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Shichiro Kobayashi, legendary art director on Berserk and more dies at 89

Shichiro Kobayashi

We’ve learned sad news – legendary anime art director Shichiro Kobayashi (小林七郎) has died at 89.

Kobayashi was mostly known for his iconic work on backgrounds and landscapes in various anime series and film, mostly as art director. His works include: Berserk (1997), Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro, Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer, Angel’s Egg, many Studio Ghibli movies, and many more.

Kobayashi-sensei passed away due to congestive heart failure at 89, news initially confirmed by his longtime colleague Tomomi Mochizuki (望月 智充). Kobayashi’s passing comes a bit over a year since Berserk creator Kentaro Miura passed away.

“Of all the staff members I had the pleasure of knowing in this world, he was one of the most delightful to have had the pleasure of getting to know so intimately,” Mochizuki said. “We mourned him last night while viewing some of the best art in the history of animation in his own work, ‘Yokohama Buying Spree’. Thank you, Shichiro, for all your years of service.”

After graduating from Musashino Art University, Kobayashi worked as an art teacher for an elementary school prior to joining Toei Douga (Toei Animation) in 1964. Then in 1967 he transferred to Gendai Seisakudan, and finally in 1968 he founded his own Kobayashi Productions.

Shichiro Kobayashi’s iconic work got him numerous awards like the Best Art Award at the Japan Anime Awards in 1986, the Tokyo International Anime Fair Achievement Award in 2009, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs Film Achievement Award in 2011 in recognition of his lengthy career.

While in operation for decades, Kobayashi Productions continued to work under a focus on hand-painted backgrounds, just like Shichiro wanted. As trends in anime shifted, they reduced staff year by year until the studio sadly closed down in February 2011.

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