Here is a translation of an interview by Kazuya Tsurumaki, director of flcl and Rebuild of Evangelion films (with Hideaki Anno as chief director). The translation is a bit rough, but I hope it can provide an interesting read on how Tsurumaki sees flcl and how this ties into his work on Neon Genesis Evangelion. Please be aware of any inaccuracies and feel free to let me know if any clarification is needed!
*Potential Spoilers for flcl*
– To start off, what was it that lead to the production of ‘flcl’?
After finishing ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’, the director Anno-san said something along the lines of “Next it’s Tsurumaki”, so I replied “Okay, I’ll do it”. Though, to work out a plan for the project, there was too much I wanted to do, so in the end even after one year, the project still hadn’t taken shape. In this state, it was therefore decided that ‘His and Her Circumstances” would be made first, so after helping with the first half of this, I went on to work on ‘flcl’. After resuming planning for ‘flcl’, I gave up and thought “at any rate, let’s just do what we want to do”. I knew you couldn’t start production whilst worrying, so I decided to start off by thinking about the troublesome parts I liked, and not thinking about the troublesome parts I didn’t like.
– At the time, what did you think of ‘flcl’ as a piece of work?
I was conscious that I made ‘flcl’ carefully and thoroughly, so I thought that I had made an anime that was sophisticated and clever. Though when talking to the people around me they said that it was ‘one sided¹’, which confused me. But after re-watching it this time, it’s rather rough and uneven isn’t it (laughs)?
– The work has been seen as quite ‘sub-cultural’, but the pace of dialogue in ‘flcl’ is quite unique isn’t it?
The scriptwriter Enokido-san talked about how “If we say that dialogue flows from 1 to 10, there’s no need to present it in this order”. After going past 1, 2 and 3, we can just skip 4 and move straight onto 5 with the next line. As people expect that we’ll go to 6 after 5, we’ll make the next line 7. We also left out any details of the SF setting that we thought were unimportant. Well, looking back maybe we could have been a bit kinder (laughs).
– Words that seem to have a lot of meaning behind them such as ‘Fraternity’ or ‘Atomsk’ aren’t directly explained in the show.
For Naota, it’s enough for him just to have the Haruko he believes in. So it doesn’t matter to him whether Fraternity is an evil association or an army corps for invasion. Well, in ‘Evangelion’ these sorts of set-ups and mysteries were made to be hooks for the story so you have to reap what you sow², but with ‘flcl’ we took the position that some things just don’t have to be answered.
– Did you feel that you wanted to do in ‘flcl’ what you couldn’t do in ‘Evangelion’?
The story of ‘Evangelion’ starts off to become very serious. For me, ‘flcl’ didn’t need to be as serious as ‘Evangelion’. Even when you’re stressed, you still eat sweets. In this way, if there’s something that looks interesting on TV, you end up watching it. Just because you’re stressed, it doesn’t mean that you spend all day in the corner of your room hugging your knees to your chest. I wanted to reflect this in ‘flcl’.
– With the new ‘Rebuild of Evangelion’ films you have worked on, was there anything that you took over from ‘flcl’ and used in these films? For example, Mari is very much a heroine that might appear in one of your works.
Well, in regards to Mari, she is the result of us trying to make a character that isn’t very ‘evangelion’-like. Perhaps the way she’s one step away from the seriousness of ‘Evangelion’ makes her appear more ‘flcl’-like. I didn’t make her purposefully into a ‘flcl’-like character, but rather she was the result after talking to and finding some common ground with Anno-san.
1. 尖っている was used here, to suggest a piece of work that does just one thing really well and so is able to hold value just from that, whilst other areas of the work aren’t very good, are messy, etc.
2. 自業自得 confused me as it didn’t quite make sense in context. Perhaps it can be interpreted as the people making ‘Evangelion’ having the obligation to explain the mysteries, setting, etc.