THE CLASSICS - The Daicon Animations

Title: Daicon III Opening Animation, Daicon IV Opening Animation
Format: Short Film/OVA
Episode Count:  2
Release:  1981, 1983
Studio:  Daicon Film
Director: Hiroyuki Yamaga


A young girl is given a very important mission and must brave many dangers to accomplish it.

Some time later, the same girl, now a young lady, shows great feats of strength and ability as she continues battling through space and time.


The Daicon III and Daicon IV Opening Animations were created for the opening ceremonies of the 20th and 22nd Nihon SF Taikai (Japan Science Fiction Convention), respectively. They were created by the staff of Daicon Film, who would later go on to found studio Gainax.

The Daicon III animation was made by three people, Takami Akai, Hiroyuki Yamaga, and Hideki Anno, in a spare room in the house of fellow Daicon Film member Toshio Okada. They used cels made of the wrong material and had to make their own tap to punch holes in their animation paper. It was a true amateur production, finished the day of the convention and without the use of standard tools such as timing sheets.

The Daicon IV animation was more professionally-made, albeit marginally so. Production took place in a rented-out textile mill, which locked at night, leaving many of the animation’s 12-person staff working overnight in the heat. Like the Daicon III animation, the Daicon IV animation was also finished the morning of the convention.

What puts the Daicon animations on the map is the story behind them and what they started. The Daicon III animation could technically be considered the first OVA, and the Daicon IV animation could technically be considered the first AMV. Beyond that, however, the Daicon animations represent what zealous, passionate fans are capable of. They were created from scratch for a pair of sci-fi conventions, and eventually resulted in one of the most pivotal studios in the medium.

While impressive animations in their own right, the story of how they came to be and what their creators would go on to do is the stuff of legend. On a personal note, while serving as president of my college’s anime club, I used the Daicon animations as part of my opening speech to new members, as an illustration of what passion and dedication are capable of.

Due to copyright issues (The Daicon IV animation makes use of the Playboy bunny costume and the songs “Prologue” and “Twilight” by Electric Light Orchestra), an official American release of the Daicon animations never came out. The animations were released in Japan on laserdisc, but the release is considered a valuable collector’s item due to its rarity and, as such, is hard to obtain and very expensive.