He’s Going Where?!?

Japanese Animation’s Enfant Terrible Heads for America


We never actually expected him to actually get out of Japan and do so, but he’s done it and we’re still reeling from shock!!!  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Kunihiko Ikuhara is now living in Los Angeles, CA – and he’s been there since February 27th!  (For those who have been monitoring Ikuniweb and weren’t able to find anything new despite the “Updated on 27-02-2001” notice, that’s the update!)


Anime fans that have been monitoring his movements online have known since the end of 2000 that anime director Kunihiko Ikuhara (Bishôjo Senshi Sailormoon, Shôjo Kakumei Utena, Schell Bullet) has been making noises about moving to the United States.  (“To find an American girlfriend”, he says.  ^_-)



But Ikuhara-sama’s seeming defection from all that appears normal for a Japanese animation professional stems from something that’s obviously more than a personal matter for the 36-year-old director who has carved a niche of his own in the industry.


After finishing Utena as an independently produced animated television series and cinematic feature, he ventured into the field of multimedia production by way of Schell Bullet, the artwork for which was done by Mamoru Nagano and the soundtrack composed by Tenpei Sato.  While working on Schell, Ikuhara-sama decided to disband (or, well, downsize) Image Planning Company Be-Papas and moved the company to a smaller office in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka.



Although he expressed no interest in directing live-action projects at the Q-&-A panel at Animazement 2000, Ikuhara-sama now appears to be singing a different tune.



Prior to making his decision regarding his move to the United States, Ikuhara-sama was approached by the goth-rock/mock-aristocrat band Malice Mizer whose front gal Mana claimed to be a major Utena fan.  The band wanted anime’s enfant terrible to direct their newest music video, but Ikuhara-sama declined citing the fact that he had already made the decision to go to the United States.




A long-time fan of European cineastes Federico Fellini and Jean-Luc Godard, Ikuhara-sama will probably be bringing his unique brand of direction and his revolutionary ideologies to California where he’ll be living for the next couple of years.  (Gee, wonder if he’ll drop by Hanna Barbera to carry out his threat of directing a Powerpuff Girls episode? – Ed.)  It should also be noted that Ikuhara-sama is one of the Japanese proponents of the Digital Manga Project, a group that’s working to make anime and manga integral parts of mainstream American pop culture.


In the meantime, Ikuhara-sama is busy looking for an apartment, brushing up on his English, and trying to find a way on how to re-learn how to drive.


Other than Animazement, Ikuhara-sama was in North America several times in the past year, attending Otakon, Anime Expo, Anime Central, CNAnime, and the New York Animation Festival.  Technically speaking, he isn’t really a stranger in a strange land, but we wish him all the best.  ^_^  Take care of yourself, Kuni-chan!


Incidentally, the editorial board of Megami Media Online will be relocating to LA come August 2001 – so you can expect updates on Ikuhara-sama’s American Adventure in the coming months.  ^_-