Masahiko Ohta (born January 4th, 1967) is a Japanese anime director. He is closely associated with Doga Kobo, and his adaptation of YuruYuri cemented the studio's evolution from "video factory"note into "Moe factory".
As his credits will attest, most of his directing gigs involve candyfloss-colored Slice of Life. He has a distinctive visual style involving very kinetic and fluid animation, surreal absurdist humor, and bursts of Hot-Blooded Mundane Made Awesome.
His directing credits include:
- Yoake Mae Yori Ruriiro Na, the anime adaptation
- Minami-ke season 1
- YuruYuri seasons 1 & 2
- Love Lab
- Himouto! Umaru-chan
- Hagane Orchestra
- Gabriel DropOut
- UzaMaid: Our Maid Is Way Too Annoying!
- Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?
- Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater, guest director on "Preparations and Herons"
- Onipan!, his first Anime Original series
His works include the following tropes:
- Adaptation Expansion: When he needs to stretch the source material out or is in danger of overtaking the manga, he truly commits himself to creating memorable anime-original material. Among anime fans, said material often turns out to be some of the most memorable stuff...for better* or for worse* .
- Associated Composer: All his shows since Minami-ke have been scored by Yasuhiro Misawa, so naturally they tend to have similar incidental music. Generally, the "everyday life" themes will use cymbal-heavy percussion punctuated by arrhythmic fills, along with repetitive, stop-and-start pizzicato melodies. (Occasionally a driving techno beat or funky disco riff will be mixed in too.) Misawa's style perfectly encapsulates the quirky, off-beat Slice of Life that Ohta's shows depict.
- Creator Backlash: His first directing gig, Crescent Love, had a scene with a cabbage that was so embarrassingly bad it's synonymous with "animation collapse", a Japanese term used when a production completely falls apart due to tight deadlines and a lack of money. On the Japanese Wikipedia, although he doesn't name Crescent Love directly, he does say that the potential for animation collapse is the reason he prefers to work with a tightly-knit Production Posse.
- Creator's Oddball:
- Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! It's his only full-length work which is straight-up isekai fantasy, as opposed to a Schoolgirl Series with light fantasy elements like Kotoura-san or Gabriel Drop-Out.
- There's also Hagane Orchestra, a series of three-minute shorts about female mechanics in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, created to advertise a mobile game.
- Large Ham: His works typically feature one boisterous, egotistical girl who acts impulsively, makes Hot-Blooded proclamations, and is The Gadfly to her friends. And, inevitably, graces tons of anime memes for the next decade. Kyouko Toshino and Satanichia McDowell are hands down the most popular. Lesser examples include Kana Minami, Mitsuba Marui, Miou Ootori, and Sylphinford Tachibana.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Often exaggerates simple movements and gestures into portentous, world-shaking events, such as Kana Minami stomping into her classroom like Godzilla to confront somebody or Futaba Marui rising in slow-motion from an underwear bin with loud mechanical whining like a giant robot launching from its underground bunker.
- Naked People Are Funny: Despite working in a medium (in)famous for fanservice, he mainly uses nudity for laughs, such as Mitsudomoe framing all its Comedic Underwear (or lack thereof) Exposure so the audience can't see anything, or UzaMaid pixelating Midori Ukai's boobs, COPS-style, when they pop out of her blouse to make it both less erotic and more hilarious. Even the more-explicit Sabagebu OVA episodes treat their fanservice with tongue firmly in cheek, as a vehicle to embarrass and humiliate its Butt-Monkey protagonists, while constantly thanking the viewer for buying the Blu-Ray.
- Production Posse:
- He never directs a show without Takashi Aoshima as the head writer and Yasuhiro Misawa as the composer.
- He cast Aki Toyosaki as "schoolgirl friend of other protagonists" three times in a row: Yoshino in Minami-ke, Yuki Yoshioka in Mitsudomoe, and Chitose Ikeda in YuruYuri. She also gets older and weirder every time, from a level-headed 10 year old, to a ditzy romance-obsessed 12 year old, to a 14 year old yuri fanatic who gets explosive nosebleeds when she fantasizes about her friends getting together.
- If there's a mother character in his works, it will be played by Kikuko Inoue. She's starred in no less than five of his works as the mother of a main or supporting character: Mitsudomoe, Kotoura-san, Sabagebu, Himouto! Umaru-chan, and UzaMaid. She plays against type as a diminutive bear-thing that only uses Pokémon Speak in Onipan!
- Signature Shot: In the first episode of a series, he often includes a shot of the camera barreling through a room or down a hallway at full speed, all lovingly animated in lush 3D.
- Minami-ke: When Kana is chasing her sister for a kiss, we get a POV shot of her racing down the hallway and running smack-dab into the wall.
- Mitsudomoe: Right before Class 6-3 is introduced, the camera careens through the school hallway and rushes right at the class's sign.
- YuruYuri: After Kyouko announces the Amusement Club does whatever they want, the camera zips up to the ceiling, spins around a few times, and then zips right back down to Akari's screaming face.
- Love Lab: Downplayed when Maki is introduced and the camera drifts down the hallway towards her. Not as pronounced as some of the other examples, but given the overall stellar quality of the animation, anything more probably would've broken the show's budget.
- Himouto! Umaru-chan: When Umaru returns home and morphs into her chibi form, we get a POV shot of her scurring through her apartment on all fours, hurtling under the table, and rushing right up to her computer.
- UzaMaid: Our Maid Is Way Too Annoying!: After Misha spots Tsubame clinging to a utility pole outside her window, the camera follows Misha as she races out of her room, pelts through the hallway, and stomps down the stairs.
- Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater: In the episode he guest-directed, there is a very brief (probably due to budget reasons) 3D shot of a heron swooping towards the breakwater.
- Onipan!: Taken up to eleven. When the onikko try and return a stuffed animal to a little girl, Ohta takes advantage of Studio Wit's 3D department to create an epic, two-minute parkour sequence as they race through town.