Script error Yasuo Ōtsuka (大塚康生 Ōtsuka Yasuo?) (born July 11, 1931, in Shimane Prefecture) is a Japanese animator who worked with Toei Animation and Studio Ghibli.

Prior to becoming an animator, Ōtsuka worked in the Kantō-Kōshin'etsu district drug enforcement office at the Ministry of Health and Welfare. As a member of the support staff (a so-called "Drug G-man"), he was responsible for the seizure of drugs and was required to operate and maintain a handgun. During his tenure as a Drug G-man, Ōtsuka would see the release of two types of firearms that later would show up in his animations: the Beretta and the Colt Government - both appearing in the Lupin III series (the former used by Fujiko Mine and the latter by Inspector Zenigata).

Ōtsuka is proficient in both English and Chinese. Besides being an animator, he is a world-famous collector of Jeeps.


Ōtsuka first started drawing as a small child when he saw trains carrying soldiers off to the war. He was so enamoured with trains that he continued drawing them with greater and greater detail as he aged. This led to a fascination with the machinery that is pervasive throughout much of his anime work.

He entered "Yamaguchi prefectural Yamaguchi industrial junior high school Engineering works department"[1] founded in World War II. He faced the end of the war when he was in Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi for student mobilization. Although he was able to take the qualification of graduate of a high school of the current system if going to the school during another year, he went out into the world, obtaining only the qualification of a junior high school graduate. He failed to live up to his father's expectation.

Otsuka was surprised to see the jeep and the truck of a large amount of the United States armed forces that had been brought in to Japan after the end of the war immediately. He stopped drawing the locomotive, and begun to sketch military vehicles earnestly. He hunted and collected a manual and others in the dump site of the U.S. forces to know the structure of the jeep. As a result, he mastered English as the by-product, and he got the friend of Americans and New Zealander. He associates with them with all his family still now.

Otsuka found employment in the statistics section of the general affairs department of the Yamaguchi prefectural office first. Then, while working, he came up to Tokyo twice by the business trip. At the time, the current-events satirical comics which he contributed to Yamguchi newspaper were adopted, and the work was temporarily serialized. Afterwards, he decides to go to Tokyo to become a political cartoonist. But, in Tokyo of those days, the inflow of population was restricted. Therefore, he received the employment test of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and passed it. He was assigned to the narcotics agent office of the Kanto-Koshin'etsu area. It was what is called drug G-man's work. Every time he found spare time, he went to the sketch cram school, or he copied comics at a library, and was drawing the landscape in his own style. He is impressed by the animation of the Soviet Union " The Humpbacked Horse" (1947), and the feature-length cartoon film of France "Le Roi et l'oiseau" (1952), and came to be interested in animation. However, he suffered from tuberculosis by irregular life, and received medical treatment for two years. He was only able to read enough book.

In 1956, Otsuka finished the recuperation life and found the newspaper article that the production of the anime movie Hakujaden was decided to Toei. Then, he visited Nihon Douga (=Japan Animation) company that became the basis of inauguration of Toei Animation, and took the test. The people representing the Japanese animation field such as Yasuji Mori at that time received him, and the result of the examination was passing. He was one of the Toei animators involved in experimenting with frame-rate modulation in animation. This experimentation lead to what is commonly called the "money shot" style, where more important scenes are animated more fully than others. He practiced animation while going to work, and was finally temporarily employed as one of the first employees of Toei Animation. However, unless they did overtime work after finishing the task twice or more the regular employment group, they were not able to live because the salary of the temporary employment group was a half of the regular employment group.

In addition he was a mentor to both Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and worked with them on many of their early projects. Although he had the chance to do the director several times, he refused it. It is because he witnessed that IsaoTakahata faced difficulties during the production of Hols: Prince of the Sun. In a documentary about him, he stated that he revered Takahata's ability as the director in Hols. And, he felt that his ability was insufficient by comparison.

Ōtsuka is currently running a school for animators in Japan, and recently Studio Ghibli produced a documentary about the animator.[2]

Animation Director

Character Design


  1. This junior high school is under the old system of five year.
  2. Ōtsuka Yasuo no Ugokasu Yorokobi (大塚康生の動かす喜び Yasuo Ōtsuka's Joy of Animating?), DVD, Studio Ghibli, 2004.

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it:Yasuo Ōtsuka

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