Fusako Yusaki (湯崎夫沙子, b. 1937) is a Japanese clay animation pioneer. Most of the early independent Japanese animators who came of age in the 1960s are men. Women animators in this period were often behind the scenes working as inbetweeners and assistant animators and rarely took a directorial credit. Yusaki is the exception to this rule, but she made her name not in Japan but in Italy. Her works range from the abstract to narrative works – though many combine elements of both. Using a colourful palette of clay, her works are defined by her use of metamorphosis. Scenes flow seamlessly into one another in a very organic style.
Interview with Yusaki at the Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival this year:
Yusaki was born in the city of Moji-ku, one of the five cities that merged to create the city of Kitakyūshū in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1963. She graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from Joshibi University of Art and Design in 1960. She then won a scholarship to study at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan in 1964 and has lived and worked in Milan ever since.
She established her own independent studio – Studio Yusaki (スタジオ・ユサキ) – and is famous for her commercials and for her children’s television programming in collaboration with public broadcasters such as RAI (Italy’s public broadcaster) and the NHK. Yusaki rose to fame in Italy in the 1960s for her popular series of clay animation advertisements for the liqueur Fernet-Branca (1968-1977), for which she won the Bagatto d’oro (the top prize for Italian commercials) in 1971.
In the 1990s and 2000s, she became known for her sweet clay animation characters such as Peo (ペオ) the blue dog and the red and blue figures Naccio + Pomm (ナッチョとポム). Naccio + Pomm have been released by the NHK in Japan as part of their Petit Petit Anime (プチプチ・アニメ) series for kids.
Among her many honours, Yusaki has won a Bronze Lion from the Festival international de la créativité - Lions Cannes (1972) and the award for lifetime achievement from the Festival Internazionale del Cinema d'Arte in Bergano (2004). She has been on the international juries at many festivals including Annecy (1989), Hiroshima (1990), Zagreb (2000), Espinho (2002), and Wissembourg (2003).
Yusaki continues to be very active on the animation scene, teaching workshops and participating in festivals as well as making films. She teaches three-dimensional illustration at l’Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan and her films are part of the collection of the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.
Animated Shorts – Claymation
1972 Pentalogia del mondo perduto
1973 Ballata dell’omino stanco
1983 Ama gli animali
1986 Rotondo quadrato triangolo
1991 Stagioni senza parola
1998 Un giorno sì, un giorno no
1998 Gioco di forme
2000 Gioco di numeri
2000 Gioco di colori
Animated Series - Claymation
1989-90 Toki Doki – 13 x 2’
1992-4 Talpy – 60 x 1’
1997 Peo plastilina – 13 x 30”
1997-9 Peo in Svizzera, I parte – 13 x 2'
2000-2 Peo in Svizzera” II parte – 13 x 2'
2001-3 Naccio e Pomm – 13 x 5'
Educational Film - Claymation
1984 Dipartimento Litosfera, 10 films
1986 Unità 2, film for videodisc
1987 La struttura interna del computer – animated inserts
1998 Ippocrate – RAI Educational
2000 Ecolabel, emas, rifiuti – 3 x 30”
Advertisements – Claymation
1968-78 Fernet Branca – 56 ads
1977 Zurigo Assicurazioni
1978 TVS sigla TV
1980 Telenova sigla TV
1981 A.I.E.D. – 6 ads
1983 Rete A sigla TV
1984 Rocher Ferrero
1986 Ars Nova
1991 Valle d’Aosta
1991 3 x 2
1992 Pubblicità Progresso – 5 films
1994 Volta pagina
1995 Peo (sigla)
1999 Glu-Glu (sigla)
2001 Albero Azzurro (sigla)
2001 Intermezzo per pubblicità
2001 Colazione con Peo
Animated Shorts - Cel animation
1985 L’incredibile Usil
For more information:
“Fusako Yusaki / Documentazione,” arskey: magazine d’arte moderna e contemporanea
2015 Catherine Munroe Hotes