Yōichi Kotabe (小田部 羊一 Kotabe Yōichi?, born September 15, 1936)[1], [2] is a Japanese manga artist and animator who has worked with Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki. He is a lecturer at Tokyo Designer Academy in their cartoon film course.

His was married to Reiko Okuyama, who is an animator and engraver, and they jointly founded the studio Atelier Rei (アトリエ玲 Atorie Rei?). Kotabe sometimes works with his wife under the nom de plume Antelope (あんていろーぷ Anteirōpu?). They worked together on Hols: Prince of the Sun and Panda! Go, Panda!. He was character designer for Heidi, Girl of the Alps and 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, both of which are part of the World Masterpiece Theater series.

He works for Nintendo designing, supervising, and illustrating for the Super Mario series since the original Super Mario Bros.. He has also done design work for BS Zelda no Densetsu and Mole Mania. He also did finish design work on the Pokémon animated series—he refined the design of Pikachu—and other video games as a design and animation supervisor.

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


Kotabe became interested in animation after watching the short film Momotarō no Umiwashi as a child. He was fascinated with how the fighter moved in the film. His father, who was an oil painter, also influenced his decision to work as an artist. Kotabe found oil painting to be difficult, so he instead worked in watercolor painting.

In order to continue working in watercolors, he adopted the nihonga, or Japanese‐style, of painting, and began studying at the Tokyo University of the Arts where they had a Japanese‐style painting department. While attending the university, he was impressed by the film The Tale of the White Serpent, and immediately applied to work at Toei Animation.

His first project there was Hols: Prince of the Sun where he met Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. He left Toei along with Miyazaki and Takahata in order to work at A Pro, and they began work on an adaptation of Pippi Longstocking. That project was eventually cancelled, and work began on the two-film series Panda! Go, Panda!.

Kotabe then worked as character designer on two television anime series from Nippon Animation: Heidi, Girl of the Alps and 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, with Miyazaki working on scene design and layout and Takahata working as series director and storyboard artist.

In 1985, he was scouted by Nintendo and assumed the position of the game development adviser where he created package illustrations for Super Mario Bros.. Until that time, he was not familiar with video games.



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