Shinji Higuchi (樋口真嗣 Higuchi Shinji?, born September 22, 1965 in Tokyo, Japan) is a storyboard artist (especially in anime) and is one of the top special effects wizards in Japan, best known for his work on the Heisei Gamera Trilogy. He works on both anime and tokusatsu projects.
As a teenager fan, he started out as one of the four founders of Daicon Films (now Gainax), along with Hideaki Anno, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and Takami Akai. A highly talented artist, he worked on many of their early anime and tokusatsu productions, doing storyboarding as well as special effects. Soon, he got to help out special effects director Teruyoshi Nakano as an uncredited assistant for The Return of Godzilla (1984). But his first major FX credit came with Daicon's 1985 low-budget daikaiju epic-comedy, The Eight-Headed Giant Serpent Strikes Back. He continued to be a storyboarder for anime such as Gunbuster (1988) and Otaku no Video (1991), and was the special effects director for Toho/Tsuburaya Productions' 1991 SF-thriller, Mikadoroid.
As a key Daicon/Gainax member, he also played an important part in the creation of one of the most popular anime series, Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995). He was a writer, assistant director, and art director/storyboarder for that series. He was also the namesake for the show's protagonist, Shinji Ikari.
That same year was another turning point for Higuchi - he had directed the special effects for the highly-acclaimed 90s Gamera trilogy of films, all directed by Shusuke Kaneko. He had truly proved himself to be a top master in the field of Japanese special effects. He continued to direct FX for movies such as Sakuya - Slayer of Demons (2000), Princess Blade and Pistol Opera, both 2001. That same year, he helped out with the sequence in the Godzilla film, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, where Godzilla is confronted by JSDF jet fighters, and thus attacks them with his radioactive ray breath.
In addition to special effects direction, Higuchi provided the CG animation for the first Hamtaro movie, and storyboarded the fight scenes for the CG tokusatsu superhero epic, Casshern (2004), based on Tatsuo Yoshida's 1973 anime series.
In 2005, he has directed the tokusatsu SF/World War II epic, Lorelei, which has become a box-office success in Japan. His next project was a remake of the classic 70s Toho disaster film Japan Sinks, released in 2006. The latter film was a massive success at the box office, but was poorly received by critics and won first place at the Golden Raspberry Awards (the Japanese equivalent of a Razzie). Recently Shinji Higuchi directed Three Villains of The Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess, released in May 10, 2008. It is a remake of Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress.
- Lorelei: The Witch of the Pacific Ocean Lorelei (2005)
- The Sinking of Japan Nihon chinbotsu (2006)
- Kakushi Toride no San-Akunin: The Last Princess (2008)
- Wings of Honneamise (1988)
Special Effects Director
- Mikadroid (1991)
- Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995)
- Gamera 2: Advent of Legion (1996)
- Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys (1999)
- Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
Assistant Special Effects Director
- The Return of Godzilla (1984)
- The End of Evangelion (1997)