The Incredible Artists of Kyoto Animation: Part 2

by Evan Minto & Lynzee Loveridge,

How do you write a responsible obituary for a tragedy of this magnitude? The attack on Kyoto Animation's Studio 1 was unlike anything the country had seen since World War II. It was a place overflowing with love that was imbued in each of the studio's works and in the way management treated its employees. Kyoto Animation reverberated with talent and sincerity that reached millions of fans so that they too felt the studio's unyielding love. Their works connected people across oceans. Behind each and every anime film and television show was a host of immensely talented people trying to share something through the medium of animation.

Shōko Terawaki

Shōko Terawaki (44), better known by the pseudonym Shōko Ikeda, was one of the giants of Kyoto Animation. Early on, the studio was primarily an outsourcing shop, working on bits and pieces of anime to help fill in production gaps for other studios. Ikeda distinguished herself as an animator and animation director during this period, particularly on a run of Inu Yasha episodes for which she supervised other animators as the animation director — alongside future KyoAni directors like Tatsuya Ishihara (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Sound! Euphonium) and the late Yasuhiro Takemoto (Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid, and Fumoffu).

Ikeda's animation talent was legendary, with her peers at the studio referring to her as an “ace” of animation. Once KyoAni graduated from outsourcing and began producing its own anime, Ikeda moved into a character designer role, starting with one of Kyoto Animation's key early works: the cultural phenomenon The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. She then took a break for maternity leave, but returned shortly thereafter to continue her animation work. Her most recent and recognizable role was as the character designer for the high school band series Sound! Euphonium. Both Haruhi and Sound! Euphonium's designs were adapted from original versions (by Noizi Ito and Nikki Asada, respectively), but Ikeda's designs — and the unique, anime-only touches she added to them — infused a bright, cheery energy that made them come alive on screen. In particular, she added the trademark half-rimmed glasses and messy hair of the band teacher Taki from Sound! Euphonium! Ikeda, like Yoshiji Kigami (discussed in Part 1 of this series), was an essential part of what made KyoAni what it is today, and will be dearly missed by her coworkers and fans.

Atsushi Ishida

Atsushi Ishida (31) worked as an in-between animator at KyoAni, filling in the frames between keyframes to smooth out motions and prepare them for their final, broadcast-ready form. While many in-betweeners focus on simply matching the line art of the key animators, Ishida was passionate about capturing believable human motion in his drawings, according to his coworkers and family. Like many of his peers at KyoAni, he had dreamed of working in animation since he was young, and took night classes during university to train as an animator. Once at KyoAni, he contributed in-betweens to A Silent Voice, Free!, K-ON! The Movie, Nichijou, and more.

Megumi Ōno

Megumi Ōno was just 21, and like many of the victims of the attack was a new hire at the studio who had been trained at KyoAni's in-house vocational school. Outside of her animation work, she was also a talented painter; before joining the studio she won a number of competitions for her work. As an in-between animator, Ōno contributed to Sound! Euphonium The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day and Free! ~Road to the World~ Yume.

Tatsunari Maruko

Tatsunari Maruko (31) was an up-and-coming animator and animation director. During college, he worked with a team of students on the delightful short film “Sweet Lemonade,” which you can currently watch on YouTube. It's rough around the edges as you'd expect from a student film, but “Sweet Lemonade” is a remarkably cute and well-constructed little romantic comedy, and showcases character designs, animation direction, animation, and background art from Maruko. At Kyoto Animation, Maruko worked as a key animator for a few years before his celebrated debut as an animation director on on Sound! Euphonium season 2, episode 12. After that he worked on a number of other series as an animation director, including Violet Evergarden, Tsurune, and Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! Take On Me. Like many of the victims of the arson attack, Maruko had a promising future ahead of him at the studio.

Shiho Morisaki

Shiho Morisaki (27) was yet another graduate of the KyoAni vocational school, though unlike some of the younger staff members, she had more time at the studio to build up her career as an animator. As a key animator, she contributed to Liz and the Blue Bird, Sound! Euphonium season 2, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Tsurune, and more.

Hiroyuki Takahashi

In our last article about the victims of the arson attack we talked about Yoshiji Kigami, a veteran animator and mentor to the younger staff at Kyoto Animation. Hiroyuki Takahashi (48) was yet another one of these veterans. Like Kigami, Takahashi came out of Shin-Ei Animation, and the two briefly crossed paths a few times at the studio: on the Crayon Shin-chan movie Action Mask vs Leotard Devil in 1993, and later in 2001 on another Crayon Shin-chan movie (Arashi o Yobu Mōretsu! Otona Teikoku no Gyakushū or “The Adult Empire Strikes Back”) and on the Doraemon movie Nobita and the Winged Braves. By then Takahashi had moved up from in-betweener to key animator, and when Kigami moved to Kyoto Animation and started work on his directorial debut, Munto, Takahashi joined the team as an animator.

From there he became a prolific animator and animation director at the studio, showcasing a clean realist style that emphasized carefully observed and recreated motion (though he could occasionally veer into comedic exaggeration, as seen in a baseball scene he animated in Clannad). He also joined Kigami as a teacher at the studio's vocational school, helping train the next generation of KyoAni animators.

Most recently, Takahashi was in charge of the designs of the instruments in Sound! Euphonium and Liz and the Blue Bird. The meticulous mechanical design and animation of these intricate props, largely drawn by hand and supervised by Takahashi, represents a phenomenal technical achievement on the part of the staff at KyoAni. Just like Kigami, Takahashi's passing will leave a mark not only on his family, friends, and fans, but also on the students who learned the craft of animation from his stellar example.

Naomi Ishida

49-year-old Ishida worked at Kyoto Animation for decades, starting around 1993 when the studio was still primarily used for outsourcing. Ishida's craft was in painting and coloring and she worked on anime such as Inuyasha, Nurse Witch Komugi, and some Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan films. When Kyoto Animation began producing its own works, Ishida stayed on to bring her skills as the main color designer for both seasons of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the film The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, Hyouka, and Amagi Brilliant Park. Her last credited work was for color design on Liz and the Blue Bird.

Nami Iwasaki

Iwasaki began career as a key animator at a young age while working on K-ON in 2009 at the age of 21. She continued her work for the next 10 years, working on popular Kyoto Animation's works including The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!, Tamako Market, Free!, Beyond the Boundary, Amagi Brilliant Park, Sound! Euphonium, Myriad Colors Phantom World, A Silent Voice, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! Take On Me, Violet Evergarden, Liz and the Blue Bird, and more. Her career was affluent with talent and was praised by her peers for her ability to capture intricate expressions. Fans can see just how true that is whether its Rin's emotional vulnerability in Free! Dive to the Future or how Reina nearly bursts at the subtle contact with her teacher.

Norie Ōtō

26-year-old Ōtō was credited for finish animation, painter, and special effects animator for Kyoto Animation since 2014. Ōtō handled finish animation for Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! -Heart Throb-, Free! -Take Your Marks-, Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! Take On Me, Violet Evergarden, Free! -Dive to the Future-, Tsurune, and Sound! Euphonium The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day. Ōtō also handled painting in Free! Eternal Summer, High Speed! -Free! Starting Days-, and A Silent Voice, and handled special effects animation in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid and Liz and the Blue Bird.

Yūmi Kaneo

Kaneo was 22 years old and another new talent brought in after recently graduating from Osaka University of Arts. Her friends said that Kaneo always sought a career in anime, but she had other passions too. Before joining Kyoto Animation's team, she was the college archery team's captain.

Seiya Kawaguchi

Kawaguchi was 27 years old and recently began working as in in-betweener for the studio. He was credited for his work on both Liz and the Blue Bird and Sound! Euphonium The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day films.

Sumire Kusano

Kusano was 32 years old and primarily worked as an in-betweener on Kyoto Animation's film output. Kusano contributed to Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! -Heart Throb-, Free! Eternal Summer, Beyond the Boundary -I'LL BE HERE- Future, High Speed! -Free! Starting Days-, and A Silent Voice. After completing those films, Kusano took on key animation roles Sound! Euphonium: Todoketai Melody, Free! -Take Your Marks-, Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! Take On Me, Violet Evergarden, Liz and the Blue Bird, Free! -Dive to the Future-, Tsurune, and Sound! Euphonium The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day.

Aya Sato

Aya Sato was 43 years old. Sato was credited as an in-betweener for Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!, K-ON!, Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club, Violet Evergarden, Lucky Star, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and other series, as well as various Doraemon, Detective Conan, and Crayon Shin-chan films. Sato was known for her skill in depicting character movement in animation. Her interest art dated back to at least her junior high school days where one of her pieces was used as the school's yearbook cover.

Kota Sato

Kōta Satō was a 28-year-old animator who got his start at Kyoto Animation in 2014 on the second seasons of Free! and Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! He animated scenes for Sound! Euphonium, Liz and the Blue Bird, Violet Evergarden, and more.

Sana Suzuki

Suzuki was 30 years old. She was credited with key animation for A Silent Voice, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club, Free! -Dive to the Future-, Free! Eternal Summer, Beyond the Boundary, Beyond the Boundary -I'LL BE HERE- Future, Liz and the Blue Bird, Sound! Euphonium, Sound! Euphonium 2, Sound! Euphonium The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day, Violet Evergarden, Gekijō-ban Hibike! Euphonium: Todoketai Melody, High Speed! -Free! Starting Days-, Myriad Colors Phantom World, Tamako Love Story, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! -Heart Throb-, Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! Take On Me, Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions: Rikka Takanashi Version, and Tsurune: Kazemai Kōkō Kyūdō-bu.

Miho Takechi

Takechi was 25 years old, and was credited as key animator for Sound! Euphonium The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day.

Takahisa Fujita

Fujita was 27 years old. Fujita served as production manager for Liz and the Blue Bird, A Silent Voice, Violet Evergarden, Free! -Dive to the Future-, High Speed! -Free! Starting Days-, Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! Take On Me, Beyond the Boundary -I'LL BE HERE- Future, Sound! Euphonium The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day, and Tsurune: Kazemai Kōkō Kyūdō-bu.

Kana Matsuura

Matsuura was 24 years old. She was credited as an animator for Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memories Doll anime film.

Atsushi Miyaji

Atsushi Miyaji was 32 years old. He was credited as in-betweener for anime such as Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club, Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!, Violet Evergarden, Hyouka, A Silent Voice, Liz and the Blue Bird, Beyond the Boundary -I'LL BE HERE-, Gekijō-ban Hibike! Euphonium: Todoketai Melody, Sound! Euphonium The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day, Tsurune: Kazemai Kōkō Kyūdō-bu, and Tamako Market.

Yuko Myouken

Yuko Myōken was 29 years old and already leading animation teams at Kyoto Animation. She was credited as animation director for the Free! -Dive to the Future-, Violet Evergarden, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, A Silent Voice and more. She worked prolifically as a key animator on series like Tamako Market, Beyond the Boundary, Hyouka, Amagi Brilliant Park, Free!, and many others.

Sayaka Watanabe

Sayaka Watanabe was 27 years old. She was credited as key animator for Violet Evergarden, Violet Evergarden: Eternity and the Auto Memories Doll, A Silent Voice, Liz and the Blue Bird, Free! -Dive to the Future-, Free! -Take Your Marks-, High Speed! -Free! Starting Days-, Myriad Colors Phantom World, Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions! Take On Me, Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Tsurune: Kazemai Kōkō Kyūdō-bu, Sound! Euphonium 2, and Sound! Euphonium The Movie - Our Promise: A Brand New Day.

Tomoka Tokimori

Tokimori was 22 years old and a new hire at Kyoto Animation. She hailed from Hiroshima and began working with the company after graduating from college and finishing an animation vocational program. Tokimori was described by a male friend as a social butterfly who made friends easily. Tokimori's friendly nature carried over to Kyoto Animation where she had already made friends with her colleagues.

Tokimori has her friend celebrated together when she was hired at Kyoto Animation. “Tokimori has always loved anime. She looked forward to seeing her name in the ending credits," her friend said.

Maiko Nishikawa

29-year-old Nishikawa was a Nagano native and belonged to her high school's art department. She was remembered by those who knew her as a cheerful person who enthusiastically participated in club activities during her student days.

Anime News Network also wants to remember Chitose Murayama (49) and production manager Kojiro Matsumoto (25).


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