Oshii said he creates films so that he can “pick a fight with society,” and he believes that Miyazaki does the same even if he claims to create films for children to enjoy.
Mamoru Oshii discussed his feelings about Evangelion director Hideaki Anno at length in an interview posted on Pia on April 20. When asked if he had seen Evangelion: 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon A Time, he responded that he hadn’t yet. However, commenting generally on Anno’s directing style and his recent output, he remarked that the two of them have very different ideas about what it means to be a director.
According to Oshii, Anno is “more of a producer than a director.” While Oshii has no interest whatsoever in the business side of anime and only wants to focus on whatever he himself is making, Anno is more engaged with that side. Oshii said that he thinks that it suits him quite well.
On the other hand, because of this difference in outlook, Oshii remarked that Anno’s works “lack a theme.” He praised the visual aspects of Anno’s directing style, but said that there was no theme being expressed underneath the style.
“Expression and themes are different things,” he said. “Avant-garde presentation or giving birth to a new presentation style isn’t the same thing as a theme.” He said that, perhaps because he and Hayao Miyazaki belong to an older generation of filmmakers, the two of them are always thinking about what they want to express whenever they create films. In his own case, he creates films so that he can “pick a fight with society,” and he believes that Miyazaki does the same even if he claims to create films for children to enjoy.
Oshii also remarked that Anno’s limitations are shared by Mamoru Hosoda and Makoto Shinkai, whose works also “lack a main theme.” “To put it a different way, I can’t feel the fundamental motivation they have for creating films,” he said.
At the same time, he said that he does not mean his comments about Anno as necessarily a criticism. He described most of Anno’s works as “like an I-Novel (confessional novel about personal feelings)”, so that no matter what he does he remains true to himself. The question is more about whether one can accept that approach or not.
Towards the end of the interview, Oshii described a conversation he had with Anno around the time he was making The Sky Crawlers (2008), where they talked about how Anno was awakening his interest in business. “I think that Anno has that desire for upward trajectory,” he concluded.