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Interview on "Neon Genesis Evangelion" # ...

Interview on "Neon Genesis Evangelion" #1

Aug 10, 2021

~STUDIO VOICE October 1996~

Interviewer: Hiroki Azuma

The controversy over "Evangelion" continues to grow, involving not only anime fans but also the ideological scene. What is the meaning of the plotless development and ending that director Anno attempted in the 6:30 p.m. TV Tokyo anime?

In 1995, "Neon Genesis Evangelion" was the first work to emerge from the anime world that attracted much attention and buzz. Even after the TV broadcast ended, its reputation continued to grow. The Laser Disc/Video Tape versions of the second half of the episodes (the last two episodes) will finally be released in the fall. The English version of the video has already been released. A compilation of the movie version has been released for next spring's release. In addition, the excitement for the new theatrical version in the summer has never stopped. I interviewed Hideaki Anno, who wrote the original script and directed the film. The following is a small part of the two-hour interview.

I have no boring professionalism.

--After the success of your last work, "Nadia, The Secret of Blue Water" [TV series, 89-90], there was a five-year silence. During that time, did you have a vague sense that the "Eva" you were going to make would go beyond the boundaries of normal animation, or that it would break the boundaries of normal animation in a good way?

Anno

That's a good question. First of all, the inspiration for the Eva project was rather the failure of "Nadia". It's not that the work itself was a failure, but in my mind, it was a failure.

--What do you mean by that?

Anno

From the very beginning, Nadia was a work that was created on the basis of excuses. From the planning stage, there was already a plan to make "Castle in the Sky" on TV. I didn't want to do that, so I made this film by process of elimination. In my opinion, it was a failure. I'm sorry to the staff. After that, a number of projects were proposed to me, but after "GunBuster" [OAV, 88-89] and "Nadia," my stock of similar type of animation was exhausted, and the subjects that other people were coming up with were also the same. In the end, I had no choice but to do everything myself, including the planning, the director, the producer, and the original story. That's when King Records approached me and I started the TV series.

--At that stage, that hopeless development in the second half of "Eva" is still ...

Anno

It wasn't like that. I was making a more casual, standard robot animation.

--So you didn't have the sense to criticize anime fans who use anime as a refuge?

Anno

The feeling of being stuck and unable to see the future had been there since "GunBuster". I was devastated when our (GAINAX) first work, "Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise" [1986], failed. The people who watch anime don't want that kind of work. It was a failure in terms of advertising strategy, even for some people who don't watch anime. So I made "GunBuster" with the irony that "okay, people want to see a robot and a half-naked girl go into space."

--I can see that clearly by watching it. But despite all that, "Eva" is still full of pretty girls, robots, mysterious cult devices, and other strategies to get sales. Didn't you predict that if you did that again, it would destroy you?

Anno

No, because I like it too (laughs). In that sense, I have no boring professionalism. My first priority is to make things interesting. I don't care if I fail, I just want to try as hard as I can. If it's only 26 episodes of animation, I might be able to endure it if I concentrate on it for a short period of time. I didn't care too much about the result, though it's better than nothing.

--So you didn't have any intention to make a beautiful ending as a work. How is the work doing at the box office?

Anno

We have a fixed fan base, so we'll get 20K. I'm OK with that.

--Do you think it will become a big movement?

Anno

I didn't know that Japan was so sick. If our films get more than 10% viewership and sell 20K LDs, Japan is finished (laughs).

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