“Evangelion” Animation Production, Gainax Animation Files for Bankruptcy

“Evangelion” Animation Production, Gainax Animation Files for Bankruptcy

©Courtesy of Gainax

After 40 years in business, Gainax, the iconic Japanese animation studio, filed for bankruptcy in Tokyo on May 29. Originally known as Daicon Film, the studio is best known for its Neon Genesis Evangelion series, launched in the mid-1990s, which earned its producers more than $2 billion in global revenues.

The history of Gainax was rife with controversy and questionable financial practices. The company saw its debts mushroom after it diversified into the restaurant business and allowed its top brass to acquire sizeable unsecured loans. In 1998, two of its executives were arrested and jailed for tax fraud. And, in 2010, its chief executive Maki Tomohiro was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a minor. He received a 30-month prison sentence in 2020. According to the bankruptcy filing, that situation pushed Gainax over the edge, resulting in its inability “to operate while still being saddled with a large amount of debt.”

Daicon had been founded in 1984 by a team that included Anno Hideaki, Sadamoto Yoshiyuki, Yamaga Hiroyuki, Akai Takami, Takeda Yasuhiro., and Higuchi Shinji, some of whom moved on to start companies of their own, such as Khara, which was founded by Anno Hideaki in 2006.

Despite trying to stay afloat by borrowing from Khara, Gainax’s debt was too massive for it to continue operations, though its full liabilities have not been disclosed. Khara has announced that it will be acquiring the Gainax trademark and will be working with its creditors to “ensure that creators, original authors, and writers can continue to manage and produce their works.”

Neon Genesis Evangelion was a much-acclaimed production about a teenager in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo who was recruited to fight the forces of evil. As its title implies, the series drew on mystical traditions from Shinto, Christian, and Jewish sources. Other significant productions by Gainax have included Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Gunbuster, and Gurren Lagann.

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