Anime & Manga News

Animation Studio Gainax Declares Bankruptcy

by Vindstot
Jun 9, 11:22 PM | 35 Comments

Gainax, once a titan in the anime industry, announced its bankruptcy on June 7, 2024, following a filing in the Tokyo District court on May 29, 2024. The announcement marks a somber conclusion to the storied history of the studio behind such classics as Shinseiki Evangelion (Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Gurren Lagann).

In a candid statement, Gainax's representative director Yasuhiro Kamimura detailed the series of unfortunate events and mismanagement decisions that led to the studio's financial decline, which began over a decade ago.

Financial Missteps and Decline
According to Kamimura, the studio's financial troubles started around 2012. Poor business decisions, including the mismanagement of a restaurant venture, the ill-fated establishment of a CG company, large unsecured loans to executives, and failed investments in new projects caused substantial debt accumulation. These missteps not only strained Gainax's finances but also eroded its reputation within the industry, leading to its removal from key production committees.

The situation worsened as executives who had established affiliate studios bearing the Gainax name took much of the talent and resources, leaving the original studio without an established production line. These affiliates later disclaimed any relationship with the original studio, further isolating Gainax.

Leadership Changes and Operational Shutdown
In 2018, the long-serving representative director transferred shares to an individual with no experience in animation production, with the approval of then-management. Shortly after becoming the president in 2019, the individual was arrested for sexual misconduct involving a minor, causing a complete operational shutdown while debts continued to mount.

Attempts at Revival and Final Collapse
A revamp of the management team in February 2020, in collaboration with animation studio Khara as a creditor, led to an extensive review of Gainax's financial and operational status. The investigation uncovered extensive borrowing, debt defaults, and unauthorized sales of intellectual property. Despite a coalition of companies working pro bono to address these issues, the efforts were hampered by the previous management's continued operations under the Gainax brand without regard for the dire financial situation. Faced with a lawsuit from a debt collection company in May, Gainax ultimately filed for bankruptcy, acknowledging its inability to continue as a business.

Gainax noted in the addendum that it has no current affiliation to Gaina and Fukushima Gaina (both formerly Fukushima Gainax), Gainax International, Gainax Kyoto, Yonago Gainax, Gainax Niigata, and Gainax West.

Khara's Intervention and Future Prospects
Khara, founded by Gainax co-founder Hideaki Anno, issued its statement following the bankruptcy announcement, providing additional context.

Khara had been aware of Gainax's financial struggles and debt for some time. Anno expressed his long-standing concerns and made proposals for management improvement; however, his attempts to implement corrective measures were unsuccessful. Despite these circumstances, Khara provided supportive loans at the request of the then-management.

Following this president's arrest, Anno sought to protect the reputation of the Evangelion franchise and related works. Khara enlisted the cooperation of Kadokawa, King Records, and animation studio Trigger, having representatives from these companies join Gainax's board to better understand and address the company's issues. The board looked to resolve unpaid debts to studios, authors, and creators within the industry, and prevent the dissipation of intellectual property and materials. However, by the time Khara fully grasped the internal situation, the company was already in an irreparable state of insolvency.

Khara, now the manager of the Gainax trademark, has pledged to work with production committees to confirm and transfer rights to the most suitable companies and individuals, ensuring that creators can continue their work. Although Khara considered providing further support, the possibility of supporting Gainax's debt repayment was deemed unfeasible by the company.

The future management of works previously overseen by Gainax will be announced following the conclusion of the bankruptcy proceedings.

While the closure of this long-standing animation studio comes as a shock to many in the anime community, its impact on the business side of the industry appears minimal. Gainax had already ceased producing new content since the 2015 series Houkago no Pleiades (Wish Upon the Pleiades) and had halted its production activities in recent years. The rights to its notable works have mostly been transferred to other companies, with Shinseiki Evangelion (Neon Genesis Evangelion) now held by Khara and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt by Trigger.

Gainax's Legacy
Gainax was founded in 1984 by Hideaki Anno, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Takami Akai, Hiroyuki Yamaga, Yasuhiro Takeda, Shinji Higuchi, and Toshio Okada—with the purpose of producing the Ouritsu Uchuugun: Honneamise no Tsubasa (Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise) anime film. Originating from the anime fan group Daicon Film in Osaka, Gainax stood out in an era where most animation studios were established by former staff and producers from major studios.

The studio went on to create hits such as Fushigi no Umi no Nadia (Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water), Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (His and Her Circumstances), and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (Gurren Lagann). Among these, Shinseiki Evangelion (Neon Genesis Evangelion), which started as a television series in 1995, became a monumental success. However, from the 2000s onward, Gainax experienced significant talent departures, with Hideaki Anno leaving in 2007 to establish Khara and key staff from Gurren Lagann forming Trigger in 2011.

Gainax's bankruptcy signifies the end of an era, underscoring the importance of prudent management and safeguarding creative assets within the competitive landscape of the anime industry. Despite its closure, the legacy of Gainax's groundbreaking contributions to anime will endure.

Source: Animation Business Journal, IT Media, Tokyo Shoko Research

20 of 35 Comments Recent Comments

I will really miss the work they created. Thank you, thank you for your hard work so far

Jun 13, 3:22 AM by Ghefira

Holy sh*t! Is Hideaki Ano a main protag?
A prince ran away from his former country, due to his brother's assasination attempts, and established a new country. The new country is small but flourished, whilst the original country were declining due to the new rulers tyrany and corruptions. Sympathesing with his former ppl, the prince returns to the country, took down his brother the corrupt prince, and saved the ppl.
This is really like a plot of a country mgmt/building or a tactical RPG collosal epics.... Fire Emblem style. And Hideaki Ano is appearently the main protag.... Kadokawa should make an LN out of this!!!!

PS: I really hope Hideo Kojima could do the same with Konami, but I doubt it'll work....

Jun 12, 7:22 PM by uncleqrow

That's sad, but the writing has been on the wall for a while.

Jun 12, 10:20 AM by malvarez1

Think Medaka Box was last thing I've heard from them.

but Medaka Box, Dantalian No Shoka, Panty & Stocking, Mahoromatic, Tengen Toppa were some most memorable works from them. R.I.P for them. Made some good stuff.

Jun 12, 6:24 AM by DesolatePsyche

Welp, that's that, I guess. Unfortunately this isn't going to be the last anime studio to go.

Jun 12, 5:06 AM by Ikitikitaki

There is nothing to feel shame for, Gainax lost all its talent in the 2000's, and their last highlight project was Medaka Box S2 in 2012, it has been 12 years and they only produced SHIT.

I m surprised it took them this long to go bankrupt. I think Anno and the rest of the talent that left, despite all grievances with the management of Gainax (which had them leave over the years), still were loyal, and are a reason only now Gainax is going under.

If anything credit has to be given to Anno, he still tried to save them, but you cant save a bad management leadership that REFUSES to learn, FUCK THEM.

All the actors that gave me some of my favorite franchises still are active and endure, Gainax was just a name after all, because the rest as long left the company, and when I see Trigger and Khara stuff, I don't feel, that we lose anything with Gainax name itself ending.

Jun 11, 11:25 AM by Playcool

Very saddening to know.

Jun 11, 10:21 AM by H-A-M-M-Y

Unfortunate. Probably the most significant closure since Manglobe went under (shoutout to Arms) though arguably much more impactful.

It's been an honor.

Jun 11, 10:19 AM by NTAD

A terrible shame to hear. Gainax were the kings back in the 90s and early 2000s. The always pushed the envelope and raised the bar with whatever they did. Their style was unmistakable and their influence was undeniable. It will be a sad day in the industry when they officially close their doors for good.

Jun 10, 10:46 PM by takkun_

@Stygian_Prisoner I don't know what they're going to cook up, because as far as I know, even the director of the franchise admitted that Urobuchi didn't want to milk the franchise or overuse fan service for the fans. But I find it intriguing that outside of their old properties, they've all but abandoned their style.

Jun 10, 3:41 PM by RobertBobert

@RobertBobert No, not at all. I thought you made some good points on those 3 studios you mentioned that I agree with to a great extent.

Jun 10, 12:55 PM by Farabeuf

Damn man another one gone and all that keeps coming up are the CGI studios. RIP Gainax the OG's

Jun 10, 12:14 PM by Ramkec

RobertBobert said:
For example, at one time Shaft had the same reputation, but now I can’t even tell what projects they are working on at the moment.
I think the only real noteworthy project Shaft's got in the pipeline right now is the Madoka Magica Rebellion sequel, which I'm being very cautiously optimistic about.

Jun 10, 12:01 PM by Stygian_Prisoner

Nice writeup.

I never expected that Zero Century film trilogy to materialize anyway.

Jun 10, 10:19 AM by Ochimusha

@deg Gainax hasn't owned Nadia since the 90s, so those are unlikely to ever get to Anno. And unless I missed something, Gunbuster (and Diebuster) were in Gaina for their Aim for the Top 3 that stalled years ago.

Jun 10, 10:08 AM by Ionliosite2

@Farabeuf That was sarcasm, wasn't it?

Jun 10, 9:38 AM by RobertBobert

Same people who were responsible for mismanagement and horrible decision making would go somewhere else and bankrupt that place as well. Always happens in corporate.

Jun 10, 8:00 AM by Softhenic03

RIP to one of the legends in the anime game

Jun 10, 7:32 AM by Tokoya

As long as the people whom studios like these produced stay active, the legacy of Gainax will live on.

Jun 10, 6:04 AM by Swagernator

@RobertBobert Good points and spot on about Shaft.

Jun 10, 3:52 AM by Farabeuf

It’s time to ditch the text file.
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