Hideaki Anno has been known to come up with some pretty meaningful insights into the human condition over his career. To say nothing of his seminal 1995 masterpiece Neon Genesis Evangelion, even his Shin Godzilla film was pretty meaningful for a kaiju flick, criticizing Japanese governmental bureaucracy as well as the latent conservatism within.
Perhaps it’s for that reason, then, that he has been chosen to be the latest star in a series of commercials titled “Otona Elevator” for the Japanese beer label Sapporo, in which actor and musician Tsumabuki Satoshi talks to various different people of different ages about life, all while enjoying an ice-cold beer. Check out the full version of the commercial below:
Even without understanding the Japanese, it’s clear that Anno has put a lot of thought into these answers from his body language and cadence alone, but when translated these answers are a pretty good insight into Anno’s psyche.
Firstly, when asked what is “youth,” he replies with “something that’s over before you know it.” Next, when asked what is “life,” he says “something like the tracks of a wheel… footsteps if you will.” When asked what is “art,” he defines it as “something only humans can do.” Finally, when asked what is “amusement,” he posits that it’s “something you don’t really need, but if you didn’t have it, you wouldn’t be able to go on.”
The answers Anno gives really highlight how much the director has grown since his younger days directing Kare Kano and Evangelion, back when he was struggling with very serious problems with depression and the enigmatic conundrum of how to connect with others. Since then, however, Anno’s life has gotten much better, no doubt thanks to his commercial success, but also his successful marriage with manga artist Moyoco Anno in 2002 – which has all contributed to him becoming the mature, thoughtful artist he is today.
Shorter 15-second and 30-second versions of the commercials are set to broadcast on satellite television nationwide starting November 3. If you’re in Japan, keep an eye out for them – and perhaps enjoy an ice-cold beer while you’re at it.