Hideaki Anno, the creator of Evangelion, is an anime icon. He says he’s done with the series. With its fame and popularity came haters, who took him to a very dark place.
At one point, twisted online comments made Anno contemplate dying by suicide.
In a recently aired NHK program, Anno opened up to film crews for a frank and honest interview. The name of the program is Professional: Shigoto no Ryuugi (Professional: The Way of Work), and the show followed him over a four-year period as he finished the latest Evangelion. “Professional” is a word that Anno told NHK he didn’t like and wished had been changed in a humorous exchange during the closing credits.
The program showed the ups and downs of the creative process, and how Anno would go back to fix the script late in production. This would then, of course, impact the release schedule.
During the show, he was very clear about how he felt about Evangelion. “With this [movie], I’m done with Eva,” he said. Of course, that doesn’t mean Evangelion will necessarily stop, but as of now it appears Anno won’t be doing it and is moving on. He seems more than ready, too. When NHK asked if he had any emotional attachment to Eva, he immediately replied, “None.”
In another segment, Anno opened up about how he felt after reading an online thread in which commenters discussed how to kill him. The incident occurred when Evangelion was airing on TV over twenty years ago.
Anno has battled depression for years—a battle that he has been open about. It’s rare to see this kind of frankness in Japan about mental health. The topic, as Japan Today points out, has long been taboo. That is beginning to change.
“For me, I’m trying to work hard for society and people who love anime, but there was this thread on how to kill Hideaki Anno,” the anime creator told NHK. “They kept writing the absolute best ways to kill me, such as, I could be killed this way or that. When I saw this, I stopped caring about everything—like, making anime. I’d had enough. One time, I thought about jumping in front of a car. Another time, I thought about jumping from the company’s roof.” NHK asked what stopped him, and Anno replied, “Because that seemed painful. Dying is fine, really, but I didn’t like the idea of experiencing pain before death.”
It’s so easy to make flippant comments online. Those words, however, have meaning. And that meaning can impact people in a deep and profound way.