Ghost in the Shell Director Says Evangelion’s Hideaki Anno Is ‘More of a Producer Than a Director’

Evangelion's Hideaki Anno is not entirely a director, according to a recent interview with legendary anime director Mamoru Oshii.

In a recent interview on the website Pia, acclaimed Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii gave his opinions about the wildly successful Evangelion franchise and its director, Hideaki Anno. Although Oshii acknowledged that he had not yet seen Evangelion: 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time, he still offered his overall perspective on Anno as a director. Oshii praised Anno's skills as a businessperson and as a visual storyteller but ultimately critiqued Anno's films for their "lack of theme." He conceded that Anno's films are visually appealing and have "[given] birth to a new presentation style" but maintained, "Expression and themes are different things. Avant-garde presentation... isn't the same thing as a theme."

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Oshii went on to conclude that he and Anno have fundamentally different ideas of what a director should be. According to Oshii, Anno emphasizes the marketability and presentation of his films, making him "more of a producer than a director" and leaving his films without a clear purpose. However, Oshii did acknowledge that Anno's increasing focus on business and "his desire for upward trajectory" suit him well. He also said that most of Anno's films are like I-Novels, a Japanese literary genre focused on an author's personal confessions about their life. As such, Oshii feels that Anno remains true to himself in each work he creates, whether or not the audience appreciates that personal style.

In describing his own style of directing, Oshii compared himself to Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki. Although Miyazaki has always maintained that he creates films for children's amusement, Oshii feels that Miyazaki also creates and directs films for the same reason he does: to "pick a fight with society." According to Oshii, he and Miyazaki are unlike Anno in that they are always thinking about what it is they want to express to their audience when they make films.

Oshii also mentioned acclaimed anime directors Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children, Summer Wars) and Makoto Shinkai (Your Name, Weathering with You) during the interview. He compared them to Anno, arguing that all three filmmakers face the same limitations and all of their films "lack a main theme." He explained, "To put it a different way, I can't feel the fundamental motivation they have for creating films."

Mamoru Oshii remains one of the most recognized and respected directors in the anime industry. He is most known for his influential anime film Ghost in the Shell, but he also wrote the critically acclaimed anime film Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade and directed Angel's Egg and the Patlabor franchise. He also directed the classic anime series Urusei Yatsura, which was even referenced in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Source: Pia, via Anime News Network

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