Biography of Hideaki Anno

Written by Barney Buckley

Email Address – bbuckley@triad.rr.com


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Hideaki Anno born May 22, 1960 in Ube, Yamaguchi) is a Japanese animator, film director and actor. He is best known for his part in creating the popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. His style has become defined by the bits of postmodernism he instills into his work, as well as the extensive portrayal of characters’ thoughts and emotions, often through unconventional scenes incorporating the mental deconstruction of those characters. He married manga artist Moyoko Anno on April 27, 2002.

Anime directed by Anno that have won the Animage Anime Grand Prix award have been Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water in 1990, Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1995 and 1996, and The End of Evangelion in 1997.

Biography

Childhood and personal life

Anno was born in Ube City; he attended Wakō Kindergarten, Unoshima Municipal Elementary School, Fujiyama Municipal Junior High School, and Yamaguchi Prefectural Ube High School where he was noted for his interest in artwork and making short films for Japanese Cultural Festivals.

Anno is an agnostic and has stated that he has found Japanese spiritualism to be closest to his beliefs. Anno is also a vegetarian.

Early work

The God Warrior from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which Anno animated.

Anno began his career after attending Osaka University of Arts as an animator for the anime series The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982–1983). Wrapped up in producing the DAICON III and IV Opening Animations with his fellow students, he was eventually expelled from Osaka.

Anno did not gain recognition until the release of his work on Hayao Miyazaki’s 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Running short on animators, the film’s production studio posted an ad in the famous Japanese animation magazine Animage, announcing that they were in desperate need of more animators. Anno, in his early twenties at the time, read the ad and headed down to the film’s studio, where he met with Miyazaki and showed him some of his drawings. Impressed with his ability, Miyazaki hired him to draw some of the most complicated scenes near the end of the movie,[9] and valued his work highly.

Anno went on to become one of the co-founders of Gainax in December 1984. He worked as an animation director for their first feature-length film, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987), and ultimately became Gainax’s premiere anime director, leading the majority of the studio’s projects such as Gunbuster (1988) and Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (1990–1991). However, Anno fell into a four-year depression following Nadia — the series was handed down to him from NHK from an original concept by Hayao Miyazaki (of which Castle in the Sky is also partly based upon) and he was given little creative control.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Anno’s next project was the anime TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion (新世紀エヴァンゲリオン Shin Seiki Evangerion?) (1995–1996), which would be touted as an influential animated series.

Anno’s history of clinical depression was the main source for many of the psychological elements of the series and its characters, as he wrote down on paper several of the trials and tribulations of his condition. During the show’s production, Anno became disenchanted with the Japanese “otaku” lifestyle. For this and other reasons (although perhaps by design as well), Evangelion’s plot became increasingly dark and psychological as the series progressed, despite being broadcast in a children’s television timeslot. Anno felt that people should be exposed to the realities of life at as young an age as possible, and by the end of the series all attempts at traditional narrative logic were abandoned, with the final two episodes taking place within the main character’s mind.

The show did not garner high ratings in Japan at its initial time slot, but after being moved to a later, more adult-oriented venue, it gained considerable popularity. Budgeting issues at Gainax also forced Anno to replace the planned ending of Evangelion with two episodes set in the main characters’ minds. After these last two episodes were aired, Anno received numerous letters and emails from fans, both congratulating him on the series and criticizing the last two episodes.

Among these were death threats and letters of disappointment from fans who thought Anno had ruined the series for them. In 1997, Gainax launched a project to re-adapt Evangelion’s scrapped ending into a feature-length film. Once again, budgeting issues left the film unfinished, and the completed 27 minutes of animation were included as the second act of Evangelion: Death and Rebirth. Eventually, the project culminated in The End of Evangelion, a three-act film that served as a proper finale to Neon Genesis Evangelion.

In September 1999, Anno appeared on the NHK TV-documentary “Welcome Back for an Extracurricular Lesson, Sempai!”, answering some Evangelion related questions, including the origin of the name Evangelion, and teaching children about animation production.

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