Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (貞本 義行) Interview @ JX USA 2013
Last month's Japan Expo USA was the organization's first time hosting an anime convention in the United States, and it was a resounding success! With their high-profile list of Guests of Honor, fans had a special opportunity to meet some of their favorite mangaka and video game professionals from Japan. Join us as we sit down for a memorable chat with renown character designer and mangaka Yoshiyuki Sadamoto as we discuss some of the more philosophical aspects of Evangelion.
Please note: images and the Japanese transcription were removed at the request of the publisher.
T-ONO: You’ve been an animator, a mangaka, and a character designer. Which of these works do you find the most interesting?
Sadamoto: They are all around the same to me. It's actually enjoyable to be able to do all of them, so it's hard to distinguish what would be the most enjoyable to do.
T-ONO: With the advances in digital art technology, how has that changed or affected your work?
Sadamoto: I started using digital software during the fifth volume of the Evangelion manga. For me it was much easier since I can edit and make changes. Also the ability to combine two pictures I drew separately, the ability to change and fix the colors of the picture, and making the adjustments for the best combinations became much more easier with the development of digital art technology.
T-ONO: Has this impacted or affected your overall art design or style?
Sadamoto: I think my style has changed but not due to using digital tools. It changed because my hand started to get use to the drawing and also due to my change in hobby. I think, that has changed my style.
For example, the black and white pictures in the comics, I don't use any digital drawings for those and if you look at the first volume and the last volume, the art style of those hand drawn pages are different. My style still changed a lot from the beginning to end even if I use little to no digital tools, so I think time was the factor that changed my design rather than the development of digital art.
In regards to animation, using the new Evangelion movies as an example, most of the robot scenes are done digitally by using cel shading and creating the CG for it. So the basic of drawing them and showing them would change compared to hand drawing them. From that standpoint, digital tools has changed the way animation is done today.
T-ONO: Since we’re on the topic of Evangelion, the series had adopted a lot of Christian themes into the story. In the very last chapters of the manga it appeared there was a new introduction of Buddhist or Eastern ideas such as reincarnation.
Sadamoto: First off, for the original animated series of Evangelion, we, including the director [Hideaki Anno], all didn’t know a whole lot about Christianity but it seemed interesting so we went ahead and started the project. While the anime was airing, we started to learn more about the content and started to add more ideas from Christianity, for example the appearance of Lilith, and even adding some new stuff at the last episode of the series. We just kept on giving out new ideas that we learned while the show went on, although it's pretty ironic to talk about it now.
Regarding my manga, I really wanted to separate it from the anime. So i decided to not research it at all. Some of the ideas may have came from Shinto... hmm now that I think about it, there isn't much reincarnation involved in Shinto. Well it could be the Eastern way of thinking, the thought of where does the soul goes. So I didn't do any research about religion for the manga.
T-ONO: So you incorporated more of your own personal thoughts and opinions on the various topics such as life?
Sadamoto: When looking back at human history, human evolution, you can see a very important relationship between parent and child. When humans want to evolve their own genes, a man would meet and fall in love with a talented women and make a new baby who is evolving genetically. So I believe that's how humanity has evolved in our history.
When humans decided to evolve as a species, they can only live up to maybe 100 years. So they would experience anything as much as they can within the 100 years, and pass that knowledge to their child. And the cycle of doing that would eventually evolve the DNA of the species. In comparison, the Angels are already in their complete form, and out of all the Angels, Kaworu is the ultimate form of the Angels. Kaworu becomes interested in the way human evolves and thinks that the humans should inherit this planet, and that's how he feels towards Shinji. How I feel for the overall story of Evangelion, is that humanity is pretty amazing.
T-ONO: With the Evangelion manga complete, are there any future or current projects you can discuss?
Sadamoto: There are things I can tell you vaguely but I can't tell you in depth. Well the manga has ended, but I am going to do the final touches for the comic [the final volume release] until the end of this year. While doing that, I will be doing the character design for the new Evangelion movie that is coming out in the future. Also I would love to be in part of any new projects for Gainax, like manga, design, or even a simple illustration.
T-ONO: We look forward to seeing your new works.
Sadamoto: Thank you.
Special thanks to Emmanuel Bochew for interpreting.
Interview conducted by Theodore Mak
Translated and transcribed by Arthur Arends