Mutsumi Inomata and Atsuko Ishida Discussion on 80s Cute Girls Anime

This is a retrospective between Mutsumi Inomata and Atsuko Ishida from 2012 on 80s cute girls [bishōjō] anime.

I swore I would never translate something as long as the six-part Akio Sugino interview ever again, yet this one is not far off in length… That said, thankfully, this one was not nearly as painful to translate. Maybe I’m getting better at this, though I find that unlikely. Anyway, I’m probably going to take a break again. The pendulum has swung too far into reading about anime and not actually watching it. It’s time for the pendulum to swing back.

All footnotes are from the source text… Sigh.

Animators Discussion

Mutsumi Inomata & Atsuko Ishida

She created the original bikini warriors and greatly influenced the female animators of today, along with her apprentice.

Mutsumi Inomata
An illustrator, animator, and manga artist from Kanagawa. In her school days, she does part-time work at Maki Production. Through an introduction from the Maki president, she enters Kaname Production, founded by the young staff from Ashi Pro. She serves as character designer and animation director on the Leda: The Fantastic Adventures of Yohko OVA (1985), Windaria (1986), and others. She’s also famous for her work as a character designer on the Tales RPG series from Bandai Namco Games. With a delicate touch, she draws characters with slender bodies and large eyes. She has many fans both domestically and internationally. In recent years, she’s drawn character reference art among other things for Sacred Seven (2011).

Atsuko Ishida
An animator, character designer, illustrator, and manga artist born in Hiroshima prefecture. In 1983, she enters Kaname Production and debuts as an inbetween animator on Amazing Sarutobi [Sasuga no Sarutobi] (1982). After drawing inbetweens for Fist of the North Star (1985) and key frames for City Hunter (1987), she goes freelance in 1988. For the first time, she serves as animation director on The Brave Fighter of Legend Da-Garn (1992) and as character designer on The Brave Express Might Gaine (1993). After the massive success of Magic Knight Rayearth, on which she served as animation director and character designer, recognition of her name rose sharply among anime fans. In recent years, she’s mostly worked professionally as a manga artist, but she returned to anime to do key frame animation for Samurai Champloo (2005), Ranma ½: Nightmare! Incense of Spring Sleep (2008), and the Tales RPG series.

Currently, Mutsumi Inomata is a professional and popular illustrator. But back in the 80s, she worked as an animator on Plawres Sanshiro, GoShogun, and others. Enthralled by Inomata’s drawings, Atsuko Ishida, who is currently a professional manga artist, saw Inomata as one of her greatest inspirations and entered the anime industry as a result. The careers of both women have diverged from the field of animation, but we’ve brought together both talents for this reunion, many years after they last met. Together, they regale us with various stories of working on Leda: The Fantastic Adventures of Yohko, and others.

A chance encounter through GoShogun

⸻ I’d like to ask both of you how you entered this industry, about the projects you’ve worked on together, and also what you think about 80s cute girls [bishōjo] anime.

Inomata: I have always liked anime since I was a child, but I had no idea how it was made. Coincidentally, I had high school classmates who also liked anime. They mentioned that there were summer part-time cel painting jobs and asked me if I had any interest. This was when I first heard that this kind of work existed. I went together with one of them, and this is how I entered the industry.

⸻ So originally, you didn’t intend to get a job related to anime.

Inomata: That’s right. Originally, I wanted to get a job related to drawing and painting, so I planned to go to school for art and design. But gradually, I grew more interested in anime work, and I sought advice from someone at the company where I did part-time work. I was told, “If you want get a job working on this sort of stuff, then you’ll be fine if you continue working the way you have been so far. I’ll give you referrals.”

⸻ So you just continued on with the anime work and progressed that way.

Inomata: At first I thought, “Holy smokes, that was way too quick!” (laughs) Back then, I was also learning oil painting, and I thought anime was in another league. I questioned if you could really just drop out of school and jump right into a job at an art company. So I asked a teacher at school, and then they asked an acquaintance of theirs who worked in the art industry. They responded, “If she can already get a job, then it sounds fine to me.” I was convinced after that, and I took the full-time job.

⸻ The first company you worked at was Ashi Production,[1] right?

Inomata: When I was part-time, I only did a little bit of cel painting. Then I told them I wanted to draw, and so they let me try my hand at animation by starting on inbetweens.

⸻ Then it was more the case that you started with inbetweening, as opposed to cel painting.

Inomata: Yes, but it was a small company back then. When things got busy, I had to help out with cel painting as well. As far as which project I started on, there was Don Quixote in the Tales of La Mancha.[2]

⸻ Oh wow, on Don Quixote !

Inomata: Before that, there was also Josephina the Whale,[3] but I was really a complete newcomer back then; I was largely unable to do useful work. The first time I did inbetweening work was on Josephina, I think… I don’t really remember (laughs).

⸻ But prior to Ashi Pro, you studied oil painting?

Inomata: Yes, but I had never animated before. At first, I was just tracing one key frame after another. (Kunihiko) Yuyama [4] and my other senior colleagues seemed too busy, so I wondered if I should abstain from asking for their help. I would just take a peek at what they were doing every now and then, and occasionally show them my inbetweens. Then they would give me advice along the lines of “shouldn’t that part should be more like this?”

⸻ Were there any particularly memorable moments from that time?

Inomata: In the first place, I didn’t know there was this whole process of episode direction, storyboarding, key animation, and then inbetweening. I didn’t even know what a timesheet was. In the past, you had to manually punch peg holes into the animation sheets. When I started, I did this so there would be enough animation sheets for everyone’s work, and then I distributed them to all the animators.

Ishida: I did that too!

Inomata: Right? I had no skills, so this was the only sort of work I was capable of doing. Even for punching peg holes, apparently I did it so poorly that sheets were misaligned (laughs). This happens when you try to do it to a stack of too many sheets in one go. So instead, I thought it would turn out okay if I did it on just three sheets at a time. But when I did that, there was no end in sight. I also got scolded, “How long are you going to take?!”

⸻ I imagine during Josephina and Don Quixote, the great Yoshinori Kanada [5] would have come into your presence. Did you have any discussions with him?

Inomata: He wasn’t really involved with Josephina, so I didn’t interact with him much at that time. Kazuo Tomizawa [6] did the character designs, and he would often hold meetings at the studio. I thought it would be good to hear more about the other people working there, so I’d serve him some tea, and he’d tell me about Kanada. I came to learn about Kanada in this roundabout way.

⸻ So you didn’t see Kanada’s key frames.

Inomata: Well, they never came to my desk. However, while I was helping out on inbetweening for a completely different project, Kanada’s key frames were assigned to my inbetweening senior colleagues. They’d say, “Check this out,” and I’d go, “Wow! Let me try tracing those!” I had those kinds of interactions.

⸻ Around when did you move onto key animation?

Inomata: In the past, my role was loosely defined. Oftentimes, I’d do unexpected tasks within the company. For example, if some work we handed off to a client overseas came back to us, and it turned out really bad, then we’d have to correct it in-house. In other cases, the key frames drawn based on really rough storyboards from the episode directors would have to get corrected later by (Tamotsu) Tanaka.[7] We were short on staff, and we couldn’t even get new key animators. Instead, we just had to do all of this in-house, and my first time doing this kind of work was probably around then.

⸻ During all that, were you motivated to become a key animator in a formal capacity?

Inomata: I probably set my sights on the role with the Space Warrior Baldios [8] movie, maybe? More than being a key animator, I feel like it would be more accurate to say I was jack of all trades.

⸻ You did some promotional art for Baldios, yes?

Inomata: Yes, I did, although I don’t remember why. Maybe that’s also part of the jack of all trades thing (laughs). The director on the Baldios movie, (Kazuyuki) Hirokawa,[9] gave me all sorts of tasks.

⸻ When did both of you become acquainted with each other?

Ishida: I became aware of her key frames from the GoShogun [10] movie. I learned later that she had done the key animation on the sections added just for the movie.

⸻ After the GoShogun movie, Inomata left Ashi Pro for Kaname Production.[11]

Ishida: At the time, I watched the movie just as a fan, not an animator. “Who animated this amazingly clean movement?” I thought, and it was Inomata. When I entered Kaname Pro later, I met her for the first time.

Inomata: If I recall correctly, you came over as a visitor. I’d been telling everyone that it would be great if we could get more staff, and someone told me, “Oh, just to let you know, a cute girl is coming in today.” I told everyone, “We all have to convince her to join us!” (laughs)

Ishida: To summarize your work on the GoShogun movie, you ended up doing a lot, right?

Inomata: I had to draw whole shots, and I even added to other shots. The shots were all scattered and disorganized, and it was hard to outsource the work to external key animators. That’s why I ended up doing it all by myself…

Ishida: Watching a lady scurrying about in a dress really left a deep impression on me.

Inomata: Why do you remember that?! I don’t recall this at all… (laughs)

Ishida: But your workspace was so sparkly and different! I immediately understood, “These are her drawings!”

A Cinderella girl enters the industry, thanks to a few words from Kanada

Ishida: I wasn’t familiar at all with anime production companies, but I knew I wanted to become an animator no matter what. However, this was during September, which is outside of recruiting season; no one was recruiting newcomers. I called various companies, but Kaname was the only place that told me, “Well, come over and show us your drawings.” Everyone else said, “Sorry, we’re not recruiting now,” and they wouldn’t meet me.

Inomata: Yeah, the large companies are like that.

Ishida: I learned later that anime production studios usually recruit through the technical schools. But I was completely unaware of this, so I just phoned companies I saw in the anime magazines. I think this was in Animage, but I was introduced to Kaname through a huge feature which boasted, “We have three projects in development!”

Inomata: There were proposals for adaptations of existing works, and there was also a project like Galactic Drifter Vifam,[12] which portrayed lots of kids who ventured into outer space.

Ishida: Her drawings were in the feature, and they had this feeling of “this is the studio of the future.”

Inomata: I wonder if I drew for it just because I wanted take up more space on the pages (laughs).

Ishida: In any case, I was able to get someone to look at my drawings. I didn’t know anything about anime, so I showed them my croquis art (fast sketches of live models) and the manga-style work I inked. And then by coincidence, Kanada came over to Kaname on that day…

Inomata: Yeah, occasionally he’d come by to play.

Ishida: “Wow, it’s Kanada!” I was giddy (laughs). Supposedly, he came over to sign Birth [13] books for people, but he also drew illustrations for them too. He’d only draw Monga for the men, and Rasa for the girls. Observers around him pointed out that only drawing Monga for the men was cruel, but strangely, Kanada seemed to be puzzled as to why that would be the case (laughs). Then, someone told me that seeing as Kanada was in the studio, I should show him some of my own drawings. While trembling, I showed him the drawings I had brought to the studio, and he said, “Let’s hire her, why not?” That was how I entered Kaname. Had Kanada not been in the studio that day, I wouldn’t have entered the anime industry. I owe him so much.

⸻ So you didn’t even go through any rounds of exams, and you just got hired on the spot?

Inomata: That cant be the case, right?

Ishida: I wasn’t given anything like an exam, but afterwards, they actually called me and said, “We gave you a pass because Kanada said that earlier, but could you please draw for us one more time?”

Inomata: That’s awful! (laughs)

Ishida: So I visited once more, and I traced over a copy of a drawing for Acrobunch.[14] The Kaname president and my soon-to-be senior colleagues said, “Well, we said we’d let you in after the first time, so I guess we have no choice. You lack skill, but we’ll hire you.” They were pretty mean (laughs), but I guess did dawdle my way in.

Inomata: Proper anime companies practiced business quite formally, but it was actually quite common for people to dawdle their way into the industry.

Ishida: But there are also a lot of people who quit.

⸻ A lot of people have said it was a harsh era.

Inomata: Instead of a resume, you would submit something more akin to a portfolio. Each company has its own exams, and I’ve heard interviews have gotten tougher. Certainly, when the anime boom came along, there was a period with a flood of applicants, so there needed to be some way to select the best among them. During my time, no one was rejected. Back then, the atmosphere was like, “Well if they’re new, they’re not going to know much about the industry, and it’s a given that they’re going to be unskilled. But with practice, they’ll be able to make it.”

Ishida: The people from my generation stuck around, but everyone who came after that quit.

Inomata: Yeah, that’s why I’m happy when I see a familiar name in the credits, because I know they worked hard and persevered.

⸻ Who were the people from your generation you’re referring to?

Ishida: All the Kaname animators from my generation stuck around. (Masanori) Nishii [15] did. (Hideko) Yamauchi [16] quit and went to America to do interpreting, but then she came back to Japan and started animating again. (Miyuki) Nakano [17] also quit, but now she’s back in animation too.

Amazing Sarutobi and Plawres Sanshiro… The beginning era.

⸻ Ishida, when you entered Kaname, which projects did you work on?

Ishida: Amazing Sarutobi.[18]

Inomata: Ah, that one…

Ishida: Huh? What about it?

Inomata: I was thinking, they sure let me run wild on that one.

Ishida: That was probably the first title where the character reference sheets were completely redone in-house, yeah?

Inomata: Honestly, it was really tough (laughs). There’s no way that would be allowed now. I honestly couldn’t draw the way indicated by the character reference sheets. My illustrations were more manga-like and closer to Fujihiko Hosono’s source manga. So I just made reference sheets for myself and pleaded with them to let me use these reference sheets.

⸻ They just okayed that?

Inomata: I feel like they were angry with me initially. I was pretty naive, so I couldn’t tell whether or not people were upset with me. When I said, “Please, this is all I can draw, so let me do it this way.” They responded along the lines of, “Well, I guess we have no choice,” and they distributed my reference sheets.

Ishida: After that, there was a noticeable trend of redoing character reference sheets yourself. Personally, on Sarutobi, when I got your character reference sheets, I was excited to see so many of your illustrations.

⸻ Ishida, what kind of scene did you first do inbetweens for?

Ishida: My first inbetweens were for a scene with small people — moreover, they were silhouettes — inside of a spaceship. They told me to redo the scene, and I was like, “Which part of this am I supposed to correct?!” (laughs)

Inomata: My first inbetweens were for a scene with a top-down shot showing two small people who walked two steps. No matter how many times I redid it, I just couldn’t figure out how to animate it from the top-down perspective. It’s supposed to be a walking motion, but the lines themselves only differ by like 0.01 millimeters (laughs).

Ishida: At the beginning, I had to keep redoing everything. It was as though only people who could withstand this torture were worth keeping around.

Inomata: Yeah.

Ishida: In any case, for this one shot, I kept getting rejected. I had to keep redoing this single inbetween frame over and over again. You were paid per inbetween frame, so my starting pay was 6000 yen.

Inomata: That’s awful! Personally, on Sarutobi, they just let my work go through unchecked, so it was a pretty fun job. However, even though I thought of it as a fun job, I got moved onto a different project and had to quit Sarutobi. They protested, “We let you do as you wanted! You can’t just ditch us now!” I felt pretty bad about that.

Ishida: When production started on Plawres Sanshiro,[19] I left Sarutobi and joined Plawres so I could draw from your reference sheets.

⸻ I think this is the case for Mako from Sarutobi, but for you, Inomata, did the cute girl characters you drew originate from manga for young girls?

Inomata: Actually, I preferred manga for young boys. This is why I like female characters such as Mako, who has more of a young boys’ manga aesthetic.

⸻ Then you matched well with Sarutobi, aesthetically.

Inomata: Yes. Also, many of my senior key animator colleagues were men. Even though they were drawing female characters, they drew muscular hands and shoulders. That would stick out in my mind, and I felt like they really ought to “draw those parts a little more like this.”

Ishida: Even with cute girl characters, your animation was amazing. Plenty of people can draw beautiful illustrations, but not many can also draw them in motion too. The last of your key frames I saw were for Fist of the North Star.[20] Watching the fights unfold with your drawings was so cool. The motion was so clean.

Inomata: I liked animating everything in motion back then.

Ishida: I loved it. You seemed to have so much fun doing it.

Inomata: Well, it’s from my dark past (laughs).

Ishida: When I entered Kaname, she was doing promotional artwork for Animage. It was for a feature on cute girl characters. She wasn’t drawing key frames, but she did do illustrations for Crusher Joe.[21] We exchanged introductions when she was painting the artwork. She was already well known among anime fans by then. She certainly had the aura of the only person who could draw female characters the way she did.

Inomata: But everyone from your generation was great at animating motion, and they were also great at drawing clean still frames too.

Ishida: Everyone wanted to improve, so they all competed with each other and put themselves out there (laughs).

Inomata: When I draw lots of key frames, (the lines on each of) the frames get messy. It’s also because I use a 6B pencil, which results in thick lines. That’s why I was surprised when I saw how clean the inbetween frames were, and I ended up adopting a pretty lax attitude because the inbetweeners would clean it up for me.

Ishida: Historically, key animation placed a lot of weight on motion, so sometimes the lines wouldn’t be connected.

Inomata: They weren’t connected.

Ishida: Therefore, the inbetweener had to complete the drawing. These days, it’s completely different. You have to draw everything properly.

Inomata: Yeah, inbetweening included doing everything.

⸻ Did you ever worry about how to fill in the lines on the inbetweens?

Ishida: There were times I felt bad about killing the key animation lines when inbetweening.

Inomata: I couldn’t trace lines very well. For example, when drawing characters holding hands, as the angle of the hands changed, sometimes my drawings ended up looking weird. Then I’d just draw something contradictory relative to the key frames, thinking, “Actually, isn’t it fine if they just don’t hold hands?” I figured that if it came back to me to get redone, I’d fix it then.

Ishida: Things were done rather recklessly in the past.

Inomata: On top of that, when the finished frame came back to me, things like unintentional extra shadows got added. They didn’t check the work in detail, so people were free to run wild. Also, everyone had an excessive thirst to improve and wanted to show off how well they could draw. This was the atmosphere at the studio.

⸻ All the staff felt that way?

Inomata: I don’t think it was just at Kaname either.

Ishida: The entire industry was like that. Although, her skills really stood out at Kaname.

Inomata: That’s not true. There were many others who were really good.

Ishida: All the skilled people were external freelancers. The rest of the staff fought over who got to inbetween the key frames of the skilled key animators, such as Shinsaku Kōzuma,[22] Hideki Tamamura,[23] Satoru Utsunomiya.[24]

⸻Inomata, people say that when you were at Kaname, you produced an enormous amount of inbetween frames. How was your output when you were at Ashi Pro?

Inomata: I completed a thousand frames a month.

Ishida: That would be impossible in the current era, where you have to draw clean illustrations. Before, it was more about “how much of this should I draw in motion.” What people were looking to do with the drawn lines was different.

⸻ In the past, the drawn lines had a spirited feel to them. It was pleasing, even with faded lines.

Inomata: Yes, it was quite nice.

Ishida: Back then, it was normal to stylize drawings by laying the pencil down flat on the paper to draw and animate.

Atsuko Ishida’s regretful departure from the battle lines… And then her comeback!

⸻ Looking back, how do you feel about Plawres Sanshiro?

Inomata: I wasn’t skilled. It was just one task after another. It was also a difficult environment to work in because I was quite restricted. There was no schedule, no budget, and few animators. Even when we did have animators, they were busy working on other projects. I’d wonder if I’d even have to go do the inbetweens myself. But when I did that, my work backlog would pile up. There was no end in sight.

⸻ That is a really tough work environment.

Inomata: (Kazuhiro) Ochi [25] would come by the studio and do some work on Plawres. He could do half of an episode entirely by himself; he had a lot of time on his hands. I was really envious and detested him from the bottom of my heart (laughs).

⸻ So you weren’t satisfied with your own work during Plawres?

Inomata: You could say that. Later, when I look at what I drew, I’ll see mistakes. It didn’t feel like I did my best. Even when I finish and think, “I really tried this time,” when I check the rough cut [rush film], it didn’t look liked I tried at all… But it wasn’t just me. Everyone else tried hard, and anything subpar would get brought back to the studio.

Ishida: In the center of the inbetweening room, there was a giant table with bags of various episodes’ shots. It didn’t matter which episode it was; I just started taking bags from the edges of the table and started doing corrections. But the mountain didn’t get any smaller (laughs).

Inomata: One shot after another would come in.

Ishida: It didn’t matter which episode or which group it belonged to, I just kept doing corrections. That, and I had to do my own inbetweens. I spent most of my time at the studio.

Inomata: Everyone stayed at the studio. Sometimes you couldn’t even go home for a whole week. I’d be like, “Ugh, I don’t want to talk to anyone.” (Takahiro) Toyomasu [26] came to my desk and asked me, “Can you lend me your paint? I’m doing some promotional art work,” and I’d respond, “Sure, go ahead.” Then I told him, “I haven’t gone home once this whole week,” and he said, “That sure must suck, being a woman and all.” … I wanted to murder him (laughs).

Ishida: Everyone stayed at the studio. Sleep, wake up, draw, repeat. Well, my apartment was nearby, so I could go home briefly every now and then.

⸻ Inomata, you did the character designs for Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko. What was the mood like when that began production? Was anyone like, “We can finally work on a project from our magnificent Mutsumi Inomata.”

Inomata: “Our magnificent” (laughs).

Ishida: It’s because Kaname’s drawings were about her drawings. That’s how people felt about it. I had to go back home to the sticks due to an illness, and somehow I made it back in time for the latter half of Leda‘s production. During the theatrical opening, it felt like I had made it back to anime production. By the end of the screening, I was bawling. The cel painting girls who sat next to me were taken aback by my behavior (laughs). I was delighted that I was able to participate in that capacity

⸻ How many shots did you do?

Ishida: I did the fairly long shots.

Inomata: Towards the end, there were a lot of leftover shots whose work we weren’t able to distribute.

Ishida: There were a lot of frames remaining, and I had only just returned. I was wondering if it was really okay for me to do these important scenes. I was elated over being allowed to animate them.

⸻ The names of the animators and character designers were as much a selling point as the title of the film itself. Were there any particularly memorable moments for you?

Inomata: Hmm… I tried my best (laughs). That said, the stuff in the film just happened to be popular at the time. Just because someone has a lot of name recognition doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want. Personally, I can only do what’s in front of me; most things I can’t do. If I had trouble doing something, then someone else did it for me instead.

⸻ Is there anything in Leda you wouldn’t compromise on?

Inomata: At the time, I had a baseline for quality where no matter how pained, how stretched for time, or how tired I was, I did not want the quality to drop any lower than said baseline. Of course, when I watch the movie now, there’s parts here and there I’m not happy with. Considering how I couldn’t go home for the whole week due to the baseline… Now I think it’s better not to push myself so hard. Everyone was insane back then (laughs). It was like people were riding on the wave of young boys’ manga and kept drawing picture after picture.

⸻ Did the animation staff on Leda consist of people who wanted to work on it because it was one of your projects?

Ishida: There were a lot of people who got involved because it was one of her projects.

Inomata: There were also a lot of people known for their work in anime featuring cute girls. The staff was flooded with people like (Hiroaki) Gōda,[27] who understood how to draw beautiful characters in flashy action sequences.

⸻ More so than you reaching out to people, others just heard about this project and wanted to get involved.

Ishida: The first time I had heard of Gōda and (Kazuaki) Mōri [28] was during this time. Many of the animators hoped they could draw “Inomata’s original character designs.”

⸻ It was entirely an era of star animators. By the way, Ishida, you said you had to go back to your folks’ home during inbetweening?

Ishida: Indeed. I remember it quite clearly. It wasn’t during in-house inbetweening on Plawres Sanshiro, but rather during work on one of (Toshihiro) Hirano’s [29] episodes. I was drawing a small, jumping mecha, and I just collapsed. Even now, I still wish I had been able to inbetween her key frames and other sections of the last episode she did animation direction on.

Inomata: I quite liked the last episode too. Usually the production assistant would get angry at me, and I would have to animate using fewer frames, but because I tried so hard, I was able to animate using more frames.

Ishida: It was such a shame I couldn’t stay until the end. When Birth was underway, I was let out of the hospital. I pleaded with them, “Please, just let me draw a little for it!” So one of the accounting staff at Kaname let me stay over at their place, and I did inbetweens for 2 or 3 days before going back home to Hiroshima. I was happy I could participate. After that, I had to recuperate for several months (laughs). I took a break for over a year, and during that time, there were a lot of projects I wanted to work on.

Inomata: But, you got stronger after recovering from your illness.

Ishida: Did I? After that happened, when it looked like another all-nighter was going to happen, everyone would tell me to go home (laughs).

Inomata: Most people rented out places near the company. They overexerted themselves, and then the work became too taxing, and then they quit. That’s why no matter how nearby someone lived, I insisted that the girls couldn’t stay at the company so late and sent everyone home, while I stayed behind. Excluding my desk, the rest of the company was pitch black. Occasionally, I’d think, “I wanna go home too~” (laughs).

From Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko to Windaria, and then transitioning to illustration work

⸻ On the topic of 80s cute girls anime, there were the Pierrot magical girls series, including titles like Creamy Mami, which Akemi Takada and Masako Gotō [30] worked on. Were there any character designers or illustrators, who drew cute girls, that you were conscious of?

Inomata: Well, more so than being conscious of particular artists, I liked anime, so I watched a lot of different series. I met Takada and became closer with her. But, besides people I actually worked with, usually I didn’t talk about work. Although, there were always people I was impressed by.

⸻ Were there any animators influenced by Leda, or was the art style pulled towards anyone’s in particular?

Inomata: I don’t think it was pulled towards anyone’s style. Although, I was really into Kanada’s drawings. And Mōri’s. Mōri was also amazing on Windaria.[31]

Ishida: Yeah, Mōri was amazing.

⸻ Ishida, you said that you’ve been watching Inomata’s work since GoShogun. What have you learned from her?

Ishida: She worked in a different room from the inbetweeners, so I couldn’t watch her while she worked. Maybe the only time I saw her draw was when I got my work checked by her. But if I asked her, then she’d have to pause doing her own work. I’d ask someone else to check my work, and while they did that, I’d inconspicuously peek at her from behind.

⸻ Did any particular moments leave an impression on you?

Ishida: I remember this one time when, on completely blank sheets, she drew and animated a bunch of illustrations in one go with intense vigor. I thought, “She can visualize the animated drawings.” I observed the process that lead to the finished result. Without any rough drafts, somehow she could do this unbelievably quickly and produce very high quality work.

Inomata: Well, I had to work like this out of necessity due to pressure.

Ishida: There was no hesitation in any of her lines. I thought she was in an entirely different league.

Inomata: But you see, we were short staffed, so an animation director would get brought in once every few episodes. Sometimes it was every other episode. I told them, “What do you mean every other episode?! It’s not possible to complete an episode in one and a half weeks!!” But they merely responded, “We just don’t have anyone on hand.” I told them it couldn’t be done and pleaded with them to find more staff, but they didn’t look for anyone.

⸻ In those circumstances, you’d have no choice.

Inomata: As I drew more and more, I just pumped out one key frame after another. Then, somehow I amassed about a thousand of them; a thousand I had no choice but to do myself. Even though I had my own key frames I had to draw, others wouldn’t spare any of their time. The drawings turned out rough.

Ishida: No, not at all. Even though you drew frighteningly fast, the drawings were still solid. Also, you wouldn’t have been able to do it if you couldn’t picture the movement ahead of what you were drawing. I was amazed when I saw you work like this. I was happy that I could witness even a little bit of this and returned to my desk satisfied.

⸻ You must have learned a lot.

Ishida: Occasionally, there were others like her, people who could envision something from a blank sheet. I’ve heard that on Venus Wars,[32] (Yoshikazu) Yashihiko [33] could draw several tens of bikes off in the horizon heading towards the viewer, without any rough drafts. He could envision the bikes in motion in their entirety. Those are the legends left behind by such people, and she’s one of them.

Inomata: No… That’s not the case. I didn’t think so at all. On the contrary, during that era, the work was never-ending, and gradually, I couldn’t even make it to the studio anymore.

⸻ During Plawres?

Inomata: That and also during Windaria later.

Ishida: You took the shots back home to work on them, because commuting to the studio would have been a waste of time, right?

Inomata: When work goes too late into the night, I won’t be able to wake up in the morning. When I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, I told them, “I’m too exhausted, so today I’ll probably come in late.” They responded, “Oh, then take these home with you.” They came to my place in the evening to get the finished shots! (laughs) Isn’t that cruel?! I told them I was drained.

Ishida: When they came to pick up the finished shots, they also brought more shots for you to complete. The gap kept widening between times when you’d come into the studio.

Inomata: It never ended… I just became more and more isolated (laughs). To some extent, the situation was such that I had to assemble the corrected key frames. Because the work was never-ending, the production staff came to me to pick up my completed work.

Ishida: During that time, my senior colleagues told me that you didn’t come into the studio because you hated your animation desk. They put down a shelf on its side to make it wider, and make it more like a typical office desk, but that wasn’t the issue, was it…

⸻ What kind of desk was it?

Inomata: It was just a normal wooden desk. But there wasn’t time to keep it organized, so it just stayed messy. One drawer just had sheets and rough drafts in it. Another drawer was stuffed with strange, mysterious manga. Everything was just scattered about. At best, eraser shavings were swept off of visible areas.

⸻ If you had to deal with that work environment, you might as well work at home.

Inomata: No, not necessarily. Anyway, when I said “If it gets too late tonight, then I won’t be able to leave home,” they just went ahead and brought the work to me (laughs).

Ishida: That’s because at Kaname, you were the only reliable one.

⸻ How was the studio during Windaria?

Inomata: It was pretty rough during Windaria. The production of Leda was done in three months, but Windaria was a much longer film. I requested a longer production schedule and an environment where I could work together with other key animators, but that never came to be… I even pleaded with them to just find someone, even if it’s in the middle of production. Apparently, it was difficult to do so. We had to do a lot of corrections in-house.

Ishida: But, amidst that schedule, you could draw your own key frames.

Inomata: I was on the verge of tears…

Ishida: But, you were eager to draw key frames.

⸻ To quench your thirst for animating motion, you had no choice but to draw key frames. Perhaps that would be one way of thinking about it?

Inomata: It gets boring otherwise, after all.

Ishida: There’s no shortage of subjects to animate.

Inomata: I do find it more enjoyable to just go ahead and draw stuff on my own.

Ishida: When I did inbetweens for her work, I realized yet again that this is what it means to animate the lines.

Inomata: Honestly, everyone helped out and drew inbetweens for my work.

Ishida: Since Sarutobi, I’d fight with others to get your key frames.

Inomata: No way.

Ishida: “I’m not handing these over to anyone else!” At that time, I was supposed to check inbetweens, but I wanted to draw inbetweens for your shots instead.

Inomata: There was no time, so they were just rough drawings. Even for close-up shots of characters, everyone neatly cleaned up the shadows. I thought, “Oh, there’s more shadows and eyelashes now!” (laughs)

⸻ By the way, Ishida, you starting doing key frame animation in the 90s?

Ishida: I started on Fist of the North Star and Saint Seiya,[34] but I couldn’t draw at all. Even I realized that what I drew didn’t live up to what key frames should be. The first time I wondered whether or not I could really draw them was probably on Little Norakuro [Norakuro-kun].[35]

⸻ The “Kaname face” permeated anime fandom, didn’t it.

Ishida: It sure did. I just couldn’t draw at all for Fist of the North Star, so I was dropped from the production. I didn’t really do any work for it.

Inomata: I mean, it wasn’t in your wheelhouse at all (laughs).

Ishida: Ugh, I couldn’t draw at all! It was hopeless! However, you could draw for First of the North Star effortlessly. Your Kenshiro was so cool. You drew his muscles so neatly.

Inomata: I wonder if Leda got affected by this around that time. That’s why later, when drawing promotional artwork for Leda, her jaw turned out Fist of the North Star-like (laughs). For some time, I was at a loss for what to do (laughs). Her eyebrows also got bushier…

⸻ After being heavily involved in one project, it ends up influencing the next.

Inomata: For about one week, I drew while staring closely at the next project’s character designs, which fixed the problem.

Ishida: But even on Fist of the North Star, people fought over your key frames. Everyone was drawing key frames, but many people wanted to draw the inbetweens for your shots.

⸻ Back then, there was also The Motion Comic.[36]

Inomata: That’s another case of how you could kind of do whatever you wanted back in the day. As I drew, I’d also think to myself, “Would this sort of manga normally get serialized?” It’s just that, I started drawing it for serialization, but I had my primary occupation, so I casually quit doing the manga (laughs).

Ishida: It’s not really possible to do both in equal amounts. But after the anime boom, animators ended up doing all sorts of jobs. I’ve heard that people went off and drew illustrations for the front covers of the first issues of anime magazines; they treated it like part-time work. Nowadays, drawing promotional artwork is a primary occupation of its own. I thought, “Times sure have changed.”

Aspects desired in 80s anime

⸻ Between the moving pictures of anime and the chopped up motion of manga, the impression given is completely different. Inomata, do you feel like you’re suited to manga?

Inomata: No, I don’t think so. I can’t draw much inside those tiny panels. Of course, I think I’d get accustomed to it if I drew it, but I’d also end up seeking “motion.”

Ishida: That’s what happens when you’ve been an animator for so long. Your manga ends up turning into storyboards, as opposed to manga panel layouts.

Inomata: I had my manga artist friends look at my thumbnails,[37] and they corrected them and taught me various things. In the end, I found all of it too troublesome, so I quit (laughs). Some people can switch between the two easily, and some people can do manga for a long time like her. People are just suited to different things.

Ishida: I was especially conscious of making sure my manga didn’t turn into storyboard manga. I worked as an animator because I liked drawing things in motion, so no matter what, I’d end up trying to pursue motion as I drew carefully. But oftentimes, motion isn’t needed in manga. Even though it’s still drawing all the same, it feels like I’m using a different part of my brain.

⸻ In the case of manga, you need to know how to abbreviate motion.

Ishida: In manga, it’s important to place panels that leave an impact when you turn the page. It’s different from what is desired in animation. You drew essay manga for Kadokawa, right?

Inomata: Essay manga is a much more comfortable style for me.

⸻ Kanada also made an appearance in the manga.

Ishida: Her portrait drawing really looked just like him.

Inomata: No, no.

Ishida: If you knew him, you’d know the balance was just right.

Inomata: Hey, I just realized we haven’t been talking about cute girl characters at all (laughs).

Ishida: We just ended up reminiscing about the past (laughs).

⸻ Looking back on the 80s, is there anything you two wished you had worked on?

Inomata: No, nothing in particular. I tried to do everything I could back then. Whether good or bad, I think I tried my best. But I did feel quite isolated (laughs).

Ishida: I understood that she was busy, so I didn’t approach her casually.

Inomata: I could hear everyone’s chatter from afar, so I felt lonely.

Ishida: It was like we were fenced in by the higher-ups at the company. She was one of the main selling points of the company; if she didn’t draw, we’d be in trouble.

Inomata: If I blew off work, I’d be scolded immediately (laughs).

⸻ How about you, Ishida?

Ishida: I placed a lot of importance on motion back then. It was really fun. I think it was a great time to become an animator.

Inomata: It’s completely different from how it is now. Back then, even if the characters didn’t look the same…

Ishida: As long as you had the aura of wanting to illustrate in motion, it was permitted (laughs).

Inomata: The atmosphere was like, as long as it was interesting, then it was fine.

⸻ When I talk to professional animators from the 80s, a lot of them say the same sort of thing.

Inomata: It was fun work. You had freedom back then, but now you can’t express too much personality in your work. What trends now are projects that are done to create a single, consistent work. I don’t think that’s as fun.

Ishida: Back then, many people thought motion was king. They didn’t pay attention to their surroundings and just animated.

Inomata: Definitely.

Ishida: Even when I worked on Ranma ½,[38] people were like that too. That’s why, when a new anime was going to be made for the opening of the Rumiko Takahashi exhibit [39] that happened four years ago, they assembled all the Ranma staff and invited me. I excitedly responded, “I’m in I’m in!” And I joined the production.

⸻ The one that was released on DVD in 2010.

Ishida: When I went straight to the studio, I found that everything had changed, all the way down to the inbetween animation sheets. But the animation director, Atsuko Nakajima,[40] let me do things real slowly my way. That’s why I was able to do the job. Even the inbetween sheets — they became so thin!

Inomata: Yeah, you can’t even flip through them!

Ishida: “Huh? No way!” I thought. Even the vertical and horizontal dimensions had changed. I felt deserted, because the past is now long gone.

⸻ Yes, the screen aspect ratio had changed.

Ishida: During the production of Ranma, the key animators all competed with each other. Skilled animators like (Norio) Matsumoto,[41] (Tokuyuki) Matsutake,[42] (Masakatsu) Sasaki,[43] and (Hirofumi) Suzuki [44] appeared steadily, so the desire to not lose to them was strong. Nowadays, you can’t animate just because you don’t want to lose a competition (laughs). You have to draw precisely according to the character reference sheets, and you must not diverge from them, but you also have to animate the characters well.

Urusei Yatsura [45] did get quite out of hand.

Ishida: It did! It seemed fun, and I wanted to try animating it myself.

Inomata: It was fun to watch too. Although, back in our day, the anime magazines would often feature the names of the animators. I thought it was kind of wrong to do that though.

⸻ Why was that?

Inomata: Well, there are animators like Kanada who have the hidden qualities of a creator, but in the end, you can’t make anime with just one person. I do think it’s nice to be perceived as an artisan, and if you get treated better, then that’s great. But it feels wrong to highlight animators that way. I don’t know how people feel about it now though.

Ishida: None of the anime magazines at the time featured Kanada’s opening for Absolutely! Luckyman [Tottemo! Rakkiiman],[46] even though it was such a fun opening. I thought, “Ah, times have changed…”

Inomata: At some point, “motion” wasn’t important anymore.

Ishida: To me, it’s normal to think of animation as “motion.” It feels like this normal has since gone away.

Inomata: The end of this discussion sure got real sad.

Ishida: I’m glad I was an animator back then. It was really fun.

Source: Pages 137-164 from the book Now These Secrets of 80s Anime Can Be Told ~ The Sprouting of Cute Girls Anime ~, published on October 11th, 2012. It can be found used on Amazon Japan here. This book also contains discussions on the same overarching topic with the following people:

  • Kia Asamiya & Hiroki Takagi & Masahiko Itojima
  • Osamu Kamijō & Chiharu Satō
  • Hiroshi Watanabe & Nobuyoshi Habara
  • Haruhiko Mikimoto & Narumi Kakinouchi
  • Yuuji Nunokawa & Akemi Takada
  • Takashi Annō & Yoshiyuki Kishi

Besides this book, the Otona Anime editorial department has also released the following two books which may be of interest:

  • Now These Secrets of 80s Anime Can Be Told ~ The Era of Super Robots ~, published on March 12th, 2012. [Amazon JP]
  • Now These Secrets of 70s Anime Can Be Told ~ The Era of TV Manga ~, published on July 16th, 2012. [Amazon JP]

The original Ishida sketch of Inomata can be found here.

  1. Ashi Production. An anime production company now named Production Reed. In the 80s, they produced GoShogun, Magical Princess Minky Momo, Powered Armor Dorvack, Dancouga: Super Beast Machine God, the Machine Robo series, and more.

  2. Don Quixote in the Tales of La Mancha. TV/1980. A comedic action anime based on Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The general director for Magical Princess Minky Momo, Yuyama Kunihiko, also served as chief director for this series.

  3. Josephina the Whale. TV/1979. Based on a fairy tale from Spanish literature, this was Movie International Co. Ltd.’s first project. They would go on to produce works such as Galaxy Cyclone Braiger. Staff includes chief director Kunihiko Yuyama, animation director Tamotsu Tanaka and Osamu Kamijō, and others.

  4. Kunihiko Yuyama. 1952-Present. The overall director for Magical Princess Minky Momo. Recently, he’s served as overall director for the Pokémon series.

  5. Yoshinori Kanada. 1952-2009. Within the confines of limited animation, he drew flashy action sequences with groundbreaking mecha and effects animation. His massive influence lives on in the future generation of animators. His primary works include Getter Robo, Dino Mech Gaiking, Voltes V, and others.

  6. Kazuo Tomizawa. A Studio Z animator. On Josephina the Whale, he drew the character designs and served as animation director. He’s also been involved in Don Quixote in the Tales of La Mancha, The Gutsy Frog, Planetary Robot Danguard Ace, Super Machine Zambot 3, Mobile Suit Gundam, and others.

  7. Tamotsu Tanaka. An animator whose professional career was at Ashi Pro in the 80s. He served as animation director for GoShogun, Magical Pricness Minky Momo, Monchicchi Twins, and others.

  8. Space Warrior Baldios. TV/1980-1981. One of the representative titles of hard sci-fi robot anime in the 80s, with character designs by Osamu Kamijō. A theatrical version was released at the end of 1981.

  9. Kazuyuki Hirokawa. 1955-2012. He served as director on Space Warrior Baldios and as episode director on Zambot 3, God Mars. and others. He’s an animator and episode director who has worked on many robot anime.

  10. GoShogun. TV/1981. In order to protect the unknown energy Beamler and the only son of the professor who discovered and developed Beamler, the Good Thunder team fights against the evil, secret organization Docooga. Credits include animation director Osamu Kamijō and others, and key animation from Mutsumi Inomata and others.

  11. Kaname Production. Professional animators who worked at Ashi Pro, such as Shigenori Kageyama and Mutsumi Inomata, split off and formed this anime production company. Projects include Plawres Sanshiro, Birth, Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko, and others.

  12. Galactic Drifter Vifam. TV/1983-1984. Earth’s colonized planet is attacked by aliens. Miraculously, thirteen children escape and embark on a journey to Earth, while saving their family and friends from the aliens. Studio Live’s flavor of animation is deeply reflected in this work.

  13. Birth. OVA/1984. A sci-fi anime with direction and character designs by Yoshinori Kanada. In advance of its OVA release, it was also screened theatrically. Produced by Aidoru and Kaname Production.

  14. Acrobunch. TV/1982. Archaeologist Tatsuya and his five children use the giant mecha Acrobunch to confront the Goblins race, who seek the great, mysterious, and hidden treasure Quaschika. Mutsumi Inomata served as animation director and character designer.

  15. Masanori Nishii. 1963-Present. A Kaname Production animator. He also worked at director Osamu Yamasaki’s studio, Minami Machi Bugyōsho. His primary works include Hyper Combat Unit Dangaioh, Hades Project Zeorymer, Silent Möbius, and others. Recently, he served as animation director on Mobile Suit Gundam 00 The Movie: A Wakening of the Trailblazer.

  16. Hideko Yamauchi. An animator and character designer who was originally affiliated with Kaname Pro. She served as character designer for Dream-dimension Hunter Fandora Part 3: Fantos Chapter. Under the name Cindy H. Yamauchi, now she’s currently working as the animation director on Kids on the Slope.

  17. Miyuki Nakano. A Kaname Production animator now known as Miyuki Nakamura. Back then, her primary work included Plawres Sanshiro, Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko, Megazone 23, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, and others.

  18. Amazing Sarutobi [Sasuga no Sarutobi]. TV/1982-1984. Originally a manga by Fujihiko Hosono. Taking place at a high school which trains ninja, the anime adaptation features unique elements, such as the battle and friendship with students of a competing school. It also features movie parodies. Mutsumi Inomata and others did animation direction for this series.

  19. Plawres Sanshiro. TV/1983-1984. Originally a manga by Jirō Gyuu and Minoru Kamiya. This is a plastic model battling anime where protagonist Sanshirō Sugata controls his beloved toy Jyuuōmaru to fight formidable opponents that come one after another. This is the sole TV series produced by Kaname Production. Mutsumi Inomata did the character designs.

  20. Fist of the North Star. TV/1984-1987. Originally a hugely popular manga serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump by Buronson and Tetsuo Hara. Kaname Production did key animation for several episodes.

  21. Crusher Joe. Movie/1983. Originally a novel by Haruka Takachio, this sci-fi work takes place in the year 2160 in outer space. From planning to completion, this ambitious project took four years. This was also the directorial debut of Yoshikazu Yasuhiko.

  22. Shinsaku Kōzuma. An animator. Besides working on Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko as a primary animator, he also did key frame animation for Magical Princess Minky Momo, Urusei Yatsura, Plawres Sanshiro, and others.

  23. Hideki Tamura. 1960-Present. An animator. After working on Plawres Sanshiro, Birth, Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko, Dancouga: Super Beast Machine God, and others, he transitioned to working professionally as a video game creator. He served as animation director for the anime portions of the 2012 Pachinko Combattler V.

  24. Satoru Utsunomiya. 1959-Present. An animator and character designer. He did key animation for the first time on The Yearling, and then he drew attention from anime fans for his work on Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai! He also did key frame animation on Windaria and Venus Wars.

  25. Kazuhiro Ochi. 1962-Present. At the age of 16, he moved from Gifu prefecture to Tokyo to become a professional animator. He drew attention for his key frame animation on New Tetsujin-28 and God Mars. He did episode direction for the first time on Acrobunch. By himself, he conceived of the video game Cosmic Fantasy. He also drew serialized manga and served as director for OVAs.

  26. Takahiro Toyomasu. A former Kaname Pro animator and mechanic designer. He drew mechanic designs and reference concept art for Windaria. He also drew storyboards for Super Robot Wars Original Generation: The Inspector.

  27. Hiroaki Gōda. 1965-Present. In 1981, he debuted as a key animator on God Mars. He did animation direction for the first time on Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos, and he served as director on Oh My Goddess! Recently, he’s served as overall animation director and character designer on Amagami SS, Love, Election and Chocolate, and others.

  28. Kazuaki Mōri. 1957-Present. An animator, character designer, and episode director. His primary works include Leda: The Fantastic Adventures of Yohko, Mister Ajikko, Soar High! Isami, the Pokémon movies, and others. Between 1978-1989, he was affiliated with Anime R.

  29. Toshihiro Hirano. 1956-Present. He served as animation director for Super Dimension Fortress Macross. Afterwards, he drew character designs for Megazone 23 and Ninja Warrior Tobikage. He debuted as director on Fight! Iczer One. Nowadays, he goes by the name Toshiki Hirano.

  30. Masako Gotō. She worked as an animator on Creamy Mami, the Magic Angel, Kimagure Orange Road, Here Is Greenwood, Twin Spica, and others.

  31. Windaria. Movie/1986. A fantasy work based on Ueda Akinari’s Tales of Moonlight and Rain. Mutsumi Inomata served as character designer and animation director. Atsuko Ishida is credited for inbetween checks.

  32. Venus Wars. Movie/1989. Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, who also authored the original manga, served as the director for this movie adaptation. It takes place, at the beginning of the 21st century, on a colonized Venus. Young Matthew finds himself caught in the midst of a conspiracy and gets demoted to a cadet of the guards. He leaves the army to join his comrades in fighting against the man with fierce ambitions, Rado.

  33. Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. 1947-Present. An animator and manga artist. He drew attention from anime fans for his character designs on Brave Raideen and Mobile Suit Gundam. He served as director for Giant Gorg, Arion, and others.

  34. Saint Seiya. TV/1986-1989. Originally a manga by Masami Kurumada. This extremely popular series is about the heated battles of the saints who don the cloths. Shingo Araki and Michi Himeno drew the character designs. Atsuko Ishida and others drew the key frames.

  35. Little Norakuro [Norakuro-kun]. TV/1987-1988. Originally a manga by Suihō Tagawa. It’s garnered much popularity since pre-war times. For the TV anime adaptation, it was rearranged to portray everyday family life of humans and dogs living together in the modern day. It was produced by Fuji TV, Yomiko Advertising Inc., and Studio Pierrot.

  36. The Motion Comic. A manga magazine which started publication in 1983. “Manga drawn by animators” drew attention not only from anime fans, but manga fans too. Yoshinori Kanada, Mutsumi Inomata, Haruhiko Mikimoto, Toyō Ashida, and others drew for it. Publication halted in 1985.

  37. Thumbnails. These sketches of panel layout and dialogue are the rough drafts of manga.

  38. Ranma ½. TV/1989-1992. Originally a manga by Rumiko Takahashi. After the first series’ broadcast, which spanned half a year, the second series Nettōhen continued to air for a much longer period of time. This school battle romcom depicts the events which unfold around Ranma Saotome who, when splashed with water, turns into a girl.

  39. Rumiko Takahashi Exhibit. A key frame exhibit which toured across the country in 2008. For this exhibit, the following new anime were produced: Urusei Yatsura: The Obstacle Course Swim Meet , Ranma ½: Nightmare! Incense of Spring Sleep, and Inuyasha: Black Tessaiga.

  40. Atsuko Nakajima. An animator and character designer. She has worked on all these adaptations of Rumiko Takahashi’s work: Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku, Ranma ½, and Inuyasha. She has also worked on You’re Under Arrest, the Hakuoki series, Cookin’ Idol Ai! Mai! Main!, and others.

  41. Norio Matsumoto. An animator from the Tatsunoko Anime Research Institute. He drew key frames for Ranma ½: Nettōhen. In recent years, he has worked on Birdy the Mighty: Decode, Naruto Shippuden, Princess Jellyfish, and others.

  42. Tokuyuki Matsutake. 1967-Present. Under Atsuko Nakajima’s guidance, he drew inbetweens and key frames for Ranma ½. His primary works include the Medabots series, the Tales series (as character designer), and others.

  43. Masakatsu Sasaki. An animator and character designer. After drawing key frames for Mister Ajikko and Ranma ½: Nettōhen, he served as overall animation director for the Saki series and A Channel. He also drew key frames for the Crayon Shinchan series and others.

  44. Hirofumi Suzuki. An animator and character designer. After drawing key frames on Ranma ½: Nettōhen and others, and serving as animation director on Medabots, he drew character designs for Naruto. Together with his fellow colleague Tokuyuki Matsutake, who entered the industry at the same time, he developed his career under the guidance of Atsuko Nakajima.

  45. Urusei Yatsura. TV/1981-1986. A sci-fi romcom which was originally a manga by Rumiko Takahashi. This series depicts the events which unfold around Ataru Moroboshi, a flirtatious cheater and high school student, and Lum from the Oni tribe. Yuuji Nunokawa served as producer, and Akemi Takada served as character designer.

  46. Absolutely! Luckyman [Tottemo! Rakkiiman]. TV/1994-1995. An anime adaptation of a manga by Hiroshi Gamō. Yoshinori Kanada served as character designer and opening animator.

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