Late Ghibli Animator Makiko Futaki's Picture Book Gets Collector's Edition
posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
A new picture book collecting the artwork of animator Makiko Futaki will be released in January 2019. The book Sekai no Mannaka no Ki Aizō-ban (The Tree in the Middle of the World: Collector's Edition) includes Futaki's first picture book released by Tokuma Shoten's Animage Bunko imprint in 1989 and new materials.
The collector's edition reprints the original story in A5-size, close to the original version by Futaki. Additionally, the end of the book adds original artwork by Futaki that was not previously published.
The original book tells the story of a great, ancient tree that exists at the center of the world. Civilization has forgotten its existence. Near the impossibly tall tree's base was a home where Cici lived with her grandmother. After over 10 years of eking out a living in near isolation, Cici begins to dream of climbing the tree.
Futaki created the book after visiting Yakushima to draw the large trees for Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro anime film. After spending time in the forest there, she kept thinking about a tree that was so large it could host all kinds of life in its branches.
Futaki passed away in 2016 at the age of 58. She began her professional career as an in-between animator in Telecom Animation Film, working on episode #153 of Lupin III: Part II. Before this, she had already been making amateur animation and showing them at the Private Animation Festival (PAF). She first worked with Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata on Jarinko Chie in 1981, and then with Hayao Miyazaki in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. She had since worked on the majority of Studio Ghibli's films as a freelance key animator, and served as assistant animation director for Tales from Earthsea. She last worked on When Marnie Was There as a key animator.
Apart from Studio Ghibli films, she has also worked as an animator on Royal Space Force - The Wings of Honnêamise, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Akira, and Gosenzo-sama Banbanzai!. She also illustrated the covers of Nahoko Uehashi's Moribito novels.