Yasuji Mori (森康二, Mori Yasuji, January 28, 1925 – September 5, 1992) was an animation director, character designer and animator who worked with Toei Animation, Nippon Animation, and a children's book author.
Born in Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture. Mori Spent his childhood in Taiwan. Influenced by American animated shorts, and despite a degree in architecture (specializing in designing zoos) from the National University of Fine Arts in Tokyo, Yasuji Mori decided that he wanted to be an animator. Mori would later join Nichidô Animation (or Nichidô Eiga) in 1947. He studied under Sanae Yamamoto and Kenzō Masaoka, an early pioneer in Japanese animation that produced films from 1927 to 1950. He began working on inking and animation under Masao Kumagawa and Hideo Furusawa.
In 1950, due to poor management, Nichidô was forced to retrench all of its employees. As the company underwent a period of restructuring, Mori began doing illustration work from Shogakukan's academic magazine, monthly publication Manga Shonen, publisher Kodansha and began working at the Seibu Department Stores' advertising department. Nichidô was then acquired by Toei Company in 1956 and renamed Tôei Dôga. Mori rejoined the company and began working on several short animation projedcts. Additionally, anime luminaries such as Sanae Yamamoto, Taiji Yabushita, Masao Kumakawa were also involved in Tôei. During his years at Tôei Dôga as a senior animator, Mori was partially responsible for creating and refining the Tôei Dôga style and therefore a major influence on the industry as a whole.
At the time, Mori and Akira Daikubara were considered senior animators in the studio, and while Yasuo Ōtsuka was Daikubara's most famous pupil, Mori trained Daikichiro Kusube (later the founder of A-Productions and Shin-Ei Animation), as well as mentoring to Gisaburō Sugii (famous for directing Night on the Galactic Railroad), Yoichi Kotabe, Isao Takahata, Sadao Tsukioka, Kazuko Nakamura, Makoto Nagasawa, Seiichi Hayashi, Norio Hikone, Reiko Okuyama and Hayao Miyazaki.
In 1957, Mori and Taiji Yabushita directed The Scribbling Kitten, described by Cartoon Research as "Toei Animation’s first animation short of substance". In 1959, the studio released Shounen Sarutobi Sasuke and by 1960, Mori was involved in Alakazam the Great, a forerunner of the anime explosion to come over the succeeding ten years. In March 1963, The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon. Mori was the first to be credited as animation director in Japan, although Akira Daikubara had the same post on The Tale of the White Serpent but was not credited as that.
In 1968, Mori worked as key animator for Hols: Prince of the Sun, a film directed by Isao Takahata and produced by Toru Hara, featuring Reiko Okuyama, Yoichi Kotabe and Hayao Miyazaki as character designers and animators. The film performed disastrously at the box office, and Hara was forced to resign by Toei executives. Many of the key staff retained their positions.
In 1969, Mori produced Hustle Punch for Nihon Educational Television, a 26-episode series that involved Miyazaki as an animator and whose opening was directed by Isao Takahata. Notably, Ōtsuka stayed in Toei until 1969 to help his two protégés, Takahata and Miyazaki. In the same year, Mori served as animation supervisor for The Wonderful World of Puss 'n Boots.
In 1973, Mori left Toei Animation to work with Zuiyo Eizo (Zuiyo Enterprises), which later became Nippon Animation. He, along with several exiles from Toei Animation went to focus almost exclusively on television animation, and Mori himself helped produce an early pilot for Heidi, Girl of the Alps, drawing many image sketches. He worked on the final series as an animator. The opening credit roll was animated by Hayao Miyazaki, except for two scenes by Mori. Assigned to animate a ring dance of Heidi and Peter, Mori wanted to analyze a movement of two real people, so Miyazaki and animation director Yôichi Kotabe did a ring dance in a parking lot next to their studio, and Mori shot them with an 8mm camera for reference. According to Isao Takahata (who worked with Mori on A Dog in Flanders at Nippon Animation), Mori's influence on the world of Japanese animation was "incalculable."
He married in 1950. Mori continued to illustrate children's books, such as Folk Tales of the World series for Kodansha and Popurasha, and the cover illustrations of the monthly magazine Yoji to Hoiku / Infants and Nursing. In Fushigina Kaban / The Strange Bag and Hariemon no Kusuri wa Oishiika / Is Hariemon’s Medicine Tasty?
Hi died of liver cancer on September 4, 1992. He was only 67-years old.
- Tiger and the Bride (トラちゃんと花嫁 , 1948) (Coloring, Animator)
- Poppoya-san Carefree Stationmaster (ポッポやさん のんき駅長 , 1948) (Animator)
- Poppoya-san Carefree Engineer (ポッポやさん のんき機関士 , 1949) (Animator)
- Dwarf and Blue Bug (小人と青虫 , 1950) (Key Animator)
- The Dove and the Ant (ありとはと, 1953) (Key Animator)
- Child Rabbit Story (子うさぎものがたり , 1954) (Key Animator, Animation Director)
- Taro Kappakawa (かっぱ川太郎 , 1954) (Animator)
- Kare Violin (かっぱ川太郎 , 1955) (Key Animator)
- Black Lumberjack and White Lumberjack (黒いきこりと白いきこり , 1956) (Screenplay, Animator)
- Koneko no Rakugaki ( 1957 ) Original picture / storyboard
- The Tale of the White Serpent (1958) (Key Animator)
- Koneko Studio (こねこのスタジオ , 1959) Directed and original
- Magic Boy ( 1959 ) (Key Animator)
- Alakazam the Great ( 1960 ) (Key Animator)
- Anju to Zushio Maru ( 1961 ) (Key Animator)
- Mouse Yomeiri (ねずみのよめいり , 1961)
- Mogura's Motoro (もぐらのモトロ , 1962)
- Wanpaku Ōji no Orochi Taiji (わんぱく王子の大蛇退治 1963 ) (Animation Director)
- Doggie March (わんわん忠臣蔵 , 1963) (Key Animator)
- Gulliver's Space Travel (1965)
- Space Patrol Hopper (1965) (Animation Supervision, Animation Director)
- Hustle Punch (1965-1966) (Draft, Animation Director)
- 001/7 Tom Thumb (1967) (Animator, Animation Director)
- Hols: Prince of the Sun ( 1968 ) (Key Animator)
- The Wonderful World of Puss 'n Boots (長靴をはいた猫 , 1969) (Animation Director)
- Little Remi and Famous Dog Kapi (ちびっ子レミと名犬カピ , 1970) (Key Animator)
- Animal Treasure Island (1971) (Animation Director)
- Alibaba and 40 Thieves (アリババと40匹の盗賊 , 1971) (Key Animator)
- Three Musketeers in Nagagutsu (1972) (Animation Director)
- Demon Dog Liner 0011 Transform! (1972) (Key Animator)
- Mazinger Z (1972-1974) (Key Animator)
- The Panda's Great Adventure (1973) (Key Animator)
- Fables of the Green Sea (1973) (Animation Director)
- Heidi, Girl of the Alps (Pilot Film) (1973) (Character Design, Key Animator)
- Heidi, Girl of the Alps (1974) (Key Animator)
- Dog of Flanders (1975) (Character Design, Key Drawing)
- Laura, the Prairie Girl (1975-1976) (Character Design)
- Monarch: The Big Bear Jackie (1977) (Character Design)
- The Story of Perrine (1978) (Layout)
- Future Boy Conan (1978) (Key Animator)
- Prince of the Stars Petit Prince (1978-1979) (Animation Director)
- Bannertail: The Story of Animals ( 1979 ) (Character Design)
- Manxmouse (トンデモネズミ大活躍 , 1979) (Character Design)
- Back to the Forest (のどか森の動物大作戦 , 1980) (Character Design)
- Fusen's Dorataro (1981) (Character Design)
- Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds (ワンワン三銃士 , 1981-1982) (Layout Supervision)
- Alice in Wonderland (1983-1984) (Layout Supervision)
- Story of the Alps: My Annette (1983) (Animator)
- Noozles (ふしぎなコアラブリンキー , 1984) (Layout Supervision)
- Princess Sarah (1985) (Layout Supervision)
- Coral Reef Legend: Elfie of the Blue Sea (サンゴ礁伝説 青い海のエルフィ , 1986) (Scene Setting)
- The Story of 15 Boys (瞳のなかの少年 15少年漂流記 , 1987) (Supervision)
- Chibi Maruko-chan (Pilot Film) (1990) (Key Animator)
- The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats (おおかみと7ひきのこやぎ , 1993) (Director, Character Design)