Legendary animator and director Jimmy Murakami, whose work includes the classic When the Wind Blows and The Snowman cartoons, has died, according to a report by C21Media.
Teruaki “Jimmy” Murakami, who had a long and successful career in film and television, passed away at the age of 80 on Sunday, February 16.
In 1986, Murakami directed When the Wind Blows, a haunting stop-motion animated drama about an elderly couple’s efforts to prepare for nuclear war, based on the graphic novel by British author and illustrator Raymond Briggs.
In another collaboration with Briggs, Murakami was also the supervising director on classic seasonal special The Snowman, which continues to air on the UK’s Channel 4 at Christmas.
Murakami started his career in animation at UPA Studios in Burbank, California. His travels took him to New York as a director at Pintoff Studio where he worked on the Academy Award-nominated short film The Violinist, and he was also the co-founder of LA-based production company Murakami Wolf, now Fred Wolf Films, where he produced the Academy Award-nominated film Magic Pear Tree. Over the course of his career, Murakami played an influential role at companies including Toei Animation in Japan and TVC London, where he co-produced and directed the British Academy Award-winning film Insects.
The Japanese-American director is also credited with developing Ireland’s current vibrant and active animation scene after relocating there during the 1970s.
Living and working in Ireland for many years, Murakami was the subject of a 2010 feature documentary film, Jimmy Murakami - Non Alien, which documents his family’s confinement at California's WWII internment camps. Directed by Sé Merry Doyle and produced by Martina Durac and Vanessa Gildea of Loopline Films, Jimmy Murakami - Non Alien premiered in Dublin at the 2010 IFI Stranger than Fiction Film Festival.
Murakami worked on series such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles out of a studio in Dublin and embarked on a number of other international co-productions, helping to raise the profile of Irish animation.