Naoko Yamada

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Naoko Yamada
山田 尚子
BornNovember 28
Alma materKyoto University of Art and Design
Years active2005–present
EmployerKyoto Animation
Naoko Yamada signature.svg

Naoko Yamada (山田 尚子, Yamada Naoko) is a Japanese animator, television and film director. Working at Kyoto Animation, she directed the K-On! and Tamako Market anime series, and the anime films A Silent Voice and Liz and the Blue Bird.

Early life and education[edit]

Yamada was born in Kyoto Prefecture.[2][3][1] She enjoyed drawing as a child and would copy images from the Patlabor and Dragon Ball series.[3] She joined the volleyball club in primary school and the tennis and photography clubs in high school.[3] At the Kyoto University of Art and Design,[4] she studied oil painting and was a member of the special effects club.[3]


Yamada intended to work in film after university, but she decided to join Kyoto Animation after seeing an advertisement.[3] Her first assignment at KyoAni was drawing in between frames for Inuyasha.[3] She was eventually promoted to a key animator for Air.[3]

After working as an episode director of Clannad, she was asked to make her chief directorial debut with K-On!, an adaptation of a slice-of-life manga.[3] The series was very successful, spurring a second season and a film. In 2013, she directed Tamako Market, and followed it with the film Tamako Love Story in 2014.[5] For Tamako Love Story, she was awarded the New Face Award at the Japan Media Arts Festival.[6] She storyboarded the entire film herself,[7] and also wrote the lyrics for the opening theme song, Everybody Loves Somebody.[8] Yamada's next project was the feature film A Silent Voice, an adaptation of the manga of the same name, that reflected on elements of bullying and physical impairment in Japan. The film opened at #2 in the Japanese Box Office and grossed a total of ¥2.3 billion, the 19th highest-grossing film in Japan in 2016.[9] The film also received multiple award nominations, including Best Animation Film in the Mainichi Film Awards and the Excellent Animation of the Year in the Japan Academy Prize.

For Yamada, the most important part of being a director is to observe people. She describes herself as a "method" director, emphasizing the minds of the characters.[3]

On July 18, 2019, a man started a fire at the main studio of Kyoto Animation, killing 36 of Yamada's colleagues and wounding 33 others. Yamada was reported not to have been hurt in the fire.[10]


As Animator[edit]



As Director[edit]




  1. ^ a b 歴代受賞作品, 文化庁メディア芸術祭. "山田 尚子 | プロフィール一覧". 文化庁メディア芸術祭 歴代受賞作品 (in Japanese). Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  2. ^ 増田弘道 (26 June 2012). "宮崎駿氏は71歳だけど……アニメ監督の高齢化は進んでいるか?" [Mr. Hayao Miyazaki is 71 years old ... Are animation directors getting older?]. ITmedia (in Japanese). Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Noel, John (14 October 2012). "Scotland Loves Anime 2012: Day 3, Naoko Yamada Q&A session". chaostangent. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  4. ^ "キャリタス進学" [Career+: Entering University] (in Japanese). 京都造形芸術大学 (Kyoto Art and Design University). Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Naoko Yamada". IMDb. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  6. ^ "Giovanni's Island Film Wins Media Arts Award". Anime News Network. 28 September 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  7. ^ "監督インタビュー" [Director interview]. Tamako Love Story official website (in Japanese). 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  8. ^ "マニュエラ作家陣活躍の「たまこまーけっと」歌モノベスト" [Manual of Errors Artists' Tamako Market best musical pieces]. 音楽ナタリー (in Japanese). 18 March 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Top 20 Highest-Grossing Films in Japan Has 6 Anime Films". Anime News Network. December 18, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  10. ^ Eimi Yamamitsu, Motoko Rich and Makiko Inoue (July 19, 2019). "Japan Fire Killed Mostly Women, at a Studio Known for Hiring Them". New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2019.

External links[edit]