Yes, they have a tendancy to nerf the top tier (Though I submit that even after several rounds of nerfs, Litchi is still pretty good.)
I would also argue strongly against the idea that “most of the cast needed those changes” from CS2 - there was a large, fairly closely clumped A-tier in CS2 that basically consisted of everyone except Makoto, Noel, Hazama, Tager and maybe Valk. Beyond those five or so characters, most of the cast needed only minimal changes, and, curiously, that’s what most of them got, but inexplicably, Ark Sys decided that Ragna, Hakumen, and Tsubaki needed large changes. I think you’ll find that’s a hard claim to support in general.
I’m impressed that you know the opinion of “most people who play the game” though. I certainly don’t and don’t claim to. I would speculate that most people would say that Ragna is boring - certainly, I could make an objective argument that Tsubaki has a more interesting gameplay design than he does, but Ragna is stupid common, so I don’t think “boring” factors into it.
Additionally, being unpopular shows no real correlation with nerfs of lack thereof either - Tao and Valk are bleeding into top Tier in EX, Carl and Rachel are very solid. So obviously popularity wasn’t the influence here - except perhaps for the fact that less popular characters get less Loktest time, and therefore if Arksys decides to go off the deep end and do stupid things to them, there’s less chance of them “discovering” this in the loktest. It still doesn’t explain why they would do radically stupid things in the first place.
And lastly, having a good AA isn’t very helpful if you opponent can beat you easily without leaving the ground.