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Hideaki Anno

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Hideaki Anno
Anno at the premiere of Shin Godzilla in July 2016
Born (1960-05-22) May 22, 1960 (age 64)
  • Animator
  • film and television director
  • screenwriter
  • actor
  • producer
Years active1981–present
Notable work
(m. 2002)

Hideaki Anno (Japanese: 庵野 秀明, Hepburn: Anno Hideaki, born May 22, 1960)[1] is a Japanese animator, filmmaker and actor.[1] His most celebrated creation, the Evangelion franchise, has had a significant influence on the anime television industry and Japanese popular culture. Anno's style is defined by his postmodernist approach and the extensive portrayal of characters' thoughts and emotions.

Anno's other directorial works include Daicon Film's Return of Ultraman (1983), Gunbuster (1988), Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (1990), Kare Kano (1998), Love & Pop (1998), Shiki-Jitsu (2000), Cutie Honey (2004), Re: Cutie Honey (2004), Rebuild of Evangelion (2007–2021), and Shin Godzilla (2016), [2] with the latter film marking the beginning of the Shin trilogy of tokusatsu franchise reboots, followed by Shin Ultraman (2022) and Shin Kamen Rider (2023).[3] Several of Anno's anime have won the Animage Anime Grand Prix award, including Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water in 1990, Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1995 and 1996, and The End of Evangelion in 1997.


Childhood and personal life[edit]

The son of Fumiko and Takuya Anno, Anno was born in Ube, Yamaguchi; he attended Wakō Kindergarten, Unoshima Municipal Elementary School, Fujiyama Municipal Junior High School, and Yamaguchi Prefectural Ube High School where he was noted for his interest in artwork and making short films for Japanese Cultural Festivals.[1]

Early work[edit]

Anno began his career while attending Osaka University of Arts as an animator for the anime series The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982–1983).[4] Wrapped up in producing the DAICON III and IV Opening Animations with his fellow students, and also busy making self-financed films, Anno stopped paying his tuition, eventually getting expelled from Osaka University of Arts.[1] He did not gain recognition until the release of his work on Hayao Miyazaki's 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Running short on animators, the film's production studio posted an ad in the famous Japanese animation magazine Animage, announcing that they were in desperate need of more animators. Anno, in his early twenties at the time, read the ad and headed down to the film's studio, where he met with Miyazaki and showed him some of his drawings. Impressed with his ability, Miyazaki hired him to draw some of the most complicated scenes near the end of the movie,[5] and valued his work highly.[6]

Anno went on to become one of the co-founders of Gainax in December 1984.[4] He worked as an animation director for their first feature-length film, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987), and ultimately became Gainax's premiere anime director, leading the majority of the studio's projects such as Gunbuster (1988) and Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water (1990–1991).[7] However, Anno fell into a four-year depression following Nadia — the series was handed down to him from NHK from an original concept by Hayao Miyazaki (of which Castle in the Sky is also partly based upon) and he was given little creative control. In 1994, the minor planet 9081 Hideakianno was named after him by his old friend Akimasa Nakamura.[8][9]

Neon Genesis Evangelion[edit]

Anno's next project was the anime television series Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995–1996). The series is set in a post-apocalyptic futurist version of Tokyo and follows humanity's struggle to survive against an onslaught of giant monsters known as Angels. Anno's history of clinical depression[10] was the main source for the emphasis on the psychological aspects of its characters, as he wrote down on paper several of the trials and tribulations of his condition. For this and other reasons (although perhaps by design as well), Evangelion's plot became more introspective as the series progressed, despite being broadcast in a children's television timeslot. Anno felt that people should be exposed to the realities of life at as young an age as possible, and by the end of the series all attempts at traditional narrative logic were abandoned, as the final two episodes take place within the main character's mind.

The show did not garner high ratings in Japan at its initial time slot,[citation needed] but after being moved to a later, more adult-oriented venue, it gained considerable popularity. Timing constraints[citation needed] at Gainax also forced Anno to replace the planned ending of Evangelion with two episodes set in the main characters' minds. In 1997, Gainax launched a project to re-adapt Evangelion's scrapped ending into a feature-length film. Budgeting issues left the film unfinished,[citation needed] and the completed 27 minutes of animation were included as the second act of Evangelion: Death and Rebirth. Eventually, the project culminated in The End of Evangelion, a three-act film that served as a finale to Neon Genesis Evangelion. In September 1999, Anno appeared on the NHK TV-documentary "Welcome Back for an Extracurricular Lesson, Senpai!", answering some Evangelion-related questions, including the origin of the name Evangelion, and teaching children about animation production.[11]

Subsequent work[edit]

Anno with Ryūsuke Hikawa (October 30, 2014)

After Evangelion, Anno directed the 1998 anime series Kareshi Kanojo no Jijō (Kare Kano for short, also known in English as His and Her Circumstances), the first Gainax television series to be directly adapted from previously written material. During the production of Kare Kano, Anno became frustrated with the restrictions placed on the show by TV Tokyo after the Pokémon seizure incident[12] and has rarely directed television anime since then. The director has also made forays into live-action films, beginning with Love & Pop (1998), a cinéma vérité-style film about enjo kosai ("compensated dating", a form of teenage prostitution) in Japan, of which a major portion was shot on miniature digital cameras with constantly shifting aspect ratios. He won Best New Director Award at 1998 Yokohama Film Festival for the film. Asumi Miwa who played the lead role won Best New Talent award respectively. He and his friend Masayuki also directed the documentary "GAMERA1999" which documented the production of Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris. His second live-action film, Shiki-Jitsu (2000) ("Ritual Day" or "Ceremonial Day"), is the story of a burnt-out former animation director (played by popular indie director Shunji Iwai) who falls in love with a woman disconnected from reality. Though an experimental work like Love & Pop, this film was shot using the more traditional 2.35:1 aspect ratio and has a generally more polished presentation, eschewing the cinéma vérité grittiness of Anno's first live-action film. This movie earned him Best Artistic Contribution Award at Tokyo International Film Festival and very positive reviews.

Anno's third live-action film was Cutie Honey, based on Go Nagai's 1973 manga and anime series. Released in the summer of 2004, this lighthearted fantasy/superhero film was a stark contrast to his earlier, more realist live-action works. Later in 2004, Anno supervised but did not direct the three-part OVA, Re: Cutie Honey, which was respectively directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi (part 1), Takamichi Itō (part 2), and Masayuki (part 3). Also released in 2004 was the movie Funky Forest (ナイスの森, Nice no Mori), in which Anno makes several acting cameos: as the student in the front row of the "Home Room!" skit sitting next to Hataru, in "Who's the Director?" as an animator who feels he is being overworked, and finally in "Singles Picnic" he is among the men awaiting females who never come.[13][failed verification]

On August 1, 2006, Hideaki Anno's official website was updated with job listings for key animators and production staff at a company he founded, Studio Khara.[14] In September 2006, Anno's departure from Gainax was reported in the October edition of the Japanese animation magazine Newtype.[15] On September 9, 2006, GAINAX's official website confirmed that Rebuild of Evangelion was in the works. The first three movies would be an alternate retelling of the TV series (including many new scenes, settings, backgrounds, characters), and the fourth movie would be a completely new conclusion to the story. Kazuya Tsurumaki and Masayuki would direct the movies while Yoshiyuki Sadamoto would provide character designs and Ikuto Yamashita would provide mechanical designs. Shinji Higuchi would provide storyboards for the first movie. The first was launched in Summer 2007, and the second and third were planned to be launched in 2008, however, the second installment was released by itself on June 27, 2009. The third movie was to be released simultaneously with the fourth, instead, the third movie was released on November 17, 2012, and the release date for the fourth movie in Japan was announced to be June 27, 2020.[16] On February 17, 2007, Anno published an official statement[17] on the Japanese Yahoo Portal for the films regarding his personal involvement and goals in their production.[18] In October 2007, Hideaki Anno resigned from Gainax.[1] In 2011 Anno co-produced the Koinobori Pictures movie Kantoku Shikkaku ("Failed Director"), directed by Katsuyuki Hirano featuring Yumika Hayashi.[19][20][21][22][23]

In 2012, Anno was the curator of an exhibit entitled Tokusatsu- Special Effects Museum-Craftsmanship of Showa and Heisei Eras Seen Through Miniatures, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, featuring actual props and suits from many of Japan's tokusatsu films and TV shows. Anno also produced a short live-action film for the exhibit, entitled A Giant Warrior Descends on Tokyo, featuring the Giant Warrior-God from Studio Ghibli's animated film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.[24][25] He has gone on to work with Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli on several short films which have been shown at the Ghibli Museum. He also voiced the main character Jiro Horikoshi in Miyazaki's 2013 feature film The Wind Rises. He also designed the Space Battleship Yamato 2199 sci-fi anime television series opening sequence.[26] In 2014, Anno and Studio Khara launched Japan Animator Expo, a series of original net animations made by various directors.[27] In March 2015, it was announced that Anno would team up with close friend and Gainax cofounder Shinji Higuchi to write and codirect Shin Godzilla, the 2016 reboot of Toho's Godzilla franchise.[28]

Anno wrote and directed Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time (2021), launched in March 2021, after being rescheduled twice due to COVID-19 pandemic.[29] He stated that Shinji's story was completed, but mentioned that he had more ideas set in Evangelion's world.[30]


Anno has appeared in manga twice, both created by personal acquaintances. His wife, Moyoko Anno, wrote Insufficient Direction, a chronicle of their courtship and marriage and depicting Anno's "true face" as "the founder of the otaku cult".[31] In 2007, a college-age version of him appeared alongside other Gainax founders Hiroyuki Yamaga, Takami Akai, and Toshio Okada in the Kazuhiko Shimamoto manga Aoi Honō. Anno attended Osaka University of Arts with Shimamoto. Aoi Honō was adapted into a live-action television drama in 2014, where Anno was played by actor Ken Yasuda.[32] The 2014 animated series Shirobako has a cameo appearance by a character named "Mitsuaki Kanno", a caricature of Anno.

Personal life[edit]

On March 26, 2002, Anno married his wife, manga artist Moyoco Anno.[33] He is an agnostic and has stated that he has found Japanese spiritualism to be closest to his personal beliefs.[34] Anno is also a vegetarian.[35][36]


Anno participated in "The World of Hideaki Anno", Tokyo International Film Festival on October 30, 2014.


Year Title Director Writer Producer Animator Storyboard artist Notes
1997 Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth Yes Yes No Yes Yes Co-directed with Masayuki & Kazuya Tsurumaki
The End of Evangelion Yes Yes No Yes Yes Co-directed with Kazuya Tsurumaki
Also lyrics writer "Komm,Susser Todd"
1998 Love & Pop Yes Yes No No No
1999 GAMERA1999 [ja] Yes Yes No No No Documentary
Co-directed with Masayuki
2000 Shiki-Jitsu Yes Yes No No No
2004 Cutie Honey Yes Yes No No No
2007 Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone Yes Yes No Yes Yes Co-directed with Masayuki & Kazuya Tsurumaki
Also production designer
2009 Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance Yes Yes Executive Yes Yes
2011 Kantoku Shikkaku No No Yes No No Documentary
2012 Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo Yes Yes Executive Yes Yes Co-directed with Mahiro Maeda, Kazuya Tsurumaki & Masayuki
2016 Shin Godzilla Yes Yes No No No Co-directed with Shinji Higuchi
Also co-editor[37]
2021 Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time Yes Yes Executive Yes Yes Co-directed with Kazuya Tsurumaki, Katsuchi Nakayama & Mahiro Maeda
2022 Shin Ultraman No Yes Yes No No Also supervisor, co-editor, co-cinematographer, concept designer and logo designer
2023 Shin Kamen Rider Yes Yes No No No Also co-editor and costume designer

Short films[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Animator Notes
1979 NAKAMUREDIER Yes No No Student film
1979 Proverb Dictionary: He Who Shots Often, Hits at Last! Yes Yes Yes
1980 At the Bus Stop Yes Yes Yes
Tough Tire! SHADO Tire! Yes Yes Yes
1983 Daicon Film's Return of Ultraman Yes No No
1995 Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genesis 0:0 - In the Beginning Yes Yes Yes Promotional short
2001 Ryusei-Kacho Yes Yes No
2002 Anime Tencho Yes No Yes
The Invention of Destruction in the Imaginary Machines Yes Yes No
2003 The Girl and the Railway Yes Yes No Full Short film within his film Shiki-Jitsu
Evangelion-Episode 26'Live Action Cut Yes Yes No Deleted live action scene from his film The End of Evangelion
2012 Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo No Yes No Also producer
2013 Peaceful Times (F02) Petit Film Yes No Yes
2019 Evangelion the Movie AVANT: 0706 Version Yes Yes Yes First 15 minutes of his film Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time
Also executive producer and storyboard artist

Producer only[edit]

Year Title Notes
2014 The Dragon Dentist Executive producer
Hill Climb Girl
20min Walk from Nishi-Ogikubo Station, 2 Bedrooms, Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, 2mos Deposit, No Pets Allowed
2015 Yamadeloid Producer
Evangelion:Another Impact Executive producer
Sex and Violence with Machspeed
Tsukikage no Tokio Producer
Neon Genesis: Impacts Executive producer
Cassette Girl
2016 Mobile Police Patlabor Reboot
A Good Child's History Anime Executive Producer
Also co-editor and photography


Year Title Director Writer Animator Storyboard Notes
1988–1989 Gunbuster Yes Yes Yes Yes
1990–1991 Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water Yes Yes Yes Yes
1995–1996 Neon Genesis Evangelion Yes Yes Yes Yes Also mechanical designer
1998–1999 Kare Kano (His and Her Circumstances) Yes Yes Yes Yes
1999 Koume-chan ga Iku [jp] Yes Yes No No TV Short Mini-series
2004 Re: Cutie Honey Yes No Yes Yes TV movie

Animation / art work[edit]



Mechanical designer[edit]

Acting roles[edit]

Year Title Role
1983 Daicon Film's Return of Ultraman Ultraman
1985 Yamata no Orochi no Gyakushū TV reporter
1991 Otaku no Video A Portrait of an Otaku interview (uncredited)
1998 Abunai deka forever the movie -
2000-2001 FLCL Voice of Miyu-Miyu (uncredited)
2002 Frog River Bar owner
2002 Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi Cameo role in Episode 12 (uncredited)
2004 Cutie Honey Office worker
2004 The Taste of Tea Cameo, anime director
2004 Koi no Mon (Otakus in Love) Cameo
2004 Funky Forest Actor
2006 Nihon Chinbotsu Yamashiro's Son-in-law
2006 The Catch Man Actor
2007 Welcome to the Quiet Room (Quiet room ni yôkoso) Doctor
2010 Death Kappa Actor[38]
2013 The Wind Rises Voice of Jiro Horikoshi, main character[39]
2013 The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness Self (Documentary film)
2016 Shin Godzilla Passerby (uncredited)
2020 Last Letter Sojiro Kishibeno
2022 Shin Ultraman Ultraman (motion capture; with Bin Furuya)[40]
2023 Ichikei's Crow Cameo[41]

Other credits[edit]

Awards and honours[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1997 The 18th Nihon SF Taisho Award Neon Genesis Evangelion Won
1999 The 20th Yokohama Film Festival Best New Director Love & Pop Won
2008 The 6th Tokyo Anime Award Animation of the Year Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone Won
Best director Won
2016 The 41st Hochi Film Award Best Director Shin Godzilla Nominated
2017 The 71st Mainichi Film Awards Best Director Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
The 90th Kinema Junpo Awards Best Screenplay Won
The 38th Yokohama Film Festival Special Grand Prize Won
The 40th Japan Academy Prize Director of the Year Won
The 26th Tokyo Sports Film Award Best Director Won
Year Honor Ref
2022 Medal with Purple Ribbon [44]


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External links[edit]