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Yutaka Minowa (箕輪 豊 Minowa Yutaka?) is a character designer and animation director who works almost exclusively with Madhouse, one of the premiere Japanese animation companies. His work is most notably recognised in the Yoshiaki Kawajiri movies he has designed characters for, among them Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.
At a young age, Yutaka Minowa took an interest in anime when he was presented with anime to study in school. After graduating from high school, he studied at a design college for two years before starting a small independent animation company, via which he did contract work. In 1990, he worked with Madhouse for the first time on the OVA series Record of Lodoss War, and since that time, he has been a more or less permanent member of the studio, although he still finds time to do occasional key animation work on other productions. Despite not being an actual employee of the studio, he is today so associated with Madhouse that he is among their highest profile collaborators. Today, he is the head member of the Kawajiri Unit, the core group of animators who work almost exclusively with the famed director.
He considers himself to be an ordinary man who is influenced by everything around him. He is also passionate for art and has always liked the possibility of taking characters and bringing them to life on film. He is a big fan of comic creator Mike Mignola, and of the American comic series Batman and Fantastic Four.
Minowa's character designs are usually angular, lending them a decidedly different look from most other anime characters. His men often feature imposing chins, squared jaws, and muscular torsos. Female characters are typically not of the bishōjo type seen commonly, and are more often are fighters who struggle to survive in a man's world. They feature butch haircuts, unusually broad shoulders, and large, expressive eyes that offer insight into the emotion hidden behind their tough exteriors. However, beautiful people of both genders also populate his designs. Distinguished by his curly hair (another design oddity for anime) and the smooth, straight lines of his face, Minowa's redesign of Yoshitaka Amano's D in Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is an example.
Initially influenced by Yoshiaki Kawajiri's art style, since Ninja Scroll Minowa has become central in defining the look of Kawajiri anime. Although often not credited, in recent years Minowa has largely taken over the task of storyboarding from Kawajiri, working closely with the director to capture the look he wants.
Beyond working as a character designer, Minowa's position as an animation director (a task he is frequently assigned by Kawajiri) allows him to be very hands-on with the process. From drawing key animation poses that stress the extremes of the character's actions to correcting other animator's work to ensure all the drawings have a uniform feel, Minowa's duties often make him the center of the film's animation process, as expressed by his comments on his involvement in the Program section of The Animatrix: "I typically have a lot more contact with the artists than the actual director of the film, which is a big challenge in my work."
List of works
- Ninja Scroll 2 movie (in development) - Character Designer
- Devil May Cry: The Animated Series - Devil Designs
- Highlander: The Search for Vengeance movie (2006) - Assistant Animation Director
- The Animatrix: Program short (2003) - Character Designer, Animation Director, Key Animator
- Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis movie (2001) - Key Animator
- Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust movie (2000) - Character Designer, Animation Director
- Escaflowne: The Movie movie (2000) - Key Animator
- Cardcaptor Sakura Movie 2: The Sealed Card movie (2000) - Key Animator
- X movie (1996) - Assistant Animation Director
- Phantom Quest Corp OVA (1994) - Animator
- Ninja Scroll movie (1993) - Character Designer, Animation Director
- Record of Lodoss War OVA (1990) - Sub Character Designer (episodes 6-13)
- Angel Links TV - Design Consultant
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