[EVA] "Please Listen To Me, Mr. Anno!" extracts
gwern0 at gmail.com
Sat Jan 9 00:20:09 EST 2010
Y'all may remember scattered mentions that Anno, as part of his
research for _Kare Kano_, went and interviewed any number of high
Turns out said roundtables/discussions were published, and remarkably,
translated into English:
This seems to have never been mentioned or linked on this ML, and I
found a number of Anno's comments to be of great interested. Hence,
I'm pasting selections from the many articles here, in roughly
Some parts are amusing; some are interesting autobiographical pieces I
don't think I've seen before; still others are very revealing about
Anno & Eva & anime in general. (Unsurprisingly, I interpret them as
further evidence for the psychological paradigm.) Please bear with the
> Here, I've found what I had lost--Anno said this with a heartfelt voice.
> How could Toyoko Academy have nothing but nice people like this? No bullying, no violence, no failures to communicate...the editorial staff were themselves profoundly moved to find that a school such as this exists in a society full of ugliness, hate, and despair. Is it really like this, though? We asked the students to tell us more.
> Kashiwara: Even within a given class, we respect one another. It makes me feel good to have such good friends. We pat one another on the back when we do something good, and cry together when something sad happens.
> Anno: Here, I have found what I had lost. I guess I've just gotten hard and crusty. But my heart is bursting at the thought that people like you still exist.
> Anno: There's really nothing I can say here. I mean, I've been aware of the existence of high-school students like you, intellectually. Right now, I'm working on an anime series based on a girls' manga, but the world of girls' comics, where everyone is nice, looks completely unreal to me. It's a major surprise to find that there are people in the world who praise others so unreservedly. I guess such people really do exist after all.
> Kashiwara: Do unpleasant things really exist?
> Anno: There's no need to go out of your way to find them.
> Kasagi: I think that's one of your good points, though, Aya (Kashiwara). You're confident in yourself, so you can't let anyone see even a little bit of breakdown. You practice in secret, out of pride.
> Anno: You should start by throwing away your public image.
> All: "Public image?"
> Anno: Yes, the image you decide on, where you are this or that character type.
> Kashiwara: There are times, though, when you think that you can't cry because you are who you are. You do have your particular character. I get the feeling that that's how the teachers really see the students. There are harsh things which they would say to me because I can handle it, but that they wouldn't say to a student who's more easily hurt by such things. I've never cried, even when I'm hurting, because I practice hard at home. I've made modifications to my home. I installed a barre and other stuff, and did it all myself.
> Murayama: I'd like to work with film and video. I was really impressed by Evangelion, and it's gotten me interested in anime and stuff like that lately.
> Anno: I apologize for getting you all worked up. You'd best stay away from it.
> Murayama: It looks incredible from where I'm sitting.
> Anno: I can't really be all that proud of my own work.
> Murayama: Is that so? I think it's terrific.
> Anno: It doesn't matter whether one does this kind of work or not, so you're better off not doing it.
> Murayama: I think it's great to be doing what you want.
> Anno: You've got it all wrong. This is the only thing I can do. Getting married, having kids, and raising them to be adults--that's far and away more of an accomplishment than making a movie. And the biggest accomplishment of all is to do all of that and make anime at the same time. In my case, I've managed to get this far because I gave up everything else. I don't see any need for anyone else to sacrifice everything else in life for this, though.
> Anno: But if you like it, who cares? You need to like this sort of thing a certain amount to be able to do it. And once you've given it up, you'll be OK.
> Takahashi: Once you've given it up?
> Anno: Right. The instant you wake up to reality again. When you realize that enjoyment alone won't see you through.
> Shibasaki: You mean, you give it up, but even then, you still keep doing it?
> Anno: Well, that's where you find out what you're really made of. To some extent, anyone can each a certain level of achievement if they try. Whether they can go beyond that point depends on the given indivdual. Going beyond that point requires quality. Hard work alone won't do it. And there will always be someone better than you. If you get carried away by how good you are, what do you suppose will happen when you discover that there are far better people in the world already?
> Anno: Exactly. I put my work ahead of everything, which makes me cold. I sacrifice people, including myself. Going that far is like being prepared to die.
> Takahashi: But don't your parents tell you things like, "That's why Japan is going into the toilet"? When I say that I think things are OK, my folks reply with, "That's what's wrong with the Japanese way of thinking."
> Mutoo: I hate America.
> Anno: (laughs)
> Mutoo: I've learned to hate it.
> Takahashi: I bet people who debate international relations all hate America.
> Mutoo: Is all they do in America to criticize others without looking at themselves? Don't they act like they're the greatest? Always saying they're the world's best.
> Hirata: I don't like America either. Right now, Japan's economy is bad. But when it was really good, America said that it was doing too well, and now that it's bad, they won't help us out. They just say that it's our own fault. Makes me think, who do they think they are, anyway?
> All: (laughter)
> Anno: Asia is where it's at now. We'd best get in good with our neighbors. The previous generation is with America. Those currently in their 50's typically think in terms of America. In reaction to losing the War to America, they all want to live the American lifestyle. Like all going to Europe, that sort of thing.
> Takahashi: I get that feeling when I read theses written by people of that time.
> Anno: It's like an America-first philosophy. In my generation, though, you turn more and more to domestic matters, look more inward. When I was in the boondocks of Yamaguchi, Tokyo as I saw it on TV looked so incredible, so I always wanted to go there. I wanted to go to Tokyo to attend college, that sort of thing.
> Anno: Put it on TV, though, and old ladies with time on their hands watch it. We got one such old lady calling the TV station while "Evangelion" was on the air, saying that we shouldn't have sexy scenes.
> Miyabu: Just for that?
> Anno: Yep. There's no sense of realism about high school students having a romance without sex, is there. I'm thinking about putting a message at the beginning of each episode telling grade-school students not to watch.
> Miyabu: Are the main characters of "Kareshi Kanojo no Jijoo" going to be junior-high or high school students?
> Anno: They're in their first year of high school, and in the manga they've recently had sex. And it just happened, without any buildup. I'm trying to figure out how to make something dramatic out of this. Could that be the way it is? Do they just do it?
> Miyabu: What do you think?
> Anno: I think I'm stuck. The male lead seemed to me to be so terribly upstanding, I figured he'd treat her better than that, when he up and has sex with her. He's not the character I thought he was. Maybe that's what it's like nowadays. People don't waste time, or something.
> Anno: Everyone defines pure love differently. But old biddies like the one who complained (about Eva) have never experienced it. They do things like that to kill time, because they're dissatisfied with kids today. They're not dissatisfied with themselves, but with their environment, their surroundings. They ignore any blame they may have for their situations, instead blaming everything on anime. I never thought I'd get caught up in it. Nobody sounds as loud as old biddies like those. They have so much time on their hands that instead of calling telephone dating clubs, they call TV stations.
> Anno: I didn't have any girlfriends in high school. I did manga and astronomy, as well as watch anime and play mah jongg. When there was a test, I'd tell my folks I was going to a friend's house to study. We'd play all-night mah jongg, then we'd catch a nap before eventually going to school, and when the test was over we'd go back and play mah jongg some more. It was all anime and mah jongg. Back then, girls avoided me like the plague, because I was so gloomy.
> Anno: In junior high, I had a little fling that seemed like love, but wasn't. It turned into a triangle with a pal of mine, and that turned into a crisis. All through high school, I decided that being the way I was, was fine, and had no romances the whole time. Some underclasswomen came on to me, but I showed them no interest. The world was full of things more interesting than women. I was much more interested in making movies back then than dating. I regret it now, though. My life might be different now if I'd had sex back then.
> Anno: I don't recommend technical schools. Everyone who goes to one of those places starts off by having the same field of specialty, after all, so monotony soon sets in. Take anime schools for example. You go to one of those, and you've got a gathering of people who've all been social and class outcasts up to now. You'll start suffering the illusion that the world revolves around you as a result. I haven't yet seen anyone who liked anime and who'd ever gotten any use out of what he learned in those places.
> Anno: I hate school, you know? And the thing I hate about it is no different from 20 years ago. Teachers also ought to have hated school, seeing as how they were about the same age as me. So they should have hated it too, you know? Why did becoming teachers change them into teachers?
> All: Sad but true.
> Anno: And it's scary to think that they had to have been students too. The world changes people. Parents too: they had to have been kids themselves once, and yet as parents they're so different.
> Noguchi: When it comes to law, you've got privacy safeguards, for example, but there are also things that need to be made public, and in cases where a choice has to be made, it ends up in a courtroom, with the decision being left up to the judge to make.
> Anno: Laws in the light of a trial are unreasonable things. School is acclimatizing you to that, so you won't complain about it.
> Ichikawa: We're being trained, like pets.
> Anno: Absolutely.
> Kawakami: When did you know what you wanted to do with your life, Mr. Anno?
> Anno: I just let life carry me along, like that guy over there said.
> Anno: I was basically the honor-student type up until junior high. I was always on student council, that sort of thing. I got into the best feeder schools in my area, up to high school. I swore that I wouldn't do any more studying once I passed my exams. I didn't like to study, so I studied only the areas and sentences that interested me, and that as little as possible. What good is algebra going to do me in real life, after all?
> Anno: When I got a zero, the school not annoyed because they were supposed to be a feeder school. So I made sure not to get negative marks. When I got to high school, all I did was play mah jongg and make 8mm movies. I spent all my high school years just goofing off. So naturally there were no universities I could get into, and at the time, Osaka College of Art had no entrance exams. Rather, I got in on my accomplishments. But I stopped going in my third year, and ended up getting expelled.
> Anno: What it boils down to is, society only sees the numbers. When it comes to movies too, there's a need to apply either of two labels, either that it was interesting or that it wasn't. School grades are the same way, because Japan only has one evaluation method, that of negative test scoring. I think cumulative test scoring would be more interesting, personally. In the final analysis, the system is about how can you avoid making mistakes. The top score is set at 100 points. It's a game, and the object is to figure out how to minimize your mistakes and keep teachers from reducing your points. I'd say that the problem lies with this negative scoring system, but if asked, I'd also have to say that cumulative scoring wouldn't solve things either.
> Anno: I think it's clear that they're a far cry from when I was in high school. They're smart. I get the feeling that they can see their own lives in an instant, by observing their parents and other grown-ups around them. And I'm enjoying that.
> Kawakami: I heard something to the effect that as part of making anime, you meet and talk with lots of different people.
> Anno: I think that's more or less what I said. Anime and manga are completely fictional picture worlds, and thus what happens in them is impossible in real life. Now, there are two approaches you can take. You can either make it look like a dream all the way to the end, where you bring it back to reality, or you can show reality all the way to the end, and finish up with a dream. A lot of anime starts out as a dream, and ends as a dream. This is no good, because it feels like you're using dreams as a retreat. And Japan is not such a tough place to live.
> I can't help but wonder why people are withdrawing into dreams in a reasonably prosperous country. A lot of these people in particular are anime fans, and for a while I couldn't deal with that. I got fed up with Evangelion too, for that reason. I can't stand people who run away, who refuse to face reality. Surely you'll find something for yourself if you face reality head on. If nothing else, take a good look at your immediate surroundings. Don't turn away from unpleasantness. Have a look at it too. With this in mind, ultimately I want to show a little reality in my works. If nothing else, I don't feel any realism in something that has no reality mixed in with it. Thus, while my next production will be a girl's manga about a high-school girl, it's also partly real.
> Ikeda: You may get really tired, but if you're not aware of it, it's the same as not being tired at all, isn't it? Even if I should realize it and keel over from exhaustion, that's fine, because my life right now is good. It's great. Right now, I figure I'll keep on going the rest of my life, in just this way.
> Anno: Speaking with a sense of grandmotherly concern, the scariest part of that line of reasoning is when you actually do keel over.
> Ikeda: As long as each moment of my life is pleasurable, that's fine.
> Anno: Exactly. That's just what that kind of person will say.
> Ikeda: Is it so radical to think that tomorrow may not come?
> Anno: Yeah, I think it's better to believe that tomorrow is always with us, rather than that it can be cleanly cut away. That doesn't mean that you do the same thing tomorrow as today, though. It's important to form an image of tomorrow being even just a little different, say, even as little 3% or 5%, from today. If you believe that you want to be a certain way, chances are you'll move in that direction. Having a clear image is the key.
> Takagi: I want to destroy the system itself.
> Anno: It's tougher than you might think. I've tried numerous times, and I'll tell you, it's not at all easy. (Everyone laughs) The work itself is pretty enjoyable. But it's a fleeting pleasure.
> Nagamori: What matters is how the pieces shake out.
> Anno: As long as you're not dead, you'll be OK.
> Ikeda: Then I'm safe. People tell me I wouldn't die even if I were murdered.
> Anno: I've known my share of girls, but it's always the ones who tell you they're absolutely all right, they're the ones you have to watch out for...
> Uehara: Are you happy with the work you're doing currently?
> Anno: Yes, I am.
> Takagi: Does it feel like it's a hobby?.
> Anno: It feels like a hobby that keeps going on.
> Ikeda: It's a sure bet that you (Takagi) will end up homeless.
> Anno: I think that's OK too.
> Ikeda: It's not OK. You end up withering away, saying "It really should have turned out differently."
> Anno: And if you end your life that way, that's fine too.
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