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Hideaki Anno: After Evangelion

by Matthew Roe,

When we left Anno, he was constructing the foundations of Neon Genesis Evangelion with his team over at Gainax, appearing to be pulling himself out of his debilitating depression to return to the forefront of anime. However, not everything is as cut-and-dried as all that, as the process of making Evangelion was an exhausting roller coaster of technical compromises and on-the-fly creative decisions. Compounded by the series’ adult-oriented themes generating plenty of controversy, the series suffered a massive setback due to the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack by the doomsday cult Aleph (formerly Aum Shinrikyo). Anno was forced to alter the plotted narrative of the show, as it was too close to the events of the terror attack, which put even greater creative and technical strain on his cast and crew, already struggling to keep ahead of the series’ release schedule.

These challenges (among numerous others) further strained Anno's mental health, the primary source from which the main cast's characterization and obstacles were created and refined. However, these also were the factors that would slingshot the series into international acclaim. Before being moved to a later time slot, Evangelion actually suffered lukewarm critical responses and middling ratings, not yet reaching amenable audiences. Though beneficial, this decision did not alleviate Gainax's budgeting woes, often resulting in a scattershot scale of animation quality. This inconsistent aesthetic was further stressed (and made further obvious) by its breakneck production pace hardly keeping ahead of each episode's release, resorting to numerous recap and flashback sequences. To contextualize this process however, Gainax was among many animation houses in Japan suffering economic hardship at this time, as the country was hit hard in the wake of its bubble economy bursting in late 1991. The anime industry (along with numerous others) seemed to be on the brink of collapse, and everything (even tried methods and genres) seemed like too sizable a gamble.

This would all come to a head when Anno's planned ending of Evangelion was forcefully scrapped and replaced by a pair of highly abstract episodes set inside the minds of main characters Shinji, Misato, Rei, and Asuka. I personally love these final episodes, and find them to be an appropriately contemplative and introspective ending to such a psychologically-revealing story, even with all the questions it raises. However, when they were released, the reaction was volatile to say the least. Anno received a steady stream of emotionally-charged correspondence from fans, with some being heartfelt thanks and adoration for what was accomplished, and others expressing severe disappointment - there were even death threats, and several public defacements of the Gainax offices. However dramatic the reactions were to the finale, Anno stood firm by his decisions, quoted in Issue #43 of the Canadian anime magazine Protoculture Addicts:

“Most anime fans are furious. I understand their anger. I can't help laughing when hard-core anime fans say that we did a very lousy job, with intentional negligence. No we didn't. No staff members did a lousy job. In fact, every member at Gainax gave more energy than anybody can imagine. I feel sad that those fans couldn't see our efforts. Personally I think the original TV ending we showed ended up beautifully.”

However extreme the final reactions may have been, the series has obviously gone on to deeply affect worldwide approaches to animation and anime appreciation. And for casual fans who have heard and accept that this series is one of those that “saved anime,” this is seemingly where Anno's story ends. However, this couldn't be further from the truth, as we're about to reaffirm - Anno is just as prolific and prevalent in Japanese entertainment as he's ever been, if not to an even greater extent due to his accumulated clout as such a groundbreaking artist.

But that isn't to say that as soon as Evangelion dropped Anno was awash in creativity, ambition, and production funding. In fact, Anno took the cumulative experience of creating and exhibiting Evangelion rather hard, his Studio Khara biography claiming that “immediately after the series finished airing, he broke down.” Anno would again detach himself from the world around him and succumb to purposelessness and depression, and for nearly six months he didn't create much of anything.

He returned to Gainax at the insistence of his peers to create a theatrical release of Evangelion's original finale, for which the series’ fans had been clamouring. While the production was greenlit and work began on adapting the original two final episodes into a feature film (with production help from both Tatsunoko and Production I.G.), budgeting again became the biggest antagonistic force, eventually causing this initial attempt to be abandoned after only twenty-seven minutes had been completed. This new material was partnered with a sixty-seven minute compilation of the entire original anime series, and was released in theaters as Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth on March 15, 1997. The film would go on to rake in over ¥1.8 billion yen (almost $18 million USD, adjusted for inflation), and would be decently reviewed by critics.

Theatrical poster for Evangelion: Death & Rebirth (1997)

However, while the film was marketed as a strong alternative to watching the whole series, numerous audience reactions would comment on how the film's non-chronological reorganization of events and an abandonment of many more nuanced plot elements lead to a considerable amount of confusion for those not already familiar with the property. The production woes and audience-driven detractions continued Anno's spiral into doubt and high anxiety, but the decent financial success of Death & Rebirth made a true theatrical ending for the series all the more possible. In July of the same year, the infamous and beloved theatrical film End of Evangelion came to theaters, Gainax's closest answer to a proper send-off to the series. A sizable portion of the film is comprised of the twenty-seven minutes that concluded Death & Rebirth, helmed by Kazuya Tsurumaki (who has worked on all of the Evangelion theatrical additions to the present day), now labeled as "Air/Love is Destructive." The remaining chapter of material, "Sincerely Yours/ONE MORE FINAL: I need you" was directly created and managed by Anno.

Theatrical poster for The End of Evangelion (1997)

The film fared even better at the box office, and would snag the 1997 Animage Anime Grand Prix, and the 1997 Animation Kobe Special Audience Choice Award. While industry people and audiences continued to debate the efficacy and merit of the film, discussing the controversial sexuality, violence, and disturbing imagery operating on overdrive, Anno was less focused on how people were receiving the work and more focused on playing with new toys. Digital video and photography cameras were breaking heavily onto the consumer scene, and live-action filmmaking was democratizing the world over as part of the influential DIY filmmaking movement, bringing Japanese filmmakers such as Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Takashi Miike onto the international stage.

In addition to his desire to create a departure from Evangelion, Anno already had a knack for experimenting with the tools of his trade, and put those ideas to work in his first professionally-released 1998 live-action feature film, Love & Pop. Anno was thoroughly fascinated by the possibilities and processes live-action filmmaking required in this new decade, and dove headlong into the experience. Based on the Ryu Murakami novel Topazu II: Love & Pop, Anno's adaptation centers on the high school student Hiromi Yoshii (Asumi Miwa) entering the world of teenage prostitution. Presenting a overdramatic and overembelished representation of Japanese new-wave sex industries, the film is shot entirely handheld on digitial handycams in a fever-dream succession of highly unorthodox camera angles and editorial choices. Nothing appears like reality, and yet everything feels consequential. Built to be dauntingly zany, Love & Pop is seemingly a culmination of Anno's entire career to this point - brimming with creative originality that hallmarks his animation style, paired with the wacky antics of his early Utraman and kaiju fan films. This is a movie that is not only something completely new to Anno, but in retrospect, something completely expected.

Theatrical poster for Love & Pop (1998)

Something seemed to reawaken Anno to the love he felt for his chosen profession when he was a teen, and though Anno has continued to navigate his hot mess of mental issues, he has also continued working almost completely uninterrupted, releasing or collaborating on something almost every year since 1998. After Anno won Best New Director at the 1998 Yokohama Film Festival for Love & Pop, he journeyed to Morocco to see the Sahara Desert - one of the few times he has ever traveled outside of Japan. Upon his return, he would take on directorial responsibilities for Gainax and J.C. Staff's His and Her Circumstances - the very first manga adapted by Gainax.

The 1998 anime series centers on Yukino Miyazawa (Atsuko Enomoto), a high school student who consistently maintains an air of perfection in everything she does. When she is severely upstaged by fellow freshman Souichiro Arima (Chihiro Suzuki) during their school's entrance exams, it leads the pair down a rabbit hole to where they fall in love, and learn exactly what being in love entails. His and Her Circumstances began fairly strong, adapted concurrently from Masami Tsuda's manga Kare Kano, but problems soon surfaced as each episode crept along. Firstly, as the manga and anime were being created so closely side-by-side, when one caught up to the other, episodes were increasingly padded with filler and recapping to allow some wiggle room with the story. Anno's direction shifted the simple shoujo romance to a commentary on how humans affect change in one another through our relationships. He hearkened back to many elements used in the final days of Evangelion which included the utilization of pencil sketches, dialogue emphasized with on-screen text, long inner monologues, abstract animation exploring characters’ mental states, and live-action footage and photos. The drastic aesthetic shift, as well as a far heavier focus on hilarity rather than the actual romance, put Gainax at odds with Tsuda.

His & Hers Circumstances (1998)

Reportedly Tsuda's protestations, disagreements over merchandising and creative freedom with Gainax, and restrictions laid down by TV Tokyo after the Pokémon seizure incident, drove Anno to depart the series early, abandoning the show with only a few episodes remaining incomplete. He would be replaced with Hiroki Sato, who did his best to keep the series in vein to what had come before it, but budgetary issues and continued internal studio conflict made the going rather difficult. The series concluded in 1999 to strong critical and audience acclaim, being cited (among other things) as “probably the most disarmingly honest shoujo romance ever made.” However, the experience so soured Anno's impressions of the industry, that even though he has continued to work in animation in many forms, His and Her Circumstances remained the final anime series Anno helmed for a considerable time.

Upon departing the series, Anno became chief director on the behind-the-scenes featurette for Gamera 3, titled Gamera 1999, where he would reunite with producer Miyuki Nanri. Nanri had met and worked with Anno during the production for The End of Evangelion, and would continue a working relationship with the maverick director for several years. While learning even more about the movie industry and how it operates, Anno would spend the remainder of the year key animating a pair of episodes for Tsurumaki's hit debut series FLCL. Anno also served as the show's mecha design director and supplied the voice for the Nandaba family cat, Miyu Miyu. This was simultaneously completed alongside his sophomore live-action feature, Shiki-Jitsu.

Theatrical poster for Shiki-Jitsu (2000)

Based on the novella Touhimu by Ayako Fujitani, co-written with Fujitani, and the very first of Anno's films on 35mm, the film exploded onto the scene as an arthouse gem on mental illness and suicide after its debut at the Tokyo Photography Museum in December 2000. Starring indie filmmaker Shunji Iwai and Fujitani in the lead roles, Anno became “absorbed by its delights, both in terms of visual impact and the enhanced qualities of filming 35mm in the field.” This also was the first production and release of Studio Kajino, a subsidiary of Studio Ghibli; besides a handful of music videos and an uncredited co-production of the 2001 Katsuyuki Motohiro film Satorare, Shiki-Jitsu remains the only official release from these guys. Anno poured his signature visual onslaught and esoteric story structure into the narrative and it was such a resounding success that Anno picked up recognition and awards at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Anno would work on a handful of short videos over the course of the next year, which included a return to Gainax to serve as executive director on the absolutely ridiculous (and thoroughly entertaining) Anime Tenchō, a Hiroyuki Imaishi-penned promotional video for Animate, one of Japan's largest retailers of anime, games, and manga. He would also release his short film Ryusei-Kacho, based off the slice-of-life manga Ryuusei Kachou by Kotobuki Shiriagari. This rough-around-the-edges short focuses on a middle manager's unmatchable skills in securing a seat on the infamous Tokyo commuter trains, and when it all changes when he meets Maria. More than any live-action work from Anno before now, there exists so many anime tropes in every moment of this wild ride, that I find any otaku would be hard-pressed to not find something to enjoy (though my favorite part is just the continuous incredulous looks on all of the passengers’ faces at the world-bending antics taking place). He'd wrap up the year by storyboarding for the opening sequence of Mahoromatic - Automatic Maiden.

Manga Cover for Moyoco Anno's Insufficient Direction (2005)

While his production life seemed to be gearing up to be an ever-constant procession of projects, on March 26, 2002, Anno married manga artist and Happy Mania creator Moyoco Anno. This drastic and widely positive change in his life would later be remarked on by friends and colleagues, commenting on how “he lost weight and became less edgy.” The idiosyncrasies and quirks of their married life would come to be immortalized in Moyoco Anno's 2005 manga essay Insufficient Direction, where she asks the all-important question: “Am I truly prepared to be an otaku's wife?” The pair have remained in a highly supportive and collaborative marriage ever since.

After working in 2002 on the Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi anime as mecha animation director and storyboard artist for one episode, key animating another, and providing a one-off voice role, Anno would also create the Ghibli-produced short animation The Invention of Destruction in the Imaginary Machines, of which I have found relatively little about besides that it debuted on 35mm at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan. It would later be screened at the 2014 Tokyo International Film Festival in a collection of Anno-directed short subjects, updated by the Studio Khara production staff.

However, these details are minor comparatively to Anno's larger projects that had been germinating and languishing for years at this point: Cutie Honey and the rebuild of Evangelion. While Anno began working on what would become the 2007 feature film Evangelion 1.0 in 2002, Anno had been trapped in developmental hell for his live-action Cutie Honey film since late 2000, a project that was finally greenlit in the spring of 2003, while he was serving as supervising director on Masahiko Otsuka's Petite Princess Yucie and opening sequence director on the Submarine 707R OVAs. This would be Anno's first real opportunity to make a professional tokusatsu movie, channeling the pulse of his early Daicon Film days with his Osaka University chums. Known as Cutie Honey: Live Action, the film follows the titular superhero (Eriko Satoh), who possesses the ability to transform into anything using her necklace, and her battle against the Panther Claw terrorist organization to avenge her father. It is loosely based on the 1973 shonen manga by Go Nagai.

Poster for Cutie Honey: Live-Action (2004)

Anno's Studio Khara biography describes this time:

“Overcoming the harsh reality that a film could languish in development for over two years while its actual production could take a mere six months…Anno shed tears of joy over watching the rush print of his first live-action special effects scene that featured miniatures. It was a moment where he reaffirmed his love affair with the tokusatsu genre.”

This live-action film was the first part of a three-stage reintroduction of the property to newer generations, which included Nagai and Shinpei Itoh's manga Cutie Honey a Go Go! and the three-episode anime OVA, Re: Cutie Honey. The Gainax-produced anime had Anno as a considerable presence, with him serving not only as chief director, but key animator on the OP and directly helming episode three. The whole experience was increasingly cathartic for Anno, even while the reactions to his live-action sendup spanned the spectrum, with numerous critics finding fault in the movie's many voyeuristic properties and (at times) half-baked effects work. Though, I can strongly say that Anno's adaptations of Cutie Honey are some of the purest otaku-directed bait that I have ever seen - every aspect is designed to delight and amuse people exactly like Anno, and it still manages to stay authentic to the property from which it is adapted. Fans couldn't have asked for more on this one, even if some parts do seem a little rough-and-tumble.

After a bout of storyboarding, key animating, and supervising the editorial team for Tsurumaki's Diebuster (a sequel to Anno's Gunbuster), Anno decided to change course somewhat and briefly pursue acting, kicking off with supporting roles in Katsuhito Ishii's near-death fever dreams The Taste of Tea and Funky Forest: The First Encounter (the latter being so insane I'm actually at a loss for words on how to aptly describe it, just watch them both). He would also have an array of bit and minor parts in other films such as Suzuki Matsuo's Otakus in Love, Shinji Higuchi's Japan Sinks, and Akira Osaki's The Catch Man (who was Anno's assistant director on Shiki-Jitsu). By 2006, after working as a storyboard artist, episode director, and key animator on the anime adaptation of his wife's award-winning manga Sugar Sugar Rune, Anno had established and populated Studio Khara with veteran collaborators and fresh faces alike. He partnered his studio with Gainax to finally produce what would become the feature film Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, the very first of Anno's theatrical Evangelion tetralogy.

Theatrical poster for Evangelion 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (2007)

The first three installments were designed as a retelling of the original series, with the planned fourth film setting up a completely new ending. Though there was considerable chatter on why Anno was remaking his subversive medium-defining series, it was reported by the Anime News Service that because he was no longer “constrained by technological limitation of 12 years ago, Director Hideaki Anno is said to be happy that he can finally recreate Eva “as he wanted it to be” in the beginning.” Though many sequences play out as they did in the original run, many aspects have been altered, dropped, or added, with numerous sections redesigned with newly-available computer animation. Released in 2007, the film was met with considerable positive feedback from fans and critics alike, eventually becoming one of the most lauded and highest grossing anime films of that year. It received a heaping of awards and honors, including a nomination for the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, but lost out to Michael Arias’ stunning adaptation of Tekkonkinkreet.

Like most of his previous passion projects, Anno had his hands deep into numerous departments, credited as chief director, screenwriter, storyboard artist, and key animator; duties which would remain constant as the film series continued. Though he was not each movie's “director,” this was his series through-and-through and the public knows this - though possibly one of the reasons why I so commonly encounter looks of surprise when I inform friends and colleagues that Anno wasn't the only director on these works, is that the series is so full of Anno idiosyncrasies it's easy to ignore he was sharing responsibilities with both Tsurumaki and Masayuki Yamaguchi.

Evangelion 2.0's first teaser trailer was tacked on as the post-credits scene of Evangelion: 1.0, made up to be a “next episode” preview, structured similarly to the original series, but it did the trick on getting audiences hyped for what would come next - but what immediately came next surprised most of the public. Roughly around when Suzuki Matsuo's Welcome to the Quiet Room was released in theaters (in which Anno played a doctor), Anno officially resigned from Gainax. Though he would continue to collaborate with the studio on the next Evangelion film, his intrinsic connection to the animation giant was now severed after roughly twenty-three years. Though the two parties separated more or less amicably (reportedly), the good terms would not always remain in place, as was proved through Anno's successful 2016 lawsuit against Gainax for unpaid royalties on the Evangelion franchise and a negligent loan Khara had given them in 2014.

Theatrical Poster for Evangelion 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance (2004)

Before that sad state of affairs reared its head, the collaboration between the two studios would continue to bear fruit, with the pair diving headlong into production of the feature, Evangelion 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance. With more or less the same production staff as the first film, the release date was tentatively set for January 2008, and included a whole host of new characters and mecha designs, with many original plot elements either being partially redesigned or altered completely. However, with his own personal studio at his back, this began Anno's notorious habit of endlessly pushing back release dates, which has become worse as the years have trickled onward. Eventually released on June 27, 2009, Evangelion 2.0 reached number-one at the Japanese box office its opening weekend, eventually becoming the third highest-grossing anime film of that year, behind Pokémon: Arceus and the Jewel of Life and One Piece: Strong World. The film also did considerably better than its predecessor overseas, pulling a higher box office return, greater critical response, and further solidifying the ever-constant international desire for Evangelion-related media - something Gainax has been capitalizing on for decades with their extensive branded merchandising. The film was nominated for the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, but lost out to Mamoru Hosoda's masterpiece Summer Wars. It was included in that year's batch of Excellent Animation of the Year winners.

However, this is also when the most notable shift in Anno's career occurred: he became a producer. While he has been credited as producer and executive producer on a handful of earlier projects (mostly his own), he fully took to the producer's chair to lend his clout to other filmmakers trying to get their projects off the ground. After delivering a guest appearance in Tomoo Haraguchi's ridiculously fun 2010 sci-fi film Death Kappa, Anno would announce his role as producer on Katsuyuki Hirano's 2011 documentary Kantoku shikkaku, centered on pink film actress Yumika Hayashi. While nearly fully devoting himself to the film that would become Evangelion 3.0, Anno would also produce and write Higuchi's 2012 short film Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo, in which the God Warrior from Nausicaa of The Valley of The Wind attacks Tokyo. The short was created for an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo titled, “Tokusatsu- Special Effects Museum-Craftsmanship of Showa and Heisei Eras Seen Through Miniatures,” which Anno curated.

This short film is probably one of the most self-prophetic pieces that Anno has ever worked on, because the sublime special effects work, scale of destruction, and aptly-crafted story would be closely mirrored and vastly improved upon in Anno's 2016 kaiju masterpiece collaboration with Higuchi: Shin Godzilla - but more on that in a second. It also has the living legend Hayao Miyazaki voicing a giant robot, so it's worth watching for that facet alone.

Just as with its predecessor, Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo was previewed as a post-credits trailer in Evangelion 2.0, though had distinction as being the very first entry into any of the Evangelion universe to not be produced by Gainax (though it did take part in some aspects of the production, mainly in regards to the property's copyright). More than either of the two preceding entries, Evangelion 3.0 changes the foundations in which the original anime was built, exploring even more newer characters, scenarios, mechas, and conflicts - though Shinji remains mired in self-hatred. The film released in Japanese theaters on November 17, 2012, quickly becoming the second-highest grossing anime film of 2012, behind One Piece: Film Z, and was nominated for the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, but lost out again to Hosoda, this time to Wolf Children. Evangelion 3.0 was still included in the cohort of Excellent Animation of the Year winners, so Anno didn't go through the year without some notches on his belt.

Theatrical Booklet Cover for Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (2012)

Critical and fan responses were more mixed than the previous two installments, as such deviations from the original series so heavily altered the world in which we had already become accustomed, that some took to it less gracefully than others. That being said, (and also taking into consideration that the original Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of my favorite series of all time) the film manages to make some incredibly bold steps in newer directions that weren't even considered in the original episodic run, possibly due to the run-and-gun atmosphere that enveloped its production, and for the most part actually work out well. However, I find that the most major distinctions between the rebuild movies and the original series is that even though the rebuilds have far greater polish and time to explore the universe, and have some amazing animation and design, the films don't feel as revolutionary as the series - but maybe it's impossible to recapture that, and unrealistic to expect it.

While Anno was reaping the profitable rewards and accolades of his years of effort with Evangelion, he wasn't slowing down on the production front. He would end the year designing, storyboarding, and directing the opening sequence for the 2012 revival series Space Battleship Yamato 2199, homaging the original 1974 Space Battleship Yamato series. Anno would snag his first lead voice role in an anime movie in 2013, playing real-life aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi in Miyazaki's jaw-dropping film The Wind Rises, and stood by the director as the film garnered significant national controversy upon its release. While he publicly declared that the fourth Evangelion rebuild movie was well underway, Anno would also spend a good deal of the next year executive producing a handful of short films: Otaro Maijo and Tsurumaki's The Dragon Dentist, Azuma Tani's Hill Climb Girl, Akira Honma's Carnage, and Takeshi Honda and Mahiro Maeda's 20min Walk from Nishi-Ogikubo Station, 2 Bedrooms, Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, 2mos Deposit, No Pets Allowed.

By the end of 2014, Anno had assisted Tsurumaki and Maeda on the original concept for what became the live-action series Ando Lloyd - A.I. Knows Love? while writing the Tadashi Hiramatsu-directed Evangelion short film Until You Come to Me for Japan Animator Expo. Anno would also spend a good deal of the next year executive producing a handful of short films as part of Studio Khara's expo, a series of original animations made by a wide range of different directors, including: Masahiro Emoto and Takashi Horiuchi's Yamadeloid, Imaishi's Sex & Violence with Machspeed, Hiroyasu Kobayashi's Cassette Girl, Yuhei Sakuragi's absolutey gorgeous Neon Genesis: Impacts, and the indomitable Shinji Aramaki's Evangelion: Another Impact. While these shorts can be viewed as Anno playing with various degrees of involvement, and allowing for these creators to really explore their subjects, his passions for consciousness, quirk, kaiju, and tokusatsu remained at the forefront of his contributions.

However, as aforementioned, we finally arrived in 2016 where Anno's greatest creative achievement (arguably) since Neon Genesis Evangelion was released: Shin Godzilla. I can say I have proudly watched most of the massive Godzilla catalog, and to this day I will continue to champion Anno and Higuchi's entry into the saga as not only one of the best special effects movies to ever be released, and one of the finest-crafted kaiju movies, but also as the greatest Godzilla film that has yet been made. Sweeping over half of the Japan Academy Prizes it was nominated for, this bold reinvention of the classic Godzilla formula married the real-life disasters of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami as a basis for exploring kaiju in modern Japan. While it wasn't as widely accepted in international markets, Shin Godzilla was almost universally adored in Japan, quickly becoming the nation's highest grossing movie of the year.

Theatrical Poster for Shin Godzilla (2016)

While numerous critics and audiences have criticized the film's long scenes, massive cast of characters, and numerous “unneeded” subplots, the sheer power, resonance, and enjoyment experienced when watching the film seems to truncate most of the detractors. I find that fascinating, since I'm a stickler for details and not the hugest Godzilla fan, and these points didn't matter to me in the slightest. It is a film from creators at the top of their form, and showcases how much they have evolved as artists and entertainers. Evangelion may contain soul-shattering emotional rendering, but Shin Godzilla possesses pure spectacle and social sharpness that is rarely found in other similar films and shows. Anno's first live-action theatrical film in twelve years, and it remains the last publicly released film that he has directed.

Besides executive producing and directing sound for Tsurumaki's The Dragon Dentist OVAs, based off the original 2014 short of the same name, Anno remains hard at work on his final remaining entry into his EVA tetralogy (and perhaps that rumored Ultraman film), with the rest of the world waiting with bated breath for whatever he's going to say in his third ending to Evangelion. We cannot speak to the impact the whole of the Evangelion films will have on succeeding generations of artists, critics, and fans, but what can be said with certainty is that Hideaki Anno has been, continues to be, and will always be remembered as one of the minds that shaped anime and Japanese cinema as we know it, and his place in the worldwide pantheon of greatest artists is already assured.

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