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Famed ‘Naruto’ Producer and Studio Pierrot Founder Yuji Nunokawa Dies at 75

In addition to the illustrious anime icon’s achievements in entertainment, he was responsible for establishing initiatives to aid the anime industry, such as The Association of Japanese Animations collective and NUROANI Juku.

Anime icon Yuji Nunokawa passed away unexpectedly on December 25 at the age of 75. Known widely as an executive producer for the extremely popular anime series Naruto and Bleach, he also served as supreme adviser for Studio Pierrot. The sad news was announced by the illustrious studio on Twitter:

In addition to his achievements as a founder and producer, Nunokawa was also responsible for establishing initiatives to aid the anime industry, such as The Association of Japanese Animations collective and NUROANI Juku to train new animators, producers, planners, and directors. 

Nunokawa was born on February 11, 1947, in Sakata City to a family of tailors.  He cultivated his love of drawing as he grew, shooting from his high school art club straight to Nippon Design Welfare College in Tokyo, where he graduated in 1967. Starting in the industry as a colorist, he began his animation career on Space Boy Soran, then moved to Robotan as a key animator. After working for many years as a freelancer, he joined Tatsunoko Production in 1971 where he became a director on the Time Bokan! series.

Fate intervened in 1978 when Tatsunoko’s founder Tatsuo Yoshida died and Nunokawa left the company to form a collective with animation directors Mitsuo Kaminashi, Hiroko Tokita, Toriumi Hisayuki, and Masami Anno, which ultimately become Studio Pierrot. Under his guidance, the studio produced many popular titles, including Naruto, Bleach, Tokyo Ghoul, and Black Clover. By 2012, Nunokawa had risen to the role of chairman and representative director, then Supreme Advisor to the board.

Yuji Nunokawa was beloved by his associates and fans, and will be sorely missed. His family will host a private funeral for friends and family, while Pierrot will throw a party in his honor.

Laurén Alexa's picture

Journalist, antique shop owner, aspiring gemologist—Laurén brings a diverse perspective to animation, where every frame reflects her varied passions.