The government of Japan bestows the Medal with Purple Ribbon on “individuals who have contributed to academic and artistic developments, improvements and accomplishments.” This autumn, they’ve giving it to Masaaki Yuasa.
Yuasa has been in the anime business for a long time. He began as a key animator, working on titles like Doraemon: Nobita’s Animal Planet and The Legend of the Dog Warriors: The Hakkenden. Later he became an episode animation director for Crayon Shin-Chan.
In 2013, he and Eunyoung Choi co-founded the studio Science SARU. As an anime director, Yuasa has helmed Japan Sinks: 2020, DEVILMAN crybaby, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, Ping Pong, The Tatami Galaxy, Kemonozume, Kick-Heart, Lu over the wall, Mind Game, and Ride Your Wave, among others. He and Choi also worked on the “Food Chain” episode of Adventure Time and received an Annie Award nomination for it, though they didn’t win that time around.
Yuasa’s latest directorial work was on INU-OH, which will be coming out in Japanese theaters next year. It’s based on the novel Heike Monogatari: Inu-Oh no Maki (translated as Tales of the Heike: Inu-Oh) by Hideo Furukawa.
He’s not the only talented person within the otaku world to receive the Medal with Purple Ribbon. Other winners are mangaka Shigeru Mizuki, Fujio Akatsuka, Isao Takahata, mangaka Leiji Matsumoto, mangaka Tetsuya Chiba, Joe Hisaishi, mangaka Moto Hagio, mangaka and director Katsuhiro Otomo, mangaka Keiko Takemiya, and mangaka Rumiko Takahashi, to name a few. Truly, the Japanese government has made a point of honoring people within the anime and manga world.
There is also the possibility of receiving the Medal with Blue Ribbon, which is “awarded to individuals who have made prosperous efforts in the areas of public welfare and education.” The otaku world has also received some honor here, as Crypton Future Media President and Hatsune Miku’s “father” Hiroyuki Itō got that award in 2013.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, and its sequel, Manga Art for Intermediates, with professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.