GAINAX Co., Ltd.
Animation studio
Industry Animation (Anime)
Genre Various
Founded December 24, 1984 (1984-12-24)
Founder Hideaki Anno
Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
Hiroyuki Yamaga
Takami Akai
Toshio Okada
Yasuhiro Takeda
Shinji Higuchi
Headquarters Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan
Key people
Hiroyuki Yamaga (President)
Products Gunbuster
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Gurren Lagann
This Ugly Yet Beautiful World
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi
Petite Princess Yucie
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt
DVD cover of North American release of Otaku no Video.

GAINAX Co., Ltd. (株式会社ガイナックス Kabushiki-gaisha Gainakkusu) is a Japanese anime studio famous for productions such as Gunbuster, The Wings of Honneamise, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, FLCL, Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, which have garnered critical acclaim[1][2] and been commercially successful. Evangelion has reportedly grossed over 150 billion yen, or approximately 1.2 billion USD.[3] In a discussion at the 2006 Tekkoshocon, Matt Greenfield claimed Evangelion had grossed over 2 billion USD;[4] Takeda 2002 reiterates that "It sold record numbers of laserdiscs in Japan, and the DVD is still selling well today", as well as for their association with award-winning anime director and studio co-founder Hideaki Anno. The company is headquartered in Koganei, Tokyo.[5]

Until Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gainax typically worked on stories created in-house, but the studio has increasingly developed anime adaptations of existing manga like Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou and Mahoromatic. Series produced by Gainax are often known for their controversial twist endings.

The Animage Anime Grand Prix has been awarded to Gainax for Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water in 1991, Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1995 and 1996, and The End of Evangelion in 1997.



The studio was formed in the early 1980s as Daicon Film by university students Hideaki Anno, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Hiroyuki Yamaga, Takami Akai, Toshio Okada, Yasuhiro Takeda and Shinji Higuchi. Their first project was an animated short for the 20th Annual Japan National SF Convention, also known as Daicon III, held in 1981 in Osaka, Japan. The short film is about a girl who fights monsters, robots, and spaceships from early science fiction TV shows and films (including Ultraman, Gundam, Space Runaway Ideon, Space Battleship Yamato, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Godzilla) until she finally reaches a desert plain and pours a glass of water on a dried-out daikon radish, which immediately resurrects itself, grows into a huge spaceship, and beams her aboard. Though the short had an ambitious scope, the animation was rough and low-quality.

The group made a much bigger splash with the short they produced for the 22nd Annual Japan National SF Convention, Daicon IV, in 1983. Starting with a better animated recap of their original 1981 short, the short then moves to the girl as a grown woman, wearing a bunny suit and fighting an even wider range of science fiction creatures (including various Mobile Suits from the Gundam series, Darth Vader, an Alien, a Macross Valkyrie, a Pern dragon, Aslan, a Klingon battle cruiser, Spider-Man, and a pan across a vast array of hundreds of other characters) while surfing through the sky on the sword Stormbringer. The action was all set to the Electric Light Orchestra song "Twilight", though the group's failure to properly license the song would prevent the short's official release on DVD (and make the limited laserdisc release of the Daicon shorts very rare and highly sought after items).

The Daicon IV short firmly established Daicon Film as a talented new anime studio (albeit small and with only 20 million yen or about US$200,000).[6] The studio changed its name to Gainax in 1985, basing the term "Gainax" on an obscure Tottori Prefecture[7] term for "giant", with the English suffix -x added because it sounded "good and was international".[8]

Gainax's first work as a commercial entity was Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, released in 1987. Honneamise was (and still is) critically acclaimed and a classic anime movie; however, it had a tepid commercial reaction (Gainax did attempt to develop a sequel later in March 1992, before abandoning it for lack of funds).

The next release, the 1988 OVA Gunbuster, was a commercial success[9] and put Gainax on a stabler footing to produce works like Nadia and Otaku no Video. During this period, Gainax also produced a number of items such as garage kit and adult video games (a major earner which kept Gainax afloat on occasion, though they were sometimes banned).[10]


Gainax's offices in Koganei, Tokyo, circa 2004. The studio since moved to a modest two-story premise, also in Koganei, before moving again to another premise.

In 1995, Gainax produced perhaps their best known series, the commercially successful and critically lauded Neon Genesis Evangelion. In the wake of Evangelion's success, however, Gainax was audited by the National Tax Agency at the urging of the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau on suspicion of committing tax evasion on the massive profits accruing from various Evangelion properties. It was later revealed that Gainax had concealed 1.56 billion yen worth of income (thereby failing to pay 560 million yen due in corporate taxes) which it had earned between the release of Evangelion and July 1997 by paying closely related companies various large fees, ostensibly to pay for animation expenses, but then immediately withdraw 90% of the sums from the other company's accounts as cash and store it in safe deposit boxes (leaving 10% as a reward for the other company's assistance).[6]

Gainax president Takeshi Sawamura and tax accountant Yoshikatsu Iwasaki were arrested on July 13, 1999 and later jailed for accounting fraud.[11][12][13] Yasuhiro Takeda later defended Sawamura's actions as being a reaction to Gainax's perpetually precarious finances and the shaky accounting procedures internally:

"Sawamura understood our financial situation better than anyone, so when Evangelion took off and the money really started rolling in, he saw it as possibly our one and only opportunity to set something aside for the future. I guess he was vulnerable to temptation at that point, because no one knew how long the Evangelion goose would keep laying golden eggs. I don't think he purposely set out with the goal of evading taxes. It was more that our level of accounting knowledge wasn't up to the task of dealing with revenues on such a large scale."[14]


Current Gainax headquarters in Koganei, Tokyo.

In 2004, Gainax marked their 20th anniversary with the production of Diebuster, the sequel to Gunbuster. Gainax's most recent successes on television have been the popular anime series Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007) and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (2010).

In August 2011, Gainax was sued by A.D. Vision, who claimed Gainax's refusal to accept an option payment for the perpetual live-action rights to Evangelion was a breach of contract and had resulted in losing an opportunity to produce the film with a major studio.[15] A.D. Vision has asked to be awarded the live-action rights to Evangelion and any accruing legal fees.

In 2012, Gainax announced it would be producing its first live-action television series, EA's Rock, with director Nobuhiro Yamashita.[16]

At the 2013 Tokyo Anime Fair, Gainax announced that they would be making once-dead Blue Uru film with Hiroyuki Yamaga as the director and screenwriter and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto as the character designer.[17]


TV series

Title Year(s) Director(s) Co-production companies
Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water 1990–1991 Hideaki Anno Group TAC, Sei Young
Neon Genesis Evangelion 1995–1996 Hideaki Anno Tatsunoko
His and Her Circumstances 1998–1999 Hideaki Anno
Kazuya Tsurumaki
Modern Love's Silliness 1999 Issei Kume Animation production by Group TAC
Oruchuban Ebichu 1999 Makoto Moriwaki Animation production by Group TAC
Mahoromatic 2001–2003, 2009 Hiroyuki Yamaga Shaft
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi 2002 Hiroyuki Yamaga Madhouse
Petite Princess Yucie 2002–2003 Masahiko Otsuka AIC
Melody of Oblivion 2004 Hiroshi Nishikiori Animation production by J.C.Staff
This Ugly yet Beautiful World 2004 Shouji Saeki Shaft
He Is My Master 2005 Shouji Saeki Shaft
Gurren Lagann 2007 Hiroyuki Imaishi
Corpse Princess 2008 Masahiko Murata Feel
Hanamaru Kindergarten 2010 Seiji Mizushima
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt 2010 Hiroyuki Imaishi Funimation
The Mystic Archives of Dantalian 2011 Yutaka Uemura
Medaka Box 2012 Shouji Saeki
Medaka Box Abnormal 2012 Shouji Saeki
Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C³ 2013 Masayoshi Kawajiri
Magica Wars 2014 Ayano Ohnoki
Wish Upon the Pleiades 2015 Shouji Saeki Subaru
Flying Babies [18] 2017 TBA
Rescue Academia [19] 2018 TBA


Title Year(s) Director(s) Co-production companies Notes
Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise 1987 Hiroyuki Yamaga
Evangelion: Death and Rebirth 1997 Hideaki Anno
Kazuya Tsurumaki
Production I.G
The End of Evangelion 1997 Hideaki Anno
Kazuya Tsurumaki
Production I.G
Revival of Evangelion 1999 Hideaki Anno Production I.G
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door 2001 Shinichirō Watanabe Gainax credited as outside animation team
Cutie Honey 2004 Hideaki Anno Opening animation
Gunbuster vs. Diebuster 2006 Hideaki Anno
Kazuya Tsurumaki
Rebuild of Evangelion
(Four-part movie series)
2007–present Hideaki Anno
Kazuya Tsurumaki
Produced by Anno's Studio Khara.
Gainax collaborated in the project.
Gekijōban Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
(Two-part movie series)
2008–2009 Hiroyuki Imaishi
Uru in Blue 2018 Hiroyuki Yamaga

OVAs and ONAs

Title Year(s) Director Co-production companies Notes
The Chocolate Panic Picture Show 1985 Fujiwara Kumai
1988 Kazuyoshi Katayama Bandai Visual
Gunbuster 1988–1989 Hideaki Anno
Beat Shot 1989 Takashi Akimoto
Circuit no Ohkami 2 Modena no Tsurugi 1990 Yoshihide Kuriyama
Honō no Tenkōsei 1991 Katsuhiko Nishijima
Money Wars 1991 Yusaku Saotome
Otaku no Video 1991 Takeshi Mori
K.O. Beast 1992-1993 Hiroshi Negishi Project B4, Animate Film
Casshan: Robot Hunter 1993 Hiroyuki Fukushima Tatsunoko Productions Episode 4 only
Debutante Detective Corps 1996 Akiyuki Shinbo Studio 4°C/FAI
FLCL 2000 Kazuya Tsurumaki Production I.G
Anime Tenchou 2002 Hiroyuki Imaishi
Submarine 707R 2003 Shoichi Masuo
Hideaki Anno
Group TAC, Ashi Productions
Re: Cutie Honey 2004 Hideaki Anno Toei Animation
Diebuster 2004 Kazuya Tsurumaki
Wish Upon the Pleiades 2011 Shouji Saeki
Bridge for Future [20][21] 2015-2016 Toho Bank

Daicon tokusatsu fan films

Title Year Synopsis
Patriotic Squadron Dai-Nippon (愛国戦隊大日本 Aikoku Sentai Dai-Nippon) 1982 Parody of the popular Super Sentai shows (mostly from footages in Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan) and the Russo-Japanese War, with the members of the title team (AiKamikaze, AiHarakiri, AiSukiyaki, AiGeisha, and AiTenpura) fighting the evil plan of the Red Bear Empire (led by "Death Kremlin") to brainwash the children of Japan by replacing the pages of their textbooks with red paper in this "episode."
Swift Hero Noutenki (快傑のーてんき Kaiketsu Nōtenki) 1982 Parody of Shotaro Ishinomori's Kaiketsu Zubat
Return of Ultraman (帰ってきたウルトラマン Kaettekita Urutoraman) 1983 Parody of a title of the same name, with New Ultraman/Ultraman Jack replaced with a giant Hideaki Anno in a vinyl Ultraman trick-or-treat outfit and glasses.[22]
Kaiketsu Nōtenki 2 - Pure Love in Minato City (快傑の-てんき2 純愛港町篇 Kaiketsu Nōtenki 2 - Junai Minato-cho Hen) 1984 Parody of Shotaro Ishinomori's Kaiketsu Zubat, in which the titular hero faces off against Mecha Noutenki, a mechanical clone of himself.
Kaiketsu Nōtenki in USA (快傑の-てんき in USA) 1984 Parody of Shotaro Ishinomori's Kaiketsu Zubat, in which the titular hero sightsees in San Francisco, California (while in costume)
The Eight-Headed Giant Serpent Strikes Back (八岐之大蛇の逆襲 Yamata no Orochi no Gyakushū) 1985 A 72-minute sendup of daikaiju (giant monster) movies and the most heavily promoted of the Daicon tokusatsu short films.[23]
Roleplaying Nōtenki in Seoul (ロールプレイングの-てんき in ソウル) 1988 Role-playing parody of Shotaro Ishinomori's Kaiketsu Zubat, in which the titular hero sightsees in San Francisco, California (while in costume)

Other works

Gainax has also teamed with other groups to create various works, such as a 1987 promotional video for the song "Marionette" by Boøwy[23] and the 2006 Momoko-based "Gainax Girls" fashion dolls created in collaboration with a Japanese fashion doll.[24] Gainax also collaborated with Game Arts in 1992, resulting in the video game Alisia Dragoon.

Gainax has also produced a number of computer games, including a strip mahjong game featuring Evangelion characters[25] and its most famous, the Princess Maker series (later adapted as Puchi Puri Yūshi).

Gainax also collaborated with Saudi Arabian media content company ARiNAT on a three-minute anime trailer titled "Desert Knight" (Sabaku no Kishi), which debuted at the "ANI:ME" Japanese pop culture festival in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.[26]

Relationship to fan community

Since Gainax originated as a group of fans, it has maintained ties to the general otaku community, allowing dōjinshi of its work, fan-made action figures,[27] promoting series like Evangelion at private festivals, and so on.

The term "Gainaxing" has been coined by fans to describe exaggerated bouncing of a female character's breasts. Similarly, the term "Gainax ending" has been used in reference to several Gainax productions to describe an ending to a work which is surreal, or seems to come out of nowhere and resolve little.

See also


  1. "Considered one of the top 10 films of 1987 by Japanese film critics, The Wings of Honneamise is..." "Heads Up, Mickey: Anime may be Japan's first really big cultural export", Issue 3.04 - Apr 1995, Wired Magazine
  2. The studio's works have garnered them Animage's coveted Anime Grand Prix award over ten times since 1990.
  3. "スポニチ Sponichi Annex ニュース 芸能". Archived from the original on 14 February 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  4. Greenfield, Matt (April 2, 2006). Evangelion - 10 years of Death and Re:Birth (Speech). Tekkoshocon 2006. Pittsbugh, Pennsylvania.
  5. Gainax Internet Section. "GAINAX NET|会社案内|会社概要". Retrieved 2015-04-30.
  6. 1 2 Asahi Shimbun/ASAHI EVENING NEWS. November 13, 1998. "JAPAN- Animator hit for tax evasion" Pg. News.
  7. Takami Akai is from Tottori and suggested it.
  8. "Bienvenue sur le site internet de Sekai Project". Retrieved 2015-04-30.
  9. " "The first commercial success of the fan-turned-pro studio Gainax, "Gunbuster" ("Aim for the Top!") was the first anime OVA (original video animation) made by and for the "otaku generation" — a series for those who love anime. Not tied to any pre-existing manga or toy campaign, "Gunbuster" was a declaration that anime could be made for its own sake." Business Wire. October 24, 2006 Tuesday 1:00 PM GMT "Image Entertainment and Bandai Visual USA to Release Classic Anime Series Gunbuster"
  10. Electronic Brain Academy Scenario 1 (released November 1990) was banned in July 1992 in Miyazaki Prefecture, the first to be so banned in Japan; Gainax sued, charging the ban was unconstitutional, but lost. See Japan Economic Newswire JANUARY 24, 1994, MONDAY. "Court backs ban on sale, lease of porno computer game". By Miyazaki, Jan. 24 Kyodo
  11. "Anime News Service - July 1999 Anime News: President Of Gainax Arrested". Yomiuri Shimbun. 1999-07-13. Retrieved 2006-10-23.
  12. "Gainax, company president admit tax evasion - News". 1998-11-12. Retrieved 2015-04-30.
  13. "July 1999 Anime News". Retrieved 2015-04-30.
  14. pg 170, Takeda 2002
  15. "A.D. Vision, Inc. sues Gainax Co., Ltd. over live-action Evangelion movie agreement". Crunchyroll. August 12, 2011. Retrieved August 13, 2011.
  16. "Gainax, Nobuhiro Yamashita Create Live-Action TV Show EA's Rock". Anime News Network. February 23, 2012. Retrieved February 27, 2012.
  17. "Gainax Makes Blue Uru Film with Honneamise Yamaga, Sadamoto". Anime News Network. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  22. Takeda 2002.
  23. 1 2 Takeda 2002
  24. "". Archived from the original on 20 December 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  25. "警告:アダルトコンテンツ". Retrieved 2015-04-30.
  27. "The creation of a sexy Rei is in fact legal because anime production studio Gainax Co. approves fan-made production under certain conditions. Normally, anime copyright owners do not grant individuals approval to use their characters. But Gainax permits fans to make and sell up to 200 action figures a year per project. Gainax receives some 50 applications every year for fan production. The company believes permitting these products 'helps to prevent undesirable alterations and to maintain the characters' popularity', an official at the company's rights planning department said." The Nikkei Weekly (Japan) December 17, 2007 Monday, "Hostile responses not enough in battles with infringers"

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