don't have the goal of making you love her like I do, but I do want to write.
In Ritsuko's mind, she is a scientist first foremost and then a woman. Her thoughts on gender explored in episode 13, Angel Infiltration. She explains her mother's thought process when creating NERV's 3 Magi supercomputers: Melchior, Balthasar, and Casper. The three Magi computers represent her Mother's identity as a scientist, mother, and woman. These computers struggle for dominance- it is important to note that in the end of the episode the computer representing Womanhood, Casper, seems to win in a struggle for dominance against an angel.
Ritsuko herself has devoted her life to being a scientist. She has no children, no lover, and seems to be missing out on what being a woman means. The messiness of womanhood and motherhood is likely too much for her leading her to doing something she can control, her work. However, the feelings of a woman persist despite her focus on work much to her dismay. Much like her mother, the scientist and the woman fight for domance. And now, I will discuss Gendo.
I've thought about her relationship with Gendo and the possibility that Ritsuko is not straight or at least has never had the chance to properly fall in love because she's always working and just watches from the sidelines, the biggest example of her just watching is her comments regarding Kaiji and Misato though she even criticizes herself for giving into her feelings regarding a man interrupting her work.
Her life and her experiences leads me to believe she doesn't truly love Gendo or at least her love for him is much more complicated than it appears.
Ritsuko views being a woman and being a scientist as two forces constantly opposing each other. This woman part of her has a strong desire to be with someone and to be comforted and held because that is the role of woman in her mind. Every human craves love and affection, yet she doesn't experience any. Ritsuko appears to also have some confusion regarding her mother's role in her life. The lack of love she experiences due to intense focus on work led to her becoming romantically involved with Gendo. This was a man who was around grieving, she was a woman who craved love but had no one near her aside from men in the workplace.
As stated above, I've always doubted that Ritsuko was truly in love with Gendo. The grief and lengths she went to was the result of her believing she was in love and that this was the only true love she could experience as someone who is missing out on the experience of womanhood. She has never truly devoted herself to anyone because she views her life as work. I wouldnt be surprised if she didn’t enjoy making love to Gendo and more enjoyed the thought of being loved and wanted as a woman.
When I was in church when I was young, I learned of concept that if a man and woman are together alone for an extended period of time, their flesh will crave one another. When I realized I was lesbian, I learned of this concept called comphet (which I don't completely agree with every tenant of but it is relevant here). When I was a bit older, I realized I was really tired of romance in fiction and our intepretations of it. The concept of men loving women and women loving men effects of us all and echoes through every piece of media we consume, the poeple we interact, the couples we meet, and the many divorcees we interact with. How many couples do you see together and truly think "are they in love or is it a man and woman living together, holding each other, speaking to one another but not truly listening?
When Ritsuko fell 'in love' with Gendo, how many men was she around in a similar position to Gendo? Was she touch starved from her working mother and isolation? When she was tossed by Gendo, was it grief over the loss of love or the thought, “I have never had someone love me this way before and with the lifestyle I live, it will never happen again. And, it's possible this man I devoted myself to didn't love me at all, and if he can't love me, who will?” In Evangelion, people have so borders between them.. Their work, the impending apocolypse, age, gender, mental illness, emotions, trauma- the whole human experience. How many of us find what we call love in a random person we don't have too much in common with? How many of us would fall in love with aperson we were around everyday based on superficial things. Our view of Gendo and Ritsuko's relationship is somewhat brief, however, I think about hte line "I made love to you." This choice of words does not really scream romantic, to die for love does it? Does it to scream to you that she truly misses what she had with him or just, she's missing something she can't understand?
Ritsuko's true grief at Gendo, I would say, might possibility be uncharacteristic of the scientist we are familiar with. Ritsuko comforted a man who was grieving over his dead wife and got involved with him. Ritsuko if not back then, by the time The End of Evangelion took place was very aware of the role she played in Gendo's grief. Episode 13 episode made me realize she divides her life into parts like her mother and she has this desire to be recognized outside of her work even if the mask if the mask she wears does not reveal this.
So, her relationship with Gendo and difficulty moving past this time in her life to me seems like the result of being starved of love all her life even from those her and the isolation she brought onto herself with her devotion to her work.
Ritsuko.. was thrown away like she was nothing by Gendo. Perhaps she realized it wasn't love, but it still hurts to be used for being a woman when deep down she likely wishes to be more than the scientist she allows herself to be. When Ritsuko explained her mother's sides fighting for dominance, do you wonder if maybe she had been taught all the wrong from the start? It's not about dominance, it's about balance, and this was Ritsuko's downfall. She fought this side of her for so long that it grew and grew instead of accepting it and processing her feelings alongside her work.
In short, I care for her and I believe many things could have been prevented with a mother who told her that that balance is more important than one side being dominant, that you must evaluate your own feelings and that flaws are inevitable. She, to me, is the most human character in Evangelion and as a result, one of the biggest tragedies of NGE.