Author: Andy Hanley
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.
The Takeshi Honda interview - Page 2
Over the course of Gunbuster you moved up from in-between to key animation - for you, what were the most important lessons that you learned that allowed you to make that move?
The shift came naturally but suddenly for me. I started out working on the first drafts that my superior did, but I heard that the studio bosses knew they were going to promote me to key animator but they didn't really tell me. So one day they came and told me "now you do key animation", but nobody told me what to to do, so I didn't even know what I didn't know! I really had to work hard and learn from my own experience.
Similarly, what knowledge proved most important for your work as an animation director?
That move was like a greatest hits of my past experiences, but I think it's more about connections above anything. I learned from experience that people and the team is always important. There were really great artists in my team, and it was more about harnessing other people's talent than using my own skills or talent, I feel.
Having worked on some episodes of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion, did you imagine at the time that it would still be such an influential and popular series so many years later?
No, not at all! We were really busy making the series, and yes we did hear good reviews, but we never thought it was going to be this big. From a creator's point of view I was more frustrated than anything, because things that we wanted to do we weren't allowed to. By the end of the TV series, everyone was staying up all night and sleeping in the studio so it was quite wild towards the end! That's my main memory of it, so we didn't have any time to think about its success at all.
Do you have any particular enduring memories about working on the series?
Evangelion as a whole is quite serious. The main character is very... I don't want to say pathetic, but kind of sad. At the end of the day, Shinji is just a very ordinary high school student, and in episode one all of a sudden he has to get in the robot, he's not happy about it, and it gets quite heavy. I got involved in the series from episode two onwards, so we've got a battle scene but the story's still really, really serious.
Those first two episodes took six months to produce, which is really unusual for a TV anime series, and for those six months everybody at the studio was in a serious mood. But I really wanted to do something lighter than that, and Kazuya Tsurumaki suggested - actually he outright told me - "you know what, episode eight will be kind of fun", so I raised my hand and said "yes, I definitely want to do that episode", which is where Asuka first appears. That was the kind of tone that I wanted and I was really happy, so I remember episode eight really fondly.
Then after that episode it went back to being serious, and the whole mood of the production team just went downhill after that!
You talked about having frustrations when working on Evangelion and things you weren't able to do - was there anything specific that frustrated you that stands out in your memory?
Most of my frustration actually came from the limited time that we had. But as an animator I want lots of actions and motion - just like directing actors, I want my characters to move. On the other hand, Hideaki Anno is the kind of guy who prefers still shots, so his philosophy is "less is more" but I want more, so there was a conflict between us there.
Once the Evangelion TV series was done I went on to work on Perfect Blue, so I was actually able to do what I wanted to do there and I was really happy. I think I was able to solve my frustration by doing other work outside of GAINAX, because I was free from those kinds of restrictions. I do respect Mr. Anno's policy on what he thinks and wants to do, because he believes that by having more animation what he wants to show will be much less clear - he really wants to show what he wants to show there and then, and I do respect that but it's not the way I work, so there's always been conflict there.
Given that, how did you initially feel about revisiting the world of Evangelion again for the current series of films so many years later?
There was a lot I wasn't able to do during the TV series, so I was actually willing to do the feature film version so I could do what I really wanted to do. Throughout all of the film series so far I feel that I've done that and I'm quite happy to do more. I still have loads more I want to do that I didn't do in the TV series, and the series is still continuing so there's more I want to do.
Having said that, I'm older now and I can't really do too much drawing with complicated lines as that's now physically very hard, so I'm just hoping for Evangelion to end properly before I retire!
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