Signs that Hideaki Anno is Trolling His Fans
Anime fans know him. Who wouldn’t? That depressed man from the Ube, Yamaguchi was responsible for giving us the biggest mind bender in anime history. The Neon Genesis Evangelion started as a poorly budgeted, but well-made piece of work that will change anime forever. It introduced us to various themes, aesthetics, stories and everything that influenced later anime, from common shonen to mecha. Reactions are mixed though. While fans praised how the Evangelion brought anime to an even deeper level, critics pointed out how the series was overrated. For them it was a collection of gibberish sketches made to give you a migraine. Deep or not, a masterpiece or disaster piece, it seems that Anno is up to something here.
That the Evangelion series was made to poke fun at the audiences…
Apart from the fact that it is meant to express his depression, parts of the series seems to ridicule not just the viewers but the whole otaku culture. It criticizes the mecha anime genre and the whole anime fandom without becoming a caricature of the genre. We could consider this as Anno’s gigantic obscene hand gesture to the fans of the series, which became increasingly prevalent in The End of Evangelion movie. If you want to know more, just read below.
1. The Story Went from Cheerful to Moody
In my opinion the story had a good start. Great pacing and scene and we are immediately introduced to the whole point of the series. At least that’s what we thought at first. It had all the hallmarks of traditional anime like a harem of girls, teen humours and giant robots. As the series progress the childish fun wore off and the scenes became sensualized. In fact compared to many anime that time, it feels more adult and daring. The giant robot battles, fun school life, everything became a mix of psychological and emotional mess. Things became all too moody as the characters sunk into a downturn. This is not the usual melodrama you might find in a television series. This type of depression is darker, almost insane!
This is how Anno basically deconstructs the whole mecha genre. He gave us what we liked before taking it away. He basically said, “You want it, you can’t have it” in our face. From a mecha anime, it became a non mecha anime. Possibly it is meant to disappoint, though fans are more disappointed with the ending though. Now being deep and depressing is what people liked about the series, but Anno is not through yet.
2. How the End of Evangelion Came to Be
If Anno is out to get his fans, it is not working as expected. The series meant to deconstruct otaku culture became an otaku icon in itself. They have problems with the ending though, so Anno’s answered with an animated movie. Now that he had the budget, he will give them what they want.
It’s like saying, “You want a deep and depressing anime, and then eat this!”
And now we have the End of Evangelion, an even sicker incarnation. With the Rebuild series included it counts as the most deluded. Again the creator is up to his tricks again. Fans are expecting a climactic battle. I thought I’ll be seeing an epic Angel fight, until the last scene closed. Yes, Anno gave us what we want, but he turned it on its head. He made things darker, denied the audiences a clear plot and left an ambiguous ending. He had a choice to make it more viewer friendly, but this is Anno we are talking about here.
3. He Gave Us Symbols With No Meaning
I once wrote an article about how the Christian symbols are just for show. Keen to build (or deconstruct) a unique mecha anime, they turned to Christianity for inspiration. The symbols are meant for the Japanese audience and not to the largely Christian western fandom. The mystique and allure of the sacred signs are both to shock and impress. And that’s what it was intended to do. To shock and allure even though the symbols don’t have any deeper meaning in the series. For me this is Anno’s way of questioning his audiences’ thinking. As what heard in an online forum, the fans are led to believe into deeper meaning by something that worth nothing.
4. Too Much Senseless Deaths
Emotionally sick characters are just the start. To further depress his audience, Anno made the kill counts as high as possible. Most of the deaths are in The End of Evangelion, and the majority are senseless. The deaths don’t really contribute to the series, they are meant to shock. Now any book authors out there knew how killing off a character must be connected to the growth of the story. It’s fine as long as it got to do anything to the plot. In the case of The End of Evangelion, there was no growth in the plot or sense in the deaths, with the exception of Misato eating a bullet to the back. People just died and that’s it. And if they will turn to LCL orange juice in the end, why bother killing them? It’s all part of Anno’s twisted ploy to ruin your day.
5. Shinji Ikari
After this, I plan to write an article on how Shinji became an undesirable piece of work. He was meant to be an anti-thesis of heroic, noble and brave mecha pilots of Gundam and Macross and every super robot series. He started well as a normal underdog, does well, and degrades. He got worst till The End of Evangelion and mankind became history. Again this is Anno’s way of saying you won’t get what you want. You want a hero, I’ll give you zero.
6. Inserting Kaworu To The Scene
Then there is this weirdo Kaworu who just appeared out of nowhere. He is actually Adam’s soul bearer who seems to be really close to Shinji. The show was developing into a harem love triangle, and who knows if Anno sent him to ruin the brewing romance. Shinji has all the girly options to choose from, and he was later seen showering with a guy! He only showed up in a single episode, before the EVA Unit 01 tore him apart. By the way, Anno said that Kaworu is Shinji’s idealized self. And having your perfect self being overpowered by your imperfect self is a sign of self-defeat (at least from how I see it.)