Co-Founder Takami Akai Steps Down From Gainax's Board
posted on by Egan Loo
Takami Akai—a co-founder of Gainax, the creator of the Princess Maker game franchise, and the conceptual illustrator for the Banner of the Stars novels and anime—has resigned his position as board member of Gainax under backlash from comments he made about members of the 2channel online forum. In his open letter on Gainax's website, the studio co-founder said he also stepped down as producer of the latest Gainax television series, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. His name has been removed from the series credits starting with the fifth episode, which airs on April 29.
The controversy started with the premiere of Gurren Lagann on April 1. After a few members of the 2channel forums criticized the first episode, a Gainax production staffer identified as Keiko Mimori posted an entry in her journal on mixi, a social networking site. According to her April 4 journal entry under the name Kani@Drill Tamashii ("[email protected] Soul"), she wanted to survey the reaction to the series premiere. She found a 2channel thread that said the first episode of Gurren Lagann had "C-level animation" and wrote she could not understand the complaints. She then wrote that she "despises 2channel from the bottom of [her] heart" and these "stupid, stupid, disgusting otaku should die!!" Akai, under the name Magi no Suke, responded that personally reading the comments on 2channel was "like putting [his] face next to an anus and breathing deeply."
On April 17, the official Gainax website posted a gag comic in which Yoko, the main heroine of Gurren Lagann, shoots a character of Yes! Precure 5, the program that runs against Gurren Lagann in the same timeslot. The comic was later removed from the site the same day, but not before the image had spread and triggered a response from Toei Animation, the animators of Precure 5.
On April 22, episode 4 of Gurren Lagann aired with pronounced artistic differences from the previous three episodes. Negative reactions filled 2channel's anime boards, the official Gainax blog, and the BBS of that episode's new animation director and storyboarder, Osamu Kobayashi. This led Mimori to post in the mixi journal under the Kani@Drill Tamashii alias that the animation quality had not dropped and that only the characters' appearances and faces changed. She then said that the staffers shouldn't listen to comments from amateurs who don't know better, but only those from anime industry people.
Members of 2channel discovered this later comment on mixi, but their reaction wouldn't develop into a full uproar until after Mimori and Akai's earlier comments from April 4 were discovered. This and the resulting surge in negative responses led to the removal of comments and eventually even main site content from the sites of Mimori, Akai, and Akai's private company Nine Lives. Finally, on April 27, Gainax posted Akai's open letter announcing his resignation, and Mimori and Akai posted additional statements of regret on mixi.
Takami Akai has been a part of Gainax since before its official founding, when he worked on the animation and character designs for the DAICON III and IV conventions' opening videos. He was classmates with future colleagues Hiroyuki Yamaga and Hideaki Anno at the Osaka University of Arts. He has been a frequent guest of overseas anime conventions, particularly in California and Germany.