In 1999, following the completion and success of “Neon Genesis Evangelon”; animator, director and actor Hideaki Anno appeared in an episode of the documentary series “Welcome Back for an Extracurricular Lesson, Sempai!”. In the episode Anno travels back to his hometown to teach animation to a class at his old elementary school. The show is super cute, yet hidden within it are several nuggets of wisdom and clues behind the development of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Anno’s creative process.
Anno turns up to the elementary school looking disheveled and seems extremely awkward around the kids. He seems really genuine and doesn’t try to sugar coat anything for the kids either. At one point a child asks him, “Do you like the anime you make?”. He replies with “Like… well, I like some, but hate others.”. “What parts don’t you like?” asks the child, “The parts where I see myself.” replies anno. He later states “I’m not crazy about myself.” You can definitely see aspects of several NGE characters in Anno, which isn’t surprising as a large amount of the final episode’s material is essentially excerpts from a journal he wrote in during a four year bout of depression.
Later in the episode he goes on to talk about his own aspirations. “I think animation is best for visualizing images that come from inside you. No doubt, you can develop a very individualized expression.”
He also talks about his life growing up the the industrial city of Ube, his background and how he communicates with others. “Answering questions from the children is a type of communication. And my way of talking shows that I am not a person who gives detailed explanations. Do I like this? No, I don’t. Unless they ask why, I won’t go any further.”
By the end of the two days of teaching simple animation, taking field trips to his parents house and old haunts; he seems a lot more comfortable around the kids and opens up a bit. He tells the kids before leaving, “I hope you have each gotten something out of this. keep these feelings dear to you and try to think of and search for your own answers.”
The short video is inadvertently a fairly comprehensive look into the mind of one of 20th century animation’s greatest creators. Check it out.