WTF us up with Hideaki Anno?

I have a love hate relationship with Hideaki Anno, better known as the sad robot man who made Neon Genesis Evangelion. On the one hand I love some of his deeper character driven works, but on the other I also hate his sometimes pretentious attitude, his false use of "symbolism," and his wishy washy attitude on what his work means. However, I'm not going to talk about any of that today. Instead, I'm going to call one of the biggest names in anime a hypocrite.

Having watched the recent Me!Me!Me! video on a recent thread, which Anno seems to have been involved in, at least spiritually, I've been thinking about his criticism of the Otaku culture. And, for the most part, I agree with the criticisms he's made, both in that video and in the original Eva series. My problem is that he seems to say one thing and do another.

One of his earlier series was a little show called Gunbuster, a mecha series that served as a precursor to Eva. While it is relatively inoffensive, it does contain a trace amount of the fan service and breast jiggling that has, unfortunately, grown in prevalence in certain circles of the anime industry. A feature that primarily appeals to members of the Otaku culture, I may add. Furthermore, he gave us this little gem in an interview when he was younger:


AL: Yet, there are some fans that no longer go out with real girls...
HA: It is true that some fans of animation display unfortunate behavior.
AL: And yet you continue to create this kind of characters for them.
HA: You need to understand that Japanese animation is an industry that is, for the most part, male, and as is quite evident, everything is made for their gratification. Further, it is more gratifying for us to draw this sort of character, rather than old grandmothers.

Now, I found this to be rather offensive when I read it for the first time, as it seemed to encapsulate everything I disliked about the anime industry. What struck me, however, is the fact that it was ANNO who said this. The man who created Rei Ayanami, partly, as a deconstruction of the Otaku fanbase. The man who essentially tore apart the harem genre in EoE. The man who, alongside Miyazaki, has shown open disdain for the Otaku fanbase and the current state of animation. The difference is that Miyazaki has kept his hands clean, and has always created strong female characters. Anno on the other hand seems to be a mixed bag.

One could say he saw the light after finishing Eva, becoming successful, and settling down and starting a family. Perhaps he was a former Otaku who had simply reformed himself. But problem is that, in some ways, he's gotten worse. He created a new character, Mari, who served little purpose other then to be a fan service girl in a series known for criticizing fan service characters. His company then marketed the hell out of the merchandising and little figurines they make there. And yet, just recently, he released a music video that, long story short, criticized the Otaku culture, and even had the nerve to include the Eva merchandising as part of the video.

My point is, where does he come off criticizing a sub culture that he actively panders to? He's always had a tumultuous relationship with fans, who have sometimes sent him death threats, and yet, in many ways, he actively markets to them. Indeed, he actually comes off as an Otaku himself. How can he claim that the Otaku are ruining the anime medium (a valid criticism) when he, himself, is an enabler? At least Miyazaki stuck to his principles, however controversial his opinions may be.

Anno is a nutjob. The man sort of snapped during the production of EVA. He was going through a depression at the time, and he was under extreme pressure from the Otaku culture who wanted to dictate to him how the show would end. He received multiple death threats, the show went insanely over budget, and it ended on a non ending, that only served to make the fanboys even more venomous to him.

I have a feeling that interview came from before EVA. After that is when he got really crazy. I don't feel that Anno ever actually moved on from that production, considering that almost everything he's done since has revolved around the Evangelion franchise. I feel like the Rebirth movies are his attempts at trying to "fix" what he saw was wrong with the original version, but as they've gone on, I feel he's regressed again. What started as an updated remake has veered wildly off course, and plays more like a gigantic middle finger to the assholes who drove him crazy the first time.

Nowadays, I think he just does stuff to troll his fans.

a) Couldn't his opinions simply have changed over time? It seems plausible that making products that appeal or pander to a certain demographic could be what lead him to feel the way he does about that demographic? A "familiarity breeds contempt" kind of situation.

b) Divorce of business decisions and personal opinion. I presume this guy wishes to turn a profit. If that profit can be increased by appealing to a certain demographic then it doesn't surprise me that he would do so, regardless of how he feels about them. Is it hypocrisy? Quite possibly, that would depend on exactly what he says.

Zhukov:
a) Couldn't his opinions simply have changed over time? It seems plausible that making products that appeal or pander to a certain demographic could be what lead him to feel the way he does about that demographic? A "familiarity breeds contempt" kind of situation.

b) Divorce of business decisions and personal opinion. I presume this guy wishes to turn a profit. If that profit can be increased by appealing to a certain demographic then it doesn't surprise me that he would do so, regardless of how he feels about them. Is it hypocrisy? Quite possibly, that would depend on exactly what he says.

These are good points, but if his opinion had changed, then why hasn't his behavior?

More then that, for someone who wants to turn a profit, he really likes to insult his fans, and intentionally do the exact opposity of what they want. This doesn't have to be bad, but it gets a little strange sometimes. In the EVA movie he literally freezes the film, and shows live action footage of the death threats he'd received in the past. Most business minded people wouldn't wantonly criticize their fanbase in that manner, even if their opinions were warranted. And yet, despite openly criticizing the lifestyle of the otaku culture, and telling them that they're ruining his art form, he actively markets to them... and then criticizes them for purchasing his merchandise. I guess my point is, while I agree with his criticisms, it would be nice if he either stuck to his principles or just stopped complaining. Miyazaki simply stated his opinion on the industry and moved on with his life.

Well, first off, Anno didn't make that video. In fact, looking at the credits, his name doesn't even appear anywhere. It was his studio, Khara, for the Japan Animator's Expo. It's just one of many shorts from some new directors of different qualities and animation styles. They're simply endorsing creativity. The EVA figures I just took as being a cute little reference, which most anime tend to have.

As for Anno himself, I don't really have much to say in that matter. I find some of his stuff entertaining. Regardless of what his personal beliefs or stance on the industry is, as long as I enjoy the final product, then I'm fine. I'm an EVA fan, and I loved End of Evangelion despite it basically being a "fuck you" to fans complaining about the ending. That's all I could really say as I don't keep up with his work or his personal life.

The whole thing about criticizing the otaku culture yet still pandering to them, in the case of that video, I don't think that's true. It did get a lot of attention for it's sexual imagery, but simply because it has sexual imagery doesn't mean it's pandering to that particular audience (It's a short, so what does it even gain from doing so? Will they be selling figures of those girls? I don't think so.) If anything the imagery comes across as more grotesque and horrifying than arousing, and I think that's the intent. Of course, there'll be people who do find it arousing, and I will never understand them.

I think there's three states to Anno throughout his presence in the anime industry; Chronologically, the first being the eager creator who just wants to please his fans (the Gunbuster and Nadia phase), the second being the one sick and tired of the fanbase and wanting to shove a mirror in front of them (the NGE phase), and the third state is him just not really giving a shit anymore and wanting to rake in that merch dough (the Rebuild phase).

Both Anno and Miyazaki have a contempt for the "otaku" culture, the difference being that Anno seems to like kicking fucking hornets nets. Maybe that's exactly because Anno used to be part of that culture once, in the same way that one would look back at things they liked as a kid a go 'Oh my God, I can't believe I was a fan of that'.

Fox12:

These are good points, but if his opinion had changed, then why hasn't his behavior?

More then that, for someone who wants to turn a profit, he really likes to insult his fans, and intentionally do the exact opposity of what they want. This doesn't have to be bad, but it gets a little strange sometimes. In the EVA movie he literally freezes the film, and shows live action footage of the death threats he'd received in the past. Most business minded people wouldn't wantonly criticize their fanbase in that manner, even if their opinions were warranted. And yet, despite openly criticizing the lifestyle of the otaku culture, and telling them that they're ruining his art form, he actively markets to them... and then criticizes them for purchasing his merchandise. I guess my point is, while I agree with his criticisms, it would be nice if he either stuck to his principles or just stopped complaining. Miyazaki simply stated his opinion on the industry and moved on with his life.

Really sounds like an interesting guy, with enough distance.

Anyway, I don't really get what's happening but what Zhukov said works well with most stated opinions.

 

Reply to Thread

This thread is locked