[EVA] OT: Yutaka Izubuchi interview: _Newtype USA_, February 2003, pp14-15
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Sun Oct 2 13:43:05 EDT 2011
Yutaka Izubuchi interview: _Newtype USA_, February 2003, pp14-15
[right top: portrait/head-shot photo of Yutaka Izubuchi in a black
shirt against a bookshelf.]
# Yutaka Izubuchi: NTUSA talks with the creator behind RahXephon,
BONES' latest work slated for release in English
In 2015, the entire world's population amounts to 23 million people,
all of whom live in Tokyo.
It is the only city left standing after the destructive global
campaign of nameless invaders. This is what high school student and
budding painter Ayato Kamina has been taught and is the common belief
held amongst Tokyoites, who live their lives as though nothing as
As Ayato soon discovers, it's all a pack of lies.
A sudden attack by a fleet of futuristic aircraft is the catalyst for
the revelation. Amidst the collateral damage, he encounters a
mysterious girl, Reika Mishima, who uncannily resembles the subject in
his latest painting. They've never met before. When the standard tanks
and jets prove no match against the attackers, the city's defense
forces scramble their secret weapons, which don't appear to be of this
world. Government agents after Ayato are fended off by a young woman
named Haruka Shitow; despite appearing human, they bleed blue blood.
She later reveals the truth: it is not 2015. The real enemy is the
government. Tokyo has been under control and isolated from the rest of
the world. The global population is actually six billion.
All of this certainly would have been a much greater shock to Ayato,
if only Reika hadn't awakened RahXephon, a giant humanoid, with Ayato
becoming its driving force.
"As the director, the best aspect was being able to create everything
from scratch", says Yutaka Izubuchi of his experience on _RahXephon_.
In his previous roles as a designer, the setting of a work that had to
be expressed solely through the mecha, costumes or characters. Despite
the design process inherently sparking other ideas, he wasn't involved
in contributing towards the story or the setting itself. Handed the
creative and directorial reins of the BONES production, Izubuchi once
stated that he wanted to produce "a new standard of robot animation."
Reminded of the quote, he replies that while the soundbite was
probably good for promotional purposes, it wasn't quite what he meant.
"Rather than setting a new standard, I wanted _RahXephon_ to show one
of *my* standards."
Arguably best known in the West for the mecha of _Patlabor_,
RahXephon's appearance - a human-like face adorned with wings - is a
complete departure, bordering on the radical by comparison. Izubuchi
remarks he didn't deliberately set out to challenge fan's perceptions
of his style with the directorial debut: "I just like trying different
"I watched a lot of robot shows when I was a teenager, and I wanted to
see how I could create an old-style robot, one that has a face and
expression like Raideen, in current times. Those old shows look pretty
rough now by comparison; I wanted to update their look and make the
visuals more stylish." He briefly runs over various approaches in past
design works, commenting that _Patlabor_ and _Gundam_, though
different from each other, represented "the common and popular image
of Japanese robots." The Tactical Armor of _Gasaraki_ was heavily
militaristic, while _Dunbine_ exuded creature-like characteristics.
[right middle: Large quote in blue text: "The most important elements
in RahXephon are music and time."]
Indeed, the giant itself is awakened by a single melodic note sung by
Reika, and the appearance of the enemy's weapons is preceded by a
haunting, wordless song. "In another interview, I was asked what
RahXephon was; I replied that it's made of time, converted into
material. I also though that it would be interesting to have songs
used as weapons of destruction."
Before the series hit the airwaves, a _RahXephon_ manga by Takeaki
Momose was published. "I wasn't heavily involved with it", Izubuchi
says, believing that it wouldn't be as interesting if both versions
were exact replicas in narrative. Although the setting was discussed
with Momose to establish the parameters, the artist was asked to
create the manga freely.
"We decided to debut the manga before the show, otherwise the anime
would finish much earlier", he explains. "I think it's much better to
synchronize the endings. For example, the manga of _Evangelion_ is
still running...and the show finished years ago!"
Izubuchi stresses that the anime is a complete, continuous story told
in 26 parts, as opposed to the episodic style of _Patlabor_. The
series' conceptualization process was literally a conscious and
subconscious brain drain for the director. "I practically expressed
everything that had accumulated in my mind over the years in
_RahXephon_'s world", he says, laughing. "Maybe I crammed too much
information in there!"
As an example, the MU - humanity's true enemy - are named after James
Churchward's book _The Lost Continent of MU_, about the vanished
motherland continent from which mankind originated. Their weapons,
called Dorem, resemble gigantic ancient artifacts. "I've always been
interested in stories about mythical continents that disappeared long
ago", Izubuchi quips. He mentions other influences from ancient
civilizations, offering that Ollin and Ixtli (names by which Ayato and
Reika are called respectively) originated from the myths of the
Middle/South American Nahua people.
"It's not essential for enjoying the series", he says of all the
mythical references found throughout the show. "But if you read
between the lines and are familiar with various mythologies, you'll
discover different meanings and metaphors."
Wanting to inject into his sci-fi magnum opus a sentimental drama of
characters separated by different worlds and times, Izubuchi came up
with Tokyo Jupiter, the dome-like barrier that separates Tokyo from
the rest of the world. "I wanted to have something that doesn't look
realistic as a main visual, yet make it using an image that people are
familiar with." He observes that the structure resembles a boil on the
Earth. As for _RahXephon_'s dramatic aspects, he cites sci-fi writer
Robert F. Young's "The Dandelion Girl" as being influential. The short
story's 44 year old protagonist meets a girl while hiking in the
country, who says she's from the future. As the pair continues to
chat, he gradually becomes smitten with her, despite already being
Some references even eluded Izubuchi himself. The realization that
_Portrait of Jennie_ was inspirational to _RahXephon_'s painting motif
didn't hit until he watched the 1948 black and white film recently on
DVD. It's one of his favorites; the story concerns a struggling artist
who meets a young girl in New York's Central Park during the winter.
Meeting again sporadically in the ensuing months, her appearance
mysteriously ages disproportionately on each occasion. By the end when
he discovers the tragic truth, he's nevertheless been inspired to
become a great painter by their brief relationship.
He's currently involved in the _RahXephon_ movie production. "It will
be an edit of the TV series, with 20 minutes of new footage", he
explains. "I'm only overseeing this project; the director is
Kyoda-san." The final running time is yet to be set; while his ideal
is 90 minutes, he says, laughing, that "it will probably go over."
When asked about his views on the recent state of robot anime,
Izubuchi replies that nothing of late has left an impression. On the
suggestion of _Gundam SEED_, he admits that he hasn't seen it. "I know
that I should watch it, because Fukuda is the director", he says,
smiling. It turns out that they're acquaintances; when Fukuda entered
the industry at 19 (at SUNRISE's Production Planning Division), he
used to get manuscripts from Izubuchi, who was then 21.
"I think that in current entertainment, everything is explained. I
want to make fans aware of what's taken for granted, to make something
that would cause people to think. The approach is more literary; you
have to consider things and draw your own conclusions."
illustrated by HIROKI KANNO
color designated by SHIHOKO NAKAYAMA
finished by KOUICHI IWANAGA
background by RYUSUKE HIKAWA
text by AMOS WONG
© 2001 BONES - Yutaka Izubuchi / RahXephon project ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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