By Bob Clark
When it comes to anime directors, like any filmmakers, it pays to look back and see where they came from, who they studied under while learning their particular craft before eventually taking hold of the reins themselves in full. It helps put the work of Hideaki Anno into better context when one understands how he cultivated his skills as an animator under Hayao Miyazaki– though the two would seem to represent almost polar opposites in terms how technique, style and subject-matter as far as the medium is concerned, it becomes easier to see a kind of innocence at the heart of even the bleakest parts of Evangelion when one appreciates the creator’s work as an animator on Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds (it also helps trace the source of some of those obsessions with adolescent angst and turmoil– Asuka’s traumatic past with her suicidal mother is closely taken from the Ghibli film). Anno himself would later shepherd his own team of animators and crew-members to full-fledged directors themselves as he worked on his own masterpieces, with no-one achieving more under his wing than assistant-director Kazuya Tsurumaki, with whom the director has shared an over twenty-year long creative collaboration. Working as an animation-director and storyboard artist on Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and the seminal Neon Genesis Evangelion, he proved to be an invaluable addition to the team and one who was even able to helm a fair amount of the subsequent Evangelion theatrical features alongside the director, himself. One can see Tsurumaki’s energetic voice most clearly in sequences like Unit-Two’s doomed heroism in the battle against the Mass-Production Evas from End of Evangelion, or the battles against the imaginative new Angels from the Rebuild series.