The Notenki Memoirs: Studio Gainax And The Men Who Created Evangelion

Fulltext annotated e-book of 2002 memoir by anime producer Yasuhiro Takeda, discussing Japanese SF conventions & fandom, formation & history of Gainax and its productions up to 2002, including the origins of Evangelion & the tax raid.
anime, NGE, SF
by: Yasuhiro Takeda 2010-12-272020-12-05 finished certainty: log importance: 2

An an­no­tated e-book edi­tion of The Notenki Mem­oirs: Stu­dio Gainax And The Men Who Cre­ated Evan­ge­lion, a short au­to­bi­og­ra­phy by a founder of Gainax who be­came ac­tive as a fan and in the ani­me/­manga in­dus­try in the late 1970s; it de­scribes the stu­dent fan club scene around SF con­ven­tions, the cre­ation of the fa­mous Daicon video shorts, the found­ing of Gainax, its sub­se­quent suc­cesses & tra­vails (although with less em­pha­sis on Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion than one might ex­pec­t), ter­mi­nat­ing around 2001. Much of the in­for­ma­tion Takeda dis­cusses may have ap­peared in Eng­lish-lan­guage sources be­fore, but in ob­scure or miss­ing sources and never pulled to­geth­er, and it is a valu­able source for non-Japan­ese-s­peak­ers in­ter­ested in that time pe­ri­od.

For peo­ple in­ter­ested in the his­tory of the anime in­dus­try, Takeda fills in many gaps re­lated to Gainax—it’s hard to think of any source which cov­ers nearly so well DAICON III, DAICON IV, Gen­eral Prod­ucts, or throws in so many tid­bits about sur­round­ing peo­ple & Japan­ese SF fan­dom. It is an in­valu­able re­source for any re­searcher, and I felt com­pelled to cre­ate an an­no­tated e-book edi­tion in or­der to elu­ci­date var­i­ous points and be able to link its claims with ver­sions of sto­ries by other peo­ple (for ex­am­ple, )

Those read­ing it solely for Evan­ge­lion ma­te­r­ial will prob­a­bly be rel­a­tively dis­ap­point­ed: Takeda clearly finds NGE not very in­ter­est­ing, may have bad as­so­ci­a­tions due to be­ing tar­geted in the tax raids, and he was writ­ing this in 2000 or so—­too close to the events and still work­ing at Gainax to re­ally give a tel­l-all, and it’s not a ter­ri­bly long or dense book in the first place. Nev­er­the­less, NGE fans will still find many rev­e­la­tions here, like the ori­gin of NGE pro­duc­tion in the fail­ure of the Aoki Uru film project (an ori­gin un­doc­u­mented in any West­ern sources be­fore Notenki Mem­oirs was trans­lat­ed).

Notenki Mem­oirs is an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy by a founder of Gainax who be­came ac­tive as a fan and in the ani­me/­manga in­dus­try in the late 1970s; it de­scribes the stu­dent fan club scene around SF con­ven­tions, the cre­ation of the fa­mous Daicon video shorts, the found­ing of Gainax, its sub­se­quent suc­cesses & tra­vails (although with less em­pha­sis on Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion than one might ex­pec­t), ter­mi­nat­ing around 2001. Much of the in­for­ma­tion Takeda dis­cusses may have ap­peared in Eng­lish-lan­guage sources be­fore, but in ob­scure or miss­ing sources and never pulled to­geth­er, and it is a valu­able source for non-Japan­ese-s­peak­ers in­ter­ested in that time pe­ri­od. Some of the sto­ries Takeda tells have also been dra­ma­tized by (who at­tended Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts at the same time) in his manga (com­men­tary/al­lu­sions), which was adapted into a 2014 Japan­ese live-ac­tion TV show with cameos by ani­me/­manga in­dus­try fig­ures; Shi­mamoto wrote about sev­eral events which are de­scribed in Notenki Mem­oirs and some clips from the TV show are in­cluded where ap­pro­pri­ate.

This un­offi­cial elec­tronic edi­tion is de­rived from the 1st book print­ing by ADV, and for­mat­ted in Pan­doc (source); a 2018 EPUB edi­tion was made by Erisie. A scan is avail­able for any­one who wishes to check the orig­i­nal print book against this edi­tion.

Many of the for­mat­ting con­ven­tions differ­—­for ex­am­ple, in the book, end­notes are di­vided into bi­o­graph­i­cal end­notes and non-bi­o­graph­i­cal end­notes, and the lat­ter ap­pear as a con­sol­i­dated sec­tion in the mid­dle of the book while the for­mer ap­pear in the last sec­tion of the book; in this ebook, the notes ap­pear in­ter­min­gled as end­notes (although one can tell the differ­ence: all bi­o­graph­i­cal end­notes start with the name in bold). The con­ven­tion re­port in the mid­dle of the text was orig­i­nally for­mat­ted as mul­ti­ple columns on a page with no white­space and pho­tographs in­serted out of or­der; I have taken the lib­erty of in­ter­pret­ing large text as sec­tion ti­tles and con­vert­ing the run-on para­graphs to list items. Sim­i­lar­ly, no at­tempt has been made to pre­serve the ex­act for­mat­ting on the page of the 2 linked chronolo­gies.

No at­tempt has been made to be slav­ishly ex­act to the prose (while strictly pre­serv­ing the sense): spelling er­rors are rife, and es­pe­cially in sec­tions set after GAINAX’s move to Tokyo, there are sen­tences where the trans­la­tor(s) ap­par­ently changed their mind half-way through; such sen­tences are silently copy­edited to some­thing more sen­si­ble. The Japan­ese edi­tion of The Notenki Mem­oirs has a num­ber of er­rors; work­ing with Google Trans­late to check the birth-year cor­rec­tions, they seem to have been al­ready in­cor­po­rated into the ADV edi­tion.

Links to Wikipedia and the In­ter­net are my own in­ser­tion, as are the ad­di­tional end­notes & com­men­taries & pic­tures signed “—Ed­i­tor”.

I’d ap­pre­ci­ate feed­back about whether there are any al­lu­sions Takeda makes or in­ci­dents left opaque that you un­der­stand but I haven’t yet clar­i­fied in an an­no­ta­tion?

Fur­ther read­ing:


The Notenki Memoirs: Studio Gainax And The Men Who Created Evangelion

[pg 190–191]

By (2002)

About the au­thor:

Born 1957 in Os­a­ka. Gen­eral Man­ager and Pro­ducer for GAINAX. Spent a to­tal of six years (five years re­peat­ing the same grade) in the Nu­clear En­gi­neer­ing De­part­ment of Kinki Uni­ver­si­ty. Takeda would go on to host sev­eral sci-fi events, in­clud­ing the near-mythic DAICON 3. In 2001, at the 40th An­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, he re­signed as chair­man of the Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee, a post which he had held for 16 years. Cur­rent­ly, he is em­ployed at the cre­ator-cen­tric stu­dio GAINAX, where he works dili­gently as the stu­dio’s sole bas­tion of com­mon sense. His cur­rent hobby is play­ing (more like prac­tic­ing ac­tu­al­ly…) the .

Japan­ese edi­tion:

  • Pho­tog­ra­phy: Kazuyoshi Sakai
  • Ya­suhiro Takeda Il­lus­tra­tion: Mit­sue Aoki
  • Writ­ing As­sis­tance: Yu Sug­i­tani (EHRGEIZ), Ya­suhiro Kamimura1 (), Takayoshi Miwa (PAQUET)
  • ISBN 4847014073
  • © 2002,

Eng­lish edi­tion:

  • Trans­la­tion & adap­ta­tion: Javier Lopez, Jack Wiedrick, Bren­dan Frayne, Kay Bertrand, Gina Ko­ern­er, Hi­roaki Fukuda and Sheri­dan Ja­cobs
  • De­sign & lay­out: Na­talia Reynolds
  • Cover De­sign: Ja­son Babler
  • ISBN 1-4139-0234-0
  • Eng­lish text ©2005 pub­lished by , In­c., un­der ex­clu­sive li­cense from Wani Books, Co. ()


[pg 3–4]

In the sum­mer of 2001, we hosted the 40th an­nual (S­F2001) at the cen­ter in . It had been a full 20 years since , the very first sci-fi con we’d host­ed, and it’s go­ing on 24 years since we first be­came ac­tive (as they say) in the biz. In the be­gin­ning, I was a kid who did­n’t think much about any­thing, who pre­ferred the plea­sures of the mo­ment to any long-term un­cer­tain­ties about the fu­ture. I was just a reg­u­lar kid.

What changed me was a se­ries of en­coun­ters, an un­bro­ken pro­ces­sion of chance meet­ings that thrust me from my young and vig­or­ous but ul­ti­mately clue­less boy­hood, and trans­formed me into the man I am now.

More than any­thing, it was DAICON 3 that played the great­est role in many of these en­coun­ters, and now here we were again, host­ing SF2001. I guess you could say the con­ven­tion marked an era in my own ca­reer, so I de­cided to treat the oc­ca­sion as an op­por­tu­nity to syn­the­size the past two decades into the form of a record of my youth.

Nat­u­ral­ly, most of the things I re­mem­ber hap­pened to me per­son­al­ly, so those are the things I mainly write about. And there’s a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­ity that this ac­count of mine may not even be ac­cu­rate, in the sense of be­ing based on hard, ob­jec­tive facts.

At the very least I’m try­ing not to write any out­right lies, so please for­give me of any faults in my mem­o­ry, or if oth­ers hap­pen to re­mem­ber things differ­ent­ly. That’s just the na­ture of the beast.

I hope this book will serve as an aid to read­ers who want to learn the truth be­hind the ru­mors of how we got from DAICON to GAINAX, as well as in­for­ma­tion on things they might want to know about us. Of course, if you do fall into that cat­e­gory you must be even more of a geek than I am…

Takeda’s class

Table of Contents

  • Pref­ace

  • The Com­plete Notenki Chronol­ogy

  • Os­aka—The whole fu­ture was sci-fi

    • The end of my youth
    • My fate­ful uni­ver­sity ac­cep­tance
    • En­counter with the sci-fi club
    • Con­fed­er­a­tion of Kan­sai Stu­dent Sci-Fi Clubs
    • First con­tact with a sci-fi event
    • Kan­sai en­ter­tain­ers
    • Hold­ing the 4th an­nual Sci-Fi Show
    • My first event
    • The road to host­ing the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion
    • For­mal can­di­dacy
    • The DAICON 3 de­ci­sion
    • Meet­ing An­no, Ya­m­aga and Akai
    • The open­ing an­i­ma­tion
    • DAICON 3
    • After the party
    • Open­ing the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store
    • Ideon Fes­ti­val
    • The Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion re­vis­ited
    • Es­tab­lish­ing DAICON FILM
    • Kaiketsu Notenki
    • Aikoku Sen­tai Dainip­pon
    • Kaet­tekita Ul­tra­man
    • DAICON 4
    • The Os­aka Phil­har­monic
    • Ken Hayakawa, Pri­vate De­tec­tive
    • Too many sweat­shops
    • The day
    • After­ward
    • Chair­man of the Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee
    • Won­der Fes­ti­val
    • The found­ing of GAINAX
    • Ya­mata no Orochi no Gyakushu
    • Oritsu Uchugun Hon­neamise no Tsub­asa
    • Gen­eral Prod­ucts moves to Tokyo
  • Glos­sary of Terms2

  • Shout­ing! Run­ning! Laugh­ing! Cry­ing! Ya­suhiro Takeda and the First Big Bash of the 21ist Cen­tury

    • In­-depth cov­er­age on Ya­suhiro Takeda, Chair­man of the Plan­ning Com­mit­tee for the 40th An­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion—S­F2001 & Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee
  • Tokyo—And then, mov­ing to the cap­i­tal

    • GAINAX House
    • Tokyo life
    • Third Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion
    • Sec­ond pe­riod of lethargy
    • Dragon Quest
    • _Ko­matsu Sakyo Anime Gek­ijo
    • Gamemaker GAINAX
    • Fushigi no Umi no Na­dia
    • GAINAX, the anime pro­duc­tion com­pany
    • Olympia—the phan­tom project
    • What fol­lowed for Gen­eral Prod­ucts
    • PC game con­ven­tion
    • Mar­riage
    • The end of Gen­eral Prod­ucts
    • Okada leaves the com­pany
    • The new GAINAX
    • Aoki Uru
    • Re­set
    • GAINA Mat­suri
    • Evan­ge­lion Eve
    • Shin­seiki Evan­ge­lion
    • Tax eva­sion and the birth of my daugh­ter
    • Mov­ing ahead
  • Glos­sary of Terms (2)

  • Ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Hi­royuki Ya­m­a­ga, Takami Akai and Hideaki An­no—­Trial in Ab­sen­tia! Ya­suhiro Takeda—The Truth is in Here!

  • Glos­sary of Names

The Complete Notenki Chronology

[pg 11–16]

Every­thing you need to know about the his­tory of the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions, Gen­eral Prod­ucts and GAINAX

  • 1957 Sep­tem­ber: Born in

  • The first-ever Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion (Meg-Con) was held in May, 1962

  • The were held in Oc­to­ber, 1964

  • 1964 April: En­ter Tadaoka El­e­men­tary School

  • The first moon land­ing hap­pened in Ju­ly, 1969

  • The was held in 1970

  • 1970 April: En­ter Tadaoka Ju­nior High school

  • 1973 April: En­ter Seifu High School

  • (“Star Blaz­ers”) aired in Japan in 1974

  • 1976 April: En­ter ’s Nu­clear En­gi­neer­ing De­part­ment

  • Star Wars came out in 1977

  • 1977

  • 1978

    • April:
    • Au­gust:
      • Make con­ven­tion de­but at Ashino-Con (the 17th an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion)
      • Meet Takeshi Sawa­mura and Hi­roaki In­oue
      • In­tend to host a con­ven­tion, but give up be­cause of ex­ces­sive red tape
  • (“Mo­bile Suit Gun­dam”) aired in Japan in 1979

  • 1979 Au­gust: Hold 4th an­nual Sci-Fi Show in Miel­par­que Os­aka Hall

  • 1980

  • The of Kido Sen­shi Gun­dam came out in 1981

  • 1981

    • March:
      • (Hi­roe Suga de­buts in SF Hoseki mag­a­zine)
    • Spring:
      • (Toshio Okada drops out of Os­aka Elec­tro-Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Uni­ver­si­ty)
    • Au­gust:
      • Hold the 20th an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion (DAICON 3) in Mori­nomiya, Os­aka
    • Fall:
      • Start liv­ing with friends at ; my first pe­riod of lethargy
    • Oc­to­ber:
      • Drop out of Kinki Uni­ver­sity
      • Be­gin prepa­ra­tions for open­ing the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store
      • Sell videos of open­ing an­i­ma­tion to clear DAICON 3 debt
    • End of year:
      • Hideaki An­no, Takami Akai and Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga par­tic­i­pate in the pro­duc­tion of the first two episodes of
  • 1982

    • Start of year:
      • Be­gin prepa­ra­tions for host­ing our sec­ond sci-fi con­ven­tion
    • Feb­ru­ary:
      • Open the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store
    • Spring:
      • Form the plan­ning com­mit­tee; rent an office
    • May:
      • Help out with Ideon fes­ti­val
      • Be­gin work on DAICON FILM pro­duc­tions (Aikoku Sen­tai Dainip­pon, Kaet­tekita Ul­tra­man and )
      • Start writ­ing “Tame ni naru Gen­eral Prod­ucts Koza” col­umn for Ani­mec mag­a­zine (Rap­port)
      • Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga par­tic­i­pates in Macross pro­duc­tion in Tokyo
    • Ju­ly:
      • Ul­tra­man pro­duc­tion halted
    • Au­gust:
      • Kaiketsu Notenki and Aikoku Sen­tai Dainip­pon are com­pleted and shown at the 21st an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion (Tokon 8)
  • 1983

    • Jan­u­ary:
      • Hideaki Anno moves to Tokyo
    • March:
      • DAICON FILM com­pletes pro­duc­tion on Kaet­tekita Ul­tra­man
    • April:
      • Takeshi Sawa­mura joins Japan Tele­vi­sion Work­shop
      • Plan­ning for DAICON 4 be­gins in earnest
      • Be­gin pro­duc­tion on open­ing an­i­ma­tion for DAICON 4
      • and help with open­ing an­i­ma­tion
    • Au­gust:
      • Hold 22nd an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion (DAICON 4) at the Os­aka Ko­seinenkin Hall
    • Sep­tem­ber:
      • Gen­eral Prod­ucts store changes lo­ca­tion
    • Fall:
      • Be­gin project plan­ning for what will be­come
      • Na­tion­wide screen­ings of DAICON FILM pro­duc­tions held
      • Takeshi Sawa­mura quits Japan Tele­vi­sion Work­shop and starts work­ing for Gen­eral Prod­ucts
      • Hideaki Anno helps on pro­duc­tion of and the
  • 1984

    • Jan­u­ary:
      • Kaiketsu Notenki 2—Mi­natomachi Jun­jo-hen com­plete
    • April:
      • Open SID coffee bar in­side the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store
    • June:
      • DAICON FILM pro­duc­tion Hayauchi Ken no Dai­bo­ken com­plete
    • Ju­ly:
    • De­cem­ber:
      • Host pre-event at the Os­aka store
      • Gen­eral Prod­ucts cuts loose from Okada Em­broi­der­ing and in­cor­po­rates; GAINAX, Inc. is founded
      • A por­tion of the Gen­eral Prod­ucts staff breaks off
  • 1985

    • Jan­u­ary:
      • A de­sign stu­dio is set up at in Tokyo and pro­duc­tion be­gins on the Oritsu Uchugun pi­lot
      • shows up at the Orochi stu­dio
      • The first Won­der Fes­ti­val is held at the Tokyo Trade Cen­ter
    • May:
      • The new stu­dio is for­mally es­tab­lished at Takadanob­aba
      • Be­gin de­sign­ing Oritsu Uchugun
    • Au­gust:
      • Sec­ond Won­der Fes­ti­val is held; after­ward, it’s de­cided to hold a Won­der Fes­ti­val every sum­mer
      • Shinji Higuchi and Showji Mu­ra­hama join GAINAX
    • De­cem­ber:
      • Ya­mata no Orochi no Gyakushu is com­pleted and re­leased
  • 1986

    • Jan­u­ary:
      • The stu­dio is moved to Kichi­jo­ji-Hi­gashi in Tokyo, where pro­duc­tion be­gins on Oritsu Uchugun
    • Au­gust:
      • Ap­pointed chair­man of the Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee
  • 1987

    Group shot in 1987, un­known source —Ed­i­tor
    • March:
      • Oritsu Uchugun shows in For­eign Film Branch the­aters
      • Takeshi Sawa­mura leaves Gen­eral Prod­ucts
      • GAINAX stu­dio lo­ca­tion is moved to Kichi­jo­ji-Mi­nami
    • June:
      • Gen­eral Prod­ucts moves com­pany head­quar­ters to Tokyo and merges with GAINAX
      • Ju­nichi Os­ako is made pres­i­dent of the Os­aka store
    • Au­gust:
      • Es­tab­lish can­di­dacy for the fol­low­ing year’s con­ven­tion
    • Sep­tem­ber:
      • Pro­duce Mar­i­onette, a pro­mo­tional video for the mu­si­cian
    • Oc­to­ber:
      • Pro­duce Hy­per Ro­bot Compo, a com­mer­cial film for Vic­tor Tele­vi­sion
      • Hi­roki Sato joins Gen­eral Prod­ucts
      • The cor­po­rate office is moved back to Kichi­jo­ji-Hi­gashi
      • The Gen­eral Prod­ucts Tokyo store opens for busi­ness
      • Plan­ning be­gins on
  • 1988

    • Au­gust:
    • Oc­to­ber:
      • The first vol­ume of Top o Ner­ae! goes on sale
    • De­cem­ber:
  • 1989

    • Jan­u­ary:
      • Pro­duce To­moy­asu Hotei Gui­tarhythm an­i­ma­tion
    • March:
      • Pro­duce Fence of De­fence Data No. 6 pro­mo­tional video
    • Ju­ly:
      • Top o Ner­ae! com­plete
    • Au­gust:
      • PC game Denno Gakuen Sce­nario 1 goes on sale
      • Hi­roaki In­oue leaves GAINAX
    • Oc­to­ber:
      • Ko­matsu Sakyo Anime Gek­ijo be­gins air­ing on Mainichi Broad­cast
      • The pre­miere is­sue of Cy­ber Comics comes out
  • 1990

    • Jan­u­ary:
      • Takeshi Sawa­mura re­turns as the new pres­i­dent of GAINAX
    • April:
    • May:
      • Hold PC game con­ven­tion
    • Au­gust:
    • No­vem­ber:
      • Marry Hi­roe Suga
  • The Gulf War hap­pened in 1991

  • 1991

    • March:
      • Fushigi no Umi no Na­dia fin­ishes air­ing
    • May:
    • Ju­ly:
  • 1992

    • Jan­u­ary:
      • Gen­eral Prod­ucts hosts its last Won­der Fes­ti­val; rights to the con­ven­tion are trans­ferred to
    • Feb­ru­ary:
      • Gen­eral Prod­ucts closes up shop
    • March:
      • PC game Fushigi no Umi no Na­dia goes on sale
      • Plan­ning be­gins on
      • Toshio Okada leaves GAINAX
      • Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga is ap­pointed pres­i­dent of GAINAX
    • De­cem­ber:
      • GAINAX-NET on­line ser­vice opens up
  • 1993

    • June:
    • Ju­ly:
      • Pro­duc­tion on Aoki Uru stalls out
      • Many GAINAX em­ploy­ees leave
      • Plan­ning be­gins on
  • 1994

    • March:
      • Host GAiNA Mat­suri (GAINAX Fes­ti­val) at the Mi­nakami Hot Springs in Gun­ma, Japan
    • Ju­ly:
      • Move cor­po­rate office from Kichi­jo­ji-Hi­gashi to a lo­ca­tion close to , Tokyo
    • Sep­tem­ber:
      • Takami Akai breaks from GAINAX and es­tab­lishes the in­de­pen­dent AKAI game de­vel­op­ment house (later to be­come Nine Lives)
    • De­cem­ber:
  • The hap­pened in Jan­u­ary 1995

  • The cult with sarin gas in March 1995

  • 1995

    • Ju­ly:
      • GAINAX Fo­rum opens on on­line ser­vice
      • The sec­ond GAINA Mat­suri is held at in
      • Japan In­ter­net home­page goes up
    • Oc­to­ber:
      • Shin­seiki Evan­ge­lion be­gins air­ing on
  • 1997

  • 1998

    • Jan­u­ary:
    • May:
      • Un­dergo an au­dit from the Re­gional Tax­a­tion Bu­reau
    • Ju­ly:
      • First daugh­ter—Yuki­no—is born
    • Oc­to­ber:
  • 1999

    • Au­gust:
      • Ai no Awa Awa Hour be­gins air­ing on Di­recTV
  • 2000

  • 2001

    • Au­gust:
      • 40th an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion (S­F2001) is held at the Makuhari Messe in

Osaka—The whole future was sci-fi

The end of my youth

[pg 18–21]

When I was a kid, I don’t think I was quite the geek I am now.

As far back as I can re­mem­ber, tele­vi­sion was al­ways a part of home life. The same goes for comic mag­a­zines like and , which made their de­but in this world long be­fore I did. Since much of the anime and manga of my for­ma­tive years leaned to­ward sci-fi themes and set­tings, that genre be­came (and re­mains) my fa­vorite. I was drawn in by the strange and pow­er­ful lure of fu­tur­is­tic sto­ries—the fu­ture seemed so sub­lime, and filled me with long­ing. For a kid in those days, this kind of think­ing was par the course. But there were plenty of fun things to do be­sides watch­ing TV and read­ing comics, and I cer­tainly did­n’t spend my en­tire child­hood wrapped up in anime and man­ga.

In fact, there was re­ally only one differ­ence be­tween other kids of that era and my­self—I liked read­ing nov­els. I’ve al­ready for­got­ten what sparked that in­ter­est, but it was in the fourth grade or so when I be­came an avid read­er. While other kids were run­ning around the school­yard, I was run­ning back and forth to the li­brary. (I don’t think it was a time when you bought the books you liked—if you wanted to read one, you just went to the li­brary.) I was hooked on sci-fi and mys­tery. Of course, the sto­ries I read were adapted for grade­school­ers, and I sim­ply de­voured them. To name a few, there were ti­tles like and Sher­lock Holmes, and au­thors like 3 and 4—s­ci-fi nov­el­ists from the mid-’60s, whose works were con­sid­ered re­quired read­ing. That’s not to say I did­n’t read other works. I ex­plored al­most every aisle of the li­brary… with the re­sult that I be­came a li­brary as­sis­tant by the time I was in the fifth grade, sim­ply be­cause I could stay there for hours on end. All I ever wanted was just a lit­tle more time to read. Look­ing back on it now, my only re­gret is that I never sought out any­one to share in my lit­tle world.

My first en­counter with adult sci-fi books, the kind pub­lished by So­gen­sha or Hayakawa Shobo5, was dur­ing the sixth grade. My ini­tial at­tempt to fin­ish a ful­l-length novel was by read­ing , but to tell you the truth, I failed mis­er­ably. I only made it halfway through be­fore I got com­pletely lost and tossed it out. My rea­son­ing was quite sim­ple: How can you be in­ter­ested in a book you can’t even un­der­stand? And why con­tinue to read a book if you de­rive ab­solutely no en­joy­ment from it? As for the book it­self, sci-fi fans are likely to know that 6 is an en­tire se­ries of nov­els. When a kid in the sixth grade picks up a book in the mid­dle of the se­ries, it’s no won­der he can’t get through it.

But a lit­tle thing like that was­n’t enough to stop me from read­ing books. My next en­counter was with Van Vogt’s 7. The main char­ac­ter is a gen­eral sci­en­tist who is de­scribed as both calm and cal­cu­lat­ing, a leader of men whose path stays true to his goal. I thought he was just the coolest, and the book was so cap­ti­vat­ing that it shaped my idea of what a sci­en­tist is and should be8. It’s also what spurred my ever-deep­en­ing in­ter­est in sci-fi. To this day, I still pull The Voy­age of the Space Bea­gle off my shelf at least once every two or three years. It never gets old, no mat­ter how many times I read it.

Think­ing back, I seem to re­call that every time I tried tack­ling fic­tion, I’d tire of it al­most im­me­di­ate­ly. I just did­n’t read that par­tic­u­lar type of lit­er­a­ture. No, the only sto­ries that re­ally got me ex­cited were sci-fi, mys­ter­ies and ad­ven­tures. I did read plenty of school books, though, and I still won­der why so many of those chil­dren’s sto­ries were so drea­ry, al­most de­press­ing. Maybe it was the shadow of vi­o­lence that dark­ened our time. It was, after all, the mid­dle of the Viet­nam War. Per­haps for us Japan­ese, the specter of bat­tle still lin­gered in our mem­o­ries, vivid and re­al. At the very least, it was­n’t some far-off drama like you see on TV to­day. Come to think of it, I was born in 1957, a mere 12 years after the end of the war in the Pa­cific.

Around the time I was in sixth grade, Apollo 119 landed on the moon. What’s more, it was broad­cast live. I was blown away. All I could think was, Right now, right this sec­ond, hu­mans are stand­ing on the moon! I was glued to the tele­vi­sion, and praises for sci­ence flooded my mind. But what re­ally sealed my faith in that most es­sen­tial field of study was the Os­aka World Ex­po­si­tion in 197010.

I think peo­ple of my gen­er­a­tion will un­der­stand when I say that the Os­aka World Expo was a sym­bol of our fu­ture, a glimpse of what sci­ence would bring about. As an­tic­i­pat­ed, the U.S. build­ing had on dis­play, and of course I went to see them. I stood in line for two hours to look at some rocks. But they weren’t just any old rock­s—they had been brought back from the moon. They car­ried the promise of a bright and pow­er­ful fu­ture; they seemed to glow with the con­fi­dence of that to­mor­row.

After these early ex­pe­ri­ences, I be­gan to nur­ture a new be­lief some­where deep in­side me, a be­lief that the fu­ture was sci-fi, and sci-fi was sci­ence.

Again, I don’t think there was any­thing es­pe­cially un­usual about this feel­ing. Many chil­dren of that time—e­spe­cially boys—prob­a­bly felt ex­actly the same way.

My fateful university acceptance

[pg 21–23]

The de­cid­ing fac­tor in my cho­sen school path was my un­wa­ver­ing faith in sci­ence. Kinki Uni­ver­sity11 was the scene of my col­lege ca­reer, and once there, I chose to study nu­clear en­gi­neer­ing. The rea­son was sim­ple: The world was chang­ing, and the fu­ture would re­volve around elec­tric­i­ty. Be it com­put­ers or what have you, my vi­sion of the world to be was that elec­tric­ity would power every­thing. I was sure of it. And elec­tric­ity for the fu­ture meant nu­clear en­er­gy—or so my 18-year-old brain con­ceived.

At that point, I had­n’t done much re­search on the sub­ject, but after crack­ing the books I dis­cov­ered that nu­clear en­ergy was ab­surd. Har­ness­ing the power of the atom for en­ergy was sim­ply ask­ing too much of hu­man­i­ty. I started to think our fu­ture would be bet­ter served by in­sti­tut­ing an al­ter­nate source of elec­tri­cal pow­er.

It would be pretty hard to call Kinki Uni­ver­sity a first-rate school. My feel­ing at the time was that it was, at most, sec­ond-rate. for one thing, there were hordes of stu­dents in at­ten­dance, mak­ing the cam­pus a vir­tual wilder­ness of 4- and 5-s­tory dor­mi­to­ries. That’s the kind of school it was. At a time when Ni­hon Uni­ver­si­ty—the mother of all mam­moth uni­ver­si­ties in Japan—boasted an en­roll­ment of 70,000 or so, Kinki Uni­ver­sity had at least 50,000 stu­dents of its own. There was even a cer­tain ru­mor, told in hushed and se­ri­ous tones, that if all the stu­dents were to ac­tu­ally at­tend class, the school would run out of desks. No mat­ter how you sliced it, it was an enor­mous school, which is per­haps why in my fresh­man year I was­n’t able to lo­cate the only club that I re­ally wanted to join—the sci-fi club12.

Dur­ing the course of read­ing those sci-fi books through­out ju­nior high and high school, I stum­bled across a pub­li­ca­tion called SF Mag­a­zine13, which alerted me to the ex­is­tence of these “sci-fi clubs”. When I say “stum­bled across”, that’s no ex­ag­ger­a­tion. I lived in the coun­try, so it was only once in a blue moon that the lo­cal book­stores would even carry any­thing like SF Mag­a­zine. It goes with­out say­ing that you would­n’t find it in the school li­brary, ei­ther.

Any­way, I had a vague no­tion that once I got into col­lege, I would join the sci-fi club. Maybe it was be­cause I’d never had any close friends to share my love of sci-fi with. But I was­n’t able to make it hap­pen—the sci-fi club at Kinki Uni­ver­sity was­n’t an offi­cial school club14. Their ex­is­tence was­n’t even ac­knowl­edged by the uni­ver­si­ty, and as a re­sult they were shunned, with­out even a clu­b­room on cam­pus. Hardly sur­pris­ing, since they weren’t even as­so­ci­ated with the school. Their sta­tus be­ing what it was, I failed to no­tice the pow­ers they’d put up at the start of the school year, and—at the risk of stat­ing the ob­vi­ous—was con­se­quently un­able to join.

I wanted friends to dis­cuss sci-fi with, but it was­n’t to the point where if I could­n’t find any I’d think, I can’t take it! I want to die! or any­thing. So I left it at that and just stopped look­ing. I had other plea­sures in life be­sides read­ing. For ex­am­ple, in high school I played bass gui­tar in a neigh­bor­hood band. I was also pos­i­tively ad­dicted to ski­ing, and would hit the slopes the minute the sea­son opened. So my fresh­man year was­n’t ex­actly mis­er­able. I had fun out­side of my ob­ses­sion with all things sci-fi.

Encounter with the sci-fi club

[pg 23–26]

It was at the be­gin­ning of my sopho­more year that I started see­ing re­cruit­ment posters for school clubs, and more im­por­tant­ly, the sci-fi club. At least! I had fi­nally found a group of friends to dis­cuss sci-fi15 with.

I had as­sumed that I was ex­tremely well-read, but after join­ing the club, I was sur­prised to dis­cover that my up­per­class­men had read a lot more than me. The amount of read­ing they did was fright­en­ing. And once I be­gan talk­ing to them, I dis­cov­ered the in­cred­i­ble amount of in­for­ma­tion they ac­tu­ally knew. Dur­ing the course of a sin­gle con­ver­sa­tion they’d jump from one topic to an­oth­er, go back to where they’d start­ed, then take off in a differ­ent di­rec­tion al­to­geth­er. It was noth­ing more than idle chit-chat, but it was in­cred­i­bly en­ter­tain­ing and I could­n’t get enough of it. I was al­ways hang­ing around the sci-fi club. Of course we weren’t offi­cially rec­og­nized as a club by the school, so we did­n’t even have a room. We would hop from cafe to cafe, but in­evitably, we’d end up at the Sun­set Inn16, a coffee shop near the school’s en­trance. Just to give you an idea of how often we went there, even now, 20 years lat­er, the Sun­set Inn is still the de­fault meet­ing place for the sci-fi club. A while back, I met up with some of the old crew from the Sun­set Inn. When I learned that some­one’s daugh­ter—still in grade school dur­ing our col­lege years—was now out of col­lege, it re­ally drove home how much time had passed, And yes, of course I had to tell her, “Say, did­n’t you and I take a bath to­gether way back when?” Any­way, it seems that in those days every sci-fi club or group through­out Japan had an old fa­mil­iar meet­ing spot like ours. It just went with the ter­ri­to­ry.

Once my place in the sci-fi club was es­tab­lished, col­lege life was just plain fun. It had to be, with friends as crazy as mine!

Take, for ex­am­ple, Mizuno17. He’s a cop now, but he used to be one of my un­der­class­men. This guy read his fair share of sci-fi nov­els, but what he re­ally loved were movies, and he saw a ton of them. For some rea­son, he was ob­sessed with that zom­bie flick, , which was play­ing in the­aters at the time. It was all he’d ever talk about, so we gave him the rather ap­pro­pri­ate nick­name of “Zom­bie”.

An­other of my un­der­class­men was Miwa18. Be­sides sci-fi, he liked , or Japan­ese comic sto­ry­telling. The sec­ond you gave him a top­ic, he’d burst into some funny sto­ry. Miwa later spent some time as a di­rec­tor for Gen­eral Prod­ucts.

And then there was Ya­sushi Okamoto19. He was an up­per­class­man of mine (in fact, he was al­ready an alum­nus by then), and we al­ways called him “Mr. Ya­sushi” and stuff like that. He was al­ready fa­mous in fan cir­cles for em­cee­ing and speak­ing at . This may sur­prise you, but I’m no good at pub­lic speak­ing—my face used to al­ways turn beet red. Ya­sushi was a mas­ter, though, and it was he who taught me how to speak in front of crowds.

Aside from them, there was Ikeda20, an older guy in the same year as me who’d re­cently re­turned to Japan from Ar­genti­na, and an un­der­class­man named Toyama21, who works at GAINAX to­day. Since he first joined the sci-fi club more than twenty years ago, Toyama has had the nick­name of “Chest­nut head”, for no other rea­son than we all thought his face looked just like a steamed bun with chest­nut fill­ing.

All of the guys in our group were one step shy of cer­ti­fi­able. but from what I hear, our ec­cen­tric­i­ties mir­rored those of al­most every sci-fi, manga or mys­tery club at the time.

I think our in­volve­ment with the club was more about dis­cussing and ex­plor­ing sci-fi top­ics than ac­tu­ally par­tic­i­pat­ing in big­ger fan-type ac­tiv­i­ties that drive it. No, scratch that. The main thing was just hang­ing out with friends and hav­ing stu­pid con­ver­sa­tions. That’s re­ally all it was.

One of the mem­bers who joined at the same time as me was a guy named Goto22. He was one year older than me, and, boy, was he differ­ent. He was a mem­ber of the Sei­gun So­ci­ety23, a cre­ative group based in . He’d writ­ten his own nov­els, and was the first sci-fi fan I’d met who ac­tu­ally wanted to be a pro­fes­sional writer. Or rather, I should say he was the first per­son I’d met in my en­tire life who openly shared his vi­sion with other peo­ple. It was quite a shock. Goto knew a lot of peo­ple, and not just from the Sei­gun So­ci­ety. He had con­nec­tions to sci-fi fan­dom in places out­side of Os­aka, and he hob­nobbed with the so-called “BNFs” ()24, who were well-known in the sci-fi com­mu­ni­ty.

One day, Goto came to me with the idea of form­ing a com­mu­ni­ca­tion net­work be­tween the var­i­ous uni­ver­sity sci-fi clubs through­out Kan­sai (the re­gion around Os­aka, Kobe, Ky­oto and Nara). He asked me to help him set it up, and from that point on, my life changed dras­ti­cal­ly. I’d al­ways had a ten­dency to choose the sci-fi club over class­es, but that’s when I started go­ing to school less and less. I guess you could say that one mo­ment was the first step to­ward my fu­ture.

Confederation of Kansai Student Sci-Fi Clubs

[pg 26–29]

Back then, the world was in the mid­dle of a sci-fi craze. Al­most every uni­ver­sity in Japan had sci-fi clubs, rang­ing from very small to ex­tremely large.

I de­cided to help Go­to, for the sim­ple rea­son that I thought it sounded in­ter­est­ing. I ran around to uni­ver­sity sci-fi clubs far and wide, mak­ing con­tact, hav­ing meet­ings, call­ing for the es­tab­lish­ment of a com­mu­ni­ca­tions or­ga­ni­za­tion, and just help­ing out where I could. The Con­fed­er­a­tion of Kan­sai Stu­dent Sci-Fi Clubs25 (or “the Con­fed­er­a­tion” for short) we es­tab­lished would later be­come the ad­min­is­tra­tive body for the 4th an­nual Sci-Fi Show, the first sci-fi event we would host.

It was as if, even then, the of the 1960s re­tained a glim­mer of their for­mer im­pact—rem­nants of re­sis­tance, like dy­ing em­bers. I could feel some­thing of it as I trav­eled around in an at­tempt to drum up in­ter­est in the Con­fed­er­a­tion. In other words, they did­n’t seem to ap­pre­ci­ate peo­ple from other schools sud­denly show­ing up and telling them this and that. The im­pres­sion I got was that their clubs were their busi­ness—their do­min­ion. I sup­pose it was to be ex­pect­ed, but since I’d never been a part of any stu­dent move­ments, even in pass­ing, I was ini­tially rather lost as to my next move. They started throw­ing around Eng­lish words like “or­ga­nizer” and “pro­pa­ganda”, words I’d never even heard be­fore. But on the other hand, it did­n’t seem that the ones spout­ing those phrases had much of a clue what they were say­ing, ei­ther. It was­n’t long be­fore I stopped in­ter­act­ing with those types.

At first, there were four or five schools (in­clud­ing Kinki Uni­ver­si­ty) par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Con­fed­er­a­tion. I was thor­oughly en­grossed in it all, and work­ing so tire­lessly that I be­gan hear­ing calls for me to run the “Sec­re­tariat”26. And that’s how I ended up be­com­ing the first sec­re­tary-gen­er­al.

I don’t have any idea what Go­to’s in­ten­tions were, but at this stage the Con­fed­er­a­tion did­n’t have any as­pi­ra­tions of host­ing events or any­thing like that. It was re­ally just a con­tact com­mit­tee for the sci-fi clubs in each par­tic­i­pat­ing uni­ver­si­ty. We put out a newslet­ter a few times a year, and that was the ex­tent of it.

To be hon­est, I did­n’t re­ally care what we were do­ing it for. It did­n’t mat­ter. The most im­por­tant thing was that it was fun. And be­cause it was all I did, I started skip­ping school more and more. But I never missed a chance to go to the cafes with friends from the club.

A typ­i­cal day for me in­volved wak­ing up and head­ing down to the usual cafe, where I would sip coffee and read some sci-fi. Once my friends be­gan to ar­rive, we’d get all fired up by some kind of ridicu­lous con­ver­sa­tion. When the sun went down, we would move on to one of the lo­cal pubs and get even more fired up. That’s how it went every day, and it was fun. As for school, it’s no won­der that I had to re­peat my sopho­more year. In the midst of all this, I would be at­tend­ing my first sci-fi event. I for­get ex­actly how this came about, but Mi­wa, my un­der­class­man and fel­low club mem­ber, had been ac­tive as a sci-fi fan since high school, and he reg­u­larly at­tended con­ven­tions27. After ask­ing around, I found that a lot of peo­ple in the club and the Con­fed­er­a­tion were reg­u­lars at those cons, too.

To all those who know about sci-fi con­ven­tions, I apol­o­gize for the un­nec­es­sary ex­pla­na­tion. But for those who don’t know, they’re fan-spon­sored events held an­nu­al­ly. There is­n’t a fixed ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee or board. What­ever group or or­ga­ni­za­tion wants to host one can raise its hands and be counted among the can­di­dates, and the for­mat is differ­ent every year. For that rea­son, the lo­ca­tion for the con­ven­tion can be any­where within the coun­try, and the theme and pre­sen­ta­tion—even the date—change each time as well. At a met­ro­pol­i­tan-style con­ven­tion, in ar­eas like Tokyo or Os­aka, the meet­ing hall will be sep­a­rate from the lodg­ing. There’s no real need to re­serve lodg­ings for this kind of gath­er­ing. And then there’s the re­sort-style con­ven­tion, where you may not be able to se­cure an ad­e­quately sized hall, or it may be held in a rural area where re­served lodg­ing is an ab­solute ne­ces­si­ty. In those cas­es, an en­tire lodge is rented out for every­one, and the con­ven­tion is held right there. Those can be week­end events, and the late nights al­ways turn into mas­sive drink­ing par­ties. You need sta­mina for those cons. But that’s why many peo­ple say that these are the only true sci-fi con­ven­tions.

The 2001 event marked the 40th an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. Many of the peo­ple who hosted the ear­lier Con­ven­tions are now big-name au­thors in their own right. Peo­ple like Sakyo Ko­matsu28, 29 and Masahiro Noda30 are the great-grand­fa­thers of the Con­ven­tion. It has al­ways been hosted by am­a­teurs, but in the sci-fi world the dis­tinc­tion be­tween fan and au­thor is a rel­a­tively small one31, and many pro­fes­sional writ­ers par­tic­i­pate right along­side the fans. An event like that would be un­think­able in other gen­res.

I did have a vague no­tion of what these events were, but I’d never thought of ac­tu­ally par­tic­i­pat­ing in one, so it was some­what sur­pris­ing to learn that every­one else went to them. It was with the mind­set of Well, I’ll just go once and see what it’s like that I filled out an ap­pli­ca­tion to a lo­cal con32 in .

First contact with a sci-fi event

[pg 29–31]

Un­like the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions, lo­cal cons are put on by fan groups from a par­tic­u­lar re­gion. (“Con” is of course an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of “con­ven­tion”.) Also un­like the an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions, smal­l­-s­cale fan events are held at var­i­ous lo­cales through­out the coun­try at any time of year.

The lo­cal con I went to was a two-day event held in Ka­gawa dur­ing (late April to early May). It was called the Sci-Fi Fes­ti­val 78, or “Se­to-Con”. My mem­o­ries of the place it­self are a lit­tle hazy, but I’m pretty sure it was some kind of mu­nic­i­pal ho­tel close to . I think they rented the whole place out. There were lots of fans like us in at­ten­dance, but the re­cent­ly-de­buted Baku Yumemakura33 was also there for a panel dis­cus­sion. Even some of the more pop­u­lar BNFs showed up, pro­mot­ing their self­-pub­lished fanzines. And when I saw my friend Goto on stage mix­ing it up with the big boys, I was im­pressed all over again.

Peo­ple not in the know might won­der what the heck kind of sci-fi event this was, and in true fash­ion there were com­pe­ti­tions to see who could eat their the fastest, while in the main hall peo­ple were sit­ting around in cir­cles hav­ing lively dis­cus­sions.

When night came, they busted out the sake, and things re­ally started to heat up. On one side of the room you’d have a group of girls whoop­ing it up in geek-s­peak, while else­where an­other group would be hold­ing a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion on some sci-fi top­ic. There were even peo­ple who’d brought their used books and what­not to sell. All in all, it made for a pretty un­usual at­mos­phere… but I did­n’t mind one bit. In fact, I re­mem­ber think­ing, Yeah, I could get used to this.

It was at this event that I met some­one who would come to have a tremen­dous in­flu­ence on my life. His name was Toshio Okada3435, and we would later go on to host a Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion to­geth­er, and later co­found both Gen­eral Prod­ucts and GAINAX. I first heard of him from On­ishi, a friend of mine through my Con­fed­er­a­tion con­nec­tions. He was at­tend­ing Os­aka Elec­tro-Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Uni­ver­si­ty, and said that some­one ex­actly like me had just en­tered his school. On­ishi had shown up to this lo­cal con too, and that’s where he in­tro­duced me to Oka­da.

In those days, we did­n’t have the word “otaku” yet, but my first im­pres­sion of Okada was, Here’s a geek if I’ve ever seen one. With his girly long hair and his freak­ishly ex­cited way of speak­ing, all I could think was, This guy is ex­actly like me?

Well, I guess he was like me, in a way. But still, it was­n’t ex­actly thrilling to be com­pared to a guy like that. I did­n’t talk to him much that first time we met, so it was­n’t like we be­came fast friends or any­thing.

Any­way, I re­mem­ber think­ing to my­self that if a lo­cal con is this fun, just imag­ine how much fun a Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion would be! I had al­ready put in my ap­pli­ca­tion for the 17th an­nual Con­ven­tion (com­monly known as the Ashino-Con) to be held that sum­mer, and it was with bated breath that I awaited the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend,

Kansai entertainers

[pg 31–25]

And now, on to Ashino-con36.

The Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion sprouted from the idea of do­ing some­thing like the World Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion (aka World­con, which is held in the US) in Japan. The first one was held in . Con­ven­tions tend to have ab­bre­vi­ated nick­names, usu­ally “some­thing-Con” (this, too, was pat­terned after World­con). The 17th Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion was held at Lake Ashino, so its nick­name was “Ashino-Con”. In case you’re cu­ri­ous, the one held in Me­guro was called “Meg-Con”, and the one we would later host were nick­named “DAICON”. That was be­cause they were held in Os­aka, and the char­ac­ter used for the “o” in Os­aka can also be pro­nounced dai.

Brim­ming with ex­pec­ta­tion after the event in Ka­gawa, I headed for Lake Ashino by way of Tokyo. It was smack dab in the mid­dle of sum­mer break, and I had hatched an am­bi­tious plan for a sum­mer trip. I would go from my na­tive Os­aka to Shi­na­gawa in Tokyo, where along with some friends from the club I would at­tend the Space Sci­ence Ex­po­si­tion37, hosted by the Japan Ship­build­ing In­dus­try Foun­da­tion (now known as the Nip­pon Foun­da­tion). From there I would go on to Lake Ashino.

I guess I was no differ­ent from any other sci-fi fan out there. The Japan World Ex­po­si­tion in Os­aka had me hooked, and I could­n’t get enough space and rock­ets stuff. The Space Sci­ence Ex­po­si­tion promised dis­plays of a moon lan­der, a moon rover and a Sat­urn rocket brought over from the US, so I fig­ured see­ing all that would get us even more fired up for the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. That was the plan, but in ret­ro­spect, maybe it was­n’t such a bright idea after all.

Ashino-Con was a three­-day event, but un­like lo­cal cons, it was at­tended by a large num­ber of pro­fes­sional writ­ers and ed­i­tors. They may say there’s not much differ­ence be­tween a fan and a pro in the sci-fi world, but in Os­aka there just aren’t that many chances to rub el­bows with writ­ers. Tokyo was differ­ent though, and I just could­n’t wait to get to the Con­ven­tion, where I could hang around peo­ple I would­n’t nor­mally have the chance to in­ter­act with.

But as it turned out, it was­n’t so much fun. There was a party the first night, and I was able to have a con­ver­sa­tion with a writer. That was nice. But after that? My feel­ing at the time was, Ok, this is odd. It was­n’t sup­posed to be like this. It was as if the con­ven­tion had pro­vided the ves­sel, but it was up to us to de­cide what to put in it. I for one was un­sat­is­fied. I don’t know whether it was be­cause there was­n’t enough sci-fi to be had, or be­cause the hosts weren’t pay­ing enough at­ten­tion to us, but I was let down nonethe­less. I’d been look­ing for­ward to spend­ing three days thor­oughly im­mersed in sci-fi, but there was­n’t enough of an effort to cater the Con­ven­tion to first-timers. I felt like the only fun I had was just hang­ing out with my usual crowd—and we would in­vari­ably end up stick­ing to­geth­er. Which is why, on the after­noon of the sec­ond day, my bud­dies from the club and I went rid­ing on the . I mean, we’d come all this way to at­tend the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, and we ended up just wan­der­ing through the city. If sight­see­ing had been our rea­son for com­ing here, then I guess it was fun enough. Above all, I think it’s im­por­tant to share ex­pe­ri­ences with peo­ple—to eat from the same pot, as it were.

Still, while we were there, we de­cided we should­n’t waste the op­por­tu­nity to 38 (although in those days we did­n’t call it “cos­play”—we just called it dress­ing up in cos­tume). For one of the par­ties, we stole some toi­let pa­per from the bath­room and mum­mi­fied one of our bud­dies. The fi­nal touch was tak­ing the card­board roll in the mid­dle, cut­ting it in half, and tap­ing the halves over his eyes. Then we ran around say­ing he was a from Star Wars. But there was one snotty lit­tle kid who kept tear­ing off chunks from our friend’s cos­tume, say­ing, “You guys are weird.” We gave the lit­tle brat a good smack on the head for it, but then some­one stand­ing off to the side came rush­ing up and in­formed us we’d just whacked the child of none other than Ar­it­sune Toy­oda39. Oh well. I guess we’ve passed the statute of lim­i­ta­tions by now…

Fun aside, here I was, fresh from Se­to-Con and the Space Sci­ence Ex­po­si­tion, and I’d had a whale of a time at both events. Ashino-Con, on the other hand, just did­n’t have a thing go­ing for it. I feel bad for the hosts when I say this, but that’s re­ally how much of a let­down it was.

Maybe they’d say the prob­lem was that my ex­pec­ta­tions were too high, but it looked like we weren’t the only ones feel­ing a lit­tle bored. After din­ner one night, I got to­gether with Okada and some of the other guys from the sci-fi club. Since we did­n’t have any place to hang out, we plunked our­selves down in front of some vend­ing ma­chines and be­gan one of our point­less con­ver­sa­tions. Okada and I had met for the first time only a few weeks ear­lier, but we started go­ing off about things like, “What if Uchu Senkan Yam­ato (”Star Blaz­ers“)40 had been made in Chi­na?” We were just mak­ing things up as we went along, hav­ing a blast talk­ing and act­ing out sci-fi movies like Godzilla and Star Wars.

As we con­tin­ued to en­ter­tain our­selves, a small crowd started to gath­er. They lis­tened to our silly con­ver­sa­tion and re­ally started get­ting into it. That only en­cour­aged us, so we tried do­ing some­thing else. They got into that as well. It was the first time I re­al­ized how en­joy­able it was to per­form for an au­di­ence. Or maybe I was just caught up in the mo­ment. Ei­ther way, our lit­tle per­for­mance in front of the vend­ing ma­chi­nes, which had started at around 10:00 at night, ended up go­ing un­til sun­rise the next morn­ing—about eight hours, all told. By morn­ing we were al­most ready to drop from ex­haus­tion. Nei­ther of us even had the en­ergy to get up and eat break­fast.

Be­fore we knew it, there was talk of us be­ing put on stage prior to the clos­ing cer­e­monies. Ap­par­ent­ly, some­one on the con­ven­tion staff had seen our rou­tine, and thought it’d be even more fun if we per­formed in front of a big­ger crowd. They’d al­ready worked us into the sched­ule be­fore pre­sent­ing the idea to us. As it hap­pened, the staffer in ques­tion turned out to be Mr. Ko­maki, who would later go on to be ed­i­tor-in-chief of Ani­mec mag­a­zine. Okada heard the pro­pos­al, and said (in our na­tive ), “Hey, they gave us 30 min­utes! We could do this!” “For­get it”, I shot back. “I’m beat.” “What’re ya talk­in’ about‽ We’ve al­ready come this far—how could we not do it?” I was about to re­tort with “Whad­daya mean, come this far‽” but he was so in­sis­tent that I had to give in.

Of course, nei­ther of us had been on stage be­fore. But in a way, we had been re­hears­ing all night long, and we had the jokes and the tim­ing down pat. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but again, our au­di­ence ate it up. “Sci-fi standup” they called it, and from the looks of things, no one had done any­thing quite like it be­fore. We were dubbed the “Kan­sai En­ter­tain­ers”, and we would end up alight­ing a num­ber of differ­ent stages over the next sev­eral years. I guess we made quite an im­pact, be­cause all of a sud­den it seemed like every­one knew our names.

With Ashino-Con com­ing to a close in that fash­ion (a­mong other things), I could­n’t help feel­ing my fu­ture would be all about sci-fi. Or maybe it’s just that I learned how great it felt to be ac­cepted by an au­di­ence.

Holding the 4th annual Sci-Fi Show

[pg 36–38]

Our first stint as stage per­form­ers now over, those of us head­ing back to Os­aka stood at the bus stop, talk­ing smack about the con­ven­tion while we wait­ed.

“The end was fun…”

“Con­ven­tions have been kinda rot­ten late­ly.”

“We could prob­a­bly do it bet­ter our­selves.”

“Yeah, we could.”

“Why don’t we hold our own con­ven­tion?”

And so forth. As for me, I was so un­be­liev­ably tired I just sat there on the bench, my mind un­plugged. You would­n’t think it, but all that talk we were throw­ing around sparked some­thing in­side us—­some­thing that would lead to us host­ing our own Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion.

By the time we ar­rived in Os­aka, though, even I was all fired up to host a Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. The first thing we did was tell the guys in the Kinki Uni­ver­sity sci-fi club what we wanted to do… but the up­per­class­men were unan­i­mously against it. Ba­si­cal­ly, they did­n’t think we could just jump in and host such a ma­jor event. They thought we should start slow, do a few smaller con­ven­tions, and then once we’d got­ten the hang of things we could move on to the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. The thing is, we did­n’t want to hold small events—we wanted to do the Con­ven­tion. So we did­n’t dis­cuss it with them any­more. But be­cause of that, we later found our­selves run­ning into a real doozie of a prob­lem…

The next thing we did was take the topic up with the Con­fed­er­a­tion. We ran into a few bumps along the way, but in the end we all agreed to do it, and our Kinki Uni­ver­sity club would take the cen­tral role. The “few bumps” I men­tioned were, of course, dis­sent­ing opin­ions and calls for a more con­ser­v­a­tive ap­proach from var­i­ous mem­bers of the other sci-fi clubs. But this was no time to break ranks. We met with the dis­senters and naysay­ers and some­how con­vinced them to get on board. A guy named Musa41 from the club at Os­aka Pre­fec­ture Uni­ver­sity told me that I should write up a plan. I’d never writ­ten any­thing like that be­fore, but I gave it a shot. I put my school­ing to good use and drew up a re­port, like I would have done for an ex­per­i­ment. (I was a sci­ence stu­dent, after al­l.) And in those days there were no , so I wrote the whole thing by hand.

When I showed Musa my grand scheme for host­ing the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, he said he had no idea I could write some­thing like that. I re­mem­ber not know­ing ex­actly what that was sup­posed to mean, but more than any­thing I felt re­lief that I’d now be able to count on his help. So that’s how it went, and lit­tle by lit­tle the Con­fed­er­a­tion as a whole de­cided to go along with it.

We found a hall and posted an an­nounce­ment in Sci-Fi Mag­a­zine. That’s when the whop­per of a prob­lem reared its ugly head. We were con­tacted by an or­ga­ni­za­tion called the Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion42. Their full offi­cial ti­tle is the “Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee”. Founded in 1965 by Masahiro Noda and 43, the or­ga­ni­za­tion is sup­ported by the mem­ber­ship of sci-fi fan groups from all over Japan. I’d never even heard of it (though lat­er, I would go on to chair this com­mit­tee un­til 2001). Ap­par­ently there was a sys­tem in place whereby the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion could only be hosted by or­ga­ni­za­tions pre-ap­proved by the Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion, but I had no way of know­ing that.

Our biggest prob­lem was now with the up­per­class­men, who we’d snubbed dur­ing the plan­ning stages. We new­bies lacked the lat­eral ties to fans that they had, nor were we a part of their in­for­ma­tion net­works. Be­cause of this, we were soon in­formed by Mr. Kadokura44, then chair­man of the as­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee, that next year’s Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion was be­ing held in . We were stunned.

When we got the full sto­ry, it was clear that we were in the wrong. We ac­com­pa­nied Mr. Kadokura to Nagoya to speak with the host for the next year’s con­ven­tion, and im­me­di­ately with­drew with­out any fur­ther ar­gu­ment. The prob­lem was, we al­ready had the hall re­served, so we were at a loss for what to do next. But in good time, Space Force Club45 rep­re­sen­ta­tive Hi­roaki In­oue46 had a bril­liant idea. Ac­cord­ing to him, there was an event called the Sci-Fi Show47 that had orig­i­nally been spon­sored by Masahiro No­da. It had been held three times al­ready, so sci-fi fans were well aware of it.

“Why don’t you guys hold your con­ven­tion un­der that name in­stead?” he sug­gest­ed.

My first event

[pg 39–41]

I first met Mr. In­oue at a reg­u­lar meet­ing for the Os­aka chap­ter of the Space Force Club. I was­n’t in the club my­self, but I’d heard that a top rep­re­sen­ta­tive was com­ing from Tokyo to at­tend the meet­ing—and since Okada was a mem­ber, I tagged along in or­der to in­tro­duce my­self to In­oue. after that, I went all the way to Tokyo to meet with Noda and ob­tain his per­mis­sion to host the event. Once that was taken care of, I bor­rowed the big “4th An­nual Sci-Fi Show” sign and set about get­ting prepa­ra­tions un­der­way. As it turns out, In­oue would later join me as one of the found­ing mem­bers of Stu­dio GAINAX

There was some­one else I met through the Space Force Club, a fel­low by the name of Takeshi Sawa­mura48. He had quite an un­usual back­ground. His fa­ther had been a chore­o­g­ra­pher for bun­raku pup­pet the­ater, mean­ing he grew up sur­rounded by show busi­ness. He also told me he’d done some work as a child ac­tor. He had all these sto­ries, like how he’d landed a role in ’s 49, only to get so scared by the huge Daima­jin statue that he broke down sob­bing and could­n’t per­form… or how he’d been a can­di­date for a role in 50.

Ul­ti­mate­ly, though, he did­n’t want to be an ac­tor, so he did­n’t pur­sue it past child­hood.

Sawa­mura knew Okada through the Space Force Club, and Okada had told him some­thing about our Con­fed­er­a­tion. As soon as Sawa­mura heard about it, he went off and formed a sci-fi club at his own uni­ver­si­ty, and then pe­ti­tioned to join the Con­fed­er­a­tion! That was the kind of guy he was, a real go-get­ter. Meet­ing Sawa­mura added a lot of en­ergy to our later ac­tiv­i­ties. He was the most brazen of us all, al­most larger than life. As it was only our first event, the rest of us would sort of hang back and hes­i­tate to in­ter­act with some of the pro­fes­sion­als around the stage, but not Sawa­mu­ra. He’d walk right up to them and start name-drop­ping some of the peo­ple he knew through his fa­ther, and be­fore you knew it he was just chat­ting away.

After­ward, I said some­thing about how he sure knew a lot about show busi­ness, to which he replied, “I don’t know the first thing about it. All I did was throw out the names of some of my dad’s friends. That’s all it took.” Need­less to say, I was very im­pressed.

But get­ting back to the Sci-Fi Show, the Con­fed­er­a­tion was host­ing it and it was to be a stage-cen­tered event. The “Kan­sai En­ter­tain­ers” made an ap­pear­ance, but the rest of it was stuff like magic tricks, stand-up com­edy and sci-fi themed bal­let. Ba­si­cal­ly, any­thing we could think of. We packed that event as full as we could. Still grum­bling about how bor­ing Ashino-Con had been, we were de­ter­mined to make this one as fun as pos­si­ble for the at­ten­dees.

For the open­ing film51, we used the rocket liftoff scene from the Apollo 11 doc­u­men­tary film . Sci-fi writer Sakyo Ko­matsu was at the event, and I heard he was so sur­prised by our open­ing film that he won­dered aloud how in the hell we’d man­aged to ac­quire it. The sim­ple fact was, we’d bor­rowed the footage from the Japan Ship­build­ing In­dus­try Foun­da­tion. They’d hosted the Space Sci­ence Ex­po­si­tion we at­tended on our way to Ashino-Con, and we learned that the Foun­da­tion owned a num­ber of space-re­lated items (e­spe­cially those deal­ing with NASA) they would lend out at no charge. We’d sim­ply bor­rowed it like you would some­thing from a li­brary. It was in­ter­est­ing that our ex­pe­ri­ence at the Space Sci­ence Ex­po­si­tion would even­tu­ally affect our Sci-Fi Show, though…

The Sei­gun So­ci­ety helped with prepa­ra­tions for the show, which is how I ended up meet­ing Hi­roe Suga52, the woman who would later be­come my wife. I say “woman”, but then, she was just a 14-year-old kid, still in the ninth grade. We met and that was the end of it. But it was still a real eye­-opener to meet some­one like her. My friends and I had­n’t got­ten into sci-fi fan­dom un­til col­lege, but here she was, still in ju­nior high but nev­er­the­less quite in­volved in fan ac­tiv­i­ties. It was sur­pris­ing to meet some­one so young cre­at­ing her own orig­i­nal sto­ries, hop­ing to one day make it as a pro­fes­sional writer. I know I’m prob­a­bly be­la­bor­ing the ob­vi­ous here, but when we met I did­n’t have the fog­gi­est no­tion that we would later end up to­geth­er.

As for the Sci-Fi Show, we were able to get to par­tic­i­pate—in the cos­tume por­tion, no less. We would go on to col­lab­o­rate with them on Macross (dis­cussed lat­er), and they would even help out with the open­ing of the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store. In many ways, they’ve been a great “big brother” stu­dio for us, right up to the pre­sent. I have an es­pe­cially close re­la­tion­ship with 53, and both my wife and I owe him a great deal. Of course, I had no idea at the time how close we would later be­come.

When all was said and done, I was quite pleased with how the Sci-Fi show turned out. We got a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back from the at­ten­dees as well. But we still had­n’t hosted the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion… which is why in 1979, we set our sights on DAICON 3.

The road to hosting the Japan Sci-Fi Convention

[pg 42–43]

Do­ing the Sci-Fi Show gave us both the con­fi­dence and the con­nec­tions we needed for the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. We even man­aged to gain a lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence—one of our up­per­class­men’s many sug­ges­tions for such an un­der­tak­ing. The show had been the per­fect dress re­hearsal for the Con­ven­tion.

Truth be told, though, while we were con­fi­dent we could make the Con­ven­tion a suc­cess, when it came time to ac­tu­ally host the event, we quickly learned that we did­n’t know much.

First off, we did­n’t have the purest of mo­ti­va­tions for host­ing the event. We did­n’t like Tokyo fans, did­n’t like the Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion, and we sure as hell weren’t go­ing to stand for de­feat at the hands of a bunch of Toky­oites. These die-hard fans all seemed to brag about the ad­van­tages of liv­ing in Tokyo, like how close they were to writ­ers, pub­lish­ers and other in­dus­try types. But what re­ally got our goats was how no mat­ter what we said, they’d turn it around and start lec­tur­ing us. We just could­n’t stand their “Sure I know that—I know every­thing!” at­ti­tudes. It seemed like al­most every Tokyo fan we bumped into thought he was bet­ter than every­one else, and would­n’t stop run­ning his mouth un­til he’d made him­self the king of the mole­hill.

In ret­ro­spect, I think maybe the fans them­selves—us in­clud­ed—were just child­ish. That prob­a­bly ex­plains why ever sin­gle “de­bate” among sci-fi fans would quickly de­gen­er­ate into a shout­ing match, like kids fight­ing over a toy.

An­other part of it was that we felt ex­cluded as new­com­ers, even among the other Kan­sai fans. It was­n’t like we were run­ning around bit­ing every­one’s heads off or any­thing, but from an out­side per­spec­tive we prob­a­bly seemed like trou­ble­mak­ers. We cer­tainly did­n’t mean any harm, but look­ing back, I have to say we did have a lit­tle chip on our shoul­ders.

But I di­gress.

We did the Sci-Fi Show with the in­tent of eclips­ing the Con­ven­tion. Even then, there was the wide­spread idea that sci-fi was big enough to ac­com­mo­date any­thing, which is why we ac­tively pro­moted anime and tokusatsu spe­cial-effects films that weren’t con­sid­ered “true sci-fi”54 by the old-timers. Most of the staff was a mix­ture of sci-fi and anime fans any­way, which I’m sure had an im­pact on our plan­ning. We were mov­ing fur­ther and fur­ther away from the ap­proach of our up­per­class­men… but on the other hand, it brought fa­vor­able at­ten­tion from the pros. I guess they no­ticed the amount of en­ergy we car­ried with us, even if our ideas were all over the place.

Sakyo Ko­matsu had ap­par­ently taken a lik­ing to us, and de­cided to throw us some work. He called and asked if we’d help out back­stage with Os­aka Phil­har­monic Fes­ti­val55, a pub­lic sym­phony con­cert held at the Os­aka Fes­ti­val Hall. We were ba­si­cally act­ing as gofers, run­ning around back­stage. We weren’t even close to play­ing any kind of ad­min­is­tra­tive role, but we still got to see what it felt like to be back­stage at a ma­jor event, and I think the ex­pe­ri­ence was well worth it. We even got to see con­duc­tor in per­son. But the most pow­er­ful re­al­iza­tion of all was that some­one like Sakyo Ko­matsu had fi­nally no­ticed us.

Formal candidacy

[pg 44–45]

Hav­ing re­solved to host DAICON 356, we quickly an­nounced our can­di­dacy57 at the next con­ven­tion. It goes with­out say­ing that this time we fol­lowed all the offi­cial pro­ce­dures and cur­ried all the right fa­vors. DAICON 3 would be held in 1981, so we planned ac­cord­ing­ly.

The staff for the Sci-Fi Show had been com­posed mainly of Con­fed­er­a­tion mem­bers, but as with any con­ven­tion, the in­evitable al­ways hap­pens. Ei­ther the vol­un­teers en­joy them­selves and de­cide to stick around, or they want noth­ing more to do with con­ven­tions and leave for good. It’s been the same in all my 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence, an end­less cy­cle of group­ing and re­group­ing.

As we Sci-Fi Show holdovers and other Con­fed­er­a­tion mem­bers were mak­ing the rounds of uni­ver­sity clubs in search of vol­un­teers, we ran into a few crotch­ety guys who told us to knock off all the “pro­pa­ganda”. We were only ask­ing if they wanted to do an event with us! At the time, I did­n’t even know what “pro­pa­ganda” meant, but I do re­mem­ber think­ing that those guys were id­iots, not to men­tion rude.

Other peo­ple would say things like, “It’s not that I don’t want to do an event. I would­n’t mind help­ing out. It’s just, I’d rather do this sci-fan thing the right way, and not rush into things.” Our way of do­ing things must have seemed a lit­tle ex­treme from their stand­point.

I seem to re­call quite a few peo­ple leav­ing the group after the Sci-Fi Show was over. After all, we’d as­sem­bled that staff from the same crowd we were talk­ing to here. But on the other hand, some of the guys who helped out have re­mained with us for 20 years now. As they say, to each his own. The most im­por­tant thing was al­ways the suc­cess of the event. It did­n’t re­ally mat­ter whose feel­ings got hurt along the way—re­solv­ing fric­tion within the group just was­n’t one of our pri­or­i­ties.

Be­tween Okada’s bizarre state­ments and Sawa­mu­ra’s over­bear­ing pushi­ness, we had our share of dis­cord and in­ter­nal strife. And of course you had peo­ple call­ing out things like, “What’s more im­por­tan­t—school, with your so-called tests and re­ports, or do­ing the Con­ven­tion‽” We were that gung-ho.

At first, we mainly wanted to use Con­fed­er­a­tion mem­bers to staff DAICON 3, but one thing or an­other con­spired against us, and even­tu­ally we had to branch out and find vol­un­teers from var­i­ous clubs in the area. By the time we were fin­ished, the DAICON 3 ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee felt more like a band of mer­ce­nar­ies.

The year be­fore DAICON 3, we all trav­eled to the U.S. to check out World­con58 in Boston. We wanted to see with our own eyes the event that had started it all, and bring back as much of that at­mos­phere as we could. We also seized the op­por­tu­nity to visit Dis­ney­land59 (Tokyo Dis­ney­land had­n’t even opened yet). We thought go­ing to a theme park would give us ideas for plan­ning our own en­ter­tain­ment seg­ment for DAICON 3. We wanted our con­ven­tion to be en­joy­able for every­one.

In­ci­den­tal­ly, all this fun meant I would end up re­peat­ing my sopho­more year for the sec­ond time, but I could­n’t have cared less.

The DAICON 3 decision

[pg 46–47]

At Tokon 760 the fol­low­ing year, we an­nounced our can­di­dacy for spon­sor­ship of the fol­low­ing Con­ven­tion, and were for­mally rec­og­nized. We were filled in on a num­ber of things by Mr. Kadokura of the Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion, whom we had met dur­ing all the hub­bub of the pre­vi­ous year. In­oue of the Space Force Club also gave us a num­ber of tips. With their help, we spent some time wheel­ing and deal­ing and gen­er­at­ing a buzz for DAICON 3.

We even made some pro­mo­tional items. At first, we threw around the idea of em­blem patches and what­not, but after due con­sid­er­a­tion of our bud­get, we opted for some­thing that would give us more bang for our buck. We dis­trib­uted packs of cig­a­rettes (, a pop­u­lar Japan­ese brand) with a pic­ture of a on the pack­age.

The il­lus­tra­tion was done by Ki­tayama61, a guy from the Kinki Uni­ver­sity sci-fi club who dreamed of be­com­ing a manga artist. He drew an amaz­ing im­age of a Pow­ered Suit with a big cig­a­rette for a bazooka and a lighter for his fin­ger. We also sold these cig­a­rette packs at DAICON 3 as offi­cial goods for the event.

This time around we played by the rules, and we glided into spon­sor­ship of the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion with­out a hitch. Even the nick­name for that year was a no-brain­er—it was the third Con­ven­tion to be held in Os­aka, so the ob­vi­ous choice was “DAICON 3” (a­gain, be­cause the “o” in “Os­aka” can also be pro­nounced dai).

Once our spon­sor­ship of the Con­ven­tion had been fi­nal­ized, our next step was to make Sakyo Ko­matsu hon­orary chair­man to the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. We thought that since it was be­ing held in Os­aka, who bet­ter to ask than one of the biggest lo­cal lit­er­ary fig­ures around? But he turned us down cold.

“Nah, I ain’t gonna do it. But tell you what, I’ll in­tro­duce you to Musashi Kanbe62. Get him to do it.” Those were Ko­mat­su’s ex­act words.

We asked Kan­be, and he ac­cept­ed… but I still nur­tured the dream of hav­ing Sakyo Ko­matsu as our hon­orary chair­man. It would end up be­ing an­other 20 years be­fore he gra­ciously ac­cepted for the 40th Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, which was hosted at the Makuhari Messe.

Ac­tu­al­ly, after DAICON 3 was over, some­one brought up the idea of us do­ing an­other con­ven­tion. We jok­ingly re­spond­ed, “Yeah, sure. How about in, say, an­other 20 years?” Well, the 40th Con­ven­tion was­n’t in Os­aka, as DAICON 3 had been, but imag­ine my sur­prise when I later found out we would in­deed be host­ing the event again in 2001!

Meeting Anno, Yamaga and Akai

[pg 47–50]

Hav­ing se­cured the po­si­tion to host the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, we be­gan prepa­ra­tions for the even­t—and were faced with the de­ci­sion of the open­ing film.

For the Sci-Fi Show we’d screened bor­rowed footage, but for DAICON 3 we wanted (if at all pos­si­ble) to make our own orig­i­nal film. At that point, Okada spoke up.

“I met this guy named Na­gayama63 at the 64 screen­ing, and he says he knows some­one who can make ani­me.”

Na­gayama turned out to be a man of many tal­ents. He would later go on to the work for Gen­eral Prod­ucts writ­ing tech­ni­cal man­u­als for our do-it-y­our­self garage kits, and he even played a ma­jor sup­port­ing role in Ya­mata no Orochi no Gyakushu (“Orochi: The Eight-Headed Dragon”), a live-ac­tion DAICON film. Trag­i­cal­ly, he died in a car ac­ci­dent the year of the Kobe Earth­quake (1995), but if he were alive to­day I’m sure we’d still be great pals.

Na­gayama in­tro­duced me and Sawa­mura (I’m pretty sure he came along, too) to Anno65 and Ya­m­aga66 at a place called So­laris67, a sci-fi themed cafe in Ky­oto. They had both just en­rolled in the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts68.

I had very lit­tle in­ter­est in anime back then, so I was­n’t ex­pect­ing any­thing spec­tac­u­lar. When I was in­tro­duced to An­no, I said some­thing like, “They say you can make ani­me. What kind of stuff can you do?” At this, he whipped out a pad of ac­count­ing pa­per and started draw­ing. After a bit, he held the pad up and flipped the pages rapid­ly. A Pow­ered Suit69 ran across the pa­per.

I was stunned. I re­mem­ber think­ing, This guy’s in­cred­i­ble! It’s hard enough draw­ing a sin­gle Pow­ered Suit with all the lines and com­plex shapes, but here he was an­i­mat­ing one right in front of us. I’d seen a comic be­fore, but this was the first time I’d watched some­one ac­tu­ally make one. And for some­thing he had just drawn up on the spot, it was re­al­ly, re­ally good.

That set­tled it—we were do­ing an anime for the open­ing film. And while Sawa­mura and I were get­ting all fired up and ex­cit­ed, Ya­m­a­ga, who was sit­ting next to us, leaned back too far in his chair and crashed to the floor. The ta­ble was in chaos.

“What hap­pened‽” we cried, scram­bling to help him back up. “Are you al­right?”

His re­spon­se: “I had the hic­cups, so I was hold­ing my breath to get rid of them. I guess I for­got to breathe again.”

A man who can make Pow­ered Suits moves, and an­other who col­lapses be­cause he for­got to breathe. What a pair! It was a meet­ing I’ll never for­get.

Blue Blazes episode 07: Takeda meets Ya­m­aga & Anno to dis­cuss cre­at­ing the DAICON III anime

I ac­tu­ally have an­other funny story about Ya­m­a­ga. When he was in ju­nior high, he took an I.Q. test. After he had fin­ished, the teacher an­grily called him aside.

“Now lis­ten there”, said the teacher. “I’ve had enough of your fool­ing around! There’s no way you could have made it this far with a score like this!” Ap­par­ent­ly, the test re­sults showed Ya­m­a­ga’s I.Q. to be 40. Some­one with a score of 100 is con­sid­ered to have nor­mal in­tel­li­gence, so a 40 is un­godly low.

Al­most no one in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion would ever get a score like that. But Ya­m­aga had­n’t been fool­ing around—he’d got­ten that score be­cause he’d thought so hard about every sin­gle an­swer that he ran out of time. Ac­cord­ing to the sto­ry, they even called his par­ents, wor­ry­ing them to no end in the process. Once we heard about this, we all started call­ing him “40”.

I met Akai70 some time lat­er. Ya­m­aga brought him in to help with the ani­me, but ap­par­ently Akai had been less than thrilled at the prospect of work­ing with a bunch of weirdos. I later found out that he had only agreed to come be­cause we might ac­tu­ally pay him for his work, and that was a heck of a lot bet­ter than sit­ting around study­ing. Ya­m­aga and Anno seemed to be in com­plete agree­ment with him on that. Since their fresh­man year, they had been tak­ing on jobs mak­ing video footage for var­i­ous pro­jects. Of course, these were non-pay­ing job­s—all they got were their pro­duc­tion ex­pens­es.

Blue Blazes ep 07: Takeda de­cides to take An­no/Akai/Ya­m­aga to meet Toshio Okada
Blue Blazes ep 08: An­no/Akai/Ya­m­aga en­ter Toshio Okada’s mod­ernist house; en­ter­ing the bizarre house, they are met by creepy taxi­der­mied deer & bears.
Blue Blazes ep 08: An­no/Akai/Ya­m­aga meet Toshio Okada: the short & portly Okada emerges from an el­e­va­tor to greet them, ex­hibit­ing creepy & nar­cis­sis­tic man­ner­isms; pass­ing their fall­out shel­ter, he meets with them in his room/S­F-li­brary, where he ex­plains his idea: an au­da­cious SF an­i­mated film freely pi­rat­ing any char­ac­ters or de­signs they want (Okada ex­plains his fam­ily made its for­tune by bla­tantly pi­rat­ing brand-name cloth­ing like La­coste polo shirt­s). Akai is awed by Okada, ex­claim­ing, “This guy… He’s got dead eyes, but every­thing he says is so full of life—!”, while Anno be­lieves they have en­tered the lair of the evil or­ga­ni­za­tion Shocker from Ka­men Rider.

Whereas I had lost any fu­ture “vi­sion” I had the mo­ment I joined the sci-fi club (and in­stead ended up go­ing wher­ever the wind might carry me), An­no, Ya­m­a­ga, and Akai had a clear idea of what they wanted to do.

They knew they had tal­ent, and that they were go­ing to take the world by storm. Over the 20-plus years that we’ve been friends, they’ve done noth­ing but prove that tal­ent to me over and over again.

The opening animation

[pg 50–54]

Anno said he could make ani­me, but he had never at­tempted a cel anime71 be­fore. That was­n’t a ma­jor prob­lem, be­cause we had all kinds of peo­ple on our staff will­ing to offer up ran­dom in­for­ma­tion. Ap­par­ent­ly, there was a shop called Ani­me­po­lis Pero72 that sold anime cels for in­sane amounts. Each sec­ond of anime footage burns through sev­eral cels, so if you have to buy each in­di­vid­u­al­ly—and at a high re­tail markup—y­our bud­get is blown be­fore you can even be­gin.

Blue Blazes ep 03: Honoo vis­its an art store with an­i­ma­tion sup­plies in Umeda (Anime­po­lis Per­o?) to watch a TV loop of anime open­ings; Anno et al join him and Anno demon­strates his sakuga knowl­edge.

But we had a plan. We bought a sin­gle cel at Ani­me­po­lis Pero and took it to the vinyl yards in East Os­aka73.

“’S­cuse me, you have any­thing like this?” we asked the guy work­ing there.

“Sure do!” he replied, bring­ing out a roll of sheet vinyl. he said he’d sell it to us for ¥2000 a roll (about US $9 in 1981 dol­lars).

Now we’re talk­in’! we thought. We bought one, took it home, and cut it up. Then we tried paint­ing on it… and it was noth­ing like a cel. You could get the color on there al­right, but as soon as it dried it would peel off. And if you stacked the cut pieces while the paint was still wet, they’d stick to­geth­er.

But then again, it was­n’t like we had any other op­tions. So we kept right on work­ing with the vinyl sheets. It was bad enough that this was our first-ever cel ani­me, but us­ing the wrong ma­te­ri­als for the job only dou­bled the headaches.

Our pro­duc­tion site was an empty room in the fac­to­ry/­house where Okada’s fam­ily lived and ran their busi­ness, Okada Em­broi­der­ing74. For an­i­ma­tion pa­per we used B5 (176 × 250 mm) sized ac­count­ing pa­per, we made our own tap75 by hand, and punched the holes for the tap into the cut vinyl sheets with a two-hole punch—the kind that office work­ers us.

Blue Blazes ep 08: hav­ing agreed to do the film, Okada in­tro­duces them to their staff of hun­dreds of work­ers housed in the Okada house; Akai pan­ics again, and Ya­m­aga runs after him, while Anno or­ga­nizes a screen­ing of Space Run­away Ideon to en­sure that the work­ers have their “fun­da­men­tals down”
Blue Blazes ep 10: DAICON III film pro­duc­tion goes on; the women com­plain to Okada that Anno has not bathed in weeks (Anno ar­gues that no one ever died of not tak­ing a shower and bathing is, strictly speak­ing, un­nec­es­sary), and that while he does not smell ter­ri­ble (due to be­ing a veg­e­tar­i­an), the knowl­edge of this still re­pulses them. Ya­m­aga makes Anno & Akai go to a bath­house. Anno & Akai reen­act the King Joe–Ul­tra­man sea fight from Ul­tra Seven 14–15, “West­ward, Ul­tra Gar­rison!”

An­no, Akai, and Ya­m­aga were work­ing ful­l-time on the open­ing an­i­ma­tion. There were al­ways oth­ers around as well, though, and things could get pretty cramped. What’s more, we did­n’t di­vide our pro­duc­tion process into the ap­pro­pri­ate stages (un­like how we do now, as pros). Okada would dis­cuss things with An­no, Akai, and Ya­m­a­ga, and be­tween the four of them they’d lay down the gen­eral out­line. Then Anno and Akai would get to work on draw­ing the frames and Ya­m­aga would be in charge of di­rec­tion and art. I don’t know what kind of “di­rec­tion” was go­ing on ex­act­ly, but I strongly sus­pect it was differ­ent from what we would call di­rect­ing to­day. This was a home­made ani­me, after all. If I had to say who did what, I guess Okada was the , Ya­m­aga the di­rec­tor, Akai the char­ac­ter an­i­ma­tor, and Anno the mecha an­i­ma­tor. The rest of it was just grab­bing who­ever hap­pened to be there and forc­ing them to trace cels, slap on paint, or do what­ever the sit­u­a­tion called for. For the film­ing, we set up a tri­pod on a plat­form, fixed the cam­era in place and started shoot­ing frame by frame. And we did­n’t have a tim­ing sheet76, so Anno would just stand off to one side go­ing, “OK, frame one… OK, frame two…”

By April of 1981 we’d be­gun pro­duc­tion on the line art, and by June or so we were paint­ing the cels. As it turned out, we were work­ing on that anime right up un­til the morn­ing of the con­ven­tion.

Okada was by far the biggest trou­ble­maker on the set. One day, he was hav­ing it out with the rest of the anime staff, ar­gu­ing about a scene in the cli­max. A sig­nal fire is com­ing from a Pow­ered Suit, and the smoke from the fire is sup­posed to turn into the Ide Gauge77. But Okada did­n’t like it.

“The Ide Gauge is just weak!” he ex­claimed. “It’s got no im­pact, We should defi­nitely have it form, like, a styl­ized ver­sion of a girl’s pussy!78 Now that would be im­pact! We need to do some­thing that’s never been done be­fore—other­wise, there’s no point in do­ing this at all!”

He started go­ing off about this and just would­n’t back down. The rest of the staff turned to Kazumi79 (this was be­fore she mar­ried Okada, so she was still Kazumi Amano80 at the time) and begged her to say some­thing to make him stop. Even then, she was fa­mous for her abil­ity to con­trol him.

“Well, if you re­ally wanna do some­thing no one’s ever done be­fore”, she be­gan, “why don’t you have a shit-eat­ing con­test in­stead? You want im­pact? That’s im­pact.”

Okada did­n’t say an­other word, and the “pussy pro­posal” was thank­fully laid to rest. That, how­ev­er, would­n’t be the last time Okada chimed in with some in­sane sug­ges­tion. After that, every one of his wild ideas was an­swered with the chant, “Shit-eat­ing con­test… Shit-eat­ing con­test…”

Blue Blazes ep 10: Okada meets with Takeda, Anno et al to dis­cuss a change to the film. To have greater im­pact and en­sure no one can re­peat the DAICON III in­tro ani­me, in­stead of an Ideon icon be­ing used in one scene, they will use a styl­ized draw­ing of a vagi­na. They are hor­ri­fied by the pro­posal but un­able to deny that the change would en­sure no one would ever re­peat it; for­tu­nate­ly, Amano Kazuki (Okada’s fu­ture wife) in­trudes and de­feats the pro­posal with her com­mon sense.

We packed a large num­ber of stu­dent staffers into our lit­tle anime sweat­shop and set them to col­or­ing cels, but it’s still safe to say that the ones who ac­tu­ally made the anime were An­no, Ya­m­aga and Akai. With every­one be­ing am­a­teurs and all, it’s no sur­prise that the process was so painfully slow. Like I said, it lit­er­ally was­n’t fin­ished un­til the last pos­si­ble mo­ment.

We fi­nally pre­sented the fruits of our la­bor at the open­ing cer­e­mony, and it was ex­tremely well-re­ceived. We were hap­py. We had them hooked.

Blue Blazes ep 10: The open­ing of DAICON III and the screen­ing of the ani­me; the sound goes out but the au­di­ence is still amazed.
[The full DAICON III open­ing an­i­ma­tion (1981)]

Os­amu Tezuka81 could­n’t make it in time for the open­ing, but he joined every­one for the night­time party at the ho­tel. Dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tions, he heard some dis­cus­sion about the open­ing anime and said he wanted to see it. So they scram­bled around for the footage and showed it again, right there on the spot. After­ward, An­no, Ya­m­aga and Akai in­tro­duced them­selves to Mr. Tezuka, and Ya­m­a­ga’s self­-in­tro­duc­tion was hi­lar­i­ous. Sit­ting ner­vously in front of this leg­endary man, he said, “My name is Ya­m­a­ga. That’s spelled yama plus the ga in (or”New Year’s greet­ings“).” He then pro­ceeded to draw the sym­bol for yama in the air, in­dex fin­gers of both hands work­ing in tan­dem. (In case you don’t know Japan­ese, yama means “moun­tain”, and it is so sim­ple to write that chil­dren learn it in the first grade.) Ya­m­aga still in­tro­duces him­self like that.

I was­n’t there my­self, but I heard that after Akai and Ya­m­aga showed Mr. Tezuka the film, he com­ment­ed, “Well, there cer­tainly were a lot of char­ac­ters in the film. A lot of char­ac­ters… How­ev­er, there were also some that weren’t in the film.” At first they could­n’t fig­ure out what he was get­ting at, but then it sud­denly hit them—they had­n’t used a sin­gle one of Tezuka’s char­ac­ters in their film!

Blue Blazes ep 11: While Os­amu Tezuka had been in the orig­i­nal DAICON III au­di­ence, he had made his dis­plea­sure known after­wards (cameo role of Tezuka played by Toshio Okada) be­cause none of his char­ac­ters ap­peared in it.

For DAICON 4, not only did Mr. Tezuka make a spe­cial point of show­ing up in time to see the open­ing an­i­ma­tion, he was also kind enough to help us with the con­ven­tion plan­ning. So you bet­ter be­lieve we used some Tezuka char­ac­ters that time!

Our lit­tle open­ing anime for DAICON 3 gen­er­ated a lot of buzz. A mag­a­zine called Ani­mec82 fea­tured it in an ar­ti­cle of theirs, and those who’d seen it were dis­cussing it with their friends. Pretty soon we started get­ting re­quests from in­ter­ested peo­ple, ask­ing us to make it avail­able to the pub­lic.

This was a good thing, be­cause host­ing the con­ven­tion had plunged us into the red83. We de­cided to form a deficit re­lief com­mit­tee by sell­ing videos and 8mm reels of the film. For a group of am­a­teurs, I have to say we were bend­ing over back­ward to cater to the fans. We in­cluded stick­ers with al­l-new il­lus­tra­tions, and we threw in sto­ry­boards and bonus items for free. The videos sold much bet­ter than we’d ex­pect­ed. No only did they pull us out of the red, we even made a tidy lit­tle profit. That profit would later be in­vested in prepa­ra­tions for DAICON 4 and pro­duc­tion costs for the DAICON film se­ries.


[pg 55–58]

The ba­sic premise be­hind DAICON 3 was to cre­ate a meet­ing place for sci-fi fans, writ­ers and the like, where they could gather and have point­less dis­cus­sions about goofy things. DAICON 3 took that col­lec­tion of silly con­ver­sa­tions and turned it into a show. We’d make it loud, and we’d make it real. That’s the stance we took.

All told, there were 80 peo­ple on staff. While the main ac­tiv­i­ties were go­ing on in the large hall, there were side at­trac­tions84 all around. And then there was the deal­ers’ room85. Our pol­icy from start to fin­ish was to make sure at­ten­dees had fun, and to make the Con­ven­tion as ex­cit­ing as we could. We blazed new trails with DAICON 3, tak­ing di­rec­tions that had never been ex­plored by pre­vi­ous cons. It be­came a model of sorts for the main­stream Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions of to­day.

The large hall had a max­i­mum ca­pac­ity of 1500 peo­ple. We got so many ap­pli­ca­tions that by spring we had to stop ac­cept­ing new ones. There was a lot of hype sur­round­ing it be­fore it even start­ed, due in part to the mount of press we re­ceived. News of the Con­ven­tion was posted in mag­a­zines86—even ones other than Sci-Fi Mag­a­zine—and the ed­i­tor-in-chief of Ani­mec was him­self a big sci-fi fan. I think a lot of it had to do with the sim­ple fact that there were a lot of av­enues out there for pro­mot­ing our con, and they were quite busy do­ing so.

On the day of the Con­ven­tion, I was busier than a one-legged man in an as­s-kick­ing con­test. For starters, the truck I’d rented for haul­ing things stalled out, and ten or so staff mem­bers on the scene had to drop every­thing and help push-s­tart it. Most of the staff was run­ning around like mad, but one guy—Kamimura87 from the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity sci-fi club—just sat around watch­ing the cos­tume show. Even to­day, 20 years lat­er, that story is still told as an ex­am­ple of what you’re not sup­posed to be do­ing when you’re on the staff. Kamimura swears up and down it was an hon­est mis­take, but no one be­lieves him.

Since most mem­bers of the staff were stu­dents, there were very few of us who ac­tu­ally had dri­ver’s li­cens­es. Be­cause of that, I was forced to play chauffeur to the trans­port team the en­tire time… on top of my other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as a mem­ber of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. As we were pack­ing up after the Con­ven­tion, we soon dis­cov­ered that there was way too much stuff to fit into a sin­gle truck, so I rushed over to a nearby car rental agency and told them to rent me the biggest truck they had. The clerk pointed to a four-and-a-half ton long-bed mon­ster. I’d never dri­ven any­thing close that size be­fore, but I went for it all the same. I lit­er­ally thought it was over for me when I had to back up to the load­ing dock at the con­ven­tion hall. I mean, none of the guys giv­ing me di­rec­tions could even dri­ve! As it turns out, I would later go on to drive al­most every kind of ve­hi­cle pos­si­ble, every­thing from su­per-com­pact util­ity vans to four-and-a-half ton trucks like this one.

An­other perk of DAICON 3 was the deal­ers’ room. We’d seen peo­ple mak­ing and sell­ing orig­i­nal items when we went to World­con for re­search, and we brought that idea back with us. When we’d gone to World­con, none of us could speak any Eng­lish, but we still had fun wan­der­ing through the deal­ers’ room. All you needed to know was that peo­ple were sell­ing every­thing imag­in­able—­some peo­ple were fash­ion­ing fan­ta­sy-style swords out of metal and sell­ing them right there! There were com­mer­cial deal­ers too, which was very in­ter­est­ing, be­cause at that time in Japan, a com­mer­cial booth at a sci-fi con­ven­tion was a rare sight to see.

But even the deal­ers’ room can get pretty bor­ing if the only ac­tion is ven­dors sell­ing mer­chan­dise. So we asked a Star Trek88 fan club to set up a space where peo­ple could play a on PCs (in­ci­den­tal­ly, a PC was called a “My Com”89 back then, which was short for “my com­puter”). We built a cock­pit-like en­clo­sure out of ply­wood and card­board and set up eight NEC PC-8001s in­side. Some staff mem­bers dressed up in Star Trek garb to ex­plain the game to in­ter­ested passer­s-by. In those days, hardly any­one had ever seen eight whole PCs in one place, so that at­trac­tion drew quite a crowd.

The ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee pro­duced all kinds of items to sell as offi­cial goods at the Con­ven­tion. Be­tween the tiny mas­cot fig­ures (all hand-made, of course) and lit­tle Na­haha90 heads (’s91 manga char­ac­ter), the fe­male mem­bers of the staff were like in­den­tured la­bor­ers in some at­tic sweat­shop, work­ing fever­ishly to try and meet their quo­tas. We also had some Pow­ered Suits made out of . We weren’t call­ing them “garage kits” yet, but that’s pretty much what they were. We must’ve had a dozen or so va­ri­eties in all, and every sin­gle one was sold out within min­utes. That made quite an im­pact on Oka­da. He saw what a huge de­mand there was for lit­tle trin­kets. Ap­par­ent­ly, see­ing it first-hand was what gave him the idea to start up the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store later on.

DAICON 3 was a huge suc­cess. Now I knew for cer­tain that we’d gone in the right di­rec­tion with it. I think the rest of the staff was equally pleased with the outcome—DAICON 3 was the per­fect ex­am­ple of how things should be run. We’d lost a lot of peo­ple after the Sci-Fi Show, peo­ple who were fed up with the has­sle of work­ing on an event. But a lot of these staff mem­bers stayed on to work DAICON 3 as well, which shows how great the ex­pe­ri­ence was for every­one. I had a fan­tas­tic time my­self, and so did the at­ten­dees. DAICON 3 re­ally ex­ceeded all of our ex­pec­ta­tions.

After the party

[pg 58–60]

Mis­steps aside, we’d man­aged to make DAICON 3 a grat­i­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. We had hosted the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion and DAICON, and both had been suc­cess­es. But I was lit­er­ally burned out­—that’s why I re­turned to school, still a sopho­more after six years.

Since en­ter­ing Kinki Uni­ver­si­ty, the only time I’d ac­tu­ally gone to class was in my fresh­man year. I joined the sci-fi club at the be­gin­ning of my sopho­more year, and grad­u­ally went from skip­ping classes to not go­ing at all. The rea­son: I’d fi­nally made friends I could re­ally talk to, the kind of friends I’d al­ways dreamed of hav­ing. My days were filled with too much fun to be ru­ined by school.

Be­cause I had­n’t been at­tend­ing class­es, my “re­turn” to school was­n’t much of a re­turn at al­l—and it was a fore­gone con­clu­sion I’d have to re­peat my sopho­more year again. On the one hand, there were pro­fes­sors telling me I’d be bet­ter off ac­tu­ally quit­ting the uni­ver­sity and reap­ply­ing, be­cause at this rate I’d never be able to grad­u­ate. On the other hand were my par­ents, who kept nag­ging me to buckle down and get se­ri­ous about ed­u­ca­tion. But I did­n’t want to think about it. For the mo­ment, I just re­turned to my pre-con­ven­tion lifestyle of hang­ing out in cafes, drink­ing coffee and read­ing nov­els. I basked in the ab­sence of a con­ven­tion to plan; the truth of the mat­ter was, the Sci-Fi Show and the Con­ven­tion had worn me down to in­differ­ence.

I thought of quit­ting school for good and get­ting a job. I even went on a few in­ter­views. I thought since I’d been so suc­cess­ful or­ga­niz­ing differ­ent events that maybe I should make a ca­reer of it. I in­ter­viewed at two or three places for that kind of po­si­tion, but it did­n’t work out.

Even though I was un­able to find a job, I dropped out of school in the fall any­way. I had no in­ten­tion of reap­ply­ing. I just spent my days loafing about, not do­ing much of any­thing. I had been ablaze with en­thu­si­asm, but for too long. Now all that was left of me were cin­ders.

There have been sev­eral times in my life that I’ve lost every ounce of en­ergy and com­pletely de­flat­ed, and this was the first. The rea­sons were differ­ent each time, but the re­sult was al­ways the same—ut­ter lethar­gy. I did­n’t feel like do­ing a sin­gle thing.

There was a three­-bed­room apart­ment in a place called Juso92 in Os­aka that we con­verted into our base of op­er­a­tions dur­ing the lat­ter stages of DAICON 3 prepa­ra­tions. It was the same area where the movie was later filmed. One of the staff mem­bers, Masa­haru Ueda93, was liv­ing there on his own.

Ueda was a mem­ber of the sci-fi club at Os­aka Uni­ver­si­ty. As a high school stu­dent, he’d par­tic­i­pated in Ashino-Con. It turns out that when he first saw us he made a solemn vow never to get in­volved with our kind, but soon after that he ended up par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Sci-Fi Show. By DAICON 3, he was on board as a ful­l-fledged mem­ber of the staff. It was­n’t long after meet­ing him that I moved into his place, and for sev­eral years it was our den of op­er­a­tions. We brought DAICON 3 to life in that apart­ment, which meant I was there pretty much all the time.

I con­tin­ued to stay in Ueda’s apart­ment even after the Con­ven­tion was over. In other words, I was . I had dropped out of school, was liv­ing ren­t-free in my friend’s apart­ment, and spent my days go­ing to cafes in Umeda to read nov­els and shoot the breeze with my pals. That’s the kind of life I was liv­ing. No en­er­gy, no dri­ve, no plans for the fu­ture.

I’d taken to drink­ing al­most every day, ei­ther at home or in a pub some­where. It was about that time that peo­ple be­gan to no­tice a for­eign man with steel clogs roam­ing the streets of Ju­so. It was , be­fore he be­came a Hol­ly­wood star. I once saw a man of that de­scrip­tion my­self, and I’m pretty sure now that it was him. Co­in­ci­den­tal­ly, Anno would go on to cast Sea­gal’s daugh­ter Ayako Fu­ji­tani in one of his . But I di­gress…

Opening the General Products store

[pg 61–65]

I was still con­tent to loaf around all day, but Okada, spurred on by the suc­cess of the deal­ers’ room at DAICON 3, was plan­ning to open a sci-fi spe­cialty shop94. I was­n’t par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in com­merce at the time, so I gave it lit­tle thought. That’s when he ap­proached me.

“If you’re just go­ing to sit around do­ing noth­ing, why not help me open up the store?” he asked. Hon­est­ly, I did­n’t want to do it, but it was­n’t as if I had any other prospects (not that I was re­ally look­ing). Plus, this was a friend ask­ing for my help, so what else could I do? I re­luc­tantly agreed to come on board. The store would be open­ing in Feb­ru­ary of the fol­low­ing year, so I promised I’d help out through April.

Gen­eral Prod­ucts was Japan’s first sci-fi spe­cialty store. The name was taken from 95, the novel by Amer­i­can sci-fi au­thor 96, and ref­er­enced a trad­ing com­pany man­aged by a race of aliens known as Pup­peteers. We re­ceived per­mis­sion from Niven him­self to use the term for our shop.

I had no busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence what­so­ev­er, and I cer­tainly never imag­ined I’d be fit to work re­tail. Lit­tle did I know that we would later in­cor­po­rate Gen­eral Prod­ucts and that yours truly would be­come the com­pany pres­i­dent!

Once I ac­tu­ally started work­ing for Gen­eral Prod­ucts, I soon found that it was a lot more than a re­tail busi­ness. We did prod­uct plan­ning and li­cens­ing97 ne­go­ti­a­tions with com­pa­nies like Toho98 and Tsub­u­raya99; we com­mis­sioned il­lus­tra­tions from pro­fes­sional artists like Hideo Azuma and 100; we even pro­duced our own mer­chan­dise. It was re­ward­ing work, and I had fun do­ing it.

To give an ex­am­ple, when we went to the Toho offices to ask for the rights to make a Godzilla model kit, they ini­tially turned us down. Around the same time we went to see Tsub­u­raya about some other li­cens­ing mat­ter and they agreed. The next time we met with To­ho, their rep­re­sen­ta­tive was stunned to hear that Tsub­u­raya had given us the OK to use their trade­marked char­ac­ters. Even­tu­al­ly, ne­go­ti­a­tions were re­opened and we se­cured the rights to do Godzil­la! It was re­ally in­vig­o­rat­ing be­ing part of deals like that, back when “garage kits”101 were just start­ing to crack the sur­face of tra­di­tional prod­uct rights busi­ness.

When­ever you start up a new busi­ness, there are al­ways those who envy your suc­cess. On­ce, when we were vis­it­ing Kaiy­odo102, we got in­tro­duced to a model whole­saler who just hap­pened to be there. He took one look at us and said, “Oh, right. Those tight-fisted huck­sters.” He was prob­a­bly speak­ing out of both ig­no­rance and de­nial of the up­-and-com­ing garage kit in­dus­try, but we took the in­sult as a call to arms. We would prove our­selves to peo­ple like him by chang­ing the face of the mar­ket—­some­day garage kits would be sold in every mod­el­ing store through­out Japan! And it did­n’t take long to make it hap­pen, ei­ther. By the time of Evan­ge­lion, our vi­sion was re­al­ized in full.

I ac­quired both an in­creas­ing amount of stress and a grow­ing sense of ful­fill­ment as our place in the in­dus­try be­gan to shift. What started as a mot­ley crew of am­a­teurs be­came one of real pro­fes­sion­als with enough money to make things hap­pen. Hav­ing lan­guished in the wake of DAICON 3, I be­gan to imag­ine that the next “fes­ti­val” com­ing to res­cue me from my lethargy was in fact Gen­eral Prod­ucts.

The store opened as planned on Valen­tine’s Day 1982, one year after DAICON 3. On open­ing day we were greeted by a line of 200 cus­tomers. Among them were two fu­ture GAINAX em­ploy­ees: Hi­roki Sato103, who later joined the staff for the next Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion and cur­rently works as a com­pany di­rec­tor, and Jun Tamaya104, now a game di­rec­tor. Much lat­er, Sato told me that he re­mem­bered Okada and I pass­ing out “I ♥ Sci-Fi” stick­ers to the peo­ple in line. He said Okada was telling peo­ple to take only one sticker each, whereas I was cheer­fully hand­ing out fist­fuls to who­ever would take them. He says he still has his sticker from that day. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, I re­mem­ber none of it.

We were com­pletely sold out soon after our doors opened for busi­ness. We’d pre­pared what seemed to be an ad­e­quate quan­tity of pro­duct, but the un­ex­pected level of pa­tron­age had quickly de­pleted our stores. Over half of the cus­tomers en­tered the store to be greeted by noth­ing but empty shelves. The night after open­ing day, some part-timers and I stayed in the shop and la­bored long into the night churn­ing out huge num­bers of our own vac­u­um-formed garage kits. After 3:00 AM my body com­pletely gave out, so I laid a sheet of card­board on the floor and used it as a bed. Just as I was falling asleep, some­one burst in the store. Still grog­gy, I opened my eyes… and was greeted by the boot of a po­lice­man in my face. Our store was on the ground floor. The sec­ond floor was an apart­ment. The neigh­bors liv­ing above us had ap­par­ently re­ported us for mak­ing too much noise. But the cops did­n’t do any­thing. They just said some­thing like “it’s al­ready so late, even if you do quiet down it won’t make much of a differ­ence”, and then left.

All the fuss notwith­stand­ing, the grand open­ing of Gen­eral Prod­ucts had gone pretty well105. But I don’t know any of the fi­nan­cial de­tails. I was just a reg­u­lar em­ployee with a nom­i­nal monthly salary of ¥80,000 (about US $360 in 1982 dol­lars). The com­pany it­self ex­isted only as a part of Okada Em­broi­der­ing.

April came rolling around, and Okada ap­proached me ask­ing, “So, what’re you gonna do now? You can quit, but you’ve got noth­ing else lined up. Why don’t you stick around and help out at the store?” I was more than happy to do so. I’d grown rather fond of the busi­ness of plan­ning and pro­duc­ing garage kits, and I don’t think I could have quit. It was differ­ent from do­ing con­tract work. I dis­cov­ered the joy of man­u­fac­tur­ing your own de­signs, and see­ing that suc­ceed in the mar­ket­place.

Some of the stu­dents from the sci-fi club that I’d met through DAICON 3 built garage kits for us part-time. I think for them it felt more like a con­tin­u­a­tion of the Con­ven­tion than an ac­tual job. The ones who did the pour­ing for the plas­tic cast­ing106 were mainly guys from the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity club. Most of them re­peated at least a year of school. On av­er­age, they grad­u­ated within five or six years, but there were some who dropped out, never to be heard from again.

Late at night, it’s easy to mis­take a botched piece of resin for a rice crack­er, and a few of us got burned on that one. Plus, we were al­ways spilling the epoxy liq­uids on the floor and mak­ing sticky messes of our shoes when we walked over it. Ba­si­cal­ly, it was a great time.

One of the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity stu­dents was a guy named Gy­oten107, a very un­usual name in­deed. Just look­ing at the kanji char­ac­ters, I had no idea how to pro­nounce it. So I asked him. When he told me it was pro­nounced “Gy­oten”, I teased him about it, say­ing it sounded like some Bud­dhist monk’s name. But as it turned out, he re­ally did grow up in a Bud­dhist tem­ple! After he grad­u­ated from col­lege he worked as a teacher for a while, and then be­came a pro­fes­sional monk him­self. That’s what he’s do­ing now. It’s re­ally weird to look back on those times and think about what an in­ter­est­ing gang of char­ac­ters we had work­ing at the store.

Ideon Festival

[pg 65]

Through an in­tro­duc­tion from Mr. Ko­maki108, the ed­i­tor-in-chief of Ani­mec mag­a­zine, we were com­mis­sioned to pro­mote the the­atri­cal ver­sion of the Densetsu Ky­o­jin Ideon ani­me. Any­way, we thought up an ad­ver­tis­ing plan at SUNRISE, and also came up with a few pro­mo­tional items for the film. Part of the plan was for Okada and my­self to ap­pear on TV and in per­son as the so-called “Devil Twins”, in or­der to en­sure the film’s suc­cess.

It was then that we be­came ac­quainted with anime di­rec­tor 109 as well as 110, who was still a col­lege stu­dent.

To this day, if some­one men­tions the Ideon Fes­ti­val111, I im­me­di­ately get red in the face. I don’t know if it’s be­cause we were young and stu­pid, or be­cause we just got too car­ried away, or what.

The Sci-Fi Convention revisited

[pg 66–68]

Amidst these events and pro­jects, a lot of differ­ent things started hap­pen­ing at on­ce; in or­der to talk about them all, I’m go­ing to have to jump back and forth a bit.

While I was help­ing Okada set up the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store, I was still free­load­ing off Ueda, liv­ing ren­t-free in his Juso apart­ment. Things were go­ing quite well with the store, but my per­sonal life was go­ing nowhere. It turns out that Sawa­mura and an­other of my friends, Nishi­gaki112, could­n’t stand to see me like that any­more, and had got­ten to­gether to hatch a plan. They or­dered me to move out of Ueda’s place, and even went so far as to lo­cate a cheap apart­ment for me.

I haven’t told you about Nishi­gaki yet. He was an­other mem­ber of the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity sci-fi club. He used to play rug­by, and stood a burly six feet tall. In truth, he was the very em­bod­i­ment of a gen­tle gi­ant, and was affec­tion­ately re­ferred to as “mus­cle­-head”. He was quite pop­u­lar in the sci-fi club. Maybe a lit­tle too pop­u­lar—it took him eight years to grad­u­ate! Nishi­gak­i’s fa­ther did busi­ness in the Mo­modani area of Os­aka since way back when, and every­one seemed to know him. In fact, we found out about the shop space for Gen­eral Prod­ucts through one of his con­nec­tions.

Any­way, it would be about an­other month be­fore my apart­ment was ready, so I de­cid­ed—though I for­get the ex­act rea­son why—to move out of Ueda’s place and stay with Okada and his par­ents. Only this time, it was­n’t ex­actly free­load­ing. After all, Gen­eral Prod­ucts was owned by Okada’s fam­ily busi­ness, Okada Em­broi­der­ing. On top of that, it was only a tem­po­rary thing for me un­til I could se­cure a place of my own. Liv­ing with Okada also made it eas­ier for me to work at the store, mainly be­cause I could dis­cuss busi­ness with him when­ever the need arose. In the mid­dle of all this, we some­how de­cided that we would do an­other Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion.

I think the im­pe­tus came from one of our coffee shop dis­cus­sions. All of us re­main­ing sci-fi club­bers were chat­ting it up as usual in some cafe in Umeda, and I re­call some­one pip­ing up, “hey, let’s do the Con­ven­tion again!” I thought to my­self, What, again? Talk about a waste of time, but every­one else was still ec­sta­tic over the suc­cess of the last Con­ven­tion. Their eyes sparkled with an­tic­i­pa­tions as they be­gan to chant, “Yeah, let’s do it!” Why are you telling me all this? was my feel­ing at the time… but the fact is, they were all look­ing up to me and count­ing on me to make it hap­pen, and it was kind of flat­ter­ing. They kept bad­ger­ing me, and fi­nally I re­lent­ed.

I was still feel­ing some­what slug­gish even then, so part of me wanted to do some­thing to wake my­self up. A con­ven­tion prob­a­bly would­n’t be a bad way to get the jump­start I need­ed. I started feel­ing more and more pos­i­tive, un­til I was fi­nally psy­ched about it. If we’re go­ing to do this, I thought, we need to make this the best con­ven­tion in all Japan. And how, you may ask, were we go­ing to make this the “best”? Sim­ple—we would have the cra­zi­est con­tent, the most ac­tiv­i­ties, and, of course, the most peo­ple. That was our goal.

It was a mat­ter of com­mon sense that uni­ver­sity sci-fi club mem­bers should be the peo­ple run­ning things. See­ing as how Okada and I were busy with the store, the role of head of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee fell this time on Nishi­gaki, who was still a stu­dent and sci-fi club mem­ber him­self. It was­n’t our in­ten­tion to sit be­hind the scenes and pull the strings, but that’s just how things worked out. Even if Nishi­gaki had­n’t been cho­sen to head the com­mit­tee, I’m sure he still would have played a piv­otal role as a mem­ber of the core staff.

The next Con­ven­tion’s lo­ca­tion had al­ready been de­cided on, so we set our sights on the fol­low­ing year. We be­gan to pre­pare our­selves for can­di­dacy to host the Con­ven­tion in 1983. With two years be­fore the ac­tual event, how­ev­er, there was­n’t much prepa­ra­tion to be done. Even so, we had sev­eral dozen staffers ready and stand­ing by.

To us, mak­ing the “best” con­ven­tion in all Japan meant that we had to have 4,000 at­ten­dees. Why 4,000? Sim­ple—the Os­aka Ko­seinenkin Hall, which is where we planned to hold the event, had both a large and medi­um-sized hall. Be­tween the two of them, there were 4,000 seats. For that many at­ten­dees, we fig­ured we’d prob­a­bly need more than 200 peo­ple on the staff, in which case we’d need to start scout­ing and train­ing them. One way to do that would be to hold a mi­nor lo­cal event prior to the main show, but the prospect of plan­ning an­other con­ven­tion was less than thrilling. That’s when some­one posed a bet­ter idea—­mak­ing our own in­de­pen­dent films!

Establishing DAICON FILM

[pg 68–71]

In the spring of 1982 we set up the DAICON 4113 ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, es­tab­lish­ing at the same time the in­de­pen­dent film pro­duc­tion group DAICON FILM114. Our pri­mary goal was to train the DAICON 4 staff, but the “offi­cial” rea­son was to make films for pro­mo­tional screen­ing at next year’s Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion in Tokyo.

Mak­ing a film is it­self a kind of event. The idea is to cre­ate a pro­duc­tion process where you and the staff grow and learn to work as a team. We thought that some­thing like pro­duc­ing a film—a worth­while ac­tiv­ity in and of it­self—­would be the per­fect way to build a work­able chain of com­mand, and also keep the staff mo­ti­vated for an event that would­n’t hap­pen for an­other two years.

There was some­thing else we had go­ing for us. When we sold copies of the DAICON 3 open­ing an­i­ma­tion to cover our mount­ing debts, we ended up not only com­ing out of the red but also mak­ing a tidy profit to boot. We were now in a po­si­tion to turn that profit into work­ing cap­i­tal for the films.

This is back­track­ing a bit, but when Stu­dio Nue115 saw the DAICON 3 open­ing ani­me, they con­tacted us with an “ur­gent busi­ness” mat­ter to dis­cuss. They wanted peo­ple to work on the pro­duc­tion of their new orig­i­nal TV anime Cho­jiku Yo­sai Macross116 (also re­leased in the U.S. as one of three story arcs for ), which was still in the plan­ning stages. So when pro­duc­tion be­gan for the new show, Anno and Ya­m­aga went to Tokyo to join the staff117. It was their first pro­fes­sional gig, and the ex­pe­ri­ence would prove use­ful in pro­duc­ing their own am­a­teur work.

Dur­ing the Macross pro­duc­tion, Stu­dio Nue called up ask­ing for more peo­ple who could han­dle the work—which is how I ended up meet­ing 118. As it hap­pened, Akai knew a fel­low, Hi­roshi Ya­m­aguchi119 (who is now a fa­mous anime scriptwriter), and Ya­m­aguchi in­tro­duced us to Mae­da. In that same way, I was also in­tro­duced to Yoshiyuki Sadamoto120, who was from the same uni­ver­sity as Mae­da. Sadamoto and Maeda were still stu­dents when they were hired onto the Macross pro­duc­tion team.121 Lat­er, they would both re­turn to help us with the DAICON 4 open­ing an­i­ma­tion. I think it would be safe to say that the core of GAINAX was formed by this point. We’d all come to­gether through our mu­tual in­volve­ment in the oh-so-lit­er­ary sci-fi clubs in the area, but it felt more like be­ing in a sports club. Every­one had so much en­er­gy!

Now that the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store was open for busi­ness, we used our cus­tomer base as a pool to scout new tal­ent. If some­one showed in­ter­est in what we were do­ing, or even if they just seemed to have a lot of time on their hands, they were im­me­di­ately propo­si­tioned and added to the staff. Gen­eral Prod­ucts func­tioned both as a hang­out for DAICON 3 vet­er­ans and as a place to find po­ten­tial re­cruits.

The first three films we planned were Aikoku Sen­tai Dainip­pon, Kaet­tekita Ul­tra­man and Kaiketsu Notenki. We also in­tended to do a few live-ac­tion films, in­clud­ing a ver­sion of Thun­der­birds, but in the end it was re­duced to these three. We got to work on pro­duc­ing them… all at the same time!

Most of the plot­lines were ham­mered out over drinks at the lo­cal pub. With tal­ent like Okada, Sawa­mu­ra, Anno and Akai at the core of these ad­mit­tedly rather silly back­-and-for­things, the films turned out to be a snap to pro­duce. It was ac­tu­ally a work­able sys­tem.

We rented some office space in Umeda for the DAICON 4 ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to use. Film pro­duc­tion was un­der­way in Ueda’s Juso apart­ment, Gen­eral Prod­ucts was open for busi­ness, and every­thing was mov­ing right along. My first pe­riod of lethargy was fi­nally over.

Kaiketsu Notenki

[pg 71–72]

This122 was a par­ody of hero shows, with yours truly play­ing the main role. It was orig­i­nally in­tended as a satire of Toei’s old tokusatsu (“spe­cial effects”) TV se­ries 123 with 124 as the in­domitable Zu­bat.

Now, I had per­son­ally never seen Kaiketsu Zu­bat—I’d never even heard of it. But Okada was a huge Zu­bat fan, and it was his idea to do the par­o­dy. As for me play­ing the lead, that was Sawa­mura and Akai’s idea. The rea­son, I’m ashamed to say, has to do with the main char­ac­ter’s name. Notenki means “care­free” in Japan­ese, and ap­par­ently my face is so jol­ly-look­ing they just had to use it in their par­o­dy. Heh.

Un­like the other two films, which were shot on 8mm125, Notenki was done on video­tape126 partly be­cause it would ac­quaint the staff with shoot­ing and film pro­duc­tion on a sim­ple, easy-to-use for­mat.

An­other thing about this film was that it had no di­rec­tor. Maybe I should­n’t say there was no di­rec­tor; that was­n’t ex­actly the case. The di­rec­tion would just change hands from one scene to the next. That’s why there are about a dozen names listed un­der “Di­rec­tor” in the end­ing cred­its.

At first, I re­ally hated the fact that I got stuck play­ing Notenki… but after four pro­duc­tions, I have to ad­mit that I still have the cos­tume. De­spite the fact we were do­ing a sim­ple par­ody of a hero show, I must say that after years of play­ing the char­ac­ter I feel de­cid­edly more hero­ic. Of course, when I tell friends about this they all laugh at me (I guess I would laugh, too). Oh well. It’s a lit­tle-known fact that many ac­tors who played he­roes in the past tried to keep their roles a se­cret. After all, no mat­ter how you look at it, “masked hero” shows are lit­tle more than after­noon the­ater for kids. Some of the ac­tors in the Godzilla movies kept their in­volve­ment hid­den for years be­fore fi­nally ad­mit­ting to it in pub­lic. It’s the same with am­a­teurs.

I guess all I’m try­ing to say is that even after all these years I’ve still got a soft spot in my heart for Noten­ki. I even ap­peared in the cos­tume show at the 2001 Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion along with my three­-year-old daugh­ter Yuki­no, for whom I’d com­mis­sioned a cute “lit­tle Notenki” cos­tume127. She had a won­der­ful time do­ing it, and keeps ask­ing me when we can go on stage to­gether again. I might have cre­ated a mon­sters…

Aikoku Sentai Dainippon

[pg 72–75]

Com­pared to Notenki, pro­duc­tion on Dainip­pon128 was a se­ri­ous un­der­tak­ing. We put a lot of care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion into the props, cos­tumes and cast­ing, and we made Akai the di­rec­tor.

The show was about a squad of he­roes, which meant we had a lot of lead roles to fil­l—­five in all. We gave the char­ac­ters silly names, like Ai , Ai , Ai , Ai , and Ai . Nat­u­ral­ly, the ac­tors we cast were all rank am­a­teurs. For the role of Ai Kamikaze (the lead­er) we cast Shuichi Hayashi129, a guy from the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity sci-fi club who was more than a lit­tle odd. I heard he was orig­i­nally from the city of in north­ern , and while he looked com­pletely nor­mal, he was the most hard-core geek you’d ever meet. He stud­ied Ger­man in col­lege just so he could read the books in their orig­i­nal lan­guage130. The char­ac­ter of Ai Geisha was played by a fledg­ling nurse who I hear is now mar­ried to a hos­pi­tal di­rec­tor. All told, the cast break­down was three from Os­aka Uni­ver­si­ty, one from Kinki Uni­ver­si­ty, and one from a nurs­ing col­lege. Sci-fi au­thor 131 even made a cameo.

This film was a par­ody of Toei’s sen­tai (fight­ing squad) se­ries132 of TV shows, and at the very least, our ex­plo­sions were every bit as good as the orig­i­nals. If you’ve seen the film you’ll know what I mean. Ex­plo­sions were our thing. True, it was just a par­o­dy, but that’s no rea­son to take the easy way out by set­tling for cheap store-bought py­rotech­nics. At first, we fol­lowed up with some con­tacts and found a spe­cial-effects ex­plo­sions ex­pert, but we weren’t im­pressed with the re­sults. They weren’t what we’d hoped for. Be­cause the ex­plo­sions used real gun­pow­der, they were a step up from or­di­nary fire­crack­ers, but not enough of a step up. We de­manded more ex­plo­sions! This hic­cup in the project was prob­a­bly what kicked our fledg­ling in­de­pen­dent film pro­duc­tion group into high gear for the first time. We de­cided to make our own ex­plo­sives133.

Most of the pro­duc­tion staff were col­lege stu­dents, and many of them were sci­ence ma­jors of one sort or an­oth­er. This was a lucky break for us. What we did was (and still is) rather il­le­gal, so I’ll have to omit the de­tails134. Suffice it to say we suc­ceeded in man­u­fac­tur­ing our own ex­plo­sives, and be­cause of that, our lit­tle 8mm spe­cial-effects film turned into some­thing truly amaz­ing.

Of course, ex­plo­sions weren’t the only draw for the film. We were am­a­teurs, but we took the pro­duc­tion very se­ri­ous­ly. A lot of effort was put into both the props and the cos­tumes.

We filmed all over Os­aka, from the then-empty lot on the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity cam­pus, which was ear­marked for a new med­ical re­search hos­pi­tal, to var­i­ous parks around the city, in­clud­ing the one by and the one where the World Expo of 1970 was held. We got a lot of on­look­ers while film­ing in the Os­aka cas­tle park, and ladies sell­ing sou­venirs at nearby booths were ex­tremely sup­port­ive, al­ways cheer­ing us on. When one of those nice ladies asked us when our “show” would air, one of the staff mem­bers re­sponded with “Some­time next April.” What a meanie.

We also met up with kinder­gart­ners on field trips, which led to a num­ber of im­promptu “PR” ses­sions. I re­mem­ber one lit­tle kid pip­ing up that he’d never heard of us or this show, to which a fast-talk­ing staff mem­ber shot back “That’s be­cause it’s still a se­cret; this is a se­cret TV show start­ing next year, so be sure to watch us when we get on the air!” He was a meanie, too.

Our film fi­nally pre­miered the fol­low­ing year at Tokon 8135, the 21st an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. On the whole, it was well re­ceived, but one sec­tor of the fan com­mu­nity de­nounced the film, com­plain­ing of “an­ti­so­cial” and even “right-wing” story el­e­ments. What an id­i­otic thing to say. It was just the kind of half-wit­ted ar­gu­ment sci-fi fans love to toss around. Se­ri­ous­ly, the whole point of our film was sim­ply to make you laugh, and crack jokes about what fools we were mak­ing of our­selves on­screen. If you gave it half a sec­ond’s thought (if you even had to think about it at all) you’d re­al­ize that Dainip­pon cer­tainly was­n’t try­ing to foist any kind of na­tion­al­is­tic ide­ol­ogy off on the au­di­ence—we were just hav­ing fun. I guess that con­cept was lost on some of the more mar­ble-headed mem­bers of the sci-fi com­mu­ni­ty.

But maybe it was more sub­tle than that. Maybe some peo­ple who did­n’t like our group saw the film as their chance to get in a hit. Old school sci-fi fans cer­tainly did­n’t mind telling us that spe­cial-effects films and anime were not “true sci-fi”, whereas our po­si­tion was that they were.

As a side, the theme song for the film used the mu­sic from the pre­vi­ous year’s , to which we wrote our own silly lyrics. Even now, there are a lot of sci-fi geeks who sing our lyrics at karaoke in­stead of the real ones.

Kaettekita Ultraman

[pg 75–77]

To­day, this film’s136 offi­cial ti­tle is DAICON FILM-ban Kaet­tekita Ul­tra­man, re­flect­ing that it was our ver­sion of the Ul­tra­man char­ac­ter. Now, 20 years since its orig­i­nal pro­duc­tion, it has ac­tu­ally been re­leased on DVD with Ul­tra­man-o­rig­i­na­tor Tsub­u­raya Pro­duc­tion’s full per­mis­sion. I’m still very proud of this work. It’s a fine ex­am­ple of an in­de­pen­dent, 8mm spe­cial-effects film. But it was a long and windy road to suc­cess.

Since the project was orig­i­nally An­no’s plan, we made him the di­rec­tor. When I first heard the pitch, my thoughts were, This sounds like fun and I re­ally want to do it… but can we? Still, we were linked by the com­mon goal of mak­ing next year’s Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion the best in all of Japan, so there was no way we’d let our­selves be done in by some­thing like this. The fin­ished prod­uct ended up quite good, and I’m per­son­ally proud that we de­cided to tackle the pro­ject. It was­n’t easy, but it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ul­tra­man was the largest in scale and by far the hard­est of the three films to pro­duce. I think it was our karma for do­ing three films si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly. Pro­duc­tion on the film even ground to a halt at one point, but in the end we pulled it off. The pro­duc­tion site may have been pop­u­lated with pa­per-bag­ging vol­un­teers, but there was a sense of every­one be­ing there be­cause they all wanted to cre­ate some­thing.

We did­n’t fin­ish it in time from Tokon 8, but the fol­low­ing year we showed it at a spe­cial screen­ing party to rave re­views. You can still buy the DVD from GAINAX, and if you watch it I’m sure you’ll get a sense of the amount of en­ergy we had back then.

Peo­ple al­ways ask me what the “Kaet­tekita” part in the ti­tle means, so maybe I should an­swer that ques­tion here. The world means “re­turned” in Japan­ese, so the over­all sense of the ti­tle would be “Ul­tra­man is back!” To un­der­stand what that means, you’d have to know that Anno had al­ready pro­duced two Ul­tra­man short films for class projects at the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts. In the sec­ond of those films Ul­tra­man leaves Earth to re­turn to space, so in the third film he’s come back. That’s all it was.


[pg 77]

Get­ting back to the topic at hand, the ma­jor prepa­ra­tions for DAICON 4 were well un­der­way. (It was­n’t like we fo­cused all our at­ten­tion on mak­ing movies, you know!) Thus far, the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion held in Kobe and hosted by Ya­su­taka Tsu­tui137 had at­tracted the largest num­ber of at­ten­dees. It was viewed al­most rev­er­en­tially among fans, which mean if we wanted to make DAICON 4 the best in all Japan, we had to outdo this one.

Our ba­sic ideas for the Con­ven­tion were the same as with DAICON 3. To­day man­ga, anime and spe­cial-effects films can gen­er­ally be in­cluded in the cat­e­gory of sci-fi, but back then any­thing that was­n’t a novel was­n’t seen as “true” sci-fi, and was gen­er­ally looked down up­on. Even now, 20 years lat­er, there are still peo­ple who cling to this out­dated de­fi­n­i­tion of sci-fi. What we wanted to do was in­tro­duce those pari­a­hed for­mats into the main­stream, and judg­ing by the cur­rent state of affairs in the sci-fi world, it looks like pop­u­lar opin­ion has won out in our fa­vor. But it was a lot of work get­ting there. We took plenty heat for our ideas, for rea­sons that would be un­think­able from to­day’s per­spec­tive.

The Osaka Philharmonic

[pg 78–79]

One of our plans for the Con­ven­tion was to get the Os­aka Phil­har­monic to play for us. Thanks to Ko­mat­su’s ear­lier in­tro­duc­tion we had the con­tacts in place, so with­out fur­ther ado we headed over to their office to ne­go­ti­ate. We did­n’t even make an ap­point­ment. We just showed up on their doorstep ask­ing if they could put on a per­for­mance for us, so they did­n’t even be­lieve us at first. Who would? Here we come out of the blue, ask­ing the en­tire Os­aka Phil­har­monic to play for our club par­ty.

“Do you kids have any idea how much it costs for the en­tire or­ches­tra to do a sin­gle per­for­mance?” we were asked. No, we did­n’t. “How about the con­duc­tor? Who’ll do it? And what about the score?” We were ab­solutely clue­less.

“We don’t know any­thing. We haven’t even thought it through, yet. You tell us”, we said.

In the end, the Phil­har­monic arranged for us to meet with a con­duc­tor… but the guy would­n’t lis­ten to a word we said. We had all kinds of mu­sic ideas al­ready picked out, but he was­n’t hav­ing it. We went back and forth with him un­til he just gave up and left the bar­gain­ing table.

What we’d wanted was mu­sic from Star Wars and Star Trek, scores, themes from Ul­tra­man, Gun­dam, and Yam­ato… stuff like that. But with no con­duc­tor we were dead in the wa­ter. We de­cided to take the mat­ter up with one of the mu­sic pro­duc­ers from Toho that we knew through Gen­eral Prod­ucts (as you can see, all kinds of good con­nec­tions came from the store). He was kind enough to in­tro­duce us to an­other con­duc­tor, and this time the guy im­me­di­ately un­der­stood what we wanted to do.

But we still had no mu­si­cal scores. Back to To­ho’s mu­sic de­part­ment. We were able to ac­quire some scores from them, but the con­duc­tor had to tran­scribe the rest from old s, with the help of lo­cal mu­sic stu­dents. After fil­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion with JASRAC (), our prepa­ra­tions were in or­der.

We asked Os­amu Tezuka to be the com­men­ta­tor for each piece of mu­sic, and he gladly ac­cept­ed. But after­ward, he was stunned to learn that al­most none of the Con­ven­tion staff had ac­tu­ally seen the or­ches­tra per­form. “Why did­n’t you let them lis­ten?” he asked me, and I replied that they had work to do. “Their sat­is­fac­tion comes from a job well done”, I said. Maybe some peo­ple would think that’s sil­ly, but if you ask any of the staff present on that day, they’d give you the same an­swer.

Ken Hayakawa, Private Detective

[pg 79–80]

Some­one had the idea of play­ing on the fact we’d done Kaiketsu Notenki (a par­ody of the TV show Kaiketsu Zu­bat) by invit­ing the real Mc­Coy to ap­pear at the Con­ven­tion. The show’s main char­ac­ter, Ken Hayakawa (aka Zu­bat), was played by ac­tor Hi­roshi Miyauchi, so we hunted down the lo­ca­tion of his office and paid him a vis­it, trav­el­ing all the way to Akasaka, Tokyo.

The first time we met Miyauchi we were blown away. He was ex­actly like his on­screen per­sona. I’m talk­ing an hon­est-to-good­ness hero. And we were sit­ting right next to him. Every sin­gle one of us who met him be­came an in­stant fan.

We told him about our plans for the Con­ven­tion and about our Zu­bat par­o­dy. At the end, I capped it off with our re­quest: Would he be so kind as to ap­pear at the Con­ven­tion in full char­ac­ter, dressed up as Ken Hayakawa him­self?

“Sure”, he said. “No prob­lem. I still have the cos­tume, in fact.”

It was amaz­ing. He was­n’t put off in the least by our crazy re­quest. How­ev­er, Miyauchi was shrewder than we thought. Guess who ended up foot­ing the bill for that out­ra­geous cos­tume of his!

Too many sweatshops

[pg 80–81]

Since the open­ing an­i­ma­tion for DAICON 3 had gen­er­ated such an en­thu­si­as­tic re­spon­se, we sim­ply had to do an­other one for DAICON 4. The at­ten­dees would ex­pect noth­ing less, and the staff was rar­ing to go. Even Ya­m­aga left his work on Macross to help us make it.138

If the DAICON 3 anime had been “hand­crafted”, then DAICON 4’s was an in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion. We rented our own ded­i­cated pro­duc­tion stu­dio in Mori­nomiya, right near Os­aka Cas­tle. The stu­dio oc­cu­pied an en­tire floor of an old build­ing called the Ho­sei Kaikan139, which means “Sewing House” in Japan­ese (it was man­aged by a cloth­ing man­u­fac­tur­er’s union). Nishi­gaki, the head of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee for the Con­ven­tion, se­cured it through one of his con­nec­tions, and we packed the main staff in like sar­dines.

That’s not just a metaphor. The whole build­ing would be locked down promptly at 9:00pm, and no one could get in or out un­til the next morn­ing. Nat­u­ral­ly, we weren’t work­ing on the kind of sched­ule where we could just pick up and leave every night at 9:00, so the ma­jor­ity of the staff would end up get­ting locked in­side. Imag­ine it—the mid­dle of the sum­mer, locked in­side an old build­ing, with the air con­di­tion­ing shut off to save pow­er! I’m not kid­ding when I say it was con­di­tions for the anime staff. They had to paint cels long into the hot nights, drown­ing in rivers of sweat. It was pretty much your night­mare pro­duc­tion site.

As be­fore, pro­duc­tion on the anime was­n’t fully com­pleted un­til the morn­ing of the Con­ven­tion it­self. We had orig­i­nally planned to play it si­mul­ta­ne­ously in both halls, but with only one com­pleted reel, we were forced to show it on a sin­gle screen and stag­ger the screen­ing times.

With two hall­s—one seat­ing 2500, the other 1500—we had plenty of stage events planned. That meant we needed stage set­tings, and lots of them. We or­ga­nized a car­pen­try team to build the back­drops, then stuck them in­side a rented ware­house with all the ma­te­ri­als and told them to get crack­ing. This ware­house did­n’t have air con­di­tion­ing ei­ther, but they worked at it day after day. The lo­cals sim­ply as­sumed that a bunch of col­lege kids had got­ten to­gether and started up a sign-mak­ing busi­ness. Peo­ple would come by and offer them com­pli­ments: “You kids are young, but you sure do work hard!” It was nice.

In ad­di­tion to those two “sweat­shops”, there were sev­eral other lo­ca­tions around town where var­i­ous groups were con­tin­u­ing with other prepa­ra­tions for the Con­ven­tion—so many in fact that I could­n’t keep track of them my­self. Not that it was my job to do so or any­thing…

The day

[pg 82]

[DAICON IV open­ing an­i­ma­tion (1983)]

The ac­tual day of DAICON 4 was filled with a be­wil­der­ing num­ber of events all run­ning si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly. There­fore, I was only able to per­son­ally ex­pe­ri­ence the few I was in charge of.

One thing I can say for sure is that every­one who at­tended was very ex­cited about be­ing there. Many peo­ple who came to that event have since gone on to be­come pro­fes­sional au­thors, an­i­ma­tors, and ed­i­tors. Even now, when I meet peo­ple for the first time, a sur­pris­ing num­ber of them break the ice by say­ing they went to DAICON 4, or even bet­ter, that they got my au­to­graph at the Notenki screen­ing par­ty. It was a large even­t—with a turnout of 4,000—and it re­ally made an im­pact.

[Lit­tle Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Ex­plod­ing Sub­cul­ture (ed. Mu­rakami 2005) in­cludes 2 re­duced pho­tographs scanned from the Offi­cial After Re­port of 22nd Japan SF Con­ven­tion DAICON IV (DAICON IV Com­mit­tee, Au­gust 1, 1984), which are re­pro­duced be­low:

Plate 2f; Cos­mic En­ter­tain­ers Fair, a cos­tume pageant that gath­ered “the best in the uni­verse”
Plate 2g; Toshio Okada ad­dress­ing four hun­dred at­ten­dees at a din­ner party



[pg 82–85]

After DAICON 4, I did­n’t ex­pe­ri­ence the same sink­ing feel­ing in the pit of my stom­ach that had plagued me after DAICON 3. I was still so busy with my work at Gen­eral Prod­ucts that there was­n’t any time to get de­pressed.

An­other thing was that DAICON FILM, the Con­ven­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, con­tin­ued their film pro­duc­tion work even after the event. They kept mak­ing movies and show­ing them at spe­cial screen­ings around the coun­try. Among their pro­duc­tions were Kaiketsu Notenki 2140 and the pup­pet show Hayauchi Ken141. Still, it’d be hard to say that they were able to main­tain the same level of pas­sion that they’d demon­strated in the months be­fore DAICON 4. I guess there’s a limit to how far you can take am­a­teur pro­duc­tion work. They be­gan to lose steam once the thought of DAICON 4 was no longer there as a mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tor.

Sawa­mura had since grad­u­ated col­lege and had got­ten a job work­ing for Japan Tele­vi­sion Work­shop, a pro­duc­tion com­pany based in Tokyo. But after DAICON 4, he quit his job and moved back to work for Gen­eral Prod­ucts. He was made pro­ducer of Akai’s first 16mm film pro­ject, Ya­mata no Orochi no Gyakushu142, or Orochi the Eight-Headed Dragon (I’ll just call it Orochi from here on out). They planned on mak­ing it their last in­de­pen­dent film, and they wanted to go out with a bang.

DAICON FILM and Gen­eral Prod­ucts were sep­a­rate or­ga­ni­za­tions, but our busi­ness re­la­tion­ship was very close. Gen­eral Prod­ucts em­ploy­ees like Sawa­mura and my­self were in­volved in the mak­ing of the films, and the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store was the peren­nial hang­out for DAICON FILM em­ploy­ees. So when DAICON FILM ran out of money halfway through the film­ing of Orochi, Gen­eral Prod­ucts, which had re­ally hit its stride, step­ping in and fi­nanced the re­main­der of the film.

Part of the rea­son why DAICON FILM kept go­ing after DAICON 4 was be­cause of a mis­taken be­lief that the party would never end. Even Gen­eral Prod­ucts had no more than a hand­ful of em­ploy­ees, and DAICON FILM’s main staff was com­prised of col­lege stu­dents who would even­tu­ally grad­u­ate or lose in­ter­est. It was just a mat­ter of time be­fore the whole thing ground to a halt, but no one un­der­stood that then. As staff mem­bers be­gan to drop like teeth from an old comb, it be­came more and more painful to be a part of things. But it turned out this was just one more step along our path to­ward be­com­ing film­mak­ers. Once we were able to over­come this phase, we shed our am­a­teur skins and be­came ful­l-fledged pro­fes­sion­als in the in­dus­try.

One in­ci­dent that springs to mind was a mi­nor mutiny within Gen­eral Prod­ucts it­self. Led by me, sev­eral Gen­eral Prod­ucts em­ploy­ees de­scended on Oka­da. He was the one who’d started the com­pany in the first place, and what’s more, it was formed as a di­vi­sion of his fam­i­ly’s Okada Em­broi­der­ing Cor­po­ra­tion. Our beef was that lately he had­n’t been ful­fill­ing his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as head of the com­pa­ny. We gave him an ul­ti­ma­tum: Shape up, or we’ll ship out.

I have no idea what Okada’s real thoughts on the mat­ter were. From where I stood, it just looked like he was sick of run­ning the store.

“If any­one’s go­ing to quit, it should be me”, he said in re­sponse to our threat. “If all of you were to leave, the com­pany would go un­der for sure. I’ll quit, so you guys keep go­ing, OK?”

He looked as though all the wind had left his sails. But the next day he just came in like noth­ing ever hap­pened. The is­sue never seemed to be for­mally re­solved.

Lat­er, dur­ing the film­ing of Orochi, the same prob­lem once again reared its ugly head. This time it was all of the rest of the em­ploy­ees against Okada and me. Same sto­ry—if we did­n’t get our acts to­geth­er, they’d quit. Ap­par­ent­ly, they were up­set about the fact that Okada and I did all our plan­ning at the coffee shop next door.

“You two do noth­ing but sit around chat­ting and drink­ing coffee all day”, they com­plained. “We can’t take it any­more!”

I snapped. Maybe I just did­n’t like tak­ing the heat my­self, but for what­ever rea­son, I felt be­trayed. I thought we were all on the same team, but now this.

In the end, we never could come to a res­o­lu­tion. Sev­eral of the mem­bers left to form their own com­pa­ny—which oddly enough, con­tin­ued to ac­cept sub­con­tract­ing work for Gen­eral Prod­ucts. A few years lat­er, our two com­pa­nies would merge, and then split once again.

I learned some­thing from this ex­pe­ri­ence. The sim­ple act of peo­ple gath­er­ing around some­one they feel they can trust and try­ing to talk out their prob­lem can cause emo­tions to come into play and ac­tu­ally make the prob­lem much, much worse. Which is a shame, be­cause most of the time, the ini­tial prob­lem was some­thing quite triv­ial.

In­ci­den­tal­ly, one of the part-time il­lus­tra­tors was a manga artist named Sonoyan (bet­ter known as Kenichi Son­oda143144). Lat­er, both of us would end up mov­ing to Tokyo and liv­ing in the same neigh­bor­hood. I guess we just can’t get rid of each oth­er!

At the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store we also sold fan comics on con­sign­ment from none other than 145, who was still an am­a­teur at the time.

Okada was work­ing with Ya­m­aga on some OVA (o­rig­i­nal video an­i­ma­tion) project around this time, but they did­n’t tell me much about it146. You know the rest of this sto­ry—the project would turn into GAINAX’s first com­mer­cial film, 147148, aka The Wings of Hon­neamise149. As for An­no, he’d long since moved to Tokyo and was mak­ing quite a name for him­self as a pro­fes­sional an­i­ma­tor.

Chairman of the Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group Association Committee

[pg 86–87]

For the 24th an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, or “Gat­a­con Spe­cial”150, I nom­i­nated my­self as can­di­date for chair­man­ship for the Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion com­mit­tee. I al­ready had close ties with the As­so­ci­a­tion, and re­ceived enough votes to win the po­si­tion.

We had been hold­ing some­thing of a grudge against the Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group ever since they shot down our first Con­ven­tion plan, forc­ing us to hold the Sci-Fi Show in­stead. And when the DAICON 3 open­ing an­i­ma­tion won the Seiun Award151 but was de­nied the prize on the grounds that it had­n’t been screened in gen­eral the­aters, that grudge turned into open hos­til­i­ty. We were, in effect, robbed of the Seiun Award and had to ac­cept an Hon­or­able Men­tion in­stead.

Among the many sci-fi fans I met at this time was a fel­low named Kak­izaki152. Every time I spoke with him, he’d tell me the same thing: “If you were chair­man of the Fan Group, you would­n’t be hav­ing these prob­lems.” As it turned out, Kak­izaki was the head of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee for Gat­a­con Spe­cial, and he did noth­ing but sing my praises to the Fan Group com­mit­tee. But I have to con­fess that was­n’t all we had go­ing for me. Most of the “aye” votes came from fic­ti­tious fan clubs that we made up, just so they could “vote” in the elec­tion! Yep, we rigged it, and Kak­izaki knew all about it.

Any­way, I won the elec­tion, and I served as the com­mit­tee chair­man for over 16 years. But after all those years, I get the feel­ing that all I re­ally did was just make things a lit­tle eas­ier for Mr. Kadokura and Mr. Maki153.

I was­n’t able to get a hold of Kak­izaki for a very long time, and then in July of 2001 I re­ceived news that he had suc­cumbed to an ill­ness. Tragic in­deed that I would not hear from him again.

Wonder Festival

[pg 87–89]

Be­cause of Gen­eral Prod­ucts’ suc­cess in de­vel­op­ing and ex­pand­ing smal­l­-lot li­censed model prod­ucts, other garage kit mak­ers154 soon sprang up and fol­lowed suit. There had been pi­rated prod­uct lines in ex­is­tence be­fore Gen­eral Prod­ucts came along, but I be­lieve we were the first smal­l­-lot pro­duc­tion group to seek li­cens­ing for our prod­uct lines and sell them with offi­cial sanc­tion.

When new garage kit mak­ers started pop­ping up, the last thing on our minds was ac­cus­ing them of be­ing copy­cats. In­stead, we pro­posed get­ting every­one to­gether for some kind of di­rec­t-sales event. After all, we fi­nally had friends on our block! What we came up with was Won­der Fes­ti­val155.

We’d been called “tight-fisted huck­sters” for mak­ing our garage kits, but we’d started a rev­o­lu­tion. Model shops that had pre­vi­ously been con­tent to sell kits from the big-name mak­ers like and were now be­gin­ning to de­velop and mar­ket their own orig­i­nal de­signs. From the be­gin­ning, our goal was to make the things we wanted our­selves, be­cause we just weren’t sat­is­fied with the range of prod­ucts man­u­fac­tured by big-name mod­el­ers. Pre­dictably, those big-name mod­el­ers did­n’t show one bit of in­ter­est in garage kits.

We were also com­plete am­a­teurs when it came to dis­tri­b­u­tion, but we did know how to or­ga­nize a suc­cess­ful 4,000-per­son event, so we did­n’t hes­i­tate for a mo­ment when it came time to plan Won­der Fes­ti­val. We knew we could do it, and do it well.

We de­cided to hold the first Won­der Fes­ti­val in Tokyo. It was just the log­i­cal thing to do, con­sid­er­ing the ad­van­tages a venue in Tokyo would hold—not only for the fu­ture pop­u­lar­iza­tion and mat­u­ra­tion of the garage kit in­dus­try in gen­er­al, but also for our busi­ness in par­tic­u­lar. Re­mem­ber, we were the same guys who’d made DAICON 4 the grand­est Con­ven­tion in all of Japan, just so we could thumb our noses at Tokyo! We could­n’t re­sist hold­ing a lit­tle “pre-event” event in Os­aka right be­fore the ac­tual one in Tokyo. We held it at the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store, and it was a huge suc­cess. We had peo­ple lined up out­side like it was the grand open­ing.

The first Won­der Fes­ti­val was a great suc­cess for us, but it was still very smal­l­-s­cale. We rented out half of a floor of the in . We did­n’t need more space sim­ply be­cause there weren’t that many garage kit mak­ers around at the time, and am­a­teur deal­ers were al­most nonex­is­tent. An­other thing that made this one differ­ent from other events of its kind was that we charged ad­mis­sion. Un­able to fore­see the im­pact of an ad­mis­sion fee on at­ten­dance, we de­cided to keep it small just in case.

But we need­n’t have wor­ried—we would soon be shriek­ing in de­light! So many peo­ple showed up that we had to shuffle them in and our in shifts. Lat­er, we would in­crease the scale of the event and be­gin hold­ing it bian­nu­al­ly—one in sum­mer and one in win­ter. We con­tin­ued to use the Tokyo Trade Cen­ter, but with each sub­se­quent Won­der Fes­ti­val we’d have to rent our more and more floor space, un­til fi­nally we ended up rent­ing out the whole damn build­ing. And the place still over­flowed.

Since Won­der Fes­ti­val was held twice a year, it felt like we were in a per­pet­ual state of event plan­ning. It also brought back the par­ty-like at­mos­phere we had first ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing the prepa­ra­tions for the Sci-Fi Show. Won­der Fes­ti­val held a lot of mean­ing for me per­son­al­ly, and also drew vol­un­teers from the rest of the DAICON 4 staff. It even cap­tured the eye of copy­right li­cense hold­ers, who went on to draft amend­ments to the li­cens­ing sys­tem that would grant sin­gle-day li­censes to all am­a­teur deal­ers reg­is­tered for the event, a truly Her­culean move for copy­right law.

-After the breakup of Gen­eral Prod­ucts, toy­maker Kaiy­odo took over as the main spon­sor for Won­der Fes­ti­val, and they still con­tinue in that role to­day.

The founding of GAINAX

[pg 89–93]

Amid the prepa­ra­tions for Won­der Fes­ti­val, both Okada and Ya­m­aga be­gan set­ting their sights on pro­fes­sional an­i­ma­tion pro­duc­tion. Startup cap­i­tal was sup­plied by Gen­eral Prod­ucts to the tune of two mil­lion yen (about US $8,500 in 1984 dol­lars).

Okada also re­cruited Hi­roaki In­oue, one of the guys we’d met ear­lier through our sci-fi fan group ac­tiv­i­ties. Back then, In­oue was work­ing for Tezuka Pro­duc­tions, and we were count­ing in him to bring in some much-needed pro­fes­sional ex­pe­ri­ence. All we’d ever at­tempted to pro­duce by way of anime was an 8mm in­de­pen­dent short. Anno and Ya­m­aga had worked pro­fes­sion­ally as an­i­ma­tors, but just as low-level pro­duc­tion site em­ploy­ees, not as plan­ners, pro­duc­ers or di­rec­tors. If they were go­ing to do this ani­me, they were go­ing to have to do every­thing them­selves, from start to fin­ish. And Okada was still a rank am­a­teur. Not only did he not know the first thing about pro­duc­ing an ani­me, he did­n’t have any di­rect in­dus­try con­nec­tions. That’s where In­oue came in.

Pro­duc­ing this new anime pro­fes­sion­ally meant get­ting a bud­get, and one place we could pitch our project was Bandai. There was a guy there by the name of Shigeru Watan­abe156, whom we’d met through con­tacts at Gen­eral Prod­ucts. Ini­tial­ly, he’d been in charge of Bandai’s Real Hobby se­ries157, but he’d since trans­ferred over to their Emo­tion film la­bel (later to be­come Bandai Vi­su­al). We de­cided to use Watan­abe to get our foot in the door.

The tim­ing was per­fect. The plan made it all the way to the office of the then-pres­i­dent of Bandai, Mr. Makoto Ya­mashina158. As it turns out, Ya­mashina wanted to ad­vance their anime film pro­duc­tion any­way, so Oritsu Uchugun was changed from an OVA159 project to a the­atri­cal film pro­duc­tion, and the bud­get was ac­cord­ingly upped from the orig­i­nal ¥40 mil­lion (about US $167,000 in 1984 dol­lars) to a whop­ping to­tal ex­pense al­lo­ca­tion of ¥800 mil­lion (US $3.3 mil­lion)!

There was, how­ev­er, re­sis­tance within the com­pany to­ward this foray into film­mak­ing. As a re­sult, the project be­came a two-stage plan where we would have to start off with a pi­lot film. If the project was deemed suffi­ciently sales-wor­thy, we would be al­lowed to pro­ceed with pro­duc­tion of the main film.

The trade name for our new pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny, GAINAX, was reg­is­tered at the ear­li­est stages of the Bandai an­i­ma­tion pro­ject. Ba­si­cal­ly, we needed a cor­po­rate ves­sel to hold the pro­duc­tion funds, so that’s what GAINAX be­came. The his­tory of the name it­self is now the stuff of leg­ends. Be­lieve it or not, it does­n’t come from any for­eign word­s—it’s 100% pure Japan­ese. In the of , the word gaina means “big”. Even now, the city hosts a fes­ti­val called Gaina Mat­suri, which means “Big Fes­ti­val”. Both Akai and Ya­m­aga knew about this gaina word, and as the story goes, they each in­de­pen­dently came up with the idea of us­ing it for the com­pany name, with­out con­sult­ing with each other first. The “X” at the end was just stuck on to make the name look more like “the name of an anime ro­bot” (I know, I know… that’s a pretty silly rea­son). Any­way, that’s how we got “GAINAX”. There’s some­thing else, though. I re­cently learned that in the the word gaina means “rowdy” or “loose can­non”! Rather fun­ny, be­cause that’s not too far from the mark, ei­ther…

As we were reg­is­ter­ing GAINAX, we de­cided to go ahead and ride by in­cor­po­rat­ing Gen­eral Prod­ucts. It had, un­til then, re­mained a di­vi­sion of Okada Em­broi­der­ing. We did­n’t make Gen­eral Prod­ucts the pro­duc­tion com­pany from the start be­cause we still in­tended to dis­band the bridge cor­po­ra­tion GAINAX as soon as the film pro­duc­tion was com­plete. It was­n’t our in­ten­tion to found a new com­pa­ny. In­ci­den­tal­ly, we hired Masahiro Noda on as at that time, and he’s still with us to­day.

For a while, peo­ple were un­der the im­pres­sion that GAINAX started out as a sub­sidiary of Bandai, but that’s a mis­take. The fact is, Gen­eral Prod­ucts cap­i­tal­ized the new com­pany and reg­is­tered it, but Bandai paid all the pro­duc­tion ex­pens­es. I was the one who per­son­ally handed in the reg­is­tra­tion forms for both cor­po­ra­tions. I got an ac­coun­tant to show me the ropes on the pa­per­work and to go through the en­tire process, and then I marched down to the Sakai at­tor­ney gen­er­al’s office and sub­mit­ted the forms in per­son. I found it ex­tremely in­ter­est­ing.

Be­fore reg­is­ter­ing, we had a dis­cus­sion and fixed the date of the found­ing on Christ­mas Day, but I got con­fused and jumped the gun. I ac­tu­ally com­pleted the reg­is­tra­tion on De­cem­ber 24, mak­ing the found­ing date Christ­mas Eve in­stead.

An­other funny thing was that I listed the same busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties on the reg­istries for both cor­po­ra­tions, mean­ing that anime pro­duc­tion was­n’t ac­tu­ally listed un­der GAINAX. I’ll never hear the end of that one.

The start­ing lineup of busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives for the two com­pa­nies was Okada as pres­i­dent of GAINAX, INC., and me as pres­i­dent of Gen­eral Prod­ucts, Inc. That was it.

Okada and Ya­m­aga ac­tu­ally moved to Tokyo to be­gin pro­duc­tion of Oritsu Uchugun, set­ting up a stu­dio at Takad­ababa in . I re­mained in Os­aka, and the run­ning of Gen­eral Prod­ucts was left en­tirely up to me, both in name and in fact. Some peo­ple left the store al­to­geth­er, but I was­n’t one of them. Just be­cause I re­mained in Os­aka did­n’t mean that I’d bro­ken off busi­ness re­la­tions with Okada and the rest of the boys at GAINAX. For one thing, shoot­ing for Ya­mata no Orochi no Gyakushu was still un­der­way in Os­aka, and I was still ac­tively par­tic­i­pat­ing in the project as both a scene di­rec­tor and gen­eral staffer. The thought of mov­ing the Gen­eral Prod­ucts head­quar­ters to Tokyo was­n’t even a con­sid­er­a­tion at that point. I still felt con­nected by our ac­tiv­i­ties as a group, and thought of the split head­quar­ters as noth­ing more than a new arrange­ment. Other mem­bers of the group may have felt differ­ent­ly… I don’t know.

I listed my­self among the board of di­rec­tors for GAINAX when I reg­is­tered the com­pa­ny, and now I’m the only re­main­ing found­ing mem­ber of the board. All the peo­ple who worked on Oritsu Uchugun were in their 20s at the time. We were all just babes in the woods, but by now every one of those peo­ple has gone on to be­come a suc­cess­ful an­i­ma­tor or di­rec­tor.

Now that I’m on the top­ic, there’s a char­ac­ter in Top o Ner­ae! (“Gun­buster”) who was based on one of these peo­ple dur­ing GAINAX’s early stages. The model for Cap­tain Tashiro was our sound di­rec­tor At­sumi Tashiro, a vet­eran who had also been in charge of sound for Uchu Senkan Yam­ato (“Star Blaz­ers”). He was ex­actly like Cap­tain Tashiro.

Yamata no Orochi no Gyakushu

[pg 94–96]

As the GAINAX team was just start­ing pro­duc­tion of Oritsu Uchugun Hon­neamise no Tsub­asa (“The Wings of Hon­neamise”), the Os­aka gang and I were keep­ing our­selves busy with Ya­mata no Orochi no Gyakushu.

Un­like the pro­fes­sion­als at GAINAX, we had to rely al­most ex­clu­sively on help from vol­un­teer am­a­teurs. DAICON FILM had com­pletely run out of funds for the movie by this point, and Gen­eral Prod­ucts was forced to put in some cash to keep the project afloat, leav­ing us with no money to pay the staff. They re­ally were vol­un­teers, and we could­n’t even afford to feed them—ev­ery­one brought .

Be­cause of all this, we be­gan to see con­flicts aris­ing from a lack of com­mit­ment to the pro­ject. Akai was the di­rec­tor and his whole rea­son for in­volve­ment was most likely re­sume-build­ing—he wanted to go pro. Sawa­mura was the pro­duc­er, and his pri­mary con­cern was just com­plet­ing the thing. He was work­ing hard to see that hap­pen. I, on the other hand, was sim­ply hav­ing a good time with it. As a scene di­rec­tor and al­l-around staff mem­ber, I had learned to en­joy be­ing in front of the cam­era, but I had other re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, too. The Gen­eral Prod­ucts store was­n’t go­ing to run it­self, so de­vot­ing my­self ex­clu­sively to film pro­duc­tion sim­ply was­n’t an op­tion. On top of that, a lot of the vol­un­teer staff mem­bers be­gan as­sert­ing their own in­ter­ests, cre­at­ing even more dishar­mony on the pro­duc­tion site. De­spite any differ­ences in mo­ti­va­tion, we were all sup­posed to be gath­ered to­gether for the pur­pose of cre­at­ing this film and mak­ing it as good as we pos­si­bly could, but that just was­n’t how things turned out.

I per­son­ally did­n’t care whether we were pro or am­a­teur. All that mat­tered to me was the strength of our com­mit­ment and what we wanted to get out of it. My old ac­tion-ori­ented at­ti­tude of “Act first, talk later” was still the same as it was when we were or­ga­niz­ing the Sci-Fi Show.

But the sit­u­a­tion was differ­ent. This was the largest project DAICON FILM had ever un­der­tak­en, both in terms of scope and vol­ume, and it was our first time work­ing with . It was one new, untested thing after an­oth­er, and it seemed like no mat­ter how much footage we shot, we just could­n’t fin­ish the thing. It be­came too try­ing for the staff, many of whom had joined for no other rea­son than to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing new, and one by one they started drop­ping out of the pro­ject. I wanted to say, “You were the ones who signed up for this, so you might as well stick it out to the end”, but truth be told, I did­n’t re­ally feel like chas­ing after them. Among the staff mem­bers who stayed were Shinji Higuchi160, An­no’s friend from Tokyo, and Sawa­mu­ra’s for­mer class­mate Showji Mu­ra­hama161, who was still in col­lege.

De­spite all the strug­gles, the Orochi project was mov­ing to­ward com­ple­tion. And I can’t say we did­n’t have some good times, too. But we ran out of money be­fore the com­ple­tion of sound pro­duc­tion, and the project stalled while we waited for ad­di­tional funds.

Gen­eral Prod­ucts was­n’t in a po­si­tion to in­vest any more money into the pro­ject, and we did­n’t know what to do. After a lot of con­sid­er­a­tion, we fi­nally de­cided to sell off the video rights to Bandai.

After a long string of bru­tal set­backs and un­fore­seen trou­bles, Ya­mata no Orochi no Gyakushu was fi­nally com­pleted in 1985. It would be DAICON FILM’s swan song.

The end of our am­a­teur film pro­duc­tion also meant the loss of a plat­form for our group ac­tiv­i­ties. With Orochi fin­ished, Akai moved to Tokyo to join the Oritsu Uchugun Hon­neamise no Tsub­asa pro­duc­tion as an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor. I sent Higuchi and Mu­ra­hama to the Tokyo pro­duc­tion site as well, be­cause Higuchi had dis­tin­guished him­self as a spe­cial effects di­rec­tor and Mu­ra­hama had worked his tail off. As for me, I re­turned to my usual work at Gen­eral Prod­ucts.

Fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of the Fushigi no Umi no Na­dia film, Mu­ra­hama would leave GAINAX, and to­gether with Mahiro Maeda, Hi­roshi Ya­m­aguchi, and Shinji Higuchi would go on to found the anime pro­duc­tion stu­dio GONZO. 162 joined stu­dio GONZO the fol­low­ing year.

Oritsu Uchugun Honneamise no Tsubasa

[pg 96–98]

GAINAX was able to fin­ish up the pi­lot ver­sion of Oritsu Uchugun at the stu­dio in Takad­ababa, but for the ac­tual pro­duc­tion they needed a big­ger place, so the stu­dio was moved to Kichi­jo­ji-Hi­gashi. I my­self was so wrapped up in Gen­eral Prod­ucts mat­ters that I don’t re­ally know what things were like on the pro­duc­tion site, but I did see the first trial screen­ing in per­son. The fin­ish­ing touches had­n’t yet been ap­plied, but that did­n’t mat­ter. I was blown away. I’m ashamed to say I even cried. It was that mov­ing.

The fin­ished Oritsu Uchugun be­gan show­ing in Toho For­eign Film Branch the­aters through­out the coun­try in March of 1987. I went to a the­ater in Os­aka and saw it again. Look­ing back, I kind of re­gret not be­ing more in­volved in the pro­duc­tion of the film. It re­ally was amaz­ing, and it would’ve been nice to have been a big­ger part of it, but I was in Os­aka, giv­ing Gen­eral Prod­ucts my full at­ten­tion.

It’s com­monly be­lieved that while Oritsu Uchugun was a well-made film, it was a fail­ure at the box office163. That’s com­pletely un­true. It may not have been a huge hit, but it cer­tainly was­n’t a flop. Not a sin­gle the­ater can­celed its run, and at some lo­ca­tions, it ac­tu­ally had a longer run than ini­tially planned. I think a false ap­pre­hen­sion prob­a­bly emerged be­cause a few peo­ple voiced their own un­founded as­sump­tion­s—that a story as com­plex and sub­tle as this could­n’t pos­si­bly draw crowds, and from there the ru­mors just took on a life of their own.164

Re­gard­less, this was a big-bud­get pro­duc­tion. For an an­i­ma­tion bud­get in Japan at the time, ¥800 mil­lion was a huge chunk of change. It would have been large even for a live-ac­tion Japan­ese film. The bud­get scale meant that re­claim­ing all the pro­duc­tion costs at the box office sim­ply was­n’t fea­si­ble.

With a suc­cess­ful anime pro­duc­tion and an es­tab­lished re­la­tion­ship with Bandai un­der their belts, it would’ve been a real shame to just dis­solve the com­pany at that point. Okada, In­oue, and the rest of the as­sem­bled GAINAX staff also ex­pressed their fer­vent opin­ions that the com­pany should be al­lowed to con­tinue on. But the huge stu­dio needed for the the­atri­cal pro­duc­tion was too ex­pen­sive to main­tain, so GAINAX had to move once more—this time back to the tiny stu­dio in Kichi­jo­ji-Mi­na­mi.

General Products moves to Tokyo

[pg 98–99]

The flip side of GAINAX’s new suc­cess was the ever-wors­en­ing state of affairs at Gen­eral Prod­ucts. The Won­der Fes­ti­val had ex­panded be­yond be­lief, and slowly but surely the garage kit in­dus­try was grow­ing larger and more en­trenched. De­spite all that, Gen­eral Prod­ucts items weren’t do­ing very well in the mar­ket­place.

We still had some hits, like our life-size Ka­men Rider mask165. It was some­thing every­one thought of do­ing, but only we could ac­tu­ally pull it off (we made it out of soft vinyl166, a ma­te­r­ial that was still a rar­ity in the garage kit world). But even with suc­cesses like this, the fu­ture of Gen­eral Prod­ucts was still cloudy.

To make mat­ters worse, as pro­duc­tion on Orochi con­cluded Sawa­mura and I started to dis­agree pro­fes­sion­al­ly, and he ended up leav­ing the com­pany while Oritsu Uchugun was show­ing in the­aters.

In short, Gen­eral Prod­ucts was in trou­ble.

I also started to be­lieve that if I con­tin­ued do­ing busi­ness in Os­aka, I would even­tu­ally hit a brick wall. Work­ing in the char­ac­ter busi­ness meant get­ting ap­proval from li­cen­sors. And all the li­cen­sors were in Tokyo. Plus, there was the bian­nual Won­der Fes­ti­val, also in Tokyo. And by now, Gen­eral Prod­ucts was hurt­ing so bad fi­nan­cially that even the cost of go­ing to Tokyo three or four times a year was get­ting to be a ma­jor drain on the com­pa­ny’s re­sources. Won­der Fes­ti­val was rapidly be­com­ing the store’s pri­mary source of in­vest­ment cap­i­tal, and there did­n’t seem to be any­thing I could do about it.

I had to face facts. After much ag­o­niz­ing, I fi­nally de­cided to move Gen­eral Prod­ucts op­er­a­tions to Tokyo. I left the Os­aka branch store in the care of Ju­nichi Os­ako167, one of the guys who’d been on the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion staff, and the rest of us merged with GAINAX. In­ci­den­tal­ly, that same Ju­nichi Os­ako is now a nov­el­ist.

Some mem­bers of my staff weren’t too keen on leav­ing Os­aka, so they left the com­pany in­stead. This left us with a com­bined staff of about ten em­ploy­ees.

Shouting! Running! Laughing! Crying! Yasuhiro Takeda and the First Big Bash of the 21st Century

[pg 111]

In­-depth cov­er­age on Ya­suhiro Takeda, Chair­man of the Plan­ning Com­mit­tee for the 40th An­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion-S­F2001 & Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee

[Photo of the con­ven­tion hall for the 40th An­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion-S­F2001 (2001-08-17–2001-08-19) —Ed­i­tor]
  • Date: Aug. 17–19, 2001
  • Lo­ca­tion: Nip­pon Con­ven­tion Cen­ter (Makuhari Messe) in Mi­hama-ku, Chiba

The year was 2001. It was the first year of the new cen­tu­ry, a time that many sci-fi fans had dreamed of. It was also the first time in 13 years that GAINAX would host the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. Ya­suhiro Takeda, Gen­eral Man­ager for GAINAX, put his ge­nius to work as the Chair­man of the Plan­ning Com­mit­tee—but he would also step down as Chair­man of the Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee, a po­si­tion he’d held since 1986. It was a proud mo­ment for Mr. Takeda, and we were right there with him. It was a proud mo­ment for Mr. Takeda, and we were right there with him. We now present an in­-depth re­port of the 56 hours we spent with the now ex-Chair­man, from the day be­fore the con­ven­tion right up un­til he said his good­byes.

Friday, August 17th. Weather: cloudy, partly sunny.

[pg 111–112]

  • 11:30 AM I ar­rive at the con­ven­tion site, ac­com­pa­nied by a fel­low ed­i­tor from mag­a­zine. Mr. Takeda, along with some other GAINAX staff who are help­ing out with the con­ven­tion, and ap­prox­i­mately eighty vol­un­teers are al­ready gath­ered in front of the “Sci-Fi Hall”, where the main part of the con­ven­tion will be held. The air is abuzz with chat­ter. We had met with Takeda once be­fore to dis­cuss our re­port, but we opt to in­tro­duce our­selves again. When asked if there is any­thing he would pre­fer not to be re­port­ed, his im­me­di­ate an­swer is, “Not at all. Feel free to re­port any­thing.” Well then! He won’t mind if we talk about a lit­tle of this, or touch on some of that, will he? I thought to my­self. Al­right, let’s get this re­port un­der­way!
Sakyo Ko­mat­su, a ma­jor player in Japan­ese sci-fi, is shown here prior to in­au­gural greet­ings.
  • 11:35 AM A re­minder is given to the con­ven­tion staff on how things should be run. “One per­son’s neg­li­gence makes the en­tire staff look bad. Pay at­ten­tion and work.” Harsh words, but there are no signs of ner­vous­ness among the staff. On the con­trary, every­one seems in a good mood, anx­ious for the mo­men­tous event that is about to be­gin. I can’t de­cide whether they seem more like school kids about to go on a field trip or otaku head­ing to a Comiket fan-comic con­ven­tion. I guess every­one loves a good par­ty!
  • 12:05 PM Peo­ple start set­ting up for the con­ven­tion. Staff mem­bers keep ac­ci­den­tally step­ping on the lines that ex­hibitors have put out to aid in set­ting up their dis­plays. “Hey, don’t step on that!” Takeda keeps yelling an­gri­ly. “It’s times like these that tell you a lot about a per­son, the kind of per­son­al­ity they have. You can tell some peo­ple just once not to step on’em, and they’re care­ful never to do it again. But oth­ers will just keep on step­pin’ on them, no mat­ter how many times you tell them not to.” Does step­ping on the lines just get on his nerves, or is it some­how con­nected to a dark event in his past? Takeda re­turns to the sec­ond floor and has a smoke by him­self.
  • 12:30 PM Takeda and the oth­ers re­ceive and in­ter­nal-use phones to aid in their prepa­ra­tions. The Sci-Fi Hall it­self is a huge area, some 36,000 square feet, and the con­ven­tion is also rent­ing the In­ter­na­tional Hall. The bi­cy­cles and phones are in­dis­pens­able in al­low­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion to quickly pass be­tween the var­i­ous di­vi­sions. It’s just too bad every­one won’t be run­ning around in Notenki cos­tumes… I hurry after them, my head filled with the kind of ridicu­lous day­dreams only a hard­core otaku would have.
  • 1:30 PM The en­ergy level of the staff has be­gun to grad­u­ally rise. The male staff mem­bers are putting up tents and erect­ing stages, while the fe­males make lit­tle pack­ages of pro­gram books and name tags for the at­ten­dees. Mr. Takeda rides around on one of the bi­cy­cles, giv­ing out de­tailed in­struc­tions. “Here I am, the com­mit­tee di­rec­tor, and I still have the urge to poke my nose into every lit­tle thing”, he ad­mits. “I’m not sure why, though.”
  • 3:00 PM Takeda leaves the con­ven­tion site to pick up his wife, sci-fi nov­el­ist Hi­roe Suga, and their daugh­ter Yuki­no. He has lunch while out. After­ward, Mrs. Suga joins the staff. The en­tire fam­ily is work­ing to put this con­ven­tion to­geth­er. I tip my hat to them.
  • 4:25 PM A meet­ing is held in one of the sec­ondary offices to de­cide who will be work­ing where. To­mor­row promises to be an­other chaotic day, and Takeda and the oth­ers all look se­ri­ous. “There’s just too many things to think about”, he gripes.
  • 5:00 PM An­other meet­ing is held to dis­cuss the open­ing and end­ing cer­e­monies. “It’s the day be­fore the con­ven­tion, and noth­ing’s been de­cid­ed. Every­one’s still scram­bling all over the place.” Uh, come again?
  • 6:40 PM Din­ner con­sists of pre-pack­aged meals, after which the next day’s as­sign­ments are an­nounced. Takeda gives out or­ders us­ing a hand­held mic.
  • 7:50 PM Takeda re­turns Yukino and Mrs. Suga to the ho­tel.
  • 9:10 PM Uni­forms and nametags are handed out to staff. Takeda calls out each per­son by name and gives them their uni­form. Like al­ways, he’s mak­ing the crowd laugh.
  • 10:00 PM Or­ders are given to be­gin con­struct­ing a . This piece of art was set­tled on by merit of its best be­ing able to re­flect this, the grand­est sci-fi con­ven­tion of the year 2001. It will be placed squarely in the mid­dle of the Sci-Fi Hall.
The day of the con­ven­tion. A meet­ing is held to ham­mer out the re­main­ing is­sues.
  • 10:30 PM Prizes are sorted for use in the quiz shows as well as the 40th an­niver­sary con par­ty. Takeda is start­ing to look tired. We’d like to help, but every­one’s ex­pres­sions are so deathly se­ri­ous that we find our­selves un­able to ap­proach…
Con­struct­ing the mono­lith
  • 11:00 PM Prepa­ra­tions con­tin­ue. Takeda rides around the place on his bi­cy­cle, oc­ca­sion­ally stop­ping for a smoke in the des­ig­nated smok­ing ar­eas. Every­where he goes, peo­ple gather around him. He chain smokes and chats cheer­fully with them.
  • 2:30 AM The mono­lith is fi­nally fin­ished. It looks bet­ter than planned, and even Takeda seems sat­is­fied with it.
  • 3:00 AM Takeda checks every­thing over one last time. His eyes look tired, and his legs barely have any en­ergy as he ped­als the bike. It looks like weari­ness has fi­nally caught up with him. He heads off to the hotel, and to bed.

Saturday, August 18th. Weather: cloudy, afternoon showers

[pg 112–114]

  • 6:00 AM Takeda is awak­ened by a phone call from Mr. Takami Akai, who is in charge of the open­ing an­i­ma­tion. He tells Takeda that, “It won’t be ready for the open­ing cer­e­monies, but will prob­a­bly be ready for the clos­ing.” Con­sid­er­ing the other projects Mr. Akai is work­ing on for this event, it is de­cided to can­cel the anime al­to­geth­er.
  • 6:50 AM Takeda shows up at the hall wear­ing the same type of uni­form he dis­trib­uted to every­one the day be­fore. He eats a bento for break­fast, a gloomy look on his face—I sus­pect he’s still trou­bled by the mat­ter of the open­ing an­i­ma­tion. Staff mem­bers are con­stantly com­ing to him for fur­ther in­struc­tions, and I won­der if be­ing re­lied on like this is ac­tu­ally a source of in­spi­ra­tion for him.
  • 7:05 AM After break­fast, Takeda gives the staffers their in­struc­tions. It’s an im­por­tant lec­ture, de­tail­ing how to keep a 1,700-par­tic­i­pant, 300-guest event run­ning smooth­ly. Every­one lis­tens in­tent­ly, their faces earnest.
Takeda takes a quick break and eats with Yuki­no.
  • 7:50 AM The prepa­ra­tions that have been go­ing on since yes­ter­day ap­pear to have reached the fi­nal stage. Many of the staff mem­bers worked all night to get every­thing ready. Takeda spot checks, rid­ing around on his bi­cy­cle and call­ing out to peo­ple. He also checks on the re­cep­tion desk, which is lo­cated in the in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence hall on the 1st floor.
  • 8:15 AM Takeda has a cup of coffee at a cafe next to the re­cep­tion desk. “Man, I gotta apol­o­gize to every­one at the open­ing cer­e­mony”, he says sad­ly. I knew that can­cel­ing the anime had affected him, and watch­ing him is even start­ing to mak­ing me feel down.
  • 8:30 AM Mr. Akai shows up look­ing men­tally and phys­i­cally ex­haust­ed. It’s de­cided to post the open­ing anime on the con­ven­tion’s web­site at a later date. Takeda looks some­what re­lieved at hav­ing fi­nally fig­ured out how to deal with the sit­u­a­tion. Phew! I’m happy for you, Mr. Takeda! I think, imag­in­ing my­self strik­ing a tri­umphant pose.
  • 8:35 AM prepa­ra­tions for the open­ing re­hearsal be­gin in­side the con­ven­tion hall. Takeda gives de­tailed in­struc­tions re­gard­ing the light­ing, au­dio and video footage to be used.
  • 8:55 AM Re­hearsal for the open­ing cer­e­mony gets un­der­way.
  • 9:00 AM Doors open to the pub­lic.
  • 9:15 AM In­side of one of the wait­ing rooms, Takeda holds a meet­ing with Sakyo Ko­mat­su, the hon­orary head of the plan­ning com­mit­tee. Ko­mat­su, who will be de­liv­er­ing the open­ing speech, has ac­tu­ally de­clined this po­si­tion in the past, so it’s lit­tle won­der that Takeda was so in­sis­tent on get­ting him to ac­cept this time around. Takeda also greets Tsukasa Shikano and writer Haruka Takachi­ho, both of whom are in charge of the open­ing act. Takeda takes this op­por­tu­nity to hand every­one in the room his busi­ness card. He’s vis­i­bly dis­ap­pointed a mo­ment lat­er, when Mr. Ko­matsu looks at the card and says “Wani Books? I did­n’t know they were still around.” On the other hand, Mr. Ko­mat­su’s card (which was made es­pe­cially for this event) was an ad for , the pop­u­lar comic run­ning se­ri­ally in Comic GUM. Wow!
  • 9:30 AM Takeda checks on the re­cep­tion area. A few hun­dred peo­ple have al­ready gath­ered around the en­trance. The crowds and the ex­cite­ment re­mind me of , when vis­i­tors line up for the tra­di­tional New Year’s visit to a shrine. Prior prepa­ra­tions and an effi­cient staff en­sure that the ad­mit­tance of par­tic­i­pants goes quite smooth­ly. Takeda has a big smile on his face.
  • 9:45 AM Takeda en­ters the con­ven­tion hall to wit­ness the open­ing cer­e­mo­ny. Every­thing is set and ready to go. Takeda him­self ap­pears calm and ready to take on every­thing that comes that way. No won­der he’s earned him­self a nick­name “the big guy”. Sor­ry, I don’t mean to sound cocky…
Takeda runs into manga artist Kenji Tsu­ru­ta.
  • 10:05 AM The open­ing cer­e­mony be­gins and Takeda’s speech kicks off the event. “This thing is run­ning for 30 non­stop hours, and there are a whole lot of things go­ing on! So have fun, but don’t push your­selves too hard, OK?” He con­tin­ues, say­ing “Sci-fi fans tend to be pretty cliquish. Too cliquish, re­al­ly, be­cause they’re al­ways stay­ing within their own groups. That can make an event like this pretty ex­clu­sion­ary and ac­tu­ally raise the av­er­age age of the par­tic­i­pants (which this year was 36). Fol­low­ing this con­ven­tion, I will be re­tir­ing from the po­si­tion of chair­man of the Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee. Do­ing this will hope­fully give a younger gen­er­a­tion the op­por­tu­nity to work on this event, and make it ac­ces­si­ble to a much wider au­di­ence. I look for­ward to comb­ing back again—as an at­ten­dee, this time—and en­joy­ing an al­l-new Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion.” The au­di­ence ap­plauded ap­pre­cia­tive­ly.
With au­thor Masaki Ya­ma­da.
  • 10:20 AM Sakyo Ko­matsu makes his open­ing speech. Takeda stands at the rear of the stage and watch­es, his face full of emo­tion.
  • 10:25 AM Mr. Ko­mat­su’s speech ends, and Takeda comes back out on­stage after. He’s sup­posed to go over gen­eral dos and don’ts with the au­di­ence, but sud­denly he bows and starts apol­o­giz­ing! “There’s some­thing I have to apol­o­gize for”, he be­gins, snick­ers al­ready com­ing from the au­di­ence. “We could­n’t get the open­ing anime ready in time…” Sud­den­ly, every­one bursts into laugh­ter and ap­plause! Those sci-fi fans sure love it when things go wrong! Watch­ing Takeda apol­o­gize so sin­cerely must’ve been like see­ing some of the very en­ter­tain­ment they’d come here for! Phew, good thing huh? (Well, not that good, I guess…)
  • 10:35 AM The open­ing cer­e­mony con­cludes, and Ko­mat­su, Takachiho and Shikano per­form the open­ing act, Ky­oyou (“Ed­u­ca­tion”). Mean­while, Takeda chats with the staff back­stage.
  • 12:10 PM Takeda eats lunch with his daugh­ter Yukino at a restau­rant on the 1st floor. Things have been pretty in­tense for him all morn­ing, but it seems like he’s fi­nally been able to catch a breather. His face is one of con­tent­ment as he looks at his daugh­ter.
  • 1:00 PM Takeda vis­its the green­rooms next to the restau­rant and chats with some of the guests.
  • 1:40 PM Takeda moves on to the main event area. He hears from the staff that every­thing went well at the re­cep­tion.
  • 1:50 PM The Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee calls a meet­ing in the con­ven­tion hall. They are meet­ing to vote on re­cip­i­ents of the Seiun Awards. They also dis­cuss the lo­ca­tion of the next con­ven­tion, which is sched­uled for 2003. As Tochigi pre­fec­ture is cho­sen as the con­ven­tion site, the event is nick­named T-CON. Takeda speaks on a num­ber of differ­ent is­sues, in­clud­ing Gifu pre­fec­ture be­ing given pref­er­ence for the site of the 2004 con­ven­tion. Fi­nal­ly, he moves on to the biggest agenda fac­ing the Com­mit­tee—re­vis­ing the rules and reg­u­la­tions for hold­ing a Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. The de­bate be­comes in­creas­ingly heat­ed—e­spe­cially when Takeda him­self de­cides to en­ter the fray. Chair­man or no, Takeda is­n’t afraid to speak his mind (which earns him more than a few com­plaints). Just watch­ing the pro­ceed­ings is enough to make me pretty ner­vous. The de­bate rages, go­ing past the sched­uled end time of 3:30 pm to fi­nally con­clude at 4:00. At the end of the meet­ing, Takeda for­mally an­nounces that to­day he will be re­sign­ing from the Com­mit­tee. Ms. Noriko Maki is named a can­di­date for the po­si­tion of Com­mit­tee chair­woman.
  • 4:20 PM After the meet­ing, Takeda goes to the main office and in­ter­views with Anime Par­adise168. He com­ments on the theme of the 2001 Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion and the fu­ture of GAINAX.
  • 4:35 PM Takeda is a pan­elist on “The Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee—­Past and Fu­ture”, held in room 205 of the In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence Hall. This project aims to shed light on the 40-year his­tory of the con­ven­tion, in­clud­ing that of pre­vi­ous Com­mit­tee chair­per­sons and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors. Upon learn­ing that Takeda has held his chair­man’s po­si­tion for 16 years, orig­i­nal Com­mit­tee chair­man Masahiro Noda ex­claims, “Takeda is like !” Takeda flashes him a wry grin. Per­haps it was ex­haus­tion, but when the topic turns to the ori­gins of the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, Takeda de­cides to get in a lit­tle shut­eye. He must be pretty ex­hausted after that Fan­dom meet­ing, huh? I think to my­self. As soon as the topic shifts to the more re­cent his­tory of the con­ven­tion, how­ev­er, he sud­denly be­gins talk­ing rather an­i­mat­ed­ly. He even tosses out a suc­ces­sion of “be­hind-the-scenes” sto­ries, some of which sim­ply can­not be re­ported to the gen­eral pub­lic! The re­ac­tions of those present was split be­tween stunned si­lence and peals of laugh­ter.
  • 6:00 PM Takeda moves on to the Sci-Fi Hall. There is a lot of ac­tiv­ity here, as the area is jam-packed with a va­ri­ety of differ­ent events. Takeda bikes around the square ex­chang­ing busi­ness cards with par­tic­i­pants. Every­where he stops, a crowd gath­ers. Man, Mr. Takeda sure is pop­u­lar! I think to my­self. I guess he does­n’t have to wear a weird cos­tume to get at­ten­tion any­more… Just then, I turn and see the mono­lith. Whoa! Peo­ple have been throw­ing money offer­ings at it! And some­body ded­i­cated a mini-mono­lith next to it, too! I im­me­di­ately vowed to con­tact Mr. Clarke and tell him that I’d send him some pic­tures of the sight. Takeda is run­ning around, happy as a child at play. “Wow. You can never tell what a sci-fi fan’s gonna do, huh?” he asks.
  • 6:40 PM Takeda goes to the re­cep­tion area. He greets Hi­royuki Ya­m­a­ga, Pres­i­dent of GAINAX, who is dressed as a char­ac­ter from Abenobashi Shoten­gai (“Mag­i­cal Shop­ping Ar­cade Abenobashi”). The two chat for a while.
  • 7:30 PM After check­ing things out in the hall, Takeda heads for the Makuhari Prince Hotel, which is lo­cated right next to Makuhari Messe. There, he at­tends the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion 40th An­niver­sary par­ty, which is be­ing held in the Prince Hall.
Lis­ten­ing in­tently to Mr. Noda’s speech at the 40th an­niver­sary par­ty.
  • 8:15 PM The party gets un­der­way. Takeda makes the open­ing speech, which is fol­lowed by a toast from Mr. No­da. Takeda looks a lit­tle more re­laxed now that points on to­day’s agenda are (for the most part) taken care of. “If I eat, I’ll just end up get­ting sleepy”, he says, and be­gins chat­ting with the guests and par­tic­i­pants. He fi­nally breaks down and eats when Noda de­cides to field a com­ment from each and every woman at the par­ty, which takes an in­ter­minably long time. Takeda wolfs down food as if he were throw­ing coal into a fur­nace. In the last 30 min­utes of the par­ty, he gives party gifts to all par­tic­i­pants.

  • 10:00 PM After the par­ty, Takeda re­turns to the event hall for an in­ter­view with Os­aka Nikkei News­pa­per. Dur­ing the in­ter­view he com­ments on the fact that many sci-fi fans are from Os­aka, and re­lates every­thing from DAICON FILM to the found­ing of GAINAX. He speaks non-stop for about 40 min­utes.

  • 10:45 Takeda takes a break at a smok­ing area lo­cated be­hind the main office. He chats for a while with his sis­ter and other fam­ily mem­bers who were present for the fes­tiv­i­ties to­day.

  • 10:55 PM Takeda goes to the Sci-Fi Hall and talks to manga artist Mrs. (who is dressed up in cos­tume). He does­n’t waste time ex­chang­ing busi­ness cards here, ei­ther. Be­fore you know it, all 200 of his cards are gone. With a start, I re­al­ize that some­one has coiled a sa­cred rope around the mono­lith. Takeda is speech­less.

The mini-mono­lith gets blessed? What’s go­ing on here‽
  • 11:30 PM Takeda takes a short break at the Amaz­ing Cafe. Then he’s on his bike again and mak­ing the rounds.
  • 12:00 AM Takeda has to be back here early to­mor­row, so he de­cides to head back to the ho­tel. He makes a quick stop by the main office, upon which the staff im­me­di­ately points out that arrange­ments have yet to be made for the clos­ing cer­e­mo­ny. An im­promptu meet­ing gets un­der­way.
  • 12:30 AM Takeda re­turns to the ho­tel.

Sunday, August 19th. Weather: clear

[pg 115–116]

  • 8:00 AM Takeda is awak­ened by an e-mail mes­sage on his cell phone. The sub­ject line “sil­ver” makes him jump right out of bed—he had com­pletely for­got­ten about the bal­loons! Come 4:00 this morn­ing, the Sci-Fi Hall was al­ready sup­posed to have been dec­o­rat­ed… with sil­ver bal­loons that should have been in­flated by 6:00 yes­ter­day. Takeda runs fran­ti­cally for the event hall. Once there, he picks up a he­lium tank and makes his way un­steadily to the cen­ter of the hall. He’s rar­ing to go, but the weight of the tank slows him down a bit, and it’s no prob­lem for us to fol­low him. A crowd of cu­ri­ous on­look­ers has gath­ered, ea­ger to see what’s go­ing on. Takeda belts out in­struc­tions, and the staff be­gins to blow up a pile of bal­loons. Takeda belts out in­struc­tions, and the staff be­gins to blow up a pile of bal­loons. Takeda in­flates them so quickly that for a mo­ment I think to my­self What is this guy, a street per­former?
He moves around slowly with a he­lium tank.
  • 8:45 AM The staff gath­ers in the cen­ter of the hall to dis­cuss the clos­ing cer­e­mo­ny. Once the de­tails are all ham­mered out, Takeda makes for the smok­ing area be­hind the main office. There, he talks with Tet­suya Ko­hama from Tokyo So­gen­sha while smok­ing two cig­a­rettes he bummed from one of the staff mem­bers. Dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, Takeda men­tions the idea of Notenki Mem­oirs to Mr. Ko­hama, who quips “Are you try­ing to win the Seiun award or some­thing?” Takeda laughs it off, but then I start to won­der. C-could it re­ally be? Is that what he’s after‽
  • 9:30 AM Takeda looks quite con­tent as he watches the sil­ver bal­loons go up in the air, one by one. He tells me that from the very be­gin­ning, he knew that sil­ver would be the color for this event. When I ask him why, he says “2001… It just sounds sil­ver, you know?” Hmm.
  • 9:50 AM Takeda drops by the re­cep­tion desk on the 1st floor. He and the staff hold a meet­ing in the lounge ad­ja­cent to re­cep­tion. The top­ic—­clos­ing cer­e­monies.
  • 10:10 AM Takeda holds an­other meet­ing in­side the con­ven­tion hall, again re­gard­ing the clos­ing cer­e­monies. It’s de­cided to end the con­ven­tion with footage of the mono­lith, from its ini­tial con­struc­tion to how it ap­pears now. Uh, can you re­ally just run with some­thing like that? I think to my­self, but it ap­pears my wor­ries are un­found­ed. Not a sin­gle con­cern is raised, and the staff sim­ply sets about its prepa­ra­tions. I’m just amazed at how they can move so quickly to make this vi­sion a re­al­i­ty!
  • 10:15 AM Takeda meets with Mr. Sakyo Ko­matsu to dis­cuss the clos­ing speech.
  • 10:20 AM Takeda re­al­izes that he has­n’t had break­fast yet. He dashes to the main office hop­ing to score a ben­to, but they’re al­ready gone. Dev­as­tat­ed, he grabs a few cook­ies to tide him­self over.
  • 10:25 AM Takeda goes to room 301A in the In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence Hall. He takes part in a Q&A ses­sion about the his­tory of sci-fi con­ven­tions, ti­tled “The First Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion”. He speaks ex­ten­sively on the sub­ject, and every­one present lis­tens in­tent­ly.
  • 12:10 PM Re­hearsals for the clos­ing cer­e­mony be­gin at the con­ven­tion hall. It looks like some of the ideas for the cer­e­mony are be­ing em­ployed here for the first time, and Takeda is giv­ing his staff some rather de­tailed in­struc­tions. I stand there, stunned by how fast they can get things done. They sure are spry for their age! (Sor­ry.)
At Bang Ip­pongi’s booth.
  • 12:50 PM Takeda goes to the re­cep­tion area on the 21st floor to pick up his daugh­ter Yuki­no. Now his whole fam­ily is here! His mother comes up to me and says hel­lo, which I thought was very nice of her.
  • 1:15 PM Prepa­ra­tions for the clos­ing cer­e­mony be­gin. Takeda and Yukino go to a green­room and change into their Notenki out­fits for the cos­tume show. I move closer, try­ing to con­tain my ex­cite­ment. There it is—the leg­endary Notenki! But I had no idea the ac­tual cos­tume was so… (delet­ed). I work up the nerve to ask Takeda how long it’s been since he last wore the suit, and could al­most vi­su­al­ize one of those anger marks you see in manga and anime pop­ping up on his fore­head. “Not since the movie…” he replies. I knew it.
  • 1:25 PM Takeda and Yukino head back­stage. They re­turn a mo­ment lat­er, Takeda scream­ing “I messed up! The in­de­pen­dent films’ awards cer­e­mony comes be­fore the cos­tume show!” He scram­bles to take off the cos­tume and change into a suit. There’s not much time, how­ev­er, so he ends up keep­ing his Notenki pants on un­der his slacks. Heh heh.
No one knows he’s still wear­ing the Notenki cos­tume un­der­neath his slacks.
  • 1:40 PM The first part of the clos­ing cer­e­mony be­gins. The awards cer­e­mony kicks off with­out a hitch, as if the mad rush back­stage had never oc­curred. Takeda changes into his Notenki out­fit again. By this time, he is quite sweaty.
  • 2:00 PM The cos­tume show be­gins. At the show’s cli­max, the Notenki fa­ther and his daugh­ter come on­stage. Yukino seems a lit­tle em­bar­rassed by the wild cheer­ing from the au­di­ence, but then she strikes the fa­mous Notenki pose! That gets her an­other round of ap­plause. Good job, Takeda! She’s now offi­cially a sci-fi fan!
  • 2:15 PM The Ankoku Seiun Award is an­nounced. “Un­fin­ished open­ing anime” wins the Project cat­e­go­ry, and the Mono­lith wins Freestyle. Takeda proudly re­ceives the award in his Notenki cos­tume.169
  • 2:25 PM Takeda re­turns to the green­room and changes into a suit again, this time for the Seiun Award cer­e­mo­ny. He changes, by the way, right in front of Mr. Ko­mat­su, Takumi Shibano, Takayuki Tat­sumi and Shinji Ma­ki.
Here they come! The orig­i­nal Notenki and mini-Notenki!
  • 2:40 PM Quick meet­ing about the clos­ing speech with Mr. Ko­mat­su.
  • 2:45 PM The sec­ond part of the clos­ing cer­e­mony be­gins. Takeda chats with Akai and Ya­m­aga back­stage while the Fanzine Award is an­nounced. He tries to pla­cate Mr. Ko­mat­su, who is pretty much bored and ready to go back to the lounge.
  • 3:20 PM The Seiun Award is an­nounced. Takeda presents awards to the win­ners from each cat­e­go­ry. For the Japan­ese Fea­ture-Length cat­e­go­ry, Hi­roe Sug­a’s Eien no Mori—Hakubut­sukan Waku­sei is cho­sen! This makes the third time in con­ven­tion his­tory that Mr. Okada pre­sented his wife with this award. Fol­low­ing her ac­cep­tance speech, Suga tear­fully ad­dresses her hus­band, now poised to re­tire as chair­man. “We thank you for your hard work these past 16 years”, she says.
Takeda presents his wife with the Seiun Award, trig­ger­ing a round of ap­plause.
  • 3:50 PM The award cer­e­mony con­cludes. Noriko Maki is brought on­stage and in­tro­duced as the next chair­man of the Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee. She de­liv­ers a speech and, with tears in her eyes, presents Takeda with a lovely bou­quet.
  • 4:05 PM Mr. Ko­matsu de­liv­ers the clos­ing speech, at which point the con­ven­tion offi­cially comes to an end. See­ing Hi­roe’s and Mak­i’s tears, Takeda sniffles “Al­most made me wanna cry, too.”
  • 4:15 PM Clean­ing of the Sci-Fi Hall be­gins. Halfway through clean­ing, Takeda be­gins fill­ing out forms for “YUCON”, a sci-fi con­ven­tion to be held in next year, as well as “T-CON 2003”, which will be held the year after that. As of next year, Takeda will be just a par­tic­i­pant at con­ven­tions.
  • 5:10 PM Takeda takes pic­tures with all the staff mem­bers in front of the Mono­lith, which has be­come both the sym­bol and fun­ni­est sub­ject of this con­ven­tion.
  • 6:00 PM con­ven­tion offi­cials and staff mem­bers at­tend the after-par­ty. Now that every­thing is done, every­one looks happy and con­tent. Takeda makes a speech to start the par­ty. “Great job, every­one. The con­ven­tion went well, with­out too many mishaps.” And then there was com­plete si­lence. Takeda qui­etly places his left hand on his hat and pushes it down, cov­er­ing his eyes. He bites down, the small­est of sounds es­cap­ing his lips. Wow, Takeda is cry­ing! A mur­mur spreads through the crowd… and then peo­ple are push­ing their way for­ward, cam­eras in hand, hop­ing to snap a photo of this mo­ment. Oth­ers stay where they are, laugh­ing and ap­plaud­ing. “Hey, enough al­ready!” Takeda says, grin­ning through his tears and shoo­ing away those re­spon­si­ble for the flurry of flash­es. He moves to speak again, the voice catch­ing in his throat. “I… I just want to say thank you for putting up with all my selfish de­mands over the past 20 years.” Thun­der­ous ap­plause echoes through the hall. “This will be my last time to host a Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. But if an­other event comes up in the fu­ture, I hope we can all get to­geth­er, like this, and have some fun.” Speech fin­ished, Takeda raises his glass in toast.
  • 7:23 PM Takeda chats with the staff while key peo­ple from each sec­tion make their speech­es. Says Shinji Maki, “I did­n’t know pas­sion was in Takeda’s blood.”
  • 7:35 PM Takeda makes the fi­nal speech, bring­ing the evening to an in­for­mal close. “You’re wel­come to stay here and drink all night if you like, but re­mem­ber—y­ou’re not crash­ing at my place.” To the very end, Takeda never for­gets to make peo­ple laugh.
Takeda is com­pletely speech­less… but why are those peo­ple in the back laugh­ing?

Reporter’s note

[pg 116]

I can’t count how many times dur­ing the com­pil­ing of this re­port I would think to my­self, Wow, Takeda does stuff like this, too? It did­n’t mat­ter what was go­ing on—­Takeda was al­ways get­ting in­volved, adding in­put, tak­ing an ac­tive role, and even giv­ing pep talks if need­ed. He made peo­ple laugh, and was never afraid to poke fun at him­self. I’m re­minded of when Takeda said to me, “I love be­ing here, in the cen­ter of it all. I love it.” These past three days have taught me ex­actly what Takeda meant by that. When I con­fided in him that this was to be my first sci-fi con­ven­tion, he re­sponded “Don’t think of it as a real sci-fi con­ven­tion. Sure it’s go­ing to be en­er­getic and a lot of fun, but a real con­ven­tion is when every­one gets to­gether in some lit­tle crowded room and just talks, noth­ing but sci-fi.” In other words, even if it’s just sci-fi lovers get­ting to­gether and mak­ing some noise, that’s enough. Place does­n’t mat­ter, for­mat does­n’t mat­ter—what mat­ters is ac­tively par­tic­i­pat­ing, not just ob­serv­ing the pro­ceed­ings from afar. You have to be there in the thick of things, talk­ing and laugh­ing and get­ting to know one an­oth­er. I re­ally feel that these are the ideals that have kept Takeda go­ing all these years.

Of course, at­tend­ing a sin­gle sci-fi con­ven­tion was­n’t enough to un­der­stand every­thing that Takeda has ac­com­plished over the past two decades… but it was enough to let me catch a glimpse of it, and I was grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ty. When I caught sight of those tears dur­ing his fi­nal speech, I found my­self want­ing to call out, “Thank you for all your hard work! Start­ing next year, you’ll fi­nally be able to en­joy these con­ven­tions. You’ve earned it.”

Tokyo—And then, moving to the capital


[pg 118–119]

Our first out­post in Tokyo was a small dwelling that would later be­come known as “GAINAX House”170. It was a sin­gle home oc­cu­pied by sin­gle men from both GAINAX and Gen­eral Prod­ucts.

Not too long after the move, we be­came ac­quainted with an­other otaku who had come from North Amer­ica (Canada, ac­tu­al­ly). His name was 171 172 173, and his love of manga had brought him all the way across the ocean to Japan. He’d run out of money some­where along the way, how­ev­er, and was hav­ing a hard time of it.

Ap­par­ent­ly, Okada had met Smith dur­ing our Os­aka days. The Cana­dian had vis­ited the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store in Mo­modani with sci-fi au­thor J.P. Hogan, who was in Japan for the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. Nat­u­ral­ly, after hear­ing his for­eign friend was down on his luck, Okada sug­gested we put him up at GAINAX House.

Toren went on to be a suc­cess in his own right, later re­turn­ing to North Amer­ica and be­com­ing pres­i­dent of a pub­lish­ing com­pany in the US. He is one shrewd fel­low—not only did he make plenty of man­ga-re­lated con­nec­tions while he was here, but he snagged him­self a beau­ti­ful Japan­ese wife to boot. I still re­mem­ber one morn­ing, shortly after we woke up; the door to Toren’s room opened and out walked a young lady we’d never seen be­fore!

Make no mis­take, GAINAX House was a den of ra­bid bach­e­lors. No­body cleaned or even straight­ened up­—ev­er. When we re­ceived a visit from Hi­roe Suga (who for a time was stay­ing at a board­ing house in Tokyo and work­ing as an au­thor), she was lit­er­ally “sick­ened” by the smell. The color drained from her face and she beat a very hasty re­treat.

Ul­ti­mate­ly, we elected to move out of GAINAX House. When the land­lord came by to give the place a on­ce-over and re­lease us from our con­tract, he was stricken speech­less. Al­most im­me­di­ately after we va­cat­ed, the house was de­mol­ished.

Tokyo life

[pg 119–121]

Fol­low­ing Oritsu Uchugun, GAINAX found it­self in­volved in a num­ber of differ­ent pro­jects. In ad­di­tion to cre­at­ing a pro­mo­tional video for the BOøWY song “Mar­i­onette”174 and TV com­mer­cials for Vic­tor’s “Hy­per Ro­bot Compo”, they were work­ing on sales pro­mo­tions and plan­ning for their next the­atri­cal re­lease. Sadamoto and Maeda took the lead on that as­sign­ment, even turn­ing out a pi­lot film be­fore the project was put on in­defi­nite hia­tus.

Then GAINAX was com­mis­sioned by Bandai to do an OVA for Masamune Shi­row’s 175, with Akai sit­ting in the di­rec­tor’s chair. They even pro­duced a live ac­tion pro­mo­tional video for it. The idea for the video sup­pos­edly came from a life-size mask of Bri­areos Heca­tonchires (a char­ac­ter from Ap­ple­seed), made by Fuyuki Shi­nada176. They also bor­rowed a replica from manga artist “Mr. I”, often re­ferred to as SUEZEN177 . Mr. I was one of the an­i­ma­tors on Wings of Hon­neamise, and had ap­par­ently re­ceived the jeep from anime guru Ya­suo Ot­suka178 . This con­nec­tion would lead to GAINAX pub­lish­ing an en­tire CD-ROM’s worth of jeep­-re­lated art and re­search com­piled by both SUEZEN and Ot­su­ka.

Mean­while, hav­ing com­pleted the move to Tokyo, Gen­eral Prod­ucts con­tin­ued to pro­duce its line of garage kits and other mer­chan­dise, as well as pre­pare for up­com­ing Won­der Fes­ti­vals. We only had four em­ploy­ees, but when the day of the Fes­ti­val rolled around, we could al­ways count on the help of for­mer Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion staff mem­bers. Among the loyal were [Ya­suhi­ro] Kamimu­ra, who was then work­ing for NTT, and Sato, who had been em­ployed by the city of Os­a­ka. Those two would even­tu­ally join GAINAX. In fact, I imag­ine you’ll see their names on many of the prod­ucts put out by the com­pany to­day.

Dur­ing this pe­ri­od, one of Bandai’s pro­duc­ers struck a deal—if GAINAX could come up with an anime that “would be able to sell at least 10,000 copies”, then Bandai would gladly fund the pro­ject. Upon hear­ing this, Okada179 got to work on a pro­posal for (“Gun­buster”)180. The plan was to have Shinji Higuchi di­rect, 181 pro­vide char­ac­ter de­signs, and to re­lease the whole thing as three 2-part OVAs. For some rea­son, though, the project stalled. By the time they fi­nally got the green light, Higuchi had other com­mit­ments and was un­able to di­rect. As fate would have it, Anno de­cided to give the ini­tial script a read­-through, and be­came so fired up that he vol­un­teered to fill in for Higuchi. This would mark his pro­fes­sional de­but as a di­rec­tor.

Gun­buster turned out to be a very diffi­cult en­deav­or. The ma­jor­ity of Bandai’s at­ten­tion was fo­cused on the first 182 OVA, which was be­ing pro­duced at the same time, so Gun­buster was rel­e­gated to side-pro­ject sta­tus.

Nonethe­less, Anno be­came com­pletely ob­sessed with the pro­ject. For the first episode, he stuck pretty closely to the orig­i­nal script, but with each sub­se­quent episode his own unique touch be­came in­creas­ingly ap­par­ent. For the last episode, he did the un­think­able—he filmed the episode en­tirely in black and white on color film. De­lib­er­ately do­ing so cost the stu­dio a lot more mon­ey, and a whole lot more effort than was nec­es­sary.

Dur­ing pro­duc­tion, the stu­dio be­came in­creas­ingly cramped, and so GAINAX—along with Gen­eral Prod­uct­s—­moved back to the Kichi­jo­ji-Hi­gashi stu­dio, where it had ear­lier pro­duced Wings of Hon­neamise. This stu­dio was three times as large, giv­ing the anime pro­duc­tion staff plenty of room to grow. Gen­eral Prod­ucts fol­lowed suit and in­creased their own staff as well.

Third Sci-Fi Convention

[pg 121–123]

The next Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion was held in Kanaza­wa, and of course I at­tend­ed. Once there, I was ap­proached by the staff for the fol­low­ing year’s Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion (prob­a­bly be­cause I was Chair­man of the Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion at the time) and the first words out of their mouths were, “We can’t do it!”

You pack of spine­less wimps! I felt like scream­ing. Now that I’ve had time to calm down and think about it, though, I won­der if skip­ping one con­ven­tion would’ve been such a big deal. How­ev­er, my ini­tial re­ac­tion was to im­me­di­ately as­sem­ble the troop­s—specifi­cal­ly, Okada and In­oue. The three of us de­cided there would in­deed be a Con­ven­tion, and that we would host it our­selves. In a way, our at­ti­tude to­ward those quit­ters was one of pride, some­thing along the lines of, “If you’re just go­ing to give up, then we’ll show you losers how it’s done!”

The de­ci­sion to spon­sor the event had been made in the ab­sence of an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, and our prepa­ra­tions con­tin­ued with­out any or­ga­ni­za­tional frame­work. Nev­er­the­less, there were still de­ci­sions to be made, like choos­ing a venue and as­sem­bling our staff.

For the lo­cale, we set­tled on Mizukami Hot Springs in Gunma Pre­fec­ture. We de­cided to go with a so-called “re­sort-style” con­ven­tion, rent­ing out both a ho­tel and the Mizukami town hall. As for the staff, we’d re­cently moved our base of op­er­a­tions to Tokyo… though of course, we looked for­ward to see­ing them on the ac­tual day of the Con­ven­tion. For­tu­nate­ly, other for­mer staff mem­bers were al­ready liv­ing in Tokyo, hav­ing found jobs there after grad­u­a­tion.

We even­tu­ally or­ga­nized an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, a mixed bunch com­posed mostly of for­mer DAICON staffers like my­self, and a num­ber of peo­ple from the Space Force Club. Led by In­oue, this cub is ded­i­cated to the works of sci-fi au­thor Masahiro Noda, who also hap­pens to be GAINAX’s au­di­tor. (In­ci­den­tal­ly, since Noda refers to him­self as the “Com­man­der-in-Chief” of the Space Force, the mem­bers of his fan club also give each other mil­i­tary ranks.) These two groups formed the core of our staff, and we got the rest of the help we needed through our var­i­ous con­nec­tions. It was ba­si­cally the same old rou­tine from our DAICON days. The only real differ­ence was that we were no longer col­lege stu­dents.

We de­cided to dub this Con­ven­tion “MiG-Con”183 in a play­ful ab­bre­vi­a­tion of the venue’s name—Mizukami, Gun­ma. MiG-Con differed from DAICON in that we did­n’t have time to for­mally train the staff. Al­so, as far as events go, we could­n’t seem to come up with any­thing too ter­ri­bly mind-blow­ing, so we de­cided to fo­cus on vi­sual con­tent in­stead. Now that we were pros, we had plenty of con­nec­tions in the in­dus­try, and we fully uti­lized them.

One at­trac­tion we put to­gether was the “Mys­tery Train”. Con­ven­tion-go­ers tak­ing the train from Tokyo to Mizukami would first re­ceive a send-off at Ueno sta­tion by some cos­tumed mem­bers of our staff. Once aboard, they would be en­ter­tained by a mock hi­jack­ing at the hands of an “evil or­ga­ni­za­tion”. Upon ar­rival at Mizukami, guests would be greeted by more cos­tumed staff mem­bers.

Un­for­tu­nate­ly, our mixed staff did­n’t func­tion as well as we’d hoped. Most of the mem­bers were vet­er­ans of ei­ther the Space Force or DAICON, and even though we were all vol­un­teers, the DAICON group tended to act like self­-ap­pointed “in­struc­tors” to the oth­ers. That may have had some­thing to do with it.

I’m sure there are some mixed feel­ings about the whole ex­pe­ri­ence, but luck­i­ly, ten­sions never boiled over and the event went off with­out a hitch.

Second period of lethargy

[pg 123–124]

Shortly after MiG-Con came to a close, vol­ume 1 of Gun­buster hit store shelves and en­joyed im­me­di­ate sales. That’s when I be­gan to give se­ri­ous thought to leav­ing Gen­eral Prod­ucts and GAINAX. I could­n’t tell any­one why, though. How could I ex­plain to them that my girl­friend (who I would later mar­ry) had dumped me? I was ac­tu­ally think­ing of mov­ing to and work­ing on a farm or some­thing184. I was dis­tract­ed, and un­able to fo­cus on my job.

When I was go­ing through my first bout of lethar­gy, it was the found­ing of Gen­eral Prod­ucts and the sub­se­quent DAICON 4 prepa­ra­tions that brought me back to life. As luck would have it, at some point dur­ing my pon­der­ings of farm life in Hokkaido, I lost the urge to quit Gen­eral Prod­ucts. I’ve come to re­fer to this sit­u­a­tion as “the mon­key with its hand in the jar”. Imag­ine a mon­key that can’t re­move its hand be­cause he’s hold­ing onto some­thing in­side a jar. If the mon­key would just re­lease its grasp on what’s in­side, it would be free. The anal­ogy here is that some­times the so­lu­tion is just to let go—and when you do that, you can fi­nally see what you’ve been hold­ing all along.

Dragon Quest

[pg 124–127]

I’m sure every­one who reads this knows how much of an in­flu­ence Japan’s Dragon Quest (aka Dragon War­rior) se­ries has had on role-play­ing games, or RPGs. Gen­eral Prod­ucts had ne­go­ti­ated a mer­chan­dis­ing deal with Dragon Quest maker , and our prod­ucts were man­u­fac­tured and on the mar­ket by the time we moved to Tokyo.

The first thing we did was ap­proach Enix about ac­quir­ing the li­cens­ing rights. “If this is about Mr. char­ac­ters”, our con­tact per­son be­gan, re­fer­ring to the manga artist whose char­ac­ter de­signs were used in the game, “I’m afraid we can’t help you.” I replied that it was­n’t the char­ac­ters we want­ed—rather, we were in­ter­ested in pro­duc­ing var­i­ous items and equip­ment ap­pear­ing in the game. His re­spon­se: “Hmm, in­ter­est­ing. No one’s ever ap­proached me with some­thing like this. Let’s get to­gether some­time. I’d like to hear more.”

From there, we for­mu­lated a plan for mak­ing repli­cas of swords, keys, and other items. Among these was a ful­l-size replica of the Sword of Loto (or Sword of Er­drick in Dragon War­rior) made out of soft vinyl. It was sold as a do-it-y­our­self kit, but you can still oc­ca­sion­ally find the ful­ly-assem­bled item for sale. All this just goes to show that the garage kit in­dus­try was still in its in­fan­cy… Any­way, Enix ac­tu­ally ended up us­ing one of our model swords in a TV ad­ver­tise­ment for . Ex­pand­ing on that con­cept was the “Dragon Quest Fan­ta­sia Video”185, a live-ac­tion spe­cial effects film de­pict­ing sev­eral fa­mous scenes from the Dragon Quest se­ries. The projects also in­cluded a mu­si­cal clip fea­tur­ing a full or­ches­tra.

The video was pro­duced by GAINAX, with Takami Akai han­dling di­rec­to­r­ial du­ties. Gen­eral Prod­ucts was in charge of the cast’s equip­ment, and the bulk of the film­ing was done on sets con­structed at in . I was un­der the im­pres­sion that since I was a pro­ducer I’d be able to sit around all high and mighty, but that’s not quite how it turned out. Maybe it had some­thing to do with my past ex­pe­ri­ence on sets, or maybe I just could­n’t leave well enough alone, but some­how I ended up be­com­ing an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor. Not the as­sis­tant di­rec­tor, mind you, but the third as­sis­tant di­rec­tor. A go­pher, in other words.

I sup­pose it was a lit­tle awk­ward to have a pro­ducer also act­ing as an as­sis­tant di­rec­tor, but for some rea­son, I de­cided to in­volve my­self with the spe­cial effects as well. Back when we were still pro­duc­ing our own in­de­pen­dent films, I had never su­per­vised that par­tic­u­lar el­e­ment, but some­how, I was able to swing it on Dragon Quest. I learned a lot from a fel­low named Onoue186, our key sup­plier of ma­te­ri­als on set. He’s still in the spe­cial effects busi­ness, work­ing on sev­eral cut­ting-edge pro­jects.

We also had a life-size (or close to it) model of the Dragon King’s head. It had been made by Fuyuki Shi­nada, who gained no­to­ri­ety for his de­sign work on the Godzilla films. One day, Shi­nada was star­ing in­tently at a three­-foot long model tank sit­ting in a cor­ner at Nikkatsu Stu­dio. Fi­nal­ly, he turned and said, “This is the #61 from , is­n’t it? I won­der if they’d get an­gry if I took it…” He seemed half-se­ri­ous about tak­ing the thing home with him, but he gave up after it proved to be too heavy.

In­ci­den­tal­ly, the head por­tion of the Dragon King had been cut and sculpted from a kind of board called kapok. It’s often used in spe­cial effects, but can dou­ble as a com­fort­able bed on late nights at the stu­dio. Those big blocks of foam were just the right size. If they had­n’t been cut yet, we’d sleep on top of them, and if they had been cut, we’d nes­tle in­side the hol­lowed-out area. The larger props were made some­where in the stu­dio in Cho­fu, while the small ones were ac­tu­ally man­u­fac­tured in my Kichi­joji apart­ment (where sev­eral for­mer DAICON staff mem­bers who went pro spent many night­s). Work on the film pretty much went on from the wee hours of the morn­ing un­til very late at night. Dirty, scruffy-look­ing men were go­ing in and out of my place all night long, and when we opened the win­dows in the morn­ing, the smell of thin­ner (which we used with ad­he­sives) was over­pow­er­ing. The neigh­bors started to com­plain, and I was even­tu­ally evict­ed. Luck­i­ly, this oc­curred after pro­duc­tion on the film was com­plete.

The film’s de­but was held at the in Mai­hama. It played to the ac­com­pa­ni­ment of a full or­ches­tra, con­ducted by Koichi Sugiyama187. For me, it’s amaz­ing that this en­tire project be­gan with a sim­ple in­ter­est in garage kits! But this is ex­actly how our busi­ness de­vel­oped and ex­pand­ed.

Komatsu Sakyo Anime Gekijo

[pg 127–128]

It was around this time that GAINAX pro­duced a rather unique work called Ko­matsu Sakyo Anime Gek­ijo (lit. “Sakyo Ko­mat­su’s Anime The­ater”)188. This anime adap­ta­tion of Mr. Ko­mat­su’s short­-short novel­las was fi­nanced by Bandai, and aired as a daily TV se­ries. Ya­m­aga was put in charge of the script, and we asked manga artist 189 to pro­vide the char­ac­ter de­signs. The se­ries was re­leased for sale and rental, but sur­pris­ing­ly, it never caught on, re­main­ing a sort of “phan­tom project” in GAINAX’s body of work.

The orig­i­nal plan was to make Shinchi Hoshi Gek­ijo, as Hoshi’s name was prac­ti­cally syn­ony­mous with the short­-short. We pre­sented the idea to Mr. Hoshi190 at a ho­tel in Gin­za, di­rectly after he met with his pub­lish­er. We asked him to con­sider an anime ver­sion of his works, but he im­me­di­ately re­sponded with a flat-out “No.”

“I’ll be per­fectly hon­est with you”, he said. “I don’t want any­one else touch­ing my work—at least not while I’m alive. Wait un­til I’m dead. I won’t offer any com­plaints then.” So much for ne­go­ti­a­tions.

We were left search­ing for some­one to turn to, and after giv­ing it some thought, we de­cided that Sakyo Ko­matsu would be our next best bet. When we ap­proached him with­out idea, we told him what had hap­pened with Hoshi, to which he replied, “Yeah, that sounds like him.” And just like that, he ac­cepted our offer.

In­ci­den­tal­ly, even though Mr. Hoshi passed away sev­eral years ago, we still haven’t worked up the courage to tell his fam­ily about the promise he made…

Gamemaker GAINAX

[pg 128–129]

Even with an un­der­tak­ing like Dragon Quest to keep us busy, we still de­cided to move ahead with our pro­duc­tion of Gun­buster. Vol­ume 2 sales were im­pres­sive, so it was only log­i­cal that we con­tinue with Vol­ume 3. If it had­n’t sold as we’d hoped, it was pos­si­ble the last vol­ume would have just been can­celed. But things were go­ing well for us, and GAINAX was on the brink of a ma­jor turn­ing point.

I had been ad­mit­ted to Kichi­joji Hos­pi­tal after in­jur­ing my knee on a ski­ing va­ca­tion191. Akai came to visit me while I was re­cu­per­at­ing, and it was dur­ing one of our con­ver­sa­tions that he sug­gested we make our own PC game. He had bought a com­puter back when we were still in Os­aka, and he’d been a gamer ever since. He played all sorts of games, but felt that most were unin­spired both in terms of graph­ics and over­all pro­duc­tion. Akai be­lieved that with the know-how GAINAX had al­ready ac­cu­mu­lat­ed, we would be able to score it big in the gam­ing in­dus­try. Hav­ing no ob­jec­tions, I went along with his plan.

Our first PC game, Den­nou Gakuen (“Cy­ber School”)192, was a hit. Aside from the pro­gram­ming and mu­sic, Akai did every­thing him­self, so we al­ready had the ad­van­tage of low pro­duc­tion costs. And just as he’d pre­dict­ed, the en­hanced graph­ics of our game made a big im­pres­sion on the mar­ket.

We used pretty much the same setup for sub­se­quent ti­tles. Char­ac­ter de­signs were com­mis­sioned from var­i­ous an­i­ma­tors and manga artists whom we had pre­vi­ously dealt with, ei­ther through GAINAX or Gen­eral Prod­ucts. Our third PC ti­tle used char­ac­ters from Gun­buster.

In this way, ap­ply­ing the ex­per­tise we’d ac­quired through anime pro­duc­tion, GAINAX also came to spe­cial­ize in game-mak­ing. Grad­u­al­ly, the num­ber of staff mem­bers work­ing solely on PC games be­gan to in­crease.

Fol­low­ing his work on the game ver­sion of Me­dia Work’s Silent Mo­bius193, Akai would pro­duce his mas­ter­piece—the “nur­tur­ing sim­u­la­tion” game Princess Maker194195. This ti­tle ac­tu­ally spun off an en­tirely new genre of games, wherein the play takes the role of par­ent and makes de­ci­sions that affect the be­hav­ior and fate of his or her fos­ter child. Princess Maker had a huge im­pact on the PC game mar­ket, which by this time had reached a plateau and was in dire need of a new hit. Princess Maker was also a ma­jor source of in­come for GAINAX, which, fol­low­ing com­ple­tion of Gun­buster, had no new projects in the works.

Fushigi no Umi no Nadia

[pg 130–132]

I guess you could say it was Na­dia196 that gave GAINAX its name recog­ni­tion in main­stream Japan—up un­til then, only hard­core fans knew the com­pa­ny. This marked a se­ri­ous turn­ing point for us.

Mean­while, ten­sions had peaked within the com­pa­ny. Things had turned sour be­tween Okada and In­oue as they fought for com­pany lead­er­ship. But the en­su­ing power strug­gle came to an abrupt halt when Okada in­vited none other than Sawa­mura to head up GAINAX.

We were all taken by sur­prise. Shocked, even. I mean, this was Sawa­mura. When it came to run­ning Gen­eral Prod­ucts, he and I could­n’t have dis­agreed more. Maybe Okada did­n’t feel like he could talk to me about it first. I don’t know. At any rate, there were those in GAINAX who saw this as a move on Okada’s part to try and con­sol­i­date pow­er, but the truth is, he re­ally strug­gled with his de­ci­sion. He ap­par­ently con­sulted Ya­m­aga and Akai about how to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion, at which point some­body brought up Sawa­mu­ra’s name. “If he is­n’t do­ing any­thing right now, maybe he would­n’t mind com­ing and giv­ing us a hand”, or some­thing to that effect, and the wheels were set in mo­tion.

Else­where, In­oue was fly­ing solo and busily ad­vanc­ing his own pro­jects. 197 had been in­vited to join a pitch at NHK for a new tele­vi­sion pro­gram, and they in turn had re­quested set­tings and spe­cific char­ac­ter de­signs (which, in­ci­den­tal­ly, were based on a pro­posal al­ready sub­mit­ted to NHK).

Of course, I think that TAC had ac­tu­ally in­vited GAINAX (hav­ing al­ready pro­duced Gun­buster) to as­sist with the pitch, and not just In­oue. It seems, how­ev­er, that In­oue viewed this as an op­por­tu­nity to strike off on his own. He de­cided to by­pass Okada, whom he no longer con­sid­ered trust­wor­thy, and had Sadamoto and Maeda se­cretly work on the set­tings, char­ac­ter de­signs, sto­ry­boards and so forth.

It goes with­out say­ing that all this even­tu­ally came to light, but the pitch had al­ready con­clud­ed, and NHK had de­cided to go with the idea that In­oue had pre­sent­ed. That idea was Na­dia, and pre­lim­i­nary cal­cu­la­tions showed that the bud­get for the project would drive GAINAX well into the red.

Okada, Sawa­mura and my­self at­tended the Na­dia pro­duc­tion meet­ing at NHK. In no un­cer­tain terms, we de­manded that ei­ther In­oue step down from the project or GAINAX would with­draw. Think­ing back, it was­n’t the smartest move we ever made. There was a pro­ducer from Toho in at­ten­dance, and I would­n’t be sur­prised if he bears a grudge against us to this day.

They had al­ready filled the di­rec­tor’s po­si­tion, but he said some­thing like “This is­n’t at all what we talked about in our first meet­ing”, and promptly dropped out of the project198. Anno would later be cho­sen as his re­place­ment, and the rest of the staff—as well as NHK and To­ho—sided with GAINAX rather than In­oue. In one fell swoop, In­oue had both left the project and quit his po­si­tion at GAINAX.

The whole thing was just han­dled so reck­less­ly. I think the en­tire mess could have been avoided had there been more com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween Okada and In­oue.

In any event, GAINAX was brought on to pro­duce Na­dia, and was left fac­ing an im­pos­si­bly large bud­get. All said and done, the com­pany ended up some 80 mil­lion yen in the red, and was de­nied any of the rights as­so­ci­ated with the pro­ject. In this sense, Na­dia both is and is­n’t a “GAINAX” pro­duc­tion.

Some years lat­er, Dis­ney would that fans in both Amer­ica and Japan would claim was prac­ti­cally a car­bon copy of Na­dia. Sev­eral peo­ple asked us if we planned to sue, but the only re­sponse we could give was, “Please take this up with NHK and To­ho.”199

Nu­mer­ous sto­ries have al­ready sur­faced about the var­i­ous mishaps that oc­curred dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of Na­dia, so I’ll re­frain from go­ing into them here. Suffice it to say that be­hind each of these events, sev­eral other events were si­mul­ta­ne­ously tak­ing place…

We never did ac­quire any of the rights to the ani­me, but a point was made of let­ting us have the rights to , some­thing for which we are still deeply grate­ful. The PC game, which we pro­duced in­-house, went on to set record earn­ings for us.

GAINAX, the anime production company

[pg 132–136]

Even while Na­dia was dri­ving GAINAX into debt, it was teach­ing us the ins and outs of anime pro­duc­tion. More­over, it was in­tro­duc­ing the GAINAX “brand” to au­di­ences all across Japan. Of course, it would­n’t be un­til Evan­ge­lion that we would re­ceive na­tion­wide recog­ni­tion, but I think Na­dia was the first of our projects to have a ma­jor im­pact on anime fans. Na­dia took those who had liked our work on Gun­buster and turned them into out­right GAINAX fa­nat­ics.

Money losses aside, the good thing about pro­duc­ing an anime pro­gram that ran on NHK for an en­tire year was that it was easy for us to find spon­sors. We ac­tu­ally worked on a num­ber of other anime projects along­side Na­dia in an at­tempt to de­fray the pro­duc­tion costs, but un­for­tu­nate­ly, things did­n’t go as planned.

Among the projects we worked on were Naki no Ryu200, Money Wars201, Mod­ena no Ken202, 203, and 204. Of the­se, only Otaku no Video was orig­i­nal205. For a time, we had more than enough to keep our­selves busy. Un­like other pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies, how­ev­er, we weren’t re­ceiv­ing these pro­jects, fronting all the costs our­selves and then reap­ing the profits.206 In fact, some of these com­pa­nies would pool just enough money to pay for the pro­pos­al, and then farm out the bulk of the ac­tual anime over­seas. Oddly enough, some of these shady pro­duc­ers re­main ac­tive in the busi­ness even now. While vet­er­ans of the in­dus­try would not be so eas­ily fooled, the sim­ple phrase “Anime sure looks profitable right now…” is enough to de­ceive any num­ber of clients new to ani­me.

Re­cent­ly, a cer­tain prospec­tive has sur­faced that claims to have sev­eral of the anime in­dus­try’s big-name staffers at­tached to it. Se­ri­ous­ly, the amount of tal­ent listed is enough to make you think, With a staff like that, this would be one amaz­ing pro­ject! But of course, the whole thing is a put-on, a kind of bait meant to lure oth­ers in.207

To stray off-topic for a mo­ment, fol­low­ing the suc­cess of Evan­ge­lion, many of the con­ver­sa­tions that took place at anime pro­duc­tion meet­ings went some­thing like this:

“So, what kind of project is this ex­act­ly?”

“The story is a lot like Evan­ge­lion.”

“Re­al­ly? Sound great. The thing is, the story can’t end like Evan­ge­lion.”

“Oh sure, of course. The end­ing is a lot differ­ent.”

“Well, we look for­ward to see­ing it.”

It’s true. On sev­eral oc­ca­sions, I per­son­ally had peo­ple ask me, “It’s like Evan­ge­lion, ex­cept for the end­ing. What do you think—­could GAINAX do some­thing like this?”

Things are a lot bet­ter now, but at that time GAINAX was still quite weak in terms of its ad­min­is­tra­tion, which meant that projects tended to hit more than a few snags. While Money Wars was be­ing made, for ex­am­ple, the de­fi­cien­cies in our ad­min­is­tra­tion be­came painfully clear when the com­pany we hired to pick up the slack was un­able to com­plete pro­duc­tion. For a while there, it looked like we were go­ing to go bank­rupt. Our spon­sor was­n’t go­ing to just turn the other cheek with an ex­cuse like, “They took the money and ran!” so we were forced to do the work our­selves. When Money Wars was first screened, how­ev­er, our spon­sor turned to us and said, “I don’t care what you guys have been through—there’s no way we’re go­ing to set­tle for that.” So we went back and worked on it a sec­ond time, and a third time, be­fore it was be­grudg­ingly ac­cepted with some­thing like, “Fine. I guess this is as good as it’s go­ing to get.”

By com­par­ison, Hono no Tenko­sei, Naki no Ryu and Otaku no Video all turned out well. We also ended up learn­ing some­thing, based in no small part on the de­gree to which the staff mem­bers de­voted them­selves to their job­s—we learned that we were un­able to take on projects for which the sole aim was profit. There had to be more to it than that. Take Hono no Tenko­sei, for ex­am­ple. It was based on the work by Shi­mamoto208, who was so in­volved in the project that he even over­saw the show’s open­ing theme.

The truth is, it did­n’t mat­ter where we sub­con­tracted our work. If we could­n’t over­see all phases of a pro­ject, we had no busi­ness be­ing a pro­duc­tion com­pa­ny. But there would be some harsh lessons to learn be­fore this sim­ple truth was fi­nally dri­ven home.

We were still stuck in a pe­riod of suc­ces­sive losses when the call came to work on the 209 (mo­tion pic­ture).

Group TAC had al­ready been sub­con­tracted by Toho to pro­duce the film, so GAINAX’s po­si­tion was some­thing like sub­-sub­con­trac­tor. That be­ing said, GAINAX still con­tributed many el­e­ments to the film, such as the sto­ry, the char­ac­ters and so on. TAC had, as usu­al, se­cured a healthy bud­get for the pro­ject. I think their im­pe­tus for send­ing Na­dia our way was to help us re­coup the losses we in­curred dur­ing pro­duc­tion of the tele­vi­sion se­ries.

There was, how­ev­er, one stick­ing point—Anno stated that he would not be in­volved with the pro­ject. Work­ing as di­rec­tor on the orig­i­nal se­ries had burned him out on all things Na­dia. Luck­i­ly, a con­ver­sa­tion with Okada and Mr. Tashiro210 from TAC changed his mind, and he agreed to come on board.

We came up with the ba­sic plot, and Sadamoto de­signed some new char­ac­ters, but at the ac­tual pro­duc­tion phase, things just weren’t hap­pen­ing. Sawa­mura vol­un­teered to step in and take over the pro­ject, but it was no good. Things con­tin­ued to wors­en, un­til fi­nally we had to just apol­o­gize and tell them we could­n’t do it. We had al­ready re­ceived a 50 mil­lion yen ad­vance, how­ev­er, so of course TAC’s first ques­tion to us was, “What about the mon­ey?” Our re­spon­se:

“We’re sor­ry, but we don’t have it. We’ve al­ready spent it all. Please for­give us.” And that was how we bailed out of the pro­ject. Our over­all losses were in the neigh­bor­hood of 80 mil­lion yen, but thanks to the 50 mil­lion we re­ceived as ad­vance pay­ment, our ac­tual to­tal losses on Na­dia were 30 mil­lion. In­ci­den­tal­ly, TAC went on to com­plete the project rel­a­tively quickly and on a small bud­get.

Lat­er, we would end up scor­ing a ma­jor coup with Evan­ge­lion, and re­turn all 50 mil­lion yen to TAC. So it’s not as if we held on to their money in­defi­nite­ly—it’s more like we bor­rowed it un­til Evan­ge­lion came along. Luck­i­ly, they were will­ing to over­look the cost of Sadamo­to’s char­ac­ter de­signs and the edit­ing of all that tele­vi­sion footage. We gladly pock­eted the sav­ings and re­turned them the rest.

Olympia—the phantom project

[pg 136–138]

It was around this time that Okada sug­gested we pull out of anime al­to­geth­er.

None of our an­i­mated ti­tles were turn­ing a profit—w­eren’t even ac­cept­ing any new pro­jects. Our in­-house an­i­ma­tors were kept on, but found them­selves with noth­ing to do.

Okada was the one who had wanted to mimic the prac­tices of other pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies, but our at­tempts to treat pro­duc­tion in that man­ner con­sis­tently lost mon­ey… and now he was say­ing that we should quit.

You’ve gotta be kid­ding me! I thought to my­self. You frick­in’ id­iot!

I de­cided to give Okada a good talk­ing to. I was joined by Akai, who pointed out that GAINAX’s in­volve­ment in anime was the very thing that gave it its foothold in the gam­ing in­dus­try. Drop­ping anime in fa­vor of games was pre­cisely the wrong way to go about things. What’s more, we were de­ter­mined to let Anno have an­other crack at mak­ing an ani­me.

We all headed to Mat­sumoto to ham­mer out the de­tails of our next pro­ject. The rea­son we chose that lo­cale was that our brain­storm­ing ses­sion would dou­ble as a week­end re­treat, and we al­ways did those in Mat­sumo­to. Once there, we all be­gan toss­ing out ideas, and the first ma­jor snag we hit was Olympia211.

The sto­ry­boards for the project were in­cluded in the very first col­lec­tion of draw­ings we re­ceived from Sadamo­to, which meant that the de­tails of this thing had al­ready been thought out to some de­gree. We came up with some good ideas of our own, but think­ing back on it, the way that we came up with them was a lit­tle odd. We had just started to get a good grasp of the story when some­body piped up, “Okada, you’re not help­ing. Why don’t you sit this one out for a while?” Things started get­ting back on track, but al­most im­me­di­ate­ly, it was “An­no, now you’re not help­ing. Just hang back for a bit, OK?” Fi­nal­ly, it ended up be­ing just Ya­m­a­ga, Akai and my­self bang­ing out the frame­work for the pro­ject. It might have been wrong, but it was the most ex­pe­di­ent way to go about things.

But then we hit a snag, and every­thing came to a screech­ing halt.

I think if the same thing hap­pened now I’d be able to do more, but back then I felt al­most help­less, as if I’d been backed into a cor­ner. Fi­nal­ly, we all agreed that the project was un­sal­vage­able, and the whole idea was scrapped. I feel like it was my fault, that I was in­ex­pe­ri­enced as a pro­duc­er.

Fol­low­ing this in­ci­dent, Okada an­nounced that he would be leav­ing GAINAX.

What followed for General Products

[pg 138–142]

To re­cap, GAINAX’s anime pro­duc­tions con­sis­tently failed to re­coup their in­vest­ments, while soft­ware sales and the profits earned through Won­der Fes­ti­val meant that Gen­eral Prod­ucts was… well, it was so-so.

In ei­ther event, it was de­cided to go where the profits were. More peo­ple were hired on to work at Gen­eral Prod­ucts, and plans for ex­pan­sion were put into place. The first thing we did was set up an ed­i­to­r­ial de­part­ment.

Hi­roshi Ueda212, a staff mem­ber from Os­aka, used to al­ways say, “Some­day, I’m gonna be a mag­a­zine ed­i­tor.” And when he elected to make the move to Tokyo, the first pro­posal that came up was a mag­a­zine “filled with noth­ing but Gun­dam man­ga.”

Ueda’s dream of be­com­ing an ed­i­tor was fi­nally ful­filled, due in part to some con­tacts he’d made while work­ing on Hon­neamise. Those con­tacts worked for Bandai, which had been mak­ing for­ays into pub­li­ca­tion with the mag­a­zine B-Club and other such pro­jects. Con­sid­er­ing the pub­li­ca­tion rights in­volved in mak­ing an all-Gun­dam man­ga, Bandai was the only name that came to mind as a ve­hi­cle that could get the project off the ground.

The idea was pitched, and a short time later Cy­ber Comic213 was born.

Dur­ing his time at Gen­eral Prod­ucts, Ueda was uti­lized for his edit­ing skills rather than any ani­me- or garage kit-re­lated pro­jects. And now, as ed­i­tor for Cy­ber Comic, he had be­gun to re­cruit a small team for his bur­geon­ing de­part­ment.

As it turns out, how­ev­er, the ed­i­to­r­ial frame­work that was set in place was rather lack­ing. Dead­lines for manga artists would be post­poned, yet the ed­i­tors would still be un­able to get to it in a timely fash­ion. The pro­duc­tion process on their end was differ­ent from that of ani­me, but it brought with it the same kind of pit­falls.

With the de­part­ment such as it was, books were con­stantly pub­lished be­hind sched­ule. And given that Bandai had money in­vested in this ven­ture, it’s safe to say that they were none too pleased with the re­sults. Fi­nal­ly, our con­tact (a man­ager of some de­part­ment or oth­er) stated that Cy­ber Comic would be con­tin­u­ing with­out the ser­vices of Gen­eral Prod­ucts.

Nat­u­ral­ly, we could­n’t sit back and do noth­ing. After all, this was the start of an en­tirely new busi­ness ven­ture for us—we could­n’t bear to be pulled from the project just be­cause our ed­i­to­r­ial staff had been drag­ging their feet. We did some in­ter­nal re­or­ga­ni­za­tion and went back to Bandai, say­ing ba­si­cal­ly, “Look, this is how things are now, and this is how we could do the job for you.” Bandai, how­ev­er, was quick to find a re­place­ment. Their re­ply was a sim­ple, “For­get it. It’s over.”

So, we had our idea for a Gun­dam man­ga, and we were able to get it off the ground. It’s just too bad we could­n’t see it all the way through.

On a sim­i­lar note, we had also be­gun work on ARIEL Comic, an an­thol­ogy se­ries in the same vein as Gun­dam that fea­tured a gi­ant, beau­ti­ful fight­ing ro­bot as its pro­tag­o­nist. It was based on the ARIEL214 nov­els by sci-fi au­thor 215, we had met through the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion… and it un­for­tu­nately suffered from the same sched­ul­ing prob­lems that had plagued Cy­ber Comic. The peo­ple on the ed­i­to­r­ial staff sim­ply weren’t that good at their jobs, and it was­n’t long be­fore they had ceased to do any sort of fol­low-up with the au­thors. When dead­lines re­ally got tight, the ed­i­tor would hole up in his house for days and do it all him­self. Even as our tenure on Cy­ber Comics was at its end, we were go­ing up to Asahi Sono­rama to bow out of ARIEL Comic as well, telling them “Sor­ry, but we can’t do it.” We were, in essence, sug­gest­ing that we shut down our ed­i­to­r­ial de­part­ment al­to­geth­er; we just did­n’t have the nec­es­sary skills to keep it run­ning.

The de­part­ment con­tin­ued on for an­other two or three years, but it was a dis­as­ter. Here’s an ex­am­ple of how much of a dis­as­ter it was—they were hir­ing more peo­ple. They had­n’t even asked us first. They just went out and hired them. Sure, they came back with ex­pla­na­tions like “But we were short­handed”, to which we replied, “If you’re short­hand­ed, the first thing you do is let us know about it. Don’t just go hir­ing peo­ple.” We had to ex­plain this to the de­part­ment more than once which made us de­vel­op… not so much a sense of dis­trust, as a se­ri­ous doubt in their abil­ity to get the job done.

We spent a lot of time ad­dress­ing the sit­u­a­tion, but noth­ing ever pro­duced any re­sults. The ed­i­to­r­ial staff had taken to lit­er­ally lock­ing them­selves in their apart­ments, and one time we even had to climb in through the win­dows and drag them out to talk. The next day, they would­n’t come out at all. So much time was spent drag­ging ret­i­cent em­ploy­ees out of their houses and into the office that we started re­fer­ring to it by a spe­cial term: “sal­vaging”.

Those on the ed­i­to­r­ial side that fi­nally tired of this and quit soon be­gan mak­ing out­ra­geous claims, like “I was the one that launched Cy­ber Comic”, or “Yeah, I made Den­nou Gakuen.” My sym­pa­thies to em­ploy­ers who hired them based on those claims.

We had re­cruited quite a few peo­ple to work in our ed­i­to­r­ial de­part­ment, but need­less to say, none of them were par­tic­u­larly good at what they did. They could­n’t even man­age the most ba­sic of func­tions, like sched­ul­ing and meet­ing dead­lines.

In any event, we ended up mak­ing other con­tacts and bring­ing them to work on Cy­ber Comic. One of these was Ikuto Ya­mashita216, who would later as­sist with the de­sign work on Evan­ge­lion. In the end, the ed­i­to­r­ial de­part­ment offered the com­pany noth­ing more than a larger cir­cle of con­tacts.

In stark con­trast to this, our games di­vi­sion was still turn­ing a profit. Not a huge profit, but it was a steady enough in­come that we could con­tinue with our hap­haz­ard hir­ing meth­ods.

When all was said and done, the profits from games were not ap­plied to anime pro­duc­tion—rather, they were used to take the com­pany in differ­ent and ever-ex­pand­ing di­rec­tions. It’s some­thing I look back on with a lin­ger­ing re­gret.

There was a trend for us to do every­thing pos­si­ble our­selves. We would use a big man­ual type­writer-look­ing thing to write up our own scripts, come up with our own de­signs and even print out our own proofs.

Of course, this ex­pe­ri­ence was not all bad. GAINAX cur­rently has its own DTP ()217 de­part­ment that func­tions quite well, but the skills of its staff were, in a way, forged by the ex­pe­ri­ence of en­dur­ing all the tri­als of ear­lier, hand­s-on pro­duc­tion. Our ap­proach in build­ing up the de­part­ment was hardly the most ex­pe­di­ent, how­ev­er, and it ended up con­sum­ing al­most all ex­pend­able funds from both GAINAX and Gen­eral Prod­ucts. But it is not my in­tent to point fin­gers and say that so-and-so is to blame. I only wish to ex­plain that the way things were run back then was the re­sult of a lack of un­der­stand­ing re­gard­ing our sit­u­a­tion.

It was the great­est fail­ure in our at­tempt to ex­pand the scope of our com­pa­ny.

PC game convention

[pg 142–145]

This is­n’t to say that we used all the profits from our PC games to staff the ed­i­to­r­ial de­part­ment. We were also hir­ing pro­gram­mers and graphic artists in an at­tempt to strength our gam­ing de­part­ment. Even I uti­lized my mea­ger con­nec­tions to bring some new peo­ple into the fold. Once our games took off and the Gen­eral Products/GAINAX name be­came known, we placed an ad and be­gan in­ter­view­ing peo­ple for po­si­tions. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, there was a very high ini­tial turn­around, and peo­ple were con­stantly com­ing and go­ing within the de­part­ment.

To­day, there is a large num­ber of sub­con­tract­ing firms ca­pa­ble of han­dling graph­ics and pro­gram­ming, but back then, that sim­ply was­n’t the case—we had no choice but to hire all these peo­ple to work in­-house. Truth be told, we were also dri­ven by our to­tal en­thu­si­asm for CG.

Un­like the ed­i­to­r­ial de­part­ment, our gam­ing de­part­ment never went bel­ly-up. A ma­jor part of its suc­cess was due to Akai and Tamatani—Akai ran the show and Tamatani was his sec­ond-in-com­mand. Tamatani had been around since the Os­aka days, work­ing as a staff mem­ber at the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions, and he had also been to Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts. In other words, he ac­tu­ally had the abil­ity to cre­ate things. The gam­ing de­part­ment was meant to be a place of cre­ation. Those with the skill or de­sire to blaze new trails stayed—the other left.

Our ini­tial prod­ucts were mostly “strip quiz” games fea­tur­ing orig­i­nal char­ac­ters and graph­ics by Akai. The re­sponse to these was quite good. Lat­er, we com­mis­sioned orig­i­nal art­work from an­i­ma­tors and manga artists out­side our com­pa­ny, and de­vel­oped a game us­ing Gun­buster as its theme. Steadi­ly, the num­ber of games that we were pro­duc­ing be­gan to grow.

The differ­ence be­tween anime and games is that in the case of the lat­ter, al­most every­thing is done in­-house, from plan­ning to pro­duc­tion, right up un­til the game is ready to sell. This is­n’t to say we weren’t fre­quently be­hind sched­ule—we were. It’s just that sched­ule man­age­ment and qual­ity con­trol were a lot eas­ier to han­dle on the gam­ing side of things. And if some­thing missed its re­lease date, any losses in­curred tended to be min­i­mal.

Peo­ple had defi­nitely taken to the GAINAX brand of PC games. It’s just un­for­tu­nate that there weren’t many chances for us to come face-to-face with them.

We had all been to the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion be­fore and walked around the area where con­ven­tion-go­ers are wel­comed. Sim­i­lar­ly, at Won­der Fes­ti­val (which we used to pro­mote our garage kit­s), it was very easy to meet and have di­rect ex­changes with our con­sumers. We felt that this kind of in­ter­ac­tion was ex­tremely im­por­tant.

Think­ing back to our own days as con­sumers, we imag­ined that the buy­ers of our prod­ucts were prob­a­bly ea­ger to meet the peo­ple who had made them, and that they were just as ea­ger to meet the peo­ple be­hind the games as the ani­me. So we took the seem­ingly log­i­cal next step and cre­ated the PC game con­ven­tion.218

Un­like now, the PC game mag­a­zines of the time were still at the height of their en­thu­si­asm for the gen­re, and the erot­i­cal­ly-themed “” had­n’t yet en­tered the main­stream. This com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors meant that a lot of game mak­ers were still do­ing the leg work to achieve recog­ni­tion, so I thought we might be on to some­thing with the idea of a gam­ing con­ven­tion.

Un­for­tu­nate­ly, there weren’t that many peo­ple with us any­more who had con­ven­tion ex­pe­ri­ence. A lot of work went into get­ting things into place, but they just could­n’t rise to the oc­ca­sion. I was ex­tremely dis­sat­is­fied with the event as a whole. Look­ing back (and con­sid­er­ing the lack of ex­pe­ri­enced staffers we had), I think that the very idea of our at­tempt­ing a PC gam­ing con­ven­tion was an er­ror, and was what led to its un­for­tu­nate re­sult. I got the im­pres­sion that those peo­ple kind enough to show up were not so much fans of PC games as fans of GAINAX it­self.

Ac­tu­al­ly, there were a few good things that came of the con­ven­tion. Vis­i­tors had the chance to meet Robert Wood­head219 in the flesh, as well as speak with some rather fa­mous writ­ers and ed­i­tors from var­i­ous gam­ing mag­a­zines. It was quite the un­usual ex­pe­ri­ence, but I think that peo­ple came away from it feel­ing rel­a­tively sat­is­fied.

In any event, based on vis­i­tor re­ac­tions and our own feel­ings about the event, GAINAX’s PC game con­ven­tion was the first and last of its kind.


[pg 145–146]

In No­vem­ber of 1990, I mar­ried.

Mean­while, though pro­duc­tion costs were dri­ving both Gen­eral Prod­ucts and GAINAX squarely into the red, we were still hard at work on Na­dia, which was air­ing all over Japan. Our PC game Silent Mo­bius was be­ing crit­i­cized by ven­dors (in that games based on manga just don’t sel­l), but de­spite that, it went on to sell like gang­busters.

Per­son­al­ly, I felt that the fu­ture of the com­pany was start­ing to look pretty good. Cou­ple that with the fact that I had been dat­ing Hi­roe Suga for some 10 years (which is not to say that it had­n’t been with­out its ups and down­s—our re­la­tion­ship had been punc­tu­ated by my pe­ri­ods of lethar­gy, yet we some­how man­aged to rec­on­cile), I de­cided that it was high time I set­tle down and get mar­ried.

Hi­roe had be­come a pub­lished sci-fi au­thor, and things on my end were look­ing up both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­al­ly.


[pg 146–147]

Both GAINAX and Gen­eral Prod­ucts looked like they were on the re­bound, and it was de­cided that we would try and ex­pand into the Amer­i­can mar­ket.

Japan­ese anime had­n’t yet en­tered the Amer­i­can main­stream as it has now, but our de­sire to give it a shot was­n’t so much a de­sire to blaze new trails as it was a kind of hunch. Our think­ing was, It does­n’t mat­ter where these guys are—the needs of otaku are the same the world over.

To us, it did­n’t mat­ter if it was via garage kits or ani­me, we just wanted to start get­ting our prod­ucts over­seas. Hot on the heels of that thought was, We’re go­ing to need an­other base of op­er­a­tions, which en­tailed set­ting up a sub­sidiary com­pa­ny. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, we could­n’t find the right peo­ple for the job. I was at an ab­solute loss for ideas.

Sawa­mu­ra, on the other hand, was still run­ning around with guns blaz­ing. He vol­un­teered him­self to go to Amer­i­ca, reg­is­ter­ing our sub­sidiary in Texas be­cause of the fa­vor­able tax breaks avail­able there. He also wasted no time in re­cruit­ing some of the lo­cals for his staff. I could­n’t re­ally put my fin­ger on it, but some­thing seemed off about Sawa­mu­ra’s be­hav­ior.

Our plan was for GAINAX USA to es­tab­lish a mail-order ser­vice for not just our toys and garage kits, but our en­tire line of ani­me-re­lated goods, and to ship them to every state in the U.S.

Con­cur­rent with our prepa­ra­tions to open our State­side store was the de­ci­sion to host an ani­me-style event right there in Amer­i­ca. This first ful­l-fledged anime event in the States was dubbed [The con­ven­tion for Japan­ese anime was held in in 1991. It was or­ga­nized by GAINAX, but the man­age­ment was car­ried out by lo­cal vol­un­teer­s.][I do not un­der­stand Japan­ese so I can­not be sure, but there seems to be a YouTube video of a short video of the trip, DAICONFILM—快傑のーてんき in USA. —Ed­i­tor], and manga au­thors and anime artists alike flew in from Japan to at­tend as spe­cial guests. We pre­pared a wealth of anime (on both film and video), and screened them non-stop, 24 hours a day.

The event was a suc­cess, and a lot of peo­ple showed up. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, many of the staff mem­bers did­n’t re­ally care about the con­ven­tion. Peo­ple from all strata of the com­pany went over to Amer­ica to help out, but—amount of peo­ple we had on staff notwith­stand­ing—they did­n’t turn out to be par­tic­u­larly use­ful. The whole thing turned out to be a kind of train­ing ses­sion-cum-o­ver­seas va­ca­tion. Of course, there were sev­eral Amer­i­cans on the staff as well, and it was thanks to their dili­gence that the event went as smoothly as it did. Be­hind the scenes of Ani­me­con’s suc­cess, how­ev­er, was the fact that GAINAX USA was not do­ing well at all…

The Amer­i­can staff that had been in­volved with Ani­me­con would later re­group and even host sev­eral ani­me-themed con­ven­tions across Amer­i­ca, some­thing which made me very happy in­deed.

The end of General Products

[pg 148–150]

It was around New Year’s of 1992 that I an­nounced that this year’s Won­der Fes­ti­val would be the last.

The an­nounce­ment came so sud­denly that the peo­ple in at­ten­dance were com­pletely shocked, but the news was an even big­ger sur­prise to the staff. Truth be told, it was some­thing of a shock to my­self as well.

It seems that the im­pe­tus be­hind our pulling out of Won­der Fes­ti­val was Akai him­self.

“How long are we go­ing to keep sell­ing prop­er­ties based on other peo­ple’s char­ac­ters?” his ar­gu­ment went. “We’re sup­posed to be a com­pany that de­vel­ops its own prop­er­ties, are we not?” And he had Okada’s back­ing.

The day of the an­nounce­ment, Okada and Akai both came down to the con­ven­tion grounds, That’s strange, I thought. After all, I was the one giv­ing out the or­ders and en­sur­ing that prepa­ra­tions were run­ning smooth­ly. The two of them called me aside, say­ing they had some­thing to tell me. They made their case, spout­ing off a list of rea­sons, and then ended with, “So yeah, we want to pull out of Won­der Fes­ti­val. What do you think?”

Huh‽ I thought, but their ar­gu­ment made sense. There was re­ally noth­ing I could say in re­sponse. I’d al­ready made up my mind—I agreed with them. I mean, we could­n’t very well go on sub­sist­ing on the in­tel­lec­tual prop­er­ties of oth­ers in­defi­nite­ly. Sales on our own Gen­eral Prod­ucts garage kits were hurt­ing. Kaiy­odo and other man­u­fac­tur­ers had hopped board the bur­geon­ing garage kit trend, but we just could­n’t put out the kind of mer­chan­dise that would give us the break we need­ed. What’s more, we weren’t even run­ning the re­tail shop any­more—we’d de­cided to close it un­til all con­struc­tion was com­plete.

Even now, I can’t re­call my ex­act thoughts on the mat­ter. Why was I so quick to agree? Maybe I was burnt out. Maybe I was tired of ped­dling garage kits that never pro­duced a break­out hit. Even so, the rev­enue that the Won­der Fes­ti­vals pro­vided was noth­ing to sneeze at, and I would later re­gret the de­ci­sion to pull out. As time passed and things within the com­pany sta­bi­lized, I thought it would be kind of nice to start de­vel­op­ing a line of garage kits and pro­mo­tional goods again—and in fact, GAINAX-NET now offers mod­els for sale.

At any rate, the an­nounce­ment that this would be our last Won­der Fes­ti­val went out that noon across the en­tire build­ing. The news was most defi­nitely un­ex­pect­ed—even I had no idea that, just a few hours ear­lier, Akai and Okada had been con­tem­plat­ing such a thing. Every­one in at­ten­dance was stunned.

That same day, we had a meet­ing to dis­cuss hand­ing the reins over to Kaiy­o­do. We would al­low them to use the Won­der Fes­ti­val name, and give them the molds to all the garage kits we had man­u­fac­tured. Kaiy­o­do, for their part, would be in some­thing of a bind if the fes­ti­val were to dis­ap­pear al­to­geth­er. At the same time, there was some con­cern on their end as to whether they would be able to co­or­di­nate an event like this. In terms of hav­ing the nec­es­sary re­sources to pull it off, though, they were prob­a­bly the only ones ca­pa­ble of tak­ing over for us.

There was a lot of bad blood when Gen­eral Prod­ucts first opened its doors, with in­sults and in­sin­u­a­tions on both the Gen­eral Prod­ucts and Kaiy­odo sides. By this time, though, the hatchet had al­ready been well and truly buried. For those el­e­ments on our side that re­mained in Os­aka, con­sid­er­ing Kaiy­odo as en­e­mies with­out ever re­ally get­ting to know them, the sit­u­a­tion was prob­a­bly some­thing like sib­ling ri­val­ry. As garage kits grew in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar, how­ev­er, even those two fac­tions fi­nally called a truce. I think the fact that Miyawaki220 221 (who is some­times called the “young hus­band of Kaiy­odo”) and I are the same age may have had some­thing to do with that.

Right up un­til the last day of the Won­der Fes­ti­val, it had never en­tered my mind that we would quit do­ing them; I had al­ready re­served the lo­ca­tion for the up­com­ing sum­mer. As a staff mem­ber, how­ev­er, my main oblig­a­tion was to help the Fes­ti­val in any way I could. I turned the reser­va­tion over to Kaiy­o­do.

To look on the pos­i­tive side, Gen­eral Prod­ucts prob­a­bly did­n’t have the means to con­tinue mak­ing garage kits any­way. Quit­ting both won­der Fes­ti­val and garage kit-mak­ing al­to­gether meant that the com­pany no longer had a rea­son to con­tinue op­er­at­ing. As such, it was de­cided to in­cor­po­rate what re­mained with GAINAX. I sup­pose you could say that by this point, Gen­eral Prod­ucts’ use­ful­ness had dwin­dled.

Okada leaves the company

[pg 150–153]

The dis­so­lu­tion of Gen­eral Prod­ucts had hardly drained me of my de­ter­mi­na­tion. On the con­trary—now that it had com­pletely merged with GAINAX, I was busily putting plans in mo­tion and work­ing to­ward the fu­ture.

On the other hand, fol­low­ing our abortive at­tempt to get our orig­i­nal anime Olympia ready for pro­duc­tion, Okada had­n’t done a sin­gle bit of work. It looked like he was do­ing a lot of talk­ing with Ya­m­aga about pos­si­ble fu­ture pro­jects, and noth­ing more.

What’s more, since read­ing a book in the Bessatsu Takara­jima se­ries about re-in­vent­ing your­self, he had be­gun speak­ing with an affected Tokyo ac­cent, pick­ing up girls and tak­ing them to dis­cos, and act­ing in a wholly un­char­ac­ter­is­tic man­ner. Well, putting aside my own im­pres­sions from the mo­ment, a very real prob­lem was de­vel­op­ing here, in that Okada had taken to spout­ing off all kinds of whim­si­cal ideas but not ac­tu­ally do­ing any­thing to re­al­ize them. In fact, as I men­tioned pre­vi­ous­ly, he was­n’t do­ing any work at all.

One day, I fi­nally said to him, “We’re cut­ting your salary. Some­one who does so lit­tle around here has no busi­ness mak­ing this much.” It was ac­tu­ally Sawa­mura who orig­i­nally gave the or­der—it was my job to re­lay the mes­sage. At first, Okada protest­ed, but in the end he gave in.

Now, cut­ting his salary is fine and all, but in my opin­ion, it’s strange that he should even be re­tained on the pay­roll. My thoughts at the time were, Okada should just quit. Here is my rea­son­ing: Okada is the com­pany pres­i­dent. He’s the face that we present to the pub­lic. If our own pres­i­dent is do­ing any work, it would only be a mat­ter of time be­fore peo­ple—both in­side the com­pany and out­—be­gan keep­ing him at ar­m’s length.

Which is why I ended up go­ing to him again and stat­ing point-blank, “You should quit.” He re­fused. “You need to quit”, I coun­tered. “Well, I’m not go­ing to”, came his re­ply. We went round like this, over and over again, I don’t know how many times. Then he started to wa­ver.

“Al­right, I’ll quit.”

“Wait, I can’t quit.”

And fi­nal­ly: “Tell you what—let me make one more game. Then I’ll quit.” By that point, I’d had enough.

“If you just can’t find it in your­self to quit”, I said, “then I’ll quit. Who’s it go­ing to be, then? You or me?”

It’s not like I had any other busi­ness prospects lined up. But I’d made up my mind, and was ready to let the chips fall where they may. Of course, I was still in debt and had a car loan hang­ing over my head­—if I quit, it would­n’t be long be­fore I was out wan­der­ing the streets. I was aware of all this, but at the same time I had to stand my ground. I knew that if Okada re­mained, I would­n’t even want to stay at GAINAX.

In the end, Okada gave in. He agreed to leave the com­pa­ny.

Un­til then, Okada had not been re­garded very fondly by his co-work­ers. Some time ear­lier, there had been a meet­ing to dis­cuss what di­rec­tion the com­pany should take in the fu­ture. Okada had come wan­der­ing in and an­nounced some­thing to the effect that he had no in­ten­tion of quit­ting. At this, Ya­m­aga stood sud­denly and glared at me an­gri­ly. He said some things like “This is a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion. What did you in­vite him for?” and “I can’t even talk with him in the same room” and stormed out. I’d say Okada found him­self in a pretty rough spot that day.

What I did­n’t know was that fol­low­ing this meet­ing, Okada had talked things over with his wife, Kazu­mi. He’d de­cided that he could­n’t hold on to his po­si­tion in­defi­nite­ly, and that at some point he would have to leave the com­pa­ny.

In his book and at var­i­ous other places and times, Okada’s com­ment on his de­par­ture has been some­thing like “I sim­ply ran out of things to do at GAINAX. For this rea­son, I de­cided it was time for me to step down.” But Okada, is­n’t it true that you quit be­cause, es­pe­cially after every­thing that hap­pened, you could­n’t (as you your­self men­tioned) hang on to your post forever?

Our plan was for GAINAX to fo­cus on cre­at­ing new and bet­ter ani­me—and per­son­ally speak­ing, the re­lent­lessly vo­cal Okada was a hin­drance to that plan. He would go on and on about the de­tails of each pro­ject, and be­lieve that what he had to say was hav­ing an effect on every­one. On me. But truth be told, he just made things more diffi­cult. It’s one thing to talk a lot if what you’re say­ing is fo­cused on the fu­ture and grounded in re­al­i­ty. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, what Okada had to say by that point was about as un­real as you could get.

Okada’s wife Kazu­mi, how­ev­er, re­mained with the com­pa­ny. Any prob­lems we had with Okada stayed with Okada, and had noth­ing to do with his wife.

As a side note, some shrewd fans have opined that Kazu­mi’s con­tin­ued pres­ence at GAINAX has al­lowed Okada to re­tain some mea­sure of in­flu­ence in its op­er­a­tions…

The new GAINAX

[pg 154–155]

Okada’s ab­sence cre­ated an open­ing, and Ya­m­aga stepped up to join Sawa­mura as GAINAX’s co-pres­i­dent. Fol­low­ing Okada’s de­par­ture, Akai had said “Con­sid­er­ing the his­tory of GAINAX’s found­ing, it would be ex­tremely odd if Ya­m­aga were not named the next co-pres­i­dent.” And this is ex­actly what hap­pened, with Ya­m­aga now be­ing held ac­count­able for the com­pany he helped cre­ate.

In ac­tual fact, though, the ones that re­ally ran the show were Sawa­mura and Akai, with Sawa­mura han­dling day-to-day op­er­a­tions and Akai hav­ing the fi­nal say on all things pro­jec­t-re­lat­ed. Ya­m­aga had be­come the new “face” of GAINAX, but lit­tle more. The flip side of this was that, for all his in­flu­ence, Akai was still re­garded as a reg­u­lar em­ploy­ee. We were all aware that this setup was a bit un­con­ven­tion­al, but our method­ol­ogy could never be called “the norm”. To this day, we con­tinue to do our jobs with the same mind­set we had in our stu­dent days, quite re­moved from the nor­mal so­ci­etal ways of thought. With Okada gone and Sawa­mura and Akai run­ning things, it was busi­ness as usual in terms of our PC game op­er­a­tions. We even be­gan op­er­at­ing an on­line ser­vice called GAINAX-NET222. And all the while, we were back on track de­vel­op­ing new anime pro­jects. Un­for­tu­nate­ly, it ap­pears that Sawa­mura and Akai were start­ing to butt heads with one an­oth­er.

I say “ap­pears” be­cause the prob­lem did­n’t man­i­fest it­self in pub­lic ar­gu­ments—rather, it was that the two had very differ­ent ideas on how things should be done. At one point, Akai won­dered aloud if he should just quit, but noth­ing ever came of it. Lat­er, when our offices moved to Kichi­jo­ji, the dis­agree­ments be­tween Akai and Sawa­mura be­came more pro­nounced, and Akai for­mally stated his in­tent to re­sign. He has since re­turned to work for GAINAX, where he is one of the com­pany di­rec­tors223. I still think it’s a shame we had to part ways in the past, though.

Aoki Uru

[pg 155–158]

One of the new anime projects were con­sid­ered fol­low­ing Okada’s de­par­ture was an idea of Ya­m­a­ga’s called Aoki Uru. This sto­ry, set ten years after the Oritsu Uchugun movie, was to por­tray the con­tin­u­ing saga of the fighter pi­lots. The project is cur­rently on hia­tus.224 It was de­vel­oped as a se­quel to the the­atri­cal Oritsu Uchugun, but set some 50 years lat­er. The rea­son for this was that with no re­cur­ring char­ac­ters or sto­ry­lines to deal with, it would be eas­ier for po­ten­tial in­vestors to un­der­stand the premise.

As al­ways, we got to­gether for a brain­storm­ing ses­sion, where it was de­cided that Anno would di­rect and Ya­m­aga would pro­duce and pro­vide the script, which had four planned acts. He turned out the first of the acts, while Sadamoto fin­ished up the char­ac­ter de­signs. The plans for the main mecha were drawn up by Masamune Shi­row and Kazu­taka Miy­atake from Stu­dio Nue.

For me, this was not so much a pe­riod of lethargy as it was a time of not hav­ing a clear-cut sense of pur­pose. I did­n’t know how to act, and to tell the truth, Aoki Uru had be­come some­thing of a bur­den. I lacked mo­ti­va­tion, and the sense of en­ergy I had back when I started do­ing the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions was all but gone. I was just do­ing as I was told. Over­all, I think I found pro­duc­ing Aoki Uru to be more of a chore than any­thing.

The ma­jor prob­lem with Uru was that it was de­signed as a the­atri­cal re­lease, and we were un­able to foot all of the pro­duc­tion costs our­selves. If we funded the project in its en­tirety and it was a hit, then we would reap all of the profit­s—but the sim­ple truth was, we did­n’t have that kind of mon­ey. We were faced with the dilemma of hav­ing to be­gin work on the pro­ject, but not hav­ing enough funds to see it all the way through. That was when Akai is­sued his procla­ma­tion.

To me, it was like sud­denly get­ting my march­ing or­ders. The memo laid down a cer­tain date, and said that if pro­duc­tion on Aoki Uru did­n’t be­gin in earnest by that date, then Akai would be sev­er­ing all ties with me, pub­lic and pri­vate. I still had­n’t quite found my rhythm yet, but let me tell you, I cer­tainly sprang into ac­tion.

It took a lot of effort, but Anno got his staff and the nec­es­sary prepa­ra­tions were made to be­gin pro­duc­tion. I’m sure I must’ve looked like some el­e­men­tary stu­dent who’d barely fin­ished his sum­mer home­work on the very last day of va­ca­tion, hold­ing it up to his mother and brag­ging, “There! How ya like me now?” But Akai’s (very adult) re­ac­tion was to en­cour­age me by say­ing, “This is where the project re­ally gets un­der­way. Please keep giv­ing it your all.”

And so, though we lacked the funds nec­es­sary to com­plete it, pro­duc­tion be­gan on Aoki Uru.

It was slow work, but work nonethe­less. Even while we were out try­ing to raise funds for the pro­ject, how­ev­er, we were hav­ing to pay the staff their salaries, which meant that a lot of money was go­ing out, and noth­ing was com­ing in. I de­cided to go out and find the money my­self—in other words, take out a few poor man’s loans. I went to I don’t know how many loan sharks, and ended up se­cur­ing some 8 mil­lion yen. As a re­sult of bor­row­ing mon­ey, how­ev­er, my day-to-day ex­is­tence would end up be­com­ing rather pa­thet­ic…

After a while, it be­came ob­vi­ous that if we did­n’t meet our bud­get—and soon—pro­duc­tion would be com­ing to a screech­ing halt. But noth­ing seemed to work out right. We would­n’t raise any more cap­i­tal, and the staff just was­n’t mak­ing any progress. Even Anno had lost his mo­ti­va­tion. An­no, my­self, and all the rest of the staff had worked so hard on this pro­ject, but we had noth­ing to show for it.

As for my­self, I still felt like I was lack­ing a sense of di­rec­tion. Again, it was the mon­key and the jar—I could­n’t see the thing I held for what it was. Maybe it was a mis­guided sense of pride that had caused this. Maybe I’d thought that I could solve all these prob­lems on my own; or rather, I’d placed too much con­fi­dence in my own abil­i­ties, think­ing that if I just put my mind to it I could do any­thing, no mat­ter how im­pos­si­ble the task. It’s not at all an un­com­mon phe­nom­e­non, and an easy trap to fall into if a per­son does­n’t truly know them­selves and their lim­i­ta­tions. That sort of mis­guided pride can make a man be­come less than worth­less.

Gen­eral Prod­ucts had closed shop. We’d pulled out of Won­der Fes­ti­val and garage kit mak­ing al­to­geth­er. We weren’t even tak­ing on any sub­con­tract­ing work for anime pro­duc­tion. We did con­tinue to make PC games—Akai had seen to that—but there was­n’t a lot of work tossed our way. With mere pen­nies com­ing in, we were hav­ing a hard enough time just pay­ing every­one’s salaries.

Fi­nal­ly, the or­der came down for us to halt pro­duc­tion on Aoki Uru. We were sim­ply in­ca­pable of tak­ing the project any fur­ther.


[pg 158–161]

After the Aoki Uru project got put on hold, I be­gan to think about leav­ing the com­pany again. In a sense, I was re­spon­si­ble for what had be­come of the pro­jec­t—it was my own worth­less­ness that had brought about its fail­ure. I fig­ured GAINAX would be bet­ter off with­out me.

“Come on, just hang in there an­other two years”, Sawa­mura told me when I ap­proached him about leav­ing. “I’m work­ing on some things to help us get the com­pany back on track, and I’m sure I’ll be do­ing and sug­gest­ing some pretty out­ra­geous things. I’m gonna be count­ing on your sup­port, no mat­ter what hap­pens.”

I re­ally had no rea­son to turn him down. Not only that, but I felt a kind of daunt­less courage in his de­ter­mi­na­tion to re­build GAINAX. I was ready to roll up my sleeves and do what­ever it took.

All along, I’d been think­ing that I re­ally needed to do some­thing to fix the sit­u­a­tion. Our con­ver­sa­tion came at just the right mo­ment. It’s that mon­key and the jar again—the sec­ond I agreed to say on, all that anx­i­ety just dis­ap­peared. It was like let­ting go of what­ever I’d been hold­ing on­to, and sud­denly my hand was free. I no longer had the de­sire to quit.

Sawa­mu­ra’s first act was to es­sen­tially press the re­set but­ton on the whole com­pa­ny. When Aoki Uru was post­poned, we were dan­ger­ously short of funds. We had enough cash to han­dle the day-to-day costs for the time be­ing, but it was clear that if some­thing did­n’t change, we’d end up run­ning the com­pany into the ground.

De­spite the fact that we had no work com­ing in, we still had to make pay­roll. If we did­n’t get rid of all the em­ploy­ees hired dur­ing our ex­pan­sion phase, we could for­get about anime pro­duc­tion—we’d be lucky to say alive.

Some­thing had to be done, but Sawa­mura and I were hardly the most com­pe­tent of man­agers. We just could­n’t fire peo­ple, even if they were a drain on the com­pa­ny. So Sawa­mura called every­one to­gether and made an an­nounce­ment:

“Mak­ing Aoki Uru is a ma­jor un­der­tak­ing for GAINAX… but we sim­ply don’t have enough mon­ey. The project will be put on hold in­defi­nite­ly. Fur­ther­more, in the fu­ture there may be times when pay­roll checks won’t be paid out due to lack of funds. Any­one who can’t live with that need­n’t come in to work to­mor­row. We will pay every­one’s salary up through next mon­th, though. If you want to leave, there’s no need for you to for­mally an­nounce your res­ig­na­tion. But if you do in­tend to stay, please let us know.”

And that was that. From the very next day, some peo­ple just stopped com­ing in to work, with­out any dis­cus­sion or fuss. I thought it was bril­liant. All those em­ploy­ees we had­n’t been able to cut loose had done the dirty work for us. I imag­ine many of the peo­ple who left that day would have a few choice words to say about the in­ci­dent if asked, but I was more de­pressed about it than any­one. I was ac­tu­ally quite shocked at some who chose to quit, peo­ple who’d been with us since the Os­aka days. Even em­ploy­ees that were squarely in my camp stopped com­ing in after that day, and some of them I haven’t seen or heard from since. As for the ones who stayed, it did­n’t nec­es­sar­ily make them any more trust­wor­thy, but since they de­cided to stick by us when we were down, I made up my mind to place my trust in them.

Dur­ing this mass ex­o­dus, I was liv­ing in a rather nice apart­ment, the one that my wife and I had oc­cu­pied since our wed­ding. After the com­pany shake­up, how­ev­er, my salary shrunk, as­sum­ing I even re­ceived a pay­check at all. It got so bad that I could­n’t keep up with the rent, so I sent my back to Ky­oto to live with her par­ents and started bunk­ing in a one-room apart­ment main­tained by the com­pa­ny. We called it “the sleep room”, be­cause that’s all it was. There were three bunk beds packed into 100 square feet of space. The worst thing about it was that some­times guys would go out drink­ing and miss the last train, so they’d come over to the apart­ment to spend the night, bring­ing women in with them!

I had to bor­row against my salary for my liv­ing ex­pens­es, so every sin­gle pay­check was used up be­fore I even got it. Once I paid the loan amount and then the in­ter­est on the loan, I was broke again, so I’d have to bor­row from my next pay­check just to pay the bills. My life be­came an end­less cy­cle of bor­row­ing money I could­n’t pay back.

At some point I moved out of that apart­ment and into a tiny room in­side the ac­tual com­pany build­ing. It was maybe 50 square feet, and the in­te­rior re­sem­bled a tool shed. I lived and worked there for close to a year, un­til it be­came too mis­er­able to con­tin­ue. I told them I was in dire straits and needed a raise, so they bumped my salary up enough that I was able to rent a lit­tle apart­ment. In a sense, my sit­u­a­tion was about as bad as it could get, but over the next six months or so, I grad­u­ally started to feel a hint of op­ti­mism. I think what hap­pened is that I fi­nally hit rock bot­tom, and from there, you can only go up.

Be­fore the end of the sec­ond year, I be­gan to ac­quire a vague sense of my role in the com­pa­ny. I say vague be­cause I still could­n’t point to any­thing in par­tic­u­lar to call my “job”, but I did ac­quire a firmer sense of my place in the over­all or­ga­ni­za­tion. After al­most two years of walk­ing in the dark, there was a speck of light at the end of the tun­nel.

The com­pany would re­cov­er. We were still fly­ing be­low the radar, but things were slowly on the mend.

GAINA Matsuri

[pg 161–162]

Even at rock bot­tom, you still have to work. Fol­low­ing the big com­pany shake­up, Akai sug­gested we have some kind of event, and we were grate­ful for the dis­trac­tion.

After all, events were our roots. They had al­ways come be­fore every turn­ing point in our evo­lu­tion, and we got our start at the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions, after all. Since we weren’t do­ing the Won­der Fes­ti­val any­more, I think it was just a way for us to go back and re­dis­cover our roots. That was the plan for GAINA Mat­suri, or GAINAX Fes­ti­val225.

The event it­self was strictly smal­l­-s­cale, with only 200 at­ten­dees over a sin­gle day and night. We went to the Mi­nakami Hot Springs in Gunma and stayed at the same ho­tel we used for MiG-Con back in 1988. It was de­signed to be noth­ing more than a small get-to­gether for GAINAX fans, so it was­n’t a big pro­duc­tion by any means. I think every­one had a good time stay­ing up all night for the fes­tiv­i­ties, though.

We even held a sec­ond GAINAX Fes­ti­val the next year in Itako, Ibaraki, where we screened the first two episodes of Evan­ge­lion three months prior to their air date. The open­ing se­quence as well as other el­e­ments weren’t quite ready yet, so the screen­ing showed only the raw episodes, but with only 200 peo­ple given the op­por­tu­nity to see the show at such an early stage, I’m sure it was a pre­cious mem­ory for every­one who at­tend­ed. I re­mem­ber re­ac­tions to the early be­ing ex­tremely pos­i­tive. That night was truly “Evan­ge­lion Eve”.

All in all, I was in good spir­its for the sec­ond GAINAX Fes­ti­val, and see­ing the warm re­ac­tions to the show served to reaffirm my faith in the fu­ture of GAINAX.

Evangelion Eve

[pg 162–166]

Sawa­mu­ra’s plan for jump-s­tart­ing GAINAX had worked like a charm, and all the dead­beat em­ploy­ees we could­n’t deal with our­selves were now gone. It seemed like as soon as they left, though, they started mak­ing up sto­ries about how they’d been sin­gle-hand­edly re­spon­si­ble for GAINAX’s suc­cess­es.

The fun­ni­est story I heard was about an ex-GAINAX em­ployee who tried to pull the wool over Sony’s eyes. Ap­par­ent­ly, this per­son marched into Sony’s office and an­nounced that he’d man­aged to lure all the peo­ple in­volved in the Princess Maker project away from GAINAX and formed his own com­pany with them. Sony was right in the mid­dle of de­vel­op­ing the PlaySta­tion, and had just an­nounced the plat­for­m’s re­lease. It just so hap­pened that GAINAX had been com­mis­sioned to pro­duce Princess Maker 3 for the PlaySta­tion, so when the Sony guy heard about every­one on the Princess Maker team leav­ing GAINAX, he was un­der­stand­ably shocked.

The guy called us up in a panic and asked what had hap­pened. I re­as­sured him that noth­ing had hap­pened. The di­rec­tion and char­ac­ter de­signs were all Akai’s work, and he was still with the com­pa­ny. Even Hashimo­to, the one who did the pro­gram­ming, was still with us. I in­formed the dis­traught Sony man­ager that every­one who had ever had a hand in the game was still se­curely em­ployed by GAINAX, and he had noth­ing to worry about. He seemed sat­is­fied after that, but what I find amaz­ing is that a com­pany like Sony could be so com­pletely taken in by such a bla­tant lie. I sup­pose it’s be­cause they were just start­ing to en­ter the game mar­ket, and did­n’t re­al­ize that the for­mer GAINAX em­ployee had been try­ing to pull a fast one.

Ex-em­ployee trou­bles notwith­stand­ing, GAINAX was fi­nally be­gin­ning to re­cov­er. And the Evan­ge­lion project was tak­ing shape.

For An­no, I think Aoki Uru be­ing put on hia­tus was a weight off his shoul­ders. I’m sure he’d been just as anx­ious about it as I was, tor­mented by the thought that as the di­rec­tor he needed to be do­ing some­thing to fix things, even though he did­n’t know what to do. But after we put the project on hold and all that pres­sure was gone, I’m sure he felt a lot bet­ter.

Anno knew a guy from named Ot­suki226, and as the story goes, the two were out drink­ing one day when Ot­suki sug­gested to Anno that they work on a TV anime project to­geth­er. Anno agreed on the spot, came back to the office and promptly an­nounced it to every­one. No­body even bat­ted an eye­lash. We all just ac­cepted it with­out fur­ther thought. I re­mem­ber think­ing OK, so An­no’s made the de­ci­sion then, and that was that. No sur­prise, noth­ing out of the or­di­nary.

Now that I’ve had some time to re­flect on every­thing, I’ve fi­nally re­al­ized that our strongest as­set has al­ways been our abil­ity to make snap de­ci­sions. We were de­ci­sive in col­lege, and we were still de­ci­sive at GAINAX. It was our defin­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic as a team. No mat­ter what you’re do­ing, whether it’s a show or an event or what­ev­er, the peo­ple who are able to get things done are the peo­ple who have the strongest drive to take ac­tion.

We had no trou­ble start­ing up an­other project right away. All the out­side staff we hired on for Aoki Uru were now gone, but Anno and the rest of the gang were still there. They went on a re­treat to Mat­sumoto in Nagano and be­fore you knew it, they had a project plan all drawn up. Still, it would take over a year to go from project start to broad­cast.

Anno had been run­ning on empty ever since Na­dia fin­ished, but Evan­ge­lion seemed to be just the thing to get him up and run­ning again. And once he puts his mind to some­thing, he goes all out. King Records had al­ready se­cured a times­lot, so once they fin­ished lay­ing down the plot, the only thing left to do was make the show.

One of the key themes in Aoki Uru had been “not run­ning away”. In the sto­ry, the main char­ac­ter is faced with the daunt­ing task of sav­ing the hero­ine, who’s been ab­duct­ed. He ran away from some­thing in the past, so he de­cides that this time he will stand his ground. That same theme was car­ried over into Evan­ge­lion, but I think it was some­thing more than just trans­pos­ing one show’s theme onto an­oth­er. I re­ally think Anno in­her­ited some­thing from Aoki Uru—the de­ter­mi­na­tion not to run away from prob­lem­s—and what we saw in Evan­ge­lion was maybe just a re­flec­tion of those feel­ings.

It was right around this “Evan­ge­lion Eve” pe­riod that we de­cided (at Akai’s sug­ges­tion) to move our fa­cil­i­ties. The build­ing we were in was pretty old, and we’d just dis­cov­ered that a por­tion of it was slated for de­mo­li­tion be­cause of a mu­nic­i­pal road ex­pan­sion project in the works. De­cid­ing to stay in the city of Musashino, we rented a three­-s­tory build­ing and moved every­thing there.

But dis­agree­ments be­tween Akai and Sawa­mura had reached a crit­i­cal point. Pro­duc­tion on Akai’s Princess Maker 3 had al­ready been ap­proved, and he was also sup­posed to be a pro­ducer on Evan­ge­lion. Soon after the move, how­ev­er—right as the anime de­part­ment was build­ing se­ri­ous mo­men­tum on the Evan­ge­lion pro­jec­t—Akai broke off from GAINAX to form his own com­pa­ny, tak­ing with him con­trol of the Princess Maker 3 pro­duc­tion.

This is­n’t to say that Sawa­mura and Akai had some kind of falling out. It was­n’t like that. It’s just that GAINAX had been op­er­at­ing with two men at the helm, and that’s one man too many. Each of them wanted to steer the com­pany in a differ­ent di­rec­tion, and when their differ­ences in opin­ion be­came too pro­nounced to ig­nore any­more, Akai left. Some­time after­ward, I asked Akai why he’d been the one to leave in­stead of Sawa­mu­ra, and he said, “I could see that Sawa­mura was in­ter­ested in do­ing a num­ber of things with Ya­m­a­ga, and con­sid­er­ing the ideas that those two had, I could see my­self butting heads with Sawa­mura at some point. After I thought it over, it seemed bet­ter to leave be­fore the fight­ing start­ed.”

Shinseiki Evangelion

[pg 166–167]

I don’t think it’s nec­es­sary to re­state what a tremen­dous sen­sa­tion Evan­ge­lion caused when it started air­ing on TV. They called it a so­cial phe­nom­e­non. It sold record num­bers of laserdiscs in Japan, and the DVD is still sell­ing well to­day.

That’s the Evan­ge­lion every­body knows, but it sure was­n’t smooth sail­ing for us dur­ing the pro­duc­tion phase. When Ot­suki brought the pro­posal to a cer­tain un­named toy com­pa­ny, the guy there told him a ro­bot with a de­sign like that would never sell. He said the legs were too skin­ny, and then pro­ceeded to give Ot­suki a lec­ture on the prin­ci­ples of ro­bot de­sign. Ot­suki is bit­ter about the in­ci­dent to this day. In the end, ac­quired li­cens­ing rights to the mer­chan­dise, and the other toy com­pany would later li­cense from Sega or work through them to dis­trib­ute Evan­ge­lion mod­els.227

We had a num­ber of other prob­lems as well. Book pub­lish­ers re­jected our pro­posal to have Sadamoto do the manga se­ries, on the grounds that he was too passe to be bank­able! Pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies re­fused to help with the pro­duc­tion of the an­i­ma­tion. I per­son­ally felt con­fi­dent that the show would be a hit, al­though I never imag­ined this amount of suc­cess. But not An­no. He was a true be­liever right from the get-go. He even promised to buy me a new build­ing from the earn­ings! His faith in the project was un­shak­able.

With Evan­ge­lion, GAINAX be­gan sell­ing more games and soft­ware than we ever had since our found­ing, and other com­pa­nies rode the same gravy train with their own Eva-re­lated prod­ucts and pub­li­ca­tions. Any­thing that had “Evan­ge­lion” in the name sold like hot­cakes.

Tax evasion and the birth of my daughter

[pg 167–171]

But we never did get our new build­ing. We were never able to. In May of 1998, GAINAX was au­dited by the Na­tional Tax Agency (NTA) of Japan un­der sus­pi­cion of .

It was about 8:00 in the morn­ing and I was still asleep in my apart­ment when I heard the door­bell ring­ing. I had­n’t got­ten to bed un­til 5:00 that same morn­ing, so it me it was like be­ing woken up in the mid­dle of the night. When I opened the door I saw two NTA offi­cials stand­ing there, flash­ing their cre­den­tials. I in­vited them in, and the three of us spent about two hours talk­ing in my room. One of the two kept look­ing around the place for damn­ing ev­i­dence, but of course there was none. I kept think­ing how differ­ent it was from the girls in Marusa!! (a TV drama about un­der­cover tax in­ves­ti­ga­tors that aired in Japan in 2003). Yeah, I sup­pose it would be…

Any­way, the head in­ves­ti­ga­tor who showed up at the com­pany was even fun­nier. He took one look at all our com­puter and started spout­ing off about how we’d been taken to the clean­ers by the com­puter sales peo­ple. “Look at this! There’s a com­puter on every desk!” he ex­claimed. “If they told you that you needed a com­puter for every sin­gle per­son, then you’ve been had. What a crock!” Maybe he re­ally hated com­put­ers, maybe they were get­ting in the way of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, or maybe that guy was just re­ally be­hind the times. Who knows.

When they fi­nally in­formed us that GAINAX was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion on sus­pi­cion of tax eva­sion, I was com­pletely stunned. I have to ad­mit, I was aware of the fact that we were do­ing some shady ac­count­ing, but I had no idea how much money was in­volved. When they told me the amount, I was flab­ber­gast­ed.

For about a year after that ini­tial raid, I was forced to make al­most daily trips to the Tokyo Re­gional Tax­a­tion Bu­reau, the Tokyo Met­ro­pol­i­tan Gov­ern­ment Bu­reau of Tax­a­tion, and the Musashino Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Tax Di­vi­sion office. We even had our bank ac­counts frozen, and the guy han­dling our case at the Tokyo metro office in­formed us that if the com­pany went un­der, it was­n’t their prob­lem. When we com­plained, it was al­ways the same sto­ry: “You still have mon­ey, don’t you?” or “Once the pres­i­dent of a com­pany gets ar­rest­ed, the com­pany could go down at any time” and so on. And every time, our ac­counts would get frozen again.

To be per­fectly blunt, be­fore all this hap­pened I had ab­solutely no in­ter­est what­so­ever in the com­pa­ny’s fi­nances. I guess I left it all up to Sawa­mu­ra, but that re­ally was­n’t the whole sto­ry. I think it was my care­less at­ti­tude about money that re­ally landed us in that mess. I just as­sumed that some­body would take care of things, and my lack of in­ter­est fos­tered a dan­ger­ous dis­re­gard for mon­e­tary mat­ters. Now I main­tain di­rect con­trol over the com­pa­ny’s fi­nances, though my grasp of the whole process is far from per­fect. I’m still grop­ing my way through the brush and bram­ble of ac­count­ing and tax laws, and learn­ing new things all the time—which is pretty amaz­ing when you con­sider how much I used to hate study­ing. But since I had to work hard to fix what had hap­pened, I fig­ured I might as well learn some­thing in the process.

The tax eva­sion it­self was all Sawa­mu­ra’s de­ci­sion, but after every­thing was said and done, I re­al­ize that the only rea­son he did it was be­cause it was so hard to run the com­pany with no mon­ey. Be­fore Evan­ge­lion, GAINAX had been in per­pet­u­ally dire fi­nan­cial straits. We’d been liv­ing hand to mouth ever since the com­pa­ny’s found­ing, and our ac­count­ing—if you could even call it that—amounted to lit­tle more than col­lect­ing pay­ments and de­duct­ing costs, some­thing on the level of run­ning a lemon­ade booth at the state fair. Sawa­mura un­der­stood our fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion bet­ter than any­one, so when Evan­ge­lion took off and the money re­ally started rolling in, he saw it as pos­si­bly our one and only op­por­tu­nity to set some­thing aside for the fu­ture. I guess he was vul­ner­a­ble to temp­ta­tion at that point, be­cause no one knew how long the Evan­ge­lion goose would keep lay­ing golden eggs. I don’t think he pur­posely set out with the goal of evad­ing tax­es. It was more that our level of ac­count­ing knowl­edge was­n’t up to the task of deal­ing with rev­enues on such a large scale.

But all in all, I did­n’t suffer too much in the after­math of the tax brouhaha at GAINAX. I did­n’t have any mon­ey, of course, but the rea­son I was­n’t overly fo­cused on it was be­cause my wife and I were ex­pect­ing our first child in July of that same year. With a new baby on the way, I just did­n’t have time to think much about tax prob­lems.

And sure enough, when July rolled around our first daugh­ter was born. We named her Yuki­no. But un­for­tu­nate­ly, she was ad­mit­ted into the in­fant ICU im­me­di­ately after she was born, and later her mother joined her in the hos­pi­tal. For sev­eral months the doc­tors had no idea what the cause of Yuki­no’s phys­i­cal prob­lems were, but I’m sure they did every­thing hu­manly pos­si­ble to find out, run­ning every sin­gle test they could run on an in­fant. They even checked her DNA. I was wor­ried sick about my daugh­ter, but I could­n’t leave Tokyo in the mid­dle of the tax au­dit, so for about six months I was forced to com­mute back and forth to Ky­oto, leav­ing every Fri­day night and re­turn­ing the fol­low­ing Mon­day morn­ing.

My wife, of course, had been liv­ing in Ky­oto for the en­tire time that all this was hap­pen­ing. About three months after Yukino was born, she took her to St. Joseph’s Hos­pi­tal in Ky­oto on the ad­vice of a nurse who worked for Pub­lic Health. The di­ag­no­sis they came back with was that Yukino was in dan­ger of de­vel­op­ing cere­bral pal­sy. The good news was that she would be able to walk and talk and there did­n’t seem to be any trou­ble with her cog­ni­tive func­tions. Her mus­cu­lar de­vel­op­ment would just be a lit­tle slower than the norm. Even now she’s un­der­go­ing phys­i­cal ther­apy to keep her phys­i­cally sta­ble.

Those first six months after Yukino was born felt like an en­tire year to me. Every wak­ing mo­ment was spent wor­ry­ing about her, and even the weekly trips back to Ky­oto felt like an eter­ni­ty. My wife and Ya­m­aga both tell me that I changed after be­com­ing a fa­ther, and I have to agree that it was one of the ma­jor turn­ing points in my life. In fact, my daugh­ter Yukino has prob­a­bly been the one thing to keep me go­ing at GAINAX since the shake­up, and I owe her a lot.

Moving ahead

[pg 171–172]

So, what is GAINAX like to­day? Our prodi­gal son Akai has re­turned to the fold, and is cur­rently one of the com­pany di­rec­tors.228 Ya­m­aga is pres­i­dent, and I am, as al­ways, the gen­eral man­ag­er. I don’t think that will ever change. Even Anno fi­nally made it to the board of di­rec­tors after help­ing found the com­pany and work­ing here for 16 years as a film di­rec­tor.229

Ya­m­aga is cur­rently cook­ing up a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing and un­usual TV anime pro­jects. He even di­rected one of them——mark­ing the first time he has sat in the di­rec­tor’s chair since work­ing on Oritsu Uchugun 14 years ago. Ma­horo­matic was very well-re­ceived, and in­ci­den­tally marked his di­rec­to­r­ial de­but on a tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion.230 Ya­m­aga is also ac­tive in quite a few projects as a di­rec­tor, scriptwriter, or pro­duc­er, demon­strat­ing his ded­i­ca­tion to the vi­sion of run­ning GAINAX as a cre­ator-cen­tric com­pa­ny. These past sev­eral years have only reaffirmed our be­lief that GAINAX’s value as a pro­ducer and rep­u­ta­tion as a com­pany stem di­rectly from our cre­ative tal­ent, and cre­at­ing shows is ex­actly what we plan to keep do­ing.

It has now been 24 years since my ini­tial joy at dis­cov­er­ing a sci-fi club in col­lege where I could share my pas­sion with fel­low en­thu­si­asts. That youth­ful ex­u­ber­ance is still with me to­day.

Trial in Absentia! Yasuhiro Takeda—The Truth is in Here!

[pg 176]

Ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Hi­royuki Ya­m­a­ga, Takami Akai and Hideaki Anno

Takeda is not just the pub­lic face of GAINAX, he’s also the leg­endary fig­ure we know as Kaiketsu Notenki… No! I mean, he’s Di­rec­tor of Man­age­ment. Phew! Any­way, we’ve al­ways won­dered what it is about this man that draws peo­ple to his side. What is the se­cret of his al­most oth­er­worldly ap­peal‽ To find out, we con­ducted this closed-door in­ter­view with Hi­royuki Ya­m­a­ga, Takami Akai and Hideaki An­no, the three men ru­mored to know every­thing there is to know about this sem­i­nal fig­ure in the world of sci-fi. Read on!

Initial Encounters

[pg 176–182]

In­ter­view­er: Thank you all for com­ing. This in­ter­view is go­ing to be a part of Mr. Takeda’s up­com­ing book, The Notenki Mem­oirs. The book is go­ing to be writ­ten in the first per­son, so what I’d like to get from you all to­day are your takes on Mr. Take­da. You three seem to know him the best, and I think that if you can give us your im­pres­sions of Takeda as a per­son, it will help the read­ers gain fur­ther in­sight into his char­ac­ter and draw them into the book even more.

Akai: First off, the name “Ya­suhiro Takeda” prob­a­bly is­n’t go­ing to con­jure up any imag­ines in the minds of most peo­ple—e­spe­cially when you com­pare him to Mr. Okada, and those two are al­ways to­geth­er. I mean, they might know who [Takeda] is, but you re­ally don’t hear peo­ple go­ing, “Hey, it’s the Kaiketsu Notenki guy!” which is kind of sur­pris­ing, if you think about it.

In­ter­view­er: In the book, Mr. Takeda talks about his first im­pres­sion of each of you. Would you mind telling me your first im­pres­sions of him?

Ya­m­a­ga: Akai, you weren’t there that first time, right?

Akai: That’s right.

An­no: OK. Well, I got a phone call from Mr. N… That’s Tat­suto Na­gaya­ma. He has since passed away, but any­way, he called me up and said, “There’s a guy I want you to meet.” It was at a cafe in Ky­oto called So­lar­is, and Ya­m­aga and I went out there to­geth­er. Takeda was al­ready there, as well as Mr. Sawa­mu­ra. They said that they needed our help in mak­ing an orig­i­nal anime for the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, or some­thing like that.

Ya­m­a­ga: No, re­mem­ber? First, they wanted us to come up with a logo for DAICON 3.

An­no: Hey, yeah. That’s right! They wanted us to make the lo­go. Then they said some­thing about want­ing to make an ani­me…

Akai: Mr. N prob­a­bly told Takeda some­thing like, “Say, I know these guys who can make ani­me—­movies, even! They’re hard work­ers, and they go to film school. I’ll in­tro­duce you!” Now, I don’t wanna talk bad about the dead or any­thing, but Mr. N was the mas­ter of ex­ag­ger­a­tion.

An­no: Yeah, he re­ally en­joyed singing the praises of oth­ers, huh?

Ya­m­a­ga: Any­way, I came up with I think five differ­ent ideas for the logo and took them to Takeda to get his opin­ion. I guess that was the first time I re­ally talked to him.

An­no: I re­mem­ber he kept em­pha­siz­ing that he wanted to see a Pow­ered Suit in mo­tion. I asked some­one at the cafe for some pa­per and sketched out some­thing then and there, say­ing “This is how it would move.”

Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga Born in Ni­igata in 1962. Pres­i­dent of GAINAX. Di­rected the the­atri­cal fea­ture Royal Space Force—Wings of Hon­neamise as well as Ma­horo­matic and Mag­i­cal Shop­ping Ar­cade Abenobashi.

In­ter­view­er: I’ve heard from some peo­ple that the Pow­ered Suit you drew was run­ning, while oth­ers have said that it was fly­ing…

Akai: It was run­ning, right?

An­no: I think I used four sheets of pa­per in to­tal… But yeah, I just made it kind of run in place.

Ya­m­a­ga: You could­n’t have done some­thing too com­pli­cat­ed, could you? I mean, you were draw­ing it right there at the cafe counter. I guess this is a good ex­am­ple of the “leg­end” get­ting all blown out of pro­por­tion! (laughs)

An­no: Yeah.

Ya­m­a­ga: Peo­ple seem to think that Anno drew up some awe­somely ma­neu­ver­able Pow­ered Suit bin, like, two sec­onds or some­thing!

(all laugh)

In­ter­view­er: So, the con­ver­sa­tion shifted from you do­ing the logo to be­ing asked to do the open­ing an­i­ma­tion?

An­no: Mmm, some­thing like that. We did­n’t re­ally dis­cuss any of the par­tic­u­lars.

Ya­m­a­ga: Ex­act­ly. There was no defi­nite plan at that point. It was more like, they just wanted to meet us first. But when Anno drew up that Pow­ered Suit right in front of them… well, it cer­tainly made for a pow­er­ful first im­pres­sion.

An­no: It was al­most like an in­ter­view, huh?

Ya­m­a­ga: If you think about it, the way we do busi­ness now is pretty much the same as it was back then. It’s like, “Yeah, we kind of know what we want, but let’s meet this per­son be­fore we ham­mer out any of the de­tails.” So when­ever we meet with some­one for the first time, it’s more of a “Hey, how are you? type of thing [than an ac­tual busi­ness meet­ing].”

An­no: Yeah.

In­ter­view­er: What were your first im­pres­sions of Takeda and the oth­ers?

An­no: Let’s see… They were al­most like, what, a type of peo­ple we’d never dealt with be­fore. The only friend we had that was even com­pa­ra­ble was Mr. N, so we were pretty cu­ri­ous about them.

Ya­m­a­ga: I guess you could it was­n’t an ex­cit­ing first meet­ing, but it was­n’t al­to­gether un­in­ter­est­ing, ei­ther.

Akai: Okada was the only one who had any spe­cific re­quests. Takeda would just be there next to him, watch­ing every­thing and go­ing “Wa­ha­ha!”

Ya­m­a­ga: The way I re­mem­ber it, Okada joined us much lat­er. I seem to re­call Sawa­mura and Takeda tak­ing me to Okada’s place, talk­ing about an el­e­va­tor that was in the house or some­thing.

An­no: We’d heard that Okada’s place was like that base in Thun­der­birds… and as it turns out, his place had an el­e­va­tor and re­ally did look like that base.

Akai: I think it was around fall, after we’d fin­ished work­ing on DAICON 3, that we started talk­ing about how we should stay on close terms with them… You know, Takeda, Okada, Sawa­mura and the oth­ers. They were an in­ter­est­ing group of peo­ple, and it’d prob­a­bly be fun to keep work­ing with them. We talked about that, let’s see, at that late-night cafe next to the board­ing house we used to live in.

In­ter­view­er: Even hav­ing read his book, I’m not so sure I com­pletely un­der­stand every­thing that Takeda does while work­ing on a pro­ject. For ex­am­ple, can any of you tell me what he was do­ing dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of the open­ing ani­me?

Akai: That’s what we wanna know! (laughs) As far as we can re­mem­ber, Takeda would come by every now and then, make a lot of noise, do the odd bit of col­or­ing, knock over some paints and brushes and what­not, scratch up the oc­ca­sional cel, and get yelled at by every­one else. That’s about it.

Ya­m­a­ga: I re­mem­ber ex­plain­ing to him over and over what kind of event the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion was, and what it was all about. Right up un­til the day he went there and saw it for him­self, he just could­n’t get it.

Akai: And when we got there, he was al­ready stand­ing in line! We were like, “Hey!” Lat­er, when we were show­ing the movie in­side the hall, Takeda cracked some joke on­stage. There was this loud rum­ble as one thou­sand peo­ple started crack­ing up. I think that was his first time ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some­thing like that. After that, there was no turn­ing back.

An­no: I al­ways had fun at those con­ven­tions, y’­know? I was more into sci-fi back then.

Akai: I’ll tell you what re­ally gave me a shock about be­ing part of that group, though—they’ll look right at you and start talk­ing smack like they’re re­ally en­joy­ing them­selves.

Ya­m­a­ga: A lot of the talk about Takeda back then was about his girl­friend, Kan-chan. She’s his wife now.

Akai: Yeah, she was the vic­tim of some pretty raunchy hu­mor.

An­no: These days, peo­ple would use the word “sex­ual ha­rass­ment” to de­scribe what used to go on. Of course, back then, we did­n’t even have that word! (laughs)

Akai: Peo­ple would just treat her like one of the guys, even though she was this cute lit­tle teenag­er. I won­der how that got start­ed…

Ya­m­a­ga: I blame Take­da. (laughs)

Akai: Yeah, that’s what it was. Ol’ Takeda was try­ing to put the moves on her, which amused Okada and the oth­ers to no end. They’d in­vent new lyrics for songs, putting in all kinds of words you’d have to cen­sor if I said them here. Hmm, all this over a pair of big tits. (laughs)

Ya­m­a­ga: I re­mem­ber when she was still in high school, and Takeda would bring her along to one of our hang­outs. Okada would start belt­ing out some off-color song, and Kan-chan would just get mad­der and mad­der. It was a pretty weird sit­u­a­tion… Hey, do you re­mem­ber when Takeda used to call us all “mis­ter”? It was back when we were work­ing on the open­ing anime for DAICON 3. The sec­ond that con­ven­tion was over, though, “mis­ter” went right out the win­dow and he started call­ing us by our last names! (laughs) I al­ways re­mem­ber stuff like that.

Akai: The men­tal­ity at the time was like, once you got to know each other well, you had to ad­here to an al­most fa­mil­ial struc­ture. I used to hate that.

An­no: Yeah. Takeda can be pretty bossy some­times.

Ya­m­a­ga: He was worse back then!

An­no: Like a politi­cian or some­thing.

Akai: When­ever some­thing bad hap­pened, every­one would al­ways go straight to Takeda and com­plain. Why? It’s not like he can make things bet­ter for them. The flip side of this, though, is that Takeda used to ask me, “How come every­one comes to me with their prob­lems‽” Now it’s like it’s his offi­cial job. (laughs)

Takami Akai. Born in Yon­ago, Tot­tori in 1961. Di­rec­tor of GAINAX. Tal­ented in a va­ri­ety of fields, in­clud­ing il­lus­tra­tion, ani­me, video games and tokusatsu. Counts Den­nou Gakuen and Princess Maker among his di­rec­to­r­ial cred­its. Was the char­ac­ter de­signer for the TV anime (“Crest of the Stars”).

An­no: He used to tell me how he loved be­ing num­ber one, noth­ing can beat num­ber one. When I told him I liked be­ing num­ber two, he got this huge grin and said, “Yeah, that works for me!” (laughs)

Akai: Takeda has this im­age of be­ing the “boss” of the group, but I think that in a way, Okada and Sawa­mura had a lot to do with that. They both have the de­sire to mo­ti­vate peo­ple and get them work­ing, but they don’t like to hear com­plaints.

An­no: Yeah, they seemed like they could­n’t care less about fos­ter­ing any kind of co­op­er­a­tive at­mos­phere. And they re­ally did­n’t like peo­ple com­ing to them with their prob­lems.

Akai: I won­der if they made Takeda their go-be­tween for that kind of stuff…

An­no: If you think about it, they did seem to al­ways keep Takeda out there in the fore­front.

Akai: Hey, yeah! And do you re­mem­ber how they used to call him “boss” and stuff like that? Next thing you know, the younger staff mem­bers are treat­ing him with all kinds of re­spect, and then he re­ally was the boss. The way the whole thing went down, I think Takeda’s role was ac­tu­ally rather pas­sive. I think that’s the kind of per­son he is.

Every­one: Aah…

Akai: Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s play “Takeda the Punch­ing Bag!” Every­one takes turns beat­ing on the thing, whap whap, and then goes home feel­ing re­freshed. The punch­ing bag just sits there and takes it.

Ya­m­a­ga: Sounds great!

Akai: See, Takeda is­n’t the kind of per­son who got where he did out of a burn­ing de­sire to ac­com­plish some­thing. I think he is where he is be­cause of… I don’t know. I don’t want to say he’s “slow”, but maybe that’s one way to put it. Slow, but in a good way. See, tech­ni­cally he’s in the same league as Okada and Sawa­mu­ra, but com­pared to those two he’s not so at­ten­tive. So if some­thing were to crop up, some prob­lem, I doubt he could come up with an ap­pro­pri­ate course of ac­tion. But I think that is ac­tu­ally a source of strength, and what has got­ten him to where he is to­day.

Ya­m­a­ga: You al­ways know just the right way to say it! Way to go, Akai!

Akai: Uh, I was try­ing to come up with a witty re­mark, but I could­n’t quite get it to work. I’ve got an idea, though! I’ll get back to you when it’s ready.

(all laugh)

Akai: Takeda is, how can I put this? It’s like his life con­sists of be­ing backed into cor­ner after cor­ner, bit­ing bul­let after bul­let. If a job comes along, peo­ple in­stantly take the best parts for them­selves and toss Takeda the scraps. But they end up bit­ing off more than they can chew, and Takeda is the one who has to apol­o­gize.

Ya­m­a­ga: At DAICON 3, the biggest mys­tery in terms of in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ships had to be the Sawa­mu­ra/Okada con­nec­tion. It’s still a mys­tery.

An­no: Hmm.

Ya­m­a­ga: Heck, I asked Takeda him­self about it, and even he could­n’t re­ally ex­plain it! It’s prob­a­bly the biggest mys­tery in our whole group. It might even be the key to ex­plain­ing how Takeda got where he is to­day…

Akai: I guess all we re­ally have is con­jec­ture, but I per­son­ally think they have a kind of love-hate thing go­ing on.

Hideaki Anno Born in Ube, Ya­m­aguchi pre­fec­ture in 1960. Di­rec­tor of GAINAX. Di­rected Shin­seiki Evan­ge­lion (“Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion”) and Top of Ner­ae! (“Gun­buster”) and live ac­tion films Love & Pop and Shik­i­jitsu. Mar­ried manga artist Moy­oco Anno in March of 2002 and they are sooo in love! ♥

Ya­m­a­ga: Takeda, Sawa­mura and Okada were al­ways to­gether in those days… but that’s not to say they were op­er­at­ing in any co­he­sive fash­ion. In­stead of, say, a tri­an­gle, a bet­ter sym­bol of their re­la­tion­ship would be one line and a sin­gle, for­lorn dot.

Akai: It’s like Takeda was the cat­a­lyst that al­lowed Sawa­mura and Okada to func­tion, you know? We’d be in a lot of trou­ble if we got caught talk­ing about Sawa­mura and Okada be­hind their backs, but if we started talk­ing smack about Takeda, it’d just get laughed off as a joke. (laughs) I sup­pose it was that kind of in­ter­per­sonal struc­ture that led to Takeda be­com­ing a leader for us.

In­ter­view­er: Was that your stance from the be­gin­ning? To treat Takeda in a sim­i­lar fash­ion?

Akai: Hmm. I don’t think Anno is the type of per­son who’d con­cern him­self about how to “han­dle” oth­ers.

An­no: Nah, I re­ally don’t. There’s no need to even think about that out­side of the work­place. Ac­tu­al­ly, I’m not all that sen­si­tive to in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ships in gen­er­al. When it comes to stuff like that, I just kind of nod my head, “Uh-huh, OK.”

Ya­m­a­ga: Takeda is defi­nitely in a class all his own.

Akai: He’s kind of a ge­nius, re­al­ly. Even if you could ex­plain in what way he’s a ge­nius, not many peo­ple would get it. If I had to try to sum him up in a sin­gle phrase, it would be “He re­ally can’t do much of any­thing—and that’s what makes him so in­flu­en­tial.” See, the mean­ing just does­n’t come through. I’m not try­ing to talk bad about him. I’m be­ing sin­cere when I say that in­ep­ti­tude is its own form of great­ness.

An­no: Ab­solute­ly. I feel that’s a great ad­van­tage for him. All things con­sid­ered, I think he’s an in­cred­i­bly strong per­son.

Akai: Of course, none of us could weather that type of crit­i­cism. Could you imag­ine if some­one called you in­ept? I imag­ine Takeda him­self would­n’t be too thrilled about it, but he’s big enough to sim­ply shrug it off.

Ya­m­a­ga: He’s un­flap­pable! Un­wa­ver­ing in the face of the abil­i­ty, rank or so­cial stand­ing of oth­ers!

Akai: He’s a class act.

Ya­m­a­ga: Yeah. When it comes to apol­o­giz­ing to oth­ers, he’s sec­ond-to-none!

Akai: Takeda re­ally does­n’t like to be called this, but “rear guard Takeda” and “mop-up man ex­tra­or­di­naire” are two nick­names to de­scribe what he’s all about. When­ever a mem­ber of his staff mis­han­dles some­thing, he rushes to the client and starts wring­ing his hands, ex­hort­ing “Please ac­cept my sin­cer­est apolo­gies!” He gives these deep, po­lite bows but the guy’s go­ing com­pletely bald! (laughs) He just keeps on nod­ding his head, but the whole time, he’s re­ally thumb­ing his nose at every­thing and every­one. I tell you, the guy is bril­liant.

Ya­m­a­ga: Takeda’s re­ally no good at ne­go­ti­at­ing, but he’s defi­nitely the guy you’d want to take with you to a busi­ness meet­ing. He’s ab­solutely phe­nom­e­nal at mak­ing new friends. Not me, though. I’m just too dry for my own good.

Akai: Lis­ten­ing to me, I know it sounds like all I’m do­ing is bad­mouthing Takeda, but I’m re­ally not. That’s not my in­ten­tion at all. I’m prais­ing him. I’m lit­er­ally singing the man’s prais­es.

Ya­m­a­ga: And an­other thing—when I eat with him, every­thing tastes great for some rea­son.

Akai: Yeah, is­n’t that strange? None of the restau­rants he’s taken me to have been bad. And it’s not be­cause he has a list of all the great places in town or any­thing. If he tells you “the food here is good” and you sit down at the ta­ble with him and start eat­ing, sure enough, the food is good. For some rea­son, it all tastes good. You know what else? He may be sorely lack­ing in what so­ci­ety deems “tal­ent”, but he’s ex­tremely charis­mat­ic, to the ex­tent that it en­ables him to run with the “in­tel­lec­tual elite” such as our­selves. You could put him in a room full of gifted ec­centrics and he’d end up be­ing their leader. I don’t know any­one but Takeda who could pull that off.

Ya­m­a­ga: I think that since be­com­ing a par­ent, he’s con­sciously taken on that sort of role. Be­ing picked on (by Akai) dur­ing Aoki Uru (“Blue Uru”) prob­a­bly had a pretty big im­pact on him. (laughs)

Akai: Hey, he was the one who was all fired up about mak­ing Uru! But though that whole pro­duc­tion, I con­stantly had to push him to fin­ish what he start­ed.

An­no: Back then, his motto [at­trib­uted to ] was “God, grant us hard­ship!” We were all like, “Yeah, I’ll give you hard­ship, al­right…”

Akai: Things were pretty tough for all of us on Uru, but he was the least affected of us all. That’s why I think he’s a ge­nius. Any nor­mal Japan­ese per­son would’ve just bailed out on that project al­to­geth­er.

Ya­m­a­ga: The only rea­son I was so rough on Takeda back then was be­cause Akai or­dered me to be. And that or­der is still in effect! (laughs)

An­no: I knew that Takeda had wanted to di­rect some­thing ever since work­ing on Fushigi no Umi no Na­dia (“Na­dia: The Se­cret of Blue Wa­ter”), which is why I sug­gested he work on the spe­cial fea­tures for the Na­dia box set. He should be able to han­dle it, I thought. It was­n’t a huge pro­ject, and it was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity for him to make his de­but as a pro­duc­er. He was very ex­cited when I offered him the pro­ject, but I ended up do­ing all his work! Takeda would go out and talk busi­ness, but later those same peo­ple he’d been ne­go­ti­at­ing with would call me with ques­tions! Why‽

Ya­m­a­ga: He was just there for show, re­al­ly.

An­no: Yeah. After a while, he was rel­e­gated to a kind of half-assed mes­sen­ger boy. He did­n’t seem to mind.

Akai: All three of us ended up work­ing on it as pro­duc­ers.

An­no: We do tend to mix-and-match pro­duc­ing and di­rect­ing du­ties on pro­jects, huh?

Akai: Sawa­mu­ra, Okada and even Takeda would re­ally only move into ac­tion when some kind of prob­lem came up. You could­n’t do some­thing like that at an­other com­pa­ny.

An­no: Some­thing bad hap­pened? Go see Take­da. Got some­thing you don’t want to do? Go see Take­da. That’s just how it goes.

Akai: Hmm, this con­ver­sa­tion just can’t seem to stay on a pos­i­tive note. (laughs)

Ya­m­a­ga: It’s like, we can’t even talk about the guy with­out it turn­ing into a bad­mouthing ses­sion.

Akai: Well, you know some peo­ple say “Well yes, I talk bad about so-and-so, but never be­hind his back!” Well, I don’t wanna talk be­hind his back, so bad­mouthing it is!

(all laugh)

Akai: He’s a lov­able guy. That’s the thing I re­ally like about him.

[Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga (mid­dle), Takami Akai (left) and Hideaki Anno (right) eat­ing at a restau­rant and dis­cussing Ya­suhiro Takeda & Gainax with un­named in­ter­view (Ya­suhiro Kamimu­ra?), c 2000? —Ed­i­tor]

An­no: Yeah. There’s no way you can hate a guy like that.

Akai: We like keep­ing him hap­py. And I think it’s en­cour­ag­ing for him to keep go­ing as our leader.

Ya­m­a­ga: You can learn a lot about hu­man in­ter­ac­tion by watch­ing him in­ter­act with oth­ers. Pay at­ten­tion to the way every­one re­lies on him, the way things start to func­tion around him. It’s re­ally fas­ci­nat­ing.

An­no: Takeda is the best per­son to turn to when you need help. He un­der­stands you. If you say to him, “Please, do some­thing!” it’s like he feels ob­lig­ated to help. And he will find a way to make things hap­pen. We all know we can rely on him… he’s like our ul­ti­mate weapon. If Takeda can’t do any­thing to help, then there’s noth­ing that can be done. What­ever prob­lem you’ve got, it’s un­solv­able.

Ya­m­a­ga: That’s also why he tends to shoul­der some of the more un­pleas­ant as­pects of the job…

An­no: He’s the be-all, end-all. If he can’t help you, noth­ing can.

Akai: You know, every­one talks smack about him, but at the same time, we all de­pend on him. In­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ships are a com­pli­cated thing, I guess.

Ya­m­a­ga: When­ever the three of us talk about him, Akai ends up talk­ing the most and Anno just sits there re­main­ing silent. Akai is the real Takeda ob­server among us… Still, I think Anno should con­tribute some­thing, just to be fair.

An­no: Un­like you two, I was­n’t around dur­ing GAINAX’s “for­ma­tive” years. I mean, I was there, but I was just work­ing on ti­tles. I de­lib­er­ately chose not to get in­volved in the go­ings-on of the com­pa­ny. My think­ing at the time was, I’d rather be de­voted to my work, cre­at­ing some­thing mean­ing­ful, than wor­ry­ing about per­sonal re­la­tion­ships and what­not. Any­way, back when I was work­ing on Evan­ge­lion, Takeda and Mr. Ot­suki from King Record had some kind of dis­agree­ment, and I took Mr. Ot­suk­i’s side. Lat­er, I was at a bar with Takeda when he sud­denly burst into tears. (Ev­ery­one hangs on An­no’s words) Up un­til that mo­ment, Evan­ge­lion was the only thing I cared about. But after I saw Takeda cry, the whole thing seemed so point­less. See­ing that side of him… I re­mem­ber think­ing what a won­der­ful thing it was. That one sin­gle tear washed away any lin­ger­ing ill will be­tween us. He’s an in­cred­i­bly great guy, and I’m re­ally very fond of him. When I had to pick a host for my wed­ding re­cep­tion, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted it to be Take­da.

Akai: You’ve kept quiet this whole time, and then sud­denly you whip out the best story of the night! Aargh, I’m so jeal­ous! (laughs)

  1. Kamimura is a Gainaxer who joined after DAICON 3; see Takeda’s cap­sule bi­og­ra­phy of him lat­er. —Ed­i­tor.↩︎

  2. The glosses of terms/­names have been in­cluded in­line as foot­notes. —Ed­i­tor.↩︎

  3. British nov­el­ist who has writ­ten a num­ber of sci-fi sto­ries set in the near fu­ture, sup­ported by ac­tual sci­en­tific the­o­ry. Two of his best-known works are and . He cur­rently re­sides in Sri Lan­ka. [Clarke died 2008-03-19. —Ed­i­tor.]↩︎

  4. An Amer­i­can sci-fi nov­el­ist. His sto­ries are ex­tremely en­ter­tain­ing and often con­tain pow­er­ful mes­sages con­cern­ing hu­man na­ture. Among his more fa­mous works are , and .↩︎

  5. The ma­jor­ity of sci-fi books put out in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s came from two pub­lish­ing com­pa­nies: So­gen­sha and Hayakawa Shobo. Hayakawa Shobo in par­tic­u­lar seemed to be sin­gle-hand­edly sup­port­ing the world of Japan­ese sci-fi with its SF Mag­a­zine and re­lated pub­li­ca­tions, prompt­ing Japan­ese writ­ers to com­ment that the very genre would fall apart if any­thing hap­pened to Hayakawa Shobo.↩︎

  6. A sci-fi se­ries by , widely con­sid­ered to be the ori­gin of the “space pa­trol” and “” gen­res. The mas­sive scale of the Lens­man se­ries has earned it many fans. All seven vol­umes have been pub­lished in Japan­ese, and in 1984 the story was adapted into both an se­ries. In­ci­den­tal­ly, Gray Lens­man is from the mid­dle of the se­ries.↩︎

  7. A sci-fi ad­ven­ture novel by that re­counts the ad­ven­tures of the sci­ence ex­plo­ration ves­sel, the Bea­gle, and a group of sci­en­tists on­board. This book em­ploys tremen­dous imag­i­na­tive skill in the way it de­tails the var­i­ous en­coun­ters the crew has with alien life forms.↩︎

  8. The main char­ac­ter in The Voy­age of the Space Bea­gle is a Nex­i­al­ist, a so-called “gen­eral sci­en­tist” who stud­ies sci­ence as a whole with­out fo­cus­ing on any one field. In the con­text of this sci­ence-heavy novel he qual­i­fies as a su­per­hero. I went into a sci­ence ma­jor hop­ing to be­come a Nex­i­al­ist my­self.↩︎

  9. On July 20, 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, bring­ing mankind into di­rect con­tact with an­other plan­e­tary body for the first time in his­to­ry. The live broad­cast of the land­ing was a sen­sa­tion in and of it­self. There was also quite a stir at the 1970 World Ex­hi­bi­tion in Os­aka, when the United States Pavil­ion dis­played moon rocks that were brought back with the space­ship.↩︎

  10. The 1970 World Ex­hi­bi­tion was held in the Ki­ta-Senri area of Os­a­ka. The host­ing of the Os­aka World Expo was linked to Japan’s un­prece­dented growth fol­low­ing the end of WWII, and was seen as a tremen­dous ac­com­plish­ment by Japan as a whole. The theme for the fair was “Progress and Har­mony for Mankind”, a slo­gan de­vel­oped in part by Japan­ese sci-fi au­thor , who worked on the Ex­po­si­tion’s theme com­mit­tee. A mood of ex­hil­a­ra­tion and hope for the fu­ture swept across Japan, bring­ing count­less crowds to the Ex­po­si­tion. School­child­ren com­peted among them­selves to see who could go to the fair the most times! In fact, the num­ber of at­ten­dees was pur­port­edly equiv­a­lent to half the pop­u­la­tion of Japan at the time.↩︎

  11. A pri­vate uni­ver­sity lo­cated in the city of Os­a­ka. It prides it­self on hav­ing one of the largest stu­dent pop­u­la­tions of any uni­ver­sity in Japan. The Uni­ver­sity is so large, there’s a say­ing about it: “If you throw a stone in south­ern Japan, you’ll hit a Kinki Uni­ver­sity stu­dent.” Fa­mous grad­u­ates in­clude the sumo wrestler and the ac­tor Hidekazu Akai. The road lead­ing from the near­est train sta­tion to the uni­ver­sity gates is pop­u­larly known as the Oy­a­fuko Dori, (“the street where kids for­get all about their par­ents”)! Lit­er­ally packed with par­lors, coffee shops, and video-game ar­cades, the street is re­mark­ably suc­cess­ful at pre­vent­ing stu­dents from reach­ing their class­es.↩︎

  12. Most sci-fi clubs are con­nected to uni­ver­si­ties, and some of them pub­lish their own and pri­vate trans­la­tions of for­eign sci-fi nov­els. How­ev­er, most of these clubs are made up of slack­ers like me who just want some­one else to chat with about hard­core sci-fi top­ics. Around the mid-1980s, many of these clubs be­gan to merge with man­ga, ani­me, gam­ing and (“spe­cial-effects fea­tures”) clubs. In­ci­den­tal­ly, at karaoke out­ings, to­day’s club mem­bers seem to sing noth­ing but songs from 1970s anime pro­grams… de­spite the fact that most of them weren’t even born when those shows came out!↩︎

  13. A Japan­ese sci-fi mag­a­zine pub­lished by Hayakawa Shobo since 1959. In the early 90s, there were as many as four sci-fi re­lated mag­a­zines in print, but only SF Mag­a­zine has con­tin­ued its un­in­ter­rupted pub­li­ca­tion of pe­ri­od­i­cals to date. Some peo­ple mea­sure the de­vo­tion of sci-fi fans by whether or nor they read this mag­a­zine.↩︎

  14. An offi­cial school club has spe­cial ben­e­fits, like a re­served room in the stu­dent ac­tiv­i­ties build­ing, a guar­an­teed booth (in a good lo­ca­tion) at the school fes­ti­val, and even a small bud­get for club ac­tiv­i­ties. In con­trast, non-offi­cial clubs like the sci-fi club don’t re­ally help to im­prove the school’s im­age, so it’s diffi­cult for them to ob­tain en­dorse­ment.↩︎

  15. This does­n’t nec­es­sar­ily re­fer to re­view­ing sci-fi nov­els or any­thing brainy like that. I just found it amus­ing to get all fired up talk­ing with peo­ple who shared my in­ter­est in sub­jects that most peo­ple avoided like the plague. It was all geek-s­peak for the most part.↩︎

  16. A coffee shop lo­cated right by Kinki Uni­ver­si­ty’s front gates. At some point, our sci-fi club just started to meet there (ru­mor has it they still do to­day, 20 years lat­er). It was a hang­out for the manga club, too. The shop seemed to be do­ing pretty well, see­ing as how their busi­ness ex­panded sev­eral times while I was in school and even more after I left. About three years ago, the owner opened a lodge in .↩︎

  17. Kiyoshi Mizuno (1958–) He started out one year be­hind me at the Kinki Sci-Fi Club. How­ev­er, the story soon changed when he learned I would have to re­peat a year. From that point on, he treated me en­tirely as an equal. Ac­tu­al­ly, he seems to be tougher on me than any­one else I know. He’s a hard­core fan of spe­cial effects (tokusatsu) and hor­ror films, but is cur­rently work­ing as a po­lice offi­cer.↩︎

  18. Mo­to­hiro Miwa (1960–) My ju­nior dur­ing the sci-fi club years at Kinki Uni­ver­si­ty. He was the first per­son I met who was ac­tive in the sci-fi fan com­mu­nity out­side of uni­ver­si­ty, and I met a num­ber of peo­ple through him. Miwa later joined Gen­eral Prod­ucts as de­sign­er/ed­i­tor. He loves mak­ing lame puns, which earned him the nick­name “The King of Hu­mor”. He’s the mas­ter when it comes to find­ing the weird­est toys you’ve ever seen. He mys­te­ri­ously dis­ap­peared in 1988.↩︎

  19. Ya­sushi Okamoto (1952–) A for­mer mem­ber of the Kinki Uni­ver­sity sci-fi club. He hosted var­i­ous events dur­ing his time with the club, in­clud­ing the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. Okamoto was very well known in his time, and was in­volved in a wide range of sci-fi fan ac­tiv­i­ties be­fore Takeda and the oth­ers stepped onto the scene. He is often re­mem­bered for his rapid-fire quips in Os­aka-ac­cented Japan­ese. Even to­day, many of the old-school sci-fi fans often re­mark, “If Okamoto was here right now, I’d bet he’d say…” This man was my teacher in the art of sto­ry­telling.↩︎

  20. Hideki Ikeda (1953–) My se­nior in the sci-fi club. They say he spent three years in Ar­gentina be­cause of his fa­ther’s busi­ness. Ikeda was the type of per­son who could­n’t rest un­til the mat­ter at hand was done and done well. The log­i­cal man­ner in which he al­ways pre­sented his opin­ions made a last­ing im­pres­sion on me.↩︎

  21. Shohei Toyama (1960–) Mu ju­nior in the sci-fi club. His dis­tinc­tive ap­pear­ance is to blame for his nick­name—“chest­nut head”, a moniker that has stuck to this day, more than 20 years lat­er. He still works for GAINAX, where ap­par­ently only a few peo­ple know his real name. The per­son­al­ity and ap­pear­ance of Charichanmi from the anime Oritsu Uchugun (“Wings of Hon­neamise”) were ac­tu­ally adopted from this man.↩︎

  22. Toshio Goto (1956–) My se­nior in the sci-fi club. Be­cause he was forced to re­peat a year, Goto and I were ac­tu­ally in the same grade at the time of our ini­tial meet­ing. He writes nov­els un­der the pen name of Shu­nichi Goto (which may ac­tu­ally be his real name—I’m not so sure now). Goto was the first per­son I met who had the de­ter­mi­na­tion to make it in his cho­sen field.↩︎

  23. A long­stand­ing am­a­teur writ­ers’ group that used to op­er­ate in Ky­oto (they’re cur­rently based in Os­aka). The So­ci­ety was founded in 1971 and many of its mem­bers join as a first step to­ward a pro­fes­sional writ­ing ca­reer. Sci-fi au­thors Hi­roe Suga and Ryo Mizuno were once mem­bers.↩︎

  24. The term “BNF” refers to non-pro­fes­sion­als who be­came well known through the ac­tive roles they once played in the fan com­mu­ni­ty. The ti­tle was meant to show re­spect, but is often used as a term of ridicule in­stead. Within fan­dom, BNFs were well known as writ­ers and crit­ics, even though they tended not to be pro­fes­sion­ally pub­lished. They held a great de­gree of in­flu­ence with their fel­low fans, which set them some­what apart from the (Comic Mar­ket) writ­ers of to­day.↩︎

  25. An or­ga­ni­za­tion that linked all the uni­ver­sity sci-fi clubs in the Os­aka area. Every month they met and pub­lished a newslet­ter to keep peo­ple up­-to-date on cur­rent events in the sci-fi scene. At its height (around the time of DAICON 4), there were nine par­tic­i­pat­ing schools: , , , , Ote­mon Uni­ver­si­ty, , the , the , and the . In the 1980s, every­one seemed in­ter­ested in in­ter-club ac­tiv­i­ties and the Con­fed­er­a­tion even sup­plied vol­un­teer staff for events like the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion and DAICON FILM pro­duc­tions. How­ev­er, the Con­fed­er­a­tion seemed to lose mo­ment after DAICON 4 and qui­etly dis­solved a few years lat­er.↩︎

  26. Be­cause groups like the Con­fed­er­a­tion don’t have an es­tab­lished head­quar­ters, some­one takes the job of “sec­re­tariat”, and serves as a con­tact for those out­side the group. Ba­si­cal­ly, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral func­tions as a co­or­di­na­tor be­tween groups.↩︎

  27. This refers to the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions, gath­er­ings of sci-fi fans in the tra­di­tion of World­con, Amer­i­ca’s in­ter­na­tional sci-fi con­ven­tion. There have been over 40 Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions, the first of which was held in Tokyo in 1962. The an­nual event is gen­er­ally held dur­ing sum­mer break, and is at­tended by am­a­teur groups from all over Japan. Each year, the con­ven­tion takes a differ­ent form. Some­times it’s like a re­treat at a hot springs, and other years it’s a for­mal con­ven­tion with lec­tures and stage per­for­mances. Many pro­fes­sional writ­ers, manga artists, trans­la­tors, and pub­lish­ers at­tend, and it’s not un­com­mon to see some peo­ple’s in­volve­ment with the Con­ven­tion ac­tu­ally jump-s­tart their ca­reers. Start­ing in the early 80s, “con re­ports” by such well-known in­di­vid­u­als as manga artist served to draw at­ten­tion to the Con­ven­tions. That, cou­pled with the sci-fi boom of the 1980s, made it a time of fo­cused me­dia in­ter­est in the event. The Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee gov­erns the or­ga­ni­za­tion of each Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, even though the event host changes every year.↩︎

  28. Sakyo Ko­matsu (1931–) Sci­ence fic­tion writer. He is a lead­ing fig­ure in Japan­ese sci-fi cir­cles, thanks to works like (aka “Japan Sinks” or “Tidal Wave”) and (“Bye-Bye Jupiter”). He was one of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers at the 1970 Expo in Os­aka, and has been ac­tive in a wide range of sci-fi ac­tiv­i­ties. It was while ap­pear­ing as a guest at a cer­tain sci-fi show that Ko­matsu met me and some of the oth­ers who were ac­tive in sci-fi fan cir­cles at the time. He’s been quite fond of us ever since. Be­cause Ko­matsu was work­ing mainly in Os­aka (my home­town), I would often so­licit his ad­vice when or­ga­niz­ing events. He was made hon­orary head of the plan­ning com­mit­tee for the 40th An­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, which I hosted in 2001.↩︎

  29. Ya­su­taka Tsut­sui (1934–) Sci­ence fic­tion writer. Au­thor of sev­eral works, in­clud­ing , Ka­zoku Hakkei and Kyoko Sen­dan. Tsut­sui was made hon­orary head of the plan­ning com­mit­tee for the 1975 Japan Sci-Fi Fes­ti­val (“SHINCON”), which brought in more than 1,000 par­tic­i­pants. The level of en­ter­tain­ment in­cor­po­rated into this event sig­nifi­cantly affected the di­rec­tion of fu­ture Sci-Fi Fes­ti­vals. In 1993, his Dan­pitsu Sen­gen was re­leased in protest of the lan­guage con­trol acts in effect at the time (lifted three years lat­er, in 1996). Tsut­sui has ap­peared in var­i­ous movies, the­atri­cal plays and TV dra­mas.↩︎

  30. Masahiro (Koichi­ro) Noda (1933–) , sci­ence fic­tion writer and trans­la­tor. He is also the pres­i­dent of Japan Tele­vi­sion Work­shop Co, Ltd. Noda or­ga­nized the very first Japan Sci-Fi Fes­ti­val, and is quite well known in Japan­ese sci-fi cir­cles. Self­-pro­claimed “Com­man­der-in-Chief” of Uchugun (aka the Space Force Club—see be­low), he has trans­lated sev­eral space op­eras, and he has penned his own orig­i­nal nov­els. He is also a wide­ly-known col­lec­tor of pulp mag­a­zines. Noda is a skilled TV pro­duc­er, and the cre­ator of the chil­dren’s show “Hi­rake! Ponkikki”, which owes its pop­u­lar­ity to the main char­ac­ters, and Mukku. He re­mains a fer­vent sup­porter of the sci-fi fan scene, and his fan club “Uchugun” is still in op­er­a­tion. Noda lent me a help­ing hand in get­ting Gen­eral Prod­ucts off the ground. He has played the role of com­pany au­di­tor since GAINAX’s found­ing.↩︎

  31. The Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion was orig­i­nally es­tab­lished by bud­ding sci-fi au­thors who had­n’t yet made names for them­selves. it was to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for them to pub­li­cize their work, and to al­low fans to in­ter­act with each oth­er. Many au­thors and ed­i­tors owe their pro­fes­sional de­buts to such fan-to-fan in­ter­ac­tions at the Con­ven­tions. Since pro­fes­sional au­thors are them­selves en­thu­si­as­tic fans, many at­tend sim­ply to meet like-minded peo­ple to so­cial­ize with. It’s very com­mon for the Con­ven­tions to fea­ture recre­ational times when au­thors, ed­i­tors, and fans all ca­su­ally sit to­geth­er, drink­ing sake and con­vers­ing. It’s diffi­cult to imag­ine some­thing like that hap­pen­ing un­der any other cir­cum­stances.↩︎

  32. The Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion only hap­pens once a year, so cer­tain fan groups in each area often host their own re­gional con­ven­tions known as “lo­cal cons”. Most of these small con­ven­tions are held at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals and form a fo­cal point for fan ac­tiv­i­ties in the area.↩︎

  33. (1951–) Sci­ence fic­tion writer. Yumemakura is fa­mous for his “fan­tas­ti­cal fic­tion”, which in­cludes both the Kimeira and Ma­ju-gari se­ries as well as On­my­oji (which be­came quite pop­u­lar). He is also well-known for his love of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, such as fish­ing and moun­tain climb­ing, and he has writ­ten sev­eral es­says and travel re­ports. I have known him ever since his pro­fes­sional de­but, and we re­main on good terms. We tend to run into each other at con­ven­tions and the like.↩︎

  34. Toshio Okada (1958–) Pres­i­dent of Otak­ing Co., Ltd. Since our first meet­ing in 1978, Okada has been the sin­gle most in­flu­en­tial per­son in my life. He opened a sci-fi shop called Gen­eral Prod­ucts in 1982, and later helped found GAINAX, even­tu­ally be­com­ing its pres­i­dent. After step­ping down from the com­pa­ny, he was an ad­junct in­struc­tor at (1992–1997), lec­tur­ing on the cul­ture of Japan. Okada cur­rently works as a writer, and oc­ca­sion­ally ap­pears on TV as a guest com­men­ta­tor. He is the au­thor of Boku­tachi no Sen­nou Shakai and Otaku-gaku Nyu­mon.↩︎

  35. Okada de­scribes his early col­lege days be­fore meet­ing Takeda in “Con­science of the Otak­ing, part 2”, Ani­mer­ica:

    "ANIMERICA: Your jour­ney into the anime in­dus­try all sort of started after you quit col­lege in 1981, after only three days. Why? What hap­pened?

    Okada: Well, after just three days I’d met the head of the sci­ence-fic­tion club. After that there was no need for me to go to school, be­cause I only went to col­lege in the first place so I could join a sci­ence-fic­tion club. In those days, Japan­ese high schools never had SF or anime clubs. I did­n’t re­ally want to go to col­lege…I just wanted to join their club. So once I did, I never went to my classes again. Then the col­lege sent me a let­ter ask­ing me if I wanted to quit. [LAUGHS] So I said okay."


  36. The 17th an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, held in the sum­mer of 1978. About 400 peo­ple at­tended the three­-day, two-night lake­side camp held at in . The Con­ven­tion it­self was or­ga­nized as a loose col­lec­tion of in­de­pen­dent events put on by var­i­ous at­ten­dees, and was pur­posely planned not to feel like a tra­di­tional con­ven­tion.↩︎

  37. The (now known as the Nip­pon Foun­da­tion) hosted the Space Sci­ence Ex­po­si­tion in Tokyo and Shi­na­gawa in 1978. The theme was space ex­plo­ration, and the event fea­tured many fas­ci­nat­ing ex­hibits that were sim­ply ir­re­sistible to sci­ence buffs. Among those ex­hibits were a real rock­et, a mock­-up of the space shut­tle (which was still un­der de­vel­op­ment at the time), and a lu­nar ex­plo­ration ve­hi­cle.↩︎

  38. Short for “cos­tume play”, this sim­ply refers to the act of putting on a cos­tume and pre­tend­ing to be a fic­tional char­ac­ter, usu­ally from some well-known work. These days, cos­play is prac­ti­cally syn­ony­mous with the am­a­teur comics con­ven­tion, Comiket (Comic Mar­ket), but the whole cos­play tra­di­tion with­out a doubt be­gan with the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion­s—which usu­ally in­cluded a cos­tume “fash­ion show” some­where on the sched­ule of events.↩︎

  39. Ar­it­sune Toy­oda (1938–) Sci­ence fic­tion writer. Known for the an­cient his­tor­i­cal mo­tif that runs through his books. His works in­clude Pachakama ni Ochiru Hi and Mon­gol no Zanko. Toy­oda also writes for tele­vi­sion and ra­dio. Among his more no­table scripts are Tet­suwan Atom (“As­tro Boy”) and Eight Man (aka “8 Man”, or “To­bor the 8th Man”).↩︎

  40. At Ashino-Con, Okada and I in­dulged in a live sto­ry­telling ses­sion that be­gan with us play­ing off the ques­tion of what the space bat­tle­ship Yam­ato (from the fa­mous TV anime Uchu Senkan Yam­ato, AKA "S­tar Blaz­er­s") would have been like if it had been built and flown by the Chi­nese. These nar­ra­tives re­told the Yam­ato story with ab­surd gags, like the sound of a gong when­ever the ship took off and a dragon sym­bol on the gun tur­ret. There were many other vari­a­tions, in­clud­ing an Amer­i­can ver­sion, a Russ­ian ver­sion, and, of course, a Cow­boy ver­sion. We also bor­rowed lib­er­ally from other sto­ries, act­ing out fa­mous scenes from var­i­ous movies, ex­celling par­tic­u­larly at retellings like "The gun tur­ret that melted un­der ’s breath", "The Orion dock­ing at a space sta­tion" (based on 2001: A Space Odyssey), and of course, "The mole goes ac­tive and de­parts its con­tainer on the ." We branched out with such clas­sics as " vs." and " heads through the Mys­ter­ian Dome", com­ing up with new ideas on the fly and get­ting bet­ter each time we per­formed.↩︎

  41. Ikuo Musa (1958–) A for­mer mem­ber of the Os­aka Pre­fec­ture Uni­ver­sity Sci-Fi Club. He was of great help to me with sev­eral sci-fi events, and put his ex­cel­lent writ­ing skills to use in the pub­lish­ing of sci-fi re­lated newslet­ters.↩︎

  42. The offi­cial name was “The Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee”. It is a coali­tion cre­ated to fa­cil­i­tate in­ter­ac­tion among fan groups all over Japan. It was es­tab­lished in 1965 at the urg­ing of the fa­mous Japan­ese sci-fi au­thor, Takumi Shibano, among oth­ers. The Com­mit­tee con­venes once a year to de­cide who will host the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion and to de­ter­mine the win­ner of the —Japan’s high­est honor for sci­ence fic­tion writ­ers. A chair­man and an office man­ager are also ap­pointed to co­or­di­nate the ex­change of in­for­ma­tion among mem­bers. ↩︎

  43. Takumi Shibano (1926–) A grand­fa­ther fig­ure in Japan’s sci-fi scene. He pub­lished the very first Japan­ese sci-fi fanzine, Uchu­jin, which would later be the start­ing point for many of Japan’s sci­ence fic­tion writ­ers. In 1962, Shibano both chaired and or­ga­nized the first Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. He then went on to found the Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee in 1965. The Com­mit­tee would serve as a plat­form on which am­a­teurs could or­ga­nize sci-fi events and ac­tiv­i­ties through­out Japan. He still par­tic­i­pates in al­most every Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion as well as the World Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion (or World­con). Shibano is ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing in­ter­na­tional ex­change in the realm of sci-fi fan­dom. He has also trans­lated many books un­der the pen name of Rei Kozu­mi.↩︎

  44. Ju­nichi Kadokura (1947–) A sci-fi fan who was chair­man of the Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee dur­ing our prepa­ra­tions to host our first Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. He works for a com­puter com­pany ful­l-time, and is also a well-known mu­sic col­lec­tor. Kadokura has a great knowl­edge of mu­sic and au­dio in gen­er­al, and has con­se­quently done au­dio/vi­sual work for many sci-fi events.↩︎

  45. This fan club was es­tab­lished by famed sci-fi writer and trans­la­tor, Masahiro Noda, who pro­claims him­self Com­man­der-in-Chief of the club. The other mem­bers also use mil­i­tary ranks in ad­dress­ing each oth­er. Noda is a TV pro­duc­er, and his club also func­tions as sup­port staff for var­i­ous TV-re­lated events. The club makes it a point of not lim­it­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties ex­clu­sively to the realm of Noda’s writ­ing. This is a phi­los­o­phy that found fa­vor among the DAICON mem­bers, and the two groups often co­op­er­at­ed. Many Space Force Club mem­bers have gone on to be­come pro­fes­sion­als in the vi­sual me­dia, pub­lish­ing, and game in­dus­tries. The club is still ac­tive, host­ing events such as “Sci-Fi Christ­mas” each year.↩︎

  46. Hi­roaki In­oue (1958–) An anime pro­ducer I met at an event or­ga­nized by the mem­bers of Uchugun, the fan club es­tab­lished by au­thor Masahiro No­da. In­oue came into the anime in­dus­try through Tezuka Pro­duc­tions. Okada later in­vited him to par­tic­i­pate in the found­ing of GAINAX, but In­oue ended up leav­ing after the pro­duc­tion of Oritsu Uchugun (“Wings of Hon­neamise”) and Top o Ner­ae! (“Gun­buster”). We fell out of touch for about a decade, but got to­gether again when GAINAX and A.I.C. (An­i­ma­tion In­ter­na­tional Com­pa­ny, where he cur­rently works) col­lab­o­rated on an anime pro­duc­tion. He is known through­out the in­dus­try for his fa­mous greet­ing, “Hey, so-and-so! What’s hap­pen­ing?” He still plays an ac­tive role in Uchugun as the club’s leader. [I­noue rarely speaks to the press and even more rarely is that ma­te­r­ial trans­lated into Eng­lish. One of those few is a 2003 talk at MIT, “Hi­roaki In­oue on Com­put­ers and Japan­ese An­i­ma­tion”, where he dis­cusses anime pro­duc­tion and the switch-over to dig­i­tal an­i­ma­tion. —Ed­i­tor.]↩︎

  47. An event started by Masahiro Noda in 1973. Back then, sci-fi con­ven­tions tended to be rather solemn and aca­d­e­mic, fo­cus­ing on the in­de­pen­dent work of the at­tend­ing mem­bers and fea­tur­ing panel dis­cus­sions about ma­jor nov­els. In con­trast, the Sci-Fi Show was more like an en­ter­tain­ment ex­po, thanks to Noda’s TV pro­duc­tion ex­pe­ri­ence. The first three Sci-Fi Shows were or­ga­nized by Noda and held in Tokyo, but he al­lowed us to or­ga­nize the fourth one.↩︎

  48. Takeshi Sawa­mura (1959–) For­mer pres­i­dent of GAINAX. He met Toshio Okada at an event put on by Uchugun, and later be­came one of the core Sci-Fi Show staff mem­bers. His out­go­ing per­son­al­ity made him a dri­ving force be­hind the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion and other events hosted by DAICON FILM. After grad­u­at­ing from Ote­mon Uni­ver­sity in 1983, he went to work for Japan Tele­vi­sion Work­shop Co, Lt­d., the pro­duc­tion com­pany run by Masahiro No­da. Sawa­mura would later join Gen­eral Prod­ucts, after which Toshio Okada would in­vite him to be­come the pres­i­dent of GAINAX. He left GAINAX in 2000. In­ci­den­tal­ly, the char­ac­ter of Nekker­out from Wings of Hon­neamise was mod­eled after him.↩︎

  49. A pseudo-his­toric sci-fi film pro­duced by Daiei in 1966. An eight-me­ter tall statue of a god comes to life and res­cues farm­ers from op­pres­sion. The metic­u­lously crafted minia­tures used in the de­struc­tion scenes be­came leg­endary among spe­cial effects fans. Daima­jin is mar­keted in the U.S. by ADV Films.↩︎

  50. A TV sci-fi se­ries from based on the manga by . Rock­et­man Am­bas­sador Magma fights mon­sters ma­nip­u­lated by an evil alien called Goa. Nao­sumi Ya­mamo­to’s mu­sic in this se­ries is quite im­pres­sive.↩︎

  51. A few years be­fore DAICON 3, the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion be­gan a tra­di­tion of show­ing a short film dur­ing the open­ing cer­e­mo­ny. It was prob­a­bly in­tended to be an ini­tial hook into the con­ven­tion. The con­tent would vary from mon­tage-type com­pi­la­tions us­ing ex­ist­ing footage to works show­cas­ing ex­per­i­men­tal com­puter graph­ics. I found that if the Con­ven­tion made the film them­selves, it was much eas­ier to keep every­one mo­ti­vated through­out the plan­ning stages, right up to the day of the con­ven­tion it­self. For DAICON 3 in 1981, we did a -an­i­mated open­ing ani­me. This pro­duc­tion was all thanks to the help of Hideaki Anno and many oth­ers.↩︎

  52. Hi­roe Suga (1963–) A sci-fi au­thor and also my wife! She made her pro­fes­sional de­but at age 17 with the short story “Blue Flight”. She re­ceived Seiun Awards for her works Merusasu no Shonen and Sobakasu no Fig­ure. In 2001, she re­ceived an award from the Mys­tery Writ­ers of Japan, Inc. for her book Eien no Mori Hakubut­sukan Waku­sei. She is also a mas­ter of Japan­ese clas­si­cal dance. Suga has helped out with all of the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions that I’ve worked on. She cur­rently re­sides in Ky­oto with our beloved daugh­ter (I live apart from them right now be­cause of my job). [A cu­ri­ous com­ment; Takeda had fi­nally moved out of the GAINAX build­ing by the tax eva­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion in 1998, but by 2002 (year of pub­li­ca­tion) still had­n’t re­joined his fam­i­ly? —Ed­i­tor.]↩︎

  53. Haruka Takachiho (1951–) Nov­el­ist as­so­ci­ated with Stu­dio Nue. Well known for his works and . His pas­sion for anime has at times led him to write some rather bit­ing cri­tiques on the sub­ject and the works within it. For ex­am­ple, his “Gun­dam is not sci-fi” com­ment in OUT Mag­a­zine (1980) caused a storm of con­tro­versy in anime fan­dom. I am on pretty good terms with Takachi­ho, and often see him hang­ing around the GAINAX offices.↩︎

  54. Some fans are picky about what is true sci-fi and what is­n’t. Even if the de­fi­n­i­tion of sci­ence fic­tion is rather vague, it does­n’t stop some peo­ple from get­ting into heated de­bates over it—­some­times for noth­ing other than to prove how they them­selves are “true fans”. The de­bates tends to hinge on whether a given show con­tains a “sense of won­der” (vis-a-vis sci­ence), but the phrase it­self is equally hard to de­fine. You often hear twisted crit­i­cisms like, “The film was well-done, but mediocre as a sci-fi.” In con­trast, other fans are sim­ply keen on things that haven’t been done be­fore, and are will­ing to em­brace al­most any new con­cept as “sci-fi”.↩︎

  55. Sakyo Ko­matsu and some other im­por­tant in­di­vid­u­als from Os­aka or­ga­nized an event to pro­mote the . One of the goals was to help bring or­ches­tral mu­sic to the lo­cal pub­lic. Ko­matsu had been im­pressed with the suc­cess of our first Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, and offered to let us help out be­hind the scenes.↩︎

  56. DAICON 3 was held at Os­aka’s Mori­nomiya Pi­loti Hall on Au­gust 23–24, 1981. All told, there were about 1,500 peo­ple in at­ten­dance. The event was unique for the time be­cause of the cel-an­i­mated open­ing ani­me, the un­prece­dented size of the guide­book, sales of orig­i­nal mer­chan­dise, and si­mul­ta­ne­ous events in­clud­ing show­ings and sem­i­nars.↩︎

  57. The Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions are man­aged by groups of vol­un­teers who are se­lected by a vote at the Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion meet­ing the year pre­ced­ing the Con­ven­tion in ques­tion. (Now they’re se­lected two years in ad­vance!) In or­der to avoid lengthy dis­cus­sion and con­flicts be­tween ri­val groups at the meet­ing, un­der the ta­ble ne­go­ti­a­tions are en­cour­aged be­fore hand.↩︎

  58. World­con was the orig­i­nal model for the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. World­con has been held every year since 1939, ex­cept for a brief hia­tus dur­ing WWII. We went to Nore­as­con Two, held in Boston in 1980. World­con is mainly held in the U.S., but goes over­seas every four years. A group of Japan­ese fans is work­ing to host the 2007 event in Japan.↩︎

  59. We vis­ited Dis­ney­land in the U.S. to study event or­ga­ni­za­tion, both how to or­ga­nize the staff and how to pro­vide seam­less en­ter­tain­ment for vis­i­tors when sev­eral events are run­ning si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly. We also vis­ited the then new­ly-opened Tokyo Dis­ney­land just be­fore DAICON 4. Our con­cept of cre­at­ing “al­ter­nate worlds” within DAICON 4 was largely in­flu­enced by what we saw at Dis­ney­land.↩︎

  60. This was the nick­name for the 19th an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, held at Asakusa Kokaido in Tokyo in Au­gust 1980. About 1,300 peo­ple at­tend­ed. The host for DAICON 3 would also be cho­sen at this event, and our staff worked very hard to win the hon­or.↩︎

  61. Hi­toshi Ki­tayama (1959–) My un­der­class­men at Kinki Uni­ver­sity as well as a mem­ber of the Uni­ver­sity Sci-Fi Club. He had been a mem­ber of our staff since the Sci-Fi Show. Ki­tayama was al­ways there to help out with DAICON FILM, though I never had the chance to work closely with him. He once as­pired to be a manga au­thor, but now works at his fam­i­ly’s auto shop, do­ing restora­tions (and lov­ing it) on bro­ken-down au­tos.↩︎

  62. Musashi Kanbe (1948–) Sci-fi au­thor whose witty and ver­sa­tile style has al­lowed him to cover a broad range of gen­res in his works. A res­i­dent of Os­aka, he served as hon­orary chair­man to the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee for DAICON 3. In 1986, he won the Award for his ti­tle Warai Uchu no Tabi Genin.↩︎

  63. Tat­suto Na­gayama (1960–1995) Helped form the anime pro­duc­tion group "SHADO" dur­ing his high school years. I met him while he was at­tend­ing school in Kan­sai. He and Hideaki Anno are from the same town, and it was Na­gayama who in­tro­duced me to Anno and his friends. An as­pir­ing cam­era­man and writer, "Mr. N" (as he was affec­tion­ately known) helped Gen­eral Prod­ucts by writ­ing the in­struc­tion man­u­als for many of its prod­ucts. We all thought he bore a strong re­sem­blance to a seal. He played the role of the sus­pi­cious ar­chae­ol­o­gist in Ya­mata no Orochi no Gyakushu, and later re­ceived pub­lic­ity for news pho­tos he took in the after­math of the in 1995, but he died trag­i­cally in a car ac­ci­dent later that year.↩︎

  64. A live-ac­tion tokusatsu, or "spe­cial effects" TV show pro­duced by . It pre­ceded even . The show was in black and white, and since it was rarely re­run some vol­un­teers or­ga­nized pub­lic screen­ings. It was­n’t com­mon to have a VCR at home in those days, so the screen­ings drew many view­ers.↩︎

  65. Hideaki Anno (1960–) Movie di­rec­tor and mem­ber of GAINAX’s board of di­rec­tors. He was still en­rolled at the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts when he par­tic­i­pated in the pro­duc­tion of the DAICON 3 open­ing an­i­ma­tion. One of his spe­cial­ties is an­i­mat­ing com­plex ac­tion scenes with mecha and lots of ex­plo­sions. One of the most talked-about se­quences he has done is the fa­mous “God Sol­diers” scene in di­rec­tor Hayao Miyaza­k­i’s Kaze no Tani no Nau­si­caa (“Nau­si­caa of the Val­ley of the Wind”). He played a role in the found­ing of GAINAX, and made his pro­fes­sional di­rec­to­r­ial de­but with the OVA Top of Ner­ae! (“Gun­buster”). After his tremen­dous suc­cess with the TV se­ries Shin­seiki Evan­ge­lion (“Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion”), he went on to pur­sue his in­ter­est in live ac­tion, pro­duc­ing Love & Pop, Shik­i­jitsu and sev­eral other films.

    Anno is a big fan of spe­cial effects films and sev­eral main­stream anime ti­tles, es­pe­cially the clas­sics Uchu Senkan Yam­ato (“Star Blaz­ers / Space Bat­tle­ship Yam­ato”), Ul­tra­man, Ka­men Rider (“Masked Rider”), and Gun­dam. He usu­ally lum­bers around slow­ly, in al­most the same man­ner as the God Sol­diers he an­i­mated years ago. In fact, the only time he seems to show any real en­ergy is when he’s do­ing an Ul­tra­man or Ka­men Rider im­pres­sion. Anno eats nei­ther meat nor fish, and is thus often as­sumed to be a veg­e­tar­i­an. This is ac­tu­ally a mis­con­cep­tion—in fact, he dis­likes green onions, pep­pers, and many other veg­eta­bles. Ba­si­cal­ly, he eats an ex­tremely un­bal­anced di­et.↩︎

  66. Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga (1962–) Movie di­rec­tor and GAINAX’s cur­rent pres­i­dent. Orig­i­nally from Ni­igata Pre­fec­ture. Di­rected Oritsu Uchugun (“Wings of Hon­neamise”), GAINAX’s first com­mer­cial film. While he was still a stu­dent at the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts, he helped cre­ate the DAICON 3 open­ing movie, along with Hideaki Anno and Takami Akai. Ya­m­aga has been with GAINAX since the be­gin­ning, and was only 22 years old when he di­rected the com­pa­ny’s cin­e­matic re­lease. From the time he was an el­e­men­tary stu­dent, Ya­m­aga has pro­claimed that he would be­come fa­mous some­day. On one oc­ca­sion, he sup­pos­edly went so far as to tell one of his neigh­bors in Ni­igata that her house would one day be de­mol­ished to make the park­ing lot for the “Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga Memo­r­ial Hall.” Since it is very hard to tell what he is think­ing just by look­ing at his face, he is often com­pared to the pup­pets from the 1960s TV show, Thun­der­birds. Ya­m­aga as­sumed office as the pres­i­dent of GAINAX in 1993. De­spite a 14-year ab­sence, he re­turned to the di­rec­tor’s chair for the pro­duc­tion of the re­cent GAINAX ti­tles Ma­horo­matic and Abenobashi Ma­hou Shoten­gai (“Mag­i­cal Shop­ping Ar­cade Abenobashi”).↩︎

  67. A sci-fi themed cafe that used to be in Ky­oto. The owner was ap­par­ently into sci-fi and had dec­o­rated the in­te­rior of the cafe with sci-fi film posters and mod­els of space­ships. It was a fa­vorite gath­er­ing spot for lo­cal sci-fi fans. As a mat­ter of fact, Na­gayama used to work there part-time. I used to drive Hi­roe home to Ky­oto on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, and we would often stop by the cafe on these trips.↩︎

  68. A pri­vate col­lege lo­cated in Mi­nami-Kawaguchi in the south of Os­a­ka. An­no, Akai and Ya­m­aga were class­mates in the Vi­sual Con­cept Plan­ning De­part­ment. The time when these three met is often con­sid­ered the be­gin­ning of GAINAX. Un­like Kinki Uni­ver­si­ty, the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts is lo­cated very far from any train sta­tion, and the cam­pus is up on a hill, sur­rounded on all sides by fields. No video ar­cades or cafe shops can be found any­where near­by. And since a film screen­ing or live per­for­mance is al­ways hap­pen­ing some­where on cam­pus, at­tend­ing class in cos­tume is not con­sid­ered un­usual at all.↩︎

  69. This refers to the ar­mored com­bat suit fea­tured in Robert A. Hein­lein’s novel Star­ship Troop­ers. The shape of the suit is­n’t de­scribed in the book, but the Japan­ese pa­per­back edi­tion con­tains il­lus­tra­tions by Stu­dio Nue, and their con­cept in­flu­enced the de­signs of many anime ro­bots there­after. The phrase “Pow­ered Suit” is a gen­eral term, but among Japan­ese sci-fi fans it specifi­cally means the suit de­signed by Nue for Star­ship Troop­ers. This com­pli­cated Pow­ered Suit ap­peared as the main mecha in the DAICON 3 open­ing ani­me, and An­no’s dy­namic an­i­ma­tion was a sen­sa­tion, to say the least.↩︎

  70. Takami Akai (1961–) Game di­rec­tor and il­lus­tra­tor. Orig­i­nally from Yon­ago in Tot­tori Pre­fec­ture. Akai is cur­rently a mem­ber of GAINAX’s board of di­rec­tors. While a stu­dent at the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts, he met Anno and Ya­m­a­ga, and to­gether the three cre­ated the open­ing an­i­ma­tion for DAICON 3. Though he is of a fairly diminu­tive stature, Akai is a mul­ti­-tal­ented in­di­vid­u­al, and an ab­solute ge­nius when it comes to mod­els, il­lus­tra­tions, movies, spe­cial effects and games. He took the gam­ing world a gi­ant leap for­ward when he cre­ated the PC game Princess Mak­er, giv­ing rise to an en­tirely new genre of “nur­tur­ing sim­u­la­tion” games, wherein play­ers make de­ci­sions that will affect the main char­ac­ter’s ac­tual per­son­al­i­ty.

    In 1994, Akai left GAINAX to launch his own soft­ware de­vel­op­ment stu­dio, Nine Lives. How­ev­er, he re­turned to GAINAX in 2001 to be­come a mem­ber of the board of di­rec­tors. He again got the chance to show his in­cred­i­ble tal­ent when he did the char­ac­ter de­signs as well as some ad­di­tional art­work for GAINAX’s Seikai no Mon­sho (“Crest of the Stars”).↩︎

  71. Many anime fans back in the day had a strong de­sire to try their own hands at an­i­ma­tion. A so-called “pa­per anime” only re­quires some draw­ings done on pa­per and an 8mm cam­era. Thus it is re­ally cheap and sim­ple for in­di­vid­u­als to cre­ate their own ani­me. How­ev­er, cel anime is­n’t so easy. Paint and cels are ex­pen­sive, and it takes more than a hand­ful of peo­ple to color the huge num­ber of cels re­quired for any given pro­ject. The DAICON 3 open­ing anime was the first an­i­mated fea­ture Anno and the oth­ers had ever at­tempt­ed. Lack of ex­pe­ri­ence aside, the very idea of mak­ing a cel anime by hand in the first place was just ab­surd!↩︎

  72. The grand­daddy of all anime shops. The stores sold anime goods, used cels, and de­sign sketch­es, and were usu­ally lo­cated next to Toei-affil­i­ated the­aters. This chain laid the foun­da­tion for to­day’s anime shops. Back then, they were the only places you could buy a blank cel and the right kind of paint to do an ani­me. The prob­lem for us was, the sup­plies were sold for hobby use, and buy­ing in bulk for a ful­l-length anime was far too ex­pen­sive.↩︎

  73. East Os­aka is home to many small fac­to­ries, in­clud­ing vinyl man­u­fac­tur­ing plants and other spe­cial­ized pro­duc­tion yard­s—e­nough to form large in­dus­trial dis­tricts. Each dis­trict is com­monly re­ferred to by the type of prod­uct man­u­fac­tured there. Thank­ful­ly, these places wel­come am­a­teur buy­ers. A real anime cel is made of film, but we did­n’t know that and used thin sheets of vinyl in­stead. The sheets ended up stick­ing to­gether when stacked, and the paint would­n’t ad­here very well, ei­ther.↩︎

  74. The em­broi­der­ing com­pany run by Toshio Okada’s fam­i­ly, con­ve­niently lo­cated near Os­aka Pre­fec­ture Uni­ver­si­ty. The Okadas own a large ware­house. With their per­mis­sion, we used one whole floor of the build­ing to make our ani­me. A large num­ber of our staff pretty much lived there dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of the DAICON 3 and DAICON 4 open­ing an­i­ma­tions. Gen­eral Prod­ucts was also started through an ini­tial in­vest­ment from Okada Em­broi­der­ing, and re­mained a part of the com­pany un­til it was in­cor­po­rated in 1984.↩︎

  75. A tool used to hold cel art dur­ing the draw­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy stages of an anime pro­duc­tion. It con­sists of three pegs on a ruler-like metal strip, which are used to align the il­lus­trated pa­per to the anime cel. We could­n’t even afford com­mer­cial-grade cels and pa­per, much less a proper tap, so we had to punch holes in the vinyl sheets with a plain, old office hole punch. We fab­ri­cated our “tap” out of card­board and short sec­tions of a paint­brush. It was­n’t par­tic­u­larly ac­cu­rate, as there weren’t enough holes, but it did the job.↩︎

  76. A sheet of writ­ten in­struc­tions used for pho­tograph­ing cels. The sheet con­tains a ta­ble de­scrib­ing the cel num­ber for each frame and how to layer the cels. It’s an ab­solute ne­ces­sity for any pro­fes­sional anime film pro­duc­tion, where an­i­ma­tion and pho­tog­ra­phy are taken as two sep­a­rate tasks, but am­a­teurs like us did­n’t know any­thing about that.↩︎

  77. The TV anime fea­tures a mys­te­ri­ous sym­bol that ap­pears on the front screen of the Ideon’s cock­pit when­ever the Ide’s su­per en­ergy is charg­ing. The DAICON 3 open­ing an­i­ma­tion has a scene show­ing a glow­ing Ide gauge. Okada tried hard (but failed) to get us to re­place it with a mark that rep­re­sents the fe­male gen­i­talia in­stead.↩︎

  78. It is prob­a­bly un­re­lat­ed, but it is amus­ing to note that dur­ing Gainax’s film 1997 , at a ma­jor cli­max, the pro­tag­o­nist & his mecha en­ter a gi­ant Rei through a vagina in its fore­head.↩︎

  79. Kazumi Okada (1958–) A mem­ber of our staff since the Sci-Fi Show and a child­hood friend of Toshio Oka­da. The two were mar­ried just after the found­ing of Gen­eral Prod­ucts in 1982. So far, she is the only thing we know of that can calm the often ex­plo­sive pas­sions of Toshio. Be­cause of this unique abil­i­ty, she came to serve as some­thing of an “Okada Con­trol Unit”. She was also in charge of ac­count­ing and gen­eral affairs for Gen­eral Prod­ucts and GAINAX, and han­dled all sorts of busi­ness mat­ters. She stayed on with the com­pany even after Toshio left, ad­vanc­ing to her cur­rent po­si­tion as man­ager of pub­lic re­la­tions. She is a very pe­tite wom­an, and at times a lit­tle air-head­ed, but adored by one and all. In­ci­den­tal­ly, her maiden name is Amano.↩︎

  80. “Kazumi Amano” is also the name of one of the ma­jor char­ac­ters, noted for beau­ty, of the An­no-di­rected Gainax anime Gun­buster; she re­port­edly worked on Gun­buster. —Ed­i­tor↩︎

  81. Os­amu Tezuka (1928–1989) The “God of Manga” truly needs no in­tro­duc­tion. You could even say he is the one who started it all for Japan­ese an­i­mated TV pro­grams. All of us on the staff were over­whelmed with grat­i­tude when we re­ceived his praise for the DAICON 3 open­ing an­i­ma­tion.↩︎

  82. An anime mag­a­zine pub­lished by Rap­port start­ing in 1978. The first ed­i­tor-in-chief was Masanobu Ko­ma­ki. While ma­jor anime mag­a­zines were lean­ing to­ward “re­views” that read more like ad­ver­tise­ments, Ani­mec be­came pop­u­lar among fans for its in­-depth analy­ses and large pro­por­tion of read­er-con­tri­bu­tion pages. This hard­core mag­a­zine even did a fea­ture on our DAICON 3 open­ing ani­me, de­spite the fact that it was an am­a­teur pro­duc­tion. Ani­mec also fea­tured columns by Okada and yours truly of Gen­eral Prod­ucts.↩︎

  83. DAICON 3 was pri­vately spon­sored by me and the rest of the staff. All told, it put us in debt to the tune of 2 mil­lion yen (about U.S. $9,000 in 1981 dol­lars). We had ex­pected to be in debt, but this was a lot of money for a bunch of mere col­lege stu­dents, and re­pay­ing it was a heavy bur­den. We started sell­ing the open­ing anime on video in or­der to make up the loss. That was two years be­fore any “OVA” () was ever re­leased.

    [Hi­royuki Ya­m­a­ga, 2010 in­ter­view:

    “When we did Daicon III it was just me, Evan­ge­lion di­rec­tor Hideaki An­no, and [Takami] Akai, who worked on the Princess Maker se­ries for Gainax. Staff from the Daicon con­ven­tion asked us per­son­al­ly,”Can you make us some kind of an­i­ma­tion?" So that’s how Daicon III came about. When it came out, the con­ven­tion was hav­ing money trou­bles, even with 10,000 at­ten­dees, so they sold videos of the Daicon III open­ing, which saved them from bank­rupt­cy. So the staff of Daicon said, in two years we’ll have an­other one, why don’t you join as staff and make an­oth­er? And that’s how Daicon IV came about."


  84. These in­cluded sem­i­nars for no more than a dozen peo­ple, all oc­cur­ring si­mul­ta­ne­ously with the stage per­for­mances be­ing held in the big hall. All through­out the con­ven­tion, DAICON 3 fea­tured sem­i­nars and other ac­tiv­i­ties in ad­di­tion to the main per­for­mances in the hall. It was very so­phis­ti­cated for an event hosted by am­a­teurs.↩︎

  85. This is the name of the mar­ket­place at a con­ven­tion. Many pri­vate clubs sell fanzines and other goods. Comiket (Comic Mar­ket) took this idea from the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tions, and ba­si­cally ex­panded on it.↩︎

  86. Back in the early 1980s, there were four sci-fi spe­cialty mag­a­zi­nes: SF Mag­a­zine, SF Hoseki, SF Ad­ven­ture and Kosoten­gai. SF Mag­a­zine is in cir­cu­la­tion to this day, while SF Ad­ven­ture is cur­rently pub­lished as SF Japan.↩︎

  87. Ya­suhiro Kamimura (1962–) A mem­ber of the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity Sci-Fi club who joined our group after DAICON 3. He over­saw pro­duc­tion of the in­de­pen­dent films we were work­ing on. He found em­ploy­ment with right around the time DAICON FILM went un­der. Though it seemed he had ac­tu­ally got­ten one of those “re­spectable” jobs, Kamimura soon found him­self un­able to sup­press his otaku blood and was ul­ti­mately in­vited to join GAINAX by yours tru­ly. He was put in charge of gen­eral busi­ness affairs. Co­in­ci­den­tal­ly, Ya­suhiro and I were born on the same day and have the same blood type. Not the dis­crim­i­nat­ing type, he is a will­ing fan of what­ever trends come along in the worlds of sci-fi, ani­me, and spe­cial effects. [See also the ANN En­cy­clo­pe­dia. Kamimura is rarely ever men­tioned in the press but in 2010, Suzuki Shunji re­port­edly said (in the Japana­tor para­phrase) “that it’s al­most cer­tain that Ya­suhiro Kamimu­ra, a be­hind-the-scenes guy at GAINAX since the Daicon days, and his wife have quit the com­pa­ny.” A 2011-07-18 French in­ter­view lists him and his wife’s tenure at Gainax as 1985–Feb­ru­ary 2010. The Kamimuras ap­par­ently now spend their time han­dling Eva li­cens­ing, such as the very pop­u­lar Do­CoMo cell­phones. Their other li­cens­ing com­pa­ny, Mamet­sub­uya, han­dles a manga writ­ten by An­no’s wife, Moy­oc­co, called Ochiba-san. —Ed­i­tor]↩︎

  88. A sci-fi TV se­ries en­joy­ing an es­pe­cially de­voted fol­low­ing of hard­core fans, com­monly known as “Trekkies”. These Trekkies com­prise a large per­cent­age of the to­tal sci-fi fan pop­u­la­tion. In Japan, Star Trek was broad­cast in 1969 un­der the name Uchu Daisakusen, and re­runs were shown over and over and over again, es­pe­cially in the Kan­sai area.↩︎

  89. One year be­fore DAICON 3, NEC re­leased its first per­sonal com­put­er, the . Affec­tion­ately dubbed “My Com” (for “My Com­puter”) in Japan, it be­came an in­stant hit among en­thu­si­asts. How­ev­er, the Star Trek game writ­ten for it did­n’t make any sense to the ma­jor­ity of those who at­tempted to play it—even after care­ful ex­pla­na­tions from fans of the show.↩︎

  90. One of Hideo Azu­ma’s manga char­ac­ters. Eas­ily iden­ti­fied by its big wa­tery eyes and huge mouth (which is al­ways open), the char­ac­ter has ap­peared in var­i­ous manga ti­tles. Hideo Azuma was wacky enough him­self, and the silly char­ac­ter was well-known (but prob­a­bly not “pop­u­lar” in a gen­eral sense) among sci-fi fans. It also made an ap­pear­ance in the DAICON 3 open­ing ani­me. be­cause of Na­ha­ha’s sim­ple de­sign, many hand-crafted char­ac­ter goods based on it have been sold at the SCI-FI Con­ven­tion. Gen­eral Prod­ucts pro­duced a floor cush­ion fea­tur­ing an il­lus­tra­tion of the char­ac­ter.↩︎

  91. Hideo Azuma (1950–) Manga artist who was tremen­dously pop­u­lar in the early 1980s. He was well known for his cute draw­ings and zany brand of com­e­dy. He has achieved an al­most ra­bid fol­low­ing in the sci-fi fan com­mu­nity with works such as Fu­jouri Nikki (“Jour­nal of the Ab­surd”), which boasts an ob­ses­sive­ly-re­searched col­lec­tion of anec­dotes ap­pear­ing in sci­ence fic­tion sto­ries from all gen­er­a­tions and places. You could even say he is the man who in­tro­duced the el­e­ments of (lit. “beau­ti­ful girl”), the and into the world of man­ga. Char­ac­ters from his ti­tles Bukimi ga Hashiru Na­ha­hakan and so on have been made into all sorts of mer­chan­dise, some of which were pro­duced by Gen­eral Prod­ucts.↩︎

  92. A dis­trict of Os­aka, one stop from Umeda on the Han­kyu line. It’s a ma­jor com­mut­ing hub where Han­kyu’s Kobe, Ky­oto, and Takarazuka lines all meet. Ueda rented an apart­ment in Ju­so, which was the ideal gath­er­ing spot. It was eas­ily within walk­ing dis­tance of Ume­da. That meant we could go drink­ing in Umeda with­out hav­ing to worry about mak­ing the last train. The apart­ment was like a home away from home for staff mem­bers who lived far away or just did­n’t want to go home for one rea­son or an­oth­er. This apart­ment helped main­tain a bond among mem­bers of the DAICON 3 staff well after the event was over, and that bond would even­tu­ally give rise to an­other bold pro­ject.↩︎

  93. Masa­haru Ueda (1960–) A mem­ber of the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity Sci-Fi Club dur­ing his col­lege years. The 3-bed­room apart­ment he alone oc­cu­pied would be­come our base of op­er­a­tions while work­ing on our films and prepar­ing for the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. Dur­ing that time, there were staff mem­bers at the place 24 hours a day. He has worked with GAINAX and Gen­eral Prod­ucts off and on, but has al­ways kept in touch with us over the years. Ueda was ap­pointed Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee two years after I was elected Com­mit­tee Chair­man. He con­tin­ues to fill that office to­day. He had the rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing quite the phi­lan­der­er, so he was often re­ferred to by the nick­name , after the skirt-chas­ing pro­tag­o­nist from the old hit anime . He is a to­tal book junkie.↩︎

  94. A spe­cialty store for sci-fi re­lated goods. There were a few such shops in Os­aka be­fore Gen­eral Prod­ucts was es­tab­lished, but they all went out of busi­ness within a few months. Gen­eral Prod­ucts was the first suc­cess­ful sci-fi spe­cialty shop in Japan, de­spite ru­mors that it would­n’t last three months. Back then, most sci-fi shops sold im­ported goods from for­eign films, but Gen­eral Prod­ucts in­no­vated by fo­cus­ing mainly on its own orig­i­nal prod­ucts.↩︎

  95. A se­ries of sci-fi nov­els writ­ten by Larry Niv­en. It’s the grand tale of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion team com­prised of mul­ti­ple alien species on a jour­ney through an enor­mous ar­ti­fi­cial world. The world it­self was cre­ated in­side a gi­gan­tic ring with a di­am­e­ter ap­prox­i­mately equal to the di­am­e­ter of Earth’s or­bit (about 186 mil­lion miles across) and one mil­lion miles from in­ner wall to in­ner wall. Pub­lished in Japan in 1978, it re­ceived the Seiun Award the fol­low­ing year. The ti­tle is so pop­u­lar that se­quels are still be­ing writ­ten to­day.↩︎

  96. Larry Niven (1938–) Pro­lific Amer­i­can sci-fi au­thor. His grandiose style and the over­all en­ter­tain­ment value of his writ­ings have won him great fame. In fact, the name of our store is a nod to Niven’s work­s—in his Known Space se­ries, a race of tech­no­log­i­cal­ly-ad­vanced aliens known as op­er­ates a com­pany called . The fan club, which our own store man­aged, was called the Fan Club, and the newslet­ter we put out was the Pup­peteer Tsushin (“Pup­peteer Bul­letin”). Niven him­self agreed to our use of these names.↩︎

  97. In or­der to sell a prod­uct based on any copy­righted sub­ject, per­mis­sion is re­quired. In the past, such per­mis­sion was given only to es­tab­lished man­u­fac­tur­ers, and be­fore Gen­eral Prod­ucts, it was un­think­able for a small garage kit com­pany to even ask. Gen­eral Prod­ucts also came up with the one-day li­cens­ing sys­tem, which al­lows am­a­teur deal­ers to sell copy­righted ma­te­ri­als only on the day of a par­tic­u­lar event, and suc­cess­fully lob­bied many li­cen­sors in Japan to con­sent.↩︎

  98. A film com­pany that has pro­duced (and cur­rently holds copy­rights to) many gi­ant mon­ster movies. Even in the early days of Gen­eral Prod­ucts, Toho was very co­op­er­ate in per­mit­ting the man­u­fac­tur­ing of garage kits. To­ho, in con­junc­tion with NHK and Sogo Vi­sion, was also the anime pro­duc­tion house for the GAINAX TV anime Fushigi no Umi no Na­dia (“Na­dia: The Se­cret of Blue Wa­ter”).↩︎

  99. A fa­mous pro­duc­tion stu­dio founded by the late Eiji Tsub­u­raya. Their Ul­tra­man prod­ucts are very pop­u­lar among fans of the live-ac­tion spe­cial effects genre. Gen­eral Prod­ucts has re­leased many Tsub­u­raya-re­lated items over the years, in­clud­ing the Jet Bee­tle and Ul­tra Hawk model kits, a neck­tie pin with the in­signia of the Sci­ence Spe­cial Search Par­ty, and even an Ul­tra­man t-shirt.↩︎

  100. Kazu­taka Miy­atake (1951–) Me­chan­i­cal de­signer and il­lus­tra­tor for Stu­dio Nue. Made his anime de­but with Zero Tester. Miy­atake has also worked as a me­chan­i­cal de­signer in a wide va­ri­ety of me­dia, in­clud­ing spe­cial effects shows, games, and man­ga. Among his mas­ter­pieces are (“Farewell Space Bat­tle­ship Yam­a­to—­Sol­diers of Love”), Cho­jiku You­sai Macross (“Su­per Di­men­sional Fortress Macross”) and Say­onara Jupiter (“Bye-Bye Jupiter”). He even de­signed sev­eral of the space bat­tle­ships that ap­peared in .↩︎

  101. Lim­it­ed-pro­duc­tion model kits for hard­core fans. They are often pro­duced in places like the de­sign­er’s home or garage. Un­like mass-pro­duced model kits, garage kits have the feel of a hand-crafted prod­uct. An­other differ­ence is that mass-pro­duced model kits re­quire ad­vanced de­sign skills and thou­sands of dol­lars for each metal mold, while resin kits can be made for a few hun­dred dol­lars. With resin, it’s also pos­si­ble to cre­ate com­plex and de­tailed sur­faces that would be very hard to du­pli­cate with a metal mold. This is just an­other rea­son why garage kits have cap­tured the hearts of hard­core mod­el­ers. The kits are pricey be­cause of their small pro­duc­tion runs, but as they are made by fans for fans (who have a great knowl­edge of and in­ter­est in the sub­ject) they have re­mained pop­u­lar. Fin­ish­ing a garage kit model takes some fairly ad­vanced as­sem­bling and paint­ing skills. Many of the cute girl fig­urines you see to­day are high­-qual­ity prod­ucts and sell quite well, but it’s ques­tion­able as to how many of them are ac­tu­ally hand-built.

    [Ex­am­ples of Gen­eral Prod­ucts model kits, specifi­cally Gun­buster! ones, can be seen at Carl E. Lind­blom Jr.’s Gun­buster In­dex. —Ed­i­tor]↩︎

  102. A model shop in Os­aka that en­tered the garage kit mar­ket at about the same time Gen­eral Prod­ucts did. Okada was a reg­u­lar pa­tron of the shop. After Gen­eral Prod­ucts opened, the two com­pa­nies butted heads on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, but the re­la­tion­ship im­proved through such events as the Won­der Fes­ti­val. Kaiy­odo took over the Won­der Fes­ti­val after Gen­eral Prod­ucts quit or­ga­niz­ing it, and thus the com­pa­nies be­came al­lies. In 2000, a col­lab­o­ra­tive project be­tween Kaiy­odo and Fu­ruta Seika for a prod­uct called the “Choco Egg” be­came a huge suc­cess. Kaiy­odo cur­rently dom­i­nates the minia­ture fig­ure mar­ket.↩︎

  103. Hi­roki Sato (1964–) Anime pro­ducer and mem­ber of GAINAX’s . While em­ployed with the Trans­porta­tion Bu­reau, he played an ac­tive role in DAICON FILM, putting forth what­ever spare time he had. I sought to em­ploy his in­cred­i­ble knowl­edge of garage kits and mod­els, and ended up hir­ing him as the man­ager of Gen­eral Prod­ucts’ Tokyo branch in 1987. He was put in charge of all PR is­sues sur­round­ing Shin­seiki Evan­ge­lion (“Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion”), and has been an anime pro­ducer for GAINAX ever since Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo (“His and Her Cir­cum­stances”). He is an ex­tremely ded­i­cated in­di­vid­u­al, and pours every ounce of his love into ani­me, mod­els and toys. His strict ad­her­ence to the Way of the Otaku may have seemed rather ex­treme at times, but de­spite his se­ri­ous­ness, peo­ple started to affec­tion­ately re­fer to him as ten­cho-san (lit. “store man­ager”).

    [Michael S. John­son vis­ited Gainax Feb­ru­ary 1999 and talked with staffers. He wrote:

    Anno ob­jected to the re­stric­tions placed on TV anime by TV Tokyo after the Pocket Mon­ster in­ci­dent, so in protest, he de­cided to have noth­ing more to do with TV Tokyo and left the pro­duc­tion of Kare-Kano in the hands of Sato, who joined Gainax after hav­ing worked for the gov­ern­ment in a pub­lic works man­age­ment po­si­tion.

    Takeda later men­tions that Sato had worked for the city of Os­a­ka.

    In­ci­den­tal­ly, John­son also de­scribed the phys­i­cal lay­out of the Gainax offices, which em­pha­sizes the ex­tent to which they were a game com­pa­ny: “The ground floor, which we did­n’t see much of, was where de­vel­op­ment of com­puter games takes place. The sec­ond floor was where the an­i­ma­tors worked, and the third floor was for man­age­ment… There are ~60 peo­ple who work in the main Gainax build­ing. Twenty on each floor. There were only four or five an­i­ma­tors present when we vis­it­ed, be­cause they gen­er­ally work dur­ing night un­til the morn­ing.” —Ed­i­tor]↩︎

  104. Jun Tamaya (1963–) He also came to us from the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity Sci-Fi Club, and par­tic­i­pated in the pro­duc­tion of Dainip­pon, Ul­tra­man, and other DAICON FILM ti­tles. He had a cer­tain knack for de­sign that seemed to be in­de­pen­dent of what­ever medium he was work­ing in. This abil­ity would land him a po­si­tion at Gen­eral Prod­ucts, and later GAINAX, where he was named chief of CG art and played a vi­tal role in the de­vel­op­ment of such games as Den­nou Gakuen (“Cy­ber School”) and Princess Maker. Tama-san is his nick­name, and a par­tic­u­larly apt one at that, as his phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance is very round in­deed. (Tama can also mean “ball” in Japan­ese.) He once prided him­self as the heav­i­est of GAINAX’s heavy­weights, but lately he has been watch­ing his weight be­cause of di­a­betes.↩︎

  105. Gen­eral Prod­ucts and Okada were fea­tured in the TV news pro­gram ズームイン朝! (“Zoom in the Morn­ing!”); a clip of the GP store can be seen on YouTube at “ゼネラルプロダクツ”. —Ed­i­tor↩︎

  106. One of the cast­ing ma­te­ri­als used to cre­ate garage kits. Two differ­ent liq­uids are mixed and poured into a mold, where they so­lid­ify after a few min­utes, form­ing a model part. Epoxy resin is a lit­tle tricky to han­dle be­cause if it’s poorly mixed it ei­ther forms bub­bles or does­n’t so­lid­ify enough. Pieces of hard­ened resin have a nasty habit of look­ing like potato chips to ex­hausted peo­ple work­ing through the night, so han­dle with care!↩︎

  107. Takashi Gy­oten (1962–) Dur­ing the early days of DAICON FILM, he was kind of like the boss of Os­aka Uni­ver­si­ty’s Sci-Fi Club. He lived in an apart­ment close to the Uni­ver­si­ty, and it served as our base of op­er­a­tions for a few months dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of Kaet­tekita Ul­tra­man. He went on to be­come a high school math­e­mat­ics teacher, and is now a Bud­dhist priest.↩︎

  108. Masanobu Ko­maki Ed­i­tor-in-chief of the cult anime mag­a­zine Ani­mec when it first went into print in 1979. Over the course of his ed­i­to­r­ial ca­reer he has earned a huge fol­low­ing for the in­-depth na­ture of his pub­li­ca­tions. He is also fa­mous for nam­ing the from the orig­i­nal Kido Sen­shi Gun­dam (“Mo­bile Suit Gun­dam”) TV se­ries. Ko­maki also gave Okada and me a reg­u­lar col­umn in Ani­mec mag­a­zine, ti­tled “Gen­eral Prod­ucts’ Tricks of the Trade”.↩︎

  109. Yoshiyuki Tomino (1941–) Fa­mous anime di­rec­tor and cre­ator of Kido Sen­shi Gun­dam (“Mo­bile Suit Gun­dam”). Also di­rected the movie (“Char’s Coun­ter­at­tack”). GAINAX par­tic­i­pated in the pro­duc­tion of this film by con­tribut­ing me­chan­i­cal de­signs.↩︎

  110. Mamoru Nagano (1960–) Manga artist and il­lus­tra­tor. His big break came when he did the char­ac­ter and me­chan­i­cal de­signs for (“Heavy Metal L-Gaim”). His se­ri­al­ized man­ga, The Five Star Sto­ries, has an en­er­getic fan base and is now a well-estab­lished ti­tle. The Mor­tar Headd mecha ap­pear­ing in the story have be­come a sta­ple among garage kit mak­ers, and even con­tributed to the de­vel­op­ment and so­phis­ti­ca­tion of the model in­dus­try and its prod­ucts.↩︎

  111. Event which pro­moted the the­atri­cal re­lease of . Okada and I made an ap­pear­ance there as the “Devil Twins”, spoofing the twin char­ac­ters from the movie. Our per­for­mance, which in­cluded an omi­nous dance (com­plete with theme song), is em­bar­rass­ing to think about even now. Some­times peo­ple still ask me to come to their meet­ings as a guest of honor be­cause they’ll be show­ing video footage of the Ideon Fes­ti­val. Oh, how I’d love to stran­gle them…↩︎

  112. Toshi­hiko Nishi­gaki (1959–) A for­mer mem­ber of the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity Sci-Fi club. It was Nishi­gaki who was ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for get­ting his club in­volved with DAICON. While in high school he was a mem­ber of the rugby team, but even though he is tall and built like a house, he is also a very good-na­tured per­son, a gen­tle gi­ant, so to speak. Ya­naran from Wings of Hon­neamise was mod­eled after him. His fam­ily owned an em­broi­dery busi­ness in Os­aka, which yielded many busi­ness con­nec­tions that he used to the great ben­e­fit of Gen­eral Prod­ucts and the DAICON pro­jects. Nishi­gaki was ap­pointed head of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee for the 22nd Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion (DAICON 4). He grad­u­ated from col­lege a whole eight years after en­rolling. He cur­rently works for a semi­-con­duc­tor firm.↩︎

  113. The 22nd an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion was held at Os­aka Ko­seinenkin Hall in 1983. The 4,000 or so in at­ten­dance marked an al­l-time high for the event. The site was arranged as an off­world colony, and at­ten­dees were treated as im­mi­grants to the plan­et. The colony was planned to the last de­tail, from the cre­ation of an “au­then­tic” broad­cast sta­tion, right down to the print­ing of lo­cal cur­ren­cy. The two years spent prepar­ing for the event, cou­pled with the pro­duc­tion of three films in the in­ter­im, re­sulted in a very highly trained staff that helped make this rich and com­plex event a big suc­cess.↩︎

  114. A movie pro­duc­tion group es­tab­lished to pro­mote DAICON 4, and serve as a train­ing ground for the staff. The head mem­bers of this group were for the most part the same peo­ple who made up the DAICON 4 ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. How­ev­er, DAICON FILM con­tin­ued to make movies well after the event was over. Form­ing right after the end of DAICON 3, the group pro­duced two anime shorts and six spe­cial effects films in four years.↩︎

  115. A group of sci-fi artists es­tab­lished in 1974. Among its mem­bers are , , Haruka Takachi­ho, and Kenichi Mat­suza­ki. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, their ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded il­lus­tra­tion, movie plan­ning and con­cep­tual sci-fi de­sign work, as well as writ­ing nov­els and scripts. They’ve ex­erted an enor­mous in­flu­ence in the realms of anime and spe­cial effects films. Just like GAINAX and Gen­eral Prod­ucts, this group started as a club of col­lege bud­dies. The work Anno and the oth­ers had done on the DAICON 3 open­ing an­i­ma­tion caught the at­ten­tion of Stu­dio Nue, who in­vited them to Tokyo to help out with the pro­duc­tion of the TV anime Cho­jiku Yo­sai Macross.↩︎

  116. A TV anime cre­ated by Stu­dio Nue that aired in 1982. It was am­bi­tious for a sci-fi ani­me, com­bin­ing var­i­ous plot el­e­ments, like a love tri­an­gle, an idol singer and of trans­form­ing into ro­bots. Many tal­ented but in­ex­pe­ri­enced young cre­ators took part in the pro­ject, and the footage they pro­duced was top-notch. On the flip side, the pro­duc­tion site was chaotic and dis­or­ga­nized, and the la­bor short­age made some episodes rather painful to watch. A movie ver­sion was pro­duced in 1984, and other se­quels to the show are avail­able in var­i­ous for­mats.↩︎

  117. Okada, Ani­mer­ica:

    Okada: He [Ya­m­a­ga] was on the staff of the Daicon III Open­ing Ani­me. At first, Hideaki Anno and Takami Akai were the only two peo­ple on its main staff–Anno drew the mecha and the spe­cial effects, and Akai drew the char­ac­ters and most of the mo­tion. But then Ya­m­aga ap­peared, and said he’d do the back­grounds. Then they all went off to Art­land to study pro­fes­sional film­mak­ing, and worked on the orig­i­nal MACROSS TV se­ries. Anno stud­ied mecha de­sign, and Akai had wanted to do char­ac­ters, but he could­n’t be­cause Haruhiko Miki­moto al­ready had such an ad­vanced tech­nique. So when Akai re­al­ized he would­n’t get the op­por­tu­nity to do any­thing on MACROSS, he went back to Os­a­ka. And it was there that Ya­m­aga learned how to di­rec­t–his teacher was Noboru Ishig­uro [see ANIMERICA, Vol. 3, No. 8, for de­tails on Ishig­uro’s leg­endary ca­reer in ani­me–Ed.], Ya­m­aga de­signed the sto­ry­boards for the open­ing cred­its of MACROSS.


  118. Mahiro Maeda (1963–) Maeda had known Takami Akai in high school (both from the same town, in ), and had also worked with Yoshiyuki Sadamo­to, on the set of Macross, so he was a nat­ural ad­di­tion to the DAICON 4 open­ing staff. Lat­er, he was em­ployed by GAINAX and us­ing his ex­cel­lent de­sign skills, laid the ground­work for Fushigi no Umi no Na­dia (“Na­dia: The Se­cret of Blue Wa­ter”). After leav­ing GAINAX, Maeda be­came a key player for , and went on to di­rect such cut­ting-edge works as . His hand­i­work also ap­pears in var­i­ous spe­cial effects ti­tles, like and Ul­tra­man Pow­ered, in which he did the char­ac­ter de­signs for the mon­sters.↩︎

  119. Hi­roshi Ya­m­aguchi (1963–) A scriptwriter who has worked on projects such as , Shin­seiki Evan­ge­lion and (“Blue Sub­ma­rine No. 6”). Takami Akai, Mahiro Maeda and he are all from the same home­town and re­main very good friends. After com­ing to Tokyo as an an­i­ma­tor and later gain­ing ex­pe­ri­ence as an ed­i­tor for Stu­dio Hard, he dis­tin­guished him­self as a screen­writer. As far as char­ac­ters, he can eas­ily han­dle any­thing from the geeky goofi­ness of a hard­core otaku to the calm, steely com­po­sure of a hard­boiled de­tec­tive. Be­fore mov­ing to Tokyo, he helped out with the pro­duc­tion of Aikoku Sen­tai Dainip­pon. In­ci­den­tal­ly, he’s also the one who got Shinji Higuchi in­volved with DAICON FILM.↩︎

  120. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (1962–) Manga artist and char­ac­ter de­sign­er. He ac­tu­ally made his de­but as a manga artist while he was still a uni­ver­sity stu­dent. Also dur­ing his ca­reer at , he and his un­der­class­man Mahiro Maeda man­aged to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­duc­tion of Macross. And lat­er, Sadamoto had a hot Os­aka sum­mer when he, Ya­m­aga and Anno were brought onto the DAICON 4 staff. After grad­u­a­tion, he went to work for , and helped to man­u­fac­ture prod­ucts mainly in­tended for for­eign mar­kets. How­ev­er, hav­ing di­rected Hon­neamise, Sadamoto played an im­por­tant role in the found­ing of GAINAX. In­ci­den­tal­ly, he is also in love with Eu­ro­pean au­to­mo­biles.↩︎

  121. Sadamoto later told his story about meet­ing Hideaki Anno through the Macross pro­duc­tion & Maeda in the “Yoshiyuki Sadamo­to’s First Meet­ing With Di­rec­tor Anno” sec­tion of the book Schizo.↩︎

  122. The trav­el­ing hero (played by yours tru­ly, Ya­suhiro Takeda him­self) that was the in­spi­ra­tion for the ti­tle of this book. It was made for video in 1982, and it has be­come my sig­na­ture per­for­mance. Once I vis­ited a client, and the re­cep­tion­ist said, “Hey, it’s Notenki!” That anec­dote has be­come a fa­vorite joke among some of my friends. The plot of the film re­volves around a pri­vate eye named Ken Hayakawa whose best friend Goro Asuka was killed by the evil or­ga­ni­za­tion of Backer. Ken vows to avenge his friend by trans­form­ing him­self into Kaiketsu Noten­ki. It was a di­rect rip-off of Kaiketsu Zu­bat (see next note). Kaiketsu Notenki was pro­duced as a fun project be­tween the two tir­ing pro­duc­tions of Dainip­pon and Ul­tra­man. The movie was a no-brain­er—we made it to re­lax. We were young.↩︎

  123. A spe­cial effects su­per­hero TV se­ries cre­ated by Toei in 1977, star­ring as a pri­vate eye named Ken Hayakawa, whose best friend Goro Asuka was killed by the evil or­ga­ni­za­tion of Dakker. Ken wears re­in­forced suits of the kind de­vel­oped for space ex­plo­ration, and be­comes Kaiketsu Zu­bat to avenge his friend. De­spite be­ing such a low-bud­get show, the dar­ing story and vi­sual arrange­ments were well-re­ceived by some en­thu­si­as­tic fans. Kaiketsu Notenki was cre­ated as a spoof of the show after Anno showed a Zu­bat video to Toshio Oka­da.↩︎

  124. Hi­roshi Miyauchi (1954–) Ac­tor who played such roles as Shiro Kazami from , Akira Shin­mei (the “Blue Ranger”) from , Sou­kichi Banba from , and let us not for­get… Ken Hayakawa from Kaiketsu Zu­bat! Mr. Miyauchi seems to ex­ude an aura of hero­ism.↩︎

  125. Most self­-pro­duced movies to­day are filmed on video, but in the early 1980s, dom­i­nat­ed. One film cas­sette lasts for 3 min­utes, and costs about $10, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ment. The film can’t be re­viewed with­out first be­ing de­vel­oped, so you have no sec­ond changes with each shot. 8mm is much more diffi­cult to use than a video cam­era, mak­ing the film­ing ex­pe­ri­ence far more stress­ful.↩︎

  126. Kaiketsu Notenki was filmed with a , which had just been re­leased on the mar­ket. Al­though it was pur­port­edly “handy”, the cam­era it­self weighed more than 22lbs, and the bat­tery only lasted 20 min­utes. Still, pro­duc­tion costs were much cheaper than with 8mm, and film­ing with the cam­era was so easy that even in­ex­pe­ri­enced stu­dents could take turns di­rect­ing and film­ing movies in a pretty laid-back at­mos­phere.↩︎

  127. See the con­ven­tion re­port sec­tion for pic­ture. —Ed­i­tor.↩︎

  128. This self­-pro­duced film (the name means “Pa­tri­otic Rangers of the Great Na­tion of Japan”) di­rected by Takami Akai was pro­duced by DAICON FILM in 1982. As the ti­tle sug­gests, it was a spoof of Toei’s Sen­tai (su­per­hero team) se­ries. It was shown at the Tokon 8 in 1982 as a way of pro­mot­ing DAICON 4, which would be held the fol­low­ing year. This am­a­teur movie was ap­pre­ci­ated for its re­al­is­tic ex­plo­sions and minia­tures. As you might guess from the ti­tle, the char­ac­ters were pretty crudely named, and the story was a no-brain­er. How­ev­er, we were puz­zled as to why some sci-fi clubs re­acted to our film with anger… [Clips can be seen on YouTube: “愛國戦隊大日本”. —Ed­i­tor]↩︎

  129. Shuichi Hayashi (1962–) Mem­ber of the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity Sci-Fi Club, orig­i­nally from Kyushu. He is a very hot-blooded in­di­vid­ual. He joined our group just after DAICON 3 end­ed, and starred in DAICON FILM’s Aikoku Sen­tai Dainip­pon and Ul­tra­man. Dur­ing DAICON 4, he also played a cen­tral role as our stage man­ag­er. After that, he re­sumed his stud­ies and went on to be­come the head of R&D for a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals com­pa­ny.↩︎

  130. See also the anime _. —Ed­i­tor.↩︎

  131. Akira Hori (1944–) Though his pri­mary oc­cu­pa­tion is work­ing for an en­gi­neer­ing firm, he is also a hard­core sci-fi en­thu­si­ast and highly es­teemed sci-fi au­thor. Taiy­ou­fuu Kouten and Baby­lon­ian Wave are two of his great­est works. Since he is an alum­nus of Os­aka Uni­ver­si­ty, we used that con­nec­tion to force him into the film­ing of Aikoku Sen­tai Dainip­pon. We had the honor of cast­ing this most il­lus­tri­ous in­di­vid­ual as Gen­eral Fu­jiya­ma, but he would later re­quest that we cut this scene.↩︎

  132. Toei’s first sen­tai (su­per­hero team as in , etc.) TV se­ries was , which came out in 1975. All the shows in the se­ries fea­tured five (oc­ca­sion­ally three) de­fend­ers of jus­tice in col­or­ful cos­tumes fight­ing against evil. As of 2002, 26 se­ries had been pro­duced. Aikoku Sen­tai Dainip­pon mim­ic­ked the plot of shows in this genre.↩︎

  133. Dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of Aikoku Sen­tai Dainip­pon, we de­cided the cli­max would re­quire some ex­plo­sives. We asked an­other film pro­duc­tion group for help in cre­at­ing the ex­plo­sions, but the re­sults did­n’t look very con­vinc­ing, so we ended up mak­ing our own in­stead. It must be against the law to do some­thing like that, but the statue of lim­i­ta­tions should have ex­pired by now… I hope! There were many mis­steps in the ex­plo­sion-mak­ing process of the Dainip­pon pro­duc­tion, but we went on to do Ul­tra­man, and by the time we be­gan work on Orochi, we had re­ally got­ten the hang of it and fi­nally achieved the re­sults we were look­ing for.↩︎

  134. Toshio Okada dis­cussed ex­plo­sives with Neil Nadel­man of fanzine The Rose: “Want to know the se­cret of mak­ing good live-ac­tion effects movies? Gun­pow­der bombs. But to make them re­ally good you need to use gaso­line, for the nice ex­plo­sions. Yes folks, here was a man telling us how to make bombs for fun and film.” —Ed­i­tor↩︎

  135. The 21st an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion held at Ni­hon Toshi Cen­ter in Tokyo in 1982. The num­ber of at­ten­dees was about 1,500. Like DAICON 3, Tokon 8 was a large, well-or­ga­nized con­ven­tion run­ning both stage per­for­mances and side sem­i­nars. The fol­low­ing year’s plans (for DAICON 4) would be fi­nal­ized at this con­ven­tion, so many mem­bers of our staff at­tended the con to pro­mote our group. After the cos­tume show (the fi­nal event of the con), we screened Aikoku Sen­tai Dainip­pon and fol­lowed it up with our own live per­for­mance.↩︎

  136. This self­-pro­duced tokusatsu film was com­pleted by DAICON FILM in 1983. It was di­rected by Hideaki Anno and the spe­cial effects were su­per­vised by Takami Akai. It was a se­ri­ous spe­cial effects movie based on Tsub­u­raya Pro­duc­tion’s Ul­tra­man. The film fea­tures an im­pres­sive story con­cept, backed by a com­pli­cated script and con­vinc­ing spe­cial effects. Anno played the role of Ul­tra­man with­out any make­up. Pro­duc­tion be­gan at the same time as the Dainip­pon and Notenki films (which would be shown at the Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion in the sum­mer), but we were tak­ing such great pains in pro­duc­ing Ul­tra­man we were afraid it would­n’t be pos­si­ble to fin­ish it and Dainip­pon at the same time. Thus, Ul­tra­man was pushed off un­til the fol­low­ing spring. And thinks to Tsub­u­raya Pro­duc­tion’s gen­eros­i­ty, our ver­sion of Kaet­tekita Ul­tra­man is now avail­able on DVD from GAINAX. [Ex­cerpts are avail­able on YouTube, such as “戦え!ウル○ラマン カラオケ” or DAICON FILM—愛國戰隊大日本&メイキング映像”. —Ed­i­tor]↩︎

  137. This is re­fer­ring to “Shin-Con”, the 14th an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion, held in Kobe in 1975. Ya­su­taka Tsut­sui was mak­ing a name for him­self as a pro­fes­sional writer, and the pro­duc­tion of the con was a la­bor of love for him. How­ev­er, he ap­pointed some­one else to the task of man­ag­ing the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. The ob­ject of the Con was to pro­mote and fa­mil­iar­ize peo­ple with sci-fi, and events in­cluded a talk by com­edy sto­ry­teller Be­i­cho Kat­sura, a jazz per­for­mance from and a drama scripted by Tsut­sui him­self. It was very en­joy­able. The num­ber of at­ten­dees was about 1000, which at the time was very high, ex­ceed­ing all pre­vi­ous cons and a few that were still to come.↩︎

  138. Okada, Ani­mer­ica:

    ANIMERICA: So after Anno and Ya­m­aga worked on MACROSS, what hap­pened?

    Okada: They went back to Os­aka, in 1983, to make the Daicon IV Open­ing An­i­ma­tion. Of course, those peo­ple on the MACROSS staff, who would later be­come very im­por­tant peo­ple in the in­dus­try, were quite an­gry with them. But, as Anno and Ya­m­aga ex­plained to Ishig­uro and Shoji Kawamori, they had to go back to Os­aka so they could make am­a­teur films again. [LAUGHS] At first, the plan for Daicon IV Open­ing Anime was to make a fifteen-minute short in 16mm. I liked the screen­play–no di­a­logue–but the idea of por­tray­ing an orig­i­nal world, well, that was the be­gin­ning of what would even­tu­ally be­come THE WINGS OF HONNEAMISE. We thought we were strong enough to take on such a pro­ject, but Ya­m­aga could­n’t deal with the sto­ry­boards, and Anno could­n’t deal with the an­i­ma­tion–in the end, it was just im­pos­si­ble. So we quit, and de­cided to make the five-min­ute, 8mm film that be­came the Daicon IV Open­ing An­i­ma­tion. But when that was done, it was quite nat­ural that Ya­m­aga and I be­gan to talk about the orig­i­nal plan, with the idea of mak­ing that film in a pro­fes­sional way. At that time, we were think­ing of WINGS as a 30-minute movie.


  139. This old build­ing, lo­cated near Mori­nomiya, was man­aged by a la­bor union of ap­parel man­u­fac­tur­ers in Os­a­ka. We were able to rent an empty floor for the sum­mer, thanks to one of Nishi­gak­i’s (the ex­ec­u­tive man­ager of DAICON 4) con­nec­tions. Be­cause of its con­ve­nient lo­ca­tion, we often held meet­ings there. The prob­lem was that the build­ing closed in the evening, so our staff had to work through the night locked in­side, en­dur­ing the sum­mer heat as there was no air con­di­tion­ing.↩︎

  140. A movie pro­duced by DAICON FILM from around the end of 1981 through Jan­u­ary 1982. The first Notenki was filmed on video cam­era, but this sec­ond movie was done on 8mm. The short win­ter days lim­ited the amount of time we had to film, so if you make a movie with a lot of out­door sce­nes, I don’t rec­om­mend do­ing it in the win­ter. I played the main role, ended up get­ting sick, and still had to work at the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store, so I was com­pletely ex­hausted the en­tire time. The sup­ple­men­tal ti­tle for this film was Mi­natomachi Jun­jo­hen (“A Har­bor Town Tale of Un­spoiled Emo­tions”).↩︎

  141. In 1982, DAICON FILM pro­duced a pup­pet movie ti­tled Hayauchi Ken no Dai­bo­ken (“The Great Ad­ven­tures of Quick­-Draw Ken”). It was a live-ac­tion movie with pup­pets. Nu­mer­ous scenes re­quired spe­cial effects, so we rented a house near the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store and used that as our effects stu­dio. Anno and Akai opted not to par­tic­i­pate in this movie or Notenki 2, in or­der to give the younger staff an op­por­tu­nity to hone their skills. The film was made after DAICON 4, when the staff’s morale was start­ing to de­cline, and con­se­quent­ly, there was no push to pro­duce a se­quel.↩︎

  142. Mon­ster movie di­rected by Takami Akai, which was pro­duced by DAICON FILM in 1985. Set in Akai’s home­town of Yon­ago, its plot cen­ters on a myth­i­cal mon­ster named Ya­mata no Orochi (“eight-headed dragon”) that tram­ples the city. This marked the pin­na­cle of DAICON FILM’s pro­duc­tion his­to­ry, and was filmed us­ing in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive 16mm film. The movie it­self was hard to make be­cause of the ever-ex­panded scale of pro­duc­tion and the short­age of staff. Even­tu­al­ly, we ran out of money and were forced to ac­cept fi­nan­cial sup­port from , who later dis­trib­uted this movie on video. The DVD ver­sion is cur­rently avail­able through GAINAX.↩︎

  143. Kenichi Son­oda (1962–) Manga artist. He is well-known for his re­cent ti­tles (“Can­non God Ex­axxion”) and . I first met him while he was still a stu­dent at Os­aka Uni­ver­si­ty. He came to Gen­eral Prod­ucts hop­ing to con­sign some of his dou­jin­shi fan man­ga. For a while, he also worked part-time for our store, as­sist­ing with prod­uct de­vel­op­ment. He later moved to Tokyo and went on to be­come char­ac­ter de­signer for and , as well as an in­de­pen­dent manga artist. One ques­tion that often comes up re­gard­ing this au­thor is how the char­ac­ters in his manga can seem so in­tel­li­gent and wise, while the au­thor him­self is such a sleaze. His nick­name is Sonoy­an.↩︎

  144. Toshio Okada, Ani­mer­ica:

    ANIMERICA: What ex­actly did Kenichi Son­oda do on WINGS?

    Okada: Kenichi Son­oda de­signed some of the ‘sin town’, the plea­sure town.

    ANIMERICA: That sounds like a good job for him.

    Okada: [LAUGHS] Nice, yes. He made lots of de­signs for it. At first, he was sup­posed to be one of the main me­chan­i­cal de­sign­er. But I could­n’t use his mecha de­signs be­cause they were too fan­tas­tic. So Ya­m­aga told him we could­n’t use his de­signs, and he asked what he could do in­stead. And Ya­m­aga said, “You…m­m­m…­maybe you’d…­maybe you’d like the plea­sure town?” Then Son­oda’s de­signs were very good! [LAUGHS] He de­signed every­thing there, and we looked them over and we were like…okay! Okay! OKAY! His most fa­mous de­sign was a shop front with a canopy like a skirt, and columns like wom­en’s legs.

    In his 2003 visit to MIT, Eri Izawa records Okada as say­ing:

    “If Amer­i­can am­a­teurs were to make anime with com­put­ers, the on­line equiv­a­lent of dou­jin­shi man­ga, what would the Japan­ese com­mu­nity re­ac­tion be? Mr. Okada thought”They would prob­a­bly be hap­py." How­ev­er, one big differ­ence is that Japan­ese cre­ators don’t worry about copy­rights (un­like in the U.S.). Most man­gaka re­mem­ber copy­ing their fa­vorite au­thors when they were start­ing out, so they don’t feel they can com­plain. Only high level pub­lish­ing or anime stu­dio ex­ec­u­tives tend to com­plain about copy­right vi­o­la­tions. In fact, Mr. Kenichi Son­oda, who writes the “Bub­blegum Cri­sis” man­ga, ap­par­ently likes re­ceiv­ing dou­jin­shi of his work, in­clud­ing erotic dou­jin­shi de­pict­ing his char­ac­ters in sex­ual sit­u­a­tions. “How lucky I am to be able to read this with­out hav­ing to write it my­self!” is his ap­par­ent at­ti­tude."


  145. Masamune Shi­row (1961–) Manga au­thor with a large fol­low­ing. He typ­i­cally puts out a low vol­ume of very high­-qual­ity work, and his style is char­ac­ter­ized by skill­ful­ly-wrought il­lus­tra­tions and well-de­tailed worlds. Among his more fa­mous works are and (“Ghost in the Shell”). When he was still a stu­dent at the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts, he used to bring his dou­jin­shi ver­sions of Ap­ple­seed (only a fan work back then) in for con­sign­ment at the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store. Shi­row also de­signed the air­craft the main char­ac­ters fly in GAINAX’s PC com­bat flight sim­u­la­tor Aoki Uru (“Blue Uru”). [See later com­ment about Aoki Uru. —Ed­i­tor.]↩︎

  146. See pre­vi­ous Okada Ani­mer­ica ex­cerpt; Okada dates the gen­e­sis of Wings a bit ear­lier:

    ANIMERICA: How did Ya­m­aga have the idea for WINGS in the first place? Was it a short sto­ry, or was it al­ways go­ing to be a movie…?

    Okada: Well, some­times a good idea…no, not just some­times. Good ideas al­ways flash–just flash–you don’t know how, or why, it just comes–and a not-so-good-idea is the kind that comes from only think­ing, think­ing, think­ing, and writ­ing, writ­ing, writ­ing. I don’t know where the idea for that first 15-minute con­cept came from; it just flashed. It might have come dur­ing one evening we spent sleep­ing in­side this an­cient tem­ple in Tokyo with the Daicon IV an­i­ma­tion and con­ven­tion staff. We were talk­ing about, what kind of film we would like to make, and I said some­thing like, “Hm­m­mm…flash…haaaaaaaa!” And some­one else said, “Oh, yes that’s good…haaaaaaa!” [LAUGHS] and then we were all say­ing “haaaaaaaa!” And so the fifteen-minute con­cept was com­plet­ed. It’s like I said, there was no pro­duc­er, or di­rec­tor, or an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tor–just friends who loved an­i­ma­tion and sci­ence fic­tion. That’s all.


  147. GAINAX’s first movie, re­leased in 1987. It was also the first the­atri­cal film Bandai ever pro­duced. It was scripted and di­rected by Hi­royuki Ya­m­a­ga. Yoshiyuki Sadamoto cre­ated the char­ac­ters, and to­gether with Hideaki Anno di­rected the an­i­ma­tion. On staff were some very well-known in­di­vid­u­als, though they were all novices back then. They were later joined by Shinji Higuchi and Takami Akai, who had just fin­ished Orochi. The mu­sic was com­posed by [see next foot­note —Ed­i­tor] and the sound effects were done by vet­eran sound en­gi­neer At­sumi Tashiro. Most peo­ple read­ing this book have prob­a­bly seen the film.↩︎

  148. Okada, Ani­mer­ica:

    "ANIMERICA: Con­cern­ing the mu­sic, why did you want to have Ryuichi Sakamoto for WINGS’s mu­sic? Were you a fan of his?

    Okada: No, no. [LAUGHS]

    ANIMERICA: You just thought he’d be good?

    Okada: It’s not that, but…in Japan, at that time, he was the only choice for an orig­i­nal movie sound­track.

    Ani­mer­i­ca: Why do you say that?

    Okada: Com­posers for or­di­nary anime mu­sic can make a pop song, some­thing in the enka [Japan­ese “coun­try mu­sic”–Ed.] style–you know, just songs, like an open­ing theme. But they can’t do or­ches­tra­tion, or a sad melody like “Leiqun­ni’s Theme”. I did­n’t re­ally like Sakamo­to’s style back then, or even now. But I know his tal­ent, his abil­ity to con­struct a strong score, and write an en­tire or­ches­tra­tion. That’s why I chose him.

    ANIMERICA: Why not, for ex­am­ple, Jo Hi­saishi, who com­poses the scores for Miyaza­k­i’s films?

    Okada: Jo Hi­saishi al­ways writes one or two melodies, and the rest of the sound­track is con­structed around them. You can see that in NAUSICAA and LAPUTA. But his kind of style would­n’t have worked for WINGS. As I said–­for bet­ter or for worse, the film has a very differ­en­ti­ated struc­ture, and we needed a score to match that. So I told Sakamo­to, “Don’t make the sound­track all by your­self. You should di­rect it, but get a staff with real mu­si­cal tal­ent, young or old, and in­cor­po­rate their work.”"


  149. Toshio Okada, “Con­science of the Otak­ing, part 4”, Ani­mer­ica:

    Okada: Okay, you should un­der­stand that in Gainax, no one ever refers to this film as THE WINGS OF HONNEAMISE. To them, its one and only ti­tle is its orig­i­nal one, ORITSU UCHUGUN–”THE ROYAL SPACE FORCE“. But Bandai said to us,”If you re­ally want to call it that, it’s fine–but we’ll stop our in­volve­ment with it." So, we had to think about an­other ti­tle.

    ANIMERICA: Bandai thought it was a bad ti­tle?

    Okada: For them, a good ti­tle is NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF WIND. [LAUGHS] That’s a real ti­tle for an anime movie. It should be, “Some­thing of Some­thing”.

    Okada: Yes, it’s French, but it does­n’t mean any­thing. [LAUGHS] When they or­dered us to come up with an­other ti­tle, all we could think was that we were go­ing to make an ut­terly mean­ing­less ti­tle, “Hon­neamise”–mean­ing noth­ing.

    ANIMERICA: Well, was­n’t the name of Shi­ro’s king­dom, “Hon­nea­mano”?

    Okada: Yes, but we came up with that after the new ani­me. –“Oh, THE WINGS OF HONNEAMISE…? What is Hon­neamise? Ah! Oh yes, it’s the coun­try’s name!” [LAUGHS]

    Okada: Yeah. Mr. Ya­m­aga was drink­ing some whiskey, and think­ing, “Oh, yes,–the mean­ing!” The pub­lic­ity peo­ple had told him that his new ti­tle had to have some kind of story be­hind it. He said to them, “Oh, yes–but–but–I’ll have to have some drinks be­fore I can come up with one!” [LAUGHS] And they said “Ohh­h­hhkay!” That’s al­l."


  150. The 24th an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion held in Ni­igata in 1985, known as the Gat­a­con Spe­cial Sum­mer Fes­ti­val. The rea­son for the “Spe­cial” was be­cause it was the Gat­a­con fes­ti­val’s 10th an­niver­sary. There were about 1,300 peo­ple in at­ten­dance.↩︎

  151. This an­nual award was first pre­sented in 1970. It des­ig­nates the year’s finest work of sci­ence fic­tion, and is awarded at the Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion. There are eight cat­e­gories, rang­ing from short and long nov­els to comics and vi­sual cre­ations in var­i­ous other me­dia. The at­ten­dees of the con­ven­tion vote for the best work in each cat­e­go­ry. Next to the Ni­hon SF Taisho Award, it is per­haps the most pres­ti­gious award in the realm of sci-fi. (In­ci­den­tal­ly, the Ni­hon SF Taisho Award was es­tab­lished in 1980, and the win­ners are de­ter­mined by a group of pro­fes­sion­al­s.) In 1982, the DAICON 3 open­ing an­i­ma­tion re­ceived more votes than any­thing else, but the Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion dis­qual­i­fied it.↩︎

  152. Kazuyoshi Kak­izaki Orig­i­nally from Ni­igata Pre­fec­ture, he is a hard­core sci-fi fan, and one of the so-called “BNFs” (Big Name Fan­s). Un­like most of the area sci-fi elite, he was ac­tu­ally a good friend of mine and the rest of the DAICON 3 and 4 staffs. He was very tall, stand­ing over six feet. He was also a very open-hearted in­di­vid­u­al, and the ladies re­ally feel for him. When asked why he got in­volved with the DAICON staff, he replied “Be­cause all sorts of prob­lems just seem to crop up around those guys. It makes things more en­ter­tain­ing.” He was the model for a char­ac­ter (also named Kak­iza­ki) who ap­peared in Cho­jiku Yo­sai Macross.↩︎

  153. Shinji Maki (1959–) Sci-fi re­searcher and crit­ic. He is fa­mous for his col­lec­tion of old and rare sci-fi nov­els. Maki was the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral of the Japan Sci-Fi Fan Group As­so­ci­a­tion Com­mit­tee when I an­nounced my can­di­dacy for Chair­man.↩︎

  154. As garage kits came to be more widely rec­og­nized, the num­ber of garage-kit mak­ers in­creased and many lo­cal hobby stores started re­leas­ing kits un­der their own brand name. Book­store own­ers and avid read­ers don’t tend to write their own nov­els, but in con­trast, hob­by­store own­ers and avid hob­by­ists love to make mod­els. For these pricey kits, a maker need only place two or three mag­a­zine ads. The mar­ket es­tab­lished by Gen­eral Prod­ucts and Kaiy­odo is now boom­ing, thanks to some small stores in Shikoku and Kanaza­wa, as well as con­tin­ued en­thu­si­asm from mod­el­ing clubs.↩︎

  155. The Won­der Fes­ti­val is like a flea mar­ket for garage kits. The event or­ga­nizer takes care of the li­cens­ing is­sues so that am­a­teurs can sell their garage kits (of copy­righted sub­jects) on the day of the event. This spot-li­cens­ing sys­tem was first seen at Won­der Fes­ti­val. Only in the garage kit mar­ket are in­di­vid­u­als al­lowed to com­pete on equal ground with the ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers. The Won­der Fes­ti­val con­tributed to the ex­pan­sion of the garage kit in­dus­try by pro­vid­ing an op­por­tu­nity for both pros and am­a­teurs to show off their wares side by side.↩︎

  156. Shigeru Watan­abe (1957–) A pro­ducer who is also on the board of di­rec­tors for . We met when Gen­eral Prod­ucts was still in busi­ness. At the time, Mr. Watan­abe was in­volved in prod­uct plan­ning for Bandai, and worked on such projects as the “Real Hobby Se­ries”, a line of fig­urines mar­keted to­ward hard­core en­thu­si­asts. He is also the one who arranged for Bandai to help fund the pro­duc­tion of our first the­atri­cal anime re­lease. If it had­n’t been for him, Okada and Ya­m­a­ga’s dream of pro­duc­ing a fea­ture length mo­tion pic­ture might never have been re­al­ized. For a time, he was ac­tu­ally the pres­i­dent of Bandai Vi­su­al, but vol­un­tar­ily stepped down be­cause he “[want­ed] to make ani­me, to be at the heart of the cre­ative process.” It was a move that made him fa­mous through­out the in­dus­try. He is truly a man of char­ac­ter. In­ci­den­tal­ly, he is the same age as me, and the two of us have gone out drink­ing to­gether many times.↩︎

  157. A Bandai-pro­duced se­ries of plas­tic mod­els that in­cluded Daima­jin, Ul­tra­man and Gam­era. Con­sid­er­ing the choice of sub­jects, the un­painted parts, and large vol­ume of ref­er­ence ma­te­ri­als, these kits were de­signed specifi­cally for hard­core fans.↩︎

  158. Makoto Ya­mashina The sec­ond pres­i­dent of Bandai Co. Lt­d., one of the largest toy man­u­fac­tur­ers in the world. He is the com­pa­ny’s cur­rent chair­man, and is re­spon­si­ble for tak­ing it for­ward into the real of vi­sual me­dia. It is largely through his efforts that Japan’s anime in­dus­try has pros­pered.↩︎

  159. Short for “Orig­i­nal Video An­i­ma­tion”. OVA is straight-to-video anime in­tended to be sold through re­tail, in­stead of air­ing on TV or screen­ing in the­aters. OVAs tend to be tar­geted at hard­core fans who have high ex­pec­ta­tions of qual­i­ty. The first prod­uct of this kind was ’s , re­leased by Bandai. Among GAINAX’s OVA ti­tles are Top of Ner­ae! (“Gun­buster”) and FLCL.

    [Takeda’s ac­count here seems to di­verge from that given by Ya­m­aga in 2010:

    "[In­ter­view­er:] You men­tioned at the Gainax his­tory panel that you went to Bandai and offered to do a Gun­dam OVA, which they turned down, be­fore they gave you money for Hon­neamise. What would that OVA have been about?

    [Ya­m­a­ga:] They brought out some Gun­dam Pla-Mo [plas­tic mod­el­s], and they had these char­ac­ters named Johnny Raiden and Shin Mat­suna­ga, and Johnny Raiden rode in a red Zaku just like [Azn­able], so I guess when peo­ple went to buy the Pla-Mo they thought it was Char be­cause it was red, but it ac­tu­ally was­n’t. So we went to Bandai and asked if we could have made an OVA based on those guys.

    [I:] In­ter­est­ing! Would you still do it to­day given the op­por­tu­ni­ty?

    [Y:] Back then there was only the orig­i­nal se­ries and peo­ple ac­tu­ally knew that prod­uct so it prob­a­bly would have been cool, but now no one knows it…"


  160. Shinji Higuchi (1965–) Di­rec­tor of tokusatsu or spe­cial effects shows, such as the Hei­sei Gam­era se­ries. He just sort of dropped in on DAICON FILM dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of Ya­mata no Orochi no Gyakushu and would end up liv­ing at the stu­dio for over a year, be­com­ing an es­sen­tial mem­ber of our spe­cial effects team. He is a self­-pro­claimed “dy­namic spe­cial effects nut”. Lat­er, he par­tic­i­pated in the pro­duc­tion of Wings of Hon­neamise and Gun­buster, and he di­rected Na­dia: The Se­cret of Blue Wa­ter, from the “Is­land” story arc on­ward. You could say he ex­ploded onto the scene, and he con­tin­ues to show great vi­sual savvy with spe­cial effects and ani­me. He’s a very pleas­ant and ap­proach­able char­ac­ter, and peo­ple re­fer to him as “Shin-chan”. As a mat­ter of fact, Evan­ge­lion’s main char­ac­ter, Shin­ji, is named after him. In­ci­den­tal­ly, he met his wife Noriko Higuchi (née Takaya) on the set of Hon­neamise. [Triv­ia: Higuchi as well as for­mer Gainaxer Maeda Mahiro is a lefty.]↩︎

  161. Showji Mu­ra­hama (1964–) Anime pro­ducer and CEO of Gonzo Digi­ma­tion Hold­ings (DGH). He was still a stu­dent when he joined our staff for DAICON 4 and Ya­mata no Orochi no Gyakushu. He later dropped out of col­lege and joined GAINAX, over­see­ing pro­duc­tion of Hon­neamise. After pro­duc­ing Na­dia, he left GAINAX along with Mahiro Maeda and Hi­roshi Ya­m­aguchi. The three went on to found Stu­dio Gonzo, which has re­leased many of its own ti­tles since.↩︎

  162. Takeshi Mori Anime writer/di­rec­tor. He as­sisted with the di­rec­tion of Na­dia: The Se­cret of Blue Wa­ter, and later joined Mu­ra­hama’s startup com­pa­ny, Gonzo. There, he di­rected the TV anime . He was also a part of many other pro­jects, in­clud­ing GAINAX’s Otaku no Video, which he di­rect­ed.↩︎

  163. This gen­eral per­cep­tion may be due to Bandai and its cor­po­rate al­lies mess­ing up the re­lease. Toshio Okada, “Con­science of the Otak­ing, part 4”, Ani­mer­ica:

    [Cap­tion top left: “IMAGE IS EVERYTHING WINGS’ ad cam­paign, as or­ches­trated by its pan­icked re­lease com­pa­ny, was mod­eled to make the film seem more like its suc­cess­ful pre­de­ces­sor, NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF WIND (shown above). Rather than a film about man’s first foray into space, the ads por­trayed WINGS as a sort of ro­mance/mys­ti­cal cru­sade to find a lost ‘holy book’ which would save the land.”]

    "ANIMERICA: There’s some­thing I’ve won­dered about for a long time. You know, the ads for the film had noth­ing to do with the ac­tual film!

    Okada: [LAUGHS] To­ho/­Towa was the dis­trib­u­tor of THE WINGS OF HONNEAMISE, and they did­n’t have any know-how, or sense of strat­egy to deal with the film. They han­dle com­e­dy, and com­edy ani­me–what you would call car­toons. And they were think­ing that this film must be an­other NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF WIND, be­cause NAUSICAA was the last “big anime hit”. But when they fi­nally saw WINGS, they re­al­ized it was not an­other NAUSICAA [PANICKED SCREAM] and they thought, “Okay, Okay…we’ll make it NAUSICAA in the pub­lic­ity cam­paign!” [LAUGHS]"


  164. The truth may never be known. What is known is that Bandai de­clined to fi­nance a se­quel (Aoki Uru was spon­sored by ; see Carl Horn’s “Speak­ing Once as They Re­turn: Gainax’s Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion), and as Takeda dis­cusses later, were quite fi­nan­cially cau­tious with, Gainax’s next pro­ject, Gun­buster. —Ed­i­tor↩︎

  165. A ful­l-size replica made of soft vinyl. The hel­met can ac­tu­ally be worn, but does not pro­vide ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion for mo­tor­cy­clists!↩︎

  166. One of the ma­te­ri­als used to man­u­fac­ture garage kits. It was orig­i­nally be­lieved that vinyl was too coarse to show much de­tail, and was thus deemed un­suit­able for mon­ster mod­els. How­ev­er, it was later proven that very fine de­tail re­ally could be achieved with this ma­te­r­i­al. The adop­tion of soft vinyl dras­ti­cally low­ered garage-kit prices—de­pend­ing on the type of vinyl, its cost can range from one-third to one-half that of epoxy resin.↩︎

  167. Ju­nichi Os­ako (1962–) Nov­el­ist and au­thor of Zoa Hunter, among other ti­tles. I met him while he was still at­tend­ing the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts. At that time, he was run­ning around from event to event, help­ing out with var­i­ous tasks. He later made his de­but as a manga au­thor while also do­ing some act­ing. He was a very ac­tive mem­ber of the sci-fi scene, and was even the man­ager of the Gen­eral Prod­ucts store dur­ing its trans­fer from Os­aka to Tokyo.↩︎

  168. Ap­par­ently a ani­me-fo­cused news pro­gram that airs on the Japan­ese TV chan­nel . —Ed­i­tor.↩︎

  169. “Japan­ese fan­dom (though per­haps a differ­ent part of it) also runs the Ankoku-Seiun awards (which can be trans­lated as”dark neb­u­las" or “an­ti-seiuns”). These are hu­mor­ous awards voted on by mem­bers of the Japan­ese na­tional SF con­ven­tion. The award web site (in Japan­ese) is here." Quoted from the ‘Seiun Awards’ en­try on the Sci­ence Fic­tion Awards Watch blog. —Ed­i­tor.↩︎

  170. This is what we called the old house GAINAX rented out for its Os­aka staff. It was lo­cated near our stu­dio. It was al­most empty after the com­ple­tion of the Oritsu Uchugun film, so when Gen­eral Prod­ucts was sud­denly re­lo­cated to Tokyo, many of the sin­gle male em­ploy­ees ended up liv­ing in this house to­geth­er.↩︎

  171. Toren Smith A fer­vent fan of Japan­ese manga and ani­me. He first came to Japan in 1986, along with sci-fi au­thor , who was at­tend­ing DAICON 5. He was ba­si­cally a strange Cana­dian free­load­er, who some­how ended up liv­ing at a rental house for GAINAX and Gen­eral Prod­ucts em­ploy­ees. He even­tu­ally mar­ried a Japan­ese girl and opened his own trans­la­tion com­pa­ny, , which pro­duces Eng­lish lan­guage ver­sions of Japan­ese comics and anime and sells them abroad. He now trav­els back and forth be­tween Japan and Amer­i­ca.↩︎

  172. For­mer Gen­eral Prod­ucts em­ployee Lea Her­nan­dez:

    LH: “Viz, among oth­ers. I was ac­tu­ally do­ing Uru­sei Yat­sura at the time. So I got to hear all these sto­ries about how”Uru­sei Yat­sura wrecked my life!" It seemed that for any­body who worked on it, it was like The Mon­key’s Paw. Bad things hap­pened. Peo­ple’s lives got fucked up while work­ing on Uru­sei Yat­sura. Every­body wanted it, and no­body who got it was hap­py. It was just the way things were go­ing at the time. And Toren told me, “You know, the guys from Gainax need some­one to run their Amer­i­can di­vi­sion. They want me to do it, and I don’t want to. Do you? And I’m like,”Yeah­h­h­hh! Yeah! I’ll live in San Fran­cis­co! And be a vice-pres­i­dent! And be rich! Yeah­h­h­h­h!"

    Carl Horn: “It does sound very Otaku no Video.”

    LH: “Yeah, some of it is ref­er­enced in Otaku no Video. Not very flat­ter­ing­ly, I might add. The gai­jin they”in­ter­view," “Shon Her­nan­dez” [the pseu­do­nym given to Craig York, an­other Amer­i­can who worked for Gen­eral Prod­uct­s], with his line, “Ah, to be born in this golden land!” Half of me was kind of flat­tered that they even re­mem­bered that I was there, since they seemed to want to for­get once I left, and half of me was like, “Fuck you! Fuck you, man! Fuck you fuck you fuck you!” ’Cause it was re­ally very in­sult­ing. They knew they had a live one in this fel­low Craig York. They knew they had a to­tal, to­tal geek. And they just turned on the cam­era and let him talk. And he was pour­ing out his heart, and they took the piss on him. I felt re­ally bad for Craig, and I was like, “You guys are re­ally be­ing dicks. This is re­ally very un­kind and very un­grate­ful. We all worked very, very hard for you. We were very sin­cere, and we wanted the com­pany to suc­ceed, and you’re just mak­ing fun of us.” I was a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ed."

  173. Carl Horn men­tions in a side­bar to “Con­science of the Otak­ing”, that in Gun­buster: “On board the Lux­ion, Noriko meets the friendly Smith Toren…say, does­n’t that sound fa­mil­iar? You guessed it, Noriko’s doomed love was named after none other than the al­ready leg­endary founder of Stu­dio Pro­teus, Toren Smith. Al­though Smith did not voice the role him­self, he did make his mark in anime his­tory as the voice of one of the bridge op­er­a­tors.” —Ed­i­tor↩︎

  174. We made a mu­sic video for a BOøWY song ti­tled “Mar­i­onette”. Hi­royuki Ki­takubo and Masa­haru Maeda di­rected it. Lat­er, we took part in the pro­duc­tion of the video for the song “Gui­tarhythm” by ex-BOøWY gui­tarist .↩︎

  175. An OVA based on Masamune Shi­row’s fu­tur­is­tic po­lice man­ga. GAINAX pro­duced the live-ac­tion footage (di­rected by Takami Akai) for a spe­cial fea­ture in­cluded on the DVD.↩︎

  176. Fuyuki Shi­nada (1959–) A pro­fes­sional mod­eler and garage kit mak­er. He de­signed the mon­ster suits used in the Hei­sei Gam­era se­ries. The ul­tra­-re­al­is­tic mod­els and cos­tumes he de­signed have won him many fans among the spe­cial effects crowd. He even­tu­ally opened his own stu­dio, named Vi-Shop.↩︎

  177. Manga au­thor whose works in­clude (“Yada­mon: Mag­i­cal Dreamer”) and Ma­rine Color. He also gained some ex­pe­ri­ence as an an­i­ma­tor when he worked on the pro­duc­tion of Wings of Hon­neamise. He comes across as an ex­tremely se­ri­ous per­son. He seems in­no­cent enough, but his some­times wildly in­sult­ing por­traits have caused the blood to drain from his sub­jects’ faces.↩︎

  178. Ya­suo Ot­suka (1931–) An an­i­ma­tor since the dawn of Japan­ese an­i­ma­tion. His name is now ubiq­ui­tous in the in­dus­try. He has worked as an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tor for ti­tles such as (“Ad­ven­tures of Ho­rus: Prince of the Sun”), (“Lupin the Third”), both the old TV se­ries and the movie, (“The Cas­tle of Cagliostro”), and (“Fu­ture Boy Co­nan”). He has ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles, es­pe­cially the jeeps used by the U.S. mil­i­tary, and has writ­ten about this sub­ject in great de­tail. GAINAX has pub­lished a CD-ROM pre­sent­ing a 50-year his­tory of the jeep, in­clud­ing many il­lus­tra­tions hand­picked by Ot­su­ka. He even pro­vided the nar­ra­tor for the re­lease. In­ci­den­tal­ly, Mr. Ot­suka is also Yoshiyuki Sadamo­to’s re­spected men­tor. [See also “Con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Ot­suka Ya­suo and Sadamoto Yoshiyuki” dis­cussing jeeps and the CD-ROM.]↩︎

  179. Okada, Ani­mer­ica:

    ANIMERICA: Did you write the screen­play for the next Gainax pro­duc­tion, AIM FOR THE TOP! GUNBUSTER?

    Okada: I wrote the base sto­ry, then I gave it to Ya­m­aga and told him to write the screen­play. And Ya­m­aga said, “Okay, this is my kind of work! But don’t hope fora good screen­play. I’m go­ing to make a stu­pid ro­bot­-girl ani­me.” [LAUGHS] I said, like…okay, okay, okay! Then he asked me what I would like. And I told him that I like space best as the set­ting for every­thing. We talked for more than three month­s…I talked, he asked, he talked, and I’d say no…no…no. Then he went back to Ni­igata, and about a week later he sent me his screen­play–and when I read it, I was laugh­ing all over the place. And I called up Ya­m­a­ga, and told him “You’re a good screen­writer!” And he said, “No! That screen­play is stu­pid!” [LAUGHS]

    ANIMERICA: So did Ya­m­aga end up writ­ing the screen­play?

    Okada: Yes, but Anno changed every­thing! [LAUGHS]

    ANIMERICA: I see. It’s like you say–chaos.

    Okada: To me, GUNBUSTER was a sci­ence-fic­tion film. But to Ya­m­a­ga, it was a stu­pid ro­bot­-ac­tion girl film. [LAUGHS] So he sent the script to An­no. And Anno thought, “Ah! This is a real mecha ani­me!” And he cut up Ya­m­a­ga’s screen­play, then asked me, “How do you want to make it?” But every­one else on the staff was telling him, “Make it this way! That way! This way! That way!” Anno was so con­fused, he gave it to Higuchi and told him, “You can draw the sto­ry­boards any way you like!” So, Higuchi drew the sto­ry­board­s…with no screen­play. Noth­ing but a the­me: sci­ence-fic­tion-s­tu­pid­-girl-ac­tion-ro­bot­-mecha! [LAUGHS]

    ANIMERICA: Is that why it’s a com­edy at the start, and a drama at the end? It’s so differ­ent, Part One from Part Six.

    Okada: Part Six was the very first idea I had for the film–and it would be at the very end, I told Ya­m­a­ga. That last scene, “Wel­come Back”–it’s so far from the idea of a stu­pid­-com­e­dy-ac­tion-par­o­dy-girl-ro­bot­-film. At that point, every fan is sob­bing–Ya­m­aga was so ashamed of him­self! [LAUGHS]

    ANIMERICA: Maybe GUNBUSTER was so suc­cess­ful be­cause it had a lit­tle some­thing of every­thing.

    Okada: Yes. Some­how, I thought the ‘chaos strat­egy’ ended up giv­ing the screen­play a stronger struc­ture. That’s why I think maybe we could have changed WINGS. But that was all ten years ago. [LAUGHS]

  180. This six-vol­ume OVA se­ries marked Hideaki An­no’s di­rec­to­r­ial de­but. It con­tained all sorts of el­e­ments in­cluded to boost sales, such as ro­bots, cute girls, ac­tion and sports. The con­cept for the show is ap­par­ent in the ti­tle, which comes from a com­bi­na­tion of and the ti­tle of an­other Japan­ese anime called . When the show was planned, no one pre­dicted that it would be so well-re­ceived as a gen­uine sci-fi ani­me, and loved by so many fans for such a long time.↩︎

  181. Haruhiko Miki­moto (1959–) Il­lus­tra­tor and char­ac­ter de­sign­er. He went from be­ing a more or less un­known an­i­ma­tor to do­ing char­ac­ter de­signs and art di­rec­tion for Cho­jiku Yo­sai Macross. That is one spec­tac­u­lar de­but! He was also in charge of char­ac­ter de­signs for Gun­buster.↩︎

  182. The se­ries por­trayed a po­lice squad in the near fu­ture who use ro­bots called Labors. It was a mixed-me­dia pro­ject, in­clud­ing an OVA di­rected by Mamoru Os­hii and a manga il­lus­trated by Masami Yuki. It was later ex­panded into TV se­ries and movies.↩︎

  183. The 27th an­nual Japan Sci-Fi Con­ven­tion held at Mi­nakami Hot Springs in Gunma in 1988. The en­tire hotel, and the lo­cal ac­tiv­ity halls, were booked for the con. It was man­aged by mem­bers of GAINAX, Gen­eral Prod­ucts, the Space Force Club, and a few for­mer DAICON staff mem­bers from Os­a­ka. There was­n’t much prepa­ra­tion, but the con was packed full of en­ter­tain­ment, like games in the ho­tel swim­ming pool, a bon­fire dance in the gar­den, fire­works, and even a tire­some late-night hike into the Val­ley. About 1,200 peo­ple at­tend­ed.↩︎

  184. Hokkaido is stereo­typ­i­cally snowy and agri­cul­ture-ori­ent­ed; for ex­am­ple, the man­gaka () is from Hokkaido and hu­mor­ously draws her­self as a dairy cow. —Ed­i­tor.↩︎

  185. This spe­cial effects mu­sic video from 1988 was based on the hit game Dragon Quest. It was backed by the “Ale­f­gard” con­ducted by . The video was cre­ated by a top-notch staff in­clud­ing Shinji Higuchi (spe­cial effect­s), Tomio Haraguchi (spe­cial make­up), Fuyuki Shi­nada (mon­ster sculpt­ing) and Hideaki Anno and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (an­i­mated effect­s). It was di­rected by Takami Akai.↩︎

  186. Kat­surou Onoue (1931–) Di­rec­tor of spe­cial effects films. He is cur­rently the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of a com­pany called Tokusatsu Kenkyu­jo. He has been in charge of spe­cial effects for count­less TV “hero” se­ries. In more re­cent years, he has been work­ing with dig­i­tal effects as well. Some of this more well-known works are (“Burst City”) and .↩︎

  187. Koichi Sugiyama (1931–) Com­poser whose song­writ­ing tal­ents cross over a wide range of gen­res. Fa­mous for be­ing a video game en­thu­si­ast him­self, he has com­posed the scores for video games—­par­tic­u­larly the RPG clas­sic Dragon Quest (“Dragon War­rior”) se­ries pub­lished by ENIX. He has also com­posed mu­sic for a va­ri­ety of an­i­mated works, in­clud­ing Densetsu Ky­o­jin Ideon. Sugiyama came up with the par­ody theme song that we bor­rowed for DAICON FILM’s Kaet­tekita Ul­tra­man.↩︎

  188. A col­lec­tion of anime based on short sto­ries by Sakyo Ko­mat­su. The char­ac­ters were de­signed by Jun Ishikawa.↩︎

  189. Jun Ishikawa (1951–) Manga artist. Fa­mous for his works PUNK DRAGON, From K, Datte Saru Nan­da­mon and so on. He’s also well known as a manga critic and me­dia com­men­ta­tor.↩︎

  190. (1926–1997) Mas­ter of “short­-short” sci-fi sto­ries. Made his lit­er­ary de­but with “Sex­tra”, which was fea­tured in the fanzine Uchu­jin in 1957. He wrote 1,000 sto­ries in his life­time.↩︎

  191. I took a break from my busy sched­ule and went ski­ing with my wife. While we waited in line, a new­bie skier crashed into my wife, and they both fell on top of me. My knee ended up bear­ing the weight of them both, and I was hos­pi­tal­ized for a lit­tle over a month be­cause of it.↩︎

  192. A PC game cre­ated and di­rected by Takami Akai. The ob­ject of the game was sim­ple—get a girl on­screen to per­form a by an­swer­ing ques­tions. Back then, games were mainly de­signed by the pro­gram­mers, so the graph­ics and di­rec­tion tended to be quite poor. Akai thought he could use his graph­i­cal and di­rec­to­r­ial skills to make a suc­cess­ful game, so he pro­duced Den­nou Gakuen (aka Cy­ber School). It was an im­me­di­ate hit, and four games were made in the se­ries.↩︎

  193. A sci-fi manga se­ries by Kia Asamiya. It tells the story of a spe­cial po­lice squad con­sist­ing of six women with su­per­nat­ural pow­ers who fight demons from an al­ter­nate di­men­sion. The pop­u­lar ti­tle has been spun off into movies and an an­i­mated TV se­ries, as well as nov­els and drama CDs. The GAINAX-produced PC game was su­per­vised by the cre­ator Asamiya him­self, and show­cased GAINAX’s out­stand­ing CG ca­pa­bil­i­ties.↩︎

  194. This PC game di­rected by Takami Akai was re­leased in 1991. The player be­comes a fos­ter fa­ther and ed­u­cates an eight-year-old girl. It was the ori­gin of the nur­tur­ing sim­u­la­tion genre. If you screw up rais­ing your daugh­ter, she gets sick, or even turns delin­quent and runs away from home. The game gar­nered many fans through­out the na­tion (ir­re­spec­tive of gen­der) who longed to be­come dad­dies. Akai sin­gle-hand­edly con­structed the game ar­chi­tec­ture and also de­signed all the char­ac­ters. The se­ries was ex­panded fur­ther by the re­lease of Princess Maker 2, which in­cor­po­rated even more ac­tion, and Princess Maker 3, de­signed for the PlaySta­tion.↩︎

  195. From “In­side Gainax” New­type USA, July 2003, Vol­ume 2, Num­ber 7, pg 8–19 :

    ’Un­til then, the games di­vi­sion kept GAINAX run­ning. [Hi­royuki] Ya­m­aga re­calls that Takami Akai, who’d been with the group since their col­lege days, sud­denly bought a com­puter and an­nounced, “Let’s do games! If we do games, we can make mon­ey.”

    “Ac­cord­ing to him, at that time with Japan­ese com­puter games, the art was done by the pro­gram­mers, so it to­tally sucked,” Ya­m­aga ex­plains. Since Akai was a painter, he’d be able to cre­ate de­cent im­ages, even with the limit of 16 dis­playable col­ors at the time. “He was like, ’If we do this, there’s no way we can go wrong!”

    Akai’s con­cept was lit­er­ally on the mon­ey. “Princess Maker (1991) was a big hit, and that paid our salaries for quite a while,” Ya­m­aga says on the princess rais­ing sim­u­la­tion. “Un­like the anime and films, we make the games all in­-house and sell some of them our­selves, so it’s not just that we have the rights; we get to keep the take in those cas­es, so hit or no hit, the amount of money com­ing in is to­tally differ­ent.”’

  196. This anime se­ries di­rected by Hideaki Anno broad­cast on NHK in 1989. It was sup­posed to be based on ’s and , but in this par­tic­u­lar sce­nar­io, Cap­tain Nemo is the de­scen­dant of aliens and the sec­ond Nau­tilus fights a gi­ant UFO in space. In all fair­ness, Verne’s work only pro­vided some of the names for the char­ac­ters. The pro­duc­tion sched­ule fell so far be­hind that the qual­ity of the mid­sec­tion had to be re­duced, and that part (the so-called “Is­land” story arc) was han­dled by an­other di­rec­tor, Shinji Higuchi. He car­ried out his re­spon­si­bil­ity very well.↩︎

  197. An an­i­ma­tion pro­duc­tion com­pany founded by sound di­rec­tor At­sumi Tashiro. The group has pro­duced nu­mer­ous TV shows and movies, in­clud­ing Manga Nip­pon Mukashibanashi, , and Yada­mon. It was also in­volved in the an­i­ma­tion of Fushigi no Umi no Na­dia. [Group TAC went bank­rupt in 2010. —Ed­i­tor.]↩︎

  198. This un­named di­rec­tor is al­most cer­tainly ; Toshio Okada, Ani­mer­ica:

    ANIMERICA: Was­n’t NADIA’s story orig­i­nally by Hayao Miyaza­ki? Is that the real rea­son it seems to show so much of his in­flu­ence?

    Okada: Yeah. The orig­i­nal story was go­ing to be called “Around the World in 80 Days by Sea”. That was Mr. Miyaza­k­i’s plan, fifteen years ago. And the Toho peo­ple held onto it, and showed it to Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and told him, “You make it.” And Sadamoto says [IN A GLAZED VOICE] “Yesssss…” [LAUGHS] NADIA was a very hard ex­pe­ri­ence. At first, Sadamoto was sup­posed to be the di­rec­tor. But after two episodes, he said “Okay, that’s enough for me!” and went back to char­ac­ter de­sign and an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tion, and Anno took over.

    ANIMERICA: But in com­par­ing, say, OTAKU NO VIDEO’s struc­ture to NADIA, you might say…

    Okada: NADIA was true chaos, good chaos and bad chaos! [LAUGHS] On NADIA, Anno did­n’t di­rect the mid­dle episodes, Shinji Higuchi did. And some episodes were di­rected in Ko­re­a–why, no one knows ex­act­ly. [LAUGHS] That’s real chaos, not good! What I mean to say is, con­trolled chaos–that’s good. Con­trolled chaos is where you’ve got all the staff in the same room, look­ing at each oth­er. But on NADIA you had Higuchi say­ing, “Oh, I’ll sur­prise Anno”, hide, and change the screen­play! Screen­plays and sto­ry­boards got changed when peo­ple went home, and the next morn­ing, if no one could find the orig­i­nal, I au­tho­rized them to go ahead with the changes. No one can be a real di­rec­tor or a real scriptwriter in such a chaos sit­u­a­tion. But on GUNBUSTER, that chaos was con­trolled, be­cause we were all friends, and all work­ing in the same place. But on NADIA, half our staff was Ko­re­an, liv­ing over­seas. We never met them. No con­trol.

    ANIMERICA: Was NADIA the first Gainax film to have Ko­rean an­i­ma­tors?

    Okada: No, we used Ko­rean an­i­ma­tors even on GUNBUSTER. But we had never be­fore used a Ko­rean di­rec­tor or an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tor. It was real chaos, just like hell.

    An­no, of course, did­n’t pay much at­ten­tion to the orig­i­nal sce­nar­ios or ma­te­ri­als, :

    AL: Do you doc­u­ment [re­search] when you pre­pare to make a new se­ries, like 20,000 Leagues Un­der the Sea for Na­dia, for ex­am­ple?

    HA: Not re­al­ly; let’s say that I take a ba­sic idea and I de­velop it to­gether with my ideas. That said, I have al­ready read and seen many adap­ta­tions of Jules Verne.

    Repli­cat­ing his ear­lier Gun­buster in­de­pen­dence:

    ANIMERICA: So did Ya­m­aga end up writ­ing the screen­play?

    Okada: Yes, but Anno changed every­thing! [LAUGHS]


  199. The ver­sion of the story ac­cord­ing to Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga and Takami Akai in 2000 differs a great deal from Takeda here:

    Mr. Ya­m­a­ga:Na­dia: Se­cret of the Blue Wa­ter is the se­ries that we feel re­gret for. We feel that they did­n’t do the best job pos­si­ble.
    Mr. Akai: In fact, they were work­ing for an­other cor­po­ra­tion when they made Na­dia. They did all of the cre­ative work, yet they had ab­solutely no rights to it. A lot of peo­ple have come to them ask­ing ques­tions about the se­ries or about mer­chan­dis­ing and they re­ally can’t an­swer be­cause it is not their se­ries. They just did all of the work.
    Orig­i­nal­ly, NHK would send them the script, say­ing this is how ex­actly they want it done. The di­rec­tor, Mr. An­no, what he would do was take the fax, sta­ple it and throw it in the garbage. For some strange rea­son, every sin­gle week they would get the scripts.
    Mr. Ya­m­a­ga: Since NHK was­n’t get­ting the prod­uct that they thought they were get­ting and the de­liv­ery of the prod­uct was get­ting slower and slow­er, NHK ac­tu­ally called them to scold them. In fact, Gainax got re­ally up­set and ended up yelling at NHK.
    Mr. Akai: Since NHK is half run by the gov­ern­ment, they’ve kind of cy­cled through all the peo­ple, so there are all these fresh faces. Yet in Group­tux [sp? Group Tac worked on Na­dia] and Gainax there are pretty much the same peo­ple that were work­ing on Na­dia: Se­cret of the Blue Wa­ter are still work­ing there. Now, they (NHK) are mak­ing lots of money on the Na­dia DVD and they wanted to have a re­union party but they did not re­al­ize how in­cred­i­bly bad the sit­u­a­tion was orig­i­nal­ly. They (Gainax) de­cided that it would not be a good idea be­cause there would be a very big con­flict.
    Mr. Ya­m­a­ga: NHK was very happy about it. They were very friendly about the re­union party but the peo­ple from Gainax were per­plexed.
    Mr. Akai: When [Dis­ney’s] At­lantis got re­leased, NHK ac­tu­ally asked them what ex­actly they thought about Na­dia. They were kind of puz­zled be­cause they are kind of a sub­sidiary and it was not like they had any kind of de­ci­sion mak­ing pow­er. So they were mys­ti­fied as to why NHK both­ers ask­ing them.
    On the in­ter­net, there was a lot of talk about how At­lantis was so sim­i­lar to Na­dia. Of course, Dis­ney says that they have never seen or heard of a se­ries called Na­dia. NHK came to Gainax be­cause of this and asked them how they felt about this im­pli­ca­tion that Dis­ney was pla­gia­riz­ing the se­ries. They did­n’t re­ally have any­thing to say be­cause they weren’t the par­ent cor­po­ra­tion. It was not like they had any rights any­ways.
    Mr. Ya­m­a­ga: We ac­tu­ally tried to get NHK to pick a fight with Dis­ney, [Laugh­ter] but even the Na­tional Tele­vi­sion Net­work of Japan did­n’t dare to mess with Dis­ney and their lawyers. What we said to them was, this re­ally had noth­ing to do with us but if it did we would defi­nitely take them to court. Of course, it is all a lie. We ac­tu­ally did say that but we would­n’t ac­tu­ally take them to court. We would be so ter­ri­fied about what they would do to them in re­turn that we would­n’t dare.”


  200. This mahjong-themed manga was cre­ated by Ju­nichi No­jo. The anime ver­sion, ti­tled Mahjong Hishoden Naki no Ryu, was re­leased from Bandai as a three­-part OVA se­ries in 1988. Scripted by Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga and di­rected by Tetsu Deza­ki, it starred the voice ac­tor , who is fa­mous for do­ing the voice of in Kido Sen­shi Gun­dam.↩︎

  201. This anime is based on Soichiro Miya­gawa’s manga por­trayal of the fi­nan­cial world, and it ran se­ri­ally in mag­a­zine. The anime ver­sion had a sec­ondary ti­tle, Ner­awareta Wa­ter­front Keikaku (some­thing like “The Wa­ter­front Con­spir­acy” in Japan), which pos­i­tively smacks of a ti­tle made dur­ing Japan’s bub­ble econ­o­my. The anime was re­leased from .↩︎

  202. This ani­me, re­leased from CBS Sony, was based on Satoshi Ikeda’s car rac­ing manga that ran se­ri­ally in Japan’s mag­a­zine. It’s a se­quel to 1970’s , which launched a boom in Japan.↩︎

  203. This gung-ho anime pro­duced by Pi­o­neer LDC was based on the manga of the same ti­tle, fea­tured in mag­a­zine. It was the first OLA (O­rig­i­nal Ani­me) cre­ated ex­clu­sively for laserdisc. The cre­ator, , wrote the mu­sic and lyrics for the theme song.↩︎

  204. This OVA por­tray­ing an otaku’s “suc­cess” story was a mock­u­men­tary of Gen­eral Prod­ucts and GAINAX. It was dis­trib­uted by Toshiba Eizo Soft and di­rected by Takeshi Mori. The char­ac­ter de­signs were done by Kenichi Son­o­da. Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga (writ­ing as Toshio Okada) penned the script. The OVA in­cludes some live-ac­tion footage (di­rected by Shinji Higuchi) ti­tled Otaku no Shozo (lit. “Por­trait of an Otaku”). In the US, this OVA is widely re­garded as the otaku bible.↩︎

  205. Toshio Okada, Ani­mer­ica:

    ANIMERICA: OTAKU NO VIDEO seems to have a pretty strong struc­ture. It’s chrono­log­i­cal, and you more or less wrote it by your­self. Is it true that in OTAKU NO VIDEO, the char­ac­ters of both Tanaka and Kubo sym­bol­ize you?

    Okada: Yeah. They’re two sides of my mind. Some­times I think just like a Tanaka, and some­times just like a Kubo. Some­times I’ve taken peo­ple aside and told them, “You must be­come otaku…o­taku…o­taku…” But other times it’s been peo­ple telling me, “You must see this…see this…see this!”

    For more ex­pla­na­tions of ref­er­ences, see Ani­mEigo’s Otaku no Video com­men­tary.


  206. EGF com­men­ta­tor “Noriko is my wife” ex­plains this:

    That these OVA’s were done more or less com­pletely through sub­con­trac­tors is men­tioned in The Notenki Mem­oirs though it’s rather con­fus­ingly told. That it was Magic Bus that did Beat Shot!! is from these notes from a event with Toshio Okada. If they could be trans­lated they would be a great com­ple­ment to the Notenki Mem­oirs.

    That Stu­dio Fan­ta­sia did Blaz­ing Trans­fer Stu­dent is from Japan­ese Wikipedia and ANN who men­tions them as co-pro­duc­ers. But un­like Gun­buster or Otaku No Video it looks like no one on the staff was from Gainax. The di­rec­tor’s other work is all Fan­tasi­a-pro­duc­tions. Here’s more de­tailed but maybe not com­plete staff list in Japan­ese which has no Gainax names be­sides Toshio Okada (plan­ning and screen­play).


  207. I have no idea what Takeda is talk­ing about here. If any­one does, please con­tact me. —Ed­i­tor.↩︎

  208. Kazuhiko Shi­mamoto (1961–) A manga artist who is fa­mous for a num­ber of ex­cit­ing ti­tles such as Honoo no Tenko­sei (“Blaz­ing Trans­fer Stu­dent”) and Moeyo Pen (“En­ter the Pen”). He is a very pas­sion­ate per­son him­self, like many of the char­ac­ters that ap­pear in his man­ga. He’s the kind of guy who would­n’t be afraid to shout to the sun as it sets over the beach. He grad­u­ated from the Os­aka Uni­ver­sity of Arts, where he was a class­mate of An­no, Akai and Ya­m­a­ga. He also did the anime ver­sion of and Anime Ten­cho for GAINAX. [See also Blue Blazes. —Ed­i­tor]↩︎

  209. Like many other suc­cess­ful TV se­ries, Fushigi no Umi no Na­dia was made into a the­atri­cal film (gek­i­joban). Orig­i­nal­ly, the staff from the TV se­ries was go­ing to pro­duce it, but Anno was too ex­hausted and with­drew. GAINAX was also in the red, and could­n’t sup­port the pro­duc­tion. In the end, GAINAX was only in­volved in the plot out­line, the char­ac­ter de­signs (by Sadamo­to) and the com­pi­la­tions of TV footage.↩︎

  210. At­sumi Tashiro (1940–) Anime pro­ducer and sound di­rec­tor. He is also the pres­i­dent of the anime pro­duc­tion com­pany Group TAC. As sound di­rec­tor, he has worked on many ti­tles since the early TV anime era, in­clud­ing Wings of Hon­neamise. In the anime in­dus­try, he is my se­nior and as­so­ci­ate, and was of great help to me dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of Na­dia: The Se­cret of Blue Wa­ter. He is a very easy­go­ing per­son and was the model for Cap­tain Tashiro from Gun­buster.↩︎

  211. A stalled project cre­ated mainly by Takami Akai, and to be di­rected by Hideaki An­no. Some of Sadamo­to’s il­lus­tra­tions were re­leased to the pub­lic, and some can also be seen in Sadamo­to’s art book.

    [The art book is Sadamo­to’s Al­pha; 1731298478 sum­ma­rizes one tex­tual page:

    It (Sadamo­to) says that Olympia was an idea pro­posed as An­no’s next project after Na­dia, but it never came to­geth­er. It was about a girl named Olympia who trav­eled to var­i­ous plan­ets to gather pow­er­ful weapons that had been hid­den away in or­der to avenge her fa­ther against the em­peror of the galac­tic fed­er­a­tion. All the weapons com­bined to form a gi­ant ro­bot. It was con­ceived as be­ing be­tween Na­dia and Gun­buster in terms of at­mos­phere.

    An­other com­menter re­marks that ‘“The sto­ry­boards” could be a mis­trans­la­tion of “im­age boards” and re­fer to the con­cept draw­ings found in Sadamo­to’s book.’ —Ed­i­tor.]↩︎

  212. Hi­roshi Ueda (Pen name: Yoshimi Kan­da) (1962–) A for­mer mem­ber of the Sci-Fi Club. His con­nec­tions in dou­jin­shi cir­cles paved his way to Gen­eral Prod­ucts. He later or­ga­nized the mag­a­zine Cy­ber Comic and served as ed­i­tor-in-chief. He left Gen­eral Prod­ucts after com­pany cut­backs did away with its ed­i­to­r­ial de­part­ment.↩︎

  213. We ap­proached Bandai about do­ing a manga mag­a­zine packed from cover to cover with Gun­dam-re­lated top­ics, and Gen­eral Prod­ucts was con­tracted to edit it. The mag­a­zine fea­tured the story of Dr., a ninja ro­bot manga ti­tled G no Ka­genin, as well as a num­ber of other manga sto­ries based on Gun­dam. How­ev­er, non-Gun­dam sub­jects were also taken up, like in Ikuto Ya­mashita’s Dark Whis­per. De­spite the ap­peal­ing con­tent, the pro­duc­tion en­vi­ron­ment was no bet­ter than that of an am­a­teur fanzine, and our sloppy sched­ul­ing and man­age­ment of the cre­ators led to pub­li­ca­tion de­lays. In the end, Gen­eral Prod­ucts was pulled from the pro­ject.↩︎

  214. A com­edy sci-fi novel se­ries cre­ated by Yuichi Sasamoto and pub­lished by Asahi Sono­ra­ma. A mad sci­en­tist has cre­ated a gi­ant fe­male ro­bot, and three fe­male pi­lots con­trol the ro­bot in or­der to de­fend Earth from alien in­va­sion. ’s il­lus­tra­tions were also pop­u­lar, and ARIEL has since been made into an OVA. Resin kits were also pro­duced.↩︎

  215. Yuichi Sasamoto (1963–) Sci­ence fic­tion au­thor. Fa­mous for his Hoshi no Pi­lot [nov­el] se­ries and ARIEL. His works re­flect his light­hearted per­son­al­i­ty, which has also won him many fans. He loves rock­ets, and has wit­nessed more live-rocket launches at both NASA and the than any other Japan­ese writ­ers to date.↩︎

  216. Ikuto Ya­mashita Manga artist, il­lus­tra­tor, and mecha de­sign­er. Lauded for his re­al­is­tic works that fea­ture so­phis­ti­cated and fu­tur­is­tic de­signs, Ya­mashita has at­tained some­thing of a cult fol­low­ing in Japan. He has writ­ten for Cy­ber Comic mag­a­zine, con­tributed to graphic de­sign for Gun­buster, and cre­ate the N-Nau­tilus (which ap­pears in Na­dia: The Se­cret of Blue Wa­ter). For Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lion, Ya­mashita not only de­signed the Evan­ge­lion it­self, he also helped de­velop the world in which the story takes place.↩︎

  217. This is a term for a sys­tem of edit­ing and pub­lish­ing on com­put­ers. Akai first sug­gested in­cor­po­rat­ing DTP into GAINAX’s own de­sign work, and it has been a great suc­cess. In the past, do­ing de­sign work in the print­ing in­dus­try used to re­quire very spe­cial­ized knowl­edge, but DTP has made it easy for every­one.↩︎

  218. This event was held at the Ni­hon Toshi Cen­ter in Tokyo in May 1990. , the god of role-play­ing games, was in­vited as a spe­cial guest. It was hoped that the event could turn into an an­nual con­ven­tion, but most of the at­ten­dees weren’t se­ri­ous gamers, and the event it­self did­n’t open any new mar­kets for GAINAX or Gen­eral Prod­ucts. About 400 peo­ple at­tend­ed.↩︎

  219. Robert Wood­head (1959–) An Eng­lish­man and co-cre­ator of the fa­mous video game se­ries Wiz­ardry, the orig­i­nal PC role-play­ing game. He is also a known Japanophile, and loves Japan­ese anime and comics. He es­tab­lished , a com­pany that dis­trib­utes Japan­ese anime and manga in the U.S. Ani­meigo has been striv­ing to ex­pand “Japan­i­ma­tion” out­side of Japan. He cur­rently re­sides in the U.S. and is mar­ried to a Japan­ese trans­la­tor (whom he met at a PC game con­ven­tion hosted by GAINAX in Japan).↩︎

  220. Shuichi Miyawaki (1957–) The ex­ec­u­tive man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Kaiy­o­do. He is also a promi­nent fig­ure in Japan’s garage kit in­dus­try. He is also a promi­nent fig­ure in Japan’s garage kit in­dus­try. Gen­eral Prod­ucts and Kaiy­odo both started pro­duc­ing and dis­trib­ut­ing garage kits around the same time, so I sup­pose you could say he is a for­mer ri­val. Back then, our com­pa­nies were busi­ness com­peti­tors, but these days they’re help­ing each other and work­ing to­gether as al­lies. For ex­am­ple, Kaiy­odo took over Won­der Fes­ti­val after Gen­eral Prod­ucts (due to un­avoid­able cir­cum­stances) had to with­draw its spon­sor­ship. Un­like Gen­eral Prod­ucts, who even­tu­ally quit the garage kit busi­ness, Kaiy­odo has stuck with what they do best—cre­at­ing mod­els. They are the orig­i­nal mak­ers of such hit mer­chan­dise as the Choco-Egg (eg­g-shaped choco­late which has a minia­ture toy fig­ure in­side) and a num­ber of ac­tion fig­ures. To­day, Kaiy­odo dom­i­nates the world of fig­ures. Miyawaki is a very affa­ble and pop­u­lar Os­akan, and those who know him often re­fer to him as the “young gun”.↩︎

  221. Some fur­ther back­ground: NOT JUST FOR KIDS: Prizes in Choco­late Eggs Lure Adults”. —Ed­i­tor.↩︎

  222. A BBS was started in De­cem­ber of 1992, host­ing a bul­letin board and dis­cus­sion pages. Offline meet­ings were also held sev­eral times. There were ad­e­quate num­bers of mem­bers dur­ing the BBS’s hey­day, but the hard­core fans tended to di­vide them­selves into small cliques, and it was­n’t quite as suc­cess­ful as an­tic­i­pat­ed. The BBS was closed in 1996 after the rapid spread of ac­cess to the In­ter­net.↩︎

  223. He has since re­signed; see note in fi­nal chap­ter. —Ed­i­tor.↩︎

  224. In 2011, 24 years after the re­lease of Wings of Hon­neamise, Aoki Uru re­mained on in­defi­nite hia­tus; pe­ri­od­i­cally Gainax or Ya­m­aga will claim the project is un­der­way, eg. 1998, 2002, 2008, and most re­cent­ly, 2013. Ac­tual re­leased ma­te­r­ial (as of March 2013) is con­fined to a July 1998 CD-ROM ti­tled “Blue Uru Frozen De­signs Col­lec­tion” (offi­cial promo page) with >300 im­ages, a screen­play and other ma­te­ri­al; Sadamoto pub­lished some art­work in Al­pha and Der Mond; and Gainax re­leased a 2000 for . Its cred­its were im­pres­sive and its air­planes in­ter­est­ing, but it does not seem to have made an im­pres­sion.

    Ya­m­aga in 2002 dis­cussed it in more depth than usual

    Ya­m­a­ga: So far, there is just the ti­tle, that’s just about it. {Laugh­ter} So we can’t say much about it. About 7 years ago, right be­fore Evan­ge­lion, it was a project in which Mr. Anno could be the di­rec­tor of a fea­ture film.
    Orig­i­nal­ly, I was sup­posed to do the story and the script and pro­duce this film. How­ever some things hap­pened and it did­n’t turn into a film but the mo­men­tum turned into the Evan­ge­lion se­ries. I have been work­ing on the project for a long time and even though it has been 7 years, I still want to con­tinue it. I’m still putting work into it.
    I would like to cre­ate a sta­ble, a more solid sys­tem in which Gainax pro­duces an­i­ma­tion. That is the rea­son why we are work­ing on the TV an­i­ma­tion se­ries. This way, we could have a sys­tem with which we could work with to do fu­ture work. [Ed note: Its our im­pres­sion that what they are talk­ing about here is con­vert­ing their stu­dio to a dig­i­tal one.]
    So far, for ‘Aoki Uru’, noth­ing like a com­plete work has been pre­sented pub­licly, but I am cur­rently work­ing on a novel for the movie that I would like to pub­lish it within the year.

    Toshio Okada in 1996 (, vol 4 #5 1996: “Con­science of the Otak­ing Part 4”) gave prob­a­bly the fullest ac­count of Aoki Uru avail­able in Eng­lish:

    ANIMERICA [Carl Horn]: Like har­mony within the chaos. I see. Were you ever plan­ning to make a se­quel to WINGS?
    Okada: Back dur­ing the 1987 pre­miere, Ya­m­aga and I were talk­ing about the next story of WINGS. It would be that world, a hun­dred years lat­er. A space­ship from the world of WINGS then jour­neys to our pre­sen­t-day Earth, from their home­world, four light-years from us.
    ANIMERICA: Wow! In­ter­est­ing! So they’d be ahead of us tech­no­log­i­cal­ly. Four light-years…so the world of WINGS is around Al­pha Cen­tau­ri?
    Okada: Yeah. Four light-years away.
    ANIMERICA: But you never pur­sued that idea se­ri­ous­ly?
    Okada: Well, no one asked me. [LAUGHS] But when we’d fin­ished WINGS, and were at the “pre­miere” in L.A., Ya­m­aga and I were al­ways talk­ing about what the next stage of the story would be, one-hun­dred years after the orig­i­nal. On Earth, it would be ei­ther the present day, or the near-fu­ture.
    Okada: Yeah. I’m still in­ter­ested in the hun­dred-years-later story of WINGS. But right now, it’d be al­most im­pos­si­ble to make it.
    ANIMERICA: What is BLUE URU about? What’s its sto­ry?
    Okada: Have you ever seen ?
    Okada: That’s it. There’s this girl singer, and this pi­lot comes with his air­plane and takes her away, and then the hero, in his blue plane, comes to town [MIMICS TOUGH-GUY VOICE] “Uh­hh! My girl has gone!” He gets very an­gry, gets some peo­ple to­geth­er, and goes and saves her. [LAUGHS] That’s all.
    Okada: Yeah. So I said no. Nev­er. I won’t make that film. [LAUGHS] Ya­m­aga was very an­gry. [LAUGHS] But I said…
    ANIMERICA: Oh, my God. That’s–that’s why, y’­know, in , they’re watch­ing STREETS OF FIRE…!
    Okada: Ah­h­hh… He thinks I do [re­ally like that movie], too. [LAUGHS] So I said to him, if you don’t have any in­ter­est­ing ideas for me, the film is­n’t go­ing to get made. Ya­m­aga is a very clever and tal­ented man. But even he could­n’t come up with an idea he was re­ally in­ter­ested in, so in­stead he pro­poses this par­ody film.
    ANIMERICA: Be­cause he had no idea. he made a par­o­dy?
    Okada: Be­cause, in truth, he had nei­ther the emo­tion nor the idea to make a new anime film. It was be­cause of that I sug­gested to Gainax that they not make an­other anime film for at least two years.
    Okada: No. To have the right emo­tion. Not the “sched­ule” men­tal­i­ty, where you’re say­ing, “Oh, it’s spring, we’ve got to make a new anime film!” You should ask Ya­m­aga some day, “Is it true that BLUE URU is STREETS OF FIRE? Okada says so.” He’ll be, “Uh­h­hh… Yes! No! Yes! No!” [LAUGHS]
    ANIMERICA: Oc­ca­sion­al­ly, I’ve asked Gainax’s trans­la­tor [Michael House?] to ask Ya­m­aga ques­tions for me about WINGS, and Ya­m­aga has re­spond­ed, “You know, I don’t re­mem­ber–it was ten years ago.”
    ANIMERICA: The last time I got in­for­ma­tion on URU from Ya­m­a­ga, he said that he did not yet know what the story was go­ing to be. So maybe he dis­carded that ear­lier con­cept, threw it away.
    Okada: No, when he gave the syn­op­sis of URU to the Pi­o­neer peo­ple–­Pi­oneer LDC was to be URU’s main spon­sor–the story was al­most ex­actly the same as STREETS OF FIRE.

    I per­son­ally am highly skep­ti­cal the movie will ever be made. A 2013 in­ter­view (“In­ter­view: Evan­ge­lion Char­ac­ter De­signer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto”) with Sadamoto seems to im­ply that the orig­i­nal plot had been dis­carded but also that “We’re cur­rently [still] look­ing for busi­ness part­ners for the film.” A De­cem­ber 2014 an­nounce­ment by Ya­m­aga says that the planned 2014 pre­view short had been bumped to 2015, and that they were still look­ing for out­side in­vestors for a pos­si­ble com­ple­tion date of 2018. In May 2016, Sadamoto was pes­simistic it could be done by 2018, and al­luded to con­tin­ued fi­nanc­ing prob­lems, as he did in Sep­tem­ber 2016 as well. —Ed­i­tor↩︎

  225. A GAINAX-sponsored, cam­p-style con­ven­tion for fans. Also re­ferred to as “GAINAX Fes­ti­val”. The first event was held in Mi­nakami On­sen, Gunma in March of 1994, and the sec­ond one took place in Itako, Ibaraki in July of 1995. The num­ber of at­ten­dees was about 200 each. Those events were specifi­cally de­signed for true GAINAX fans, and the con­tents were very hard­core in­deed.↩︎

  226. Toshimichi Ot­suki (1961–) Anime pro­duc­er, and mem­ber of King Records’ board of di­rec­tors. He is also the pres­i­dent of Ganges, a pro­duc­tion stu­dio known for such big hits as , (“Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Girl Utena”) and (“Mar­t­ian Suc­ces­sor Nades­ico”). He is also known for in­tro­duc­ing a num­ber of now high­ly-rec­og­nized voice ac­tors to the world. The rea­son he was so com­mit­ted to Evan­ge­lion was that he wanted to ful­fill a promise he had made to An­no, back when the two were still new­com­ers to the in­dus­try. After Evan­ge­lion, he worked on Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo (“His and Her Cir­cum­stances”), FLCL and Abenobashi Ma­hou Shoten­gai (“Mag­i­cal Shop­ping Ar­cade Abenobashi”).↩︎

  227. This in­ci­dent is prob­a­bly what Anno is al­lud­ing to in an April 1995 New­Type:

    “…He said that since hav­ing an at­tached spon­sor can in­ter­rupt how the mecha is de­signed, this work was not go­ing to have one. He also said,”Ro­bot anime has been stuck in a pat­tern, and we wanted to break out of it." They are try­ing to make a film with an en­tirely differ­ent stance than “ro­bot anime” be­ing made with tie-ins to or­di­nary toy com­pa­nies."


  228. In 2007, Akai was forced to re­sign from the board after the re­sponse of fans on to an episode Akai pro­duced. —Ed­i­tor↩︎

  229. In 2006, Anno quit Gainax to found and start de­vel­op­ment of a of Evan­ge­lion, called ; he offi­cially re­signed in 2007. Trans­la­tor Carl Horn says the cause of the split was that “in 2006 Ya­m­aga wanted Gainax to make Gur­ren La­gann, and Anno wanted Gainax to make Re­build. Since they could­n’t make both at the same time and Anno was set on Re­build, they came to an un­der­stand­ing that Anno would form his own stu­dio for that pur­pose”. Takeda has made few ap­pear­ances in West­ern me­dia since, with the ex­cep­tion of a group in­ter­view on Gur­ren La­gann. —Ed­i­tor↩︎

  230. It is worth re­mem­ber­ing what Takeda just pointed out­—that Ya­m­aga is his boss. Ma­horo­matic may have been well-re­ceived in the sense that it made money and was­n’t too crit­i­cized; re­view­ers like ANN’s would not dis­agree with Aaron Clark’s ad­jec­tive: “mediocre”. But trans­la­tor Carl Horn put it best when he com­mented in an email that:

    Hi­royuki Ya­m­aga re­mains the most frus­trat­ing fig­ure; ani­me’s Godot. His one and only fea­ture film ROYAL SPACE FORCE is one of the great­est achieve­ments of Japan­ese an­i­ma­tion, yet his re­turn to di­rect­ing four­teen years later was MAHOROMATIC. It is as if Stan­ley Kubrick took a hia­tus after mak­ing 2001 and only re­turned in the early 80s to di­rect .

    Sim­i­lar com­ments are ar­guably true of the other se­ries Ya­m­aga di­rect­ed, . —Ed­i­tor↩︎