Personality of the week: Katsuya Kondō

The announcement of the release of Katsuya Kondô’s manga on the life of Joan of Arc is the perfect opportunity to look back on the career of an animator as talented as he is discreet.

Is it a sign of fate? Katsuya Kondo was born in 1963.a pivotal year in Japan which saw the birth of the first weekly animated series, Astro Boy. Passionate about animation, the young man from the north of Shikoku Island has only one idea in mind once he graduates from the faculty of Niihama: to join a production studio! After odd jobs at Tokyo Movie Shinsha (in particular, on the film Golgo 13 and the series Cat’s Eye as an intervalist in 1983), he was ultimately not hired. This failure allows him in return to enter the Annapuru studiostructure founded by Osamu Dezaki and Akio Suginosorry, where he cut his teeth on Mighty Orbotsseries produced for the American market.

During his beginnings as a freelancer, he will extend this experience to Western specifications as a key animator on The Gummies in 1985 and Rainbow Brite in 1990. In the meantime, Katsuya Kondô mainly participates in Japanese productions such as Ikkoku House, Devilman Where Honneamise’s Wings but also to early productions of studio Ghiblito know The castle in the Sky in 1986 (key animator), My Neighbor Totoro in 1988 (designs) and Kiki, the little witch in 1989 where he obtained for the first time the position of animation director and character designer. After a last independent participation in the TV movie produced at the Pierrot studio in 1990, Like the clouds, like the windKondô joined the Ghibli studio and saw his name in the credits of all their productions during the nineties: Drip memories, Porco Rosso, I can hear the ocean, pompoko, Princess Mononoke Where My neighbors the Yamada.

During this same decade, the animator rubs shoulders with other means of artistic expressionas the video game : he thus contributes to the chara-design and the animation of Jade Cocoon in 1998, as well as its sequel three years later. But he also puts his talent down on paper, collaborating with Ken’ichi Sakemi on the manga D’arc: Story of Joan of Arc. As he passes his forties, Katsuya Kondô continues to experiment and step out of his comfort zone. Certainly, he still actively participates in Ghibli productions, in particular Ponyo on the cliff which he designs the characters, supervises the animation and… wrote the lyrics of the ritornello, power hit of the year 2008 in Japan and around the world. But Kondô ventures above all into the field of computer-generated images, contributing to the chara-designUmi no Aurora in 2000and the animation of Dennou Coilwhich mixes 2D and 3D, in 2007. Thanks to this experience, he allows the Ghibli studio to take a new direction with Ronja, robber’s daughter in 2014 then Aya and the witch in 2020 for which he signs the chara-design. As he celebrates his 60th birthday on June 2, Kondô is still focused on new technologies… and the new generations of animators, whom he likes to train from an early age!