Top 15 Most Successful Japanese Animators

Top 15 Most Successful Japanese Animators

Top 15 Best, Famous & Successful Japanese Animators, All-Time

Currently, Many outstanding Animators now present in Japan, and they are well-known for their talent, skills, and significant project design in the Anime entertainment industry.

You know, the animators work all day and night to bring their ideas, creativity, thoughts, and adventure to their followers all the time. Here, we are going to bring the top 15 most successful animators to this list and all listed animators are well-known in the anime industry for their work.

1. Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki is an awards-winning Japanese Animator who won the Oscar award for the movie "Spirited Away", and in 2016, "Spirited Away" was voted the fourth-best film of the 21st century by the BBC, as picked by 177 film critics from around the world, making it the highest-ranking animated film on the list.

  • Full Name: Hayao Miyazaki
  • Occupations: Animator, filmmaker, screenwriter, author, manga artist
  • Years active: 1963–present
  • Employers: Toei Animation (1963–1971), A-Pro (1971–1973), Zuiyō Eizō (1973–1975), Nippon Animation (1975–1979), Tokyo Movie Shinsha (1979–1982), Topcraft (1982–1985), Studio Ghibli (1985–present)

2. Katsuhiro Otomo

Katsuhiro Otomo received the Winsor McCay Award at the 41st Annie Awards in 2014 and the 2015 Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême, the first manga artist to receive the award. On October 4, 1973, Otomo published his first work, a manga adaptation of Prosper Mérimée's short story Mateo Falcone, titled A Gun Report.

  • Full Name: Katsuhiro Otomo
  • Occupations: Animator, screenwriter, manga artist, director
  • Years active: 1973–present

3. Satoshi Kon

Satoshi Kon is best known for his acclaimed anime films Perfect Blue (1997), Millennium Actress (2001), Tokyo Godfathers (2003), Paprika (2006), and the TV series Paranoia Agent (2004). He died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 46 on August 24, 2010.

  • Full Name: Satoshi Kon
  • Occupations: Film director, animator, screenwriter, and manga artist
  • Years active: 1984-2010 
  • Other Names: Yoshihiro Wanibuchi (鰐淵 良宏)
  • Alma Mater: Musashino Art University

4. Atsuko Ishizuka

Atsuko Ishizuka made a number of short animated films for her own enjoyment, often set to music. One of these films, Gravitation, which was later featured at the 2005 Tehran International Short Film Festival, caught the attention of both the Japanese broadcasting giant NHK and Madhouse.

  • Full Name: Atsuko Ishizuka
  • Occupations: Animator, storyboard artist, director
  • Years active: 2004-present
  • Other Names: いしずかあつこ, Ishizuka Atsuko

5. Hiroyuki Imaishi 

Hiroyuki Imaishi worked at Gainax in 1995 as an in-between animator for Neon Genesis Evangelion. Some of his early works include animation direction, storyboarding, and key animation for Kare Kano, FLCL, Diebuster, Oval X Over, and the ending animation of Paradise Kiss. He went on to direct Dead Leaves, a 2004 anime film produced by Production I.G., and the first episode of Re: Cutie Honey.

  • Full Name: Hiroyuki Imaishi 
  • Occupations: Anime director, animator, character designer
  • Years active: 1995-present
  • Other Names: 今石 洋之, Imaishi Hiroyuki

6. Yutaka Nakamura 

Yutaka Nakamura is known for his dynamic and unique action sequences that often make very heavy use of impact frames, and is considered in animation circles as one of the greatest action cinematographers of his generation.

  • Full Name: Yutaka Nakamura
  • Occupations: Animator, designer, and cinematographer
  • Years active: 1988-present
  • Other Names: 中村 豊, Nakamura Yutaka

7. Hiroko Utsumi 

Hiroko Utsumi is a very famous Japanese animator who first started her career with 'Kyoto Animation" in 2005 and she received global success in 2013 with her directorial work in "Free! Eternal Summer". 

  • Full Name: Hiroko Utsumi
  • Occupations: Anime director, animator, storyboard artist, and manga artist
  • Years active: 2005-present
  • Other Names: 内海紘子, Utsumi Hiroko

8. Makoko Shinkai

Makoto Shinkai his longstanding association with CoMix Wave Films, Shinkai then released the science-fiction OVA Voices of a Distant Star in 2002 and followed this with his debut feature film The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004).

  • Full Name: Makoto Shinkai
  • Occupations: Animator, filmmaker, author, and manga artist
  • Years active: 1996-present
  • Other Names: Makoto Niitsu, 新津 誠, Niitsu Makoto

9. Naoko Yamada

Naoko Yamada directed the original net animation The Heike Story under Science SARU. The series premiered on Japanese television in January 2022. She has won multiple awards for her work, as well as become world-renowned for her stylistic choices in anime.

  • Full Name: Naoko Yamada
  • Occupations: Animator, television & film director
  • Years active: 2004-present
  • Other Names: 山田 尚子, Yamada Naoko
  • Employee: Kyoto Animation (2004–2020)

10. Shoko Nakamura

Shoko Nakamura is well-known for her works in the Japanese anime entertainment industry with her feature debut work in Doukyuusei as well as several other projects.

  • Full Name: Shoko Nakamura
  • Occupations: Animator, director
  • Years active: 2003-present
  • Other Names: 中村 章子, Nakamura Sōko