Shinji Higuchi (樋口 真嗣 is a Higuchi Shinji)Japanese tokusastsu special effects director and anime storyboard artist. He served as the director of special effects for the Heisei Gamera trilogy, directed both of the live-action Attack on Titan films, and was the co-director and special effects director for the 2016 film Shin Godzilla. Along with Hideaki Anno, he won a Japan Academy Prize for his work on Shin Godzilla.
As a young man, Shinji Higuchi was one of the founding members of Daicon Films (now Gainax), along with his friend Hideaki Anno. Higuchi worked on storyboards for Daicon's early anime and tokusatsu productions in the 1980's, and eventually had the opportunity to join the creature unit of The Return of Godzilla in 1984 as an uncredited assistant. Though he did not work directly under special effects director Teruyoshi Nakano, his duties included assisting the makers of the 84Goji suit, helping Kenpachiro Satsuma in and out of the suit on set, and swinging Godzilla's tail. Higuchi and Nakano would eventually work together on the Kitakyushu theme park Space World, which opened in 1990. Previously, Higuchi had also worked as a production assistant on the Toho film Bye-Bye Jupiter, where he worked with Koichi Kawakita, who would go on to serve as the special effects director for the Heisei Godzilla films. The next year, Higuchi received his first major credit on a film as director of special effects for Daicon's low-budget comedy kaiju film The Giant Eight-Headed Serpent Strikes Back. Higuchi worked on various other Daicon productions throughout the late 1980's and early 1990's as well as the Toho/Tsuburaya co-production Mikadoroid.
Higuchi's career began to take off in 1995, when he worked as a writer, assistant director, and storyboard artist for Hideaki Anno's immensely popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. The main character of the series, Shinji Ikari, was even named after Higuchi. That same year, Higuchi was hired to direct the special effects for Shusuke Kaneko's reboot to the Gamera series, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. Despite having half the budget of Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, the most recent Godzilla film, the film was a huge success, and Higuchi returned to perform the same position for its sequels, Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion and Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris, experimenting with blending computer-generated imagery and traditional tokusatsu effects, which cemented his position as one of the top special effects technicians in Japan.
Higuchi worked on CG animation and storyboarding for some animated productions in the early 2000's. In 2005, Higuchi received his first directing credit for the box-office hit Lorelei: The Witch of the Pacific Ocean, and went on to direct remakes of two of Toho's classic films, Sinking of Japan (a remake of Submersion of Japan) and The Three Villains of the Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess (a remake of The Hidden Fortress).
More recently, Higuchi has worked as a storyboard artist for various anime series, including Rebuild of Evangelion and Kill la Kill. In 2015, Higuchi directed both parts of the Toho/Nikkatsu-produced live-action adaptations of the popular manga and anime series Attack on Titan, using a combination of prosthetic makeup, suitmation, puppetry, and CG enhancements to portray the giant Titan creatures. The same year, Toho announced that he would be the director of special effects and co-director of Shin Godzilla, where he would work alongside his longtime friend and creative partner Hideaki Anno, the film's writer and other co-director. Shin Godzilla was a massive box office hit, and Higuchi and Anno were honored with the Director of the Year prize at the 40th Japan Academy Awards.
- Bye-Bye Jupiter (1984) - Production assistant
- The Return of Godzilla (1984) - Assistant creature unit [uncredited]
- Ultra Q The Movie: Legend of the Stars (1990) - Storyboarder
- Mikadoroid (1991) - Director of special effects
- Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero (TV 1993-1994) - Concept artist
- Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995) - Director of special effects
- Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion (1996) - Director of special effects
- Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999) - Director of special effects
- Sinking of Japan (2006) - Director
- Geharha: The Dark and Long Hair Monster (2009) - Executive producer
- Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo (2012) - Director
- Attack on Titan the Movie: Part 1 (2015) - Director
- Attack on Titan the Movie: Part 2 (2015) - Director
- Shin Godzilla (2016) - Director [with Hideaki Anno] / director of special effects
- The 12 Day Tale of the Monster That Died in 8 (TV 2020) - Original story
- The 12 Day Tale of the Monster That Died in 8 (2020) - Original story
- Shin Ultraman (2021) - Director
Shinji Higuchi with Hideaki Anno
Shinji Higuchi, Teruyoshi Nakano, and Takashi Naganuma posing with the Godzilla statue in front of Toho Studios
Shinji Higuchi with the MireGoji at Tokyo Toy Show 2016
Shinji Higuchi with Yuji Kaida and Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Shinji Higuchi with Hideo Kojima
Higuchi, Shogo Tomiyama, and Masao Iwase at the Godzilla Cinema Concert on October 31, 2017
Higuchi with Jordan Vogt-Roberts and Kiyotaka Taguchi
- Shinji Higuchi is a close friend of Hideaki Anno, and reportedly convinced the latter to write the script for and help him direct Shin Godzilla after he previously refused when Toho first offered him the position.
- Interview by David Milner and Guy Tucker (March 1995)
- Interview by Kyle Yount (August 2017)
- Facebook account
- Instagram account
- YouTube channel
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