Review: Hideaki Anno: The Final Challenge of Evangelion

Filmed over four years, this NHK documentary is an interesting insight into Hideaki Anno and the tumultuous production of the final Rebuild of Evangelion film, with some fascinating behind the scenes info and footage of Studio Khara. It works as a great companion piece to the ‘Welcome Back for an Extracurricular Lesson’ episode with him in 1999, also an NHK production.

Both capture snippets of the creative genius and together display his growth and struggles as a filmmaker, alongside some of his personal conflicts. I feel that ‘Extracurricular Lesson’ was perhaps a more satisfying and insightful watch. There’s a mounting sense throughout ‘Final Challenge of Evangelion’ that Anno didn’t really want to be the focus of the documentary, but come the end it is very poignant.

It’s entertaining watching Anno order the NHK crew around. Aki Kubota is listed as director, but I feel the programme is largely guided by Anno himself. The documentary is very revealing in how central Anno is to both Khara and Evangelion.

Japanese cinema is inundated with ‘committees,’ yet it’s fascinating to see the degree upon which Anno retains total creative control. Sometimes the staff wait months for Anno to make decisions, which is clearly frustrating for them, yet there’s something charismatic about his enigma for seemingly everybody involved. Come the end, it not only makes me appreciate the Rebuild movies more, but the conclusion to the final film especially.

For more reviews and film musings, find me on Letterboxd.

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