—— Can we start this interview with the secret behind Kaworu’s conception?
Kaworu right? Yesterday Tsurumaki was there, too. Our conversation can be summarized as “How did it start?” The first time I began to design Kaworu was almost 16, 17 years ago…… I have almost forgot everything.
—— What?! Please say something about it!
OK (laugh). He wasn’t the last Angel from the beginning. At first, the information they gave me only said that Kaworu was a humanoid Angel who appeared at the finale stage of the Anime. But at that time, I had already worked out something similar—since the gradually appearing Angel all had different shapes and characteristics, they should become more closer to human. Then there also came with the subtitle “Cat and Transfer Student” when they were planing it. If I have to figure out Anno’s intention, I think he wanted to pay homage to the “Monster Messenger and Boy” (Episode 33) in The Return of Ultraman. It’s when a monster named Muruchi appeared.
—— “Cat and Transfer Student”, it is the same with the manga.
Looking back now, it is indeed the same. But when we first plan the Anime, the plot is this: A boy with a cat is allowed to enter the NERV, then later it reveals that he is an Angel, a confused Shinji fights him. But the truth is that the real Angel is the cat not the boy, the cat just manipulates the boy’s body…… It is something like this. The original Kaworu was shorter, he was a short boy who looked like a primary school student. Not only Kaworu, Shinji was also younger than 14, he was a much younger child.
—— Who named Kaworu?
I asked the same question to Tsurumaki yesterday (laugh). The conclusion is that it probably was Akio Satsukawa. Nagisa can also be read as Messenger, perhaps he came up with the name when he was writing the script. We all think it fits Akio’s taste. What struck me most was how Akio expanded the world, he made Kaworu a JUNE character…… Or I should say a male/male tanbi (“aesthetic”) romance character that went berserk. The first script had more sparks: Kaworu and Shinji swim naked in the river under the setting sun——I hear that they really considered make this kind of scene at the moment.
—— Is this what they called the dreamy first script?
Yes, Yes. In the end, Anno changed it to the bath scene. Anno took Akio’s idea into a very unique perspective, which end with this Kaworu who give you a decadent feeling, in my option. There is one thing that doesn’t need to cover up: They wrote EVA’s script as long as possible. In other words, the script they gave Anno had the length for two episodes, then Anno modified it into one. So I think he probably cut off a lot of Kaworu’s story.
—— When you designed Kaworu, did you base his looks on someone?
Hun——No. But, as the last Angel, if I make his profile a combined form the people that the past Angels made a contact with——what about something like this——I have this concept. That is why some parts of Kaworu look like Shinji, some parts look like Rei, some parts look like Asuka…… Moreover, in order to make him sexy, I pay special mind to his collarbone and waist, I wanted him to have that peculiar flamboyant feel and beauty that only belongs to a boy. He is thin, but have strong bones. I don’t want him to overlap with Shinji, so I made him a handsome boy type. About his clothes, it is too normal if he just wear the school uniform. If he wears something similar to Toji, maybe it is more easy to understand…… I think the best way to draw a distinction between Kaworu and Shinji is the T-shirt. Even though all the male middle school students wear that, orange still give him a more unique feature.
—— Kaworu has high-top sneakers like Converse. He tucked his trousers into his shoes, it is really something Kaworu would do.
Maybe that’s because I want to give him a urban fashion sense. So far, my male characters like in The Wings of Honneamise and Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, what should I say, I always thought they lacked something……
Even though Shinji tries very hard, in the end, he is still a pussy, right? So Kaworu is a very rare type. His whole person is very handsome, Gainax never let me design someone like this before. His chin is sharp and clean, and his eyes and lips…… If you wanna put a label on it, perhaps more like Johnny’s Jr. Even though he doesn’t look like one special person, but his whole image looks like Johnny’s Jr. When the Anime was still on air, I came across some Johnny’s Jr’s children. Their skin are really soft and pretty, they are very cute. Their faces look like a girl, with long and slender limbs. I remembered I thought that “so this is what a boy look like before he become a man”.
—— Did you deeply involved with Episode 24’s making?
I started to draw the Manga in the middle of the Anime’s airing, so I didn’t involve too deeply with the Anime. But I helped to draw the latter half of Episode 24’s layout. Everyone, including Masayuki were all very tense, it was like everyone were shouting “we only have xx weeks left!” while they fixed on editing the Anime.
—— What did you think when you first see Episode 24?
Wow, I was shocked (laugh). When I was thinking what will be his first line, then that line came up. At first, I thought “Music is great” is something like a middle aged man would say when he go to bath, like “Bathing is great.” Of course, I no longer think this now. But at that time, I didn’t even know what to expect. I thought Kaworu should have a younger voice. But in the end, I was still captivated by Ishida’s voice. Maybe that imbalance feeling is also a part of Kaworu’s charm. Same with the plot. He can write his own anthology with his speech. Kaworu is an indispensable character in the Anime. In brief, I directly felt Kaworu’s uncomprehending atmosphere, he is definite not human. But I think he is really weird (laugh).
—— Relatively speaking, manga Kaworu is more like a being with flesh and blood, it feels like he is more humanization……
So it is. But for me, Kaworu is not so much humanization as a pre-human in a sense. The Angel before Kaworu is the Angel of Uterus, and Arael before her——The Angels are slowly approaching human’s heart and interfere with them, and Kaworu is Angel’s final form. In other words, he approaches humans as a human. That said, in fact he didn’t understand humans very much. So he is very curious about “why did humans do this?” I think that’s Kaworu’s action base on this primeval and pure motivation.
—— Kaworu’s first appear on the scene give us a strong impact, what with the cat killing.
Ah, people always complain that scene is too cruel. But I didn’t think it is cruel when I drew this scene. Kaworu’s behavior didn’t come from a boy’s peculiar cruel nature in his boyhood, he really thought that he was helping the cat. He was sincere. He felt pity for the cat, so he killed it. Of course when Shinji saw this scene, he thought Kaworu was cruel. Shinji was disbelief. In the manga, I paid special mind to Kaworu’s original character, I want to see what a more childish Kaworu would look like. So I designed this scene. Because Kaworu’s innocent and naive impression always remain in my heart. Speaking about Kaworu and Shinji’s relationship, I want to write it like what often happen between elementary school boys and middle school boys. For the boys, instead a girl’s admire, they actually want to have admire from the other boys. That is why they imitate other boy’s behavior. The same thing happened to me. When I was a fifth grade elementary school student, a transfer student came to my class from Tokyo. Even though I thought “Tokyo is not great” in my mind, but I still felt that he looks handsome. He liked to say “だからさー”, though I said “it make me sick”, but secretly I thought it was very cool (laugh). It is this kind of feeling. It is not romance…… It is a delicate feeling in a delicate age.
—— But Kaworu and Shinji’s relationship changed after Armisael.
When Rei began to intervene between them, they started to change. Rei and Kaworu are similar, yet she had a bond with Shinji. After the fight with Armisael, Rei felt her love for Shinji the first time, and that feeling flow into Kaworu. Because of this, Kaworu’s interest in Shinji became deeper. That was why he asked Shinji “Human loves human, what is it feel like?”
—— Meanwhile, Shinji’s attitude changed, too.
He lost Rei, and Asuka was like that, he yearned for other people unconsciously…… Even though Shinji approach to Kaworu in this stage, he still flew to Rei’s side when he knew Rei was alive (laugh). Very realism. For Shinji, perhaps a friend like Toji was the best. But he almost killed Toji with his own hands, so Shinji couldn’t became friends with other people again. That is the reason why he said he didn’t need friends any more. Kaworu as Kaworu, half because Rei’s feeling flow into his heart, that feeling made him doing things, but his other half got jealous at the third Rei. What a complex situation. It is a strange love triangle.
—— What about Kaworu and Shinji’s kiss scene? Was that also because of Kaworu’s complex feeling?
I deliberately put that part in the manga even I knew it was wrong to do something like this (laugh). When I designed this scene, my intend is that I can’t draw this as a merely kiss. I remember reading that you can use kiss as a CPR, you can use your mouth. I always thought that I can make this a kiss scene. But I still felt very shy, so when I was drawing this scene, I didn’t make any sketches. (Laugh) When I modified the art, the whole page was covered with white correction fluid. After that, Kaworu’s attitude was also trying to cover up his shyness. He joked about “It worked!” or something. It was also I was covering up my own shyness (laugh).
—— It was because Kaworu’s straightforward nature mixed with Rei’s feeling to touch Shinji?
In fact, Shinji and Rei, and Shinji and Asuka, their touch stopped at holding hands. Every time they hold their hands, it has a different meaning. It is one fun fact about EVA…… So I never intend to let the children’s relationship go beyond that. On the contrary, Kaworu is the only one who overstep the boundary, he break the rule. By the way, I suppose only one Angel can come to attack every time, right? This is also Kaworu’s special trait (laugh)…… No, actually I have an excuse. This guy is special even among the Angels——Or so I think.
—— The Angels numbers are also different.
They became fewer, indeed. Manga didn’t have enough space. I counted the Angels numbers after the shots. But sometimes I still count the numbers wrong.
—— Ahh (laugh)
Please don’t pursue this very hard. I don’t like the SF stuff very much.
—— But, in contrast, manga character’s emotional journey and the drama part are well done. It put the reader into the character’s shoes.
Thank you. But that being said, you can’t use the manga to complement the Anime. This manga is just what I draw when I thought “it is should be like this, right?” Nothing more, nothing less. It is not an answer, just one explanation of the many. Maybe because my technique of expression is very simple, people find it is easy to understand. But I’m not sure if it is a good thing for Eva…… I don’t want to use a subtle technique of expression, what if I can’t express what I want? So I want to make it more easy to understand. But sometimes I often think that, “it’s just a shonen manga!” then feel relieved (laugh).
—— Which is your favorite scene in manga?
I like the shower scene very much. It is not the bath scene that Anno is good at. I changed it into the shower scene. Because I thought that I can still make something interesting happen in this scene. They are standing in the private space, their whole mind and body are relaxing, approaching somebody in such a narrow space, it is something Kaworu would do. Besides, the scene which Kaworu played piano in the ruins, that mystery atmosphere is also beautiful. And I liked Kaworu’s nag attitude when Shinji moved into his room. Even though he said “do whatever you want”, Kaworu is still very kind and gave Shinji his bed. Isn’t him very cute?
—— Speaking about room. Kaworu always read books and magazines while he stays in his room. One of the magazines name is PEN, is it because Kaworu is learning how to behave?
No, it doesn’t have any special meaning (laugh). I just drew a magazine frame there, then my assistants fill it out. “It doesn’t feel right if it is SCHOLA, let’s just use this.” It is the same thing with Kaworu drinking Evian. I asked somebody to go to convenience store to buy Evian or Volvic, then he picked Evian. You only need to know that it is a bottle of water.
—— Even so, Kaworu only appear in one Episode in Anime, yet he has such a prominent part in manga, sure enough Kaworu is a very important character in your mind?
How to say it? Even though I don’t have any favorites, but Kaworu’s story starts from the cat, and it ends with the cat. I was drawing towards this goal. This is my intention. In other words, everything I did in between is leading to this end. Before the end, everyone think the first part is just about killing the cat (laugh). When everything fell into place, I was very happy. It took such a long time. I can’t believe I write 3 volumes.
—— In the end of Episode 24, Unit 01 holding Kaworu in it’s hand for about 60 seconds, this scene gives people a great impression. But in the manga, you change it into Shinji use his two hands slowly surrounding Kaworu.
For a brief moment, I consider make the manga as same as the anime. Making several pages all the same scene where Eva is holding Kaworu (laugh). But it seems like a practical joke, so I give the idea up. In the end, I meditate about how to make his death scene give the same impression like Episode 24, it was what I draw in the manga. In the past, Shinji used to blame Kaworu very severely about the cat killing thing, but in the end, Shinji did the same thing to Kaworu. Using his hands, like he is praying, holding him…… Thus, Shinji finally began to understand Kaworu’s reason a little more.
—— In the Anime, Kaworu yearns for the freedom to choose his own death, but in the manga, he ask this as a proof that Shinji likes him.
"If you like me, then kill me." That line, right? In short, Kaworu’s feeling is very simple, he just want Shinji to love him, understand him and never forget him. But in the end, Shinji still didn’t make these things clear to him (bitter laugh). But, I felt that what Shinji did to Kaworu will stay in Shinji’s heart forever, he will never accept it totally.
—— Like Kaworu said, “Even if you still hate me, at least you will never forget me.” And Shinji answered, “it can’t be otherwise”.
Hun, no matter how you think over it, no matter what decision you make, the “But……” feeling will still remain in your heart. It is the same with Kaworu killing the cat. Did he do the right thing or wrong thing? In the end, Kaworu still doesn’t understand. Life is like this, full of choices and values. Lots of things don’t have the right answer. But even though you know there is no right answer intellectually, that question still roam in your mind, making you thinking again and again, right? I want to make it a theme every time I come across this kind of thing. I start to thinking about this before I draw the manga. Even though it makes you feel unease that you can’t have the answer, but I think the principle of life is that life has no principle. So I always put this factor in my work. For example——I have two cats, what if one of them is dead and I go to buy a new one…… This sort of thoughts. I had a cat once, it was a house trained cat, but it gradually began to play outside. At first, it played happily in the yard, then it went somewhere far away. Then one day, it got hit by a car in front of my house. I hold that child, felt that it’s breath became weak, it’s body became stiff. I asked myself, “Did this child live a happy life?” Even I didn’t know letting it play outside was a good thing or not. “I think it lived a happy life, but……” That toughs kept repeating in my head. Even if I know there is no answer, but I can’t stop thinking…… No, maybe people start to think is because there is no answer. This agony only belongs to humans.
—— So it is not “Since there is no answer, then why bother to think about it” and forget it……
Yes. I think repeat thinking about this in your mind, that point out how strong the feeling is.
—— In the manga, what will happen after Kaworu’s death?
Kaworu is the last Angel, so it will become a war between humans From the perspective of the drama, this story finally return to the “Why it start” part. In other words, EVA starts with a father calling his son to fight. My father have expectations for me, sometimes father seems to have expectations for me, sometimes he seems not. The boy lives as a human while thinking about his father. I think I will write this kind of story. Maybe it will go to the same path like End Of Evangelion, but meanwhile…… This is Anno’s work. The people who made the work and the time when they made the work are different. Anime Eva is Anno’s name card or personal information, “I’m this kind of person”. Summarize it in one sentence, it is all about “Please understand, this is me!” (laugh). Even I think this is more or less what a creation is like, but especially Anno, he never lies, he only describes the current situation. I feel that he always express himself sincere, “I’m like this, my current situation is like this. This is all I know.”
—— Then, is the manga also reflex yourself?
No, unlike Anno, I don’t have a life worth telling (laugh). Perhaps I won’t express myself overall…… But I can’t just copy Anno’s work. In this condition, I have to come up the theme myself, try to use different methods to describe. Every version of EVA has a different ending, I think the manga will have a different ending, too. As a work, entertainment is more important, so I can’t make the work same as the anime. But if I make the manga something completely different, then it can’t be called EVA. So not too close, not too far away. Rebuild is in the same position.
—— When you put Anime Kaworu, Manga Kaworu and Rebuild Kaworu together, it seems these three have different traits.
Maybe because the time is different, but his character is indeed always changing. I am the one who drew Kaworu in 1.0, so Rebuild Kaworu’s looks and atmosphere are more close to manga. His hair stuck up more, it looks more dashing. And, perhaps I use some of Mamiya Chiaki factor form the The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, too (laugh). Mamiya Chiaki is a high school student, so his chin is more sharp, but their atmosphere are very different.
—— What would you feel if you had a friend like Kaworu in the real world?
I think if I had a friend who cares about me this much, I must be very happy. Though if he is too clingy, I may find him annoying (laugh). Basically, a friend is someone no matter how much long time you don’t keep contact with each other, when you meet each other after a long time, we can still talk like the old times. I think this kind of friendship is the best, because I can still get along with my childhood friends even though they have nothing to do with Anime. But on the other hand, if I met Kaworu when I was still a elementary school student, maybe I will admire him. Speaking about this, I feel that Kaworu is very popular among little boys…… I remember once, my friend’s son, a plumb elementary school boy wanted my autograph. I asked him, “Who do you want me to draw?” He named Kaworu, because he is very handsome. He ask me to draw Kaworu every time he meet me. He seems to love Kaworu very much. I’m very happy about this. But what I feel is more like,“So this is what boys admire boys looks like.”
—— The last question is about what happen to Kaworu in Rebuild? Will he use a new way to approach Shinji?
This question. You can see his actions have some deep meaning from his 1.0 scene. Of course, so does 2.0…… I’m sorry that I can only say “Please wait and see!”, but I appreciate your care about Kaworu in the future!