Another animation legend has departed us. Jimmy Murakami, an American-born Japanese animator who helped transform the art form in Ireland, passed away last week at age 80 from a brief illness. He was most noted for his work with illustrator Raymond Briggs on features such as The Snowman and When the Wind Blows.
Murakami lived a very powerful life, traveling and working around the world as not many artists have. Within a decade, he worked in LA, New York, London, Japan, and The Netherlands. He went to Ireland in 1971 and opened a commercial studio called Quateru Film and then Murakami Films in Dublin after Quateru closed. His best received work is the feature Where the Wind Blows, but he’s done directing and supervising work on many important projects, such as Battle Beyond the Stars.
There is an Irish documentary about Murakami that premiered in 2010 called Jimmy Murakami: Non-Alien which, among other things, highlights Murakami’s time in an American internment camp during WWII. Murakami’s older sister died in the camp and it was obviously a horrible situation for the entire family. That Murakami would go on to produce such beautiful work is definitely a testament to his enduring spirit and he will be greatly missed.