GAINAX Files for Bankruptcy

Image source: @GAINAXNET

GAINAX, the company known for its involvement in the animation production of anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion, His and Her Circumstances, Gurren Lagann, FLCL, Gunbuster, and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, has filed for bankruptcy.

An official statement from GAINAX president Yasuhiro Kamimura, which was released on June 7 JST, revealed that the filing was made at the Tokyo District Court on May 29 JST and has been accepted.

The GAINAX trademark now lies with Studio Khara, the studio founded by well-known director and former GAINAX member Hideaki Anno to produce the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy. Khara is also the current holder of the Neon Genesis Evangelion copyright.

According to the statement, GAINAX’s finances took a turn for the worse around 2012, due to a management style that led to events like restaurant management based on overly optimistic forecasts, the establishment of a CG company without proper planning, and taking large unsecured loans that went to management executives.

Kamimura said that heavy debt incurred by the management and unpaid royalties caused GAINAX to be dropped from production committees. In the midst of this, various affiliated regional studios that included “GAINAX” in their names were established. The situation led to mass resignations and crippled GAINAX’s animation production capabilities (in 2016, GAINAX released a statement mentioning efforts that were meant to lead to its rebirth as a planning and production-focused company).

The 2019 arrest of GAINAX’s then-president Tomohiro Maki, who had only recently assumed the role and was described in the statement as being someone unfamiliar with video production, for indecent acts was another blow. 

In 2020, GAINAX tried to turn things around by reforming its management with the help of Khara, which was also GAINAX’s creditor at the time. When the studio undertook the process of reviewing past documents, it uncovered a host of issues, ranging from the borrowing of large sums of money and debt defaults to the sales and transfers of intellectual property and production material that were done without approval of the appropriate rights holders. The latter apparently went to companies and individuals affiliated with the previous management.

Kamimura said that GAINAX tried to sort out the rights issue with the cooperation of Khara and the new management, but was unable to settle the previously accumulated debt. It also faced the issue of having many from the previous management remain as shareholders.

In May 2024, a debt collection agency sued GAINAX, leading to the decision to make the bankruptcy filing.

Khara has released its own statement on GAINAX’s bankruptcy filing, which mentions Anno’s status as a GAINAX shareholder and says that he had previously made suggestions that were intended to improve GAINAX’s management. Aside from detailing Khara’s role in assisting GAINAX, it expressed that it was unfortunate that a studio with almost 40 years of history had to meet such an end.

Of the now-former regional studios —  Studio Gaina and Fukushima Gaina (formerly Fukushima Gainax), GAINAX International, GAINAX Kyoto, Yonago GAINAX, GAINAX Niigata, and GAINAX WEST — Kamimura asserted that GAINAX has no connection with them. He also said that usage of the GAINAX trademark without Khara’s permission may be considered as unauthorized use. 

This cutting of ties had occurred years ago — in the previously mentioned 2016 statement, then-GAINAX president Hiroyuki Yamaga said that it had no capital ties with these studios and apologized for any worries caused by its legal issues (Khara had sued GAINAX over a roughly 100 million yen [~US$642,775] debt). When Maki was arrested, GAINAX Kyoto and Yonago GAINAX tweeted statements from their respective presidents (Yasuhiro Takeda and Takami Akai, both former GAINAX members) which declared that they had nothing to do with the man and had no capital ties with GAINAX. 

According to a 2016 Animation Business Journal article, the website of then-Fukushima Gainax explained that it was affiliated with GAINAX when it was founded in 2014, but bought back its stocks in December 2015 and later became independent. It is currently under the Kinoshita Group. 

GAINAX was established in 1984 to produce the anime film Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise. Its founding members included Anno, Takeda, Akai, Yamaga, Toshio Okada, and Shinji Higuchi

Beyond anime, the studio was also involved in the development of games like Silent Mobius, Cybernetic Hi-School, the Akai-created Princess Maker (which is getting a new installment by South Korean developer D-ZARD) and Battle Skin Panic.

In 2015, Production I.G. bought the rights to FLCL, which it had co-produced with GAINAX. Gurren Lagann‘s current copyright notice lists the names of the show’s writer (Kazuki Nakashima) and director (Hiroyuki Imaishi, formerly a GAINAX member) along with the production committee, while Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt’s present copyright notice has the names of animation studio TRIGGER — which was founded by Imaishi and two other GAINAX staff — and Imaishi.

Sources: GAINAX website, Automaton, Crunchyroll News, The Japan Times

Melvyn is one of Anime Trending's main news writers. Aside from anime, he can sometimes be found writing about Japanese/anime-related video games, VTubers, manga, and light novels. Occasionally, he'll put out a review or listicle too. Every anime season, he looks forward to discovering new standout episodes and OP/ED animation sequences. Some of his free time is spent self-learning Japanese.
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