SAYO YAMAMOTO (山本 沙代 Yamamoto Sayo; born April 13, 1977/ age 36) is a Japanese anime director. She is known for directing the critically acclaimed anime series Michiko to Hatchin and Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. After graduating from the College of Art and Design in Tokyo, she began work at Studio Madhouse at age 25.
During her time at the College of Art and Design, Yamamoto focused her attention on animation, as she felt less interested in the other things she was being taught. Her student project was an animation about samurai using actor, and frequent Akira Kurosawa collaborator, Toshiro Mifune as an inspiration. While in the process of looking for a job after graduation, she showed this work to director Satoshi Kon (R.I.P).
Enthusiastic about her potential, Kon intended to hire her to work on his second feature Millennium Actress, but studio politics eventually caused her to leave the project.
She had her debut at Studio Madhouse working on the X television series headed by Madhouse director Yoshiaki Kawajiri. Soon after, she would have her first collaboration with directors Takeshi Koike and Katsuhito Ishii on the original video animation Trava: Fist Planet. It was during her time at Madhouse that she began her work on anime opening and ending animations, which she would go on to direct for many other projects.
Yamamoto has stated that it was during her work on Samurai Champloo where she felt she was first able to truly express herself. Samurai Champloo also marks the first time she worked with frequent collaborators, director Shinichirō Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop) and writer Dai Satō (Cowboy bebop, eureka Seven, Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex).
During her time working on Samurai Champloo at Studio Manglobe, she was offered the chance to direct a project with full creative control. At the time, she was busy with work on Champloo, so she thought about what kind of project she wanted to direct for about a year. During that time, she took a trip to Brazil where she found the inspiration for her first series Michiko to Hatchin. The series, about an ex-convict and a young girl in search of the girl’s father, was released in 2008.
At the press conference where Yamamoto unveiled the series, she said she wanted women especially to watch the series.
"Our time slot was late at night, so office ladies would be returning home, and worn out from the day, they could have a beer and watch it."
After a few years of working on storyboards and art for other projects, including movies Redline and Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, she was approached by a producer to create a new Lupin III series, with full creative control. It was Yamamoto’s own idea to have the series take place before the start of the 1971 Lupin series, directed by Masaaki Ōsumi, and to have character Fujiko Mine in the starring role.
Her most recent works was director of episode 2 of the wildly popular Space Dandy : “The Search For The Phantom Space Ramen, Baby”
“BURNS: So how did Meathaus begin, and what was your part in its inception?
(Brandon) GRAHAM: Basically, pre-Meathaus: I had moved to New York, I had 50 bucks on me. I was dating a girl who was moving to New York and was just casually like, “You want to come with?” And we showed up there together and promptly broke up soon after.
BURNS: (Laughs.) Fuck.
GRAHAM: I think that’s what everyone does (laughs) going to New York. So I went there, and I had this idea of New York as this kind of art metropolis where I could just find anything really easily, but I just had a really hard time running into artists. Anything that I liked, I even had a hard time finding comic stores out there. I think Jim Hanley’s I ran into pretty easily. But I remember being really frustrated by not running into a bunch of artists, or the myth not seeming quite true. Then I went into a Starbucks, I think my first week or two there, and there was a guy drawing. He was incredibly good. I just went up to him, and this guy was LeSean Thomas who later went and worked on the Boondocks cartoon. He did all the character designs, and he was actually doing flash animation back then. He was incredibly friendly, and we started hanging out a lot. He helped me get some of my first art jobs out there. It was kind of at the time of the internet boom. He got me a job at this place called Urban Box Office, which was this kind of Afro-centric web/flash animation site, and they were hiring a bunch of art school students at the same time, so I met Chris McDonald and Farel (Dalrymple). They were both working there as well. I remember I called them the “Island of White” because it was mostly black cartoonists there, and there was one show they were working on where the whole staff was white.
Meeting Farel was really great, because what LeSean was doing, his focus was really animation even though he was kind of dabbling in comics, but Farel was the first person I’d met in New York who had published comics. He had put out a Xeric book. Popgun War #1 might have even been out then. But I remember meeting him and just being really excited and saying, “You’re the first real real cartoonist I’ve met here.” I think he and Chris, they just decided to do an SVA [School of Visual Arts] based … it was going to be like a 24-hour comic where they were going to get all their friends together and just have a party and everyone’s going to draw a comic and they’re going to publish it. I remember being like, “I don’t want to do a 24-hour comic and publish them! Mine will look horrible.” But I went to one of early parties and I remember somebody giving me a big crate of comic books they didn’t want, and I was taking it back on the train really excited with all these bad Aquaman comics. My attitude was, “Oh, I’ll hang out with you guys at these things, but I don’t want to draw a comic for it.” And only until like issue four or three did I actually even draw a comic in it. But Meathaus was really fun. One of the guys, Stardog, who had a hand in the early issues had a big loft warehouse in Williamsburg, and we would go out there, everyone would meet up. I met Tom Herpich there which was really a big deal for me. I always regard him, he’s almost like a Pat McEwin type artist. He’s this fantastic artist who’s doing comic books above and beyond most people, but it’s so hard to find his work. Are familiar with his stuff at all?
BURNS: I’m not, no.
GRAHAM: He works on the Adventure Time cartoon now. He did a back up in one of the King City books.
BURNS: Ok, yeah. He did the old cat master.
GRAHAM: Yeah. The guy with the beard who was basically using his cat to go on the internet.
BURNS: Yeah that was really good.”
Those little animation clips allowed me to start working on the film as an animator. I was participating on the artistic direction of the project. I hadn’t yet read the script but i was going to discover it soon enough.
Ernest & Celestine making-of now on Tumblr and in english :-)
Mental gluttony, or over-reading, is a dangerous propensity, tending to weakness of digestive power, and in some cases to loss of appetite.