Sawako Kabuki joins us from Tokyo for the second edition of The Animation That Changed Me, a new series in which leading filmmakers discuss one work of animation that has had a formative influence on them. Kabuki’s prizewinning short films depict vomit, masturbation, and other bodily functions with a brash, kinetic energy. Her work has been recognized at Annecy, SXSW, and Zagreb, and she has directed an ident for Adult Swim. Her choice is Neon Genesis Evangelion, Hideaki Anno’s groundbreaking anime series about teenagers piloting giant cyborgs in a future conflict. Over to Kabuki:
I believe I first saw Neon Genesis Evangelion when I was 12–14 years old — about the same age as the Eva [cyborg] pilot characters. So I was sympathetic to the uneasy feeling that is characteristic of adolescence. My brother had recorded the whole series on VHS tapes, and I borrowed them from him and watched them at home. I had heard of the series, but knew nothing about it except that it is a mecha anime.
After I watched the tapes, I felt the same feelings after going to Disneyland when I was little. It was a mixed feeling, exciting and sad at the same time. [But it became] the anime series I was most addicted to when I was a teenager. In addition to the battle scenes, it focuses on the real life of the characters as adolescents — the emotions that we’ve all experienced. That’s one of reasons why I like it so much, [even if] it’s a bit over the top.