Born in 1938 in Onomichi, Hiroshima, Nobuhiko Obayashi started his work toward entertainment in 1956 when he attended Seijo University in Tokyo and began what would be a lifelong passion toward film. Through the 1960's, Obayashi produced personal and experimental movies, deviating from many of the film making norms of the time. Although personally financed, the films were sometimes quite lengthy, such as Emotion which was released to home video on Criterion's House, and received recognition due to distribution by the Art Theatre Guild. Through the 1960's and early 1970's, Obayashi's mainstay was actually TV commercials, often employing his abnormal techniques to grab the viewer's attention and giving him the opportunity to work alongside such huge stars as Kirk Douglas and Charles Bronson.
Obayashi's true passion was ultimately theatrical films, though. Approaching Toho, Obayashi got a project called House (1977) green lit, billing it as an unlikely movie title to capture the same level of success as Steven Spielberg's Jaws. However, even though Toho green lit the production in 1975, the project had mostly stalled, without one of the company's director's wanting to tackle the bizarre concept. Obayashi volunteered himself for the director's chair, but was passed up as he hadn't worked his way through the traditional hiring process, starting as an assistant director at Toho before earning a chance to direct his own movie. So Obayashi began a two year campaign to build interest, creating a radio drama, releasing the movie's soundtrack way in advance before filming had even begun and making a buzz in the news about the upcoming production from Toho. Ultimately, Toho realized they couldn't withhold the production, and made a controversial choice of letting Obayashi bypass the traditional hiring process to direct the project. Although critically marred at the time, the movie was a huge box office success, launching Obayashi's career overnight. The director went on to do many films following the movie's success and from a wide range of genres, including the San Francisco based box office hit Take Me Away (1978).