Yoshiaki Kawajiri (川尻 善昭 Kawajiri Yoshiaki, born November 18, 1950 in Yokohama) is a critically acclaimed writer and director of Japanese animation. A former aspiring manga artist, he began his career in the "deceased" Mushi Production Animation until it closed in 1972, then went to have a succesful career in Studio Madhouse. Around 1987, Kawajiri was commissioned to make Wicked City, a very dark movie based on Hideyuki Kikuchi's novels; it was supposed to be a short one, but his bosses loved it so much that they told him to make it feature length, which he complied to. Ever since then, Kawajiri has been regarded as a pioneer of Darker and Edgier animation in Japan.
Compared to other directors of anime, Kawajiri has kept himself relatively low-key and unprolific as a director, having helmed less than a dozen of full projects and most of them being adaptations of little known works. However, he has worked as an animator for MANY series and movies, and has enough of a Cult Classic following in United States and abroad to be invited to animation ventures from time to time.
The love of many Americans for him is reciprocal: he is a fan of United States TV series like Mission: Impossible, Rawhide and Lost, and was already a big fan of The Matrix when he was called to partake in The Animatrix. Aside from Americans with big guns, he likes eveything related to Ninja, and it shows.
Main works in which Yoshiaki Kawajiri has been involved:
- Lensman - From 1984.
- Wicked City - From 1987, his breakout work.
- Demon City Shinjuku - From 1988.
- Goku: Midnight Eye - Also from 1988.
- A Wind Named Amnesia - From 1990.
- Cyber City Oedo 808 - From 1990.
- Ninja Scroll - From 1993, the first work of his to really become famous in the West and still arguably his best-known work. Had a TV series in 2003, though Kawajiri had zero involvement on it.
- X1999 - Both OVA and TV series.
- Vampire Hunter D - The Bloodlust movie (adapted -loosely- from the 3rd novel of the book series) from 2000.
- Vampire Hunter D: Resurrection - All-CGI Cartoon produced by Unified Pictures and Digital Frontier set to be released stateside first before Japan. Both Kawajiri and Hideyuki Kikuchi are involved in production.
- The Animatrix - From 2003. Directed one of the segments and wrote that and another.
- Highlander: The Search for Vengeance - From 2007.
- Batman: Gotham Knight - From 2008. Directed a segment.
- Azumi 2: Death or Love: - Live action film from 2005 in which Kawajiri worked as a guest writer.
Tropes found in works by Yoshiaki Kawajiri:
- Action Girl: Loves strong female fighters, although he also plays with the Faux Action Girl trope depending of the medium. He went to reveal, however, that strong female leads represent his own personality.
- Badass Normal: Kawajiri's protagonists and/or relatively heroic-oriented characters often use "common" skills, including smarts and tech, against enemies who are usually endowed with impressive supernatural or groundbreaking abilities. It kinda makes a point of Muggles Do It Better, as the heroes always manage to overcome their opponents on their own way despite the comparative lack of power.
- Bloodier and Gorier - Darker and Edgier - Hotterand Sexier: He pioneered in all of them!
- Body Horror
- Born Lucky: Played with. Although he isn't over contundent victories, Kawajiri loves to include at least a battle in which the heroes win by sheer luck or are saved by a very external factor; however, it never affects to the medium's mood and its possible tragic outcomes.
- Dark Fantasy
- Designated Victim: Some of his female leads.
- Fan Disservice and Fanservice
- Humans Are Psychic in the Future: All of his works set in the future feature Psychic Powers in some way or another.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: His male characters, both heroes and villains.
- Personality Powers: Kawajiri favors large casts of enemies fitted with unique abilities, many of them reflecting their individual personalities or fighting styles.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Common traits of his female characters are very pale skin and black or dark bluish hair, along with an inverted triangle-shaped face design.
- Tall, Dark, and Snarky: His leads, both male and female, often fall into it.