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Kunihiko Ikuhara (Japanese: 幾原 邦彦, Hepburn: Ikuhara Kunihiko, born December 21, 1964), also known as Ikuni, is a Japanese director, writer, artist, and music producer. He has created and collaborated on several notable anime and manga series, including his early works Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena, and his later works Mawaru Penguindrum, Yurikuma Arashi, and Sarazanmai.
Toei Animation and Sailor Moon (1986–1996)
After graduating, Ikuhara began work at Toei Animation, where served as assistant director to Junichi Sato on Maple Town Monogatari, Akuma-kun, Toushou!! Ramen-man and Mōretsu Atarō, and episode director on Kingyo Chuuihou!.
Ikuhara's most famous work with Toei was on the TV anime adaptation of Sailor Moon. He served as director of many episodes over the course of the series' run, and took over the position of series director from Junichi Sato during the third season, Sailor Moon S. Additionally, Ikuhara served as the director of the first Sailor Moon theatrical movie, called Sailor Moon R.
Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997–1999)
Displeased over the lack of creative control granted to him, Ikuhara left Toei after the fourth season of Sailor Moon in 1996 to form his own creative group, Be-Papas, consisting of himself, the famous shōjo manga artist Chiho Saito, animator Shinya Hasegawa (animation supervisor for Neon Genesis Evangelion), writer Yōji Enokido, and producer Yuuichiro Okuro. Be-Papas collaborated to produce the anime and manga series Revolutionary Girl Utena (Shōjo Kakumei Utena).
Ikuhara had much more creative control over the anime, which he directed, than he did over the manga, which was written and illustrated by Chiho Saito. Notably, he also recruited composer J. A. Seazer, who provided the series' distinctive duel chorus tracks. Ikuhara stated that he had always admired Seazer, who had enjoyed popularity during Japan's 1960s student protest movement, and felt that Seazer's work, with its themes of revolution and changing the world, was perfectly suited to Utena.
The series was a success, winning the "Best Television Series Award" and the "Kobe Award" at Animation Kobe '97. Be-Papas collaborated again in 1999 to produce a Revolutionary Girl Utena movie, Adolescence Mokushiroku ("Adolescence Apocalypse", released in English as Revolutionary Girl Utena: The Movie), with an accompanying manga, again authored by Saito. Ikuhara also helped supervise the production of other Utena-related works, including a Sega Saturn video game and a stage musical. Be-Papas disbanded after the release of the movie.
Ikuhara supervised the production of the English dub of the Utena movie, checking the quality of the translation; he expressed strong distaste for the idea of his work being censored or changed to seem more "American", and made sure such changes were not apparent in the U.S. release.
Ikuhara's post-Utena works include the manga World of the S&M (released in English as The World Exists for Me), on which he collaborated with Chiho Saito; the novel Schell Bullet, which he co-wrote with Mamoru Nagano; and the Schell Bullet-based concept album Thanaphs 68.
Return to directing (2011–present)
In 2011, Ikuhara returned as an anime series director with Mawaru Penguindrum, which began airing in July 2011.
A new anime series titled Sarazanmai began airing on April 11, 2019.
As with Miyazaki and Tomino, Ikuhara's works (especially Mawaru Penguindrum and Yurikuma Arashi) contain certain criticisms against the capitalist system. In Ikuhara, such criticisms are often accompanied by a more or less latent distrust towards the whole social order, or even human nature itself.
Interaction with fans
Ikuhara has attended several conventions and similar events, given interviews to fans and reporters, and, along with Chiho Saito, provided commentary tracks for the DVD releases of Utena. He often dresses in brightly colored clothes when socializing with fans. He has cosplayed as Sailor Mars on a few occasions. When questioned about his work by fans, particularly about the more mystifying aspects of Utena, he tends to give humorous, odd or evasive responses (for instance, asked about the significance of the stopwatch carried by the character Miki, he said that it contains the key to "all the mysteries of the world"). The implication is that he wishes to leave interpretation of his works open to the audience.
Works for which Ikuhara came up with the original concept are in bold.
|Episode Director||Unit Director||Assistant Director||Storyboard||Other||Notes|
|1986 - 1987||Maple Town Stories (メイプルタウン物語)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Assistant director on episodes 3, 26, 28, 31, 33 and 35. Also production assistant.|
|1987||New Maple Town Stories: Palm Town Chapter (新メイプルタウン物語 パームタウン編)||TV series||Yes||Episodes 2, 5, 7, 11, 13 and 15 only.|
|1987||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles||TV series||Yes||Directed episode 4. Credited as "Yoshikatsu Kasai" (笠井 由勝).|
|1988||Tatakae!! Ramenman (闘将!!拉麺男)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Also production assistant.|
|1989 - 1990||Akuma-kun (悪魔くん)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Yes||Assistant director on episodes 1, 5, 8, 11, 15 and 18. Commercial director, sub-title lettering.|
|1990||Hana Ichi Monme (はないちもんめ)||OVA||Yes|
|Mōretsu Atarō (もーれつア太郎) series 2||TV series||Yes||Yes||Directed episodes 18 and 26.|
|1990-1992||Utsunomiko Tenjō-hen (宇宙皇子 天上編)||OVA||Yes|
|1991||Magical Taluluto (まじかる☆タルるートくん) film 1||film||Yes|
|1991-1992||Goldfish Warning! (きんぎょ注意報!)||TV series||Yes||Directed episodes 4, 13, 21, 25, 30, 38, 43, 49 and 54.|
|1992-1993||Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Directed episodes 6, 11, 15, 21, 26, 31, 36 and 46. Storyboarded Sailor Venus' transformation sequence.|
|1993-1994||Sailor Moon R (美少女戦士セーラームーンR)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Yes||Took over as series director from Junichi Sato on episode 60. Directed and storyboarded episodes 51, 60 and 68. Storyboarded episode 61, Sailor Moon's second transformation sequence and the Moon Princess Halation & Burning Mandala attack sequences.|
|1993||Sailor Moon R: The Movie (美少女戦士セーラームーンR)||film||Yes|
|1994-1995||Sailor Moon S (美少女戦士セーラームーンS)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Yes||Directed and storyboarded episodes 92, 103, 110 and 117.|
|1995-1996||Sailor Moon SuperS (美少女戦士セーラームーンSuperS)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Directed episodes 128, 137, 150, 159 and 166.|
|1997||Revolutionary Girl Utena (少女革命ウテナ)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Yes||Storyboarded the opening and episode 1. Made corrections for a HD remaster in 2008.|
|1998||Martian Successor Nadesico: The Motion Picture – Prince of Darkness (機動戦艦ナデシコ -The prince of darkness-)||film||Yes||Credited for "friendship cooperation".|
|1999||Adolescence of Utena (少女革命ウテナ アドゥレセンス黙示録)||film||Yes||Yes||Yes||ADR Supervisor on the English dub. Plays an art teacher.|
|2005||Diebuster (トップをねらえ2!)||OVA||Yes||Episode 2 only.|
|2007||Nodame Cantabile (のだめカンタービレ)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Opening only.|
|2008||(Zoku) Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei (俗・さよなら絶望先生)||TV series||Yes||Episode 4 endcard.|
|Soul Eater (ソウルイーター)||TV series||Yes||Episode 29 only.|
|2009||Nodame Cantabile: Paris-Hen (のだめカンタービレ 巴里編) OVA||OVA||Yes||Credited as "Kai Uzumaki" (渦薪 かい).|
|Sweet Blue Flowers (青い花)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Storyboarded the opening, episodes 5, 6 and 11 (final one co-storyboarded with Ken'ichi Kasai). Directed the opening under the pseudonym "Kai Uzumaki".|
|2011||Penguindrum (輪るピングドラム)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Storyboarded and directed the first opening and episode 24; storyboarded the second opening, episodes 1, 5, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22 and 23. Also music director.|
|2012||Kokoro Connect (ココロコネクト)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Third ending only.|
|2013||Brothers Conflict (ブラザーズ コンフリクト)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Ending only.|
|2015||Yurikuma Arashi (ユリ熊嵐)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Storyboarded and directed the ending; storyboarded episodes 1, 2, 7 and 12. Also music director.|
|2016||Norn9: Norn + Nonette (NORN9 ノルン＋ノネット)||TV series||Yes||Opening only.|
|Shin Godzilla (シン・ゴジラ)||film||Yes||Was an extra in a scene of a mob fleeing from Godzilla. Uncredited.|
|2019||Sarazanmai (さらざんまい)||TV series||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Storyboarded the opening, episodes 1 and 11. Also music director and insert song lyricist.|
Notes and references
- "【在学生＆卒業生限定】幾原邦彦氏 特別講義「時代とアニメ、僕たちの移りゆく感性と欲望」開催のお知らせ" [Current Students & Graduates Only Announcement of Kunihiko Ikuhara Special Lecture "Time and Animation, Our Moving Sensitivity and Desire"]. 京都造形芸術大学 在学生専用サイト (in Japanese). Kyoto University of Art and Design. September 28, 2019. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
- Sevakis, Justin (April 22, 2001). "Interview with Utena creator Kunihiko Ikuhara". Anime News Network. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
- Pastore, Ugo (September 14, 2017). "Let us try to make sense of Penguindrum". academia.edu. Translated by Pavesi, Davide. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
- Brienza, Casey (September 11, 2014). "Objects of otaku affection: animism, anime fandom, and the gods of … consumerism?". In Graham Harvey (ed.). The Handbook of Contemporary Animism. New York: Routledge. pp. 488–490. ISBN 978-1-317-54450-0. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
- "Interview with Kunihiko Ikuhara". UR Anime Club. October 8, 2000. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved January 29, 2008.
- Loveridge, Lynzee (May 15, 2019). "Utena, Sarazanmai's Ikuhara Likely Directed TMNT Episodes". Anime News Network. Retrieved November 8, 2019.