Katsuhiro Otomo

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Katsushiro Otomo (left)

Katsuhiro Otomo ( Japanese 大 友 克 洋 , Ōtomo Katsuhiro ; born April 14, 1954 in Miyagi Prefecture ) is a Japanese manga artist , screenwriter and director. His longest and most famous work Akira was a milestone in the spread of Japanese comics ( manga ) and Japanese cartoons ( anime ) in western countries.


Successes as a mangaka

Otomo grew up about 400 kilometers north of Tokyo in Hasama (since 2005 a district of Tome ) in Miyagi Prefecture , a landscape characterized by fishing and agriculture. There he attended the Sanuma High School, which he graduated in 1973. He then devoted himself to drawing manga and moved to Tokyo. He published his first manga as a professional draftsman in 1973 with the 23-page short story Jūsei, based on a work by the French writer Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870), in a special edition of the manga magazine Manga Action . For this magazine, in which Kazuo Koikes and Gōseki Kojima's Lone Wolf & Cub appeared, among others , he drew numerous more, approximately 20-page comics, most of which were devoted to science fiction .

His first success as a manga artist came with Das Suicide Paradise , which was published from 1980 to 1981 in four chapters in Action Deluxe , a sister magazine of Manga Action. It is about a little girl with supernatural powers who moves into a residential area, where an old man, also endowed with supernatural abilities, is responsible for suicides or fatal accidents for some tenants. The film fanatic Otomo won the Nihon SF Taishō in 1983 for the manga, which has over 220 pages and has already sold over 500,000 times , a prize for outstanding science fiction stories that had previously only been awarded for novels. In 1984 the manga received another award for outstanding science fiction works, the Seiun Prize . Since The Suicide Paradise , Otomo has been an influence for many young manga artists; such as Akimi Yoshida , Jirō Taniguchi and Taiyō Matsumoto .

Animated by the great commercial success of The Suicide Paradise , Otomo began drawing Akira in 1982 for Young Magazine , for which Masamune Shirow was also working on Ghost in the Shell at the time. Akira is set in a Tokyo in 2030 that was destroyed 38 years earlier by a third world war. One tries to prevent the awakening of Akira, a boy with enormous, supernatural powers, as this would mean the destruction of the earth. The manga series, which, like most of the artist's comics, can be assigned to his genre, received the Kōdansha Manga Prize in 1984 . Akira ended in 1990 after more than 2,000 pages and meant the final breakthrough for Otomo in Japan. The manga has been translated into numerous languages ​​and has been very well received in Europe and the USA.

Advancement as a director

In 1986, the three-part anime film Meikyu Monogatari premiered on Japanese television. One of these three parts, Kojichu yame meirei , was directed and scripted by Otomo, and also acted as character designer and animator. He gained his first experience in the anime industry in the early 1980s, for example when he worked as an animator and character designer for the two-hour animated film Genma Taisen . This was followed by other directorial work, for example he staged the opening and closing sequences of Robot Carnival , a film by nine well-known Japanese animators about the coexistence of robots and humans.

In July 1988, Akira, an anime adaptation of the manga, was released in Japanese cinemas. Otomo directed and wrote the screenplay himself. The film was the most expensive Japanese animated film to date and grossed more than six times its production costs in Japan.

With the horror comedy World Apartment Horror , which premiered in 1991 and is based on a story by Satoshi Kon , Otomo, who was finally turning away from manga drawing, dared to make the move to real film, but returned to cartoons. He was instrumental in two of three parts of Memories and wrote the screenplay for Robotic Angel , the film adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Manga Metropolis . In July 2004, Steamboy was released in Japanese cinemas. Otomo had already started work on the film in 1995, which, like Akira, was the most expensive anime film to date , with a budget of over 2.4 billion yen .

Otomo tried again on a real-life film, a film adaptation of Yuki Urushibara's manga series Mushishi , which is about a white-haired man who wanders through ancient Japan to help people with their problems with Mushi , neither animal nor vegetable . The film, with Joe Odagiri in the lead role, premiered in September 2006 in competition at the 63rd Venice Film Festival .

Awards (selection)

In 2005, Katsuhiro Otomo was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres at the Chevalier level and in 2014 the Officer. He was inducted into the Eisner Award Hall of Fame in 2012. His manga Akira received two Eisner Awards in 2002. On November 3, 2013, he received the Japanese Medal of Honor on the Violet Ribbon .

Works (selection)


  • 1973: Jūsei ( 銃 声 )
  • 1979: Short Peace ( シ ョ ー ト ・ ピ ー ス , Shōto Pīsu )
  • 1979: Highway Star ( ハ イ ウ ェ イ ス タ ー , Haiwei Sutā )
  • 1979: The Fireball ( Fireball )
  • 1979: Buried in the Sand ( Sound of Sand )
  • 1980–1981: The suicide paradise ( 童 夢 , Dōmu )
  • 1981: Good Weather
  • 1981: Sayonara Nippon ( さ よ な ら に っ ぽ ん )
  • 1981: Henzeru to gurēteru ( ヘ ン ゼ ル と グ レ ー テ ル )
  • 1982: Kibun wa Mōsensō ( 気 分 は も う 戦 争 ), written by Toshihiro Yahagi
  • 1982: Boogie Woogie Waltz
  • 1982-1990: Akira
  • 1990: Kanojo no Omoide ... ( 彼女 の 想 い で ... )
  • 1990–2004: Sarah ( 沙 流 羅 ), drawn by Takumi Nagayasu
  • 1994: Hi no Yōjin ( 火 要 鎮 )
  • 1996: SOS Neo-Tōkyō Exploration Party ( SOS 大 東京 探 検 隊 )
  • 2001–2002: Hipira-kun ( ヒ ピ ラ く ん ), drawn by Shinji Kamura


  • 1983: Genma Taisen ( 幻魔 大 戦 ) (animation, character design)
  • 1986: Kōji Chūshi Meirei ( 工事 中止 命令 ) (director, screenplay, animation, character design)
  • 1987: Robot Carnival ( ロ ボ ッ ト ・ カ ー ニ バ ル ) (Director)
  • 1988: Akira (Director, Screenplay)
  • 1989: Mania-Mania ( 迷宮 物語 ) (Director)
  • 1991: World Apartment Horror ( ワ ー ル ド ・ ア パ ー ト メ ン ト ・ ホ ラ ー ) (Director, Screenplay)
  • 1991: Rōjin Z ( 老人 Z ) (screenplay)
  • 1995: Memories ( 大砲 の 街 ) (Director, Screenplay)
  • 2001: Robotic Angel ( メ ト ロ ポ リ ス , Metoroporisu ) (screenplay)
  • 2004: Steamboy ( ス チ ー ム ボ ー イ , Suchīmubōi ) (director, screenplay)
  • 2006: Mushishi ( 蟲 師 ) (Director)
  • 2013: Hi no Yōjin ( 火 要 鎮 ), short film, part of Short Peace (director, screenplay)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. http://www.akira2019.com/katsuhiro-otomo.htm
  2. Jaqueline Berndt : Phenomenon Manga . P. 72.
  3. Fête de la Bande Dessinee. Discours de Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres. Remise des insignes de Chevalier dans l'ordre des Arts et des lettres à Katsuhiro Otomo, May 31, 2005 (French)
  4. ANIME NEWS: Katsuhiro Otomo inducted into Eisner's Hall of Fame. ( Memento of the original from October 17, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. The Asahi Shimbun, August 14, 2012 (English). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / ajw.asahi.com
  5. Katsuhiro Otomo Receives Japan Medal with Purple Ribbon. Anime News Network, November 1, 2013