Shinichirō Watanabe at Japan Expo 2009
May 24, 1965 |
|Occupation||Film director and screenwriter|
Shinichirō Watanabe (渡辺 信一郎 Watanabe Shin'ichirō , born May 24, 1965 in Kyoto) is a Japanese anime filmmaker, screenwriter, and producer. He is known for directing the critically and commercially successful anime series Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.
Watanabe is known for blending together multiple genres in his anime creations. In Cowboy Bebop, for example, Watanabe mixes classic cowboy western with 1960s/1970s New York City film noir, Jazz music and Hong Kong action movies, and sets the entire series in space. In his later work, Samurai Champloo, Watanabe mixes the cultures of Okinawa, hip-hop, modern-day Japan, and chanbara.
After joining the Japanese animation studio Sunrise, Watanabe supervised the episode direction and storyboards of numerous Sunrise anime, and soon made his directorial debut as co-director of the well-received Macross update, Macross Plus. His next effort, and first full directorial venture, was the 1998 television series Cowboy Bebop. It was followed by the 2001 film, Knockin' on Heaven's Door. Then, in 2003, Watanabe directed his first American-produced anime, the short films Kid's Story and A Detective Story, both part of The Animatrix, an anthology of animated shorts of back stories from The Matrix. His next directorial effort was the anime television series Samurai Champloo which began broadcasting on Fuji TV in Japan on May 19, 2004.
He then directed a short film called Baby Blue which was released on July 7, 2007 as a segment of the anthology film Genius Party. In recent years, he has been active as a creative music producer, overseeing the 2004 film Mind Game and 2008's Michiko to Hatchin, and also supervising the storyboards for episode 12 of Tetsuwan Birdy: Decode. He most recently directed the anime television series Kids on the Slope (Japanese title Sakamichi no Apollon), which premiered in April 2012 on Fuji TV's Noitamina block.
In 2009 it was announced that Watanabe would be working as an associate producer on the upcoming live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop, alongside fellow Sunrise staff members Kenji Uchida and Keiko Nobumoto. As of 2012 the movie is still in development. During FicZone in Granada, Spain, it was reported that Watanabe was collaborating with animé studio BONES on a space science-fiction comedy. BONES subsequently confirmed that the studio was working with Watanabe, but did not confirm the genre of the series.
Notable works 
TV productions 
- Obatarian (1990; episode supervision)
- Genki Bakuhatsu Ganbaruger (1992; episode supervision)
- Cowboy Bebop (1998; director)
- Samurai Champloo (2004; director)
- Eureka Seven (2005; supervision of third ending theme)
- Tetsuwan Birdy DECODE (2008; storyboard supervision, episode 12)
- Michiko to Hatchin (2008; music producer)
- Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto (2010; storyboard & unit director, OP 1)
- Kids on the Slope (2012; director)
- Armor Hunter Mellowlink (1988–1989; episode supervision)
- Capricorn (1991; co-supervision of storyboard)
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory (1991; episode supervision)
- Macross Plus (1994; director)
- The Animatrix (2003; episode direction)
- Macross Plus: Movie Edition (1995; director)
- Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door (2001; director)
- Mind Game (2004; music producer)
- Genius Party (omnibus): Baby Blue (2008; director)
- Cowboy Bebop (development in hiatus[?]; associate producer)
Use of music 
Watanabe has a distinct vision regarding the importance of the film score of his works and believes that music is the universal language. Cowboy Bebop is heavily influenced by American culture, especially the jazz movements of the 1940s, hence the title "bebop". This style is blended with a score by the prolific composer Yoko Kanno featuring jazz, blues, and funk music. In Samurai Champloo, an Edo period piece, the anachronistic soundtrack draws heavily from hip-hop music, and is full of melodic beats with record. Watanabe's latest series Sakamichi no Apollon has a soundtrack composed by Yoko Kanno which demonstrates many classical forms of Jazz.
- Shinichiro Watanabe at Detroit Film Theatre, Feb. 8th, 2006
- "Apollon Reunites Cowboy Bebop Director, Composer Kanno". Anime News Network. 2012-01-26.
- "『カウボーイビバップ』映画実写化へ向けて始動！" (in Japanese). Sunrise. 2009-01-15. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
- "Cowboy Bebop Helmer Shinichiro Watanabe, BONES Plan New TV Anime". Anime News Network. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- Shinichirô Watanabe at the Internet Movie Database
- Shinichirō Watanabe at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia