Shinji Higuchi (樋口真嗣?) is a Higuchi ShinjiJapanese tokusastsu special effects director and anime storyboard artist. He served as the director of special effects for the Heisei Gamera trilogy and one sequence in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, and is the co-director and special effects director of the 2016 film, 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 1980s, and eventually had the opportunity to work as an uncredited special effects assistant under Teruyoshi Nakano for The Return of Godzilla in 1984. The next year, Higuchi received his first major credited special effects work 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 1980s and early 90s 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 a budget a fraction of the size of contemporary Godzilla films, the film was a huge success, and Higuchi went on to perform the same position for its sequels, Gamera 2: Attack of 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.
Following his work on the trilogy, Higuchi would help direct the special effects for a sequence in Kaneko's 2001 Godzilla film Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Higuchu worked on CG animation and storyboarding for some animated productions in the early 2000s as well. 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 and 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 Corporation-produced live-action adaptation of the popular manga and anime series Attack on Titan, using a blend of CGI and suitmation to portray the giant Titan creatures. The same year, he was announced as the director of special effects and co-director of Toho's upcoming film Shin Godzilla, where he would work alongside his longtime friend and partner Hideaki Anno, the film's writer and other co-director.
Special effects credits
- The Return of Godzilla (1984)
- Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)
- Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996)
- Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999)
- Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (Godzilla vs. fighter jet sequence) (2001)
- 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.