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Anime Studio Gainax Files for Bankruptcy

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Co-founder Hideaki Anno's current studio Khara acquires Gainax's trademark

Anime studio Gainax announced on its website on Friday that it filed for bankruptcy in the Tokyo District Court on May 29. The bankruptcy proceedings are happening just short of the studio's 40th anniversary in December.

Gainax's Statement

In its statement on Friday, Gainax explained that its financial situation worsened starting in about 2012, due to various factors including managing a restaurant that did not meet projections, establishing a mismanaged CG company, giving large unsecured loans to executives, and running its business operations as if it was a small personal venture.

Gainax said that due to massive debts incurred by management, it was removed from production committees after not paying royalties, and it was sued for debts and other matters. During this worsening financial situation, many affiliated companies were established under the Gainax name in regional areas, which led to many resignations at Gainax itself and the resulting loss of its capability to produce animation as a studio. These companies later declared that they were not related to the main Gainax studio, with Gainax claiming these companies "relinquished their administrative responsibilities."

Gainax's statement also claimed that Tomohiro Maki, who had been its head since 1992, transferred shares to a person "with no knowledge of filmmaking production" in 2018, a move that had the approval of management at the time. Maki was then arrested in December 2019 for semi-coerced indecent acts, causing the company to "completely lose its ability to operate while still being saddled with a large amount of debt."

After Gainax revamped its management team in February 2020, the company stated it began reviewing documents to fully understand its situation, alongside the studio Khara as a creditor. The companies discovered large amounts of borrowing from financial institutions, defaults on debts to companies in the animation industry, and the sales and transfers of intellectual property and production materials to other companies and individuals without the permission of the original rights holders.

Gainax stated its management worked with Khara and other companies and production committees to confirm the rights of the works and "properly manage" the IP and scattered materials.

However, Gainax stated it has been unable to resolve its large amount of debt, and after it was sued by a debt collection company in May, the company decided it could no longer continue as a business, and filed for bankruptcy.

Gainax specifically added in its statement that it has no current affiliation to Gaina/Studio Gaina and Fukushima Gaina (both formerly known as Fukushima Gainax), Gainax International, GAINAX Kyoto, Yonago Gainax, Gainax Niigata, and Gainax West. Khara has now acquired the Gainax trademark and serves as the manager of the trademark.

Gainax also noted that it will provide notification about the future use of the works it has managed, after the bankruptcy proceedings are over.

Khara's Statement

Khara also provided a statement on the bankruptcy announcement on Friday. In the statement, Khara states that it had been aware of Gainax's "poor management and debt" for a while, and Gainax co-founder and Khara President Hideaki Anno had expressed his concerns to Gainax and made proposals to improve the company's management, but Anno's proposals were not accepted for a long time. Despite all this, Khara continued to accept the proposals of Ganax's management, and provided supportive loans.

Khara stated that Gainax's situation continued to worsen, and then Maki was arrested in December 2019. Following Maki's arrest, Anno requested the collaboration of Kadokawa, King Records, and studio TRIGGER to "prevent damage to the reputation" of Evangelion and other works. Representatives from those companies were appointed as board directors at Gainax, and they worked to try to understand the situation and resolve unpaid debts to studios, writers, and creators in the animation industry. However, by the time this new management team understood the overall situation, Gainax was already in a state of insolvency, with unmanageable debts.

Khara said that in order to "ensure that creators, original authors, and writers can continue to manage and produce their works" in the future, it and Gainax are working with each production committee to confirm, organize, and transfer the rights to either companies or individuals they believe are most suitable.

Khara considered providing support to help alleviate Gainax's debts, but decided it would have not been possible to make sufficient repayments.

Gainax History

Hiroyuki Yamaga, Hideaki Anno, Toshio Okada, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Shinji Higuchi, Yasuhiro Takeda, and Takami Akai co-founded Gainax in 1984. (The company was formerly named Daicon Film after the anime shorts they made for the Daicon III and IV sci-fi conventions.)

Khara, Anno's current anime studio, distanced itself from Gainax after the December 2019 arrest of then-Gainax president Tomohiro Maki, emphasizing that Maki has no involvement with Khara or the Evangelion franchise. In a magazine article later that month, Anno detailed his falling out with Gainax, which he formally left in 2007.

The Tokyo District Court had ordered Gainax to pay Khara 100 million yen (about US$900,000 at the time) in June 2017. Khara filed a lawsuit in December 2016 against Gainax regarding a 100 million yen debt that Gainax allegedly owed Khara.

After Maki's arrest in December 2019, Yasuhiro Kamimura was appointed the new representative director of Gainax later that month. Maki was sentenced in December 2020 to two and a half years in prison.

Sources: Gainax, Khara, Oricon

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