Celebrating 50 Years of Anime: 50 People of the Past and Present Who Shaped Anime Into What It is Today (#5-1)

Finally, my little celebratory outburst is coming to a close. It’s been fun being 10% informative and 90% fanboy. At any rate, the madness stops here. This time: a Captain, a Robot, a Demon, a Prince, and a God. These people run the show, and even though some of them are not with us anymore, the show must go on.


#5. Leiji Matsumoto (1938—)

Notable Works:

  • Director: Space Battleship Yamato (1974)
  • Original Story: Space Pirate Captain Harlock (1978), Galaxy Express 999 (1978), Queen Millennia (1981), Arcadia of My Youth (1982)
  • Supervisor: Interstella5555 (2003)

History:

Matsumoto made his debut in 1953 as a manga author and artist. In 1971, he released Otoko Oidon, a series chronicling the life of a ronin, his first big break. He spent nearly 20 or so years training and honing his skills in preparations for his REAL masterpiece Space Battleship Yamato which came out in 1974. Matsumoto directed the series and worked in conjunction with producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki and also a young Yoshiyuki Tomino who did storyboards. His work in Yamato eventually gave rise to several spin offs, most notably, the Captain Harlock series which evolved into a separate phenomenon all by itself. His work carried into the 80s and 90s with various side story projects including various sequels and side stories set in the Harlock universe. In 2001, Matsumoto supervised the project Interstella5555, a music video set to Daft Punk’s discovery album which came out in Japan several years later.

Personal Favorite: Captain Harlock: Arcadia of My Youth

Arcadia of my Youth is the prequel movie to the Space Pirate Captain Harlock TV series. It came out in 1982, several years after the original series’ run and it established the back stories of Phantom Harlock as well as many other Leijiverse characters. We see Tochiro Oyama and the origins of the Arcadia. We also see Queen Emeraldes, an old friend of Harlock’s, who would soon get her very own spin-off series. Arcadia of my Youth is not only a prequel to the Harlock saga, it has also been described as the central hub of sorts for which many spin offs originated from. The movie retains the Leiji Matsumoto trademark atmosphere and character designs and is a great introduction to the Leijiverse proper.

Legacy:

This guy spent the first decade or so of his career writing shoujo manga. Thus, when his big break came in the 70s, his earlier work and influence was definitely taken into account. His trademark style is characterized by romantic space operas and heroic but frail heroes, evident in works such as Captain Harlock, Queen Emeraldes, Galaxy Express 999, Space Symphony Maetel, and Queen Millennia. His greatest legacy and masterpiece, however, is and always will be Space Battleship Yamato. Not only did it bring the established space opera genre to anime, it offered a means for understanding the thoughts and motives of those involved with the actual war. In the United States, Star Blazers as it was called, established an entire culture of fandom that persists even to this day (and the reason why Nishizaki wouldn’t let the franchise go). Yamato was an integral step in brining anime to recognition overseas and anime would most certainly not be the same without it. Even today, the Harlock archetype can still be seen in shows like Last Exile (Alex Row) and Cowboy Bebop (Vicious). The star system will forever live on!


#4. Yoshiyuki Tomino (1941—)

Notable Works:

  • Director: Triton of the Sea (1973), Yuusha Raideen (1975), Mobile Suit Gundam (1979), Space Runaway Ideon (1980), Aura Battler Dunbine (1983), Heavy Metal L-Gaim (1984), Overman King Gainer (2002)
  • Script/Storyboard: Astro Boy (1963), Ashita no Joe (1970), Neo Human Casshern (1973), Space Battleship Yamato (1974), Combattler V (1976)

History:

In 1963, Tomino joined Osamu Tezuka’s Mushi Productions, thus starting his illustrious career. There, he was mainly tasked with scripting and storyboarding various shows included the legendary Tetsuwan Atom. His training at Mushi Productions would soon turn him into one of Japan’s premier figures in anime. Tomino would go on to join Studio Sunrise, then known as Nippon Sunrise, where he quickly became one of the industry’s most famous directors. It was at Sunrise where he pioneered the Real Robot genre with 1979’s Mobile Suit Gundam. Over the decades, Tomino has remained a force to be reckoned with, directing many masterpieces including Space Runaway Ideon, Aura Battler Dunbine, and numerous Gundam sequels and spin offs. His work has won him many awards and honors over the years including the 2006 Animage Anime Grand Prix award, and the Tokyo International Anime Fair award for best director.

Personal Favorite: Space Runaway Ideon

Space Runaway Ideon is not what most people think of when they hear the name Tomino. The vast majority of the time, people think of one of the many UC Gundams or perhaps some of the AU Gundams. However, 1980’s Ideon has as much influence, if not more, than the Mobile Suit Gundam of one year earlier. Many classic “Tomino tropes” are evident as far back as Ideon, including his very popular nickname. The movie finale, titled Ideon: Be Invoked, is by far the greatest part of the show. Not only did it feature revolutionary animation styles and techniques pioneered by a young Ichiro Itano, it went on to inspire Hideaki Anno’s End of Evangelion. When all is said and done, the Gundam franchise is certainly Tomino’s greatest franchise and legacy, but Space Runaway Ideon will always be my personal favorite.

Legacy:

This man’s resume is massive. Not only does he shell out masterpiece after masterpiece (and some not-so-masterpiece), he has worked with some of anime’s finest over the years. He was an integral part of Tezuka’s Mushi Productions, he worked with famous Toei director Tadao Nagaham on Raideen, and he was also a part of Leiji Matsumoto’s Yamato team. The guy is a machine (no surprise from the man who created real mecha). Tomino certainly had a hand in shaping both giant robot anime, and anime in general. And let’s not forget his depression years which earned him the nickname “kill em all” Tomino (to be fair, Ideon existed before that period of time). Still, as long as anime exists, Tomino’s legacy is guaranteed. People will remember Tomino not for one particular show, movie, or popular trope, we will instead remember him as a pioneer of anime and mecha.

#3. Go Nagai (1945—)

Notable Works:

  • Producer: Devilman (1987)
  • Original Story: Devilman, Mazinger Z, Getter Robo, Dororon Enma-kun, Cutey Honey, Grendizer, Gaiking, Violence Jack

History:

Word has it that when Go Nagai was growing up, he had a near death experience. This ultimately changed his view of life and was what prompted him to quit school and start writing manga. He submitted numerous works as an amateur manga-ka before finally being recognized by the great Shotaro Ishinomori. Apparently these works were very mature for the manga medium which had remained rather tame since the split with Gekiga after the war. In 1965, he joined Ishinomori’s studio, thus beginning his professional career.

As a manga author and artist, Go Nagai was a very controversial figure. He was part of the initial launch of Shonen Jump magazine in 1968, however his works pushed the boundaries of the medium as well as the patience of the PTA. Harenchi Gakuen, his first popular work, introduced eroticism in shonen manga which landed him severe criticism. However, with the support of fans, he continued his trademark style with his signature work, Devilman, as well as Dororon Enma-kun, Violence Jack, and Cutey Honey, the latter of which was integral in developing the early magical girl genre. Go Nagai would eventually establish his very own company Dynamic Productions which would later help in the production of Getter Robo and Mazinger Z.

Personal Favorite: Mazinkaiser

Mazinkaiser is a rather recent OVA series which retells the Mazinger Z story, except this time with a twist. The classic Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger are present, as well as the familiar villains, Dr. Hell and Baron Ashura. The key difference, however, is the presence of a new robot, the titular Mazinkaiser, a robot with abilities that far surpasses the original. Now it’s up to Kouji to pilot the Mazinkaiser and thwart the evil plans of Dr. Hell. If you can’t tell by now, this is a show for little boys and manchildren. Another thing to take note of is the length. Mazinkaiser (7 episodes) is nowhere near as long as Mazinger Z (92 episodes), Great Mazinger (56 episodes), or God Mazinger (23 episodes). Why? Because there’s no fucking around in Mazinkaiser. Every episode, it’s down to business. Bad guy shows up, get’s torn apart by badass super robots. Glorious classic super robot action. Oh is it plot you want? Sorry, won’t find it here. Go watch Brain Powerd or the billion other Eva clones out there instead. Leave Mazinkaiser for us men.

Honorable Mention: New Getter Robo (with Ken Ishikawa)

New Getter Robo is a modern re-imagining of Go Nagai’s classic super robot series Getter Robo and Getter Robo G. Not enough can be said about Go Nagai’s contribution to mecha anime. While Mazinger Z featured the first on-board pilot, Getter Robo featured the first combining robot. Getter Robo’s influence stretches far and wide and can be seen in many popular giant robot shows today such as EvangelionTengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and Gao Gai GarNew Getter Robo is my favorite from the franchise particularly since it supposedly follows the original manga more closely than the many other remakes while boasting superb Brain’s Base animation. Also a high-point that makes this show great to watch are the three getter pilots. This show is high-octane, manly, giant-robot badassery. The Getter Robo of my generation. Glorious.

Legacy:

Is it any surprise that the creator of Mazinger and Getter Robo is mostly seen smiling, while the creator of Gundam and Ideon is mostly seen frowning? It’s almost fitting if you stop and think about it. That says a lot about the rift between classic super robot stories from the 60s and 70s and the more darker-toned real robot stories that permeated the 80s and 90s. And before anyone asks, no Tomino wasn’t smiling in that picture above, more like grinning mischievously as he delivered his “video games suck” rant.

At any rate, Go Nagai is a rebel at heart. He is a renegade who did as much to anime as he did for it. I’m not trying to justify the likes of Harenchi Gakuen, and numerous other Go Nagai works that are absolutely horrible. But one has to admit, the things Go Nagai did, whether good or bad, he did them during a time when nobody else even came close to thinking of doing them. He didn’t make Kekko Kamen so that it would land him big bucks (at least I hope he didn’t), he did it because he had an idea and felt like running with it. When he didn’t feel like doing it anymore, he stopped and moved on to something else. It seems as if this type of mindset is becoming ever so rare in today’s anime industry.

His legacy, however, remain’s steadfast. This was a man who revolutionized giant robot anime. Similarly to how Tomino pioneered the Real Robot genre, Go Nagai pioneered the early Super Robot genre, which reigned supreme decades before Mobile Suit Gundam. His famous shounen manga and later long running TV series, Mazinger Z, featured the very first giant mecha with an on-board pilot. His work with Ken Ishikawa on Getter Robo marked the very first instance of a combining mecha. His stories brought shounen to a whole new level with grotesque depictions of violence (Devilman, Violence Jack) and fanservice (Cutey Honey, Dororon Enma-kun). Go Nagai, is the king of shounen, the king of echii, the king of Super Robots, and the king of all things manly in anime.


#2. Yasuo Ōtsuka (1931—)

Notable Works:

  • Animation Director: Hols: Prince of the Sun (1968), Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro (1979)
  • Character Designs: Moomin (1969), Lupin III (1969), Future Boy Conan (1978), Chie the Brat (1981)

History:

Yasuo Otsuka grew up during the World War II years. It was during this time that he developed his skills as an artist by drawing cars, trains, and military vehicles he would often see as a child. Otsuka eventually saw the anime movie Hakujaden (Panda and the White Serpent as it was released in the US) in 1958. This inspired him to become an animator and he soon found himself working with Toei, the producers of Hakujaden. It was at Toei where he pioneered modern animation styles and the “money shot.” He worked with many proficient animators and directors including Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki. The former he worked with on the very influential movie Hols: Prince of the Sun and the latter he worked with on the popular Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro, quite possibly the best Lupin movie. Both instances marked the beginning of both Takahata and Miyazaki’s directorial career. Otsuka himself was offered a directing role many times, but turned them all down opting to remain doing what he did best (Ichiro Itano could learn something from this guy).

Personal Favorite: Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro

Lupin III: Castle of Calgiostro is one huge testament to this man’s proficiency as an animator. It simply looks gorgeous both for its time and even nowadays. The highway chase scene is one of the best sequences of animation period. The famous clock tower scene also ranks high on that list. If you ever have a friend whom you want to introduce to “old” style animation, Lupin III is the way to go (fun fact: ask them before hand what year they think the movie is from and laugh when they say the nineties). The movie itself is awesome, the animation is awesome, the story is classic Monkey Punch Lupin. A must-see classic for anyone who claims to be an anime fan.

Legacy:

As a child, Otsuka was fascinated with machinery and moving parts, particularly that of trains. This became a huge influence in many of his later works as an animator, especially during the memorable clock tower scene in Lupin III. However, his legacy is not that of a what he created or took part in, but what he contributed in the form of animation techniques. Before Yasuo Otsuka, Japanese animation looked quite similar to classic western styles employed by Disney. This style was noticeably different in that each frame was drawn in its entirety and scenes were animated at standard frame rate. However, many Japanese studios at the time were faced with severe limitations in both talent and budget, thus imitating Disney’s style became problematic.

Then came Otsuka, one of the first animators to experiment with “frame modulation.” Otsuka would eventually work for Toei Animation where he coined the term “money shot” to refer to the key frames that were drawn with noticeably more detail than the in-between frames. Thus began the trademark style of animation that was the staple of Japanese anime throughout its entire existence. What’s important is not which style, American or Japanese, is better. What matters is that faced with their limitations, early visionaries such as Yasuo Otsuka pioneered a technique that became synonymous with the medium itself. The style saw experimentation and development during the 60s and 70s. By the time of the 80’s Golden Age, what started as a means of saving time and money was perfected into an art form. This is Japan’s style, this is anime’s style, this is OUR style.

The way I see it, Yasuo Otsuka and Toei are responsible for a large portion of what makes modern anime what it is. In particular, the animation portion. While at Toei, Yasuo Otsuka exhibited a huge influence on all the staff there. He even mentored the up-and-coming Hayao Miyazaki, who would eventually form the famous anime studio Ghibli together with Isao Takahata. Though Otsuka may not have as many titles credited to his name as most other directors and animators, his legacy is ensured by Lupin III alone. Without him anime would not be the same, period.

Anime isn’t just about the animation however. You need a damn good story to go along with it. This brings me to the next and final person on this list. Someone who, in my opinion, is absolutely the most important and influential figure that helped shape modern anime…


#1. Osamu Tezuka (1928—1989)

Notable Works:

  • Director: Astro Boy (1963)
  • Original Story: Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Princess KnightBlack Jack, PhoenixMetropolis, and MANY more

History:

Osamu Tezuka’s nickname while growing up was something along the lines of “messy head.” He grew up to the sights and sounds of the Takarazuka Theatre, an all women theater in the town he was living in. As a child, Osamu Tezuka had already been honing his manga and storytelling skills, coining the pen name “Osamushi” due to his fascination with bugs. His professional work came at the age of 17 following World War II, thus beginning the manga craze. In 1963, during a time where television was rapidly increasing in popularity, Tezuka’s original story Tetsuwan Atom would become one of the first to be broadcasted. During this time he also established his very own Animation Studio named Mushi Productions after leaving Toei. His untimely death at the age of 60 coincided with the end of the 80s, the end of the golden age of animation, and the end of an era.

Personal Favorite: Phoenix

My favorite work from Osamu Tezuka is definitely Hi no Tori or Phoenix as it is known in English. It is not Tezuka’s most popular work, but it is perhaps the work that defined his career. The Hi no Tori manga is often times referred to as his “life work” as it was a project that he began at a young age and never really finished. As the years went by, he would slowly add to the story, creating an epic story that spanned his entire career. The story involves the titular creature known as the Phoenix or “bird of fire” in Japanese folklore; it is said to be reborn from its ashes when it dies. The story thus spans from the dawn of time all the way to the end of the universe. Each individual saga, while unique in their own way, share one thing in common: the struggles of mankind. Phoenix is truly a tale of epic proportions.

Legacy:

Osamu Tezuka is the God of Manga and the father of “modern anime.” His original work and subsequent influence gave rise to the art form we all know and love. Without Tezuka, anime as we know it would not exist. He is the Walt Disney of Japanese animation, and that’s an understatement. He established many conventions in storytelling in manga and anime that still exist today including the epic narrative style prevalent in Phoenix. He is responsible for perhaps the first “truly modern anime” to be broadcast on television, Tetsuwan Atom or Astro Boy in the United States. His original manga Jungle Taitei even went on to inspire one of America’s most beloved animated movies, The Lion King. 

This man’s range of work is massive. To this day, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of his animeography, let alone mangaography (are those even words?). But here’s the thing: I don’t need to. The things I have seen and read are more than enough to seal the deal.

It seems as if fans these days (myself included) are constantly crying out for originality in an ocean of copycats. Some say it’s because of a lack of talent in the industry. I disagree. I say it’s all Tezuka’s fault! Sometimes I imagine “Trollface Tezuka” sitting at home in his relaxer with a cigar and shirt that reads UMAD. Nah he wouldn’t do that. On a serious note, if you look close enough, traces of nearly every modern subset of anime fandom has its roots in Tezuka’s works. Among his most well-known are the “atom age” stories (Tetsuwan Atom) which combined post-war sentiments, science fiction, robots, and mature themes but were also suitable for children. He pioneered the earliest forms of shonen fighting tropes (Dororo) and shoujo storytelling (Princess Knight). Some of Tezuka’s later and lesser known works dealt with a number of themes often seen today such as life and death (Phoenix), nature (Jungle Taitei), religion (Buddha), the human psyche (A Clockwork Apple, Apollo’s Song), arthouse (Belladonna of Sadness), and even eroticism (One Thousand and One Nights). Tezuka also played a huge role in mentoring a young Yoshihiro Tatsumi who later went on to establish the Gekiga movement. Tezuka himself would later incorporate many of the darker themes found in Gekiga into his stories as seen in Ode to Kirihito and Adolf.

I am willing to bet money that ALL the people on this list were in some way affected by Tezuka. Some were his contemporaries. Some were his students. Some were his direct competitors (hello Toei). But perhaps most importantly, many were simply fans of his work and were inspired to become visionaries themselves. All of these people, no doubt, contributed various amounts to the art form in their own way. At the end of the day, however, Tezuka remains the grand master of them all, having not only pioneered the art form, but the medium itself. Watanabe, Ikuhara, Kawajiri, Shinbo, and numerous others might have diversified the anime art form for fans of different tastes. Oshii, Otomo, and Ishiguro might have refined it. Miyazaki and Takahata might have proliferated it. Nagai, Matsumoto, and Tomino might have strengthened it. Mori and Otsuka might have revolutionized it. But it was Osamu Tezuka who created it.

While he may not be with us anymore, the spirit of “Osamushi” lives on. This was a man who used his stories to convince people to care for the world and we should all be thankful for what this man did for the industry, the medium, and for all of us fans whose lives have been changed. GOODNIGHT ANIME! WE LOVE YOU!

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29 Responses to Celebrating 50 Years of Anime: 50 People of the Past and Present Who Shaped Anime Into What It is Today (#5-1)

  1. processr says:

    I just want to say that it’s been a pleasure to read this series. Kudos.

  2. catchercatch says:

    Thank you for doing this series. It’s a pretty ambitious thing to set out to do, and it’s been a great read. It’s always a good thing to reflect on the history of anime, and what shaped and started what we fans love today.

    • Tronulax says:

      I should be the one thanking you guys for reading. I had noticed back in June that it’s been nearly 50 years since Astro Boy and Manga Calendar, but no one was doing something like this, so I just started it on a whim. Complete lack of planning or professionalism. Was fun nonetheless!

  3. SantaBla says:

    I’m not sure why you’re citing the Mazinkaiser OVA considering it’s an anime. Shouldn’t you cite the stuff Go Nagai was actually responsible for, like the mangas he did, like Devilman? Did you read it? It’s personally one of my favourite mangas of all time. Also, Getter Robo is almost entirely Ken Ishikawa’s work and very little of Go Nagai. The writer of Gurren Lagann (also chief editor on the getter robo saga manga compilation) cites Ken Ishikawa as an inspiration, not Go Nagai.

    Lastly, New Getter Robo isn’t as good as I previously thought. The main reason is that the ova pales in comparison with the manga in characterization and story. Did you know that New Getter Robo adapted scenes from other Ken Ishikawa mangas like the time travel arc or even the enemies? So in my opinion, no, it’s not close to the manga. Even if the manga was a little crazy, it was coherent, unlike all the Getter Robo ovas which all ended up killing any attempt at a decent story. I know I’m ranting, but I just want to say that the anime adaptations of Ken Ishikawa and Go Nagai cannot really represent their actual works (the manga).

    As to why Tomino always seem mad and that Go Nagai is always seen smiling; it’s rather obvious. Go Nagai enjoys what he’s doing I mean, he’s the same person who said that comics are better than novels. On the other spectrum, you got Tomino who I remember saying once that there are stuff much better than anime, and people should look beyond them. Go Nagai never went into depression as far as I know but Tomino did. I’m not sure I agree with you that real robots were more dark. In fact, If I could, I’d just rename the term to military robots, because that’s what they are. A lot of super robot episodes usually end up tragically. In Grendizer, Duke Fleed had people dying in his arms every now and then, and most of the time it’s usually a hot chick who had the hots for him.

    Otherwise, congratulations on the conclusion of this very long series of posts.

    • Tronulax says:

      This was supposed to be a post about anime. However, as we all know, there exists a great deal of overlap between the world of anime and that of manga. I decided to include mangaka for that reason. If you’ll notice however, I tend to list only works of animation for the “personal favorite” bits. This is a problem I ran into frequently as sometimes my favorite manga would not have an anime equivalent. Or perhaps sometimes it did have an equivalent, but it wasn’t as good as the original.

      If by citing you mean listing Mazinkaiser as an original work? Then yeah I don’t know what I was thinking. It clearly wasn’t and it’s been fixed. But that still doesn’t change the fact that I highly enjoyed it. While Nagai wasn’t directly involved, he at least inspired it to a degree. The same thing with New Getter Robo.

      Now I have NOT read Getter Robo. This is why I used the word “supposedly” when describing it’s relation to the OVA because of the fact that I’m totally in the dark when it comes to the original. I hadn’t even planned to include Getter Robo, but I thought not having a Ken Ishikawa-inspired work would have been a travesty, so I simply combined it with Go Nagai. Of the ones I’ve seen, New Getter Robo is my subjective favorite over Shin Getter Robo and Shin vs. Neo. If you haven’t realized by now, I’m a newfag. I try my best, but I’ll admit the world of Getter Robo (both manga and early 70s anime): not one of my fortes. I agree with you on the fact that Go Nagai had more to do with manga than with anime. And that arbitrarily choosing a work of animation is, in a way, not reflecting the true artist. But alas, that’s just something I decided at the beginning.

      On a side note, this is actually one of the reasons why I’ve come to adore Brain’s Base as of late. For things like Mazinkaiser, New Getter Robo, and Enma-kun Meeramera. True, it will never be the same as the original, but for newer fans who may not be ready to delve into pure Go Nagai, it’s a decent alternative.

      By the way thanks for that bit of info. I had known that Kazuki Nakashima cited Getter Robo as an inspiration of TTGL, but I didn’t know it was specifically Ishikawa and not Nagai.

    • Tronulax says:

      It seems you are a stoic Go Nagai fan, or at least very knowledgeable about his life and work. I have read Devilman and enjoyed it. I have not read Demon Lord Dante. When it comes to animation, I have only seen the 2 Devilman OVAs, Amon: Apocalypse of Devilman, and the 3 Violence Jack movies. I have not seen the Devilman TV series. I heard that they changed the ending greatly into a pseudo-happy one with Miki surviving.

      The Tomino being mad thing was a joke ;). I heard he’s a pretty cool guy, smiles to fans while at cons. But yells at seiyuu who mess up their lines though.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Osamu Tezuka was hugely inspired by Walt Disney. Some of his early works were adaptations of Disney stories including Bambi (which he made after the two met at World Fair ’64).

    • Tronulax says:

      Yes he was, but now we’re leaving the realm of Japanese animation and storytelling. ;) As I said in that big blurb thingy at the beginning of this series, I would have liked to include other important figures such as western or pre war, but I chose to leave them out because I just don’t know that much about them.

      Ahh it feels good making the rules. I should do this more often!

  5. Scamp says:

    Man, I’ve never even heard of Yasuo Ōtsuka. I had penned in Go Nagai as #2. Also, no matter how hard I try, I will just never like anything that comes out of Nagai’s mind. I respect the massive influence he has had, but christ his stuff is garbage =|

    Really enjoyed reading these posts. Well done to you, I guarantee you over 99% of fandom can’t even name 50 anime staff

  6. bonehimer says:

    I enjoyed reading your rundown quite a bit but can’t deny it feels a bit like a copout having Tezuka as #1, its like one of those game countdowns that always list pong, tetris or pac man as #1. I know, I know, its a personal list blah subjective blah etc. But still!

    Having Phoenix at the end is pretty fitting though.

    • Tronulax says:

      Yeah I sorta see what you’re saying. Blind people could probably see it coming. But I have no regrets. ;). And yes Phoenix was awesome. Both the 2004 TV series and the parts of the manga I’ve had the privilege of reading.

  7. mizeus says:

    This was a very interesting read. I agree with most of the people listed here, some I’m huge fans of, and some I haven’t even heard of before! Here are several names not mentioned that are some of my personal favorite…

    Koichi Mashimo
    Goro Taniguchi
    Takashi Murakami
    Yutaka Yamamoto (LOL)
    Youji Enokido

    • Tronulax says:

      I just can’t get into the Mashimo style, or should I say, I never got aboard Mashimo’s TRAIN of thought. I’ll just leave it at that.

      Taniguchi’s work is very polarizing. Almost Rintaro level. I love Planetes. I still don’t know what to make of Code Geass.

      Mr. 883 probably deserves a spot on this list for that dance sequence alone.

      It’s interesting that you bring up Youji Enokido. One of my favorite people whom I know next to nothing about. I have no doubt in my mind that FLCL and Utena would not be the same without the writing and animation staff behind the project. As a fan, it’s just easier to associate a prolific series or movie with the director, especially if that director is Ikuhara or Tsurumaki. I bet I missed a lot of important people due to this very fact. (i.e. Shinji Hashimoto, Shinya Ohira, and other important animators that never had that big directorial debut that made others like them famous).

    • Tronulax says:

      Oh and the day I list Takashi Murakami on this list, is the day I actually understand Superflat. I mean REALLY understand it. I understand the concept behind movements like Gekiga and Ero-guro. There exists a driving emotional force behind those movements. Superflat? I don’t know man. Perhaps someone smarter than me (i.e. almost everyone here that runs his/her own blog) can explain it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    No Shouji Kawamori? :(
    I would’ve put Go Nagai higher, I’m not that much of a fan of Mazinger, though I love Getter Robo and Devilman.

  9. Frederico says:

    where are the other 45???????????????????????????????????????????????????

  10. kelleth says:

    No Ishinomori? He did just as much for anime and even more for toku then some of his peers on this list.

  11. Jack Han says:

    In general:
    1. Hajime Katoki (For Gundam designs)
    2. Shouji Kawamori (For Macross, the original Transformers and Gundam 0083 designs, to lesser extent Macross’s story but I love the music)
    3. Yoko Kanno (For Cowboy Bebop and Macross music)
    4. Yoshiyuki Tomino (For Gundam story)
    5. Leiji Matsumoto (For Uchuu Senkan Yamato)
    For directors and writers only:
    1. Yoshiyuki Tomino (For Gundam)
    2. Shinichirō Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop)
    3. Leiji Matsumoto (For Uchuu Senkan Yamato)
    4. Seiji Mizushima (For FMA, Gundam 00)
    5. Gorō Taniguchi (For Planetes, Code Geass)

  12. Skull says:

    I wouldn’t say that Harlock is a spin-off from Yamato. Although it’s true that at some point Matsumoto played with the idea of having Mamoru Kodai (older brother of Yamato’s lead character, Susumu Kodai) become Captain Harlock, but a) it didn’t happen at the end and b) Harlock is a completely different story. Then you had all the trials for the ownership rights of Yamato between Matsumoto and Nishizaki (producer and co-creator), that Matsumoto lost, so Yamato got out of the “Leijiverse”, whereas Harlock, Galaxy Express, Emeraldas and Millennia are somehow connected one to each other. By the way, check out The Cockpit from Matsumoto; it’s an OVA that contains three different stories (by Matsumoto) set up in World War II, one of them is directed by Kawajiri and another one is directed by Ryōsuke Takahashi (the remaining one is directed by Takashi Imanishi, the only guy who isn’t in your “top 50″).
    In regards of Matsumoto’s legacy, Naoku Takeuchi (Sailor Moon) says that Harlock and a guy he had a crush on in high school were her inspirations for Tuxedo Mask. And Yamato’s opening, sung by Isao Sasaki, is regarded (I heard, but don’t take it for granted) by some as almost a second national anthem in Japan. Besides that, both Yamato and Gundam were the main responsible for the whole “otaku” culture. Even though Gekiga was prior than those two works, and there were even a few anime adaptations of Gekiga manga, it was thanks to those two works that a market for adult-oriented (and I don’t mean “hentai”) animation came to be in the late 70s in Japan.
    About Go Nagai… that guy is pure genius. I believe that he did Kekko Kamen only because he was tired of drawing mecha and wanted to draw some tits. He did Mazinger because he was too stressed with Devilman. Maybe that’s why he is always smiling: he never forgot how to have fun.
    Lastly, about Tezuka, you say “to this day, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of his animeography, let alone mangaography (are those even words?). But here’s the thing: I don’t need to. The things I have seen and read are more than enough to seal the deal.” I couldn’t agree more; I’ll only add that even though I don’t need (in order to know how good he is) to see and read more from him as well, I for surely like to do it :)

  13. Skull says:

    Ok, this is going to be long (my bad). First of all I am in awe of the list you made, specially since you’ve been born in the 90s. That someone as young as you would put Matsumoto, Tomino, Nagai, Ōtsuka and Tezuka in a top 5 list is really unexpected and even more welcomed. That’s not to say that I agree 100% in every name of this list or in the places they are (after all there’s a lot of subjectivity involved, as you said), but the list makes sense either way and it’s made in great taste. Kudos on this list, this was an incredible work, and will force me to check out a few things I still didn’t watch.
    That being said, there’s a few I feel that have been left out. Please do not take this as any form of criticism of your list, it had to be a list of 50, so of course not everyone could make the cut. Perhaps you can make another post with “honorable mentions”, without a fixed amount, to mention a few people that, even if not worthy of the “top 50″, are still worth to be mentioned. I hope you don’t mind if I rant a little bit about those guys that, IMHO, fall into that category :)

    The first big surprise I had was not to see Akira Toriyama on the list. Because you said it yourself when you placed Kinoko Nasu as #47: that your post is about people who shaped anime, regardless of direction. Dragon Ball, although heavily criticized by many anime “specialists”, was not only a huge influence in every martial arts anime after it and even to this days, but it was also one of the main reasons why the otaku subculture grew a lot in the 90s. Without Toriyama’s work not only Shounen manga wouldn’t be the same, but also anime would’ve never found so many fans in Occident.

    The same could be said about Masami Kurumada’s Saint Seiya, which has been mentioned by Tite Kubo (Bleach) as one of his influences (and was so successful in the 80s that it spanned two or three “clones”) and was even the reason that the very well known group of mangaka called CLAMP came to be. Although not very well known in USA (where it was massacred by censorship and bad dubbing in the year 2003, 17 years after it was created) it was a big deal both in “Latin” Europe (France, Italy, Spain) and in all Latin America, so albeit in a lesser degree than Dragon Ball it’s also one of the reasons many guys in Occident started to watch anime as well.

    Then you have the tandem Buronson-Tetsuo Hara, writer and artist in Hokuto no Ken, respectively. Although not massively known in Occident (anime geeks aside), HnK influenced every martial arts manga and anime since. It set the bases for the whole genre. Without it there’s no Dragon Ball, no Saint Seiya, no nothing. If Nagai is the King of Shounen, this two guys would be Archdukes, while Toriyama and Kurumada would be Dukes :)

    If a way to describe Terasawa would be to say “dat ass”, then you can’t forget Masakazu Katsura, who made us dream with very tight panties and magnificent asses in works such as Video Girl Ai and I”s, both of which were huge influences to other teen drama manga (he could’ve easily written Ichigo 100%, for instance; and even Love Hina has a lot in common with Katsura’s works).

    In the 90s some lady took the Mahou Shoujo genre and breathed new life in that otherwise extinct genre: Naoko Takeuchi, with Sailor Moon. Not only it was the first time when the love of the main characters was forbidden (instead of predestined), it was also one of the first anime that merged various genres at once; Mahou Shoujo, Tokusatsu and Martial Arts. There was also deaths on it (although they always got resurrected somehow), which previously would’ve been impossible in a Mahou Shoujo. Disregarding whether if you like that anime or not it was a huge influence in the whole genre, and made anime such as Madoka and Pretty Cure (surely among many others) possible.

    Even though born as a doujinshi group, the CLAMP ladies are also a very important part of anime, specially in the 90s and early 00s (before Chobbits). They took the mixing of genres idea to the extreme, with series such as Rayearth that feature Mahou Shoujo, martial arts, Tokusatsu, Mecha, RPGs and who knows what else. They are masters at taking whatever elements are popular at a given time, mix it with their own style and do something completely different with it. And I’m positive that they are a huge influence in the Bishounen Ai scene, but it’s not really a genre that I appreciate, so I can’t give you examples n_nU

    Another huge surprise is that you didn’t include Riyoko Ikeda; she was the original creator of The Rose of Versailles (this is why I’m surprised, since you declared yourself a fan of those series) and Oniisama E…, among many others. She was definitively the first big star of the Josei manga (manga for grown up women, the female equivalent of Seinen) in the 70s and a huge influence in that genre. And also worth of mention is the queen of Josei in the 90s and forward, Ai Yazawa (Paradise Kiss and Nana among others).

    A very underrated artist is Kenichi Sonoda, who didn’t create a lot of series per se (Gunsmith Cats might be his only noteworthy work), but who was a very important character designer in the 80s who helped shape the characters designs of a whole decade: he worked as such in Bubblegum Crisis, Gall Force and Otaku no Video among others. The same might be said about Haruhiko Mikimoto (character designs of Macross, Orguss, Megazone 23, Gunbuster and many others), although he did have a huge contribution to the 80s: Lynn Minmay, who was going to be just a filler character in Macross, yet the people who worked on it loved the design so much that they made it a central character to the series and so begun the whole pop idol fever in the 80s anime. The same might be said about Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, although a few years later, who made the character designs of most of GAINAX works since the very creation of the Studio; FLCL wouldn’t be the same without his designs (actually no GAINAX anime would be), be sure of that. And we can even include Keiji Gotoh in this list, whose character designs were essential in Gonzo’s early days.

    Two creators worth mentioning are Masami Yuuki (Patlabor, which was a huge influence in “real mecha” shows, and Tetsuwan Birdy) and Kosuke Fujishima (Aa Megami-sama and Taiho Shichauzo), also two guys who don’t get much (really deserved) love. Also worth of mentioning are:
    – Ikki Kajiwara and Tetsuya Chiba, creators of Ashita no Joe, an anime that gained a following of universitary students even before Yamato was aired.
    – Takehiko Inoue, an outstanding mangaka, Slam Dunk was already considered in high regard by critics and fans alike (it’s even said that it helped increase the popularity of basketball in Japan, so it’s influences are even beyond the anime industry), then he bested himself with a masterpiece as Vagabond.
    – Yukito Kishiro, because Hyper Future Gunnm (aka Battle Angel Alita) is itself one of the foundations of cyberpunk manga in Japan.
    – Monkey Punch, just because he created Lupin III manga (which btw is much more adult-oriented than the anime).
    – George Morikawa, if only because he created Hajime no Ippo, which is a milestone in sports manga (not every manga reaches 1,000 chapters). Same goes for Shuuichi Shigeno for Initial D, although it “only” has around 650 chapters (by the way, I recommend only the manga, the anime is nothing great).
    – It’s weird that no one chopped your head because Kentarō Miura (Berserk) wasn’t included.
    – Shingo Araki, who was contemporary to Nagahama and Dezaki and had not only a similar style, but also a frightening résumé: he worked (mostly as animation director) in Ashita no Joe, Devilman, Cutie Honey, Grendizer, Galaxy Express 999, the Rose of Versailles, Ulysses 31, Harlock Endless Orbit SSX, Lupin II part III, Saint Seiya and the Farewell to Yamato movie, among many others.
    – Hiroya Oku, Gantz creator; not because of Gantz as a manga per se, but for the method he uses to draw it, printing 3d models, characters and backgrounds created on the computer and drawing over them; it might (or not) be an influence to someone or something in the future.
    – Mamoru Nagano; see what Wikipedia has to say about his influences: “He is noted for his work with anime studio Sunrise, with his work in Heavy Metal L-Gaim introducing mecha with armor plates that appeared to fit loosely over an internal skeleton. These detailed and somewhat plausible designs sparked a fresh wave of designs in mecha anime. From there, Nagano went on to design elegant and graceful mecha for his manga The Five Star Stories that displayed elongated lines, delicate curves and a degree of decoration and detail that appealed to the imaginations of a generation of mecha fans.” (The Five Star Stories is almost a must-see).
    – Also check this guy (Kunio Okawara), a mechanical designer with an amazing résumé: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=123
    – Kia Asamiya (Nadesico and Silent Möbius), Yuzo Takada (3×3 Eyes, Cat Girl Nuku Nuku and Blue Seed) and Yoshihiro Togashi (HunterxHunter, YuYu Hakusho), although they didn’t create a new trend or revolutionize anime they made one or two important works.
    – Fujiko Fujio (pseudonym adopted by Hiroshi Fujimoto and Motoo Abiko), solely because of the creation of Japan’s anime ambassador and kids beloved hero, Doraemon.
    – In the same line as Doraemon’s creator you have Momoko Sakura (Chibi Maruko-chan), Machiko Hasegawa (Sazae-san) and Takashi Yanase (Anpanman). All three of them (together with Doraemon) have anime adaptations that have spawned over many decades and have more than a thousand episodes already (Sazae-san actually has near SEVEN THOUSAND chapters already). Pokémon (created by Satoshi Tajiri) seems to be following the same direction, although thus far it has “only” 750+ episodes.

    • Tronulax says:

      I broke my one year+ “sleep” from this site to say thanks for reading. You could imagine my surprise when I got a wave of emails from WP about a post some two years old.

      Reading through your comments, I pretty much agree with everything you wrote. Looks like I’ve got a lot more stuff to catch up on. ;P I guess that’s one of the great things about anime. There’s always new things to discover, sometimes right under our noses.

      • Skull says:

        Well, I only found about this blog a few days ago (I don’t even remember what I was looking for anymore), and this list caught my eye; so I decided to read it all and share my thoughts on that. And it was my pleasure :)
        We all have a lot of stuff to catch up on, and we always will; unless everything becomes so shitty during 20 or 30 years that the whole medium becomes unwatchable, then we would have enough time to catch up. Speaking even with the oldest of anime fans I could find there’s always a few things that even them didn’t watch, because they didn’t have the time or the will (it’s not easy to watch a 100+ chapters series after you hit 30); you would have to be a hikkikomori without any financial worries to watch everything. The good thing is that the more you saw the easiest it becomes to tell without the need of watching many chapters whether if a given anime is worth your time or not.

  14. silwer says:

    Hi thank you for a good read.
    I’m planing a 3-day (6 hours per theater/day on 3 theaters/day) anime festival in Stockholm which I hope will be reality in winter 2014. Animé films will be running on 35 mm or DCP format.

    Now I would love that you two, Tronulax and Skull, give me a list of films that made an IMPACT on Animé as medium. A list of titles that would educate thr generel population what Japanese animation really is about.

    Thank you guys in advance

    if you prefer you can send the list to info.7life(a)gamil.com

    /silwer

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