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Evangelion studio Gainax files for bankruptcy and its current director aired all their dirty laundry to explain why

Dodgy loans, failure to pay royalties, and a director being arrested for sexual assault all contributed to the studio closing

Neon Genesis Evangelion Shinji sitting on a chair.
Image credit: Gainax

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For decades, Gainax was one of the most celebrated studios in anime history. However, it has been on the decline for more than ten years, losing the rights to many of its more iconic shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion while taking on more and more debt of questionable legality. Now, years of mismanagement have caught up with it; Gainax has filed for bankruptcy proceedings, bringing the storied company to an unceremonious end.

The writing has been on the wall for years now – it has been an open secret that Gainax, who produced anime like FLCL, Gurran Lagann, and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, was saddled with debt and was in freefall. However, on June 7, 2024, a press release on the Gainax homepage explained just how badly their executive board had damaged the company.

Yasuhiro Kamimura is the Representative Director who signed the letter that announced that Gainax would be ceasing operations and he held nothing back. In a rare moment of openness about the company’s failings, Kamimura laid the blame for Gainax’s downfall firmly on the executive board, who allegedly had seen the company removed from production committees for not paying royalties, overseen loans that couldn't possibly be paid back, and the illegal sale of the company's intellectual property. Following the company head being arrested for sexual assault of a minor in 2019, Gainax underwent a corporate restructure which, according to the press release, was when the full scale of the company's mismanagement came to light.

All of this culminated in Gainax being sued by a debt collection company in May, forcing the board to make the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy. In the end, Kamimura ends the letter by thanking the new board who worked with him “without compensation while the former management continued to work using the Gainax brand without regard for this predicament,” which is basically corporate speak for closing their argument with a giant middle finger to the people who got them in this mess.

It isn’t a surprise that Gainax has finally closed its doors, but the tone and openness of the letter are both enlightening and shocking. Kamimura clearly had reached What Are You Going to Do? Fire Me? levels of frustration with his predecessors and made no effort to avoid naming names and explaining to fans who was ultimately responsible for the celebrated animation studio closing its doors.

For now, the Gainax trademark has shifted to Khara, who has been working with the company to sort through its mess of intellectual property woes. Eventually, the few rights that the company does retain will revert to individual creators or studios, but, until then, we have to simply marvel at the self-destructive behavior that brought a titan of anime history to its knees.

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