- Personal Biography
Scriptwriter, director, etc.
Born: May 22nd, 1960 in Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. Gemini, blood type A. President of khara.
Anno attended Wakō Kindergarden, a private school, then Ube City’s Unoshima Municipal Elementry School, and graduated from Ube’s Fujiyama Municipal Junior High School. From an early age, he was captivated by a wide variety of manga, anime, tokusatsu (live-action films with special effects), war stories, and the like. Even as a child, Anno liked to draw. In junior high school, he was a member of the school’s art club. Anno didn’t bother with basic figure drawing practice, and instead devoted his time to manga and oil paintings.
In 1976, he was accepted into Yamaguchi Prefectural Ube High School. While the school was famous for being an elite stepping stone toward passing the entrance exams of prestigious universities, during entrance ceremonies Anno decided not to pursue further studies, feeling they were a waste of time. In the art club, he devoted his efforts toward manga, anime, and tokusatsu, and as a member of the astronomy group of the school earth science club, he would scrutinize the stars in the heavens. But at the same time, he would spendan inordinate amount of time playing mahjong with his friends. The fluctuations in his test scores, ranging between 8 and 98 percent, reflected the degreeto which he was interested in the subject being taught, which resulted in the school faculty flagging him as a problem child. One particular subjectthat Anno excelled in flunking at was English, a state of affairs that began when he rebelled against his English teacher during his first year in junior high school. But thanks to a makeup exam where the answers were given out prior to the test, he was able to graduate with no questions asked. As it so happens, Japan’s university entrance exam system was completely revamped the year Anno was set to apply, and the then-new National Standardized Primary Examinations for College Entrance were established. English was a required subject in the exams, and as a result, Anno’s enthusiasm for the university entrance exams evaporated and his interest in studying waned even further.
During his second year in high school, Anno used all his savings to buy an 8mm movie camera setup that he had wanted for a very long time. He filmed both live action superhero & monster movies and cel animation films to be screened at school festivals. He had a grand old time. It was then that Anno became transfixed by the pleasure and allure of film production. While he was struggling to be accepted into a college, he formed an indie film production group named SHADO with his friends. Anno became enamored with the delights of paper animation (animation rendered on plain sheets of paper.)
Anno got a driver’s license for passenger cars immediately after graduating from high school. However, he hardly ever drove in the year between one year past his getting his license and getting married. There were multiple times when his driver’s license would expire and he would have to get it re-issued. He hardly studied at all in the one-year period after he flunked his college entrance exam, a time in which he was supposed to be studying to retake it the following year. *** Instead, he worked part-time making morning and evening newspaper deliveries, played mahjong, religiously recorded episodes of Mobile Suit Gundam as it was first broadcast, and engaged in other manga- and anime-related activities day in and day out. Eventually, his parents and his former high school— which was desperate to not have its alumni acceptance percentage lowered — begged him to pursue a university education, and thus Anno finally resolved to study and prepare for the entrance exams. But then, leafing through the numerous university brochures he had gathered aimlessly, he noticed one college, the private Osaka University of Arts, was willing to approve applications based not on scholastic test scores, but rather on successful display of required skills. Furthermore, upon learning that acceptance into the Department of Visual Concept Planning was (at the time) based on providing original continuity sheets (a detailed form of storyboards), Anno’s mind was put at ease, so he went back to goofing around.
In 1980, the same year Ultraman 80 was broadcast, Anno successfully entered the Osaka University of Arts. While on campus, he met Hiroyuki Yamaga and Takami Akai, and together they worked on their required school work assignments. During his sophomore year, an invitation from a friend lead Anno to participate in the production of the opening animation sequence of the 20th Japan Science Fiction Convention in Osaka (commonly known as DAICON III). Anno fell in love with the joys of the team effort that went into film production and the preparation and execution of conventions.
With the establishment of General Products, Japan’s first science fiction specialty store, in 1982, Anno provided artwork and contributed to their selection of merchandise in numerous forms. Any money he earned from this enterprise was quickly swallowed up by living expenses. Anno was sucked into the joys of working in a group environment.
Anno participated in the production of the work produced by the DAICON FILM group, produced as a means of promoting the 22nd Japan Science Fiction Convention, as well as to help train the participating crew and staff. Although this was an independent film project, Anno was overwhelmed by the pressures of being a director of such a major undertaking involving large numbers of people, causing him to become frustrated in his lack of interpersonal communication skills.
Later on, invitations from members of Studio Nue who had seen the opening animation sequence of DAICON III, coupled with the personality and career of animation director Ichiro Itano, lead Anno to participate in the production of the TV series version of Super Dimension Fortress Macross. He gained invaluable experience from working and sleeping at the studio offices, as well as Itano’s apartment. The bizarre allure of the production studio had Anno in its spell. It was around this time that Anno first met Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and Mahiro Maeda.
And then, in 1983, Anno participated in the production of the opening animation sequence (directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga) featured at the 22nd Japan Science Fiction Convention in Osaka (a.k.a. DAICON IV.) Once again, Anno was mesmerized by the magic of completing a film and wrapping up a showcase event.
Busy with making self-financed films, Anno stayed away from college and didn’t bother to pay his tuition, and before long, he was expelled. Thus, he took this opportunity to look for work in Tokyo. The result was that Anno was hired as a key animator by director Hayao Miyazaki for the 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind. He moved to Tokyo with a single bag and all his hopes riding on that one job. Once again, he spent all his time at the studio offices, and following Nausicaä, he worked on the 1984 film Macross: Do You Remember Love? (directed by Noboru Ishiguro and Shōji Kawamori.) During the production of the movie adaptation of Macross, Anno met Shō-ichi Masuo and helped establish an independent animation studio named Studio Gravitron that gathered together numerous freelance animators. He worked side by side with animators such as Katsuhiko Nishijima and Kōji Itō, who were members of the studio at the time. Now, Anno would live at the offices of Studio Gravitron and only work on projects when he was broke or when something caught his fancy. In this way, Anno fell victim to the seduction of an idle, decadent lifestyle. It was around this time that he first met Masayuki, Shinji Higuchi, and Toshimichi Ootsuki. Back then, Anno used to tool around Tokyo on a moped that was given to him by Miyazaki.
In 1984, Anno was a founding member of Gainax, a corporation that brought together friends and workmates from his Osaka days that was established to produce the theatrical film Royal Space Force. He was also involved in the production of the initial pilot film for the movie. The Gainax studio was established inside a large apartment at Takadanobaba. Once the initial presentation was complete, Anno traveled overseas for the first time for the purpose of conducting research for the film. He witnessed a launching of the space shuttle and traveled across America, thus learning a little something about the size and scope of the world. He regretted not paying more attention in his English classes. Alas, this was forgotten as soon as he arrived back in Japan at Narita Airport.
In 1986, after nearly 18 months of work on developing the script and visual designs of the film, animation production finally started to begin in earnest for Wings of Riquinni – Royal Space Force, (the working title at the time), a film by Hiroyuki Yamaga that would be released in 1987. The studio was moved to Kichijōji in order to accommodate the large number of people participating in the production. Anno took on the responsibility of recruiting staff for the film, as well as contributing as a mechanical designer and acting as director of animation. Anno was once again captivated by the experienceof producing a feature film and attracted by the allure of working as an animator. It was around this time that he finally decided to rent an apartment in the Tokyo area.
After the release of Wings of Honneamise – Royal Space Force,*** Anno distanced himself from Gainax slightly and worked more closely with Studio Gravitron, which had recently moved because of the increasing numbers of animators that were joining its ranks. But one day,he happened by chance to read through the script of the 2nd episode of an original video animation project that had lapsed into development limbo because no director was attached to the project. This project was Gunbuster, and Anno was moved to tears by Hiroyuki Yamaga’s script. He agonized over the question for while, but he decided he would apply to assume the mantle of director on the project. But due to certain issues that came into play, the start of production was delayed somewhat, so Anno took the opportunity to participate in the production of Isao Takahata’s 1987 film Grave of the Fireflies. Nearly one month’s worth of hard work by Anno went into a sequence depicting the Heavy Cruiser Maya, but seeing how the ship was blackened out on screen left him feeling dejected.
In 1988, Anno assumed the role of director over the 1988 original video animation Gunbuster!, a dedicated commercial project. He encountered numerous situations that he had never faced before, and due to various factors, Anno accepted the job of chief director on the 1990 TV series Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, at which point he was swamped with even more situations that he had never known before. He learned firsthand the horrors that lurk within the production of a TV animation series. It was around this time that he met Kazuya Tsurumaki.
In 1991, Anno spent many unproductive days as a result of his inability to mentally distance himself from the Nadia series even after the broadcast had ended. He would work out numerous plans and projects, both on his own initiative and in collaboration with others, but they all fell through, and in the end, Anno’s idle days were dotted with projects that he imploded by design. In the midst of all this, one project, a feature film entitled Blue Uru, finally took shape and animation production began, only to be shut down due to circumstances beyond his control. With this shutdown, the days where Anno was spinning his wheels in wasted effort came to an end. It was around this time that he suddenly took up “normal” hobbies, such as scuba diving and skiing.
Immediately after Blue Uru was put on indefinite hold, Ootsuki called up Anno to talk about something, but conversation shifted toward the subject of TV animation projects. The two of them agreed that there was a need for an all-original TV animation series, something not based on some other work. Ootsuki remarking, “Bring me something, anything, and I’ll make sure it gets green-lit” lead to Anno assuming the role of director of the 1995 TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Anno encountered a wide array of experiences he had never faced before, and immediately after the series finished airing, he broke down.
In 1996, Anno traveled alone to Tappizaki, Sōyamisaki, and Rebuntō Island, walking around in sandals in a season when snow was still on the ground. This was a time for Anno where the days slipped by with no purpose and no meaning. Thanks to the support of his friends and colleagues, Anno was somehow able to bounce back six months later, and worked on the 1997 film edition of Neon Genesis Evangelion as chief director. But faced with the situation where the film was not ready for its spring release, Anno encountered further heartbreaks and valuable experiences. At this same time, Anno became bewitched by the promise that new digital cameras held for live-action photography. It was around this time that he met Miyuki Nanri.
Perhaps as a reaction to working on the Eva films, Anno worked on his first commercial live-action film Love & Pop immediately after. The 1998 film was based on the novel by Ryu Murakami. Once more, Anno was gripped by not only the allure of live-action movies themselves, but also by aspects of their filming and production that he was previously unfamiliar with. After the release of the movie, Anno traveled to Morocco at a friend’s behest and saw the Sahara Desert firsthand. This was the first time he had traveled somewhere overseas beyond the United States and Korea. The journey involved layovers in London and Frankfurt, giving Anno the opportunity to experience each city, if only to briefly breathe in their air. Anno was dumbfounded by the majesty of the vast dessert.
Next, Anno directed the 1999 TV series His and Her Circumstances based on the shōjō manga by Masami Tsuda. He also worked as chief director on the behind the scenes video companion to Gamera 3, titled Gamera 1999. He encountered a fast-paced, highly condensed work schedule that was unlike anything he had experienced before.
On March 26th of 2002, Anno filed the paperwork for marriage with manga artist Moyoco Anno. This was his first experience with married life. Later on, people close to him would remark that Anno had changed, both physically and mentally (he lost weight and became less edgy). Following his marriage ceremonies in June of 2002, Anno started driving again. It occurred to Anno that driving is an interesting medium to facilitate communication.
Work on the Eva renewal, which started in Autumn of 2002, grew to tremendous proportions, and Anno ended up spending nearly 6 months on that process alone. Then in spring of 2003, production of the Cutie Honey project that Anno had been working on since the Autumn of 2000 finally kicked into high gear. Overcoming the harsh reality that a film could languish in development for over two years while its actual production could take a mere six months, Anno completed the DLP version in December of 2003. During production, Anno shed tears of joy over watching the rush print of his first live-action special effects scene that featured miniatures. It was a moment where he reaffirmed his love affair with the tokusatsu genre. Later on, Anno acted as chief director in the animated spin-off of the live-action Cutie Honey project, Re: Cutie Honey. He also participated in TV commercial production, appeared in movies, and provided assistance on numerous projects belonging to other people.
In May of 2006, Anno established a new movie planning and production company, khara Co. Ltd. In September of 2006, he created Studio khara as a place where movie production could be undertaken. One year later, in September of 2007, its first production film, Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone was released in theaters.
In October of 2007, Anno resigned from Gainax Co., Ltd.
Anno was unable to go home for over four months during the so-called “crunch period,” in which the successful completion of the film constantly hung in the balance. But in the end, the second film was completed and the first print was successfully screened.
Overcoming a harsh crunch mode yet again, the third film was completed. In November of 2012, Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo was released in theaters.
On March 8th, 2021, Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0 Thrice Upon A Time was released in theaters.