Feb 09, 2021
8 mins read
January 15, 2021
The anime "Evangelion" was broadcasted in 1995 and became a social phenomenon. The release of the movie was postponed due to the declaration of a state of emergency caused by the new coronavirus. However, the latest film in the series, "EVANGELION: 3.0+1.0 THRICE UPON A TIME" is also being planned and continues to attract a lot of attention even after more than a quarter of a century.
How did this legendary work come to be created? The following is an excerpt from "Godzilla and Evangelion" (Yasuo Nagayama, Shincho Shinsho) about the planning stages, the time of broadcast, and the phantom new film version that existed.
The original idea for "Eva" was born around 1991. The project was approved and started production two years before it was broadcast. In the meantime, the manga version was serialized, while the first 12 episodes of the TV anime "Eva" were produced. Since the broadcast started under such circumstances, it was calculated that the remaining 14 episodes until the final episode would have to be made in about six months. They knew from the beginning that it would be impossible to produce it while maintaining the image quality. Still, they were able to make it up to episode 19 with a certain level of quality. However, by the 15th episode, the schedule management had already collapsed and the staff had reached the limit of exhaustion.
Some people began to retire, and by the 21st episode, it was clear that it would be impossible to complete the project as originally planned. Anno himself, who had been working all night, knew that he was the most exhausted, so many of the staff members were patient. However, one of the people involved later told me that the situation was so hard that it was like abandoning your family or abandoning "Eva". That's why the final two episodes were structured in such a way, partly because the drawings couldn't keep up.
"I would rather have a minus 100 point ending than a 5 point ending."
It is also rumored that the original idea for the final two episodes was too shocking for a children's anime, and the TV station complained about it (for example, Anno leaked that he had planned to "do the maximum amount of fighting and war one episode before the final episode"). The script for the final episode was not written until after the party to celebrate the end of work, and there were actually only three days of drawing.
At the "SF Seminar" held on April 28, 1996, after the TV broadcast had ended, Anno said, "I had prepared an overwhelming amount of content. I knew I couldn't go any further.". Although the details are not given, it is believed that this was the prototype of the "theatrical version" (now called "The End of Evangelion", but since we are dealing with the period before the "Rebuild of Evangelion" project, we will use the name "theatrical version" at the time of its release).
With the work speed slowing down, Anno considered ending the broadcast without completing it, and releasing the final part only on laser disc or video. Alternatively, he could have left the mystery of the Human Instrumentality Project behind, and let Asuka recover and Shinji be relieved of his emotional burden, which would have been a safe conclusion. However, Anno says that the ending was based on the idea that "I would rather have a minus 100 point ending than a 5 point ending.".
The author in distress.
Toward the end of the production of the program, the director fell into a depressive state and repeatedly said, "I want to die," which irritated the people around him even more. This continued even after the TV broadcast was over, and the staff was confused by the large range of his emotions.
In "Schizo Evangelion," Anno stated that he once stood on the roof of GAINAX to see if he could actually jump off the roof because of his suicidal thoughts. In "Parano Evangelion," character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and animator Masayuki teased, "I think it's just a trick of his (laughs)," and "We shouldn't think he's having such a hard time (laughs).
However, it has always been the case that such "authors in distress" attract fans. Mr. Takao Kawakami, Chairman of Dwango, said of Mr. Anno, "He has the eyes of a martyr. He has all the characteristics that people think of in a creator.". If a woman who says, "I'll die with you" or a follower who says, "I'll follow you even to the next life" appear here, he may end up with something like Osamu Dazai or Yukio Mishima. Appealing to suicidal thoughts is also a form of avoidance, so it was fortunate that Anno had friends around him who could laugh at him.
Once announced, a completely new "movie version".
The producers knew that the entire story was not fully recovered in the final two episodes of the TV version of "Eva". In April 1996, one month after the broadcast ended, it was announced that the final two episodes would be remade according to the original script, in response to the continued interest of the fans. In addition to the remake, it was also announced that a completely new "movie version" of the entire story would be produced and released. Whether the worldviews of each of them are the same or different has been the subject of much debate among fans.
In November 1996, it was announced that Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth would be released in the spring of 1997, and a completely new "movie version" would be released in the summer of the same year.
However, it failed to meet the scheduled deadline (now it's "as usual"), and Anno held an emergency press conference on February 14, 1997 to apologize. At that time, it was announced that the "DEATH" version, which was the TV version episodes 1 to 24 with some new footage, and a part of the "REBIRTH" version, which was still in production, would be released in the spring, and the complete "REBIRTH" version, "The End of Evangelion", would be released in the summer.
Thus, "Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth" was released on March 15, 1997. The "DEATH" version was not a simple compilation, but was edited with a unique poetic sense that did not follow any timeline, making it incomprehensible unless you knew the plot of the TV version.
The fact that the movie version was not produced on time was a problem for a professional, but the finished work was also unusual. Usually, professionals don't make this kind of work. Also, Anno's attitude was different from that of an "artist". His expression was extremely hobbyist and otaku-like, and he was self-indulgent. There are some people who devote their lives to their hobbies.
A completely new version that was similar to "ATTACK ON TITAN".
What was the "completely new version" that never came to be? It was a project to recreate "Eva" as a two-hour movie, but with a different plot than the "Rebuild of Evangelion" that was released in the 21st century. Its basic setting was said to be very similar to the later "Attack on Titan".
In that world, the city is protected by the A.T. Field and is connected to the outside world only by a large bridge. Then an angel attacks. What's more, the apostle eats people.
When Anno thought about the greatest fear for people, he thought of being "eaten". This ties in with memories of "The War of the Gargantuas" and "Gamera vs. Gyaos" (talk at the 2014 event "The World of Hideaki Anno").
The "man-eating monster" was very impressive.
Gyaos eats people in both "Gamera vs. Gyaos" (1967) and "Gamera: Guardian of the Universe" (1995). I should add that in "Gamera vs. Barugon" (1966), which preceded Gyaos, Barugon had a long tongue and swallowed a people ("Godzilla" is also a man-eater).
The image of man-eating monsters is so vivid that Tom Cruise said in an interview that when he was a child, he was shocked by the scene in the Japanese film "Gargantua" (the international title for "Thunder vs. Geula" is "The War of the Gargantuas") where a giant captures a woman and chows down on her at an airfield. (In the Japanese version, the death of the woman was implied by the red bouquet of flowers on the ground, but in the foreign version, the bitten off clothes were clearly shown.)
The EVA is filled with the soul of a mother. The pilot enters the entry plug and fills it with an amniotic fluid called LCL to fight.
This is clearly an analogy between mother and embryo. However, in the phantom "completely new version", the pilot did not use the entry plug, and was thinking of expressing the idea of entering directly into the womb of the EVA and becoming one with it. And when it comes out, it's an extraction surgery. There was a time limit, and if they didn't make it in time, they would be taken in and "die as a person".
Hideaki Anno does not consider extreme expressions, which are avoided in major commercial animation, as a taboo. In his stories, production attitude, and presentation methods, one can sense the amateurish sincerity of a man who gives priority to his own ideas rather than aiming for innovation.
I wonder what is the source of Anno's approach.
(Written by Yasuo Nagayama)
<Original JP site: https://bunshun.jp/articles/-/42777>