~Monthly Newtype November 1996~

text by KANIO UCHIDA & TADON YAMADA(YAMADA PRODUCTION)

  • Toshiya Ueno / Born in 1962. Critic. Associate professor at Chubu University(*1). Majoring in Social theory, Cultural Studies and Media Studies. Writes in a wide range of genres such as "Studio Voice", "NAVI", and "Eureka". Author of "Red Metal Suit" and many others.

*1) He's a professor at Wako University in 2020.

  • Hideaki Anno / Born in 1960. The next time you can hear the voice of Anno will be on Bunka Broadcasting System's "RADIOEVANGELION" (tentative) on November 3rd (Sun.) from 6:30 p.m. It is scheduled to air for two hours straight, with talks with the lead voice actors and a mini-drama!(*2)

*2) Needless to say, it was aired in 1996.

The "Magic box" with the cold generation

-The "Evangelion" debate knows no bounds. Looking over the entire film in light of the controversial final two episodes, it's hard to say that the story of "Evangelion" is complete. Since "Eva" has disappeared, leaving many mysteries in its wake, fans have been filling in the gaps in their minds with "riddle solving". As a hint for solving the riddle, they seek out the words of director Anno Hideaki, who is considered to be "the Eva that exists today". While literature and paintings have their own way of being understood by readers, knowing the author of the work can expand our view of the work. For this reason, Anno is now being asked questions in a variety of media, including magazines and radio. This interview will be an important part of the conversation in learning about Anno's personality and his work "Eva".

-Our interviewer this time is Mr. Toshiya Ueno, an assistant professor at Chubu University, specializing in the history of social thought, and a well-known author of "Gundam FIX" on this magazine. He is a big anime fan and is of the same generation as director Anno, and says that "Eva" contains the essence of his generation.

・・・

Ueno: I think "Ultraman" and "Kamen Rider" are too big for our generation. I feel that people who like cars, or machines, or science fiction in general, are overwhelmingly imprinted. The first thing that comes to mind is the overwhelming imprinting of images from childhood, such as machines, monsters or funny-looking things come out and destroy the town, influence the formation of personality and the direction of behavior without even realizing it. I feel "Evangelion" is similar to that, too.

Anno: Yes, I think that's true. I think the only common experience of our generation (born in the early '60s) is TV and manga. I don't blame them for that. Before us, there was the generation of Zenkyoto, who had a bad run-in with the Metropolitan Police Department, and then retreated to the tiny studio apartment to sing folk songs. For the generation before that, the overwhelming common experience was WW2 and the post-war period. They said they were going to rebuild Japan from the burnt ruins of nothing. That kind of power is amazing, isn't it? But we only have something to talk about in the "Magic box". It's shameful, but it can't be helped. I think this's where we have to start.

・・・

-From the first episode, the technique of effectively portraying Eva and the Apostle's immense size is strongly influenced by special effects such as "Ultraman". The last scene in the first episode, in which EVA-01 stabs Shamsiel to death, is also impressive with the silhouettes of the two bodies in the dark.

(1)In 1951, the "Security Treaty Between the United States and Japan" established U.S. military bases in Japan under the name of defending the Asian region, but at first Japan was treated as a sacrificed place in the war. People got angry and demanded that the treaty be amended, which was commonly referred to as "Anpo". Inspired by this, students also became active in the movement against the university's unreasonable system. The students' organization was called "Zenkyoto" and their activities were called the "Student activism".

The Stone-cold Generation

-After WW2 and the era of student activism, Japan experienced a period of rapid economic growth but cultural emptiness at the same time. There, they were given the "Magic box" named television for the first time, but it did not have the same reality that their predecessors had experienced. While looking at the box coldly and saying "We know that," they feel that the box has some invisible power.

Ueno: When you watch "Ultraman", you know that it is a costume from the first place. But in the case of Kamen Rider and Ultraman, I think there is a certain sensibility that it's not bad at all if you can see the zipper. There's a certain trust and faith that there might be monsters. But on the other hand, there's a very cold feeling that they're just "objects", that they're just wearing them. I think there is also an imprint of an aesthetic sense of coolness in wearing it.

Anno: Yeah. There is a certain amount of coldness to it. News show is real one. There is a bias that cartoons and dramas are fake ones. But news show is not always telling a true thing, either. But I could experience the realism of the Asama-Sansō incident(*3) and the Yasuda Auditorium incident(*4) in real time in the living room. It's just a virtual thing after all, but I thought television was amazing. At a time when the only entertainment for children was television and comics, they were trying to make the most of it. The TV, the program itself, became the playground. That's why I didn't want to see things that were inconvenient, such as zipper, and I would look for reasons to make them consistent. There was a follow-up to Shonen magazines, but in the past, we used to imagine what was missing in the show in our own way to supplement it.

*3) It was a hostage crisis caused by Marxist Revolutionary Left Wing student group and police siege at a mountain lodge in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, which lasted from February 19 to February 28, 1972. The police rescue operation on the final day of the standoff was the first marathon live television broadcast in Japan, lasting 10 hours and 40 minutes. On February 28, the police stormed the lodge. Two police officers were killed in the assault, the hostage was rescued and the criminal group was taken into custody. The incident contributed to a decline in popularity of leftist movements in Japan.

*4) Zenkyoto and New Left students occupied Tokyo University, Hongo campus and Yasuda Auditorium. The Metropolitan Police Department was asked by the university to conducted the unblockage on January 18, 1969 and January 19, 1969.

A "betrayal experience" seen in a Magic box

Ueno: The generation that spent their youth during WW2, or our parents' generation, born in 1926 to 1934, experienced the "betrayal" of the public. Japan was a militaristic country but suddenly became a democracy after the surrender. The teachers and soldiers who were advocating "Anti-Americanism" yesterday have suddenly changed their minds and are now advocating freedom and equality. That's a great fictional experience, or it's an experience of betrayal. However, our generation has taken those days as a story on TV or in movies, so it's kind of a fiction. So I feel like our generation has never really experienced betrayal.

Anno: So things are happening "in the box" for our generation. We've just been watching it quietly. Or we're hearing about what teachers and parents have actually experienced. After August 15(*5), 51 years ago, the values and systems of Japan as a whole changed drastically. Japan lost the war for the first time by fighting an external enemy. It was the first time in the more than 2000 years of history that Japan got disappeared. But even with that first experience, Japan was able to endure the situation without being destroyed. I think Japan is a lucky country, but it's also the nature of the Japanese people that if the higher-ups change, they will follow them. Because we've heard those stories first-hand, the change in values after the war is imprinted in our knowledge. I think this was a big thing for us. It made us realize that there is no certainty in the world.

*5) In general, August 15 is considered the last day of WW2 in Japan.

The early days of television and the current situation

-In their generation, "the only common experience is television," TV dramas from the '60s and '70s play an important role in the formation of personality. Having grown up watching television, they feel uncomfortable with today's TV programs compared to the ones from the old days.

Ueno: It is generally said that "Ultra Q", "Ultraman" and "Ultra Seven" were very serious because the scriptwriter was from Okinawa(*6), or there were subtle shadows in the story, or Shinichi Hoshi was a member of the planning team, etc. That's true, but we were too young to see the social movements behind the pollution, the oil shock, the dollar shock, the Vietnam War, or the failure of various student activism in Japan.

But in "Iron King" and "Silver Mask" and other special effects (after "Ultraman"), there is another kind of seriousness. This time, we know about the oil crisis and all sorts of social events, and we watch these films with a knowledge of them. In "Iron King", there's a group called the Shiranui Clan that holds a grudge against the Yamato Court, and a radical group called the Independence Party, which reflects the times and is different from the seriousness of the old "Ultraman" and "Seven", but it touches on something very concrete. In the case of "Rainbow Man", there is a "death squad" that kills only Japanese. These are distinguishable from "Ultraman" and "Seven".

*6) In the past, people from Okinawa were often treated unfairly in the Japanese mainland. When the number of migrant workers from Okinawa to mainland Japan increased from 1910 to the '30s, job ads and store entrances sometimes says "Japanese only" because of their language and custom, for example their Japanese has extremely strong accents at the time or they have different sense of time, which called Okinawan time, like you never see your friend shows up on time.

Anno: Systematically, the work in the early '60s speaks of the future. This was a time when Japan was in an upbeat, fearless and uplifting mood, so everyone feels that our future is bright. The year of Ultraman was also set in 1993. I'm the same age as Jamila (laughs). And "Seven" was also set in the late '80s. Those two films still spoke of the future. Then, when the Japanese economic miracle came to a standstill and slammed down, they started talking about reality.

I also think it brought a life-sized hero. "The Ultra Series" also became a human drama when it became "The Return of Ultraman". It's a show that would work even if Ultraman didn't appear in it. There was a bit of such a story in "Seven" as well. The screenwriter, Tetsuo Kaneshiro, had a kind of longing for the future. There was a part of him that had doubts but wanted to believe in it. Kaneshiro was just trying to believe in it, but he didn't really believe in it. He knew the despair, but he had the strength to not talk about it, which was amazing.

Ueno: In a sense, Kaneshiro grew up in the land (Okinawa, the battlefield) where he had to know the reality of the generation that spent their youth during the WW2 and came to Tokyo. He's in an unusual position, isn't he?

Anno: Such a person can portray a character "Moroboshi Dan," who is considered a heretic on earth. Only such a person with that kind of original experience could draw him. You can't get that kind of feeling by just reading a book.

Ueno: In fact, the scriptwriter of "Iron King" (Sasaki Mamoru), who was surrounded by activists, knew it would go in vain, but he felt some sympathy and wrote about the Independent Phantom Power Party and the Shiranui tribe. Whether in a good way or a bad way, an experience has an impact after all.

Anno: The goal is to overthrow the current government. The atmosphere of extremism, etc., is still present in the work. He has no choice but to treat it as an evil. Well, considering all this, the works of that time were good quality. I think the people who made them were very serious about it.

Ueno: Is it different now?

Anno: Yes, it's completely different now. Children's programs are often downplayed. It should be done properly precisely because it's a children's program. But it's on a different level or perhaps I should say it's a wrong stance.

Ueno: There are so many levels. There is a huge difference beyond comparison.

Anno: Indeed, but in the old days, the good ones were by far the best. There were a lot of good films. In the special effects industry, they started making a lot of poorly made films, and after the boom, a lot of bad ones came out at once.

Ueno: For me, it was good until "Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan".

Anno: I stopped watching it in the middle of Choudenshi Bioman, and then I came back to it around the time of Chōjin Sentai Jetman. The current Gekisou Sentai Carranger is extremely good, and the RV Robo combination scene was nice.

(2)Iron King: A giant hero film created by the staff of "The Silver Mask" after a blank period of about six months. The film has more social and political colors than its predecessor, with the protagonist as a member of the national power structure, and the opponents as ethnic minorities and revolutionary guerrillas who were once destroyed by the Japanese government. In this film, too, the producer's perspective is on the side of the enemy. Sasaki Mamoru, who wrote the screenplay for all 26 episodes, actually visited a Palestinian guerrilla hideout at the time, and his own experiences were probably reflected in the film.

(3)Silver Mask: A live-action, transforming hero film broadcast on TBS in 1971. One of Japan's foremost science fiction dramas, depicting a battle between the five orphans of Dr. Kasuga, the inventor of a rocket that runs on "photon energy," and aliens who attack to steal the secret. In this film, the composition of the invader and the invaded is reversed from that of the conventional heroic story, and the question "Isn't it the earthlings who are really bad?" Although it produced many thought-provoking and profound episodes, it was defeated in the ratings by the backstage program Miller Man (produced by Tsuburaya Productions).

(4)Warrior of Love Rainbowman: Broadcast on NET (now TV Asahi) in 1972, the film depicts the battle between Rainbow Man, a hero who can transform into seven different forms, and the international secret society "Die Die Die Gang", which aims at the annihilation of the Japanese people. The original author, Kawauchi Yasunori, was a political activist who was keen on post-war processing, so the theme of "Japan's war responsibility" was included in the film. This is evident in Die Die Gang's setting, in which "foreigners whose families were killed by Japanese soldiers organized to take revenge on the Japanese after the war.

(5)Tetsuo Kaneshiro: Main writer for "Ultra Q", "Ultraman", and "Ultra Seven" (1966-1968). Although he was born in Okinawa, he spent his impressionable youth as a native of mainland Japan, and was always conscious of projecting his own identity as a "foreigner" who was neither Okinawan nor Japanese onto the characters in his works. The most notable example of this is Moroboshi Dunn, the protagonist of Ultra Seven, who was always portrayed as a character in agony, standing between aliens and earthlings.' He passed away at a young age in 1975 in an accident.

Characters are Anno himself

-Part of the appeal of "Eva" is its characters with strong personalities. They seem to resemble someone around them, but in fact, they are nowhere to be found. You want to know more about them, and that's one of the things that attracts you to "Eva". It is often said that a part of director Anno is projected onto each character.

Anno: I feel especially close to Shinji, Misato and Asuka. And Kaworu as the shadow. Rei is made from the deepest part of me, the core of my being. I try to avoid interfering in myself as much as possible, and only give shape to what oozes out.

Ueno: I'm a big fan of Rei. For example, I really want Four Murasame from "Z Gundam" to exist. I really want to meet him in person. But that's not the case with Rei. It's not a 2D Complex thing, even if it's the same artificially created one, Rei is a complete being that doesn't exist in front of you.

Anno: Well, it's crazy (laughs). It was difficult, but I wanted Rei to be like that. Only a crazy person can draw it. So I had to go crazy.

Ueno: People talk about psychoanalysis and personality seminars, but have you always had a strong interest in psychology in general?

Anno: I wasn't interested in it at all.

Ueno: Did the process of working on Eva lead you in that direction?

Anno: Right, without being aware of it. I didn't read any books on psychoanalysis before. I only learned a little bit as a general education at university. It was the most interesting subject though.

Ueno: So there must have been some kind of important word or interest that stuck in your mind.

Anno: I guess I wasn't really interested in people. But when I started to tell my story, I needed words to convey it in the middle of the process. I concluded that the term psychological terms in common use are the easiest to use. I started reading a lot of books. I never thought I'd be interested in psychology until then.

-Rei, who was inside EVA-01's entry plug, overlaped Shinji's information from EVA-01 with her own memories and asked herself the question. The series of honest words spoken there is the very image of Rei, transparent and non-fragile.

Conversations between you and you

Anno: Episode 16 was the first time I went straight into my inner world. I've always wanted to do line drawings of words. The dialogue for that scene was still relatively easy. I just had to make the dialogues about myself. But then I got stuck with the Rei's monologue in the compilation. Oh, we started production on 16 episodes first. We could have made the compilation later.

When I was struggling with a clear picture, a friend lent me a book called "Bessatsu Takarajima (*7)", was about mental illness. It was the poems in the book that shocked me. It was a direct hit to my brain. Although Rei's monologue isn't the same as the poems in the book. Rei's monologue came to me like a dam, and I guess that was the turning point. Thanks to my friend I was able to take a step forward. I'm very grateful to him. You can't make a film by yourself. I realized that you have to work together with the staff and cast to make it interesting. It's impossible you do it alone.

-Shinji, who has been captured inside the angel's interior (imaginary space) called the Sea of Dirac, interacts with himself in emptiness. The sunset in the background and the fisheye lensed close-up of his face are just like "Ultraman".

-Each of the characters, including Shinji, expose their own minds, and their psychological complements are like watching a psycho-therapy session. Although director Anno was not aware of it, this kind of psychotherapy is actually available.

*7) A series of mooks published by Takarajima sha. From political issues to subcultures, it has been established as a "new book for the young" and "knowledge magazine".

To non-Otaku, the final episode was standard ending?

-The final two episodes of the film have caused controversy not only among anime geeks, but also in many other places. The two episodes are said to have a major meaning that is unknown to the director Anno's intentions, although it is not surprising. What is it? And in the film version, which is waiting to be completed, will it be the final episode that everyone (including Anno) will be satisfied with?

Ueno: I think that (the last two episodes) is not a betrayal, but a kind of standard ending. In fact, that ending is easy to understand for people who watch experimental films, people who appreciate art and people who don't usually watch anime. But people who have been watching anime for a long time may feel betrayed when the ending is like that.

Anno: Lately I've been talking to more and more people who don't normally watch anime, and they've said they enjoyed it calmly. For example, it seems ladies liked episode 25. But I know most anime fans get upset when I say that. I understand why they're upset. I'm just sorry to hear people say that it's a lazy episode, I can't help but laugh. There are staff members who have overworked it, but none of them has been lazy. Again, those people might get pissed at me if I say these things, but I feel sad for those who can't feel it, even you've been watching from 1st episode. They don't understand unless I say it out loud. That's honestly painful, isn't it?

Actually, the TV version ends beautifully. Internally and externally, it's falling into place beautifully. Now I'm just working on another way to make it fit. Also, I haven't told anyone about the core, or the true feelings that made the last part of the TV version take that form. It doesn't mean that what I've been untruthful. Like other directors are the same, it's an important thing, so you don't usually tell people the main reason. Also, there is no such thing as a thing that satisfies everyone. Every person is different. There are as many wishes as there are people.

Will Eva have an answer?

Ueno: A lot of fans are expecting a film version to have some closure, but I don't expect to get any definitive answers in the first place, nor do I expect anything to unfold like we're expecting on the (online service) forums and so on. To be frank, is it possible that the film version will provide a tentative answer to the riddle surrounding Angel and EVA or the "Human Instrumentality Project"?

Anno: Sort of.

Ueno: It is only "sort of"?

Anno: Yeah. I don't have to give it all away. In fact, it's more boring to reveal everything. Eva is like a jigsaw puzzle, where the customer is presented with pieces of the puzzle. The assembling of the pieces is left to the audience. But there are no pictures of the finished product, so everyone imagines a different picture of the finished one. If there are parts that you can't find, I just tell you to fill in the missing parts by yourself. The process of assembling a jigsaw is fun, but the process of imagining the finished one is more fun. But for people who can't live without a manual, it must be hard.

-Anno has always said, "I want you to figure out the answers yourself, not just be given them". So even in the film version, it won't be an ending where everything is in place and all you have to do is watch. After that, each of us will have to complete the puzzle called "Eva" to find the answer.

<Original JP site:http://anime-room.jp/modules/evangelion/eva-doc/ecom4.htm>