Shinji Higuchi

Shinji Higuchi

Original Name 樋口 真嗣
Born September 22, 1965 (53)
Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Former special effects director and now a director in his own right, Higuchi has done much to overhaul the visual effects landscape of Japanese films, starting with the critically acclaimed Gamera trilogy in the 90s. He encouraged the melding of CGI with traditional “suitmation” techniques for kaiju eiga, culminating in Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999), which at the time was considered by critics and fans alike as the best film in the genre. While his directorial efforts haven’t always garnered rave reviews, his SFX sensibilities (nowadays executed by his contemporary Katsuhiro Onoe) continue to strive for realism while retaining and elevating traditional SFX techniques.

Higuchi jumped into SFX straight out of high school, finding work in Toho’s SFX department during production on The Return of Godzilla (1984); he worked on modeling the Godzilla costume, and also helped suit actor Kenpachiro Satsuma in and out of the costume during shoots. That same year he met Hideaki Anno, and together they formed the animation studio Gainax. Higuchi served as assistant director on one of the studio’s early animated features, The Wings of Honneamise (1984). Gainax, of course, went on to produce the groundbreaking anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Evangelion’s lead character, Shinji Ikari, took his name from director Anno’s close friend Higuchi. In the 90s Higuchi co-founded another animation studio, Gonzo, which would go on to produce series like Hellsing, Fullmetal Panic!, Last Exile, Gantz, Samurai 7, Afro Samurai, and Psycho-Pass among others. In 1995 Higuchi collaborated with director Shusuke Kaneko on Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe, the first installment of Kaneko’s Gamera trilogy; Higuchi received special recognition at the Japanese Academy Awards for his efforts. The film’s success cemented Higuchi’s reputation as a SFX artist and he has contributed to a number of films in that capacity.

In 2005 Higuchi released his directorial debut Lorelei, and quickly followed with a remake of the 70s disaster film The Sinking of Japan (2006). Higuchi’s subsequent films have struggled to impress the critics, and Higuchi himself took to social media to denounce critics of his Attack on Titan films (which, frankly, deserved all the bad press they got). His collaborations with other directors have proven more fruitful. He worked with veteran director Isshin Inudo on the historical drama The Floating Castle (2012), and he paired with Hideaki Anno to direct Shin Godzilla (2016), which stole Best Picture at the Japanese Academy Awards and nabbed both of them Best Director awards.

Original Name 樋口 真嗣
Born September 22, 1965 (53)
Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Former special effects director and now a director in his own right, Higuchi has done much to overhaul the visual effects landscape of Japanese films, starting with the critically acclaimed Gamera trilogy in the 90s. He encouraged the melding of CGI with traditional “suitmation” techniques for kaiju eiga, culminating in Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999), which at the time was considered by critics and fans alike as the best film in the genre. While his directorial efforts haven’t always garnered rave reviews, his SFX sensibilities (nowadays executed by his contemporary Katsuhiro Onoe) continue to strive for realism while retaining and elevating traditional SFX techniques.

Higuchi jumped into SFX straight out of high school, finding work in Toho’s SFX department during production on The Return of Godzilla (1984); he worked on modeling the Godzilla costume, and also helped suit actor Kenpachiro Satsuma in and out of the costume during shoots. That same year he met Hideaki Anno, and together they formed the animation studio Gainax. Higuchi served as assistant director on one of the studio’s early animated features, The Wings of Honneamise (1984). Gainax, of course, went on to produce the groundbreaking anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Evangelion’s lead character, Shinji Ikari, took his name from director Anno’s close friend Higuchi. In the 90s Higuchi co-founded another animation studio, Gonzo, which would go on to produce series like Hellsing, Fullmetal Panic!, Last Exile, Gantz, Samurai 7, Afro Samurai, and Psycho-Pass among others. In 1995 Higuchi collaborated with director Shusuke Kaneko on Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe, the first installment of Kaneko’s Gamera trilogy; Higuchi received special recognition at the Japanese Academy Awards for his efforts. The film’s success cemented Higuchi’s reputation as a SFX artist and he has contributed to a number of films in that capacity.

In 2005 Higuchi released his directorial debut Lorelei, and quickly followed with a remake of the 70s disaster film The Sinking of Japan (2006). Higuchi’s subsequent films have struggled to impress the critics, and Higuchi himself took to social media to denounce critics of his Attack on Titan films (which, frankly, deserved all the bad press they got). His collaborations with other directors have proven more fruitful. He worked with veteran director Isshin Inudo on the historical drama The Floating Castle (2012), and he paired with Hideaki Anno to direct Shin Godzilla (2016), which stole Best Picture at the Japanese Academy Awards and nabbed both of them Best Director awards.