This is just between you and me, but when I was fourteen, I saw a UFO.
That UFO telepathically told me this prophecy: "When you grow up, you will direct an anime about girls revolutionizing various things."
Surely you jest.
"You must not tell anyone about me. If you ever do..."
Wh-What will happen to me?
"People will call you a sketchy guy."Kunihiko Ikuhara (born December 21, 1964) is a Japanese eccentric and anime auteur. He is basically the Japanese David Lynch, most famous for directing the TV series Revolutionary Girl Utena and its movie The Adolescence of Utena, plus the first four seasons of Sailor Moon (directed several episodes in the first season, and became the series director for the R, S, and SuperS seasons) as well as the R movie, and the Mamoru Oshii of TV anime. Also notoriously evasive about giving straight answers to his more surreal works. Belladonna of Sadness has been cited as an influence of his, which is quite easily seen in Utena.Another of his works, Mawaru-Penguindrum, aired from July to December 2011 as part of that year's summer anime lineup. His latest project, Yuri Kuma Arashi, aired as part of the Winter 2015 season.Official website (English)
- Aoi Hana (opening)
- Goldfish Warning!
- Nodame Cantabile (opening)
- Maple Town Monogatari
- Nokemono To Hanayome — a collaboration with mangaka Asumiko Nakamura
- Revolutionary Girl Utena
- Sailor Moon (A list of the episodes he directed can be found here.)
- Sailor Moon R: The Movie
- Schell Bullet — a collaboration with Mamoru Nagano
- The World Exists For Me — a collaboration with Chiho Saito
- Yuri Kuma Arashi
Tropes associated with him:
- Biseinen: Don't even try to deny it.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Directed only three series in 25 years.
- Camp: He wears colorful and flamboyant clothes and idiosyncratic hair dyeing.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Understatement of the century.Ikuhara: The Shadow Play Girls are my friends. Those girls come from Planet Kashira. And they often talk to me via radio waves... almost every day.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Still, he's acknowledged as one of the best anime directors of all time.
- Control Freak: He can be a big one considering the fact that he had creative differences with Toei Animation about how Sailor Moon was going after the fourth season, especially when they tried to use Chibiusa as a Kid-Appeal Character.
- Creator Cameo: Plays the art teacher in Adolescence of Utena.
- Doing It for the Art: Why he's had barely any involvement since Revolutionary Girl Utena until Mawaru-Penguindrum since he's difficult to work with due to heavy creative differences between him and the executives.
- Dream Team: He would like to collaborate with David Lynch. Just...think about that for a second.
- Then there's his collaboration with Mamoru Nagano on Schell Bullet. A perfect storm of FABULOUS!
- There was a small chance in the late 90s that he and Hideaki Anno could have done a collaboration. Ultimately ruined because Anno got fed up with directing anime after Kare Kano and retired from directing for a couple of years. Ikuhara turned down any commercial offer from Toei Animation and virtually became a Persona Non Grata due to his difficult behavior - for more than a decade until Mawaru-Penguindrum.
- Everyone Is Bi: Played straight in most of his works, most excessively in Utena. Graduates into the straight-up Everyone Is Lesbian in Yuri Kuma Arashi.
- Executive Meddling: While he was relatively independent with Utena, the producers only allowed him to produce Mawaru-Penguindrum when he made it more accessible. He added Plucky Comic Relief in form of three penguins.
- Fan Nickname: Ikuni. He even uses it himself.
- Gainax Ending: Could as well be called the Ikuhara Ending. The most clear of his plots (and their resolutions) so far is Yuri Kuma Arashi, which is still Mind Screwingly surreal.
- Insane Troll Logic: His modus operandi for interviews.
- In the Name of the Moon: Worked on the anime of the trope namer, shows up in other, non-Magical Girl contexts as well ("Grant me the power to Revolutionize the world" from Utena or "Imagine!" from Penguindrum). See Transformation Sequence.
- Jossed: Often looked to by fans for answers, often takes gleeful delight in disappointing them.
- Lying Creator: Possibly, when asked about Utena.
- Mind Screw: Infamous for allegedly including scenes and elements only because he felt like doing so, without any meaning at all. Was called "the David Lynch of Japan" until the late Satoshi Kon stole his title.
- Odd Friendship: One of his closer friends is none other than Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno, whose introverted personality stands in harsh contrast to the flamboyant Ikuhara.
- Old Shame: Ikuhara wasn't fond of how the dub of the first episodes of Revolutionary Girl Utena turned out to the point that he became much more involved in the English dub in later episodes as well as Adolescence of Utena.
- Refuge in Audacity: The reason Ikuhara is able to get away with digs at Japan's culture: by portraying them with ridiculous metaphors, especially with Yuri Kuma Arashi which garnered a fair amount of notoriety and attention from its insane premise, irrespective of its actual meaning.
- Sex Is Evil: Heavily played with in his works. The most explicit depiction of sex in Mawaru-Penguindrum also plays with Bondage Is Bad. In turn, Yuri Kuma Arashi is built entirely around Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny.
- Shrug of God: One of his most defining traits. Not only do his answers rarely make sense at all, they also occasionally contradict each others.
- Start My Own: He formed Be-Papas after disagreements with Toei Animation on Sailor Moon forced him to quit the series.
- Transformation Sequence: Featured in most of his works, including shows such as Mawaru-Penguindrum and Yuri Kuma Arashi which have little to do with Magical Girl or superhero genres.
- Trolling Creator: Big time!Interviewer: Ikuhara-san, Chiho Saito has said that you have never told her the truth about it, could you explain the significance of Mickey and his stopwatch. What exactly is his role on the Council?Ikuhara: It has a very deep significance. His stopwatch contains the key to open all the mysteries of the world. And Mickey is the only one who knows that. So I don't know what it is either.
- Completely averted with Adolescence of Utena, as Ikuhara provides a (for Ikuhara) reasonable explanation for all the bizarre symbolism.
- Unreliable Narrator: Blatant Lies are frequently revealed and even double subverted to increase the Mind Screw.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: He forgoes giving an exact answer for most of his shows, instead trusting the viewers to come up with them on their own.
- The Walrus Was Paul: He intentionally messes around with the symbolism and narration of his shows, to infamous degree in Utena.
- What Could Have Been: He offered ideas on the Sailor Moon SuperS film and was quite upset that none of them were used.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: He's been known to cosplay◊ as◊ Sailor Mars.
- World of Symbolism: A major feature and the key to understanding many of his works.
- Yuri Fan: He openly admitted on the commentary for the Utena movie that the ending is "the sort of thing I thought about a lot when I was younger." Said ending, by the way, involves two naked girls speeding away on the remains of a car when said car was one of the girls moments before.