Apr 03, 2021
7 mins read
Interview & Writing: Ryusuke Hikawa
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Working on remembering 'Eva's grammar'
Shinji Higuchi and Tomoki Kyoda drew the storyboards for the new film, right?
The storyboard itself had two parts, one from the TV series and a new part created by the two of them, and I was the one who put it all together in the end. Both Mr. Higuchi and Mr. Kyoda came up with different storyboards from the previous Eva series. We ordered new storyboards, so of course they thought, "There's no point in making it the same as before." I think it turned out to be an interesting storyboard in its own way. But when we got to the stage of putting it together, some people said, " It doesn't feel like Evangelion." So we went back to the old storyboards and checked the DVD, and while remembering the "Evangelion grammar" again, we tried to incorporate their storyboards into the Evangelion. That's what I did for a long time.
Mr. Higuchi was in charge of the storyboard for "Operation Yakushima," but where did Mr. Kyoda work on the storyboard?
He is mainly in charge of the storyboards for the new cuts, which are detailed as connections, and the conversations and human drama. Mr. Kyoda's work on "Rahxephon" and "Psalms of Planets Eureka seveN good night, sleep tight, young lovers" may be perceived by the public as being influenced by Evangelion, but when you look at the storyboards, they are quite different from Evangelion. I think it's inevitable, because things may have changed after "Eureka", and I myself have changed over the past ten years. So I decided to remember the grammar.
What exactly is this "grammar" that you speak of?
It's difficult to explain, but the easiest way to understand is the way the cuts are connected. For example, the rhythmic insertion of cuts in the flow. You can break up the cuts to make the flow more pleasant, or leave out cuts that should normally be included. There is also the difference in size between close-up and panoramic shots of the characters, and a peculiar stoicism. This stoicism is related to the fact that I dare not move the film. Originally, this was a directing method that I developed in order to distribute resources well so that the schedule and quality of the TV series would not collapse, and it is directly related to cost performance. After that, I went in the opposite direction, moving things around. This was the case with "Kare Kano" and "FLCL" as well. I dared to go back to "Evangelion" again.
I realized once again that if I don't pursue the finely honed sensibility of the images of that time, it won't become Evangelion.
When did you start working on the storyboards?
It was from October to the beginning of December last year (2006). Originally, I had planned to make a 90-minute film, but I had already increased the length of the film through storyboarding, and it ended up being almost a hundred and ten minutes long, which is like a massive work. I think I dropped it once more in the rough editing stage.
The original script was tightly written, but at the stage of finalizing the script and storyboarding, we started to say, "Let's include that scene," or "Let's include this scene," and it ended up looking like a collection of famous scenes. I'm trying to trim it down once more.
To put it more fundamentally, is it an event film to entertain the original Evangelion fans, or is it a film to attract new fans? If it's the former, then it's okay if it's a collection of famous scenes, even if it's a broken story. My mind was wavering from day to day as to which it was. One day I'd say, "Fans will be upset if we don't include that scene," but the next day I'd say, "No, no, no, it's just a collection of famous scenes." I spent a lot of time compiling the storyboards while dealing with such conflicts.
When I finally got the film together, I started to get the feeling that I should make it into a movie, so Anno cut it down and made it into a film.
What were some of the difficulties you had in putting the film together?
I think making a film means cutting off the branches and leaves and concentrating on the trunk. But since it's originally a TV show, there are many good branches, and those are the ones that I enjoy. In particular, the first six episodes are usually completed in two sets, so there are many branches and leaves attached to the three sets of stories as the trunk. But if you don't remove the branches and leaves, the story doesn't become a movie.
Also, at the screenplay stage, a new branch was introduced: the adult-like conversation between Ritsuko and Misato. I thought it would be a response to the childish side of the story. In the early days of TV, it was still a robot animation. But Evangelion as a whole left a serious impression in the latter half of the series. I think Anno is trying to adjust the balance by adding an adult perspective and bringing in the serious atmosphere of the latter half. However, in order to put it all together in the main body of the story, these are branches and leaves that are not necessary.
Overall, it seems like the fourth episode where Shinji wanders was omitted.
That's a scene that was omitted in the initial script, but we were able to bring it back. In particular, Anno-san has been adding a lot of interesting urban scenery to the film, especially with the CGI buildings. In this way, the situation where Shinji wanders around is necessary to show the vastness of the terrain around TOKYO-3, and to give a sense of life through the monorail transportation. So I took it all back, and then cut down the parts that were too much, leaving only the necessary parts.
I also felt that overall, Shinji's feelings were slightly positive.
That's a difficult part. In a normal story, the protagonist grows up and ends up winning, but Shinji seems to be positioned as a character who never grows up. However, if you look at the TV series closely, you can see several milestones in Shinji's growth that you wouldn't mind seeing as the final episode. I think that's episode 6 and episode 19. The end of episode 19 goes in a different direction, but if they win against Angel and declare, "This is the last episode!", I think that would have made for a really good robot anime.
When you think about it, it's not that Shinji hasn't grown up. It's just that there's an even tougher development waiting for him, and he repeatedly worries and gets lost. The final "growth" was not portrayed clearly, especially in the last episode of the previous movie, so Shinji was perceived as a very spoiled character.
We haven't decided on the ending for this (1.0) yet, but it seems that there is a plan to make it a happy ending, so I thought it might be better to make it a more straightforward story of growth from the beginning. In the storyboard I submitted to Mr. Anno before the final draft, I had drawn a clear picture of growth. But Mr. Anno changed the nuance a bit. Maybe he thought that was too much.
If you look at "1.0" as a stand-alone movie, I wanted it to be a story about Shinji growing up, winning, and ending on a happy note. I tried to make it look like a normal movie.
I'm sure the audience will be highly satisfied with this movie, including the way it fits together.
I think it will definitely be easier to watch. Of course, people who like Shinji as a useless person might be repulsed, but I do think that if it's Shinji up to episode 6 on TV, it's not surprising that this would happen.