Director says he recently felt like he’d “never create anything again.”
Fans of anime and film director Hideaki Anno have two things to be happy about this month. First, Anno’s reboot of the Japanese Godzilla franchise, Shin Godzilla, is just days away from opening. Second, since production on Shin Godzilla is finished, Anno’s schedule is once again clear, which means he can get back to work making the fourth, and supposedly final, installment in his Rebuild of Evangelion, the theatrical follow-up to landmark anime series Evangelion.
Rebuild’s first three films premiered in 2007, 2009, and 2012. Four years later, though, there’s still no word of when the final film, to be confusingly titled Evangelion 3.0+1.0, is going to be released, or even if production on it has started in earnest. Multiple rumors that didn’t pan out have dashed fans’ hopes again and again, and in speaking at a press conference commemorating the completion of Shin Godzilla, Anno’s used his opening remarks not to talk about the kaiju film he’d just completed, but to address the fans of Evangelion, saying:
“To start with, there is something I’d like to apologize for. To the fans of Evangelion, I am truly, truly, truly sorry for having kept you waiting.”
There’s no doubt that directing a project as large as Shin Godzilla was a major draw on Anno’s time and energy. That said, Anno’s helming the recently wrapped kaiju project may not necessarily have slowed down the timetable for the fourth Rebuild movie.
Rebuild of Evangelion is largely seen as a more emotionally stable and healthy reimagining of the original Evangelion TV series, which itself is generally accepted as being a direct product of Anno’s issues with depression and self-loathing. But though he’s now reached a level of critical, popular, and commercial success unrivaled by any anime director but Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki, that doesn’t mean Anno’s creative process is all blue skies and cheerfully applauding penguins. He’s talked before about the emotional strain involved in making the Rebuild film series, and at the Shin Godzilla press conference he expanded on how deeply drained it can leave him.
“The only way for me to describe Evangelion is to say that it is my soul. I make it by scraping off pieces of myself, and I made three [Evangelion] movies in a row like that, putting everything I could into them and not thinking about what would come next.”
How bad was it? Anno described his emotional state as:
“After finishing [the third Rebuild movie], I thought I’d never create anything again.”
Thankfully for Eva fans, it looks like taking a few years off from the series has given Anno time to emotionally recharge. During his hiatus from the anime, he said he was able to pour his energies into Shin Godzilla, and, in his characteristically unassuming way, expressed his hope that it “brings at least some satisfaction to audiences.” The curse of Eva’s success, though, is that even if Shin Godzilla is a hit, until the final Rebuild of Evangelion movie is actually in theaters, people are still going to be asking him when it’s coming out.