Monthly Newtype Jan '95

Creators' Conversation - Hideaki Anno and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

We've been in the mid-90s before we know it, and the 21st century is around the corner.

These two men worked on such films as "Wings of Honneamise", "Aim for the Top GunBuster", "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water " and so on as a core member of Gainax.

I would like to ask you to talk about the state of animation in the coming 21st century, as well as your hopes and predictions.

Anno: If I talk about limited to original works, I'd say that I have my doubts about the future of animation. Hope is essentially just a product of despair, so to talk about hope is to be desperate. And despair has another name, "a deadly disease". Japanese Animation today is in just such a circumstance. People are trying to cover it up by talking about hope as a self-defense. And the same goes for anime magazines. They're almost the same as information magazines.

You mean things have already come to that point?

Anno: Yes. Nowadays, most anime is originally from manga or video games. That's because sponsors, creators and audiences don't really feel the need of anime. I think that as long as the manga they like are in the cell and they can hear the voices of their favorite voice actors, that's all that matters. Anime itself is already just a secondary thing. I feel that it has already lost its power as a core piece of media. I'm disappointed in this situation.

Sadamoto: But you're still trying to make a new work called "Evangelion", aren't you?

Anno: It's a product of despair, though.

Sadamoto: In my case, I'll draw the manga version of "Evangelion" for Monthly Shōnen Ace, which will be released soon. The reason I chose the manga instead of the animation is because I was so desperate that I abandoned animation. Of course, I didn't come into the animation industry because I wanted to and people wanted me to as well like Anno, but because I wanted to satisfy my material desires. It is a rather ephemeral reason. So if you measure that "despair" in the same way as Anno, I think it's a bit of a problem.

You mean the difference in a personal attachment to animation?

Sadamoto: Of course, I have my own feelings about the films I've worked on. So it's like a difference in my approach to animation in general. To tell you the truth, I've been thinking about abandoning animation for a long time, but the people around me needed me, so I figured I'd stick around a bit longer. Metaphorically speaking, I was feeling like I'm Tsuge from "Patlabor 2" (laughs).

Anno: I guess you'd like to see where it goes.

Sadamoto: However, I did have some hope for the future. After graduating from university, I worked for Telecom for a while, and then joined GAINAX on "Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise". I was also given my first opportunity to work on character design and art direction. For me, at least, all the work I did after that was based on some of the know-how I acquired during the "Royal Space Force" period. Then I decided to put an end to that, and there was a project in progress, but unfortunately I couldn't make it. That was a big factor in my decision to move into manga, but I don't think I've given up. Some people may think that I escaped, but for me I see it as a step in the right direction before my counterattack to animation.

Anno: It's more of a disappointment than a despair. It's abandonment.

Sadamoto: Yes, abandoning the current animation, which is weirdly focused on commercialism. But there are a lot of people in GAINAX, including Anno, who haven't abandoned that animation yet. So if there's anything I can do to help them, I'm willing to help them.

What made you decide to work on a new film despite these circumstances?

Anno: Of course, it's for myself (laughs). The reason for creating things are always very personal. I don't think there's any need to talk more than that now. However, as long as it's a TV anime, it's a product, so I need to be careful not to turn it into a thing like masturbation. I've got to make this business work well including our own name value. I think it's hard to survive just by "simply making anime" nowadays.

You mean a media mix, which was poplar at one point in time?

Anno: Even though it's called a media mix, if it doesn't have a "core", it's just a bunch of weak things coming together. It would be nice if we could create a strong anime at the core of it, but in reality it's hard to create a powerful energy original anime. I want to do my best so that people don't call it the sadness of the TV generation, which is lack of originality. In order to do it, we have to start by improving the environment, and that's the hardest part. People are cold toward the anime industry (laughs).

What exactly is wrong with the animation?

Anno: There are a lot of things that can be said "no". But it's very difficult to talk about them in such a short time without misunderstanding. However, I've heard that the current state of anime is very similar to the end of the Japanese film industry, which is said to be at the end of its life. It may be that anime has reached the end of its life as a media content and is coming to an end. However, even if it's just a matter of age, I can't deny that we are lacking in power and energy today. Compared to 10 years ago, it's obvious that it's not as good as it was, including what our fans have. I think this is partly because of the dispersal of energy into manga and games. Damn. It's dangerous to glorify the past too much, take a bad view of reality, and long for the future.

Sadamoto: I have a small kid, he's most fascinated by the very first "Ultraman" after all. I'm sure that this is because of the power that only epochal works have, but recent anime, especially the original ones, have very little of this power. Of course, part of the reason for this is on us. Come to think of it, why did you decide to make your upcoming new work a robot thing? I only remember asking why, and I don't think I was convinced at the time.

Anno: As a commercial product (laughs). No, seriously. I thought the best way for me to get my original project through would be to make a robot, space, or beautiful young girl one. Because I thought these categories would have the best product value. It's easy for sponsors to pay for it.

I think anime keeps hanging in there despite of the circumstance.

How do you feel about it?

Anno: I think that's a situation of just "making" things. I think we should be grateful for this situation. It's important that there's anime job. Anime is still a viable business. However, I also feel that anime is moving into a closed world. I don't want to be be satisfied with where I am and want to make our anime something we can be proud of to the world. People say that TV anime is cheap, but compared to other TV shows, it's made on a budget that's about as high as a samurai drama. It means anime is a valuable product. I would like anime to get positioned closer to the center of the economy. It's hard to be the king of entertainment , though (laughs).

What do you think why you still stick with the original?

Anno: I think that's because my presence remains in the film. It's rather straightforward. It's a pleasant sensation. Filmmaking itself is quite a pleasant sensation. In any case, animation is supposed to be interesting.

<Original JP site: http://anime-room.jp/modules/evangelion/eva-doc/siryou1.htm>