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Gainax Panel at Fanime 2010

Forum member NAveryW was at Fanime 2010 and attended the Gainax Panel hosted by Hiroyuki Yamaga (Director of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Mahoromatic, Wings of Honneamise). He was kind enough to supply us a synopsis. (Click on “Read the rest of this entry” for to see the synopsis)

Hiroyuki Yamaga and his translator showed up during the credits for Evangelion 2.22, as did a good chunk of people who came for the History of Gainax panel and were not aware or didn’t care of the enormous spoilers following the credits. After the file was closed (it was a torrented DVD rip with an obsolete version of EGF’s subtitles), Yamaga introduced the panel. He said he didn’t often get the opportunity to talk about Gainax’s history, so he read a book about Gainax’s history before his arrival. The translator didn’t relay the title, but he may have been referring to The Notenki Memoirs. He then briefly described the creation of what he considered Gainax’s first work, created before they were officially Gainax, DAICON IV. He did not mention DAICON III, but a DVD of DAICON IV was played and the recap of DAICON III was included. Hopefully nobody was confused.

When it was over, Yamaga stated that the video quality was unfortunate because it was recorded on 8mm film, then talked a bit about its creation. Editing the sound was difficult, as the process of adding sound to the film sped up the video, making synchronization difficult. The other Gainax members were in their early twenties at the time, but he believes he was not quite twenty yet. They were college students, and DAICON IV was to be their last big, fun project before going off and getting real jobs. However, when the film was complete, they realized there was “too much talent” to leave animation behind, so they formed Gainax. For a while all they did together was meet up and have dinner, but after a while, though he’s not sure why, they all decided at once to do a serious anime. They first approached Bandai about making a Gundam OVA, but they were rejected because, in the translator’s words, “they were just a bunch of amateurs.” They then asked Bandai to sponsor an original movie and “for some reason, they agreed.” Thus, Bandai sponsored the creation of Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise.

After this, Yamaga seemed to have nothing more to say about Gainax’s history, so he announced they were going to show a video Hideaki Anno put together showcasing everything Gainax had ever made. They put in another DVD with a menu that was apparently rather cryptic, as the wrong video was accessed and we ended up watching a clip from Wings of Honneamise. The clip started to loop when it was over, the person controlling the DVD returned to the menu, moved the mouse around for a while, then clicked the correct video. The Gainax 20th Anniversary logo displayed, then tight music played over clips from every work Gainax was ever involved with. Many of the works before Nadia are completely unknown in the United States, including a good number of tokusatsu movies with surprisingly good kaiju costumes, music videos for GUITARHYTHM, and a TV anime created before Gunbuster that somehow involves a family of aliens. Even more recent Gainax works seem to have escaped the eyes of the Occident– they made something between the two Mahoromatic series that looked very stylish but that I couldn’t recognize. I believe video ended with a clip from Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi.

When the lights came back up, Yamaga said he didn’t have anything more planned, so the rest of the panel would be a Q&A session. A line of several people formed.

The first question was “When was the last time you saw this many white people?” Yamaga’s response was “Last week when I was in London.”

The questions continued, but I don’t remember the order exactly. Someone asked if Gunbuster was supposed to be in color but they ran out of money; Yamaga said budget had nothing to do with the grayscale ending.

Someone asked if the DAICON films will ever be available on DVD. Yamaga said no, as due to the many, many instances of copyright infringement, “we’d get our asses sued”.

Another man asked for confirmation of a rumor that DAICON IV was drawn on grocery store bags because they couldn’t afford cels; Yamaga denied the rumor, instead stating that they bought large sheets of plastic and cut pieces out to use as cels. He also mentioned that he and the other future founders of Gainax had to buy and assemble all the editing equipment themselves.

Someone asked about the anime set in England. Yamaga said that they were doing Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt first (which the translator called “Panty and Stockings with Garterbelts”), which is “very dirty”, and their subsequent work will be a “more refined” show set in early 20th century England.

Someone asked if Neon Genesis Evangelion ended the way it did due to budget problems. Yamaga responded that the problem was with time, not with budget. He then stated that the television ending was planned to be as it was from the beginning; Gainax thought “Wouldn’t it be interesting if the show ended this way?”. I brought up that the 1993 proposal created to attract sponsors contains a different ending in its summary, and asked if the propsal’s ending was made up because nobody would sponsor a show if they knew what the real ending would be. Yamaga knew nothing of the proposal and told me that if I got my information off the internet, somebody probably made it up. I responded that the proposal was in Newtype, and upon the translator’s request repeated that the proposal was from 1993. Yamaga responded that he didn’t believe the show had an ending at that point.

The man in front of me, whom I’d coincidentally met at Yamaga’s party last year, said that post-Evangelion Gainax characters resembled Misato and Kaji, such as Ebichu‘s master and the salaryman and characters from Re: Cutie Honey. Yamaga asked how they were similar; the questioner said they were always arguing. Yamaga responded that he doesn’t know about America, but that’s how all couples are in Japan.

Someone asked about the canceled Wings of Honneamise sequel. Yamaga said it was never canceled, but is on indefinite hiatus. The man who was to sponsor it was arrested for financial matters the translator was vague about, but he’s out of jail now and building a rocket that he intends to fly into space.

I asked about the hostility 2ch had displayed toward Pansuto‘s art style. Yamaga responded that he doesn’t go to 2ch much, but they’re frequently hostile to Gainax.

A man said “You probably get asked this a lot, but” the television ending of Evangelion was “not well received by a lot of people”, and asked if End of Evangelion was created as revenge against the fans. Yamaga said that everyone at Gainax was satisfied with the TV ending, repeating that it had been planned that way from the beginning, but once the show was over the staff still wanted to do “more Eva”, so they made the films. For the sake of making sure Yamaga had to repeat himself a third time, Sailor Stardust asked if the script for episode 25′ was based on the intended script for episode 25, and Yamaga said once again that the television ending was the one they’d always intended. Fans like to make up rumors.

The panel ended with that question. Yamaga didn’t get as much into post-Honneamise history as I had hoped, and the ending summarized in Evangelion‘s proposal involving the cancelation of the Human Instrumentality Project to stop twelve Angels remains an enigma, but overall the panel was informative and fun.