You made your directorial debut with one of Studio Khara's Japan Animator Expo shorts - "20min Walk From Nishi-Ogikubo Station, 2 Bedrooms, Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, 2mos Deposit, No Pets Allowed" - how did you come to be involved in that particular role?
It was supposed to be a short film directed by Mahiro Maeda based on a short story by somebody else - it wasn't an original film, and I was supposed to be the character designer. That project didn't take off, and Mr. Maeda decided that the plot wasn't quite right, so he asked me if I had any ideas for an original story.
I said to him "how about a girl who would shrink, and she's naked and running around the room - how about that?" He said "yeah, that's a good idea", so again he was supposed to direct it and I would write the story, but as I started writing Maeda decided that wasn't the story that he wanted so I ended up directing it. I'm not moaning about it though, and I'm not sure how far I can go with telling the story!
For me, I focused on a way of doing what I like to do within a very tight schedule, so I thought "what do I want to do?" I want a girl running around, that's something I really want to draw. To save time, I thought that if she's naked then I can use less colours, so now she's naked. I was trying to take an easy way out and then make something really fun for myself - that's what I was thinking throughout the production.
The production took six months, which was longer than we'd planned, but what was great about the project was that I was able to work with all of these animators that I really respect and admire.
Has your work on that short made you want to try your hand at directing something longer?
It's an interesting thought, but I don't think I could come up with a good story for a longer film.
You mentioned working on character design during your career - what's your starting point when you design a character, and how do you build them up?
I normally start with the face. Say for example you've got three girls, but you have to come up with three different faces, so I can't make everybody pretty as they will look too alike, so how do I differentiate these three girls? That's how I start when I work on a character.
Finally, do you have a message for anime fans - and Evangelion fans - here in the UK?
We're actually working on the new Evangelion film right now. We're working hard and it'll come out eventually, so thanks for all of your patience - please continue to be patient, because it's going to be the last episode.
Also, for anime fans in the UK - please watch Evangelion!
Many thanks to Anime Limited for arranging this interview. Evangelion 1.11 is returning to the UK on DVD and Blu-ray in 2017
Andy has been writing for UK Anime since 2006, and was the site's editor-in-chief until August 2017. Contrary to popular belief, Andy is not actually a robot.