The impact that GAINAX, Evangelion, and its creator, Hideki Anno have had on the anime industry is huge. From the popular anime series to the recent movie remakes (or sequels, depending on who you ask), there have been few properties that had the influence of Eva. The merchandising has been a particular issue that fans will focus on, sometimes loving the latest Asuka figure, or complaining that it's the 146th one this week. And that's actually where our issue starts, somewhat.
This going to be a big one so click through. It's very possible that Neon Genesis Evangelion will be separated from the studio it began its life with, GAINAX, very soon.
The issue as a whole surface on February 9th, when Suzuki Shunji (animation director for Eva, Nadia, and Eva 2.0, chief animation director for Eva 1.0, and animator for a bunch of other Gainax shows) made several tweets about a potential problem that was brewing at GAINAX.
He claims that this issue really got started when the decision to turn Gunbuster into a pachinko machine was made without consulting Hideki Anno. This upset him quite a bit, as his name was used on the machines and in the commercials for said machines. This, he writes, "may" be the last straw for Anno, who Suzuki said could be cutting off all ties with GAINAX.
Suzuki also wrote that at GAINAX's current level of production and current staff, they would be unable to stay afloat and would fail within 2-3 years without new Evangelion movie licensing rights (this seems more than a tad exaggerated to me, but I don't know the inner financial workings of GAINAX). He also says 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 Japanese blogger did some extensive digging, and found that Yasuhiro Kamimura's wife, Noriko Kamimura (who with her husband were point-of-contact people for licensing Evangelion within GAINAX) has stopped posting on GAINAX's mail order merchandising blog since February 5th. Not only that, the Evangelion Store contact page no longer lists Noriko's name and has been changed to Fukunaga Yuki.
Additionally, the page for the Evangelion 2.0 Complete Records and Works, which is coming out this summer, is listed as being produced by Khara and sold by Ground Works.
Said blogger writes that Yasuhiro Kamimura appeared to be managing the copyrights for Evangelion to GAINAX, and his wife was similarly involved in the Evangelion Store. He follows this up with another link to an article about a copyright situation between GAINAX and Khara. In it is an interview with Noriko Kamimura, which states that the rights for the new Evangelion movies belong to Khara. However, due to the confusion that might occur in merchandising both the movies and the original TV series, Noriko was acting as a go-between the two companies to simplify negotiations and keep records straight.
Thus, with Noriko and her husband leaving GAINAX, the rights for the recent Evangelion movies might have gone with them.
Now, remember that Ground Works company from earlier? On the Eva T store's legal information page, the "Sales Company" is listed as Ground Works and the person of contact is Noriko Kamimura. In addition, the Eva Racing page also credits Ground Works for consenting to the project. Where else is Ground Works popping up? Their name has also shown up beside Khara's on the Radio Eva information page.
Given all this information, we're lead to believe that Ground Works is a new company set up to manage the recent Eva film's copyrights, primarily run my Yasuhiro and Noriko Kamimura.
Lastly, in a recent guide for new pachinko machines, GAINAX's name is conspicuously absent from the Evangelion machines. Only Khara's is listed.
Summary: two prominent members of GAINAX who manage the Evangelion movie copyrights have left and formed a new company called Ground Works to manage those rights. GAINAX's name has been left off of a huge portion of new Eva materials and merchandise, replaced by Ground Works. Thus, GAINAX and the recent Evangelion films may be splitting up. It's not like Hideki Anno's anger helped, either.
So, while this is still all rumor, we've got a lot of evidence that's beginning to add up to some very depressing news. I'm sure we'll see some more news show up soon, and we'll be sure to keep you posted on any developments that occur. GAINAX could still stay involved with the Eva films if Ground Works will license to them, but the question is if they will or not.
So, what do you guys think? Can GAINAX survive without the Eva remakes? Or is Suzuki Shunji's ridiculous statement that GAINAX will fail without the Eva movies in 2 to 3 years true? While the rights for the original TV series will still reside with GAINAX, how big a deal is their absence from the remakes if this is all true?
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