Spirited Away Animator Michiyo Yasuda Has Died

The world of animation has lost one its most beloved artists with the recent death of highly-acclaimed animator and color designer Michiyo Yasuda. She was 77-years-old.

Yasuda — who was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan — was the head of the Studio Ghibli color department since it was founded in 1985 by legendary Japanese director/animator/comic artist Hayao Miyazaki and his longtime colleague, Isao Takahata. She retired in 2008 after working on Ponyo, but she did return to work on 2013's The Wind Rises, which received an Oscar-nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Yasuda will be best remembered for her brilliant yet subtle work on 2001's Spirited Away, which went on to gross $289.1 million at the worldwide box office and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards

Yesterday, Studio Ghibli UK posted a message on their Facebook page:

"We got some sad news today, Ghibli colourist and long time collaborator, Michiyo Yasuda has passed away.

"As head of the colour department, she was with the Studio from the beginning and was behind Ghibli's amazing use of colour.

"Rest in peace Michiyo."


Her other notable television and film credits include Future Boy Conan (1978), Laputa: Castle In The Sky (1986), My Neighbour Totoro (1988), and Porco Rosso (1992).

Spirited Away follows the fanciful adventures of a ten-year-old girl named Chihiro, who discovers a secret world when she and her family get lost and venture through a hillside tunnel. When her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, Chihiro must fend for herself as she encounters strange spirits, assorted creatures and a grumpy sorceress who seeks to prevent her from returning to the human world.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Michiyo Yasuda's family and friends.