This is a translation of the interview with Megumi Hayashibara from Evangelion 3.0+1.0 booklet.

Megumi Hayashibara (Ayanami Rei (tentative name) / Rei Ayanami)

There are many Rays, but they are all connected at the root.

—How did you feel when you received the new script, eight years after ":3.0"?

Hayashibara

It's been like that for a while now, but for better or worse, there have been various "Evas" between movies, and as for Rei, her flesh and blood voice hasn't been interrupted for the past eight years. There have been various collaborations such as pachinko and video games.  However, these are just recreations of famous lines from the past, or the incorporation of lines from the past into current games so that people who enjoy the games can remember the past. Only "Eva," Anno's new creation, is ultimately the present, the future, and the new work. When I touch it, it has a juiciness and freshness like a freshly peeled fruit, which makes me nervous but also happy. First of all, I didn't expect another Rei (Ayanami Rei (tentative name)) to be so talkative. I've said this many times before, but when Ayanami Rei blew herself up in the TV anime series, she was over for me. I felt as if I had said goodbye to her, but then the Rei appeared again in the form of "maybe the third one," and after that, every time she appeared in one of the many Raising Projects or games, I would think that this was the fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth Rei, and I would try to make sense of her in order to make my I've been working with her, making sense of her to make it easier for me to do my job. This time, however, I was convinced that she was not just how many Rei's there were, but that she was Rei Ayanami." The soul of Rei Ayanami, whether it is black or white, is Rei.  However, she's a different person, so there are some details that need to be worked out, such as how to play the black Rei and how to play the white Rei.  But at the root of it all, there's something that connects them. I think it was refreshing for me to realize that this time.

—What was Ayanami Rei to you?

Hayashibara

I don't want to give a specific significance to her, so I won't say what we discussed. But when I asked Anno why Rei was like this in a scene where she didn't have any lines, he said, "Well, I don't know..." He looked at the sky and there was a pause. When I saw his unique way of thinking, I was strangely convinced, "Oh, I see”. However, it would not be good if my answer was wrong, so I listened to what General Director Anno had to say. If I were to use an analogy, when the leaves were falling in the fall, a child asked, "Mom, why do the leaves fall in the fall?" to which the mother replied, "I wonder why". I got the impression that it was very similar to something like that. There is a reason why the leaves fall. The cells are reborn and they fall for this reason. There is a natural order to the fact that leaves fall in the fall and new leaves sprout in the spring, and when you try to explain this to children in a way that they can understand, the words disappear. In the same way, everything from the earth to the wind to the seasons is probably connected in Director Anno's mind. So if I asked him to explain this scene, he would have to scoop up the explanation from a huge number of connections. The way he said, "Hmm, I wonder why" was just like that.

―Did you ask him that during the recording?

Hayashibara

After all my work as Ayanami Rei was finished, I said, "Good work. I'll see you later." We were chatting. For me, there are many works that I play based on my understanding of the character from the way of life and descent. For example, if it's a historical story, I would explore the historical background. Having done all that approaching in the TV anime series, I definitely have a shell of Ayanami Rei in me. So this time, I'm just trying to figure out what Anno wants to do and present it to him. It's not so much that I'm making it, but that I'm trying to get closer to what is required. We didn't know what was required of us when we were working on the TV animation series, and we all struggled with that.

The purple object, which concentrated human karma, passed through many things.

―There is a conclusion to the 25 years of "Eva" as a whole, and a conclusion as "EVANGELION:3.0+1.0 THRICE UPON A TIME", what does each of these mean to you?

Hayashibara

I don't know if that's the answer, but I feel like all of them are just "Evangelion". It's just Evangelion, that's all. In a very simple way, if you want to say it's a parallel world, you can say that, or if you want to say it's the future or the near future, you can say that, and I think it's up to each person's interpretation. The point is that human karma and greed are created by non-humans, and battles occur all the time, whether it's religion or discrimination, and the purple object that has concentrated human karma, including these, has passed through many things (laughs). The station is inside each individual. Like the Evangelion bullet train? (laughs).

—Is it the bullet train (laughs)?

Hayashibara

Yes, something like that. Time and space, time, the various livelihoods that people have decided on, and the Evangelion that passes through all of that. I don't know anything about Evangelion, really, but I wonder how much that lack of understanding contributes to the work. It's not that I can understand it logically, but I have a huge world of "Eva" inside of me, including the feeling, the air, Yui's thoughts, the appearance of the EVA-01 TEST TYPE, etc. I also have a lot of scenes that don't exist in the movie. It's Shinji's face as Rei sees it, the world as seen through the water, the sky as seen when it comes up from the ejection port at great speed. She's looking at the sky when she's piloting the EVA-01 TEST TYPE, but there's no emotion there. When I was playing the role, I was thinking a lot of things like, "When I see the sky, there's Angel," or "I can feel Shinji's fear," and that was more than enough for me.

―In "EVANGELION:3.0+1.0 THRICE UPON A TIME", there is a scene in which Gendo remembers Yui very strongly.  What did you think about it from Yui's point of view?

Hayashibara

From Yui's point of view, I think she always knew that Gendo was like that. The whole time I was playing the role, I was thinking, "He's a little too cold to my son," and " You should have grown up by now." This time, what I think is that everyone should be saved. In Yui's opinion, there is no soul that cannot be saved. It's impossible if the person doesn't want to be saved, but if you really want to be saved, after you die, after you dissolve, if you have a soul, it's not because you prayed, it's not because you compared yourself to something else, or resented something else, or all the bad things that happened to you, all the painful things that happened to you, if you can accept that you lived this time, then you can be saved as an individual. Rei may have been a tool, but she doesn't think of herself as a tool, because she lives in one body, one mind.

―This time, there is a scene where Rei is involved in field work in the village.

Hayashibara

I didn't expect her to be working in the fields (laughs). I thought that was a great point. You're kidding! That's what Megumi Hayashibara would say. It was fun for me as another Ray. The actors (elderly woman A: Ai Satou, elderly woman B: Roko Takizawa, elderly woman C: Mami Horikoshi, elderly woman D: Kyo Yaoya) are my favorite seniors who have been really helpful to me, and I was happy to be able to record with them. As soon as they walked into the studio, they said, "Hayashibara, this work is very popular, isn't it? I'm so happy for you." I've never been surrounded by such a lively group of ladies in an "Eva" studio before. During breaks, they would say, "Sorry, we're too noisy," and start chatting. But I can't tell you how much the atmosphere healed me. They were so happy to be there. This is "Eva," right? It's not a mistake, is it? It was really relaxing. I wanted to spend all my time surrounded by these ladies. "Evangelion: Agriculture Edition". I'm going to go sell agricultural tractors and learn how to drive them (laughs).

―In ":2.0", there was a line from Rei, "I feel nice and warm". Was it even more relaxing this time?

Hayashibara

In ":2.0" we were only with the NERV and school members, so even though Rei was watching Shinji, inviting Commander Ikari to dinner, and eating lunch at the Oceanic Institute, the scenery wasn't much different from the TV anime series. But this time, I didn't expect to see a "field". The sun in "Eva" up until now has been a bit unbelievable, but the impression of the moon is rather strong, especially for Rei, who always had the moon floating in the background. I've always imagined the soil in such places as dirt that turns to gravel in your mouth and tastes like blood. But this time, when I touched it, it was moist, warm, and cold, and the sound of water was pleasant. Of course, I didn't have any of those things in the studio, and the pictures weren't finished, but I had a lot of images in my mind of working in the fields and eating food on the ground with everyone. I had actually helped my friend's parents work in the fields, so I didn't think I would be able to use that experience here (laughs).

―Do these physical feelings naturally come out in your voice? Or do you have to be conscious of the technical aspects of your work so as not to change your voice?

Hayashibara

It's both. In some cases, it is better to add emotion, and in other cases, it is better to cut it out. In my case, I barely remember the script as text, but as scenery. So when you say the scene with the famous line, I think, "Oh, there...". But I think you can see Rei standing there with the moon, and of course I remember that, but at the same time I can feel the presence of Shinji holding his knees, the wind, and the lights of the city.

In Eva, being "tsukareru"(tired) means being "tori-tsukareru" (possessed) by a character.

―How did you go about playing the part of another Rei who is slowly growing up?

Hayashibara

That's the difficult part. If I tried to be pure, I would get criticism, and if I tried to be less emotional, I would get criticism again. There is a part of Anno that he definitely wants. He wants the emotions to be fuller here, and he wants the characters to be younger. There's a sense of tension that I can't deviate even 0.1mm from the nuances Anno wants to achieve. There's no way to get anything but the perfect strike. It's very tiring to try to find that out.

―You must be a very reliable person for Anno.

Hayashibara

I think that's true for everyone. That's how everyone got through "Eva". But it's not like we were able to do that from the beginning. It had to be that way because otherwise it would never end. But I don't mind the effort. It's very "tiring"(tsukareru) though. I think "tired" is closer to "possessed". It's about the characters, and about Anno's passion for his work. Sometimes it's like Gendo, sometimes like Shinji, and sometimes like Anno the director. There's also Rei in Anno. I'm possessed by it. If that were the case, I would think that the general director should just do everything himself (laughs), but that's not possible. It's quite terrifying to hear him say, "Hmm, that was really good, let's try that again." If it was so good, why don't you just let it go? What do you want if you say, "It was good, so let's try it again."

Is it some kind of different nuance? Hmmm! How about it! There are times when I feel like that. And he says, "I'll take the one you did three takes ago." But sometimes I think that one is better and that's interesting.

―Despite the fact that EVANGELION: 3.0 and EVANGELION: 3.0+1.0 THRICE UPON A TIME are connected in the timeline of the films, they took 8 years to complete. How did you feel about those years in terms of achieving the best performance?

Hayashibara

As far as I'm concerned, I don't really care much about it. Then what's the best performance? I think I should just do 120% of what I can do now and I believe that what needs to be done will come when it needs to be done. In other words, I think, " Now, eight years later, there must be a point to doing this." In the first place, the work itself is like a twisted time and space, like there is no time at all. And since we are voice actors, we only need to use our mental faculties and a little bit of our physical voice. It's not good to be too proud, but I tried not to think about the eight years. 

Evangelion is coming to an end. But I'm sure there will be something that will start from where it ends for everyone.


・・・

Megumi Hayashibara

Born in Tokyo. Her representative works include "Ranma 1/2" (as Ranma), "Slayers" (as Lina Inverse), and "Detective Conan" (as Ai Haibara). She is also active as a singer and songwriter.