Yōichi Kotabe

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Yōichi Kotabe
Yoichi Kotabe.jpg
Born (1936-09-15) September 15, 1936 (age 84)
OccupationAnimator, character designer
Spouse(s)Reiko Okuyama (wid. 2007)[1][2]

Yōichi Kotabe (小田部 羊一, Kotabe Yōichi, born September 15, 1936),[3] is a Japanese animator and character designer. He has worked on several anime films from the 1960s and 1970s,[1] on the Super Mario video game series, and the Pokémon series in television and film.[4] He was an employee at Nintendo for two decades doing illustrations, character designs, and supervision from 1985 to 2007. At that time, he began to work as a freelancer for the anime and video game industry, including for Nintendo again.


Kotabe became interested in animation after watching the short film Momotarō no Umiwashi as a child. He was fascinated with how the fighter moved in the film. His father, who was an oil painter, also influenced his decision to work as an artist. Kotabe found oil painting to be difficult, so he instead worked in watercolor painting.

In order to continue working in watercolors, he adopted the nihonga, or Japanese‐style, of painting, and began studying at the Tokyo University of the Arts which had a Japanese‐style painting department. While attending, he was impressed by the film The Tale of the White Serpent and the animator Yasuji Mori,[5][6] and immediately applied to work at Toei Animation.

His first project there was Hols: Prince of the Sun where he met Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. He left Toei along with Miyazaki and Takahata in order to work at A Pro, and they began work on an adaptation of Pippi Longstocking. That project was eventually canceled, and work began on the two-film series Panda! Go, Panda!.

Kotabe then worked as character designer on two anime television series from Nippon Animation: Heidi, Girl of the Alps, and 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, with Miyazaki working on scene design and layout and Takahata working as series director and storyboard artist.

In 1985, he was scouted by Nintendo and assumed the position of the game development advisor where he created package illustrations for Super Mario Bros. This was his introduction to video games.


Year Title Crew role Notes Source[7]
1959 Magic Boy Animator  
1960 Alakazam the Great Animator  
1962 Sinbad no Boken (ja:アラビアンナイト・シンドバッドの冒険 (映画), Adventures of Sinbad) Animator  
1963–65 Okami-shōnen Ken (ja:狼少年ケン, Ken the wolf boy) Animation director (mid-term)  
1963 Doggie March Key animation  
1964–65 Shōnen Ninja Kaze no Fujimaru Animation director, key animation Also film
1965–66 Hustle Punch (ja:ハッスルパンチ, Hassuru panchi) Animation director, key animation  
1966–67 Rainbow Sentai Robin (ja:レインボー戦隊ロビン, Reinbō sentai robin) Animation director  
1966–68 Sally the Witch Animation director  
1968 The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun Key animation  
1969 Puss 'n Boots Key animation  
1969 Flying Phantom Ship Animation director  
1971 Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves Key animation  
1972–73 Akadō Suzunosuke (ja:赤胴鈴之助) Animation supervisor assistant  
1972 Panda! Go, Panda! Animation director  
1973 Panda! Go, Panda!: The Rainy-Day Circus Animation director  
1974 Heidi, Girl of the Alps Character design, animation director Also related films
1976 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother Character design, animation director, animation  
1977 Rascal the Raccoon Animation  
1979 Tatsu no ko Taro Character design, animation director  
1981–83 Jarinko Chie Animation director , Character design <-- キャラクター設計 --> film and TV series
1983 Serendipity the Pink Dragon Anime character design  
1983–85 Kojika Monogatari (子鹿物語, The Yearling) Key animation  
1983 Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Key animation  
1984–85 Adventures of the Little Koala Animation director  
1985–86 Bumpety Boo Animation director  
1986 Sango-sho Densetsu: Aoi Umi no Erufii Character design TV special film
1998 Pokémon: The First Movie Animation supervisor Also Pikachu's Vacation short
1999 Marco: 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother Original character  
2000 Pokémon 3: The Movie Animation supervisor  
2012–13 Pocket Monsters: Best Wishes! Season 2 Animation supervisor  
2013–16 Pokémon XY Animation supervisor  
2014 Pokémon the Movie: Diancie and the Cocoon of Destruction Animation supervisor Also Pikachu short
2015 Pokémon the Movie: Hoopa and the Clash of Ages Animation supervisor  

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Animator/Animation Director award, Tokyo Anime Fair 6th Annual Awards of Merit, 2009.[1]
  • Special Achievement award, 19th Japan Media Arts Festival Awards, 2015.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "Tokyo Anime Fair Announces 6th Annual Awards of Merit". animenewsnetwork.com. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  2. ^ "Reiko Okuyama passes away". pelleas.net. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  3. ^ "Nintendo 3DS". nintendods.com. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  4. ^ "N. Carolina's Animazement to Host Madhouse Co-Founder Masao Murayama". animenewsnetwork.com. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  5. ^ "井上俊之さん小黒祐一郎さんと一緒に『もっとアニメを観よう!』アフターレポート 作画史年表 日本アニメーター・演出協会(JAniCA)" (PDF) (in Japanese). JAniCA. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  6. ^ "[異才列伝]より 森康二 穏やかで上品 「アニメの神様」 : ジブリをいっぱい : エンタメ : YOMIURI ONLINE(読売新聞)" (in Japanese). YOMIURI ONLINE. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  7. ^ アニメ / メディア芸術データベース – 小田部羊一 [Anime / Media Arts Database (search results) – Yoichi Kotabe]. Media Arts Database (in Japanese). Japan: Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved September 1, 2016.
  8. ^ "Akiko Higashimura's Kakukaku Shikajika Manga Wins Media Arts Award". animenewsnetwork.com. Retrieved September 1, 2016.

External links[edit]