Gainax (pronounced 'guy-nax') is a Japanese anime studio most famous for the television series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Gainax is known for its commitment to experimental anime and twisting the conventions of typical anime genres. At the same time, Gainax has become infamous for some significant production and budget problems for several notable series, and sometimes had to rely heavily on limited animation. Gainax also has a strong, lingering merchandise force behind many of its series, most famously Evangelion, despite that series having ended nearly a decade ago.
In American fandom, Gainax popularized the term and usage of fanservice, and unusually precise animation of a woman's chest bouncing became known as 'the Gainax bounce' or 'gainaxing.'
Although until Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gainax typically worked on in-house stories, the company has increasingly been adapting existing manga, like KareKano and Mahoromatic, into anime shows. Gainax is also known for putting references of past series into new ones, and thus been typified as an 'otaku's company'.
- After a running gag where scenes were depicted in manga form on-screen, FLCL's characters make a tongue-in-cheek remark about the use of stills in animation (something Gainax became notorious for) being cheap and annoying budget saving device.
- Several KareKano animated sequences and clothing designs (the short of Miyazawa in Asuka's yellow dress) are remakrably similar to Neon Genesis Evangelion, as well as a handful of more overt references.
- Fans note the unusally strong similarity of character designs from Nadia and Neon Genesis Evangelion, although this may simply be an effect of having the same designer.
- Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi contains dozens references to anime, including Gainax. The second episode features a giant robot 'suit up' sequence using musical identical to the EVA unit launching sequence in Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- FLCL features one of the leads dressing as the Daicon Bunny (see below).
The studio was formed in the early 1980s as Daicon Film by university students Hideaki Anno, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Akai Takami , and Higuchi Shinji . Their first project was to make an animated short for the 20th Annual Japan National SF Convention, also known as Daicon III, held in 1981 in Osaka, Japan. The short is about a little girl who fights all sorts of monsters, robots, and spaceships from earlier science fiction TV shows (including Ultraman, Space Battleship Yamato, Star Trek, Star Wars, Godzilla, Genesis Climber Mospeada, and many others) until she finally reaches a desert plain and pours a glass of water on a daikon radish, which immediately grows into a huge spaceship and beams her aboard. While this animated short was ambitious, its animation quality was rough and low-quality.
The group made a much bigger splash at the 22nd Annual Japan National SF Convention, Daicon IV, in 1983. The short they produced for this convention started with a recap of the original short, showing highlights of the little girl's adventures with much better animation quality; then it showed the girl all grown up: wearing a Playboy bunny suit, fighting an even wider selection of creatures from all sorts of science fiction and fantasy movies and novels (appearances include Darth Vader, an Alien, a Macross Valkyrie, a Pern dragon, Aslan, a Klingon battle cruiser, Spider-Man, and a pan across a vast array of hundreds of other characters) as she surfs through the sky on the sword Excalibur. The action was set to the song Twilight from the group Electric Light Orchestra. This short firmly established Daicon Film as a talented new anime studio. The studio changed its name to Gainax in 1985.
Gainax works include (year given is that of first broadcast, theatre showing, or publishing):
- Wings of Honneamise (1987)
- Gunbuster (1988)
- Nadia (1990)
- Otaku no Video (1992)
- Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)
- Love & Pop (1998)
- His and Her Circumstances (1998)
- Modern Love's Silliness (1999)
- FLCL (2000)
- Mahoromatic (2001)
- Shiki-jitsu (2001)
- Puchi Puri Yuushi (2002)
- Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi (2002)
- Melody of Oblivion (2004)
- This Ugly and Beautiful World (2004)
- Gunbuster 2 (2004)
Gainax has also produced a number of computer games, most recently a strip Mahjong game featuring Evangelion characters, and its most famous game Princess Maker which was later adapted as Puchi Puri Yūshi.
- GAINAX NET - Gainax's official Web site
- Gainax Network Systems - The English version of the site
- The Gainax Pages - a fan site
- The Most Holy Gainax Cult - another fan site