Anno vs. Otaku (critcism, self-reflection, etc)

For serious and at times in-depth discussions only, covering the original TV series, the movies End of Evangelion and Death & Rebirth.

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Postby Grimmjow » Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:08 am

Here's how it really went down.

Walt Disney came up with the idea for NGE late at night in his sleep, however he quickly abandoned the idea because it was far too depressing. Thus, Anno was got a chance to examine Walt Disney's mind and using a few hax skills was able to find the idea for NGE. He said, "Oooh, this looks like a good way to get over my depression and troll the otakus at the same time!"

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Postby Halicat » Fri Feb 05, 2010 7:59 pm

Grimmjow wrote:Here's how it really went down.

Walt Disney came up with the idea for NGE late at night in his sleep, however he quickly abandoned the idea because it was far too depressing. Thus, Anno was got a chance to examine Walt Disney's mind and using a few hax skills was able to find the idea for NGE. He said, "Oooh, this looks like a good way to get over my depression and troll the otakus at the same time!"


Let me guess, he did ala Iruel style? :P

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Postby CorporalChaos » Fri Feb 05, 2010 10:47 pm

Halicat wrote:Let me guess, he did ala Iruel style? :P

No, Anno hacked into the synaptic connections connecting Disney to Karl Donitz from his cryogenic stasis tube beneath the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
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Postby Defectron » Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:21 pm

No, Anno hacked into the synaptic connections connecting Disney to Karl Donitz from his cryogenic stasis tube beneath the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.


Yep, that's what happned alright, this event was even filmed in a gainax documentery which you can watch in the below link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stOA_u3tWHI
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Was Anno Trying Too Hard? What if you're not an Otaku?

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Postby LordThaeon » Fri Oct 10, 2014 1:41 am

There's no doubt that Evangelion has plenty of layers to it's characters and stories. That's why it's so heavily talked about and considered so infamous to this present day after 20 years.

But I had a thought occur to me.

Did Anno drop his anvils too hard and too often?

I'm aware that evangelion was designed as a deconstruction of various aspects of the mecha anime genre and much of this was done as a "take-that" to the Japanese Otaku subculture. However, I'd argue that Anno's narrowed focus somewhat detracts from his thematic approach in the original series. I won't deny that the Otaku Culture probably needed an anvil dropped on their head.

But I'm not an Otaku.

Alright, I'll amend the above statement. I don't believe that I'm an Otaku, or at the very least, I don't believe that I'd fit into Anno's target audience. So when a message is subtlely or unsubtlely thrown into my face, I'm less likely to think on that theme and more likely to view where this theme is coming from. Why? Because this is either something that I've already learned or it's a lesson that I don't believe applies to me, the viewer.

One big example is the original series main theme with Shinji Ikari. Shinji shouldn't run away from his problems or reality. I agree that this is a great theme and one that can be universally applied.

But then I looked deeper and I noticed something. I'm not sure if this was intentional on Anno's part, but the characters who are the mouthpieces of this theme are all hypocrites with a few exceptions.

Maybe this is intentional, but as I've given up on seriously second-guessing Anno's intentions a long time ago, I'm going to cut the meta-talk and look at two of these characters as they're portrayed in the show.

Misato admits to using Shinji and the other kids as her tools for revenge against the angels and has no problems with cockteasing a boy whose half her age or offering him sex (without mentioning the kiss in EOE). The primary reason that she broke up with Kaji was because he reminded her of her own father and she continues to work for Gendo rather than do anything to stop his plans despite knowing that he's up to no good along with SEELE. Granted, Misato is at least willing to admit some of her faults, but that's no excuse to how she does nothing to curb Asuka's bratty attitude or physically abusive tendencies and even lets the little drama-queen kick Shinji out of his room.

Gendo's entire plan is just a selfish and over complicated way of reuniting with his wife whom he refuses to let go of. Even to the point where he pushes away his own son, manipulates and uses everyone around him, and takes part in a grand conspiracy to turn all of humanity into a ball of crimson-orange kool-aid. There's also the idea that his entire plan hinged on his neglected son whom he never even trained and this plan only works due to plot convenience, sheer dumb luck and other factors that are honestly beyond his control. Even in the end, it fails because his "pawns" finally wise up to how he never had any control over them from the start. (Would've been nice if they'd done this earlier)

I'd argue that Gendo and Misato are far worst offenders of "running away" from reality or their responsibilities and yet the story hammers in that Shinji's the one whose at fault. Thus, he's thrown into a lose-lose situation from the start to the end which detracts from the idea that he needs to "stop running away."

How is it his fault that he doesn't want to pilot a bio-mechanical demon that he had never been trained to use? Is he really running away by saying no? Shouldn't the fault for that situation fall on Gendo for forcing Shinji into this situation? In a non-contrived world, I'm certain that Gendo would get fired or at least thoroughly questioned on why he believed that the best plan of action was to entrust the fate of the world into the hands of a 15 year old boy with no combat or pilot training or experience.

Perhaps that's why I've always had a mixed hit-and-miss viewpoint on Evangelion. I just don't see the "deep messages" that I'm supposed to get from this show that I either haven't already taken to mind and heart from life or that was meant to be an anvil for the otaku culture. Not to mention that the "vehicles" for these messages are either flawed or outright broken to where the intended lesson loses whatever strength that it was supposed to have. At least that's how I see it.

And I've got nothing against Anno at all. Its just that I think he was too heavy-handed in Evangelion and this heavy-hand wasn't even meant for non-otaku audiences. It's a heavy-hand that's not deserved and so after you're slapped, you're 90% likely to punch that slapped you. Hence why I also think that evangelion deserves some of it's backlash as being pretentious, I'm certain that plenty of that backlash came from people who were wondering why Anno slapped them.

Why would you slap someone who doesn't deserve it?
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Postby Nuclear Lunchbox » Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:43 am

Evangelion was my first anime, so my answer to your query is no. I felt that the show was brilliant, and I still do.

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Postby Stillborn » Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:54 am

I on other hand actually agree with a LOT of that rant.
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Postby ElMariachi » Fri Oct 10, 2014 2:59 am

I thought that the "Evangelion is a giant 'take-that to otakus, especially EoE", was just a myth and debunked by Anno himself?
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Postby Stillborn » Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:11 am

What he says and what he shows are two different things...
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Re: Was Anno Trying Too Hard? What if you're not an Otaku?

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Postby Bryan » Fri Oct 10, 2014 9:23 am

Oh boy

View Original PostLordThaeon wrote:Did Anno drop his anvils too hard and too often?


You ask this question a lot in many different ways. It's a bit ambiguous though. For one thing, you might mean that Anno made his messages too black and white. It's true that a large portion of art is to be as far from blunt in what you're saying as possible in order to make it more beautiful. However, there's another portion where you need to make it absolutely crystal clear what you're trying to get across otherwise you will be misunderstood. It's kind of a tightrope walk between the aspects. Where does Anno's presentation fit in? I'm not convinced he was even on the side of unambiguously in your face. There's a clear underlying message of "Live, damnit!" to it all, but other than that there doesn't seem to be such a clear "this is the only philosophy that Anno would approve of" bluntness. It's hard to decide who was in the right, who was in the wrong and which actions fit those boxes we try to put them in. Another thing you might mean by that is that Anno's messages themselves were made too hardcore for us viewers to appreciate. If that's what you meant then I disagree as strongly as possible on principle. You don't have to agree with his ideas, but that doesn't mean he can change them when he tells us. We have to be told the brutal truth otherwise it won't be the truth at all.

View Original PostLordThaeon wrote:However, I'd argue that Anno's narrowed focus somewhat detracts from his thematic approach in the original series. I won't deny that the Otaku Culture probably needed an anvil dropped on their head.


It's an interesting thought. Could NGE be a better story if its themes were told without the backdrop of a mecha deconstruction and otaku criticism? Maybe, but I don't see any reason to assume that so I think you've got your work cut out for you if you make that argument.

View Original PostLordThaeon wrote:I'd argue that Gendo and Misato are far worst offenders of "running away" from reality or their responsibilities and yet the story hammers in that Shinji's the one whose at fault. Thus, he's thrown into a lose-lose situation from the start to the end which detracts from the idea that he needs to "stop running away."


You don't need to make an argument here, this is exactly what Anno intended for them to be. NGE isn't the Shinji Ikari story, there's a awful lot of people running away and I think that's key here. The story doesn't hammer in that Shinji's the only one whose at fault, the characters just say that, big difference. In fact, I think one of the pivotal moments of NGE is after Shinji decided he was never going to pilot the eva again following Toji's death. Of course, the angel attacks and Shinji has to decide if he's going to stick to his guns. It would have been so easy for the story to tell Shinji that he needs to disregard his feelings and save the world, that's what most other stories would do. Instead, Kaji tells Shinji he doesn't have to save the world. He tells him noone is forcing him to do that, it's entirely his choice. If he doesn't want to pilot the eva, then that's completely fine. Shinji then chooses to pilot the eva for the first time not because he was told to, but because he wants to. He realizes that he was never bearing any inherent fault for not being the pilot everyone wanted him to be, he can be the pilot he wants to be. Other characters at times say he needs to suck it up and is at fault when he doesn't for the reason you mention here, they're running away from their responsibilities too. Their psychological damage prevents them from being able to personally accept that what they ended up with was exactly what they logically should have expected from any normal person. Gendo and Misato basically say this in their own way in EoE.

View Original PostLordThaeon wrote:this heavy-hand wasn't even meant for non-otaku audiences. It's a heavy-hand that's not deserved.


It's meant for an audience that understands otaku culture and how filthy and pathetic it can be at its worst, certainly. The traits of otakus are in no way exclusive to otaku culture so it really shouldn't be super hard to understand, but it definitely helps if you know the type of people who take their fandoms as far as they can go. And it's not like Anno is an outsider calling them out on things he doesn't understand at all. He considers himself among their ranks in many ways, but there are some things he sees as unjustifiable.

View Original PostLordThaeon wrote:Hence why I also think that evangelion deserves some of it's backlash as being pretentious, I'm certain that plenty of that backlash came from people who were wondering why Anno slapped them.


Frankly, nothing deserves backlash for being pretentious. It's become a useless word when discussing art. Nobody is qualified to judge an artist as having an inadequate mind to deal with the subjects they're trying to convey.

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Fri Oct 10, 2014 10:04 am

Here’s the anime I’ve seen prior to watching NGE for the first time:

AKIRA
Gunslinger Girl Season 1
Nadia
Maybe Ghost in the Shell (Maybe it was after I saw Eva. I’m not sure.)

Upon seeing Eva, I thought it was brilliant. Honestly, there’s so much Freudian imagery in there that’s universal to everyone’s understanding of character development in media (much of entertainment is Freudian in nature, despite the real-work incongruities) that I honestly never thought for a moment that it was aimed specifically at Otaku.

The real element of Eva that made it work like that is that any reference to the otaku (meaning those obsessed of Japanese materials in this case, not obsession over media in general) is done through such a way where only the otaku will understand it. The only Japanese piece of media I grew up with as a kid was Godzilla, and I recognized the “Giant Fighting Monsters in Tokyo(3)” aspect of the show. But I hadn’t seen any mecha shows or explicit fan service shows or anything like that prior to watching Eva, so all of those elements that people claim squarely aim at otaku culture went right over my head. And despite my ignorance of the show’s constant otaku references, I still felt that the characters and the over all filmmaking were compelling in their own rights to make this one of my favorite shows ever.

Even if one is aware through proximity of Gundam, Ultraman, explicit fan service animations, and so on, that viewer probably wouldn’t even conclude that the act of liking those things are being attacked in the series. The viewer would just say “Hey, the main character rejected his giant robot monster thingy and the show ended. That’s different.”

A true-to-form otaku, as in someone who is obsessed in an unhealthy or disproportionate way to things like Gundam, Ultraman, explicit fan service animations, and so on, would feel as though the show is a direct attack on them simply because of their entitlement complexes. It has more to do with what the viewer was bringing to the conversation that is art in film, and less with what the filmmaker was speaking to them about. If the main male protagonist doesn’t stick to his giant robot monster guns and save the day with them, the otaku either feel cheated or that cheating them personally was the intention of the filmmakers, while other non-obsessed viewers just feel as though there was an ending that was a bit unusual for this kind of show.

So, in the end, no. I don’t feel as though Anno was being harsh to the otaku, and by extension was harsh the audience as a whole. I think Anno (intentionally or not) caused the otaku culture in some ways to become too harsh on themselves as a result of the compelling character writing in the series, while the rest of the viewers simply reacted in their own respective ways. (Disappointment/intrigue/indifference/fandom/whatever/ect.)
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Postby ThanatosII » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:34 am

There's many ways to look at Evangelion and it of course varies between viewers. It either hits you, or it doesn't. It may even depend on your mood. Prior to NGE, I had seen a decent amount of anime. Some 'deep' ones like Ergo Proxy or Serial Experiments Main, but also had seen balls to the wall fan service anime such as High School of the Dead. When I got my interest in anime initially, I was seeking something different from the norm of western entertainment, as I felt most western media was too superficial and lacked strong and well represented female leads. Unfortunately, the more I looked into current anime, I noticed it was worse as many seasonal lineups contained young teenage boy pandering that simpified female characters to bimbo fan service devices.
So with that in mind, I decided to go back a decade or two and see what anime could offer that I felt modern anime wasn't meeting my demands. Thus I find NGE & EoE!

This is where I applaud Anno. I may not be an otaku, but after seeing Evangelion, I felt as if Anno was echoing my discontent with sexual fan service, not solely from anime, but media as a whole. The most simple but very daring move to include a scene where Asuka is complaining about her period was one of the many ways Anno was showing on screen that female characters shouldn't be made to cater to the main male character (and by extension, a male audience) as you should consider their feelings and the tough shit they have to go through. I don't mean to sound like a ranting feminist or something like that, but after awhile of seeing one-sided sexual fan service, I begin to wonder if female characters could be something more than that and just have human qualities that's similar to the protrayed main male character.

That's one theme. Another theme that I found very well done and contrasted was how flawed everyone was. You say it's odd for the characters to rail on Shinji even though those adults are hypocrites, but don't you see? That's the beauty of Eva! That's life! Life is full of hypocrites that say one thing but then don't do what they claim they believe in. To a young 14 year old kid, this is a struggle to understand. Why should I listen to adults that do bad things that tell me to do good things? Eventually we grow up of course and understand we should take things with a grain of salt.

Lastly, I honestly don't really care that much Anno was trying to speak to one particular audience because in hindsight, his themes and messages hit hard on other audiences too, just look at EGF! When I saw Eva, I was depressed and was in that "no one understands me" phase. When Eva met my eyes, it showed me, no, it hammered in the idea that human struggle and confusion isn't really all that unique to me. That should be a major "Duh! No shit Sherlock!" moment, and you'd be correct to say so. However, it isn't all obvious to a teenager. We want to be adults and have more freedom, but we also want to remain a child and stay in our fictional realities.

In general, I would definitely disagree that any anti-otaku themes in Eva detracts from any other grand messages that are arguably, universal themes.
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Postby Rei IV » Fri Oct 10, 2014 12:06 pm

I don't think Eva is pretentious at all. Certain segments of the fanbase, on the other hand....

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Postby Sgt. Griff » Fri Oct 10, 2014 3:18 pm

View Original PostStillborn wrote:What he says and what he shows are two different things...


As much as it would please most people, you can't just say something and expect people to believe or be swayed without evidence.

How so does he show it?
Leave Shinji alone

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Postby Dream » Mon Oct 13, 2014 11:41 am

View Original PostRei IV wrote:I don't think Eva is pretentious at all. Certain segments of the fanbase, on the other hand....


Haven't laughted so hard in a while.

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Postby CJD » Mon Oct 13, 2014 8:19 pm

More importantly, what if you're an otaku but you're ok with your life. I sure wish I had the ego to create a 26 episode and two movie series about how someone is living their life incorrectly. Touma please go.
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Postby Bryan » Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:37 am

View Original PostCJD wrote:More importantly, what if you're an otaku but you're ok with your life. I sure wish I had the ego to create a 26 episode and two movie series about how someone is living their life incorrectly. Touma please go.


Well, it's not like Anno walked up to you on the street, slapped you and told you to change your ways. He could have made another mindless action flick or harem full of pandering fanservice, but I think we have quite enough of those to get by. He had an artistic vision. You can't make an intellectual, philosophical piece of art without confronting peoples' ideas about the way they live their lives. That's not to say you have to agree with him. But to insinuate he's in the wrong for the premise of making something with the purpose of insulting peoples' way of life is something I find ridiculous. We have to be able to criticize bad ideas. It may hurt some people's feelings, but it just might help someone realize the error of their ways. Furthermore, Anno is far from an outsider calling out people he doesn't understand. Anno IS an otaku so some of his criticism is directed toward himself as well.

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Postby kuribo-04 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:41 pm

I think the only thing Anno was sure about himself when he made the show was that suicide is not an option (EoE). Anything else...humans acting like humans. There is no right or wrong.
You mention that the message of the show is that you can't run away. Well, Anno mentioned in an interview that it is OK to run away. It is what saves Shinji after all.
I don't think he was trying to prove anything, he just wanted people to think.
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Postby Reichu » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:55 pm

"I mustn't run away", in the context of NGE, usually refers to confronting responsibilities, fears, and the like. Obviously there are times when it's good to back down; it's not a universally-applicable mantra.

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Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:25 am

^ Precisely. By the end of the series Shinji did ultimately run away from the Eva he originally said he mustn’t run away from. And then whether or not you believe Shinji accepted or rejected Instrumentality in either version of the series’ ending, either conclusion means that Shinji ran away from something yet again, whether it be Instrumentality or physical reality.

“I mustn’t run away" was a rule that was going to be broken regardless. Anno was setting Shinji up to break his most important rule, and we were going to be allowed to see it for ourselves.
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