Interview with Hideaki Anno, Creator of Evangelion [1/2]

In 1995, Hideaki Anno directed the TV anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, which went on to become a social phenomenon and secured his place in the anime world. He's gone on to create the Rebuild of Evangelion film series, and in November 2012, announced the latest film, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo. Fans from around the world listened eagerly to what he had to say.

At the 27th annual Tokyo International Film Festival on Oct. 23, the director who has made a name for himself with the Evangelion series held five talk events titled “The World of Hideaki Anno.” During the event, he talked candidly about his beginnings as an amateur in high school, up until his professional career.

Just before the fifth and final talk event, the director agreed to an interview with various media outlets. Tokyo Otaku Mode was lucky enough to get the chance to enter Anno's world, and listened intently to what the director had to say.

Hideaki Anno’s Profile:
Japanese film director and animator. Managing director of Khara Inc. After working as an animator on Macross: Do You Remember Love? and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, he started working on various animation projects. Then, in 1995, he directed the social phenomenon known as Evangelion, securing his place in anime history. He then went on to direct the Rebuild of Evangelion series, and announced the third film, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, in November 2012. His work is followed by fans all around the world.

Revealing Everything About Himself in the Talk Events

──How did you end up doing these talk events?

Suzuki, a producer at Ghibli, asked me to participate. I had not reason to refuse, so I agreed. I thought since I had agreed to do it, I should prepare accordingly. I used my work to trace my life as a creator from when I began in high school to the present day. I put everything together so as to trace the development of my work, but also to show how I changed. Suzuki told me they would do their best to show all of my work, so I didn't focus on just a few representative pieces, and instead tried to reveal as much as I could about myself. It was like I put my whole life out there for all to see.

──Why did you chose the theme of "Amateur"? I think that everyone recognizes the enormous influence you have had in the genre of robot anime and beyond.

A professional is someone who makes money in accordance with the work they make or the pictures they draw. For me, it's always been about making what I want, doing what I want rather than what I've been paid to do. Creating without regard for business is what an amateur does, I think. When I was an amateur, I made many different works, so I thought it would be important to talk about that. I talked about all the changes I went through from being an amateur to becoming a professional. When I look back at what I made in high school, I get so embarrassed, but the fact that I made them is undeniable, so I included what I could of that work as well.

Fighting Against the Decline of the Anime Industry

──The other day you and Kawakami from Dwango mentioned that you would make a platform to support new animators. What inspired this idea?

It feels like the Japanese animation system and the animators are deadlocked right now. I particularly feel that in the Japanese animation industry. I want something that can help to break through that deadlock. It’s not something that will just appear if you wait long enough. So I teamed up with Kawakami to see if we could come up with a new project like that, something that would tear down the current state of things. It’s like a resistance. Even if we do it, the animation industry won’t change. We know it won’t change, but we just can’t help but do something. At this rate, the animation industry will decline, and rather than wait for that to happen, we’d rather fight against it until the end with all we’ve got. That’s how I feel.

With short-form animation, you have a higher level of freedom. But with longer projects, you often have to make back the cost of production. The more money something costs, the less freedom you have. We want to avoid that restriction and try to create a platform that allows people the freedom to make short-form works however they want.

If it’s just 5 minutes, one person can handle it by themselves. They can make something that really expresses their individuality. You can also get a bunch of people together and make something. I think there’s possibility there – that creators might discover something new through that. I thought if we could condense what's interesting about animation into 5 minutes, we could get it broadcast. Also, I plan to put English subtitles on all of the works we release. I plan to make everything to be accessible to people all over the world.

If something’s too long, people might not be willing to invest their time in it. But 5-minute shorts can be viewed on your smartphone while on the train. That’s what I want to see happen. I hope that through this system more people will become interested in Japanese animation.

This is really a worldwide project. It’s not just for people in Japan who like Japanese animation, but to allow others from all over the world who want to check out Japanese anime the chance to do so. I hope to add more diversity to Japanese animation, help it evolve through new talent, and encourage more interesting anime in the years to come. I want to convey the appeal of animation as simply as possible.

──Why do you think that no one else has tried this before?

Because it won’t make money. Because there's no guarantee that any money invested in it will be recovered. This is something I approached without any intention of making money. That’s why we can make it happen.

──How will you cover expenses for the creators who participate? What’s the process like for them?

They just have to contact me. They can get in touch with Dwango or my studio. This project is labeled as something for Japanese animators, but I’m thinking that animators from other Asian countries will express an interest as well. Any creator with an interest in anime is welcome to pitch their idea for a 5-minute short. I think this project could get interesting as it grows and more people participate.

Continued in Part 2/2

Tokyo International Film Festival Official Site
Khara Inc.

© 2007-2014 Khara Inc.

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article.Written by Kohji Sakurai, photo by Tetsuya Hara.

Interview with Hideaki Anno, Creator of Evangelion [1/2] 1
Interview with Hideaki Anno, Creator of Evangelion [1/2] 2
Interview with Hideaki Anno, Creator of Evangelion [1/2] 3
Interview with Hideaki Anno, Creator of Evangelion [1/2] 4
Interview with Hideaki Anno, Creator of Evangelion [1/2] 5
Interview with Hideaki Anno, Creator of Evangelion [1/2] 6
Interview with Hideaki Anno, Creator of Evangelion [1/2] 7
Interview with Hideaki Anno, Creator of Evangelion [1/2] 8
Interview with Hideaki Anno, Creator of Evangelion [1/2] 9

You belong in the TOM Fan Club. Don't keep TOM Senpai waiting: