Michiyo Yasuda (1939–2016)

Michiyo Yasuda, the color designer for many of Studio Ghibli’s animated films—including My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), and Ponyo (2008)—and the head of the ink and paint division at the legendary Japanese animation studio, has died, according to Japan’s Mainichi. She got her start at Toei’s animation division before she turned twenty and joined Studio Ghibli cofounders Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki for their 1968 feature Horus, Prince of the Sun (1968). She also was the color designer for Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), made before the founding of Ghibli but commonly regarded as its first film.

Though she retired following the completion of Ponyo, she came back to work for Miyazaki’s own final film The Wind Rises (2013). In recognition of her body of work, Yasuda was honored with an Animation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 from the Japan Movie Critics Awards.