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Shinji Higuchi

Japan Expo is delighted, in partnership with TOHO, to welcome award-winning director Shinji Higuchi this July!

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Fisrt steps into cinema

Shinji Higuchi developed an early passion for cinema and special effects.
While still in secondary school, he visited the TOHO film studios, where he was guided by cinematographer Tokimaro Karasawa.

He was introduced to Teruyoshi Nakano, a famous special effects director known for his work on several Godzilla movies as well as TOHO science-fiction films such as Submersion of Japan and The War in Space. This meeting gave him the opportunity to attend, as a spectator, the shooting of the film Teruyoshi Nakano was working on, Imperial Navy.

While in his final year of high school, Shinji Higuchi took his first steps in the film industry as a modeling assistant on Teruyoshi Nakano's team, working on The Return of Godzilla and the science-fiction film Bye-bye Jupiter.

 
 

From Daicon Films to animation

Around that time, Shinji Higuchi met Hiroshi Yamaguchi, who introduced him to a young Takami Akai who was busy directing Aikoku Sentai Dai Nippon, a short film by the Daicon Films collective that caused quite a stir.

Impressed by the group's work, and in particular their short film The Return of Ultraman, directed by Hideaki Anno and Takami Akai, Shinji Higuchi decided to give them a hand on their next film, their most ambitious at the time, and became the special effects director on Yamata no Orochi no Gyakushû, an amateur feature and a real tour de force by this group of young students.

During the making of Yamata no Orochi no Gyakushû, several members of Daicon Films signed with Bandai Visual's new label, Emotion, to produce an animated film: the legendary animation studio Gainax was born and their first movie, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise, started production. No sooner had Shinji Higuchi finished work on his previous project than his friends called him to be the assistant director of the anime feature.

After returning to the cinema industry to work on the movie Teito Monogatari, Shinji Higuchi joined his friend Hideaki Anno in directing the series Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water. He is in charge of the show from episode 23, where he takes inspiration from the Mobile Suit Gundam series and particularly the infamous episode Cucuruz Doan's Island.

If Shinji Higuchi is taking over, it's because he and Hideaki Anno are close friends. The director of Neon Genesis Evangelion calls Shinji Higuchi “his ally” and went so far as to name the protagonist of the hit series after Mr. Higuchi.

In 1992, Mahiro Maeda, Shôji Murahama, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, and Shinji Higuchi left Gainax to create the animation studio Gonzo, initially focusing on the production of animation for video games and developing digital animation techniques.

Filming in progress

Shinji Higuchi decided to return to the field of special effects and took up the position of special effects director on the Heisei Gamera trilogy. He drew several storyboards, was in charge of designing the Kaijû, and made their costumes himself. His work on Gamera: Guardian of the Universe was recognized with a special prize at the Japan Academy Film Prize and an award at the Yokohama Film Festival.

However, it was not until 2005 that a film directed by Shinji Higuchi was released in theaters. Lorelei: The Witch of the Pacific Ocean, an adaptation of the novel by science-fiction author Harutoshi Fukui (Turn A Gundam, Gundam Unicorn), was a box-office hit.

Success followed, as his next film, Sinking of Japan, topped the box office on its release and was a real hit! This remake of Submersion of Japan was an opportunity for Shinji Higuchi to show his love for his favorite film, the 1973 version worked on by Teruyoshi Nakano.

A giant success

In 2012, the short film Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo was directed by Shinji Higuchi and first screened at an exhibition at the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art. This co-production with Studio Ghibli is a prequel to Hayao Miyazaki's movie Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and was also released as the opening to the theatrical release of Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo.

After the release of Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, Hideaki Anno was asked by TOHO to direct a Godzilla movie. Rejecting the proposal at first, he eventually accepted, sharing the directing duties with Shinji Higuchi. Thus, the duo began production of Shin Godzilla.

 
 

The film, a response to the disaster that struck Japan in 2011, was a box-office success and won numerous awards, including the Grand Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival.

A comeback to anime

In 2018, Shinji Higuchi made his return to animation, directing Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan, surrounded by a team of other superstars of the anime industry: Mari Okada (Nagi no Asukara, Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms) writing the story, Shigeto Koyama (Big Hero 6, Promare) on creature design, Shôji Kawamori (Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Macross Frontier) on mecha design, and many others.

Shinji Higuchi's latest achievement, Shin Ultraman, was also a success. Retracing the adventures of Japan's favorite alien was an opportunity for Shinji Higuchi to pay homage to the TV series that inspired him so much and to pay a magnificent tribute to the father of Japanese special effects: Eiji Tsuburaya, creator of Ultraman, and special effects director of Godzilla.

  

At Japan Expo 2024

Meet the great director Shinji Higuchi at Japan Expo 2024 on Thursday, July 11, and Friday, July 12, at signing sessions, an on-stage panel, and a screening of Godzilla Resurgence.

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