‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ Studio Gainax Files For Bankruptcy

Gainax, the Japanese animation producer behind shows including Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL, and Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, has filed for bankruptcy.

The studio, founded in 1984 as Daicon Film, had been plagued by mismanagement for many years, according to a statement that it released on its own website. The problems including an unsuccessful foray into the restaurant business, launching an unsuccessful cg studio, and providing high-interest unsecured loans to individual executives.

Adding to the company’s woes, its representative director Tomohiro Maki, was arrested in 2019 for sexually assaulting a teenager, which led to a “complete loss of operational capacity” while the company’s debts continued to pile up.

In 2020, the company undertook an audit and uncovered years of sketchy business practices, including borrowing large amounts of money from financial institutions, defaulting on its obligations to companies in the animation industry, and both selling and transferring intellectual property and other materials to companies and individuals without the permission of the legal right holders.

Last month, after the company was sued by a debt collection company, it came to the conclusion that bankruptcy was the best option.

Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno, a co-founder of Gainax, left the company and formed a new studio, Khara, in 2007, but had remained involved behind the scenes at Gainax. A statement on the website of Khara reads (according to an English translation):

We have long been aware of the poor management and debt of Gainax, and have expressed our concerns about the company’s management and made proposals to improve the company’s management, but these proposals were not accepted for a long time.

Following the arrest of Maki, Anno worked with Kadokawa, King Records Co., Ltd., and Trigger Inc. in “order to prevent reputational damage to the Evangelion series and other related works.”

Per Khara’s website, it is continuing to untangle the IP rights to Gainax’s various productions:

[Anno] revamped the management team by having representatives from each company serve as directors, and has been working with each of our partner companies to understand the inner workings of Gainax, at the very least resolve unpaid payments to studios, writers, and creators within the animation industry, and prevent the loss of intellectual property and documents.

However, as stated in the Gainax release, by the time we understood the situation, we had already found ourselves in an unmanageable state of debt, and Gainax had come to the conclusion that it would be difficult to continue operations.

In light of this situation, in order to ensure that creators, original authors, and writers can continue to produce and manage their works in the future, we have worked with each production committee to confirm and organize the rights and transfer the rights to the companies and individuals we deem most suitable.

Anno’s company has also acquired the trademark and title to Gainax and will continue to manage those elements of the former company.

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