Akira Ishida’s Interview on Kaworu from Evangelion 3.0

Ishida Akira (Nagisa Kaworu)
 
Really, the sense of discomfort heading into “Q” was already put into place by 1.0 and 2.0. The whole, ‘It looks the same, right? But it’s not,’ thing.
 
––Both Kaworu and the first two installments serve to indicate that ‘this isn’t the same old Eva.’ Mr. Ishida, what’s your interpretation and how did it influence your performance?
 
ISHIDA
Actually, while 1.0 was being recorded, the director, Mr. Anno, gave me a lecture about who Kaworu and Shinji are in Rebuild. So, I based my performance [in 1.0 and 2.0] on my own understanding of the information I was given and the situation and lines in 1.0 and 2.0. And the same goes for my performance in Q. That said, I didn’t really have many scenes in 1.0 and 2.0. So, in Q it finally hit me, ‘So this is what it was all about…’ That sort of thing.
 
––I think everyone’s most interested in the ‘mystery’ at the core of that.
 
ISHIDA
If you’ll allow me to take a more circumspect approach, I think the background information Mr. Anno gave me in the beginning is something better left unspoken. Back during 1.0 and 2.0, people around me kept asking, ‘Is that another rehash of the TV series in movie form?’ and the like, and I couldn’t say anything but, ‘Please see for yourself.’ I don’t think anyone will think it’s a ‘rehash’ after seeing Q…
 
––It’s kind of funny that Kaworu seems to be acting on some information only he knows and the same situation seems to be replicated among the cast. I’m sure many people will be shocked by the content of Q.
 
ISHIDA
The thing the rest of the cast was surprised about this time were the things that the director had revealed to me alone in the beginning, and how my role and what I knew sort of lined up neatly. On the other hand, I kept having, ‘Ooh! You guys didn’t know that?’ moments. I had to be evasive with anyone looking for explanations up until now, and I guess I kind of miss the feeling of, ‘oh too bad, they think it’s a rehash,’ and ‘heh, they totally fell for it’ since that was kind of fun.
 
––With all those complicated feelings about it, you must have really been looking forward to [getting it over with], Mr. Ishida.
 
ISHIDA
It’s less a ‘looking forward’ to it kind of thing and more a ‘man, that was hard!’* As I’m sure you all know, I didn’t really appear much in 1.0, but after recording, Mr. Anno came up to me and told me, ‘We’ve got a lot to talk about what comes next now.’ Though, I guess if we’re gonna open that can of worms, I didn’t appear much in 2.0 either, did I? (lol) So when I went in to record for Q, I was all tense, it finally felt like the ‘real thing.’ To no one’s surprise, started speaking more and talked about things no one would have expected up until now. Of course, I’d expected it to go off the established “Eva” course. Even if they talk about different things, the feelings Kaworu has for Ikari Shinji… they won’t change. I knew the world was different this time, but, on top of that, I was worried about how to best approach Ikari Shinji this time so that everyone would understand that. That was a high hurdle. I was thinking about how to handle it from the very beginning. How should Nagisa Kaworu be after he’s accumulated several different cycles in his past? And Eva itself has a very precise strike-zone, to get it just like it should be. I couldn’t lose sight of that.
 
*- he’s punning 待望 (taibou/long-awaited) and 大変 (taihen/hard)
 
 
Multiple takes during recording to polish the finished product
 
––What was recording like?
 
ISHIDA
Well, it’s been 10-something years of real-time for this Ishida Akira and it’s been a while since I voiced the original series and the spin-off games, I’ve slowly digested the role [over the years], I guess you could say [the role] has ripened [inside me]. But, I can’t let that change [him] from the original image. It’s been really difficult to live up to the various demands of the staff putting this Eva together.
 
––What kind of exchange did you have with Director Anno?
 
ISHIDA
We had to do quite a few takes to fully realize the scenes and get Nagisa Kaworu, as a character, just right and solidify his image. Some takes took a whole day to get just right. So, it’s turned into a very carefully acted piece. The image of Nagisa Kaworu inside Ishida Akira and the image of him when the audience saw him for the first time on TV are now one and the same again… That’s kind of how recording went. Well, that would just make it episode 24 of the TV series, but I endeavored not to [merely] reproduce the performance. When you look at the TV series again, everyone was doing their best back then, but I didn’t want to just amend and copy that. Honestly, once recording for Q was over, I came to the conclusion that [the end result] was neither just the ‘Nagisa Kaworu’ of the past or the ‘Nagisa Kaworu’ I know, now, in 2012. Everyone’s impressions of a character are always changing and expanding, and they each have their own hopes and desires for characters, so I think we were sort of realigning those hopes and desires with this.
 
––I see. And this is the first time in Rebuild that we’ve seen [Kaworu] interacting with Shinji.
 
ISHIDA
The first conversation with Shinji was really massive to me. Up until now, [Kaworu] has just been one-sidedly expressing his feelings, bit by bit, about Rebuild’s seize-the-moment Ikari Shinji. And finally, he gets to talk to him in person… I’m sure Kaworu was anxiously awaiting that moment… Yeah… I guess that’s what a face-to-face meeting is all about after all. [It’s more important to him to] spend time talking to him in the flesh than it is to support him, secretly from the shadows. It reminded me how central of a theme communication like that is in Evangelion. When you look at it like that, once Shinji’s been estranged from everyone and has no one to lean on, that’s when he meets Kaworu. The fact that they manage to have a conversation at that point is incredibly significant. I feel like first two movies were the perfect set up for that situation.
 
––That said, Kaworu is a bit of a tragic figure, isn’t he?
 
ISHIDA
The first two films in Rebuild were used to vividly remind the audience of specific scenes and nuances of the original TV series. No matter how many times it happens, it always ends the same way. It should have been different from the previous cycle, but the same mistakes are repeated once again. He has an unfortunate destiny. But, it’s like he switched tracks at a different point this time. {train track/destiny metaphor, suddenly I’m reminded of Penguindrum…} It’s like he struggles against the flow [of his fate] and sacrifices himself so that Shinji can survive [because Shinji has to survive].
 
––Seeing the always aloof Kaworu acting more agitated was quite refreshing.
 
ISHIDA
Nagisa Kaworu understands most things, he knows everything and has absolute freedom of action. He seems rather capricious, don’t you think? He acts on the knowledge of the purpose of his existence, but it’s not like he can control everything. He clashes with Gendou and Seele and co. who are acting on their own understanding of the world, Kaworu has a sort of bird’s-eye-view of it all, but even in that role, he’s not in a position of control. {way to not really answer the question, Ishida}
 
 
––I get the impression from our talk that you really put your all into playing Kaworu.
 
ISHIDA
All of the staff, not just Director Anno, are very personally invested in the current series under the Eva title, so I’m putting up my best effort. Even in recording, we were trying to get everything down very precisely. So everyone was always going, ‘not this or that really,’ and so on. When I was standing in front of the microphone, it was just me and Ms. Ogata alone in the booth together, we spent much more time interpreting scenes and lines than would possible on other projects. There was this atmosphere of, ‘let’s do it right after we understand it’ so the work itself was actually really hard, but, no one ever started shouting, ‘hurry up and do it!’ there was a real feeling of everyone working together on it. It wasn’t just simple pressure, but there was this [strange] sense of security in the knowledge that we were all working together to create the end product. I was really happy to be able to perform in the same scenes with Ms. Ogata this time around. Up until now [on Rebuild], I’d been recording all alone.
 
––Piloting an Eva in tandem with Shinji is a first for Kaworu, isn’t it? I think you could interpret it as a sort of ‘love scene’ in a sense.
 
ISHIDA
I don’t know if I can make that interpretation (lol). I think you should wait to hear from the director or leave it to the really involved fans. But, at the very least, them getting in the same unit is different, as they both pursue the same goal together. It seems [representative] of the depth of their connection.
 
––Any other impressions?
 
ISHIDA
I think the biggest shock, visually, was how the moon ended up looking. From the very beginning, the world of Q is depicted beautifully, so it was quite a shock. Even though you could see everyone living their lives in the intricately crafted environment, what Shinji wants to see stands out, like a ‘bam!’ appearing from a thick haze. It’s like, you thought you knew everything about the world, and then it just slaps you in the face with, ‘this is the reality you wanted to see,’ it was quite impactful. {haven’t seen the movie so I don’t really know what he’s talking about}
 
––Alright then, how about a final message for the fans?
 
ISHIDA

  1. I’m sure those of you who have thoroughly read into the stories of 1.0 and 2.0 of Rebuild so far will think Q was a rather ‘fast development.’ But, 1.0 and 2.0 already developed the sense of malaise leading into Q. It’s like, ‘It looks the same right? But it’s not.’  To those of you who saw Q, please go back to the theater a few times to figure out, ‘just what is the meaning of this?’ But, if  you were to ask ‘how to prepare for it?’ I’d ask that you return to 1.0 and 2.0 and watch them again, right? If you watch very carefully, you’ll see, ‘oh, this is where that’s from’ ‘and here too’ for sure. I think, if you watch it over from the beginning again, you’ll see how Q fits into the story for sure, and I know you’ll be even more interested in ‘where does it go from here?’ after Q’s rapid development. Since, at this point, we’ve just jumped past the established cannon with a ‘bam!’ there’s no way it’ll end like the TV series or previous movie {EoE} now. At least, that’s what I believe. If you look at it like that, I’m sure you’ll all be really exited to know ‘but what happens now?’ and ‘then what?’ for the next one. Please look forward to the conclusion.
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