If you’ve seen Otaku no Video, you know this story.
The Notenki Memoirs is the memoir of Yasuhiro Takeda, one of the founding members of anime studio Gainax. It chronicles the rise of the Gainax, from a group of sci-fi nerds who meet up in (and eventually drop out of) college, through their time running the General Products store, making and selling figures, up through the founding of Daicon Film, the creation of studio Gainax, and through the release of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The book is an inspiring true story showcasing just how far a special brand of passion can take people. The men of proto-Gainax went all-in on their passion, eventually dropping out of college together to dedicate their lives to sci-fi, anime, and tokusatsu.
Written from Takeda’s point of view, The Notenki Memoirs goes into detail about his personal thoughts and impressions on every event, project, and person that eventually gave rise to Gainax. For people hungry for personal perspectives on the history of anime, Takeda’s no-punches-pulled take on everything is a delight to read.
The book was personally inspiring to me. As I was part of the way through, reading about the members of proto-Gainax running the General Products store (where they sold resin models; “garage kits”), I got the idea to start selling anime figures myself and have since started a business doing exactly that. The Notenki Memoirs shows that with hard work, perseverance, and passion, it’s possible to turn a hobby into a career, and then some.
The men who made Gainax went from college dropouts to anime legends, all within the span of a couple decades. Their story is one of hardcore fans going outside the box in order to succeed on their terms, and it comes highly recommended, both as a historical account, and as a motivational and inspirational work.