Latest Evangelion-related desire is less “Get in the damn robot!” and more “Pay the damn royalties!”
Happy endings seem to be tough to come by for famed anime (and Shin Godzilla) director Hideaki Anno. Best-known for creating the highly influential Evangelion, something he did largely by drawing from his own battle with depression, in recent years Anno has once again been slowed by the mental toll of trying to wrap-up the four-part Rebuild of Evangelion film series that’s meant to cap his signature work.
Now comes another piece of what must be an emotionally complex situation for Anno, as his production company, Khara, is suing Gainax, the anime studio which Anno himself co-founded in the early 1980s and which produced the Evangelion TV series, along with its associated initial movie trilogy, for roughly 100 million yen (US$885,000).
Anno served as a director and writer for a number of Gainax anime after the company went into operation in 1984, including a handful after Evangelion aired on Japanese television during 1995 and 1996. In 2007, though, Anno left Gainax to form Khara, an independent company, to focus on the Rebuild of Evangelion project, obtaining the rights to the new segment of the anime in the process. Khara then added the rights to the Evangelion TV series in 2014.
The transfer was largely assumed to be mutually agreeable to both parties by fans and the media, something which even Anno himself claimed in an interview last month. However, artist Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, character designer for Evangelion and several other Gainax-produced anime, recently challenged that notion through his Twitter account.
▼ “LOL (the handover of the Evangelion TV series rights) wasn’t amicable at all!”
@osamukoba （下）の円満にーー に引っかかりますね 全然、円満じゃねーだろ！笑—
貞本義行 (@Y_Sadamoto) November 16, 2016
The publicly available details of the lawsuit, filed with the Tachikawa Branch of the Tokyo District Court, are sparse, but contend that Gainax has failed to pay contractually agreed-to royalties to Khara stemming from income earned through unspecified anime that Anno had a hand in the production of. The plaintiff says that a balance of nearly 100 million yen has been outstanding since August of 2014, and is demanding that Gainax render payment.
An examination of Gainax’s public financial records showed that, for the period of July 2016, the company was insolvent to the tune of roughly 100 million yen (whether the insolvency was of the cash-flow or balance-sheet variety is unclear) with a monthly income of 240 million yen, a mere one-tenth of its monthly earnings five years prior. Industry observers are taking this as a sign that Gainax is in dire financial straits, an all too familiar situation for the studio which has previously had money woes ranging from running out of funds mid-production and having executives arrested for tax fraud.
Neither Khara’s nor Gainax’s legal teams have publicly commented on the ongoing litigation.