Lady Akagi's Lover
Author: Amanda Wells
Source: Noise In My Brain
According to an interview whose translation is published in the second EVA graphic novel, creator Hideaki Anno's idea of a twisted person is one who hides their true feelings behind a cool facade. In part, that explains why many cast members aren't what they initially appear to be. Sometimes that's good (Kaji) but usually the revealing of the true self is cause for disaster. While not as memorable as the cases of Rei, Asuka, Misato, et al, the removal of Ritsuko Akagi's mask is nevertheless striking. The woman who appeared so cool and professional, in everything including matters of the heart, breaks down in episode 23 and beyond, into crying, suicidal hysterics.
When this happens, a sordid detail is revealed: that she was sleeping with Gendou, of all people. It made me shiver in disgust, especially because of Ritsuko's lines: "I'm not happy anymore. Not even when you make love to me. Do whatever you want with me! That's never stopped you before!" At some point, I decided to look beyond my disgust and find out why Ritsuko became the lover of this other character whom I dislked so.
Though I endorse the theory that Gendou was sleeping with the Akagi women to keep their technological genius near, I think Ritsuko was also "using" Gendou. She doesn't appear to have much interest in human interaction or "normal" romance. Look at the cool way Ritsuko responds to Kaji trying to put the moves on her in episode 9, and tells him in episode 15 "Oh, I don't like to talk about myself. There's really not much to say." In episode 2, Misato comments to herself, "I was just thinking of Shinji as a tool. I'm as shameless as Ritsuko". Also, as some fans have pointed out, while Ritsuko and Misato's interactions appear friendly, Ritsuko never compliments her, and actually berates and teases Misato often. It's subtle, but it's there. All Ritsuko wanted from Gendou was sex, methinks.
Looking for the answer to "Why Gendou?", it's easy. With Yui "dead", Gendou shut himself away from others. While this would usually make others return the favor, the person that Gendou was post-Yui was perfect for Ritsuko's needs. When you see them together in the TV series, there's no indication anything's going on. I infer it's because their relationship is purely physical, and that's the way they both want it. In Ritsuko's case, Gendou satisfies her sexual needs without the human interaction and psychological ties that she won't deeply invest herself in.
I'm not surprised such a relationship collapsed, though I can't say what generated that collapse. An extremely twisted view I cannot shake is the idea that Ritsuko began to percieve Rei as a sexual rival, despite the fact that she certainly wasn't. I wouldn't put it past Ritsuko, with her lack of familiarty in interactions, to be extremely possessive of her lover. Evidence, however, is scant. When Ritsuko is sent before SEELE, and it's mentioned SEELE wanted to question Rei, Ritsuko thinks, He sent me instead of her?, sounding shocked and a trifle angry. In the next episode, when Gendou inquires, "Why did you destroy the Dummy Plug System?", she angrily proclaims, "It wasn't the Dummy System I destroyed. It was Rei!" Ritsuko mentions Rei specifically, and, despite her speech about the clones having "No right to live", she never seemd to have any objections to the Dummy System until the closure of the series.
Of course, we're never shown just why Ritsuko is so unbalanced. I've toyed with the interpretation that she represents the follies of women devoting themselves to self-indulgence and their jobs and not having a family, a criticism Japan would probably be more open about. However, that seems too overanalytical. There's nothing inherently wrong with a disinterest in romance per se, because I've gotten along fine without it. Ritsuko just used a twisted road to reach her desires