In this week’s issue of Famitsu, Youichi Kotabe went back on his career in an interview, sharing many anecdotes on his work.
Youichi Kotabe is one of Japan’s oldest animators. He worked at Toei Animation from 1959 to 1985, before joining Nintendo the same year, where he stayed until 2007. During his career, he worked on many masterpieces together with other great animators such as Hayao Miyazaki, Yasuo Outsuka and the late Isao Takahata. Most notably, he worked on Heidi, Girl of the Alps, with all three of them, along with the late Toyoo Ashida and Yoshiyuki Tomino, the original creator of Gundam. In 1985, after Shigeru Miyamoto appointed Kotabe-san as an artist on multiple Mario and Zelda games, his illustrations and designs greatly contributed to Nintendo’s success.
In the interview, Kotabe-san mentioned Wanpaku Ouji no Orochi Taiji, a Toei anime movie which released in 1963. Kotabe-san worked on the movie as an animator. He revealed that the movie greatly influenced The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker‘s artistic style.
If you take a look at the movie, you immediately see how much The Wind Waker looks similar to it. The character design of both is nearly identical.
While The Wind Waker isn’t one of my favorite Zelda games, I still think it’s a masterpiece and it’s great to learn something new about it.