Hideaki Anno
(Creator, Neon Genesis Evangelion)

Born in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan in 1960 Hideaki Anno succeeded in becoming one of the biggest names in anime before he even hit 40.

Hideaki Anno decided on what he wanted to do with his life after seeing Leiji Matsumoto's classic anime series Space Battleship Yamato at the tender age of fourteen.  Inspired, he began to dabble in amateur film-making and, at the age of 18, enrolled in the Film-making department at the Osaka College of Art.  It was here he met Hiroyuki Yamaga, the man with whom he would go on to found studio Gainax several years later.

After graduation Anno and Yamaga moved to Tokyo, and Anno's subsequent rise was nothing short of meteoric.  After some minor animation jobs Anno really hit the big time in 1984, when he worked on two of the most successful and popular anime films of all time.  The first of these projects found him working as an animator on Hayao Miyazaki's classic feature film Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind, an experience which influenced him greatly, and the second was a similar role on the Macross film Macross: Do You Remember Love?

Spurred on by these experiences, the 24 year old Anno co-founded Gainax and began working on the critically acclaimed Wings of Honneamise - at the time the most expensive anime ever produced.  Its success ensured that the fledgling studio would live on, and after working on animation for Isao Takahata's acclaimed Grave of the Fireflies, he directed series that would establish Gainax as a force to reckoned with.  First up was the clever OVA series Gunbuster: Aim for the Top! - another acclaimed and successful project - and soon after followed the epic Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water.

Whilst the success of Nadia was firmly establishing Gainax, Hideaki Anno himself was undergoing something of a personal crisis as he spiralled into depression.  Disappearing from the public gaze almost as soon as he had entered it Anno didn't reappear until nearly four years later when, charged with a new sense of self-worth, he began work on his masterpiece Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Putting all of his own experiences of soul searching, depression and self discovery into the characters, Anno projected his own recent struggles through his new project and it was an instant critical and popular success.  Evangelion revolutionised anime in Japan and Anno was catapulted to an even higher level of fame than ever before, but not everyone was happy.  The deeply philosophical ending to the series caused a huge amount of controversy amongst Evangelion's action-loving hardcore fan base, and their anger even went as far as to send Anno a series of death threats.

To counter this wave of anger (and probably as a riposte) Anno revisited his ending in 1997 through the films Death and Rebirth and End of Evangelion before abandoning the animated medium for live action film making.  The first of his live action projects was the controversial Love & Pop, a film focusing on the dangers of 'compensation dating' - a major Japanese problem where young girls date older men for money and designer goods.  This received some critical success but Anno was tempted back to anime again for His & Her Circumstances (Kare Kano).  Told to stay very close to the source manga Anno became quickly disillusioned with the lack of control he had, and he passed most of the responsibility for the series to his assistant director before leaving the project for good.

Since ending his involvement with Kare Kano, Hideaki Anno has leapt between live action and anime projects.  He has followed Love and Pop with a series of similarly acclaimed films including Shiki-Jitsu (Ritual) and the live action version of the classic anime Cutie Honey.  However, he has not forgotten his anime roots, overseeing the remastering of Evangelion and also directing the straight to video anime spin-off Re: Cutie Honey.  He is now involved with Rebuild of Evangelion, a new series of four films which re-imagine his landmark series.  Anno has expressed much discontent with anime as a whole, and luckily for us he is choosing to do something about it rather than run to live action completely.  Only time will tell if he can shake the foundations once again, but if anyone can, it's him.

Filmography (Director unless specified):

Super Dimensional Fortress Macross (Animator)
Nausicaš of the Valley of the Wind (Animator)
Macross: Do You Remember Love? (Animator)
Wings of Honneamise (Animator)
Dangaioh (Animator)
Gunbuster: Aim For The Top!
Grave of the Fireflies (Animator)
Nadia, The Secret of Blue Water
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth
Neon Genesis Evangelion: End of Evangelion
Love & Pop
His & Her Circumstances
Modern Love's Silliness (Producer)
Cutey Honey
Re: Cutey Honey
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Rebuild of Evangelion