Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki revealed at the 2021 Tokyo Anime Award Festival that animator Yasuo Otsuka had passed away on March 15, 2021. He was 89 years old at the time of his passing.
Otsuka was born on July 11, 1931 in Japan’s Shimane prefecture. He joined Toei Dōga (now known as Toei Animation) in 1956 and worked on The White Snake and The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon. He served as animation director on Isao Takahata’s classic anime film Horus – Prince of the Sun.
Otsuka later transferred to the studio A Production (now known as Shinei Animation) and eventually to Telecom Animation Film. He was the animation director and character designer for the first Lupin III television anime series that set the framework for the long-running franchise. He also worked with one-time protégé and close friend Hayao Miyazaki as the animation director for Future Boy Conan, Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (on which he was also a character designer), and other works.
In his later years, Otsuka helped foster future generations of animators as an instructor at Tokyo’s Yoyogi Animation Academy. He received an Association’s Special Award for lifetime achievement at the 42nd annual Japan Academy Prizes in 2019.