Sayo Yamamoto

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Sayo Yamamoto
Born (1977-04-13) April 13, 1977 (age 46)
Tokyo, Japan

Sayo Yamamoto (山本 沙代, Yamamoto Sayo, born April 13, 1977) is a Japanese anime director. She is known for directing the critically acclaimed anime series Michiko & Hatchin, Yuri!!! on Ice, and Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. After graduating from the College of Art and Design in Tokyo, she began work at Studio Madhouse, where she had her directing debut at age 25.[1]

Fujiko Mine was awarded the "New Face" award from the Japan Media Arts Festival in 2012.[2]


Education and early work[edit]

During her time at the College of Art and Design, Yamamoto focused her attention on animation, as she felt less interested in the other things she was being taught. Her student project was an animation about samurai using actor, and frequent Akira Kurosawa collaborator, Toshiro Mifune as an inspiration.[3] While in the process of looking for a job after graduation, she showed this work to director Satoshi Kon. Enthusiastic about her potential, Kon intended to hire her to work on his second feature Millennium Actress, but studio politics eventually caused her to leave the project.[3]

She had her debut at Studio Madhouse working as storyborder on the X television series headed by Madhouse director Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Soon after, she would have her first collaboration with directors Takeshi Koike and Katsuhito Ishii on the original video animation Trava: Fist Planet. Yamamoto had her directing debut in three episodes of the series Dragon Drive. It was during her time at Madhouse that she began her work on anime opening and ending animations, which she would go on to direct for many other projects.[4]

Yamamoto has stated that it was during her work on Samurai Champloo where she felt she was first able to truly express herself.[3] Samurai Champloo also marks the first time she worked with frequent collaborators, director Shinichirō Watanabe and writer Dai Satō.

Michiko & Hatchin[edit]

During her time working on Samurai Champloo at Studio Manglobe, she was offered the chance to direct a project with full creative control. At the time, she was busy with work on Champloo, so she thought about what kind of project she wanted to direct for about a year. During that time, she took a trip to Brazil where she found the inspiration for her first series Michiko & Hatchin. The series, about an ex-convict and a young girl in search of the girl's father, was released in 2008.

At the press conference where Yamamoto unveiled the series, she said she wanted women especially to watch the series. "Our time slot was late at night, so office ladies would be returning home, and worn out from the day, they could have a beer and watch it."

The Woman Called Fujiko Mine[edit]

After a few years of working on storyboards and art for other projects, including movies Redline and Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, she was approached by a producer to create a new Lupin III series, with full creative control. It was Yamamoto's own idea to have the series take place before the start of the 1971 Lupin series, directed by Masaaki Ōsumi, and to have character Fujiko Mine in the starring role.

Notable works[edit]

TV productions[edit]

Series Director[edit]

Episode Director[edit]





  1. ^ "AnimeFest 2012 Sayo Yamamoto". Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  2. ^ "Otomo's 'Combustible' Anime Short Wins Media Arts Award". Retrieved December 29, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "AnimeFest 2012: Sayo Yamamoto Panel Report". October 2, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  4. ^ "FEATURE: A look at Sayo Yamamoto, director of "Yuri!! On Ice"". Crunchyroll.
  5. ^ "Yuri!!! on Ice TV Anime's 1st Teaser Reveals Staff, Cast". Anime News Network. March 27, 2016. Retrieved March 27, 2016.

External links[edit]