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‘Akira’ Animator Dies @ 57

How Akira sent shockwaves through pop culture and forever changed it…

One of Studio Ghibli’s best animators, Makiko Futaki, likely won’t be remembered for her very best work – one that’s influenced everyone from MJ to Kanye West

Ask anyone – Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1998 film Akira is largely considered the most important animation of all time. OF ALL TIME, Kanye West will tell you. It served as a visual ammo for his video for “Stronger”, some of its signature graphics recreated exactly as they appeared in the film.

One of Akira’s key animators, Makiko Futaki, sadly passed away last week at age 57 due to illness. She was the lead animator at Studio Ghibli before her death, a consequential contributor there, synonymous with films like Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro and Howl’s Moving Castle. She loved birds. Her specialty was drawing birds and nature, her hand noticeably behind the tree on steroids in Totoro and the geese taken down by a rogue gust of wind in Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Before that was Akira – the cyberpunk thriller about a military project set in 2019 neo-Tokyo. It was not a work for which she can be solely attributed. In fact, she was only one of 68 key animators. Akira won’t even be the work for which she’s primarily remembered. However, by nearly every measure, it was the masterpiece that put a chokehold on pop culture’s psyche.

sad to hear the news… if i’d known i probably would’ve fired up ‘Akira’ over the long weekend — still don’t know if jayden has watched it, which still strikes me as kinda weird seeing as how he’s all into anime.


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