[EVA] Anno Hideaki vs. Ikuhara Kunihiko

George Chen gchen at community.net
Mon Nov 9 00:30:45 EST 1998

Thanks to Ernest Ng (Eva ML member) pointed out this article to me. It's
been posted on raam newsgroup. I didn't mess with the formatting at
all....and the translator's note and copyright stuff is at the bottom. 

Fascinating reading material for Evangelion fan. Enjoy.


Anno Hideaki vs. Ikuhara Kunihiko
text by Kimata Fuyu
photos by Higuchi Hiroaki
[translation by Mark Neidengard, from Newtype Magazine, October 1998]

Constantly injecting new stories and excitement into the business, Anno
Hideaki and Ikuhara Kunihiko discuss the state of anime production. 
only to await collapse?!  Amidst such unfavorable circumstances, they
their thoughts and hopes as members of the literary avante garde[*0].

"There isn't anyone trying to make 'me-anime' now, is there?" (Anno)


[Ikuhara] I know "KareKano" ("Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou") is just about to
but have you decided on anything like a regular style?
[Anno] Regular style?
[Ikuhara] Something like a set pattern.
[Anno] No, not really.  I haven't decided, or should I say, it hasn't come
me yet.
[Ikuhara] Did you think of making it at the outset?
[Anno] Somehow, nothing but an inkling came to me.  There was no
"That's It!"  Although, I _am_ thinking of stopping being limited by the
of time and space. (brief silence)  Let's see...methodology...  For
if I try to do interesting things with a methodology that doesn't depend on
number of cels, it'll turn out just like "EVA".  I'm tired of reusing cuts
depicting using freeze-frame rhythm.  That was how I did "EVA".  It's what I
did since the "Top (wo Nerai!)" days.  But, not counting on the number of
frames, the methodology that shows things most effectively is exactly that.
It's not a new methodology at all.  To put it bluntly, settling into
creatorhood may let you stay alive in life, but I just can't stand the
[Ikuhara] Can't stand it?
[Anno] Yeah, can't stand it.  Maybe it's okay for people over 50 to get set
their ways as creators, but I intend to fight it as much as possible.  Or so
say, and yet no matter how much I speak of seeking a new methodology, I
leave the original work to people walking on the street.  What I'm talking
about is the influential work known as "Macross"[1].  In those days Yamaga
(Hiroyuki), me, Sadamoto (Yoshiyuki), and Maeda (Mahiro) all began to get
involved with anime because of our student part-time jobs.  I could say that
was how huge the talent of director Ishiguro (Noboru), who used that kind of
unknown youngsters, was; the result of sensibilities drawn from deep within.
Creators in those days had substance.
[Ikuhara] I agree about the younger generations.  It's hard when people
think of anime as a venture.  That's why there aren't any sure-fire
[Anno] The reason the game business prospered and grew so fast is because it
was a venture.  But games have finally tanked too.  It happened pretty fast,
didn't it?  Our generation is naturally a shallow one, and there's noone
trying to overturn things.  There isn't anyone trying to make "me-anime"
is there?
[Ikuhara] I just don't know about the people who'll be getting into the
business from here out.  This is a generation that loves both cel anime
digital anime.  I personally get uncomfortable when the two are mingled.


[Anno] The first time I saw "Virtua Fighter"[2], I thought, is _this_ what
anime is up against?  It was quite a shock.  That's when I realized I'd have
level up somewhere other than the visuals, I guess right before I did "EVA".
Visual impact is anime's strong point, but since games had followed on
heels, it had become a time when a methodology no different from the others
just wouldn't cut it.  All the cards had already been dealt, so we had no
choice but to change the combination, or turn over cards that were thought
be taboo.  That's what I mean when I say that "EVA" didn't use even a single
new methodology.
[Ikuhara] Ah, like what the media talks about as creatorhood when discussing
animated works.  But that's just an illusion, and actually in the anime
business no such thing as a creator is anywhere to be found.  All there are
people who were brought along by the founding of the system.  The people who
devise the form of the anime of today.
[Anno] Right.
[Ikuhara] The people who accomplished soemthing are all 50 or older.  Those
people are almost all associated with the early days of Toei Douga or Mushi
Pro[3].  The people who came after that are all no good, they haven't done a
thing.  It's not that they haven't _made_ anything.  It's that they didn't
build the system at all.  They're just riding on it, on the system that the
people of the previous generation made.
[Anno] Yeah.  They can't seem to overturn it.


[Ikuhara] Well, there are currently a lot of people who talk about digital
as a
technique to make the presentation of anime more radical, but I think
making a horrendous mistake.  Wouldn't that just make using digital a
for overhauling the presentation of cel anime that has taken 30 years to
establish?  That's no way to change the system of the animation production
houses.  It's just an attempt to go on riding the system we've already got.
[Anno] Oshii (Mamoru)-san says "Now that the pioneers of anime have died, it
will die with them."  He says the history of anime ended long ago.
[Ikuhara] Once there was a time when people were groping, saying "What
methodology do we use to express ourselves?"  The way things are expressed
modern anime comes from a fixed way of negotiating with the production
a way made by working backwards from cost-performance.[6]
[Anno] That's limited animation[5] for you.
[Ikuhara] Yeah.  And what about our aesthetics?  The aesthetics of people
us who find shadows fixed on the back side of cels beautiful are being
processed through cost-performance.  If cost-performance changes, my
are supposed to change too.  Of course, the people who created form in the
midst of such groping were the people of the first generation who created
Japanese anime.
[Anno] The origin was stuff like Disney animation, and we're just
[Ikuhara] Thanks to the impending spread of digital, the aesthetics on
will change.  Because my emotions will get more and more messed up when that
happens, I think the emotions that that we now consider beautiful will fall
[Anno] No, but, I can't stand CG shadows.
[Ikuhara] Oh, really?
[Anno] I hate them see...I guess they're just not crisp or something.
[Ikuhara] Come again?
[Anno] So, with brush shadows, when you make them fluffy, I just can't take
It's just not manly. (laugh)  Girlishness when trying to express aesthetics
just sucks.  Shadows should be crisp and definitive.  "Seaweed" shadows
popular in the original robot anime.
[Ikuhara] "Seaweed"?
[Anno] When depicting the aesthetics of mecha, the wavy shadows.
[Ikuhara] But weren't those shadows cutting edge for expression in those

"The human body is far better than CG." (Anno)

[Anno] Yeah, well, I can stand Sakano (Ichirou)-san[7] and the other guys
good sense using them, but with everybody else they look like nothing more
seaweed.  You wouldn't think anything but that the mecha had camouflage
markings.  Those aren't shadows.  When we did "Ouritsu (Uchuugun)", it was
totally counter to that.  The shadows were crisp, and the highlights[7] did
nothing but give the impression of light.  If cel anime targets aesthetics
all over.  Both clothing and skin are the same except for color.  Just give
up, and go for the gusto in some different area.  No matter how hard you
struggle, there are just some things you can't fight your way out of.  The
people who created the system at the outset understood this.
[Ikuhara] I guess it's through that trial and error that the anime of today
[Anno] Recently I watched some "Kinchuu" ("Kingiyo Chuuihou!")[9].  As
for "KareKano".  I thought that perhaps that was what gags and shoujo manga
were.  But it felt a little old.
[Ikuhara] Old?  It feels like things are divided into the the time before
and after "Sailor Moon".  I feel like it really infected the tastes at
[Anno] Yeah.  Whether something's major or not at Comiket amounts to whether
not it gets made into erotic stuff.  After all, the sex industry is strong
matter what era it is.  As Tsurumaki (Kaguya) said, earnestly value all
equally.  Both Hiromatsu Junko and Ayanami Rei.  I can't express it in
but I feel the same chasm within myself.
[Ikuhara] I think it's the feeling of antisepticness.  The impression that
don't smell like anything is good.
[Anno] Yes, yes, exactly.
[Ikuhara] Apparently stuff like unnecessary hair, or nose hair, isn't
Of course, in pictures the characters don't actually have nostrils (laugh).
I bet everyone would start hating pictures of girls if we drew nostrils on
[Anno] Cel anime fans are more sterile than that.
[Ikuhara] The idols of a decade ago felt really sterile.  But recently
actresses and TV talents are feeling less remote and more realistic.
[Anno] Does that include us, by any chance?  It's an existence where courage
and familiarity seem to be draining away.
[Ikuhara] If so, the place that the people who recognize the feeling of
sterility are carrying with them in their thoughts will disappear.
[Anno] That's why I'm going with the cel anime system.
[Ikuhara] There's somewhere where we'll give up, isn't there.  We're trying
to fulfill our own ambitions virtually.  I suppose if we were doing it for
real we should be trying to make more properly ideal cities and better human
relations.  I can't really say it in anything but pedestrian terms, but,
with things like the Aum[*1] incident, I can understand the feelings of the
people who want to reorganize the world.
[Anno] In order to see a made-up drama, there are even people who neglect
their real lives, right?  That kind of person does things like become a
seiyuu fan.
[Ikuhara] I bet what they really wanted was to touch an anime character.
[Anno] For something that could connect the virtual and the real, I too
to the seiyuu.  But that was a mistake.  That's why I tried to show
different in "KareKano".  But altering the existing system is tough.


[Ikuhara] On this point, Anno-san and I differ in our way of creating.  I'm
not trying to connect anime and voice that much.  But if I have a sentiment
close to that, I think it's the complex about the body.  I have moments
where I think that, not just anime, but _nothing_ can win against the human
body.  A while ago I was watching the Nagano Olympics on TV.  There was this
girl who was nothing special during her interview, but who became sublime
when she started skating.  It was only for instant while she was doing it,
I felt like God was dwelling in her body.  A moment when I thought there was
nothing more beautiful in the whole world.  And it's not like her body
changed, either.  It's that kind of complex towards the human body that I've
got.  Even though my work is in anime, I have moments when I doubt we matter
compared to a real body.  When counting on the actors to do something, I
if what I'm actually looking for is corporeality.
[Anno] Yeah, that happens.
[Ikuhara] Could it be that what I'm seeking in the middle of a production is
not the show, but the corporeality itself?

"I have moments where I think that _nothing_ can win agains the human body."

[Anno] Yeah.  This past New Year's there was a part at Higuchi
place.  We watched some American specials, and in _every_ case the CG was an
utter bore.  This special on the lives of stuntmen was more interesting. 
human body is by far better than CG.
[Ikuhara] I guess the reason Anno-san has been expressing an interest in the
little theater recently and why I've been saying the same for a while, is
because of this feeling of demanding corporeality.  When I feel a real body
right before my eyes, I feel like, it's all over, time to throw in the
[Anno] Yeah, that's right.
[Ikuhara] Now this beauty of the physical body only exists at infrequent
moments.  Only for the moment of the drama is one an actor - after it's over
one is someone else.
[Anno] The first time I realized that was with Noda (Hideki)'s[11] drama.
I thought, this is the real thing!  Before that, within myself I felt that
only thing that gave the feeling of corporeality in the anime dimension were
the seiyuu.  That's why I kept on trying to express life.  But I was
[Ikuhara] Hahahahaha.  Well, not only is that the case for Anno-san, but
in the so-called little theater boom of the 70's.  A renovation right down
the roots.  The couldn't touch anything with their hands, the people of that
generation.  Their path was pre-made, and they couldn't create anything by
themselves.  It was the first virtual generation.
[Anno] Miyazaki (Hayao)-san said that we're the "first generation to value
the virtual and actual equally", but I say "What about you?".
[Ikuhara] He may not be a generation, but he's certainly foremost among it.


[Ikuhara] I'll state up front that all Japanese fictional works, even for
little theater, are all manga.
[Anno] Yeah.  It's the manga-ization[*2] of the nation.  Dramas are the
nothing but either manga with an extremely tenuous grasp on reality or
documentary-like variety shows.
[Ikuhara] I can't say precisely what I mean by manga-like, but for one
such works can only show the totally familiar or the astoundingly distant.
Aren't all popular songs that way?  They can't speak to anything but minutae
like someone's dress shirt, or about things like the edge of the universe 
that are so far away they can't be spoken of except in the imagination. 
don't speak at all to the yawning gap in between.  That's how I feel the
of manga is.
[Anno] Perhaps we can be at ease in a fake world because we know it's a lie
from the outset.  That's how the creators of manga where you'd think "There
wouldn't really be a teacher like that" make drama.  That's how works like
"Denpa Shounen", where you never know what's going to happen next, work.
[Ikuhara] I read the feeling of seeking variety and such as wanting to seek
[Anno] Yes, a world where something is done with the body alone.  Nothing
else befits a documentary.  A world that shows nothing of creation.
[Ikuhara] Take "Utena" and "EVA".  They take a fragment of our work and talk
about us introducing impact into our animation, saying it's like Terayama
Shushi[12]'s work or something.  It's nothing that narrow, is it?  I think
what appears in our works is the complex about the body that people who make
made-up anime feel.
[Anno] I use the word "lifelike-ness".  Compred to that, cel anime is pretty
and virtual.  Because I feel a sense of thwarted life in current cel anime,
I want to try to peek at it from a slightly different direction.  Like
not to use any of the established seiyuu.
[Ikuhara] There are times when I want to stay away from impactful stuff and
deal with the illusion.  Saying one thing after another, I think everyone's
deluded.  Directors, animators, seiyuu, the audience, everyone is deluded
while making and watching anime.  I wonder if things aren't just fine that
way?  I don't want to brood over it.  The first time I saw Terayama, I
loved it.  My country bumpkin complex and my intelligencia complex give me
my drive.  Now that I think about it, that delusion was a godsend (laugh).
[Anno] In the old days, I had never seen anything like real impact, and
the whole thing was absurd.
[Ikuhara] That's how it usually is.
[Anno] Adjusting a set in real life was such a pain.  Anime and movies are
much cooler.
[Ikuhara] That's why people quit doing theater when movies were invented. 
that was precisely why I was so shocked when I saw Terayama.  The pleasure
corporeality being possible.  The pleasure of fiction.  The kind of pleasure
that makes strip-tease more engrossing than pornography.
[Anno] In real life, bad things happen, like rowdy neighbors at a shop, but
impact isn't virtual, is it?
[Ikuhara] Movies are recordings, whereas the stage is a sort of "incident".
[Anno] Just like the difference between a war you're in and a war you see on
[Ikuhara] It seems we can't savor the interest of becoming the people on the
[Anno] That's because impact is tough stuff.  Movies can't offer anything
more than a pseudo-experience.
[Ikuhara] What propelled the 70's little theater boom was the feeling of
wanting to be in the middle of things, wasn't it.  How much of being in the
middle of things is left these days?  People worry about things that aren't
yet firm and solid.
[Anno] I thought of a lot of different stuff for "KareKano", but it seems
impossible to do impactfully under the current system.  All the same,
around episode 9 a lot of inexperienced kids appear, the kind for whom it's
their first time in front of a mic.  We'll see what happens.
[Ikuhara] That could be interesting.
[Anno] Kuni-chan, you should come on too, as a teacher or something.
[Ikuhara] I've gotten used to doing things halfway, but can I really?
[Anno] Ah, I don't need anyone who only does things halfway. (laugh)

[1] Superdimensional Fortress Macross ('82).  With Mikimoto Haruhiko's
characters, Kawamori Shouji's mecha and such, the talent of the young
became evident and started a boom.  Afterwards OVAs, movies, and toys were
[2] Virtua Fighter ('94).  Sega's fighting game.  With polygon images and
real-life shots, it became a major hit.  Not stopping at arcade sales, it's
also availble in a home version for the Sega Saturn.
[3] Toei Douga.  Established in '57.  The mighty anime creation house that
gave us such things as "Dragonball" and "Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon".
    Mushi Productions, established in '63 by Techou Daimushi.  Created such
things as "Tetsuwan Atom".
[4] Oshii Mamoru.  Anime director.  Specializes in nonsensical worlds and
visual expression that tries to dismantle fiction.  Major works include
"Urusei Yatsura Beautiful Dreamer" and the "Mobile Police Patlabor" series.
[5] Limited Animation.  Anime that, for economic and time-related reasons,
skimp on use of "commas".  A second of animated film is made from 24 commas.
Full animation would use a different image each comma, but limited animation
might keep a frame before the eyes for 2-3 commas.  To the human eye, that
sort of trick still looks sufficiently like motion.
[6] A way made by working backward from cost-performance.  Methods used
in Japan's anime industry, such as using cels to merely slide a character a
step or two at a time to produce the effect of motion, reuse of commas
(limited animation), and reusing cels in other shows (the bank system).
[7] Sakano Ichirou.  An animator known as "Sakano Circus" who depicted
and frequently moving mecha action.  Principle work is "Superdimensional
Fortress Macross".
[8] Highlights.  Transparent lighting.
[9] "Kingyou Chuuihou" ('91).  TV anime.  Product of Toei Douga.  Anime
from the shoujo manga serialized in "Monthly Nakayoshi".  The series
was Satou Junichi.
[10] Higuchi Masatsugu.  Special Effects director for the "Gamera" series.
Assisted with the visual continuity for "Fushigi no Umi no Nadia" and "Neon
Genesis Evangelion".
[11] Noda Hideki.  Musician, producer, actor.  Was interviewed along with
in the May issue of this magazine.  Principle works: "Kill", "Rolling Stone"
(for the stage).
[12] Terayama Shushi.  Musician, author, poet, movie director, and so on,
he was a many-faceted multicreator.  In high demand, he not only did drama
stage, he did street theater and participated in experimental drama. 
works include "Kegawa no Marie", "Shintokumaru" (theatrical), "Cast Off
Return to the City!" (movie).  Died in '83.  J.A.  Seazar, who contributed
the music for "Shoujo Kakumei Utena", worked in Terayama's Theater
"Ceiling Gallery".

Anno Hideaki.  Born '60 in Yamaguchi Prefecture.  Producer, director.  As a
member of GAINAX, has been involved in numerous anime.  "Neon Genesis
Evangelion" became a runaway hit.  In his new work starting in October, he
tackles shoujo manga.

Ikuhara Kunihiko.  Born '64 in Hiroshima Prefecture.  Director.  Was
in the production of such things as "Kingyo Chuuihou!" and "Bishoujo Senshi
Sailor Moon" at Toei Douga.  Founder of the production company Be-PaPas.
His latest work, "Shoujo Kakumei Utena", is heading toward a spring '99
theatrical release.

Translator's Notes

[*0] The word I translated as "avante gardesmen" is "gesakusha".  Kyoko
Senior Lecturer in Modern Languages at Cornell University, offers the
commentary on the meaning of "gesaku":

  "It literally means 'playful writing,' but what I was trying to say was
  implication differs from age to age.  Takizawa Bakin first comes to mind
  I think of late Edo gesaku (not that he was so playful but he is thought
  as having been content with 'romance' rather than seeking to discover a
  serious genre).  In Meiji, of course there are the works of Narushima
  Ryuuhoku and others, as well as Tsubouchi Shouyou's cricitisms of gesaku
  opposed to the Realist modern novel (and Bakin was one of his prime
  Then there is the return to, or rediscovery of, gesaku in the recent
  So I couldn't think of a single word that fits all cases. The term
  occurred to me because I was thinking of Inoue Hisashi who claims himself
  such.  If there is an element that is common to all those authors, after
  it must be the attitude of playfulness, whether expressed in comedy-of-
  manners type satire, literary or social parody, or aversion from the idea
  modern novel.  I'm aware that some use 'light literature' or 'cheap
  literature' as a translation of gesaku, but I wonder if either is best.  I
  don't have a good single word definition, but the brief discussion with
  this afternoon led me to think that gesaku, from Meiji on at least, has
  connotation of posed, pretended, or deliberate playfulness as a tool of
  social criticism and/or of literary or stylistic flourish.  It always
  with a gesture, a pose, a persona."

[*1] Ikuhara is referring to the release of sarin gas in a Tokyo subway
on March 20, 1995 by terrorists belonging to the Aum Shinri-Ki, under the
leadership of Asahara Shoko.

[*2] Anno uses the phrase "ichioku sou-manga" here, in imitation of a famous
phrase about the "idiotization" of the Japanese nation ("ichioku sou-
hakuchi-ka") coined by Hanamori Yasuji, sharp-tongued critic and editor of
"Kurashi no Techou".  Another corruption of this phrase likens the
Japanese population to a beehive: "ichi-oku sou-hatarakibachi".

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