1996-animerica-conscience-otaking: “The Conscience of the Otaking: The Studio Gainax Saga in Four Parts”, Toshio Okada (2011-10-03):
1996-newtype-anno-interview: “June 1996 NewType Interview with Hideaki Anno”, Hideaki Anno, Shinichiro Inoue (2012-06-14):
The June 1996 issue of NewType (published 10 May) included an interview by Shinichiro Inoue with Hideaki Anno, the director of the controversial TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion which had just finished with 2 unusual episodes on 20 & 1996-03-27, sparking a national discussion & backlash. This interview has been widely alluded to in Eva discussions as Anno gave his initial thoughts on how Eva turned out, what he & Gainax were trying to do, and their reaction to the public reaction.
We translate an unofficial French fan translation into English, providing access to the full interview for the first time.
1997-animeland-may-hideakianno-interview-english: “May 1997 AnimeLand Interview with Hideaki Anno (English)”, Hideaki Anno (2012-02-28):
Fan translation of an 1996-10-04 interview with anime director Hideaki Anno shortly after the end of Neon Genesis Evangelion TV but before the movies, published in 1997 in the French anime magazine AnimeLand, and translated into English here.
This Anno interview is notable for Anno discussing his reaction to the public reaction to Evangelion, his attitude towards celluloid & animation (vis-a-vis the experimental ending), and denying that Christianity was a more than superficial theme.
1997-animeland-may-hideakianno-interview-french: “Interview with Hideaki Anno (French)”, Hideaki Anno (2012-02-28):
2002-takeda-notenkimemoirs: “The Notenki Memoirs: Studio Gainax And The Men Who Created Evangelion”, Yasuhiro Takeda (2010-12-27):
An annotated e-book edition of The Notenki Memoirs: Studio Gainax And The Men Who Created Evangelion, a short autobiography by a founder of Gainax who became active as a fan and in the anime/
manga industry in the late 1970s; it describes the student fan club scene around SF conventions, the creation of the famous Daicon video shorts, the founding of Gainax, its subsequent successes & travails (although with less emphasis on Neon Genesis Evangelion than one might expect), terminating around 2001. Much of the information Takeda discusses may have appeared in English-language sources before, but in obscure or missing sources and never pulled together, and it is a valuable source for non-Japanese-speakers interested in that time period.
For people interested in the history of the anime industry, Takeda fills in many gaps related to Gainax—it’s hard to think of any source which covers nearly so well DAICON III, DAICON IV, General Products, or throws in so many tidbits about surrounding people & Japanese SF fandom. It is an invaluable resource for any researcher, and I felt compelled to create an annotated e-book edition in order to elucidate various points and be able to link its claims with versions of stories by other people (for example, Okada’s extensive Animerica interview)
Those reading it solely for Evangelion material will probably be relatively disappointed: Takeda clearly finds NGE not very interesting, may have bad associations due to being targeted in the tax raids, and he was writing this in 2000 or so—too close to the events and still working at Gainax to really give a tell-all, and it’s not a terribly long or dense book in the first place. Nevertheless, NGE fans will still find many revelations here, like the origin of NGE production in the failure of the Aoki Uru film project (an origin undocumented in any Western sources before Notenki Memoirs was translated).
2003-oshii-izubuchi: “Talk About RahXephon: In Search of Fantasy and Details”, Mamoru Oshii, Yutaka Izubuchi (2012-02-28):
2003-rahxephoncomplete-anno-izubuchi: “Special Talk: Yutaka Izubuchi × Hideaki Anno”, Hideaki Anno, Yutaka Izubuchi (2012-02-28):
2004-okada: “Otaku Talk”, Toshio Okada, Kaichiro Morikawa, Takashi Murakami, Reiko Tomii (2012-04-09):
2005-little-boy: “Excerpts from ‘Little Boy’”, Takashi Murakami (editor) (2013-01-15):
2005-murakami: “Earth in My Window”, Takashi Murakami, Linda Hoaglund (2012-03-04):
“Earth In My Window” is a long essay by Superflat pop artist Takashi Murakami meditating on post-WWII consumerist Japanese society and on WWII infantilizing Japanese pop culture as revealed by its influences on media, anime, and the otaku subculture.
This transcript has been prepared from a PDF scan of pg 98–149 of Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture, ed. Murakami, published 2005-05-15, ISBN 0300102852. (See also the transcript of a discussion moderated by Murakami, “Otaku Talk”.)
2005-sawaragi: “On The Battlefield of ‘Superflat’”, Noi Sawaragi (2012-05-18):
2008-gardner.pdf: “Aum Shinrikyo and a Panic About Manga and Anime”, Richard A. Gardner (2008):
In the midst of the accolades, it is important to recall that there have been moments in recent history when manga and anime have been regarded as potentially dangerous or as emblems of what is wrong with Japan.
Such was the case in the months following the release of sarin gas in several Tokyo subway lines by members of the religious group Aum Shinrikyo on the morning of March 20, 1995. As the extent of the Aum’s crimes gradually became clear, Japanese journalists, scholars, intellectuals, and commentators of every sort attempted to explain the origin and rise of Aum, the reasons for the group’s turn to violence, and what the appearance of such a group might mean about Japan. In the various theories and explanations presented, nearly every aspect of Japanese society, culture, and religion has been held to be at least partially accountable for the rise of Aum and the turn to violence by some of its members (see Gardner 1999, 221–222; 2002a, 36–42). In the efforts to explain Aum, considerable attention was given to the roles that manga and anime might have played. This resulted in what might be described as a panic about their possible negative influence on Japanese culture and society. Rather than attempting to explain precisely how manga and anime might have contributed to the rise of Aum and its vision of ‘Harumagedon’, or Armageddon, this chapter will simply present an overview of the ways in which both members of Aum and commentators on Aum understood the role of manga and anime in relation to Aum. Attention will be given, in particular, to how these perceptions were linked with broader concerns about the possible negative influence of various forms of media, technology, and ‘virtual reality’.
2010-crc: “Evangelion 2.0 Complete Records Collection”, Ryusuke Hikawa, Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi, Yōji Enokido, Kazuya Tsurumaki, Mohiro Kitoh, Shigeto Koyama, Yoshito Asari (2011-08-29):
This paper examines the ambiguous nature of Murakami’s criticism toward the postwar Japanese condition—as the artist most effectively captured in his phrase ‘A Little Boy’, which was also the title of his curated exhibition at the Japan Society of New York in 2005.
As Murakami wrote in his introduction to the catalogue, demilitarized Japan after the Second World War underwent a collective sense of helplessness, and the metaphor of a little boy is intended to describe Japan’s supposedly unavoidable reliance on its big brother, America. The name ‘Little Boy’, in fact, originates from the code name used by the American military for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
The proliferation of ‘cuteness’ in Japanese contemporary art, which draws upon youth culture, especially otaku culture, evinces a common urge among the postwar generation in Japan to escape from their horrible memories and sense of powerlessness.
Murakami’s rhetorical analysis of Japan’s self-image seems, however, contradictory, given his extremely aggressive business tactics, which can find no counterpart in the Western art world—not even in the efforts of Murakami’s predecessor, Andy Warhol. Like My Lonesome Cowboy (1998), whose hyper sexuality defies its pubescent and immature appearance, his art, theory, and art marketing indicate the paradoxical nature of his theory of impotence.
By focusing on his manifesto and writings published on the occasion of his 2005 exhibition and his style of managing Kaikai Kiki Ltd., this paper delves into the dual nature of Murakami’s interpretation of postwar Japanese art and culture, particularly in relation to those of America. [Keywords: Takashi Murakami, Japanese contemporary arts, otaku, art and subculture, atomic bomb (Little Boy), nationalism, globalization of art market, Asian masculinity]
2011-house: “Interviewing translator Michael House”, Michael House (2011-11-11):
Director Anno Hideaki’s series Neon Genesis Evangelion caused a sensation when it first aired on TV Tokyo in 1995 and has become one of the most influential anime ever made. Since its premiere, fans across the globe have debated the possible interpretations of the complex plot, but little has been said about how composer Sagisu Shiro’s score might contribute to understanding the series. Anno’s rehabilitation in a Jungian clinic and subsequent personal study of human psychology plays heavily into understanding the main character Ikari Shinji, and music has much to contribute to appreciating Shinji’s view of the world. Shinji is an impressionable fourteen-year old boy, so his musical interpretations of the people and things around him do not always match reality. Sagisu’s music gives the viewers welcome insight into Shinji’s thoughts and feelings as he matures throughout the series.
2020-fukushima.pdf: “Noise in the landscape: Disputing the visibility of mundane technological objects”, Masato Fukushima (2020-11-10):
In recent years, a controversy has arisen in Japan regarding an ongoing landscape policy proposing to eliminate the forest of utility poles and electric wires that covers almost all urban and rural landscapes. The controversy is somewhat peculiar vis-à-vis the existing study of landscape, partly because of the utterly ubiquitous and non-monumental characteristics of the poles and partly because of the general apathy in public reaction to them. Drawing upon diverse academic sources, this interdisciplinary exploration unfolds a complex entanglement of tacit landscape ideas behind the controversy. The author discusses the effectiveness and limits of addressing both the substantial and visual aspects of the poles vis-à-vis the public and policy makers by using three conceptual frameworks: (1) ‘erasure’ in the landscape as palimpsest, (2) the dual aspects of ‘noise’, and (3) artialisation, in order to understand this mundane element of technological objects in the context of creating contemporary landscapes.
…Utility-pole aesthetics: In contrast with this rather ghostly genealogy of artialisation, Hideaki Anno, a film director, has maximally explored the aesthetic potential of these poles and wires in his works, with his blatant claim for the aesthetics of such pole-covered landscapes…Regarding the importance of iconography in formulating landscape ideas (Cosgrove, 2006; Cosgrove and Daniels, 1988) or artialisation (Roger, 1997), the audience of Anno’s animation works immediately comprehends the detailed depiction of such technoscapes involving utility poles, wires and high voltage towers in his works, in sharp contrast to the more conventional way of simply omitting these items or using symbols in their place. Ryusuke Hikawa, a film critic, explains that Anno elects to put these elements in the forefront, focusing on their hidden life and history in his sagas.11 Anno has been becoming more outspoken in recent years in defence of the beauty of these poles, probably in response to the no-poles campaign that has become publicly visible. As he said in an interview conducted in 2000:
As I grew up close to a factory, it was my archetypal image. Even now I love such things as factories and masses of iron. I love also utility poles; especially their functional beauty (kinô-bi). I know there’s a movement in political circles to remove these poles. I wonder what motivates them to further impoverish the urban landscape, which has already been so boring. There would be no charm of landscape in Tokyo without utility poles. (emphasis added)12
On another occasion, he reiterates the concept of the functional beauty of these poles:
Utility poles have only functional beauty (kinô-bi). Their concise form exists as uniformity in every city . . . The disinterestedness of such poles, without any compromise to the general landscape, is something that I adore that is irreplaceable with other things.13
In parallel with Anno’s unique support of the poles’ beauty with his poetic depiction of them in his works, on a Japanese photographic SNS site called Ingrum there is a page dedicated to photos of utility poles with those that are clearly reminiscent of the scenes in Anno’s Evangelion, whose number had reached 107,147 as of late 2018, and the number is still growing.14 Pixiv, another Japanese SNS site for both professional and amateur graphics writers, has a specific category of drawings for utility poles.15 There is even a site for the best drawings of utility-pole related landscapes, with a caption referring to the ‘inorganic beauty of electric wires’, which says, ‘we find these poles everywhere outside, while usually we don’t pay attention to them. Once, however, we attend to them, we are captured by their functional, inorganic beauty.’16 In what is called the Pixiv-Encyclopedia, the entry for utility poles is defined as ‘something nostalgic for the Japanese, while their number is decreasing due to the policy of burying them underground’.17
Related to such efforts to reappraise the aesthetic value of these poles on the web, there is a site on the web that collects critical comments on the very picture of Mt Fuji covered with utility poles in the photography competition for a No-Poles Landscape mentioned above. There are quite a few comments that underscore that the utility poles that cover the Mt Fuji print actually enhance the beauty of the scenery in the context of modern technology.18
This thesis explores the cultural commentary by Japanese Neo-Pop artist Takashi Murakami in relation to Japan’s war memory and its legacy in popular culture, addressing in particular the essays accompanying his 2005 exhibition Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture. Murakami constructs a genealogy of postwar otaku subculture— anime, manga, tokusatsu, and video games—which he sees as reflecting anxieties repressed within mainstream culture: namely, memory of defeat, occupation, and ongoing military protection by the United States, epitomized by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These concerns become intertwined with the social malaise of Japan’s “Lost Decades”, in which postwar narratives of endless economic growth through scientific innovation give way to nihilism and social withdrawal. While anime of the “Economic Miracle” period show empowered heroes overcoming apocalyptic trauma through technology and righteous ideals, those of the 1990s frustrate such heroism: as scientific optimism deteriorates, protagonists are forced to question their beliefs, affiliations, and self-definition.
While Murakami offers a wealth of socio-historical insights, clear limitations emerge, particularly the immediate post-Occupation release of films and artworks depicting the war and the atomic bomb, which challenges the notion that these topics were repressed exclusively into subculture. Furthermore, critics have argued the emphasis on Japan’s defeat and the hardships faced by civilians downplays the broader history of the Japanese Empire and its wartime activities abroad, a tendency Carol Gluck terms “victim’s history”. This thesis proposes a revision of Murakami’s theory which argues that memory of Japan as perpetrator emerges subliminally in subcultural narratives alongside memory of victimhood. Drawing on Hashimoto’s, LaCapra’s, and Elsaesser’s insights on the transmission of perpetrator memory, I argue that many of anime’s most iconic Sci-Fi and fantasy narratives are rooted in ambivalence towards national history, with heroes forced to identify simultaneously with hero, victim, and perpetrator roles. I focus on directors Hayao Miyazaki and Hideaki Anno, identifying the recurring motif of the “perpetrator fathers” whose legacy young heroes must overcome, while at the same time experiencing a traumatic identification with their father figures. These narratives complicate questions of national identity, reflecting a simultaneous desire to escape from, and redeem, historical memory.
Anime’s Atomic Legacy: Takashi Murakami, Miyazaki, Anno, and the Negotiation of Japanese War Memory
Chapter 1: Superflat, Subculture, and National Trauma
Takashi Murakami and superflat
- A genealogy of superflat subculture
- Framing JNP: Japan’s Postmodern Condition
- The Database & Animalization
- Superflat and National Cinema
- Trauma Theory
- Atomic Trauma in Mainstream Japanese Cinema
- The Subcultural Split from Mainstream Cinema
Chapter 2: National Identity and Perpetrator Trauma in Anime Subculture
- National Identity & Perpetrator Trauma
- Miyazaki and Anno: Negotiating Historical Memory
Chapter 3: Hayao Miyazaki
- Murakami on Miyazaki
- Troubling Parental Figures: the Perpetrator Fathers and Earth Mothers
The Economic Miracle: 1978–1989
- Miyazaki’s Early Apocalyptic Narratives
- Future Boy Conan: Trauma, Nature, and Industry
- The Return of the Repressed: Conan’s Trauma Narratives and the Perpetrator Fathers
- Becoming the Perpetrator: Monsley and Intergenerational Trauma
- The Grand Narrative Preserved
The Lost Decade: Miyazaki’s Nihilism and the Decline of Grand Narratives
Chapter 4: Hideaki Anno
- Anno’s goals as artist
- Interior Perspective and Hyperlimited Animation
The Economic Miracle: Gunbuster as Nationalist Fantasy
Anno’s Turning Point: Fascism and Technological Ambivalence in Nadia
- Nemo and Gargoyle: Reconciliation with the Perpetrator Fathers
The Lost Decade: Evangelion, Withdrawal, and the Decline of Grand Narratives
- The Decline of Scientific Optimism
- Reference Texts
- Films & Artistic Works