Visionary anime director Masaaki Yuasa announced on Wednesday that he has stepped down as the president and representative director of Science SARU. Everyone has no doubt noticed how prolific he and the studio have been in recent years; often producing three anime projects a year. After working non-stop for seven years, Yuasa decided that is was time to rest.
But fear not Yuasa fans, Science SARU will still be producing anime and Yuasa finished directing one last project before his retirement.
Science SARU’s next project is a Netflix original anime titled Japan Sinks. The story takes place a few days after the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, and follows an ordinary family trying to survive after an earthquake shakes the Japanese archipelago.
It is unclear whether Yuasa’s retirement will be permanent or just a well-deserved break. I have hopes that this isn’t the last we see of him. He has been a visionary anime director unlike any other. When most anime opt for a house style and trend-driven storylines, Yuasa was always able to deliver an anime which stood out from the crowd. His works were unique in the medium; each new anime he created was different from anything he’d previously done. At the same time, no matter how many times Yuasa evolved his style, you could always see his touch.
Yuasa’s fingerprint can be seen across the animated medium — from the sketchy linework in the backgrounds of Primal to the loose shape language of the upcoming Midnight Gospel. Even the bombastic fights in Rise of the TMNT took heavy inspiration from Yuasa’s cult hit, Mind Game.
While Japan Sinks might be the last Yuasa-directed anime we see for some time, he has made an impact on anime and animation at large that continues to grow. In an industry that often rewards conformity and derivative ideas, Yuasa is truly an iconoclast. I hope that his work will embolden other directors to seek unique visions.