"There is plenty of good stuff. You should improve your ability to find and watch good animation." -- Kazuhiko Shimamoto (manga writer of Gyakyoo Nine and Honoo no Tenkosen) and Hideaki Anno (director of Nadia and Gunbuster--Aim for the Top, and a member of Gainax). Shimamoto and Anno have been friends since college days. What do these two people have to say to animation fans?
Animage: Do you feel a generation gap when you talk with your young assistants?
Shimamoto: Always! (laughs)
Animage: Do you have opportunities to talk with your animation fans?
Anno: No, I rarely do.
Shimamoto: I feel something strange when I find my assistants sometimes watching animation or reading comics that feature only pretty girls. I'd rather they watch good animation and thereby get meaningful influences since they will become independent manga writers in the future.
Anno: They can't create quality stuff without seeing quality stuff. The point of this interview is to recommend to the readers of Animage, who are either junior high or high school students, some good animation. People of those ages are so receptive that they can absorb anything, so they should choose carefully.
Shimamoto: I wish they could.
Anno: What is surprising to me is that they laugh at something that they shouldn't I often wonder why.
Animage: You mean you want them to improve their ability to select and watch?
Anno: Exactly! But these days it is getting harder to select good shows because there is so much animation.
Shimamoto: Yes, that's right. Sometimes I myself am confused when choosing the right shows.
Anno: I'd like to tell the young fans that the animation world is very large, and that they should take a more broad look since there is good animation. Whether it is animation, novels, comics, or movies, there is much that they can enjoy.
Animage: What would you recommend?
Shimamoto: I cannot help ignoring Yamato (1974, TV) [Star Blazers], because it contains soul!
Anno: Shows like Yamato or Gundam (1979, TV) which have soul, emit the staff's "cry of mind" out of the screens as a certain vibration. On the other hand, I feel bad when I watch shows that are made sluggishly without such soul.
Shimamoto: Are you moved by a small act of a character regardless of the show's quality of colors or its story?
Anno: Sure. It is a time when the show touches your heart.
Shimamoto: In regards to Yamato, people shouldn't feel that they actually have watched it just by watching Yamato movies or edited versions! They have to watch the first TV series! They can't really understand how Yamato's wave gun is a dreadful weapon. When I watch the first TV series in order from the first episode to the 26th, I can't help but be moved by the Yamato's long voyage - 148,000 light years.
Anno: Yamato used to be the best in the quality of the picture in those days, so it is very old. The young animation fans might not be satisfied with it since they have high appreciation as far as picture quality is concerned. But I want them to watch it at least once.
Animage: Do you have anything else to recommend to young animation fans?
Shimamoto: I believe that the Galaxy Express 999 (1979, movie) is the best movie.
Anno: I didn't like it. I wish it had been shorter.
Shimamoto: I see. But I was impressed enough to get goose bumps by the climactic scene in which Tetsuro is running with Maetel while the planet Maetel is exploding. I thought I would write comics to describe such a wonderful scene.
Anno: Certainly, that movie was good.
Shimamoto: And then, you would regret it if you missed The Star of Giants and Tomorrow's Joe.
Animage: The video of The Star of Giants was not released after Hanagata hit the Major League I thrown by Hyuma Hoshi [a hero].
Shimamoto: I got goose bumps by that episode, and I couldn't stop crying expecting the next episode!
Anno: It's difficult for the video rental shops to carry the rest of the episodes.
Shimamoto: Young animation fans should try it anyway. I recommend trying it from the 21st volume. I believe you would want to watch the rest of the episodes. In addition, the other day I found that Lupin III Mamo (1978, movie) was cut and edited when I rented it. It is 90 minutes, right?
Anno: Oh! I didn't know that. It's too short compared to the original movie, which was 100 minutes. Lupin III Mamo was one of my favorites because it looked like a genuine Lupin.
Shimamoto: Fujiko looked cool, too.
Anno: Fujiko by Hayao Miyazaki is not bad, but she doesn't look sexy. I liked the chorus called "Lupin Chorus" that was sung at the end.
Shimamoto: It was definitely good. I was surprised by the fact that it was sung in the animation, which was so serious.
Anno: I also recommend animation viewers try the first TV series of the Mobile Suit Gundam (1979, TV). It has not been released as a video yet?
Shimamoto: No. But the first movie series of Gundam is still good.
Anno: Of the movies, I recommend Gundam III - Meeting in Space. The picture is quite nice. Moreover, if I have to recommend Mr. Tomino's animation, I would choose Legendary Giant IDEON (1980, TV). It would be best to watch the movie version's Part II (1982, movie) after watching the TV series. Although some of the picture quality might be poor, please tolerate it.
Shimamoto: Of Tatsunoko's [a previously famous major animation production company] animation, I would recommend Scientific Ninja Gatchaman (1972, TV), Cyborg Casharn (1973, TV), and Hurricane Polymer (1974, TV).
Anno: Those series used to stand out, but not now necessarily. However, old animation by Susumu Dezaki, such as Island of Treasure (1978, TV) is still good, isn't it?
Shimamoto: Yes, it is! The pair - Mr. Susumu Dezaki and Mr. Sugino is great!
Anno: Specifically, their final episodes are great.
Shimamoto: I think Dezaki is very good at describing characters. How a particular character spent his life is described well.
Anno: Aim at Ace--The Final Stage (1989, OAV) is also good. I couldn't stop watching it after I watched the first episode.
Shimamoto: I have not finished watching it yet, but I wonder if you liked the last episode?
Anno: Yes, I did, although it is a little bit light. I was just overwhelmed by its adult mood throughout the animation. I can't express such mood yet. Actually, I felt sad when I watched Nadia, which I directed, soon after watching it. I felt Nadia was too childish. (laughs)
Animage:The names of staff are key points in selecting good animation. Are there any names you'd choose?
Shimamoto: It can be interesting to take a look at directors' names. For example, what kind of animation did Dezaki make? It would be good to watch animation by the same director systematically.
Anno: Exactly! Once I like one, whether it is animation or not, I always seek out the rest of that person's works. I did so in the case of Tomino and Dezaki.
Shimamoto: Conversely, once you don't like a person's work, you don't watch any more of his or her works.
Anno: Not necessarily. Animation is made by the cooperation of many staff members, and sponsors have substantial influence. It is better to memorize the names of whole staff. You would then notice that most of your favorites are done by the same staff.
Animage: You mean by doing so, you'd like young animation fans to improve their ability to select and watch good animation?
Shimamoto: I doubt if we ourselves, who are talking in this way, have that ability.
Anno: That's true.
Shimamoto: Especially recently, I found shows that I can't understand, so I am confused. Overall, it is a matter of your preference.
Anno: It is your sensitivity that decides whether it is good or bad. I just want them to improve their appreciation by watching a variety of shows.
Aim at Ace--The Final Stage - An OAV produced after Aim at Ace II. It has a different ending from the original comic. (12 episodes, 6 video volumes)
Cyborg Casharn - A masterpiece in hero action. Its dynamic action and heroism, though full of grimness, is attractive. (35 episodes, 10 video volumes, LD perfect collection)
Galaxy Express 999 movie - As Yamato describes the romanticism of men, 999 is the masterpiece of SF fantasy that describes the bitterness in youth and poetic sentiment.
Hurricane Polymer - A comedy/action about a detective, Joe Kuruma, and the mysterious hero Hurricane Polymer. (TV series, 2 videos so far)
Legendary Giant IDEON - An unusual animation that describes hard themes such as man's sin and love and hatred. (39 TV episodes, 8 video volumes)
Lupin III Mamo - A movie that describes the charisma of Lupin, a hero, through a fight against the ultimate enemy, Mamo. Filled with many famous scenes and lines.
Mobile Suit Gundam movie Part III - The sad meeting of Amuro and Lala is described through the beautiful pictures of Yoshikazu Yasuhiko.
Space Battleship Yamato - A masterpiece in SF animation, which shows the yearning for outer space, grim resolution to save the Earth, and as a unique description of mechanics. (26 episodes, 13 video volumes)
Star of Giants - An animation said to be the best of the sports animation genre. A saga in which two sportsmen compete relentlessly. Its excessive coverage of psychology still looks fresh. (21 video volumes so far)
Tomorrow's Joe - A masterpiece that describes Joe Yabuki's hard way of life in boxing. The show is harsh but attractive. (79 episodes, 20 video volumes)
Shimamoto's Top 10 Anime
1. Yamato (1974, TV)
2. Star of Giants (1970, TV)
3. Tomorrow's Joe (1970, TV)
4. Island of Treasure (1978, TV)
5. Ann the Red Hair (1979, TV)
6. Complete Works of the Theme Songs of TV Heroes
7. Lupin III (1971, first TV series)
8. Aim at Ace (1979, movie)
9. Future Boy Conan (1978, TV)
10. Galaxy Express 999 (1979, movie)
Yamato, Star of Giants, and Tomorrow's Joe are the basic of the basic. I watch them whenever I am sick or lose creativeness. I recommend Ann the Red Hair, Future Boy Conan, and Island of Treasure.
Anno's Top 10 Anime
1. Yamato (1974, TV)
2. Mobile Suit Gundam (1979, TV)
3. Gundam--Char's Counterattack (1988, movie)
4. Legendary Giant IDEON (1980, TV & movie)
5. Animal Treasure Island (1971, movie)
6. Fight! Pyuta! (1968, TV)
7. Future Boy Conan (1978, TV)
8. Aim at Ace (1973, first TV series)
9. Tom & Jerry (1944)
10. Ann the Red Hair (1979, TV)
I have chosen these based on my preference rather than recommended ones. Especially right now I am enjoying Fight! Pyuta!