Kunihiko Ikuhara

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Kunihiko Ikuhara
Native name
幾原 邦彦
Born (1964-12-21) December 21, 1964 (age 54)
  • Director
  • music producer
  • novelist
Years active1986–present
Known forSailor Moon
Revolutionary Girl Utena
Yurikuma Arashi

Kunihiko Ikuhara (幾原 邦彦, Ikuhara Kunihiko, born December 21, 1964), also known as Ikuni, is a Japanese creative artist who has collaborated on several famous anime and manga series. He is best known for his early work on Sailor Moon and Revolutionary Girl Utena, and for his later work on Mawaru Penguindrum, Yurikuma Arashi, and Sarazanmai.

Personal life[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Ikuhara was born on December 21, 1964 in Osaka Prefecture. He studied graphic design at the Komatsu City College, and joined Toei Animation in Tokyo after graduating. He 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! and Sailor Moon.


He has expressed interest in the possibility of collaborating on a project with David Lynch someday.[1]

As with Miyazaki and Tomino, Ikuhara's works (especially Mawaru Penguindrum[2] and Yurikuma Arashi) contain certain criticisms against the capitalist system.[3] In Ikuhara, such criticisms are often accompanied by a more or less latent distrust towards the whole social order, or even human nature itself.[2]

Interaction with fans[edit]

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.[4]

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.


Sailor Moon[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Other works[edit]

Ikuhara's post-Utena works include the manga The World of 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. He enjoys the theatre and singing, and has sung on the Utena and Thanaphs 68 soundtracks.

He 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.

After the conclusion of Utena, Ikuhara's only works in anime for a time were as the storyboard creator for the opening sequences of Nodame Cantabile and yuri anime Aoi Hana, until his return to as series director for the show Mawaru Penguindrum, which began airing in July 2011.

He is currently writing the manga Nokemono to Hanayome, illustrated by artist Asumiko Nakamura and published monthly in Japanese fashion magazine KERA.

His third project was Yurikuma Arashi, which consists of an anime series produced by Silver Link and a manga series illustrated by Akiko Morishima. The anime began airing January 5, 2015.

A new project titled Sarazanmai began airing April 11, 2019.


Works for which Ikuhara came up with the original concept are in bold.

Year(s) Title Type Director Series Composition
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.
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.[5]
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".
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 Wrote script for episode 1 only. 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.
2019 Sarazanmai (さらざんまい) TV series Yes Yes Yes Yes Storyboarded the opening and episode 1. Also music director and insert song lyricist.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Sevakis, Justin (April 22, 2001). "Interview with Utena creator Kunihiko Ikuhara". Anime News Network.
  2. ^ a b Pavesi, Davide. "Let us try to make sense of Penguindrum". academia.edu. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  3. ^ Brienza, Casey (2013). "Objects of otaku affection: Animism, anime fandom, and the gods of … consumerism?". In Harvey, Graham (ed.). The Handbook of Contemporary Animism. Acumen Pub Ltd. p. 490. ISBN 978-1844657117.
  4. ^ "Interview with Kunihiko Ikuhara". UR Anime Club. October 8, 2000. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
  5. ^ https://twitter.com/ikuni_noise/status/12089027113

External links[edit]