Takao Saito (1936-2021)

“Saito would ultimately produce manga versions of Live and Let Die, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Thunderball and The Man with the Golden Gun. His work on Bond would inform and inspire his most famous creation, a globe-trotting, ruthless assassin named in part for his high-school teacher: Duke Togo, codenamed Golgo 13.”

Over at All the Anime, I write up the life of Takao Saito.

Eiichi Yamamoto (1940-2021)

“So much of what we know today about 1960s anime – anecdotes, scandals, gossip and all – derives from Yamamoto’s book. It is Yamamoto we have to thank not only for the assessment of Mushi as a ‘dangerous business model,’ but for ample evidence as to why.”

Over at All the Anime, my obituary for the writer and director Eiichi Yamamoto.

Asei Kobayashi (1932-2021)

“The following year, he would win an award for his music for ‘From a Northern Inn’, a weepy tune about a girl knitting a sweater for a boy who will never wear it. The song twice entered the charts and also a later anime – in Isao Takahata’s film Chie the Brat (1981), the leading lady belts it out at her father, in a passive-aggressive way of accusing him of paternal neglect.”

Over at All the Anime, I write an obituary for Asei Kobayashi, an unlikely TV star, quiz-show champion and composer, most notably for Science Ninja Team Gatchaman and Turn-A Gundam.

Jay Benedict (1951-2020)

Over at the All the Anime blog, I remember the actor Jay Benedict.

He had played Deak, one of the local slackers at Tosche Station on Tattooine, in a scene deleted from Star Wars: A New Hope, describing his performance as one of “playing space pinball” while Biggs (Garrick Hagon) told Luke Skywalker he was joining the rebel alliance, and Koo Stark “sat around looking beautiful.” When we worked together with Hagon on one anime dub, Benedict ribbed him about how Hagon’s character had made it to the final cut, only to get blown up above the Death Star.

Sankichiro Kusube (1938-2020)

Over at the All the Anime blog, I write the obituary for Sankichiro Kusube, a leading producer at A-Pro, and then its successor studio Shin Ei.

“Kusube not only dragged Doraemon back onto the air, but pushed for its leap into cinemas as well, personally guaranteeing the creator and the TV channel that he would take personal responsibility if Doraemon: Nobita’s Dinosaur (1980) proved to be a failure. It’s for this reason, his willingness to be the fall guy, that Kusube’s name made a rare appearance on the production credits for the film, which would go on to be the highest grossing domestic animation film of the year at the Japanese box office.”

Mariko Miyagi (1927-2020)

Over at the All the Anime blog, I write an obituary for Mariko Miyagi, the actress who supplised the voice of “anime’s first pin-up.”

“It was like being in love,” wrote one fan, Hayao Miyazaki, decades later, “and Bai-Niang became a surrogate girlfriend for me at a time when I had none… I was hooked when I saw Hakujaden, and I wound up choosing to become an animator because of it.”

Taku Mayumura (1934-2019)

As I predicted in my entry on Taku Mayumura in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, his 1778 Stories for My Wife is the work that much of the Japanese media chooses to remember him by.

“In 1998, when Mayumura’s wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he began Nichigawari Ichi-hanashi [‘A Story A Day’] (1998) in order to distract her from her condition. Purportedly writing solely for an audience of one, this project would eventually extend to ten thousand pages, and endure for several years past Mrs Mayumura’s original estimated terminal date. Tsuma ni Sasageta 1778 Hanashi [‘1778 Stories for My Wife’] contains 19 tales of varying length, written in daily three-page instalments. The story of Mayumura’s Scheherazade-like attempt to keep death at bay was subsequently adapted into the film Watashi to Tsuma no 1778 Monogatari [“1778 Stories of My Wife and I”], likely to endure as Mayumura’s own epitaph and best-known work in the modern Japanese mainstream.”