Why the choice to break out of conventional animation and use manga pages? Was it at all a response to how many anime are using computers to achieve smoother and more realistic visuals? Were you trying to go the opposite direction?
KT: I like manga, not only to read, but the visuals. The pen drawings, the frame breakdowns and layouts . . . This is the first time I have used digital animation, and those bouncing manga shots wouldn't have been possible with cel animation. Personally I'm not interested at all in using computers for realistic animation. I'm impressed by it sometimes, but I'm interested in using computers to do what was once impossible, not to do smoother versions of what has already been done. I want to be less realistic.
Has using digital animation techniques changed the way you work, or the way you feel about your work when you see it? Does it still feel like it's yours if a computer did much of it?
KT: Before I got into digital animation I saw other shows that were using it and I felt that there was no feeling, it was empty. As an animator, there's a sense of release when you draw a cel. There's something there. Working on FLCL, though, I learned that computers can do more, and, most of all, that they allow room for trial and error and revising, more freedom to experiment. That is why I now feel that cel art cannot win against computers. For actual animation everything is still drawn on paper. That work hasn't changed. It's the other stuff, the touchups, and coloring. If we didn't use paper, maybe the feeling would change.
Earlier today you said that you were trying to broaden the genre by giving Eva a sad ending. Does the sameness of much of today's anime bore you?
KT: First of all we didn't use a sad ending to annoy fans. When they're upset, that really bothers us. Personally, I think a happy ending is fine, but not if it is achieved too easily. That's no good.
For all the fans that are confused at all, if you had to define in one sentence what FLCL is about, what would you say?
KT: FLCL is the story of boy meets girl. For me it is also about how it's ok to feel stupid. With Evangelion there was this feeling that you had better be smart to understand it, or even just to work on it. With FLCL I want to say that it's okay to feel stupid.
Even though it may be strange to us, do you have in your head a logic behind it? Are you trying to portray a story that follows the logic of dreams, or is it supposed to make sense symbolically?
KT: I'd like you to think of FLCL as imagination being made physical and tangible, just as it is for me when I take whatever is in my head and draw it.
So what are you working on next?
KT: Right now Gainax has told me that they'll support anything I choose to create, but I'm having trouble coming up with any ideas.
Why is that?
Releasing titles for market, I know I have to make something to please fans, but I'm not a mature enough person to accept that fact. If I'm not amusing myself I can't do it. I feel bad that fans have to put up with such behavior from me. I apologize.