By Aaron Clark on Sunday, December 17th, 2006
This transcript was posted in the forums over a week ago, but I’ve kinda… well, you know what final projects and exams can do to a person. It’s not really new info, just a synopsis of what’s been stated thus far, with a few good tidbits straight from Gainax. It does help to dispel some of the previous rumors and speculation, so do be sure to give it a read. And keep an eye out for more info on this series of films as it develops.
Anime’s new baby
In recent years, Hideaki Anno has been focusing more on live-action than anime, so his decision to make another Eva anime surprised many. Otsuki has a theory, though.
“Twelve years is enough time for you to be able to look back on earlier works obvjectively”, he explains. “Shortly before we started this project, Anno had a big Eva marathon where he watched the whole series in one go.
The first thing he said when he finished watching was, ‘This show really is interesting, isn’t it? I never realized how interesting it was’. That comment really shook me.”
The new project was started as an affirmation of the value of Anno’s past work. “He and his team have gained a lot of experience since then,” Otsuki adds. “They’ve matured as animators and as people. I think you’ll be able to see that growth in this production.
Despite all the changes in everyone’s lives, having the old staff together again made for a very nostalgic mood on the production site. “Everyone was completely burned out during the second half of the original TV run and the movies, but now they’re fresh and enthustiastic again. They’ve gotten older, but they’re still full of energy. It’s almost like watching kids prepare for a holiday celibration. The staff will also include a bunch of younger twenty-somethings who decided to join the anime industry after watching Eva and being inspired.
This show has been loved by a lot of people over the years.” Indeed it has. The new movies also reflect the staff’s feelings about the state of the anime industry. It’s even suggested that this project is a rejection of current anime production philosophy.
“It’s true that Eva was a huge hit,” Otsuki says. “But its success spawned a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding in the in the industry, the end result being a bunch of mass-produced junk. That mindset has persisted for ten years, but now we’re in a position to prove it wrong. We’re determined to close the door on the post-Eva era for good.
Not your daddy’s Eva
When the shocking news first broke, it sent anime fans around the world into a frenzy: Neon Genesis Evangelion, widely regarded as one of the best anime series ever made, was being adapted into four brand-new films! Who would’ve ever thought we’d see another Evangelion?
In the dozen or so years since its debut, the series spawned numerous video games and even saw a “renewal” reissue with touched-up art and new voiceovers, but until now there hasn’t been a smallest whisper of a new series. What can we possibly expect?
“The new story takes place in the same period as the 1995 TV series, but the plot is completely different,” producer Toshimichi Otsuki elaborates. “This isn’t a remake or a quick fix. It’s a totally new production.”
Being a new production means GAINAX is taking a different approach than what SUNRISE did with the recent Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam movies, which were essentially a three-part summary of the TV series. In contrast, the new Eva movies call for massive modifications to the setting and the concepts.
“It’ll be something viewers can enjoy if they’ve never seen the TV series,” Otsuki continues. “I want everyone–from hardcore fans of the original work to people who only know it because of the licensed stuff–to look at it as a standalone film series.
The complexity has been somewhat lessened to make it more accesible to newbies, but it’ll still take a bit of thought to understand.” Otsuki adds that they’re removing much of the deliberate obfuscation that made Eva infamous: “Filling works with difficult works and concepts in order to create confusion among viewers was a good technique 12 years ago, but not anymore, and one of our primary goals for this project is to turn everyone’s expectations upside down.”
The core creative team from the TV series has reunited, with original director Hideaki Anno (Gunbuster) overseeing the production. Kazuya Tsurumaki (FLCL) is taking on the mechanical design. Anno himself came up with the storyline for the first installment, while fellow GAINAX co-founder Shinji Higuchi is responsible for storyboarding. A number of new staff members will also be brought on as the production advances.