The animation world has lost a prodigious talent with the death of Makiko Futaki, a longtime Studio Ghibli animator who passed away on May 13 after an unspecified illness. Futaki collaborated on every one of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, several of which are regarded as high-water marks of the entire genre: “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away” and many others. Futaki was 57 at the time of her passing.
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In addition to her work at Ghibli, which has been among the world’s most foremost animation studios for decades, Futaki also served as key animator on 1988’s “Akira.” Katsuhiro Otomo’s dystopian sci-fi anime is likewise considered among the best of its kind ever made. Futaki held the same credit on such films as “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “From Up on Poppy Hill” and “The Wind Rises.”
Futaki was born on June 19, 1958 and began her career at the Private Animation Festival with cine-calligraphy films. She first worked with Ghibli in 1981 and remained active with the studio for the rest of her life.
Watch the trailer from “When Marnie Was There,” Futaki’s final film:
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