[EVA] Sadamoto Interview
CandleMoth at aol.com
CandleMoth at aol.com
Tue Jan 19 01:44:46 EST 1999
Here is the Sadamoto interview in its entirety. If you're not interested or
if you've all ready read it, go ahead and erase this message. Anyone who
wants to is free to copy it and post it on their site. You can format it any
way you want, but please don't change the text even if it looks mispelled or
something. Bye the way, if anyone is interested, I could also post the
statements from Sadamoto and Hideaki Anno printed in the Evangelion graphic
The following interview with Yoshiyuki Sadamoto was printed in ANIMERICA Vol.
6 No. 8, in 1998:
"I draw Eva as the world seen through the main character, Shinji's, eyes,"
comments manga artist/animation character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto in a
recent interview in NEWTYPE magazine. "But since the humanity of Shinji comes
from me, and from a 14-year-old version of me, maybe that's what breathes life
Yoshiyuki Sadamoto's style is easy to recognize as something a little
different than the average in anime and manga - his characters are thin and
gangly where others are round, and pale and ethereal where others might be
robust. A reserved character will seem withdrawn in every way, from posture to
expression, while an outgoing type stands confidently, chin thrust forward, a
sure smirk pasted permanently on his or her face. The characters of Neon
Genesis Evangelion are perhaps the best evidence of Sadamoto's great
range--every personality type from repressed to brash and shy to to
authoritarian is represented. From the gap-toothed children and grizzled
scientists of The Wings of Honneamise to 19th-century street urchins and
Miyazaki homages of Nadia - Sadamoto does them all and makes them all seem
An artist who debuted in 1991 with a 60-page comic titled R20, serialized in
Kadokawa Shoten's monthly anime magazine, NEWTYPE, Sadamoto also had comic
work published as early as his nineteenth year, in Akita Shoten's weekly
SHONEN CHAMPION. Not bad for someone with no special training as an artist.
"Would you call sketching imitations of my favorite artists' works any kind
of training?" Sadamoto asks.
Since then, Sadamoto has created the look of the characters in every major
production of studio Gainax, from The Wings of Honneamise to Nadia to its
biggest hit yet, Neon Genesis Evangelion. When asked to define the difference
between Gainax and other anime companies, Sadamoto replies, "Basically, it's
an independent production company, so it is concerned with more than just pure
profits. Its amateurish qualities are the basis for its best and worst
Not to say that Sadamoto's work has consisted only of art for studio Gainax -
he's given his signature look to the horror anime Doomed Megalopolis and has
painted an album cover for Eric Clapton. Some of his most famous anime work
has been assembled on CD-ROM and collected into a coffee table-sized art book
entitled Alpha. In recent months, he's been plugging away at the manga
adaptation of Neon Genesis Evangelion and looking ahead to Gainax's future
project, Aoki (Blue) Uru. In fact, for many years, the concept art for Aoki
Uru printed in Alpha has been the only clue available to fans as to what this
ambitious, game/manga/anime multiplatform project might eventually look
like. (It's likely that new designs will be used for the final
project.) Meanwhile, as the Aoki Uru project gathers steam, Sadamoto
continues working on the
Evangelion manga. In a recent interview with NEWTYPE, Sadamoto comments that
[Evangelion] animation never actually gives people an 'answer.' It's more of a
feeling of 'figure out the rest of the story for yourself.' I think that the
manga will begin to differ from the anime. I really like clear,
straightforward stories, so even if it seems a little immature, that's the
direction I'd like to work toward."
But how will the comic end? "That's a difficult question, because I don't
know how I'm going to end it yet," Sadamoto told NEWTYPE. "I want to give it a
happy ending... but what's happy? The movie ended happily in its own way.
There is nothing significant in human life from the time you are born to the
moment you die, and in between, we can't say we've lived if we don't enjoy
life. Shinji's life is, and will be, hard, but he's lived, and that in itself
is a happy ending."
ANIMERICA: When did you first decide to become a manga artist?
Sadamoto: Right about the time I was in elementary school and middle school,
Mazinger Z by Go Nagai, and Leiji Matsumoto's Battlefield manga series were
just coming out. About that time I thought it might be nice to become a manga
ANIMERICA: How did you go about designing the characters for The Wings of
Honneamise? Did you use real people as reference?
Sadamoto: I designed them from several meetings with the director, Yamaga.
Basically, I drew faces that look similar to my friends, but some of the
characters were designed using actors as reference. For example, Shirotsugu
was designed using Robin Williams (The World According to Garp) and Treat
Williams (Hair) as reference, and the director of the Space Force was based on
Lee Van Cleef.
ANIMERICA: How did you come up with the unique designs for the clothing and
uniforms of Honneamise?
Sadamoto: As you can see in animation and manga, Japanese typically look on
Western designs as otherworldly. So to avoid that stereotype, I tried to
capture the essence of the oriental world, such as China or India.
ANIMERICA: What were your influences during the time you designed characters
Sadamoto: The basic direction was toward a Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under
the Sea) style, so I looked toward Disney's movie and a television special on
the Wright Brothers for inspiration. However, I didn't want my designs to be
confused with Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky:
ANIMERICA: Since Nadia was set in the 19th century, were there any particular
impressions you wanted to leave the audience with?
Sadamoto: Of course we were trying for an element of nostalgia, but since this
was a world within a dream, we wanted to make sure the audience didn't
concentrate too much on realism. We wanted to leave the impression of a world
where anything could happen.
ANIMERICA: What made you decide to draw the Evangelion manga?
Sadamoto: It's hard to put into words. All can say is I had a desire to draw
ANIMERICA: How did you come up with the characters for Evangelion? Did you
design them with actual people in mind?
Sadamoto: It half feels like God came down and guided my right hand. There
were some television dramas and specials I used for reference, but mainly I
designed them according to my individual preferences.
ANIMERICA: While you were drawing the battle scenes, were there things you
noticed, things that were particularly difficult, or things that were
Sadamoto: I think the battle scenes in the comic can't hold a candle to the
scenes in the animation. With that in mind, I made it my motto to make the
battle scenes as easy to understand as possible. My heart's desire is to have
the time to add more pages to those scenes.
ANIMERICA: How many people are on your production staff? Are the duties
like they are with American comics? And how long does it take to turn out one
Sadamoto: I use two or three assistants to lay down the screentone, and
recently, I've drawn quite
a few rough backgrounds and given them to assistants to fill in details.
Including the story and
pencils, it usually takes about three weeks for one story. Unlike American
comics, I do all the
basic parts of the comic myself.
ANIMERICA: Why do you think Evangelion has become such a record-breaking hit?
Sadamoto: I think it's a combination of many factors, but simply put, it
stumbled upon what the
era was looking for. That about sums up my impression.
ANIMERICA: What made its popularity different from that of other productions?
Sadamoto: There's the anime mania; it even drew in adults who would normally
never watch an
ANIMERICA: It's popular in America also. What do you think is the basis of
And if you have the feeling that people in other countries would be
enthusiastic about it also,
could you please tell us why?
Sadamoto: I thought only the Japanese would be keyed in to this story. If it's
true that it has become popular in many countries, then it means that the
whole world feels the same disease of the soul. This isn't something we should
be happy about. [LAUGHS]
ANIMERICA: Who is your favorite character? Which character do you have the
most fun drawing? Who is the hardest to draw, and why is this so?
Sadamoto: The female characters are the most fun. The main character, Shinji,
with his subtle expressions, is the most difficult.
ANIMERICA: Do you like drawing cute animal characters, such as Evangelion's
Pen-Pen the penguin or Nadia's lion cub King?
Sadamoto: I love it. But when I'm designing them, I'm actually selling you on
the humanity of the pet. More than the cute exterior, I find the essence of
the character to be the most important.
ANIMERICA: How are you presently involved with the new game/manga/animation
project Blue Uru?
Sadamoto: Presently, I'm working on the game.
ANIMERICA: I've heard your wife is also a manga artist. How are your styles
Sadamoto: We're completely different, but I find that I've become somewhat
influenced by her tastes as a woman's comic artist. She is very helpful when
checking on my nêmu (full-size pencil layouts with dialogue included).
ANIMERICA: You and your wife have also collaborated on projects together.
Could you tell us some of the good and bad points of that kind of working
Sadamoto: Those individual points that could never have come from me are both
the best and worst points of collaboration, in comics or animation.
ANIMERICA: Can you tell us what new projects are in the works and what kind of
vision you have for the future?
Sadamoto: I really haven't thought of projects that I would do purely on an
individual level. I'm involved in Blue Uru and other Gainax productions. I
hope you'll enjoy them.
ANIMERICA: As you're both an animator and a character designer - which
profession do you prefer?
Sadamoto: I like both, but the work of character designer seems to fit my
ANIMERICA: What would you say is your fondest memory of working in animation?
Sadamoto: There are so many that I can't pick just one, but I'd say it's all
the people I've met and all the strange foreign countries I was able to see
while researching projects.
ANIMERICA: How do you spend your days off?
Sadamoto: I tinker with motorcycles or cars, go riding, build models, play
with my kids, or when nothing is pressing, I just do nothing.
ANIMERICA: You mentioned motorcycles and cars. What kinds have you ridden in?
Do you have any fond memories or ambitions regarding them?
Sadamoto: I'm in love with Italian cars, but because of short availability,
presently I have only two English Lotuses and one French Citroen. Basically, I
like foreign cars because I feel that through them, I can get an understanding
of foreign cultures.
ANIMERICA: Do you have any advice for your American fans who might want to
become manga artists?
Sadamoto: I'd say more than the desire to become a manga artist, figure out
what you would like to say and pay attention to that. Remember that manga is
only one medium in which to present your ideas, and put your best effort into
ANIMERICA: Do you have any messages for your English-speaking fans?
Sadamoto: Thank you for following the Gainax productions up until now, and
I'll be working on more projects in the future, so I hope I can continue to
count on your support!
More information about the oldeva