Takeshi Honda has many prolific credits in the Japanese animation industry, including Evangelion (both the original series and new movies), Ponyo, Millennium Actress, Kill la Kill and Space Dandy. Toonzone News had the chance to pose some questions to him during his UK visit on behalf of Studio Khara and Anime Limited.
TOONZONE NEWS: I’d like to start by asking what made you interested in getting into animation?
TAKESHI HONDA: [Laughs heartily] I love drawing, so I vaguely had the idea of wanting to create manga. But when I was about eleven years old there was a huge animation boom in Japan, so as I entered my teens I decided that was what I wanted to do instead.
TOONZONE NEWS: You’ve worked on the original Evangelion TV series and movies and returned for the Rebuild series of films. What is your response to the cultural icon it’s become as someone who worked on it from its early days?
TAKESHI HONDA: Eva emerged out of another work that Gainax were producing that ultimately never came to be. So Eva essentially was conceived as a stand in production. But I’m pretty sure Anno-san knew what he wanted, he was quite clear with Evangelion. But for me the storyline was too serious and I found the original TV series very hard work. As we went along it became quite popular but being in the ‘eye of the storm’ I didn’t really feel it. I was involved with producing it but there’s a disconnect there for me.
TOONZONE NEWS: I can appreciate your sentiments that it’s possibly too serious, though for me it was one of the first Japanese animated series I saw and I feel it comes from a sincere, genuine place which I don’t feel other series have managed to replicate as well.
TAKESHI HONDA: Thank you very much for that compliment. I agree, I think it definitely came from a genuine place for Anno-san. But I found it really heavy [chuckles].
TOONZONE NEWS: [Chuckles] I can understand that.
With the Rebuild films are there any animation sequences that you’re particularly proud of?
TAKESHI HONDA: [Mulls it over, laughs heartily several times] It’s hard to say because of the various works I’ve done personally there’s very few with which I’m one hundred percent happy. But in the first film, when Shinji first makes his Eva walk and falls I could relate as I made a great effort with that scene.
I can say that particular scene is my own work but other scenes will be collaborations so I don’t want to claim credit for other people’s hard work.
TOONZONE NEWS: I’m not sure if it’s a sequence you were involved with specifically but I’m quite fond of the battle with Ramiel, the diamond-like Angel. How it keeps morphing and changing shape.
TAKESHI HONDA: A lot of people worked on that sequence. For instance, when the mountains explode Takashi Hashimoto did the effects on that. Due to time constraints many people collaborated on it.
TOONZONE NEWS: You’ve probably been pestered by this question a lot but is there any update on the fourth film given that Anno’s schedule has recently become free again?
TAKESHI HONDA: Oh, we know many fans are waiting [laughs]. All I can say is thanks for your patience and we are working hard on it.
TOONZONE NEWS: You produced the short 20min Walk From Nishi-Ogikubo Station, 2 Bedrooms, Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, 2mos Deposit, No Pets Allowed for Japan Animator Expo. What was the inspiration behind the short?
TAKESHI HONDA: The initial inspiration was Studio Ghibli’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and I really wanted to create something where the aesthetic was moving illustrations. I was given only three months to create the short which isn’t a lot of time so I wanted to create something easy and simple.
TOONZONE NEWS: It’s a very imaginative short and despite the lack of dialogue manages to tell its story very well.
TAKESHI HONDA: Thank you. As said, given the time frame we really had to make it simple and dialogue would have complicated production. To put it simply, the chase scene focus of Tom & Jerry cartoons were an inspiration for me.
TOONZONE NEWS: You worked on a few films with the late director Satoshi Kon such as Millennium Actress and Perfect Blue. What was it like getting to work with such a legendary director?
TAKESHI HONDA: I am genuinely grateful for the opportunities that he gave me and feel I owe him a lot. I had great experiences through his works.
TOONZONE NEWS: To close, are there any upcoming projects you’re working on or any ideal dream projects that you’d like to work on?
TAKESHI HONDA: Hmm, what can I say? [laughs] I’m currently working on the next film after Evangelion, a short for Khara’s 10th anniversary. I’d really like to work with Miyazaki-san again. I don’t know if that will actually happen but that would be my dream. I would like to direct again but don’t currently have any particular ideas to pursue, so working with Miyazaki-san again would be my priority.
Toonzone would like to thank Takeshi Honda for taking the time to speak with us and Kerry Kasim of Anime Limited for helping to facilitate this interview.