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Creator / Hideaki Anno

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Hideaki Anno (庵野 秀明Romaji ) (born May 22, 1960) is a Japanese animator and actor who is one of the seven co-founders of Studio Gainax. He is also the man behind the Neon Genesis Evangelion franchise, and he was rather famously involved in a dispute over the anime adaptation of His and Her Circumstances with the author of the manga, Masami Tsuda. Born in Ube, Anno made a name for himself working as an animator on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind — thanks to recognition from since-then friend, mentor, and collaborator Hayao Miyazaki note . His most high-profile work prior to Evangelion was for Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water as well as his directorial debut, Gunbuster. Since the 1998 release of Love & Pop, Anno has also directed several live-action films, including an adaptation of popular 1970s anime Cutey Honey and Toho's 2016 Godzilla film, Shin Godzilla. In addition, he also designed the intro sequence for Space Battleship Yamato 2199.


Anno once went back to his hometown to teach kids about working in animation. Video here.

Any physical or mental resemblance to a certain Jerkass Father (Gendo Ikari) is entirely coincidental, though the one to his son probably isn't.note 

He is also a master of the Shrug of God.

Spike Spencer hates him immensely for running out of ink during the ending of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

On March 26, 2002, Anno married manga artist Moyoco Anno, who wrote a short manga about him starting in 2009.

Kazuya Tsurumaki is his protege and successor, while Hayao Miyazaki is a friend and teacher.

He starred in the 2013 Hayao Miyazaki film The Wind Rises as the voice of the male lead, a fictionalized version of Mitsubishi aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi. Miyazaki even coached him through how to act.


A fictionalized version of him in college serves as The Rival in Shimamoto Kazuhiko's semi-autobiographical manga Blue Blazes (Aoi Honoo) as well as its 2014 live-action television adaptation, where he is played by Ken Yasuda.

For other Japanese creators with a penchant for dark and sobering plots, see Gen Urobuchi and Lynn Okamoto.

Anno's works provide examples of:

  • The Anti-Nihilist: Neon Genesis Evangelion, which was his struggle with depression and nihilism in anime form, led him to develop this philosophy. Previously, he was a depressed wreck who did not believe in any meaning or purpose in life, however now, he affirmed that "anywhere can be paradise as long as you have the will to live" and is now Happily Married and wealthy.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Anno is a self-admitted fan of the Gerry Anderson series Thunderbirds and UFO, which he has pointed to as the reason why he in particular likes Elaborate Underground Bases and the Fighter-Launching Sequence. He has also stated that by extension he is in general fond of British action serials from the 60's and 70's, something which can be seen more subtly reflected in some character designs (particularly their taste in fashion) and vehicle designs in the projects he has worked on.
    • He is also a huge fan of classic kaiju and tokusatsu series such as Ultraman and Kamen Rider for their use of practical effects, costumes, and stunt work; indeed, one of his first ever film projects was an Ultraman fan-film made for school with himself playing the titular character.
    • A clear influence from Yoshiyuki Tomino's Mecha Shows Space Runaway Ideon and Mobile Suit Gundam can also been seen in his works. Especially in Evangelion (which even has a pretty brutal (seeming) Kill 'Em All ending).
    • Anno is also a big fan of World War II history, considering most of the Evangelion characters are named after ships in the Imperial Japanese Navy or nautical terms ("Ikari" meaning "anchor" and so on). Again, this comes as no surprise as another of Anno's influences is Leiji Matsumoto (Famous for Space Battleship Yamato, another anime involving a World War II battleship, and another Kill 'Em All ending).
  • Author Avatar: Most notably in Shinji Ikari, who Anno himself has said he resembles. However, there are also notable features present in other characters, such as Nadia and Rei's vegetarianism.
  • Bleached Underpants: Henote  did key animation work on the fourth episode of the early adult anime OVA series Cream Lemon, Pop Chaser. Learning this fact makes classic hentai fans ecstatic, since Pop Chaser is widely considered the funniest, most memorable, and best-animated episode of the series.
  • Creator Breakdown: Perhaps one of the most famous examples ever.
    • The stress from the infamously Troubled Production of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water caused Anno to fall into a four-year deep depression, the experience which led him to create Neon Genesis Evangelion. While still struggling with some degree of depression for a couple of years afterwards, he underwent a slow Creator Recovery throughout the late 90s and the 00s.
    • He suffered a second one after the third Rebuild of Evangelion, though he managed to quickly recover this time, thanks to support from his wife and Hayao Miyazaki. He was, however, frazzled enough by the experience that he postponed work on the fourth Rebuild film to make Shin Godzilla and announced his intention of temporarily taking a break from Eva once Rebuild has concluded.
  • Creator Cameo:
  • Deconstruction: A specialty of his. Not only was Eva obviously a deconstruction of the Humongous Mecha, but his film Love & Pop is a deconstruction of Japanese teen-girl culture, Shiki Jutsu is a deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl/Cloudcuckoolander archetype(s), and Shin Godzilla deconstructs Godzilla and Kaiju films.
    • A notorious persistent rumor claims Anno was the first deconstuctor of anime; he wasn't. Anno actually just revived a lot of the mid-to-late 70s and very early 80s cynical tropes, as his own Author Appeal reveals.
  • Fanservice: He frequently puts fanservice in his works. For example, Evangelion has Misato Katsuragi dress in shorts when she's in her apartment.
  • Happily Married: To mangaka Moyoco Anno, for nearly a decade now. His marriage has drastically affected his work, disposition, and outlook on life. For a man whose previous works have dealt heavily with the inevitability of pain and the need to Earn Your Happy Ending, some would say this really is something special. In his own words:
    This was his first experience with married life. Later on, people close to him would remark that Anno had changed, both physically and mentally (he lost weight and became less edgy).
  • He Also Did: How many anime fans who’ve heard of, let alone watched, his artsy live-action films Love & Pop and Shiki-Jitsu do you know?
  • Intergenerational Friendship: One of his closer friends is his mentor Hayao Miyazaki, who is good 20 years older.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • For starters, he made a Cutey Honey live-action film, and an adaptation of His and Her Circumstances that was much Denser and Wackier than the original manga.
    • If you look closely at the hometown video, he seems to get better on camera towards the end.
    • After years of using Ominous Gratuitous Greek to create moods of creepiness and dread in his audience, he named his studio Studio Khara. In other words Studio Joy.note 
  • Mind Screw: He uses it quite a bit.
  • Odd Friendship: For a shy, melancholic man that he is, he has pretty assertive friends, like the straightforward, outspoken patriarch Hayao Miyazaki or the eccentric, flamboyant auteur Kunihiko Ikuhara.
  • Postmodernism: He has been cited as one of the primary inspirations of the Superflat movement.
  • Production Posse: He frequently works together with fellow animators Kazuya Tsurumaki, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and Masayuki. He's also worked with Shinji Higuchi and Shiro Sagisu on Evangelion and Shin Godzilla. Actors who have frequently worked with Anno include Noriko Hidaka, Maria Kawamura, Megumi Ogata, Kotono Mitsuishi, Yuko Miyamura, Megumi Hayashibara, Mayumi Shintani and Kōichi Yamadera.
  • Promoted Fanboy: He has always been a big fan of Tokusatsu and Kaiju films. Then he got to direct Toho's 2016 Godzilla movie, Shin Godzilla. He also wrote and produced the upcoming Shin Ultraman and is writing and directing Shin Kamen Rider.
  • Rags to Riches: Before helping to found Gainax, Anno was an out-of-work animator and college washout. Then he and some peers made two opening videos for an Osaka sci-fi convention called DAICON, with the opening video for DAICON IV proving popular enough to get them noticed in the industry. Anno, himself, would go on to work with Topcraft on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (whose staff included many future members of Studio Ghibli, including none other than Hayao Miyazaki himself) before founding Gainax and becoming a household name among anime fans.
  • Self-Parody: The fact that he wrote Evangelion: After the End proves that he is not above making light of his own works.
  • Shout-Out: His works are typically packed with allusions or homages to anime, film, music, literature, philosophy, psychology, religion - anything he feels like.
  • Shrug of God: Well, he's the guy to whom the "I have no bloody clue, Fan Wank something" caption is most frequently affixed.
  • Signature Style: He has pretty clear stylistic choices in both his animated and live-action works, codified particularly after Neon Genesis Evangelionnote :
    • A villain whose motivation and characterisation are not explored in detail, if at all (Gunbuster, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shin Godzilla ), influenced by his favourite film Battle of Okinawa.
    • He usually collaborates with Shiro Sagisu (Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Neon Genesis Evangelion, His and Her Circumstances, Shin Godzilla) or with artists who produce soundtracks with the same effect, with a lot of quiet piano music and existing Western art music for introspective dramatic scenes (Love & Pop, Shiki-Jitsu).
    • He likes using a black or white screen with writing on it, representing questions characters ask or tell themselves, narration, or parts of dialogue of some characters (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kare Kano, Love & Pop, Shiki-Jitsu).
    • Frequently uses and designs Eldritch Abomination characters, both as a director and an animator (Gunbuster, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shin Godzilla)
    • Focus on industrial city views (electric wires, grey buildings, etc.), which Anno has said he is very fond of (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kare Kano, Love & Pop, Shiki-Jitsu, Shin Godzilla).
    • Focus on sci-fi technology, using Technobabble and close-up shots (The opening sequence of Madox 01, Gunbuster, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Neon Genesis Evangelion).
    • Long, suspenseful scenes waiting for an enemy attack, accompanied by unnerving music, usually played on the piano (Gunbuster, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shin Godzilla ).
    • Cuts between scenes that feel ‘premature’, often to industrial urban views, creating suspenseful pacing (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kare Kano, Love & Pop, Shiki-Jitsu).
    • Surreal imagery, usually containing rapid cuts, making the viewer stop focusing on external conditions and focus on a character’s (or characters’) state of mind, accompanied by unsettling music and often a spotlight turning on loudly to indicate something (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kare Kanonote , Love & Pop, Shiki-Jitsu).
    • A general theme of a main character in a poor emotional state going through a crisis, or a series of crises, to grow as a person (Gunbusternote , Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kare Kano, Love & Pop, Shiki-Jitsunote ).
    • Generally, producing works far on the character end of the Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: His works often occupy a unique position of being dark and uncompromising in their portrayal of human nature, yet ultimately (sometimes deceptively) idealistic in their emphasis on love, hope and the importance of interpersonal relationships.
  • Springtime for Hitler: It's theorised that Gainax attempted to use NGE as a means to avoid paying taxes by producing a flop. Even if this is true, it failed miserably. The truth itself is more mundane: Gainax hadn't seen any of the profits from Nadia because Toho were the guys who actually owned the rights to it, and they deliberately underreported their profits for NGE because they were unsure about what would happen (and if NGE would've actually flopped, Gainax would've just been bankrupt).
  • Start My Own: In 2006, Anno formed Studio Khara, taking Kazuya Tsurumaki and some of Gainax's staff with him, and resigned from Gainax the following year.
  • Take That, Audience!:
  • Trolling Creator: Rivals Yoshiyuki Tomino and John Kricfalusi for "Biggest Troll in the Animation Industry". Considering how much of a cash cow Evangelion has become as a result of the fandom, they're basically paying him to screw with them. Though, that be said, he still has nothing on his friend Kunihiko Ikuhara.
  • Troubled Production: Gainax's shifty accounting practices combined with advertisers pulling out in droves gave him a lot of grief over the years, and is at least partly the reason why his works sometimes suffer from poor quality animation and Gainax Endings.
  • True Companions: When Anno suffered another Creator Breakdown during the filming of the third Rebuild of Evangelion movie, Hayao Miyazaki came in to help him get back on his feet. (Though according to Moyoco Anno's Yoiko no Rekishi Anime: Ookina Kabu, it didn't work.)