Hideaki Anno co-founded Gainax in 1984 with several students he came to know at Osaka University of Arts, including the studio’s current president Hiroyuki Yamaga, and renowned anime grump Toshio “Otaking” Okada. Though it was this studio who struck gold with the original Neon Genesis Evangelion in the 90s, Anno left Gainax in 2007 to form Studio Khara, the force behind the Rebuild of Evangelion remake movies. At first, there was no hard feelings between the collaborating studios. But now there seems to be considerable animosity, as Khara has sued Gainax for 100 million yen supposedly owed.
According to The Mainichi Shimbun‘s report, GAINAX was contractually bound to pay royalties to Khara for all projects Anno worked on, but the former is now entrenched in unfulfilled back payments. Khara also made a loan to GAINAX to the tune of 100 million yen (approx. $877,636 US) in August 2014, but are now suing to get that amount back.
Certain fans had noticed that Evangelion‘s 20th anniversary celebration material, such as the remastered Blu-ray release, had started listing only Khara as the studio credit before this lawsuit broke out. GAINAX has been floundering lately, as Evangelion was its only major hit. Besides Hiroyuki Imaishi’s Gurren Lagann, the studio’s other successes, including Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and Gunbuster, were mostly directed by Anno. Mainichi also reports that in the business period ending July of this year, GAINAX made 240 million yen (about $2.1 million), which comes to just 10% of what the studio was earning five years ago.
GAINAX have since made a public apology addressing concerns caused by Khara’s case against them. In regards to their main and branch companies in Tokyo, Fukushima, Niigata and Kyoto, plus GAINAXWEST, Yamaga stated that the studio is currently reorganising and relocating. He also made comments on future plans for the company, saying he wants to focus on producing anime and bringing the studio back to its glory days.
As far as “relocating” goes, the studio seems to have downsized its office space. It apparently moved to the Hattori Building in Musashino, Tokyo in October, which is actually a 45-year-old housing complex, as opposed to the studio’s professional offices in Mitaka, Tokyo. Considering how widely GAINAX has branched out in recent years, setting up an anime museum, a filmmaking cram school, and even dabbling in tomato farming, it’s safe to say that they’re scrambling for their place not only in anime, but in the current business climate. The studio’s now collaborating with a Saudi Arabian media company on a new anime entitled Desert Knight, but it’s small fry compared to the Eva explosion. Debts or no, you have to feel sorry for the state of the once glorious GAINAX at the moment.