Takahiro Kimura (1964-2023)

Takahiro Kimura, who died on 5th March, first got the idea that animation might be the career for him when he saw episodes of Armoured Trooper VOTOMS and Blue Meteor SPT Layzner in his student days. “As for the university,” he later remembered, “well, I realised that if I wanted to graduate at the rate I was going, it was going to take me another eight years, so I decided to give up! I really feel sorry for my parents.” He’d chosen to apply for work at the studio that made Layzner, Anime R, because at the time there was an anime magazine column about life at the studio, and it sounded like a fun place to work.

“I was very happy because I chose Anime R because I liked Layzner. The first shot I worked on was one in which a robot’s leg take one step forward. It was a little disappointing that it wasn’t a character!”

“The reality is that when you enter Anime R and started working, there was a lot of action and robot jobs. But I felt a strong desire to draw more female characters, so I drew them as doodles and stuck them up around my desk.” Kimura cited two female character designers as his inspirations: Rumiko Takahashi and Mutsumi Inomata – “I loved the sexy female characters when they were drawn by women.”

His superiors soon took note, and started putting him on design jobs that didn’t involve giant robots. His character design was on the late-night TV show Lemon Angel in 1987. Before long, he was working on Idol Angel Welcome Yoko and the award-winning Mama is a Fourth-Grader, proclaiming that he had found his groove and loved being an animator.

After a while, Anime R’s location in Osaka left Kimura feeling isolated from the creative hub of the anime industry. “Basically, if you’re just drawing stuff, there’s no particular inconvenience. I could have a meeting on the phone and send stuff off by courier. There was no producer to worry about because all we had to do was draw. It was fine. But once you start working as a character designer, suddenly you find that you can’t just ask: ‘What about this?” So after I’d finished GaoGaiGar, Betterman and Brigadoon, I thought it was time to go to the source and actually move to Tokyo. So that’s what I did.”

He also worked on many adult games, especially the Viper series, on which he usually used the pseudonym Awaji Sugawara. Much of his adult artwork would later be compiled in an art book under his real name, titled Risky Dolls.

His best-known work in his later years was on Code Geass, the production website of which was the official site for the announcement of his death. “We are proud to say that Mr Kimura has created many characters through animation and illustrations, and has created wonderful animation images that will moves our hearts,” said the production note online. “We have nothing but words of gratitude.”

Jonathan Clements