Daicon III and IV Opening Animations
The history of the Daicon anime is also the history of Gainax. The setting is Osaka in the early 80's. When the Japan Science Fiction Convention is held in Osaka, it is known as Daicon. Hideaki Anno and Hiroyuki Yamaga, students at the Osaka University of Arts and classmates in the Visual Concept Planning Department, were asked to create the opening ceremonies animation for Daicon III (a.k.a. the 20th Japan SF Convention) which was held in 1981. Later, they were joined by Takami Akai, another classmate. The Daicon III Opening Animation was their first attempt at making cel anime. Anno would focus on mecha design and special effects while Akai would create the character designs and handle most of the motion. Yamaga would take on the job of directing and creating backgrounds. They also relied on the efforts of the convention's volunteer staff, comprised mostly of Osaka college students.
The Daicon III anime was successful, and Anno, Akai, and Yamaga would go to Tokyo in 1982 to work on Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Here, Anno improved his mecha design skills, and Yamaga learned the fine art of directing from Noboru Ishiguro, a legend in the anime industry. Akai, realizing that Haruhiko Mikimoto's advanced character designs precluded him (Akai) from actually contributing to Macross, went back to Osaka before Anno and Yamaga.
In 1983, Yamaga, Anno, Akai, and their associates (such as Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and Mahiro Maeda, who also got their start working on Macross) got together to create the opening animation for Daicon IV (a.k.a. the 22nd Japan SF Convention). With more experience under their belt, they were able to create an even higher quality short than before. The Daicon IV anime wowed audiences and would go on to win the Animage Grand Prix award, garnering the attention of some very important people in the industry. The young (and newly famous) animators managed to secure funding from Bandai for what would be the most expensive anime film of its time, Wings of Honneamise (a.k.a. The Royal Space Force), released in 1987. To produce this film, the group of friends who made the Daicon anime officially founded Gainax Co., Ltd. in December of 1984.
Gainax members in 1987 (from left to right): Toshio Okada, Hiroaki Inoue, Hiroyuki Yamaga, Hideaki Anno, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Shinji Higuchi, Takami Akai.
Where they are now:
Takami Akai went on to create the Princess Maker line of games for Gainax and his own spinoff company, NINELIVES. He also created the original character designs for Crest of the Stars."President of A.K.A.I. One of a new generation of performing artists, knowledgeable in a wide variety of subjects. Particularly well-versed in Chinese history. Possesses the ability to turn bits and pieces of garbage lying around himself into spectacular works of art. While he talks about something, pieces of Scotch Tape lying around him have been known to turn into King Ghidora in a matter of minutes." - from the Gainax FAQ
Hideaki Anno is Gainax's most famous director, having directed titles such as Aim for the Top! Gunbuster, Nadia of the Mysterious Seas, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and His and Her Circumstances."Primary diet consists of Sapporo Brand Barbecue Potato Chips and pizza with tomatoes as the only topping. After those comes beer. His erudition in tokusatsu is vast, and can be seen clearly in his animation work." - from the Gainax FAQ
Hiroyuki Yamaga was the director of The Wings of Honneamise, and recently directed titles such as Mahoromatic and Abenobashi Magical Shopping District. He is currently the president of Gainax."Bears a certain resemblance to Virgil Tracy, from Thunderbirds. Has a definite thing for neatness. The furniture in his residence is arranged and coordinated so as to mesh with his own movements, and under no circumstances will he let anyone move any of it. He can also bivouac in the snow for a week at a time." - from the Gainax FAQ
Gainax, 20 years later, still maintains a strong cult following while continuing to make new anime.