Here’s a rare glimpse of Anno from one decade ago, before Kare Kano and after Evangelion. The public TV station NHK asked him to go back and teach a class at his hometown’s elementary school, and the results are both funny and revealing.
Apparently most of the class are Eva fans, and so before coming, Anno asked the kids to draw what they think he looks like just based on their impressions of Evangelion. This is the result:
Deathly afraid of children, Anno steps into the classroom and starts by going through the kids fantasy drawings of him, which range from shoujo manga bishounen to something closer to a 1950’s era robot. “That’s completely wrong,” he says in nervous response to a girl who suggested he wears pink. Noting his poor posture, one girl suggests he looks a bit like Eva Unit 01.
All of our suspicions that the religious references in the show weer pure randomness with no larger game plan are confirmed, too!
“Why is that robot-thingy called Evangelion?”
“It comes from a Christian word meaning ‘Gospel’ and it’s supposed to bring blessings. It has has some Greek roots. I chose the name because it sounds complicated.”
Anno admits he has a self-esteem problem. “I’m not crazy about myself. I’m often told that those who don’t like themselves have high ideals, but I think someone who says that doesn’t really understand the pain that’s involved,” he muses.
“Do you like the anime you make?”
“There’s parts I like and parts I don’t.”
“What parts do you dislike?”
“The parts that I’m in.”
But perhaps the most gold section of this documentary is that the kids get to interview Anno’s parents. And, as the article says, he is exactly the kind of kid you thought he might have been.
The kids interview people in haphazard fashion, and the responses are hilarious. Anno’s mother answers the children in an old tired voice, while his father interjects with lines like, “He wasn’t very good at sports.” After showing great talent at painting early on, he was rejected from a contest and turned his attention to manga. “He has such a stubborn personailty,” his mother notes.
The exercise concludes with the sixth-graders attempting to make a short animation about what Anno was like at that age, and it’s the only thing that seems to delight the introverted director. The whole time he was trying to get the kids to open up, express themselves freely–something he thinks that the Japanese school system doesn’t encourage. The show concludes with Anno doing Kamen Rider moves on the playground:
What a find. This video is apparently nearly impossible to get, apparently, so thanks to the Anime News Network for digging this up. Granted, this is the pre-marriage, post-Eva notorious Anno; he is probably a different man today. But this is a revealing and candid look all the same. (For more Anno, read my write-up of his interview in the Atlantic Monthly.)