NHK Documentary Captures Hideaki Anno's Creative Struggles on Final Evangelion Film
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Warning: this story contains statements relating to thoughts of suicide. If you or a loved one is in the U.S. and in need of help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
NHK General broadcast a documentary on Monday regarding the development of Evangelion: 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon A Time (Shin Evangelion Gekijō-ban :||), the "final" Evangelion film. It follows director Hideaki Anno from the beginnings of the production in 2016 to its conclusion in late 2020.
A common theme throughout the documentary was Anno's struggle to develop the script. During the early stages of pre-production, he would often not appear at the studio. There were several occasions shown when he decided that the work he had done at the time was insufficient and would scrap it entirely. The D part of the script was eventually completed in early 2019, at the latest possible stage it could have been done to meet the deadline.
The documentary also tells of Anno's conflicted feelings about creating Evangelion. The Neon Genesis Evangelion 1995 TV series was a story that Anno poured "everything" into. After the anime first became a social phenomenon, he encountered internet threads written by people debating on "the best way to kill Anno." This made him lose his zeal for creating anime.
"When I saw that, I thought, 'Who cares about anything anymore?'" he said. "I felt that I was done making anime."
There were two "danger incidents" around this time, in which Anno tried to commit suicide: once by jumping in front of a train, and another when he tried to jump off the roof of the studio. However, he decided against it on both occasions because he "wanted to die in a way that didn't hurt."
Anno took a break from creating animation in order to make live-action films. Eventually, he returned to make the Evangelion Rebuild films, which debuted in 2007, 2009, and 2012 respectively. However, after spending six years working on the anime, he burned out and fell ill. During this time, his wife Moyoco Anno supported him, until eventually he found it in him to go back to Khara and complete the final film in the tetralogy.
"Over time, I stopped thinking, 'I'm done.' There were times when I thought I was incapable of making it, but I stopped thinking that I didn't want to make it," he said. "I have a duty to finish what I started. To myself, to my staff, and most importantly to my audience."
At the end of the documentary, Anno was asked what made him feel such a strong obligation, to which he replied, "It's the only way I'm capable of doing the most amount of good for the largest number of people."
The film opened in Japan on March 8.