Ode to Anime Studios – Gainax

Thanks to everyone who voted in that poll I ran. I’m not sure if you noticed the poll on the previous Ode post took precedence, but Gainax had the 2nd place position on the Twitter poll anyway.

If you wanted to know (or didn’t see the Must-read Monthly Monday for this month), Trigger was the 2nd position on the WordPress poll and 1st on the Twitter poll…meaning that’s next month and NAZ should show up the month after. Some voter caused the 2nd and 3rd place to tie on the poll on the post after I checked the votes for deciding what studio I should start on, but I figured you guys would be happier if I did this order instead.

So Gainax has a story that stands out in the industry of “this studio was spawned by this other studio”, in that it was made by a bunch of dudes who were fans of anime who got their start animating for conventions, including a Hideaki Anno…who Scott probably knows more about than I do…(that’s the really, really condensed version of how they began. Founding a studio and dedicating your lives to producing quality animation takes up a lot of people’s lives, as you may have learnt from works like Eizouken, and so there’s obviously more details than just that, but that’s what you get for summarising a 4-part Anime News Network article.) You might have heard of the Daicon III and IV animations, and that’s what kick-started it all, animation-wise, give or take Macross.

The studio was founded on December 24th 1984 (May 2018), so it’s significantly older than most of the studios I’ve been researching. It’s since gone on to spawn Studio Khara and Fukushima Gainax: the former is notable for inheriting Anno’s legacy of sorts, including the End of Evangelion. The latter changed its name to Gaina and now has its own subsidiary called Fukushima Gaina (Gaina n.d.), which is a whole new level in studio-spawning.

Unlike most of the other studios I’ve looked at for these posts, there is one thing different from the norm: it’s just called “Gainax”, no kabushikigaisha nonsense or anything, even though Gaina and Fukushima Gaina have that (Gainax 2014, Gaina n.d.).

…well, without giant robots and the studio’s flagrant disregard for the way female anatomy works (warning: TV Tropes link!), Gainax wouldn’t be half as famous, particularly Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is driving fans nuts again after showing up on Netflix with a new dub in recent years. Despite that, Gainax does have a bunch of other shows over more than 20 years in existence, including this one called Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai (The Ugly Yet Beautiful World or KonoMini), which is their anniversary work for said 20 years. The sad (?) thing is that I encountered KonoMini years before NGE and so, even though most people cherish the latter and are indifferent to the former, I’m the opposite way around, even though – for better or for worse – I learnt about a lot of anime tropes being tropes (like that one drunk lady with a semi-important role, a la Misato from Evangelion, or cute alien mascots) from that. Sure, I understand the impact Evangelion had on anime fans as a whole, but when the only way to access it in the days before it was on Netflix was via a disc set I had to return to my local library in two weeks, I probably missed a lot of things I could read into and became apathetic over time as a result.

They also made Mahou Shoujo Taisen (Magica Wars), a TV short which I will not ever get despite liking both magical girls and TV short series, because Crunchyroll pulled it from their lineup. That just means what goes up must come down somewhere…

Final fun fact: There’s a common thread of tokusatsu between Gainax and Trigger – aside from both studios doing works which have characters and themes compatible with the tokusatsu aesthetic, Trigger did Gridman and Gainax worked on live-action Ultraman at one point (but notably not the Ultraman anime on Netflix).


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