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Yoichi Kotabe

Yōichi Kotabe (小田部 羊一 こたべ よういち Kotabe Yōichi) (Born September 15, 1936 in Taiwan Taipei City, and went back to Japan after World War II) is a Japanese mangaka and animator, who has worked with Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki.

He belongs to Nintendo Co., Ltd., and he is a lecturer at Tokyo designer academy cartoon film course (東京デザイナー学院アニメーション科) now.

His wife was Reiko Okuyama of an animator / copperplate engraving, and they sponsored studio "atelier Rei" (アトリエ玲) only for oneself jointly.

In addition, a common nom de plume with his wife included "あんていろーぷ anteirōpu".

They worked together on Hols: Prince of the Sun, and started together a company in which they made new style of cartoons. 'Panda! Go, Panda!' was the first one.

He was character designer in the Heidi and 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother cartoon television series.

Yōichi Kotabe went to Nintendo, and he is designing or supervising an illustration of the Super Mario series as an official illustrator since the original Super Mario Bros.

He also worked on an illustration of Nintendo's Game Boy title, Mole Mania, and then worked on the Pokémon animated series and other video games as a supervisor. In the Pokémon, he refined the design of Pikachu for the animation.

In 2003, he participated in the collaborative project Winter Days.


The reason why he came to be interested in animation was that he watched the short film "Momotaro's Sea Eagle / 桃太郎の海鷲" (1942) in childhood. It was interesting to him that a fighter moved well in the movie. Afterwards, he came to draw the picture by the influence of his father whose hobby was an oil painting. However, since oil painting was poor at him, he began the watercolor painting. And, thinking that the watercolor painting could be continued if he drew a Nihonga (Japanese‐style painting), and entered "東京藝術大学" where the Japanese‐style painting department existed. He was tempted to stay in the university. But, he was just shocked to see "Madame White Snake / 白蛇伝" (1958) in those days, and received the test for employment of the Toei Animation which made the movie.

The big work that had been given only after he joined Toei was "Hols: Prince of the Sun". He worked with Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, etc. at this work. Especially, he often worked with Miyazaki as animator that took charge of the same episodes of the same work.

He left Toei Animation with Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki to make "Pippi Longstocking" an animated cartoon, and he transferred to "シンエイ動画". However, the plan was called off because they were rejected by the original writer. Then, they produced the "Panda! Go, Panda!" by misappropriating this plot. Then Kotabe acted with Takabata and Miyazaki. The relation that Takahata directed, Miyazaki made a setting, and Kotabe drew a picture continued to "3000 Leagues in Search of Mother". Isao Takahata who had worked with Kotabe in "Heidi, Girl of the Alps" and "3000 Leagues in Search of Mother" made the notation name called "Character design" which had not existed in a staff roll till then in Japan for Kotabe. Afterwards, Kotabe became free-lance, worked with them, or did another work.

In 1985, he was scouted by Nintendo, and assumed the position of the game development adviser. When Kotabe was scouted, he knew nothing about a game. However, he was shown "Super Mario Brothers" in which the package illustration was requested to him, He felt that the game industry was livelier than the animated cartoon industry in Japan at that time. And he received the invitation.


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