Animator Behind Spirited Away And Akira, Makiko Futaki Has Passed Away

Seasoned Studio Ghibli animator Makiko Futaki passed away on Friday (May 13) while being treated for an unspecified illness, reports suggest. She was 58 and had a private funeral.

For over three decades Futaki served as the animator for an incredible list of unforgettable animations – working alongside the iconic Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki.

She brought to life the characters of Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Akira and My Neighbour Totoro to name just a few from her illustrious career.

My Neighbor Totoro Cat Bus (Image: Studio Ghibli)

My Neighbor Totoro Cat Bus (Image: Studio Ghibli)

Futaki started her professional career at Telecom Animation, although one of her first notable projects was Jarinko Chie (1981) with Takahata.

She had caught the attention of Miyazaki after her work on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and was involved in almost every one of his animations ever since.

This included such masterpieces as Castle in the Sky (1986), Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), Porco Rosso (1992), Howl's Moving Castle (2004) and The Wind Rises (2013).

Her last film with the studio was When Marnie Was There in 2014.

Along with all of her Studio Ghibli successes Futaki also had a hand in producing animations for Akira (1988) and Royal Space Force: The Wings Of Honnêamise(1987).

Futaki's attention to detail no doubt contributed a great deal to these animations. Check out the video below for some of her animated magic.

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By Matthew Kirby, published on 29/05/2016