Mar 01, 2021
8 mins read
This is a rough transcript of an interview with Hideaki Anno, which aired in November1996. The interviewer is a famous Japanese voice actress Noriko Hidaka.
A subtitled interview with Anno, including a video from his amateur days, can be seen here. Thank you very much.
I hope you enjoy it.
The World of Hideaki Anno
～A collection of treasured images～
Good evening, I'm Noriko Hidaka(*1).
*1) A Japanese actress, voice actress, singer and narrator. She played Minami Asakura in Touch, Akane Tendo in Ranma ½, Satsuki Kusakabe in My Neighbor Totoro, Near in Death Note, Seta Sōjirō in Rurouni Kenshin, Jean Roque Raltique in Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and Kikyo in Inuyasha. (Wikipedia)
Today I would like to introduce you to an old friend of mine. The friend is now incredibly popular among young people, especially middle and high school students.
His name is Hideaki Anno. He is a director of animation.
Hideaki Anno is the director of the much-talked-about anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Three boys and girls who control the fictional cyborg in the near future when they have a global cataclysm known as the Second Impact, and they grow up while fighting against mysterious giant objects, Angels, that attack them.
Awakening to the visual arts
Hidaka: You've become a big shot, haven't you?
Anno: A big shot ? Me?
H: Why are you laughing?
A: I don't really feel like I'm a big shot.
H: I think you are amazing. Outside of the anime scene, I've also seen “Hideaki Anno! Very popular with young people now!”, something like that.
A: Doesn't ring a bell.
H: Oh yeah? But you feel you're getting more attention than before.
A: Are they paying attention? ...I think you’re right, but it really doesn't ring a bell.
H: I see.
When did you first become interested in movies in the first place?
A: Well, ever since I was a kid, I've only watched TV, not movies. I watched a lot of TV as a kid.
H: Was it mainly anime or special effects?
A: I also watched other TV dramas. I had grown up as a normal kid. I was so into special effects and super hero works, but I never thought of making them.
H: Super hero ones?
A: Yeah. But by the time I was in high school, I started to feel like shooting on 8mm film.
H: The live-action kind?
A: Yeah. Both anime and live-action.
H: Inspired by someone?
A: No, I've always wanted to make my own. I had such a desire, so I did some filming. I think copycat is what got me into the video industry in the first place. Probably.
H: In the beginning, when you made moving pictures, did you write a flip book or something like that by yourself?
A: Yes, I did. The Japanese textbook was the best. The social studies textbook was thick, but it usually had pictures of great people at the edges of the book.
H: Yes, there are.
A: That was a problem for me.
H: I see.
A: The Japanese textbook doesn't have that. So it was easy to make.
He who shoots often, hits at last
H: Is your first film "He who shoots often, hits at last."
A: There was another film I shot in high school before that one, but I don't know where the film is now.
H: Did you shoot that film when you were studying for your college entrance exam?
A: Yes, that's when. Actually, I should have been studying, but I was doing all those things.
H: You must have enjoyed it a lot.
A: More than studying, yes. Studying is boring. Some of them were interesting, but most of them were just boring.
H: I was surprised to watch “He who shoots often, hits at last.”. It was so nostalgic. I feel like I used to watch something like this as a kid.
A: We did have ones.
H: What are you drawing on?
A: That's Daiei's notepad.
H: What? Daiei's notepad? The Daiei supermarket?
A: Yes, that Daiei.
H: That note pad!
Did you take those pictures one by one?
A: Yes, I did.
A: I didn't know about professional timesheets or anything like that yet. I did it based on intuition, It was called Straight ahead animation.
There was an independent production group, and I was a member of the group. We all film our individual creations together.
H: When you watch that video, you'll see the name Anno, the director. I noticed that design hasn't changed at all, has it?
A: It hasn't changed at all since I was in junior high school.
H: It goes, "ANN".
A: When I was in junior high school, I was in the art club and drew pictures. Oil paintings require a signature, which was a cool thing to do at the time. I still use my signature from that time.
This is a project he did in his first year of college.
H: Well, I know "Working Car" is a children's song, so what was the title again?
A: Durable tires.
H: Oh, yes, "Durable tires". It's totally different, sorry.
A: Totally different. Lol.
H: The car is moving a lot. Extremely a lot. The car was transforming and moving so well,
I thought you must have had a hard time to make it. I watched it one more time.
The movements were so smooth, it was like watching foreign cartoons when I was a kid.
A: In technical terms, it's all one frame animations, so it's probably smooth.
H: One frame animation is smooth?
A: Yes, it is.
A: Why? You have 24 films, right? Out of 24 films, all 24 are moving. In a normal animation, 8 frames are moving out of 24. 8 x 3 is 24, so it's a 3-frame animation.
H: So you're moving it frame by frame?
A: Right. It moves at three times the speed of a normal TV. It's a little weird that it's triple speed, though.
H: That's pretty skilled technique for a college student, isn't it?
A: I guess so. I didn't think so at the time though.
H: What was your evaluation at a class?
A: I got an A for that one.
H: Did you make that all by yourself?
A: Yes, I made it alone.
H: I thought to myself, "Wow, there was a time when he was making this kind of stuff.".
A: Oh yea?
H: I was really amazed.
A: It was normal for us to do independent work like that.
Aikoku Sentai Dai Nippon
Anno, who is fascinated by superheroes, was not only involved in animation, but also participated as a staff member in special effects projects made by his friends when he was in college. One of them was Aikoku Sentai Dai Nippon.
H: Away from anime, I'm talking about this special effects thing, what was the title again? ...Aikoku Sentai Dai Nippon. That reminded me of "Battle Fever J".
A: Because both of them are classic superhero things.
H: How were you involved in that work?
A: I just helped them.
H: Helping? I heard you did the mechanical design, correct?
A: I did the design, optical compositing, drawing, and other aspects of animation. I also acted in a costume.
H: You were in one?
A: Yes, I was.
H: What color superhero were you?
A: No, not that one. I was in the robots and monsters.
H: Also, didn't you do some narration?
A: Oh, I also do narration.
H: That narration was very good, wasn't it?
A: In a manner of speaking, I did as Tōru Ōhira(*2) did. I exaggerated.
*2) One of his best-known roles was the dub voice of Darth Vader in Star Wars, on the series' home video releases and playing the title character Moguro Fukuzō in the original The Laughing Salesman. He was also known for his many narration roles, most notably in the Super Sentai series.
H: Each machine combines to form a robot in this film, right? I wonder what you’re making that out of?
A: It’s Paper.
H: Paper? What are you using to attach it?
A: Bond, for example. It's just a paper craft, you know.
The returning Ultraman
H: The returning Ultraman in which you played the leading role. When I saw the movie before, I had heard in advance that Anno was Ultraman. But I wondered how he could look exactly like Ultraman with Hideaki Anno's usual face.
There are things you can do only when you're wearing a mask, right?
H: For example, you're wearing sunglasses right now, but there are things you can do because you're wearing sunglasses.
H: But in the film, you wore the same glasses you always wore, not sunglasses, and acted as Ultraman with them. I think that's amazing. You are kind of shy, aren't you?
A: I'm absolutely shy.
H: However, you sometimes take unbelievable and courageous actions.
A: You could say it's just foolish.
H: Oh it’s definitely not.
A: That would be easier if I didn't have to think about anything.
H: Were you also fascinated by Ultraman as a kid?
A: Yes, I was.
H: For the Ultraman pose, did you watch the video and practice it?
A: No, I used to play as Ultraman when I was a kid, so my body remembered.
H: Do you still remember it?
A: I remember some.
H: Can you do it here?
A: No, I can’t.
H: Why not?
A: Because it's embarrassing.
H: Just for a little bit, please. Just once!
H: How about just a specium beam?
H: Why don't you like it?
A: It's embarrassing.
H: Oh, I don't like it when people behave like that after they become masters.
A: I don't want to be a comedy.
H: You have such a good character, did you know?
A: I can’t. I don't want to do comedy.
Continue to #2.