Shichirō Kobayashi Shichirō Kobayashi

Prolific Japanese art director Shichiro Kobayashi died on August 25 of congestive heart failure. He was 89.

Kobayashi was born on August 30, 1932 in Hokkaido, Japan. He graduated from Musashino Art University and worked as a primary school teacher before joining Toei Animation (which was known as Toei Dōga at the time) in 1964. In 1968, he founded his own studio, Kobayashi Production.

During his long and illustrious career, he worked as art director on dozens of films and series including Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (directed by Hayao Miyazaki), Berserk, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Angel’s Egg, Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer,, and dozens of other projects.

As critic Ben Ettinger once wrote on Cartoon Brew, “Shichiro Kobayashi’s expressive art helped define the shows he worked on in the 1970s, like Aim for the Ace! and Gamba’s Adventure.

Several years after he retired, Kobayashi was interviewed by the arts program Toco Toco which hosted segments speaking with Japanese artists about their favorite places in Japan. While discussing his life and career, he described art direction as creating the “universe” in which a film or series takes place. That being the case, Kobayashi leaves behind a multitude of deep and resonant universes that fans have and will admire for generations.

For the segment, Kobayashi chose a scenic but unspectacular riverbed which he sketched while describing how he found his way into a career as an artist.

According to Kobayashi, from a young age he always dreamed of being an illustrator. As color tv became more popular, he realized that a career as an animation artist was becoming a realistic possibility. “In the end, this was the work I was meant to do,” he said confidently.

Later during the Toco Toco segment, while sitting in his workshop, he explained how art always remained a vital part of his life, even in retirement, while sharing several paintings to give an idea of what he was doing at the time.

Pictured at top: Shichiro Kobayashi, “Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro”