Sadamoto Manga Vol.2 Interview
My Thoughts At The Moment
Over and above designing characters...
Q: You did the character designs for the animated
version of Evangelion, and I'm sure that there were various points you paid special
consideration to each character, so to start with, please talk about Shinji.
A: In a normal giant robot animated show the main character is noted for his
enthusiastic battle spirit. And in Eva, the main character does pilot a giant
robot, but Shinji is not noted for his enthusiasm, so I had to come up with a different
heroic interpretation. Rather than a reflection of a hero, sort of a refraction of a hero.
Q: He's sort of a dry character.
A: He's a product of our era. I started out trying to create a character that would
tap into the consciousness of today's anime fans.
Q: As a product of our era, you mean the attitude
that, "My life is my own, and I'm not interested in the opinions of others,"
A: He's a person who doesn't want to be interested in the opinions of others, but
actually he's very interested. He's the kind of character who would encase himself in a
shell of his own making.
Q: A sort of delicate character.
A: I wanted a sort of clean image that a woman tends to project. But also a
character who would commit suicide, but can't bring himself to do it. It was my intention
to create a wistful character who had given up on life.
Q: Did you have a model for his face?
A: Not particularly. The image of a hero in Japan is like Ushiwakamaru, the
strong champion whom no adversity will affect. When you say "hero" in Japan, it
conjures the impression of a man, just prior to middle age, accomplished at arms, with a
burning spirit. Or maybe you think of a bishonen (beautiful young man). In the
beginning I gave Shinji longer hair, so in dramatic scenes, it could hide his face or wave
in the breeze. But when I drew that, he looked a little too wild-and so delicate the
slightest pressure would break him. So finally I tried for a look where you could see the
forehead through the bangs, shorter hair-the look of a boyish girl. Speaking in concrete
terms, his eyes are a girl's eyes. I drew them exactly as I drew Nadia's (the heroine of
Gainax's 1990 TV series Nadia) eyes. He's a male Nadia, just as if I had given
Nadia a masculine makeover. Lengthen the eyelashes and change the hair style, and you have
Q: You don't draw characters out of any love of
A: That's right. Our aim was to be the antithesis of all giant robot animated shows
around us. It's not a world where the wind blows through your hair while you declare your
purpose in a booming voice. Especially in the past one or two years, this type of
refractive, feminine character has not been seen. I wanted to tell the tale of a main
character taken from my own life, so I designed a character striaght from the more stoic
part of myself.
Q: So instead of someone pushing you to draw, you
added pieces of yourself to draw the characters?
A: I think that the theme of the animated version is that the main character's
attitude changes little by little. I think that in the anime, Anno wrote the script in his
own words, and that is why the change occurs. And the reason for the subtle changes
between the animation and the manga is that Yoshiyuki Sadamoto is writing the script using
Anno's characters. I think the anime is...I can't say cuter, but it has the feel of an
honors student. The manga is a little more twisted...the feeling of a flunk-out. I think
the reason behind that is that Anno was his class president in elementary and junior high
schools, and flunking out was something he couldn't do, whereas I never had that problem.
Q: You're saying that twisted sensibilities are a
A: According to Anno's thought process, a twisted person is one who puts on a cool
face, but once you see the inside, you get to the crazy portion, just like all the young
people today. My approach is the opposite. On the inside the characters are stoic and
earnest, but the outside is twisted, just like a child. So I could never write the anime
scripts in my own voice. My Shinji is quite a bit different than that. In the end it his
resistance, his refusal to listen to what Misato has to say, but he still makes the right
decision. I think that approach is where our methods differ the most.
Q: What about Rei?
A: I played around with a character, Ukina, in a story I wrote a long time ago in
NEWTYPE called Koto no Oni("The Ogre on the Desert Isle"). You take her,
give her shaggy, bobbed, wolf-like hair, and you've got Rei. Really, I just played with
her a bit-the way the eyes were drawn, the basic character is the same. Her character was
locked in as translucent, like a shadow or the air. The kind of girl you can't touch. The
girl you long for, but there is nothing about her that you can grab a hold onto.
Q: The same type of stance that Kensuke and Toji
feel about Rei?
A: Even more distant. The first time you see Rei, she is all bandaged up. The group
Kinniku Shojo Tai has a song called "Hotai de Masshiro na Shojo"("The Girl
White with Bandages"). When I heard that song, and an image popped into my mind, and
I drew Rei according to that. I thought, "i'd like to draw a girl like that."
This girl who is fated to pilot a robot. I wanted to draw her even before I heard of
Shinji. There were two things that went into the decision to make her eyes red: one is the
fact that she didn't have enough outstanding features, and the second is from a business
standpoint, the makers of the game wanted her differentiated from the other characters,
but personally I think it turned out to have a great effect. She's so quiet you can only
tell her character from her gaze and her facial expressions, so she leaves the impression
of having a strong stare.
Eva in the Manga and the Anime
Q: Concentrating on the story, where do you think
the biggest difference is between the manga and the anime?
A: Well I did write the script of the manga using the anime as a base. And at the
moment, I think they're pretty much the same. I've made the story more compact. I think
even if you rephrase a sentence into less words, you're still saying the same thing. But
the manga does have a different approach. Maybe I should say it has a different
choreography. The main point is that the anime has quite a few different people writing
the continuity, for example when the assistant director, Mr. Tsurumaki wrote the
continuity for a particular script, and when Masayuki wrote a continuity for the same
script, it came out to be a completely different program. I think there's a difference
Q: There are the differences of format. You can't
draw a manga in the same way you would animate a show.
A: And that's the reason I tend to change the script entirely. I pick and choose
what is easier to say in manga. The anime became a craze among the fans, and I wanted to
lower the demographic to people of about 14 or 15 years old, but the content was so
difficult, it just wouldn't dumb down. If I tried, it would cease to be Evangelion.
If that were to happen, there would be no reason left to do the book, so I went from the
planning stage and came up with the book you're reading now. You see, what I wanted to do
was exactly the same storyline that was contained in the tv series. But I thought it might
make the comic easier to understand if you weren't bombarded with quite the quantity of
information, and if you shined the spotlight directly on the main character's soul. I put
my whole heart into seeing what kind of world the Eva world would be if seen
through Shinji's heart. And then, what kind of world would you see if you shined a
spotlight on the souls of the other characters. Also, manga is basically drawn by only one
person, and it is impossible to fit the great load of content into the comic. The anime
can end in a half year, but the manga, even after abbreviating, could take years to tell
the same story. So the idea is to simplify the story into small digestible chunks. For
that reason you shine the spotlight on different spots than the anime, or you make the
flow of the main character's emotions easier to understand. If you make the comic exactly
the same as the anime, you will never be able to make up for the loss created by the
abbreviation, and even though you have the same story, you have a very different product.
On the other hand, since manga doesn't have voice actors or music, it will be a very
different product, anyway.
Q: Well it certainly seems like a different
viewpoint looking on the same story. We see Shinji's thoughts which we never saw in the
anime. Were his thoughts the same in both versions?
A: Most likely his thoughts in the comic are just my own impressions. If you asked
Mr. Anno, I'm sure they would be entirely different, but unless I get into Shinji's head,
I can't draw the comic. One of my weak points is I have to empathize with the character
before I can draw. In the first episode of the anime, over and above the dramatic
elements, Shinji's dialog was the most important part of the episode. That is what made me
want to draw the comic. That is what made me purposely change his dialog. What I'm
attempting to write is the piece of my life-the dialogue of Shinji's that comes from
[Originally published in the Japanese edition of Neon
Genesis Evangelion Vol. 2, in April of 1996]
Taken from Viz Comics'
Collected Evangelion Manga, Vol. 2