All About Kaworu – Ikuhara Kunihiko Interview

Originated from (5/7/13)
Translated by 1731298478
Original Japanese

Please note that Ikuhara Kuniko is the director of Sailor Moon, Utena, and Mawaru Penguindrum, as well as being the rumored inspiration for Kaworu Nagisa.



The magical power of “You’re fine just the way you are”

I have been asked directly by a few people before now if I was the model for Kaworu. Where did that information come from? I was completely uninvolved [in Kaworu’s creation] as one of the principals. Kaworu is very good-looking, so if I said I was his model I imagine I would recieve complaints from his fans.

However, it’s not the case that I have no idea at all [what the speculation might refer to]. During the period when Evangelion was still in its preparatory stages, I was in very close contact with Anno-san. At that time, the staff of Sailor Moon went on a company trip to an onsen, and Anno-san was also among our members. [1] The two of us ended up talking the whole night. Even after everyone else had collapsed we went on and on, drinking sake and talking, sitting side by side in an open air bath and talking.

So, I think the conversation we had that night had perhaps the same flavor as the exchange between Kaworu and Shinji. I also felt this way when I saw episode 24 for myself. Well, the situation with the bath was the same; that’s easy enough to understand.

But, it seems there are rumors – I’m not really sure – that the line of dialogue, “You are worthy of love,” was something I said to Anno-san, and so on (laughs). I don’t think it was a case where I was Kaworu and Anno-san was Shinji. Only, if I had to say which [is which], Anno-san seems to say more Kaworu-esque cynical things, right?

So, I remember telling [Anno] a story about the time of my adolescence. When I was 14 or 15 years old, I was truly in despair, thinking my life prospects were very bleak. With tests and such things, I had the feeling that I was not permitted even a slight failure. Today it seems like even failures receive attention, or that there is freedom to be “dame,” but at that time it seemed that you would have no future after failing even once. Up until the 70s there was the anpo toso [2], but when that ended, an atmosphere – “ah, as we suspected, you can’t revolutionize the world” – began to spread.

So, I thought that I would be dead before I was twenty years old, and any life I lived beyond that would be a kind of omake – that was the story I told [to Anno]. Probably, just the fact that I was able to tell that story was of value to both of us.

Beyond that, Anno-san loved Sailor Moon and told me he wanted to make a similarly enjoyable work. [3] I wonder if an aftershock had occured when this consciousness that was moving towards the pursuit of realism – a science fiction-like world setting, the details of machines, and so on – came into contact with a work like Sailor Moon.

Maybe that was a period where something like the pleasure of an ordinarily enjoyable anime seemed novel to Anno-san. My own impression of Anno-san is a feeling like he’s not human. He’s big, hunches over, and seems to resemble an Evangelion. [For example,] often he’s had a utility knife, and cried out “Yah!” as he slid the blade out (laughs).

He’s ordered to come back by his father, he’s slapped by Ayanami, he’s called stupid by Asuka, he’s yelled at to straighten up by Misato… Shinji doesn’t recieve much affirmation from others. I think, in this situation, the only one who tells him that he’s fine just the way he is is Kaworu. “You don’t have to try to so hard.”

Perhaps because of that, after Kaworu appeared, the girls who had been watching Eva and who found it interesting but didn’t feel the kind of enthusiasm that the boys felt about it were able to finally connect emotionally with Shinji. Perhaps because of that everyone loves Kaworu. Hm? Have I ever said to anyone, “you’re fine just the way you are”? Isn’t that something I’m always saying?

[1] Evangelion director Hideaki Anno participated as a staff member. Among other things, he directed the bank transformation sequences of Uranus and Neptune in Sailor Moon S, and worked on the genga of episode 103 of Sailor Moon S and of the Ikuhara-directed series Sailor Moon R.

[2] The term anpo (or ampo) toso refers to the widespread protest movement against the U.S.-Japan security treaty, which led to massive demonstrations in 1960 and 1970 (against the signing of the 1960 treaty and its renewal in 1970).

[3] Among other things, the appointment (as Misato) of Kotono Mitsuishi, the voice actress of Sailor Moon’s protagonist Usagi Tsukino, and the appointment (as Shinji) of Megumi Ogata, who had voiced a young boy in R, give an indication of Anno’s strong respect [for the series].