Shusuke Kaneko was born in Tokyo on June 8, 1955. According to the biography on his official website Kaneko was interested in science fiction, particularly Godzilla and Gamera films, from a young age. He became involved in amateur film making in his teen years, but majored in education when he attended Tokyo Gakugei University. After graduation, he found a job at the major Japanese movie studio Nikkatsu. By 1982 he was a screenwriter and assistant director for Nikkatsu's line of Roman porno films. He made his debut as a director with Nikkatsu in February 1984 with Kōichirō Uno's Wet and Swinging, part of a long-running Nikkatsu series based on the works of erotic novelist Kōichirō Uno. That work along with two other Roman porno films he directed for Nikkatsu that year, OL Yurizoku 19-sai(ＯＬ百合族・19才?) and Eve-chan-no hime(イヴちゃんの姫?), won him the Best New Director award at the 6th Yokohama Film Festival. The next year, his manga-based April 1985 movie for Nikkatsu, Minna Agechau, took the award as the 9th Best Film of the year at the 7th Yokohama Film Festival. In July 1986, still at Nikkatsu, he directed Mischievous Lolita: Attacking the Virgin From Behind(いたずらロリータ 後からバージン,Itazura Lolita: Ushirokara virgin?), which despite its strange title, was a fantasy about a sex-doll coming to life as a woman. Kaneko's final film for Nikkatsu was the appropriately named Last Cabaret, the second to last of the studio's Roman porno series. The film, released in April 1988, about a cabaret forced to close has been taken as a metaphor for the demise of the studio itself.
The year 1988 marked a watershed in Kaneko's career as a director. At the 10th Yokohama Film Festival, he was given the Best Director award for his two films of 1988, the Roman pornoLast Cabaret for Nikkatsu and Summer Vacation 1999, a mainstream film for the Shochiku studio. Nikkatsu ceased their Roman porno film line that year and filed for bankruptcy a few years later and Kaneko moved fulltime into mainstream film. After creating the fun vampire flick My Soul Is Slashed in 1991, Kaneko, working for the first time in America, directed a segment of the horror anthology Necronomicon.
He then got the chance to direct Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), the first entry in the Heisei Gamera series. It was a huge critical success and led to a sequel: Gamera 2: Advent of Legion (1996), which was as critically acclaimed, if not more so, than the first film. Kaneko then went all out for the third and final film in the trilogy: Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999), creating a film which many fans have given great praise, in both Japan and the West. He then directed the horror film Pyrokinesis (2000) before returning to the kaiju genre for Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001). In 2005, he directed the sequel to Ryuhei Kitamura's sword film Azumi: Azumi 2: Death or Love and his next film, a horror flick entitled God's Left Hand, Devil's Right Hand was released in Japan in 2006.