Thank you Anno
Author: Aaron Clark
Dated: February 16, 2004
A number of people have asked me over the last couple years why I am so "obsessed" with Evangelion. I always find it an unfair question, as I consider it love, rather than obsession. And many people will agree that there is a fine line between love and obsession, depending on your perspective, it can be one or the other. But regardless of how you judge it, this is my answer to the question. This is a personal essay, one that is difficult for me to write, but one I feel is neccessary to put into perspective for people, so that they might understand my devotion and utter awe for this work.
About four years ago, I was in a place very much like Hideaki Anno, and consequently, Shinji Ikari. My mood ranged from depression to apathety, and there were times when I would have liked to die so that I wouldn't have to continue in what I viewed as a squallid and painful existance. Like Shinji, I was too cowardly to take the initiative. I was too afraid of the pain, too afraid of hurting those who would mourn my passing. I wanted to simply not exist anymore. I felt that my life had been going nowhere for all the years of my life up to that point.
High school was an awkward time for me, both socially and emotionally. It was a time when I slipped further into depression despite my social advances. Like Shinji, I had some reasons for feeling the way I did, but largely I continued on because I had become accustomed to it, I simply couldn't imagine a life without pain. I couldn't imagine a world where I wouldn't need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I made friends and had a social group to belong to for the first time in my life, and most of whom I still see frequently and keep up with, despite the distance of college. But at the time it wasn't what I needed to shake my feelings of self contempt.
It was my sophmore year that I began getting into anime, particularly the violent variety. I had an odd obession with violent media for the period of about a year. Anime sparked my interest, and as my appetite for violent media waned, I remained entranced with Japanese animation. One of the first anime I collected just so happened to be Neon Genesis Evangelion. It was without a doubt the gateway drug that kept me hooked as I collected it over the course of a year. At Otakon 2000, my first convention, I bout the last four VHS tapes, and watched them the second night of the con non-stop with a friend. We got to the last two episodes and were so utterly confused, we didn't know what to make of it. At the time I was upset with the ending, and felt cheated.
Over the next year, I watched the series numerous times, read every explanation I could find, combed fan sites, forums, anything I could take in to understand the ending. I don't think it was until I spoke with Matt Greenfield at a panel at Otakon 2001 that I finally understood. I rewatched the show, and it all made a newfound sense. The catharsis, the introspection, it all resonated within myself. I cannot say when it began, but it was an epihany that would become more and more apparent and integral within myself. I felt very much like Shinji at the very end of the series a little more each day. My depression faded, the apathy waned, and I began to find a respect for myself.
It seems odd to say that a "cartoon" is what helped you cope with feelings of depression and suicide, but its true. I can not say for certain whether I would still be alive, had I not been exposed to the show. Its a very strange notion, one I've had trouble coming to terms with myself, and one I try very hard to convey to others, but its hard when its so personal. I would like to further detail the circumstances of my depression to put it into perspective for others, but I don't really find it neccessary or important. For the most part, I had no reason to be as depressed as I was, there were some, but not really.
It is that love that drives me in my endeavors. Everything I do here is my way of paying it forward. Both to those responsible for creating Evangelion, as well as to the fans. This site, my work as an enthusiast, it is all for the fan community. I hope to explain what I can, and nudge people towards an epiphany, much like the one I went through. The only, if at all self directed reason for what I do is as follows. One day, maybe far in the future, I would like to thank Anno, face to face, for his work, and for what it has done to affect my life for the better. I feel as if I owe him my life in a way, which is why I slave and endeavor to be the best Eva enthusiast I can be. It may sound ficle or eliteist to some, but to me, it is immensly fullfilling and rewarding.
I may or may not be endebted to do what I do, but I enjoy it, and I will not be satified until the day I can look Anno in the eye and say "Arigato gozaimasu, Anno-sensei".