Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Episode Nine: Kimio Ikeda (1934-2007)

In memory of Kimio Ikeda.

Episode Nine: Kimio Ikeda (1934-2007) from Tasayu Tasnaphun on Vimeo.

Long before our own T.T. was Comcast’s Anime Selects Tokyo Reporter, he could be seen milling around at the very first Tokyo Anime Fair with the likes of Anime Producer Kimio Ikeda as part of the Shiden production and design team. In 2004 TT interviewed the great Ikeda-san at Tokyo Bigsite where the start of production on his latest anime title was announced.

It is our sad duty to report however, that Mr. Kimio Ikeda, has passed away at the age of 73. As his dream of producing his final work “Shiden” continues, and as the world of anime he helped create spreads far beyond Japan, we bring you his last on-camera interview, direct from the Tokyo Anime Fair.

Before you dismiss anything about what we have brought you here today, perhaps you should read about Ikeda-san’s contributions to anime as he writes in his own words (check out 1963… you’ll be surprised):

1934: Born in Kohriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Graduated from Meiji University, Tokyo.

1957: Immediately hired by Toho Co. (Advertising Dept.) Current CEO of Toho Co., Isao Matsuoka, entered the Company at the same time. While at Meiji University, I played college baseball, and played Shigeo Nagashima's, Rikkyo University many times. Nagashima and I are very close friends. He is known in Japan as "Mister Baseball", and is the teacher of Shigeki Matsui, (currently with the New York Yankees).

As Toho Co. was ordered to re-organize by the Allied Forces, occupying Japan at that time, the new company, Shin-Toho CO. was born. At this time, I was chosen as the 3rd Assistant Director for Akira Kurosawa. The 3rd AD is the youngest rookie, actually an errand-boy who does all kinds of errands for the filming crew.

1959: One day, Kurosawa told me to go to the work shop Of Ryuzo Kikushima, one of the most celebrated scenario writers at that time in Japan, to discuss changes of one scene that Kurosawa wanted, and needed to have Kikushima's approval. Ever since this meeting with Kikushima, I began to get acquainted with many other famous people involved in film-making. Kurosawa used to tell us rookies: "With a D-class scenario, you cannot expect a good film even by a genius director. But with an A-class scenario, an average director can make an excellent film." Kurosawa wanted to teach us how important the original scenario is for film-making.

Appointed by Shin-Toho Co. to work as a staff-producer of special-effect films. I was involved in making of great works such as "Battleship Yamato", "Yukino-Yo-Henge" , "Super Giants", and a mega-budget film entitled "Emperor Meiji and Japan-Russo War". Later in this year, I was requested to work with Eiji Tsuburaya, Japan's great special-effect maker, and involved in the making of his first "Gojira".

1961: Introduced and recommended by Dentsu Co., now the world's largest advertising agency, I was sent to the Arthur Rank Studio in New York for 3 months, to work in the project "Pinocchio", 5-minute puppet acted stories of 104 episodes, and assisted the actual filming, editing, and sound-effects in this series. The Rank Organization then put me in a cartoon-making school where I became acquainted with Steve Yusaku Makagawa, who later became the key animator for Disney Productions. I also learned the techniques of cartoon-making from Mike Webster, who was the supervisor of Disney Animation Production at that time.

1963: I returned to Japan from New York and was immediately requested by Osamu Tezuka to help work on his first animation film, “Tetsuwan Atomu.” With Tezuka, we sat at the round table every day and night to come up with the best way to make a high-quality animation series of 30 minutes each for 52 weeks. There was not enough funding, time, or resources which Disney had plenty of!

A high quality animation requires 24 cell pictures per second. A solid 25-minute episode must have 36,000 pictures. This was far too many for Tezuka’s team to cope with. One day, Tezuka came running to join our brain storming session with a great idea. He made only 8 cells and each cell was triplicated by the camera. This generated exactly 24 cells per second! Until that time, our mind was fixed to an idea of drawing all 24 individual cells per second! In order to come to this innovative idea, Tezuka had studied day and night using his knowledge about human visual perceptions and how to trick the eye into seeing things. Because he majored at the Osaka University Medical School, he was able to have insight that other people did not. With his new idea, we were all very encouraged, and started to make the "Atom" series. This new method called "The Limited Animation" later became the main stream of animation-making both in Japan and in the USA.

1964: The year of Tokyo Olympics Games. Japan had made a tremendous progress in communication, transportation and in construction of roads and buildings. The "Tetsuwan Atomu" series went on air through Fuji TV Channel 8 at 7PM on a daily basis. This was the first Japan-made animation for TV. In the course of weekly on-air for 3 years, the average rate was 23% with the highest record o f amazing 52.8%. The revenue from merchandising and toys was astronomical.

As the "Atomu" series getting the high reputation and popularity, I was invited by Tatsuo Yoshida, then CEO of Tatsunoko Production, to work with him on a new project. That new project was "Mach Go! Go! GO!" (that’s SPEED RACER to you US fans). This program went on air as one of the first all-color animation ever to be televised in Japan. W dealt with Yomiuri Advertising Corp., and the program went on air on Nippon TV Channel 4.
After the debut of "Mach Go! Go! Go!" on Channel 4, I went on producing "Orphan Hutch" "Gatchaman", "Aakushon Dai-Maoh" , "Time Boccan", and some others. I also produced, and made my own short programs of animations for TV and magazines.

1976: The co-production of the 10 minute episodic animation series “The Kid Power" started. It went on to 104 episodes, and went on air on ABC-New York. ABC would also go on to air various family animation series such as "Red Baron", "20,000 Miles Under the Sea", "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", "Jack and Beanstalk" "The Willie Mays Story", and "Cinderella". I was fortunate to study the makings of American animation and be involved in these famous productions.
During the years 1976 through 1984, the Japanese animation industry was still depending on the low labor cost to draw in business and sustain itself. Osamu Tezuka and myself were involved in setting up a training program in South Korea, which was sponsored and subsidized by the South Korean Government. When that began, the cost for producing anime in Korea was 10% of the same production in Japan as far as the labor costs went, and the style and quality was the same.
It was actually a great opportunity for many anime producers such as myself, because this meant we could make more anime with the same amount of money by farming out the work to Korea. I remained in Seoul for 6 months teaching animation techniques and setting up production studios. It is a pity that the South Korean Government is now agitating its own public to protest Japan on many issues of economics and trade such as that which I helped create.

1985: I founded my own production company, Jin Production Inc in Tokyo. It was a big risk to do so. Here are some of my original productions:

Mega Mafon1989
Original Story by Tetsu Kariya
Telecasted'by Tokyo Broadcasing Systems (TBS).
Produced by Kimio Ikeda

"X-Bomber" 1991
Original Story by Kimio Ikeda & Goh Magai
A special-effect series of 26 episodes.
Telecasted by Fuji TV.
Produced by Kimio Ikeda

"Techno Voyager" 1993
Original Story by Kimio Ikeda
Action animation of 26 episodes.
Telecasted by Euji TV.
Produced by Kimio Ikeda

"The Glorious Number 3" 1994
Original Story by Shigeo Nagashima,Mister Baseball of Japan.
A one-hour-movie.
Combination of animation and actual ball game footage.
Televised by Nippon TV.
Produced by Kimio Ikeda

"The Legend on Kentauros" 1996
An anime movie.
Original Story by Makoto' Ohtake
Illustration by Hiromi Gyochu
Opened at Tokyu Theaters in Japan,
Produced by Kimio Ikeda

"Eto Rangers"
Original Story by Kimio Ikeda
Coordinator by Masayori Sekishima
Character Design by Takanori Suzuki
Produced by Kimio Ikeda

From 1996-2002 I Produced various TV commercials and created many cartoons and animation for magazines mainly for the Shoujou (small girls) market.

2004- ? I will be Producing "Shiden," a 26 episode series of my own design, which will be launched in Japan and USA at the same time to young audiences.

Translated on 5/05/05
By Kaye Tokunaga

Mr. Kaye (Keisuke) Tokunaga is the person sitting next to Mr. Ikeda in this video interview, and was instrumental in making this piece possible. He’s also the school sempai of former Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi and has the ability to (and often does) call him Jun-Chan… in public.
Yeah, you only wish you were that cool.

So across the board, all you old-schoolers and you neotaku alike out there may not instantly recognize the name “Kimio Ikeda,” but rest assured you owe him a lot. The anime industry you know it today would not even be here in this country if not for the efforts of this great man.

is proud to bring you the last recorded interview with Kimio Ikeda and we are committed to seeing his final animation project Shiden, become a reality.


Article about Shiden in Anime Insider.

Shiden Website (Construction halted).


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