Berserk art director Shichirou Kobayashi passes away 

Guts in the 1997 Berserk anime
Guts, as depicted in the 1997 Berserk anime adaptation. Pic credit: OLM studios

Shichirou Kobayashi (Shichirō Kobayashi), the art director behind some of the most outstanding anime series, has passed away at the age of 89.

The prolific filmmaker, whose career began in 1964, worked on popular anime franchises, including Berserk, Lupin the Third, Urusei Yatsura, and many more. All of these works have had a significant influence on the genre over the years.

Kobayashi passed away from congestive heart failure. The anime community has lost a seminal creator who helped introduce stellar animated universes to numerous people worldwide.

Shichirou Kobayashi passes on

The revelation was confirmed in a tweet by director and writer Tomomi Mochizuki, who collaborated with Kobayashi on the anime Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Quiet Country Cafe:

Shichirou Kobayashi passed away on August 25. He was 89 years old.

Of all the staff members I had the pleasure of meeting, he was one of the most delightful ones that I have had the pleasure of getting to know so intimately. We mourned him last night while watching some of the best art in the history of animation in his own “Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Quiet Country Cafe” work.

Thank you, Shichirou, for all your years of service.

Tomomi Mochizuki

Who was Shichirou Kobayashi?

Shichirou Kobayashi was born in Hokkaido on August 30, 1932. He received his degree from Musashino Art University but chose to become an elementary school teacher. In 1967, he began working for Toei Douga (present-day Toei Animation).

Kobayashi worked briefly at Gendai Seisaku Shudan (1968), a studio specializing in backdrop art, before leaving to found his studio Kobayashi Production. In 1971, he completed his first project as an art director — an adaptation of Shin Obake no Q-Tarou by Fujiko Fujio.

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Shichirou Kobayashi’s legendary works

Kobayashi Production later provided animation support for the films Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer and Urusei Yatsura 3: Remember My Love, Akira, Golgo 13, and Dirty Pair, among others. Other TV anime and movies also used the background artwork of these works.

Kobayashi served as the art director for the company’s final project, which was background artwork for J.C. Staff’s Tantei Opera Milky Holmes. Once the firm dissolved, Kobayashi abandoned the animation business altogether.

He was also a guest lecturer at Kobe Design University.

Visual from Lupin the 3rd, The Castle of Cagliostro.
A visual from Lupin the 3rd, The Castle of Cagliostro. Pic credit: TMS entertainment

Kobayashi is particularly noted for having contributed to the development of the 1997 television series Berserk, which many anime fans believe is the best representation of the Band of the Hawk universe. The legendary art director also worked on Lupin The 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro, possibly the most renowned installment in the franchise centered on the gentleman thief.

The 2010 Detective Opera Milky Holmes anime series — which portrays a new group of investigators set on following in the footsteps of Sherlock Holmes — was Kobayashi’s most recent endeavor.

Throughout his career, Kobayashi had won numerous awards for his efforts in the anime industry, including the Tokyo International Anime Fair’s Award of Merit (2009) and The Nihon SF Taisho Award (1986). Afterward, Kobayashi went on to win the Film Award of Merit from the Agency of Cultural Affairs in 2011.

Given the incredible body of work he leaves behind, it is impossible to overestimate Shichirou Kobayashi’s influence on the anime industry.

During this trying time, our thoughts are with his friends and family.

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