‘Evangelion’ Director Hideaki Anno Reveals How He Finally Found Himself



by Hideaki AnnoEvangelion: 3.0 + 1.0: Three Times in a TimeLaunching on Amazon Prime on August 13,” is the movie that anime fans have been waiting for for 25 years. The fourth and final theatrical feature in the “reconstruction” of the landmark 1995-96 television series “Neon Genesis Evangelion” brings the epic adventure to a definitive conclusion.

“Evangelion” (eh-van-GEH-lee-on, pronounced eh-van-GEH-lee-on, pronounced with a hard G), an intriguing, complex work that mixes mecha battles with apocalyptic Christian symbols, Jewish mysticism, and youthful rage, is among the most controversial TV series in anime. Date. Its influence is wide and includes Japanese animated fantasies and Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 sci-fi adventure.Pacific Rim” And fans continue to discuss its significance, subtext, and details.

“My influence on other creators is not something I think about when working on a movie,” Anno said in an interview. “I decide what to do based on what I am best suited for and what interests me most at the time. The ‘Evangelion’ project came up many times, so I made new feature films. I don’t think an opportunity like this will ever come up again.”

Set in the not-too-distant future, humanity is locked in a deadly struggle with strange, surprisingly powerful creatures known as Angels. The only effective weapon against them are Evangelions or Evas, huge cyborgs led by psychic youths. The protagonist is Shinji Ikari, an estranged 14-year-old who was drafted by his ruthless father to pilot Eva 01.

Despite its popularity, “Evangelion” never had a satisfying ending. The original series failed to achieve complex plot resolution with theological and ontological overtones. Shortly before “Evangelion” was released, Anno wrote that he created it when he was “a wreck, unable to do anything” after four years of severe depression and that “the story is not finished in my mind yet.”

“I don’t know what will happen to Shinji or (the other characters) or where they will go,” he wrote.

Anno was clearly dissatisfied as he continued to seek a conclusion, re-cut the final episodes and reworked them into the feature film.Death and Rebirth” (1997) and again in the second 1997 feature “The End of Evangelion

In 2002, Anno announced plans for a four-feature “rebuild” that was a reimagining of the story without being constrained by the financial and technological boundaries it initially faced. “Evangelion: 1.0 You Are Alone (Not)” (2007) was a flamboyant retelling of the first six television episodes. “Evangelion: 2.0 You Can’t Progress (You Can’t)(2009) and “Evangelion: 3.0 You Can’t Redo (You Can’t)” (2012) took the characters and the story in completely new directions. Nine years later, the “Thrice Upon a Time” saga brings a surprisingly optimistic conclusion.

Speaking through Zoom and a translator from Tokyo, Anno said, “For the remake series, I aimed for the first ‘Evangelion’ movie to be similar to the TV series, the second would gradually change the story, and the third and fourth would be completely different. He intends to do the same with the series from the very beginning. I wasn’t.”

These four films showcase Anno’s ability to use new computer graphics technology to create more powerful iterations of his original visions. In the series, when the soldiers attacked Angel Ramiel, he destroyed the people and their weapons in a series of extraordinary explosions; In “You Are (Not) Alone,” audience members can almost feel the heat as Angel turns tanks and missiles into glowing slag.

In the remake, Anno delves deeper into the fragile soul of her flawed, traumatized protagonist and the eccentric personalities around her. Anno spoke with an intensity that transcended language as he described his approach to the characters.

“Nothing is real in animation. But I wanted to bring more of a sense of reality to this made-up world – I wanted to make the characters more human,” he explained. “There is a gap between what people say in real life and what they actually mean. In animation, characters always say what they mean, unless they’re deliberately lying. I wanted to reverse that: when characters in ‘Evangelion’ speak, they don’t necessarily say what they mean. I wanted to animate this human behavior.”

“People think Shinji is an unusual hero,” he continued. “I think this is due to the sense of reality I bring based on my experience and knowledge. But Shinji and the other characters are not just a reflection of me; they contain elements of the personalities of all the artists in the creative team.”

The original “Evangelion” was a huge hit, helping to reverse the decline in the Japanese animation industry: When the final episode aired in March 1996, more than 10 percent of all television in Japan was tuned to it. “Evangelion” remains popular with hundreds of millions of dollars in sales of video and related products. The new features continued that success: “Thrice Upon a Time,” which hit theaters in Japan on March 3, played in theaters there for more than 135 days and earned 10.22 billion yen (about $93 million) despite the pandemic.

Referring to the continued popularity, Anno said, “As a creator, I want to do things that are fun but have depth. I didn’t want our show to be an escape from reality, I wanted the people who watched it to be encouraged to live their own lives.”

Anno is moving into live action for her next project. In April, Toei Company announced that it will direct “Shin Kamen Rider,” as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of this popular superhero franchise. It is scheduled to be released in March 2023.

When asked how it felt to say goodbye to “Evangelion” more than 25 years later, Anno replied, “I don’t feel the need to see Shinji and the other characters anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see them again: There may come a time when I will meet them again.”


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