News has broken that Eiichi Yamamoto, a pivotal player in anime history, passed away on September 7. His age has variously been given in the Japanese media as 80 and 88; going by what we know of his career, the former is more plausible.
After graduating from high school, Yamamoto plunged straight into the burgeoning anime industry. In 1958 he took a job as an animator at Otogi Pro, a leading indie studio run somewhat haphazardly by erstwhile manga artist Ryuichi Yokoyama. Two years later, he was poached by a new studio, where he would make his name: Osamu Tezuka’s Mushi Pro.
Tezuka’s studio set about developing a form of limited animation it would soon apply to tv production, laying the groundwork for the modern anime industry in the process. Yamamoto played a leading role in this experiment, co-directing the modernist mid-length film Tales of a Street Corner (1962), then serving as an episode director on the groundbreaking series Astro Boy (1963–66) and Kimba the White Lion (1965–67).