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Makiko Futaki - Nature's Animator

By Ethan Koltz 2 years ago No comments

May 13th 2016, the animation world lost one of its most talented animators with the passing of Makiko Futaki at the age of 57. Starting her career off through the production of cine-calligraphy (the scratching of animations onto 8mm film), she was discovered at the Private Animation Festival where she would work as a freelance artist for Studio Ghibli. Over the years she developed closely with Hayao Miyazak and would continue to work for Studio Ghibli, working on every single project that the studio produced. Makiko Futaki was the key animator behind some of the most famous scenes from Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and Spirited Away, and other Studio Ghibli films. Besides working for Studio Ghibli, Makiko has worked on 1988’s Akira, a feature film about a dystopian Tokyo, as well as 1985’s Angel’s Egg and Night on the Galactic Railroad. InksterInc wanted to show our respect for this amazing individual by highlighting some of the work that Makiko gave the world.

Castle in the Sky (1986)

Castle in the Sky

In this scene from Laputa: Castle in the Sky, doves are flying around Sheeta and eating from her hand, and you can see her passion for birds and nature. Makiko loved to animate scenes that involved birds for the Studio Ghibli movies and you can often find her hand throughout the studio's films whenever birds are on scene.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

Kiki's Delivery Service

Once again we see a scene where Makiko Futaki got to animate her favorite animal, as Kiki flies with the geese in the film Kiki’s Delivery Service.

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro

As well as birds, Makiko loved to animate nature. Sometimes it was just the soft bending of grass as it blows in the wind, other times it was a bit more… unnatural, like this scene from My Neighbor Totoro.

Moriboto (1996)


When Makiko was not creating amazing animations she took on other jobs and really showed off her wide range of artistic abilities. The entire Moriboto series of novels had their covers illustrated by Makiko as she showed how diverse her skill set was.

Akira (1988)


Although the bulk of Makiko’s career can be traced to Studio Ghibli productions, one of her greatest successes was not a Studio Ghibli movie. Makiko was a key animator for Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 cult classic Akira. This film is widely regarded as one of the best animated films ever to be produced, showing that Makiko was able to help make any movie amazing, Studio Ghibli or not.

This is just a small list of some of the work that Makiko gave us. What is your favorite work she created? Makiko Futaki’s work will inspire generations of animators to come. Feel free to share and comment!

InksterInc is a Philadelphia based Tee Shirt company located on 4th and South Street. It is a place for artists to explore their talents and grow. Anyone can submit their work on our website and we’ll promote and sell it for them! 20% of each sale goes back to the artist - artists keep the rights to their work. We do Direct to Garment printing on the best 100% Ring Spun Cotton tees, tanks, crewnecks and hoodies - plus canvas totes!”

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Inksterinc is a T-shirt company based in Philadelphia that strives to provide a platform for a variety of artists to host their own shop. Created and run by illustrators and designers, we strive to serve the artistic community.