Mainichi News Aricle- Evangelion: From Phenomenon to Legacy

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Mainichi News Aricle- Evangelion: From Phenomenon to Legacy

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Postby NAveryW » Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:20 pm

The only other place this appears to be accessible is accessmylibrary.com, which requires you to enter an email address and agree to terms and conditions. So here's this here. It's an English translation of a news article appearing in Mainichi News in 2006.

Mainichi Daily News wrote: At 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 4, 1995, two years of hard work finally came to fruition as "Shin Seiki Evangerion" (Neon Genesis Evangelion) hit Japanese TV screens.

The series was based on the concept of the battle between the Angels, the mysterious monsters invading the Earth and the Eva, the biomechanical humanoid robots that were the only things capable of repelling the invaders.

The very first episode was about the young protagonist, Shinji Ikari, piloting his Eva.

The next episode was a flashback showing how Shinji and his Eva had repelled the Angels, and at the Tokyo International Anime Fair in March 2006, fans voted these two episodes as the anime they would most like to see again.

Production on the Evangelion TV series began about one year before it actually started airing, but Anno and the team working under him spent a considerable amount of that period working on Episode One and Episode Two.

"I mustn't run away," a line Shinji mutters repeatedly to himself in Episode One, would become a mantra that summed up the entire Evangelion series in Japan.

Until Evangelion, anime had ignored concepts such as having an ordinary person piloting such an elaborate and powerful machine as the Eva. (What?)

"We had to think deeply about how we were going to present Shinji. And because we were thinking along these lines, we set our minds on the idea that the entire series would largely focus on how Shinji deals with things going on inside himself," Gainax's Sato recalls.

Fans liked the concept, praising it for a psychoanalytical look at anime that had never been attempted before.

Sato sees Episode 16 was of particular importance. A spherical black Angel called Ririeru (Leliel in English) appears and Shinji's Eva Unit 01 is absorbed into it.

Normally, such close contact between an Evangelion and an Angel would have resulted in combat. Instead, in this episode, Shinji is confronted by another version of himself.

The two Shinjis engage in conversation as the young boy probes "himself" about who he really is and the meaning of "self."

The episode clearly shows how Shinji explores his inner self as he continues asking why it is that he has been selected to pilot the Eva.

The series continues in this way with a strong focus on Shinji's internal struggles until Evangelion draws toward its climax.

A controversial ending In Episode 24, Evangelion took a major change of focus with the appearance of an Angel called Kaworu.

Kaworu was almost indistinguishable from an average human, which allowed the Angel to get close to Shinji and eventually befriend him before they being forced to take opposing sides in battle.

Their fight scene is conducted with Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony" playing in the background and the intensity of the battle with a foe that should represent the final enemy seemed to be setting up an appropriate ending to be carried out over the series' final two installments.

Shinji crushes his friend Kaworu using his Eva's hands in order to save humanity, and having made the ultimate decision to kill his friend for the sake of the world, it seemed the final two episodes would show how Shinji and the Earth would get on.

It was not to be.

When Episode 25 first aired the following week, nearly all viewers felt betrayed.

The story did not develop at all and focused almost entirely on what was going on inside Shinji, a plotline that had been pursued numerous times in the past.

Episode 26, the final show of the series, was much the same as it explored the thoughts of Shinji and two other major characters, Asuka and Misato.

The TV series ended with people gathered around Shinji, praising him for saving them and the young boy finally realizing that he belonged in the world and apparently feeling at ease.

Some people claimed the convoluted ending to the series came about because the production team had been unable to make deadlines, or that the team was too concerned about the movie version of Evangelion that was due to hit theaters shortly after.

Anno never clearly spoke out about the final two episodes and why they were made the way they came out.

Bitter disputes broke out on online bulletin boards, with some critical of the producers for failing to provide a clear-cut end to the story, and others who praised the finish for being "typically Evangelion-like."

But when commentator Eiji Otsuka sent a letter to the Yomiuri Shimbun, complaining about the end of the Evangelion series, the debate went nationwide.

"The debate that erupted over the ending went way beyond our calculations," Gainax's Sato chuckles. "Anno probably knew what was going on. He realized that media other than anime had taken notice of Evangelion."

Otsuki, the show's producer and a close collaborator with Anno, agrees. "Anno loved it when the media wanted to report on him.

He was especially keen when the media had nothing to do with anime," Otsuki says. "I suppose that ending was something that Anno really wanted to make."

Not long after the series stopped screening in 1996, the feature-length Evangelion movie hit theater screens.

Called "Shi to Shinsei" (Death and Rebirth) in Japanese, production failed to keep up with deadlines and it was not ready for its March 1997 opening.

The final 30 minutes of the movie was completed and added to the movie to become "End of Evangelion," which opened in theaters in July 1997. "End of Evangelion" sees the implementation of the Human Instrumentality Project, which promptly kills every human on Earth except for Shinji and Asuka, and finally drew an end to the Evangelion saga.

The legacy of Evangelion "Death and Rebirth" picked up 1.1 billion yen at the box office in 1997 (which made it the seventh-most successful Japanese movie for the year), while "End of Evangelion" made 1.45 billion yen (to end in fourth place).

The box office success ensured Evangelion could take its place with "Uchu Senkan Yamato" (Space Battleship Yamato) and "Kido Senshi Gandamu" (Gundam) as one of the representative works of Japanese anime.

The release of the Evangelion movies sparked renewed interest in the series.

Cultural magazines like Studio Voice and Quick Japan ran special features on Evangelion.

A spate of books using Old Testament themes and with stories that focused on solving mysteries started popping up on shelves everywhere. Studio Voice's Evangelion special was the prestigious cultural magazine's biggest selling issue ever.

Evangelion dominated even karaoke. "Zankoku na Tenshi no Teeze," the series' theme song, remained top of the most requested karaoke anime theme song rankings for ages and laser disc sales of the TV series skyrocketed, becoming the best in Japanese history.

Dolls of Rei Ayanami, one of the main characters in "Evangelion," sold like hotcakes and sparked the figurine market that has grown to huge proportions now.

Successful side businesses prompted massive sales of Evangelion manga. Just before the first Evangelion movie was released, re-runs of all 26 episodes were screened in a late-night timeslot nationally over five consecutive nights, achieving very high ratings.

Competing networks saw how successful the late-night timeslot had worked so well for Evangelion and began screening all sorts of anime in the wee hours, creating more anime opportunities.

Copycat anime series featuring young boys and girls carrying the fate of the world in their hands began appearing as TV networks realized what hits these shows could be and began fattening production budgets.

Evangelion also proved to be inspirational for other animators.

Tomoki Kyoda spoke of how Evangelion had spurred him on to create an anime that would be bigger than it had been and methods and character developments in his work shows the influence.

Evangelion also created what has been called the "Third Generation Otaku," young adults who grew up reading Evangelion manga and watching the TV series, with successful novelist Tatsuhiko Takimoto including himself among their number.

Will there ever be anything as big as Evangelion again? Even the creators of Evangelion concede that their careers are unlikely to ever produce such a phenomena again. Evangelion producer Otsuki openly admits that he has still to create a work that has surpassed it.

Gainax's Sato says, "The opening credits of Evangelion have the words 'Hideaki Anno, Director' in very large letters. No anime released since then has had a name attached to it so prominently."

Anno himself has yet to exceed "Evangelion." He has made the TV anime series, "Kareshi Kanojo no Jijitsu," and the movie, "Cutey Honey," and while both were successful, neither were in the league of his magnum opus.

This year, the 10th since the end of the Evangelion series, Anno and Otsuki are due to join hands again to work together on an anime project for the first time in a while.

It remains to be seen whether they can again come up with a work that exceeds the impact on the manga world that Evangelion managed to achieve. (By Kei Watanabe, Daichi Nakagawa and Tsunehiro Uno) [Mainichi Daily News / May 06]
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Postby Sailor Star Dust » Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:25 pm

I remember hearing or reading some information this article goes into discussing at some other places, but it's nice being able to read this altogether.

Thanks for sharing this, Naw-kun! :yippee:
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Postby NAveryW » Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:30 pm

And another article featuring a nice interview with Otsuki.
Mainichi also wrote: Toshimichi Otsuki, working as producer in tandem with director Hideaki Anno, helped create "Evangelion," a manga that changed the cartoon business in Japan.

Evangelion led the way in forming the foundations of the anime business by pioneering what have become manga marketing staples such as screening on late-night TV, software sales and merchandising.

But, as an interview with Mainichi Manga Town's Kei Watanabe showed, Evangelion has not entirely been a bed of roses for the man who started as a humble producer and is now the managing director of King Records.

A DECADE HAS PASSED SINCE EVANGELION FINISHED SCREENING ON TV. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ANIME NOW? It's probably been a tough 10 years from the point of view of an anime producer.

I'm now 44 and I made Evangelion when I was 34. It's about the time in your career when you start thinking about taking the next big step.

In those 10 years, I've produced works like "Shojo Kakumei Utena" (Revolutionary Girl Utena) and "Sokyu no Fafuna" (Dead Aggressor), but nothing I've done has surpassed Evangelion.

WHAT WERE THE TOUGHEST TIMES? Without doubt, the hardest thing was when we couldn't make the opening deadline for the movie back in 1997.

We couldn't release a complete work and were forced to bring out a movie in both the spring and again in the summer.

We had been working on the movie version while the TV series while still running for the first time, but I knew by the end of 1996 that we weren't going to make the deadline, so I made the decision to create two movies.

Anno-san never apologized, though. The end result was that we got almost the same amount of people in to watch both movies, which made the distributor, Toho, very happy, but it was really tough to make the decision to split up the story.

Even then, we still had to work up until the very last moment to get the second movie out on time. I went home to catch up on some sleep without even watching the movie.

Another difficult matter was the scheduling of the end of the TV series.

I have absolutely no recollection of having seen the rushes before the shows aired. Before I knew it, I was seeing things like (Eva) Unit 03 fighting on the screen and thinking: "What the hell is going on here?" DESPITE EVERYTHING, YOU WERE AN ENORMOUS INFLUENCE ON THE ANIME WORLD.

There have been two major changes in the anime world since Evangelion came out.

The first is that TV networks have expanded their programming to include more manga. There's also more manga being shown on satellite and late-night TV. I think Evangelion proved without a doubt that anime could be a powerful business.

The other transformation Evangelion brought about was changing the face of (the central Tokyo district of) Akihabara.

Up until then, Akihabara had only been a place where people bought household appliances and electronics, but anime gradually began to make its presence felt more and more.

At the time, people could only buy either laser discs or video cassettes, but we still managed to change Akihabara so that it became a place that went from selling appliances to selling software.

Personally, I think the "Evangelion Effect" mainly extends to these two things.

AT LEAST YOU WERE A PIONEER IN THE CONTENTS SALES BUSINESS...

Maybe, but I haven't managed to come up with a hit since Evangelion, which makes looking back at that time a somewhat bitter experience.

What that all adds up to is that I've basically only being doing routine work.

I've got none of the excitement that I had at that time. Of course, I've got some good plans on the drawing board. But, ideally, now would have been a better time of my life to have come up with something like Evangelion.

WHY CAN'T YOU COME UP WITH SOMETHING LIKE EVANGELION? When Evangelion came out, all I could think about was getting director Hideaki Anno's work out into the world, and getting the idea across to the world about just how good a work it was.

Anno-san concentrated on producing the work itself, while I concentrated on basically every other task associated with it.

It was me who made the orders when we needed to produce more laser disc and CDs and it was me who met with all the sponsors and the TV network people.

I only had one person working under me at the time, and we were constantly unable keep up with production demand for products because they kept selling so quickly.

Looking at the structure of the anime business now and the situation then was unthinkable. You could never work that way now.

DO YOU THINK THE SUCCESS OF EVANGELION CAME ABOUT BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH A GOOD PRODUCT? I hardly said a word about the actual anime, itself. Up until that time, there had never been an anime about gigantic robots battling these mysterious monsters invading the planet, while at the same time focusing on what was going on in the minds of the main characters. But, Anno-san said that was the type of work he wanted to make, so I told him I would be backing him up while he made it.

In terms of doing something that had never been done before, it was almost as though we were a "pre-Colombian Columbus."

I can still clearly remember going to one advertising agency while on a search for sponsors and doing a presentation about Evangelion.

When I'd finished, one of the agency bigwigs turned to me and said, deadly serious, "If you bungle this project, you're fired."

When I went to the toy manufacturers, the reaction was pretty much the same.

I suppose the idea of a record company executive trying to sell an anime was unprecedented. Everything we did then was unprecedented.

But there was undoubtedly a thrill with every breakthrough we made.

WHAT CAN TODAY'S ANIME WORLD LEARN FROM EVANGELION? Now, there seems to be an atmosphere of "get whatever you can" and all the talk is about "rights, rights, rights."

Focusing on promoting yourself and your works is not good enough.

You've got to make yourself feel good first by wanting to create a sellable work and a work that will make you satisfied.

When Evangelion was screening, I never once mentioned King Records on any of the LDs or CDs or commercials that were available at the time.

The only thing I ever talked about when I was selling Evangelion was the director, Hideaki Anno. I backed him to the hilt and asked Anno-san to express himself as a director.

And we achieved everything we did because that was all we did when it came to Evangelion. (By Kei Watanabe) [Mainichi Daily News / May 06]
So Evangelion is responsible for Akihabara being what it is today. I didn't know that and neither did you. Unless you've read this article before.
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Postby Sailor Star Dust » Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:42 pm

Naw-kun wrote:So Evangelion is responsible for Akihabara being what it is today. I didn't know that and neither did you.


A Newtype article mentions that, not sure if it's one that's been transcribed though. :nod:

Thanks for this article too!
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Postby Xard » Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:48 pm

Wow, thanks NaW.

These two articles went on to prove to even further degree just how enormously influential Evangelion was and how the whole fucking anime market was changed by it.

I had no idea NGE had such a big influence on the simple fact so much late night anime was being made at all. Praise Eva!

As for Eva being responsible for Akihabara...well, I can see more clearly than ever what Anno ment when he started Rebuild about Evangelion having enormous impact on anime industry but not of the kind he wanted

I guess it's too much to dream that Rebuild would somehow manage to change face of Akihabara & industry today isn't it?

Interesting mention of Tatsuhiko Takimoto. Good example of NGE's influence outside anime
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Postby ran1 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:03 pm

Awesome stuff, man. Thanks a lot.

For future reference, I've uploaded the Otsuki interview to the Wiki under "Statements by Evangelion Staff"

I'm assuming that considering its Otsuki, one of the people who had the most control of the project next to Anno, that we can determine this as solid Tier 2 Canon, right?
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Postby Xard » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:15 pm

As far as I can tell Otsuki didn't really make any contributions to NGE itself.

After Anno by far most important person is Sadamoto who in addition to character designs gave some MAJOR story ideas (such as soulds of dead mothers residing in evas)
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Postby ran1 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:19 pm

I was under the impression that Otsuki had some major input regarding the use of recycled images.

He was also one of the few "conventional" animu people on the Gainax team. I think both of those things are mentioned in my copy of the "Notenki Memoirs".

I'll get back to you guys on that.
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Postby Xard » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:22 pm

Ahh, really? I haven't read Notenki Memoirs (isn't it that "history of GAINAX" book?") so I could appreciate whatever you find!

Nonetheless Sadamoto was second most influential (after that I'd put Tsurumaki)
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Postby ran1 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:25 pm

I haven't read Notenki Memoirs (isn't it that "history of GAINAX" book?") so I could appreciate whatever you find!


It's 80% of how everyone in the Gainax team got together to form Eva, starting from their first productions and Otaku No Video, etc, Wings of H., all that good stuff. It's a great read too, though I was expecting there to be more on the actual making of Evangelion.

I get the feeling that Anno/GAINAX must have edited some major shit from it, though, because they're only minimal insight to the actual process of making the series and the supposed drama that went down in the later stages of the game.

They probably didn't want to make themselves look like bigger trolls/assholes.
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Postby Xard » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:28 pm

Well, it's simply because the guy (Otsuki was it?) who wrote it belonged to the "management" side of GAINAX and not to the "crazy creative wackos" side of GAINAX.
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Postby BrikHaus » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:55 pm

Otsuki is a hack. He contributed as much as Matt Greenfield did. No wait, less than Matt Greenfield. After all Matt Greenfield created Evangelion. Matt Greenfield said so.
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Postby NAveryW » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:12 pm

Marketing the series to investors is pretty important, as is the show's music. Without Otsuki Evangelion wouldn't even exist. Without Sadamoto, it would exist, but in a very different form.
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Postby ran1 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:35 pm

By any chance, do you have the link to the original article, i.e. the one untranslated?
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Postby NAveryW » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:46 pm

The original was in a newspaper.
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Postby ran1 » Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:50 pm

Alright then. I was just asking to see if I could just link it for the sake of saving space on the wiki page.

No problem.
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Postby JoeD80 » Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:53 pm

View Original PostXard wrote:Well, it's simply because the guy (Otsuki was it?) who wrote it belonged to the "management" side of GAINAX and not to the "crazy creative wackos" side of GAINAX.

Otsuki is the Producer on the King Records side, not on the GAINAX side.

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Postby tomrule123 » Fri May 07, 2010 11:33 am

It's hard to believe that there is not as much popularity here in America as Japan does. If Funimation bought the license for NGE, we would've seen this type of popularity here. But, what can we do? LONG LIVE EVANGELION! :eva01_roar:

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Postby The Eva Monkey » Fri May 07, 2010 12:07 pm

View Original Posttomrule123 wrote:If Funimation bought the license for NGE, we would've seen this type of popularity here.

That's an awfully silly thing to say.

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Postby Allemann » Fri May 07, 2010 12:09 pm

View Original Posttomrule123 wrote:It's hard to believe that there is not as much popularity here in America as Japan does.


It depends on what you mean by popular. The Otaku subgroup is despised in Japan.


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