Makiko Futaki, an accomplished animator who worked extensively for Studio Ghibli, has passed away aged 58. Word of her passing on May 13th, as she was being treated for illness, came from Trash Studio, run by Kugimiya Yoichiro who handles Ghibli’s movie production affairs coordination. A private funeral was held for her loved ones.
Futaki started out in her professional career as an in-between animator at Telecom Animation Film, and worked on episode 153 of the Lupin III: Part II anime. Before this first job, she’d already been creating amateur animations and showing them at the Private Animation Festival (PAF). Her first work for Ghibli was with co-founder and director Isao Takahata on Jarinko Chie in 1981, then with Hayao Miyazaki on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. From that point on, she worked for the studio as a freelance key animator, lending her talents to all of Hayao Miyazaki’s works, and many of Isao Takahata’s. Her final film as a key animator was When Marnie Was There.
Her other credited masterworks of anime movie-making include Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira and Hiroyuki Yamaga’s Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honnêamise, and she also illustrated the covers for Nahoko Uehashi’s fantasy novel series Moribito. She was indispensable in the creation of some of Ghibli’s gentler, natural enchantment, and brought the joy of flight to Laputa and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Her artistic presence, as honoured in Anipages Daily’s ‘Women Behind Ghibli’ feature, will be missed even as it continues to bring joy and magic to anime fans through her legacy.