Hiroshi Takajima (高島 博 Takajima Hiroshi ) was a Japanese animator, game programmer, voice actor, and manga artist who dominated the anime and video game industries for much of the late 20th century. He was the founder of Drillimation Studios, which went on to produce one of the most successful anime and video game series in the world, and produced anime such as Mr. Driller, Angry German Kid, Star Trigon, Lucky Star, Chuhou Joutai, and many others. His success eventually made him win nine Emmy Awards, numerous Game of the Year awards, and became the first anime director to win an Academy Award.
To date, his works had entertained more than half a billion people worldwide and have generated more than $2 billion (¥226 billion) in revenue, making him one of the richest people in Japan.
Early years (1936 - 1945)Edit
Takajima was born on April 13, 1936. At a young age, he loved to draw and write short stories. One of his most famous failed creations was when he tried to draw a pig, but it ended up standing up on end, which formed the basis for the creeper in the anime.
Late childhood (1946 - 1954)Edit
Takajima's family moved to Tokyo in 1945 to escape being killed by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the peak of WWII. The bombings formed the basis for his main villain, Dr. Manhole. From there, he began reading manga, which he subsequently began doing during his years in junior high and senior high school.
College years (1955 - 1958)Edit
After graduating from high school, Takajima attended Tokyo University, where he majored in animation. From Takajima's experience of reading manga, his beginning in the animation career marked the opportunity to make his own manga. During his career, Takajima also created the title character Susumu Hori, who would later go on to become an international phenomenon.
Beginning of Drillimation Studios (1958 - 1968)Edit
Upon graduating from Tokyo University, Takajima and a few friends from their experience of making animated short films went on and created Drillimation Studios, who would go on to dominate the anime industry for the next three decades. After creating the studio, Takajima's aim was to create a genre that would be enjoyable for most people. Takajima took a shot and decided to base their studio at the Toho headquarters, the studio behind the famous Godzilla films. Prior to their ten-year anniversary, Takajima began work on their first anime series, Angry German Kid.
Success of Angry German Kid and Star Trigon (1969 - 1979)Edit
In February 1969, the Angry German Kid anime started its run on Fuji TV. It was a huge success for Takajima after he heard the fact of one-third of all viewers enjoyed it. After three seasons of the anime, Takajima began work on another anime featuring the characters of the Mr. Driller short film series, which later became Star Trigon. The anime was a huge hit and became very popular among children.
During the run of Star Trigon, Takajima traveled to the Hanna-Barbera studio in Los Angeles, California for a meeting about bringing the works of Drillimation to North America. After Takajima had been shown the work of The King Kong Show, which was produced by Toei Animation for an American company, Takajima sent a request to Hanna-Barbera to produce an American Drillimation anime. Around that time, he met his wife, Miyuki Takajima, whom he eventually married. The couple had two children: a son named Hiroki Takajima born in 1977, and another son named Susumu Takajima born in 1979, who would later go on to succeed Takajima. After Star Trigon finished its run in Japan, Hanna-Barbera began to dub the Angry German Kid anime into English.
Life of Lucky Star and beginning of programming (1979 - 1986)Edit
After Star Trigon finished, he met and befriended Kagami Yoshimizu, a new person to the studio. From there, Takajima was asked to expand the series into a more diverse audience. From there, Yoshimizu, along with Takajima himself, began work on the Lucky Star anime, making it the first anime in the series to have a female protagonist, being Konata Izumi, who would later go on to become another icon of the studio.
Like Star Trigon, Lucky Star also had the same success as Star Trigon. Susumu Hori and Konata Izumi became one of Takajima's signature couples he created for the anime. During that time, Lucasfilm began production on the English dub of the Star Trigon anime. Star Trigon also had the same success in North America. Around the time Lucky Star began airing on TV Asahi, Takajima also saw how successful the computer industry was starting to become, and he purchased a Commodore 64 during a trip to a meeting with Lucasfilm officials on producing the English dub of Star Trigon.
Using the Commodore 64, he began making simple games featuring Susumu Hori and Konata Izumi. The first game he made was a simple tennis game for animators who needed a break from animating the anime. It subsequently became popular, prompting Takajima to make more.
Video game industry years (1986 - 1995)Edit
During the run of the fifth season of Lucky Star, employees from Namco visited Drillimation, and discussed with Takajima on producing an arcade game based on The Drillimation Series. He accepted Namco's request and began work on a game engine for making arcade games for Namco's systems. In November 1985, Takajima sold the ownership of Drillimation to Namco for ¥20 billion, making this a record buyout for Namco. From there, Takajima began work on Mr. Driller, which became hugely successful worldwide.
Decline of health and death (1995 - 1997)Edit
In the fall of 1995, Takajima's health began declining and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 1996. The most common things his youngest son, Susumu Takajima, began noticing was leaving the lights on when leaving his home, and misplacing his keys in unusual locations. He was also starting to show signs of pneumonia around the same year. In the summer of 1996, Takajima underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor that inflicted a stroke on him. The following summer, Takajima suffered another stroke after the cancer had returned and died on July 2, 1997, at the age of 61. Fans worldwide mourned his death, with his casket being overrun with fanart and drawings of various Drillimation characters. He was survived by his wife, two children, and five grandchildren. Shortly after his death, Nintendo posted a pixel art image tracing Takajima's portrait done by Shigeru Miyamoto on their website, with the words "We'll miss you Mr. Takajima! -Shigeru Miyamoto". The same tribute was also done by Toei Animation and Drillimation's parent company Namco. His youngest son, Susumu Takajima succeeded him as president. He is currently buried at Zoushigaya Cemetery.
Takajima originally intended to be a manga artist before he switched over to the anime industry due to how powerful it was starting to become.
|The Creeper||1953||A short story about a boy trying to overcome his fear of creepers. This story marked the first appearance of the creeper, which would later appear in The Drillimation Series.|
|The Tale of the Underwater Kingdom||1958||A story about a girl living with an abusive father who was widowed when his child was an infant. The girl's mother becomes reincarnated and tasked with running as queen at a kingdom located underwater. The father takes the king's spot with his daughter taking her place as the princess. While there, she befriends a handsome boy and falls in love with him. This story would later become the basis for the first episode of Lucky Star.|
|The Drillimation Series||1961 - present||This work became one of Takajima's most famous franchises, spawning multiple successful anime series, a multi-billion dollar video game franchise, stage dramas, and several live-action and animated (commonly hybrids) films. The franchise follows original stories featuring Susumu Hori, who would later go on to become Drillimation's first mascot, and the many friends he makes across the world.|
|Angry German Kid||1969 - 1972||First part of The Drillimation Series, this work follows the adventures of two gangsters, Leopold Slikk and Jake Randolf, who are fighting to save the Bergisches Land from an evil corporation.|
|Star Trigon||1972 - 1979||Second part of The Drillimation Series, this work follows the story of three neighborhood friends, Wataru Hoshi, Chuta Bigbang, and Miyuki Takara, who are drafted into the UGSF to rid Team Ankoku and their minions. This anime was a success and helped popularize the space opera genre in the 1970s before Lucasfilm's Star Wars overtook it.|
|Lucky Star||1981 - 1987||Third part of The Drillimation Series, this work is based on one of Takajima's older works as well as original stories by Kagami Yoshimizu. The plot blends the slice of life genre with magical girl action placed in between. The series follows the story of Konata Izumi who one day finds out her late mother was reincarnated to run as queen at an underwater kingdom, and is crowned as princess to fight for love and justice and to win the affection of Susumu Hori.|