Yoshifumi Kondō (近藤喜文 Kondō Yoshifumi?) (sometimes spelled "Kondou" or "Kondo" or "Kondoh") was a greatly talented animator, friend, and colleague of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata for many years, even before the formation of Studio Ghibli. He worked as animation director for such Ghibli works as Princess Mononoke, Pom Poko, and Kiki's Delivery Service to name a few. His character designs can also be seen in Grave of the Fireflies, and Only Yesterday.
In July of 1995, he made his directorial debut in the wonderfully enchanting Whisper of the Heart. If and when Miyazaki retired, "Kon-chan" (as his friends called him), was to be one of Studio Ghibli’s up-and-coming directors, but sadly he passed away due to an aneurysm at the age of 47.
Kondō was born March 31, 1950 in Gosen-shi, Niigata Prefecture, Japan. He started developing his sense of design during his high school years in the art club at Niigata Prefectural Muramatsu High School.
After graduating high school, he moved to Tokyo to attend the Tokyo Design College’s animation department and further hone his craft. Six months later, in October of 1968, he began work at “A Production” (sometimes called A Pro) where he gained experience as a key animator. A few years later when Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata joined “A Production” they all worked together on the famed Lupin III TV Series.
Through the years, all three of these great artists seemed to move together from “A Production” to “Nippon Animation” where they worked on Future Boy Conan and then to “Telecom Animation Film” working on the notable Sherlock Hound.
Kondo-san joined with them again in 1987 at the newly formed Studio Ghibli where he continued as the go-to guy for character design, storyboards and animation direction. A master at his craft, in all his years, he seemed content to be the workhorse behind the scenes. However, in 1995 he was given the opportunity to direct and create the kind of movie he had longed to develop since his early 20’s, the result, Whisper of the Heart.
With the great success of this gem of a movie, Kondo-san was destined to share in the notoriety given to Miyazaki-san and Takahata-san. He returned to his familiar animation director grounds for the 1997 blockbuster Princess Mononoke, and could have gone on to direct many masterful works. Unfortunately, six months later in January of 1998, he died suddenly of an aneurysm at the Tachikawa City Hospital in Tokyo.
Kondou's work (as well as his name) is sometimes confused with that of Katsuya Kondō (近藤勝也 Kondō Katsuya?), who also worked as an animation director on Kiki's Delivery Service and Only Yesterday. They are not related.
Here is a link to a page listing books written by, or about, or contributed to by Kondou:
|Tsuyu to kie
maboroshi to kiyu
kage no gotoku ni
mi wa omou beshi
|Like vanishing dew
a passing apparition
or sudden flash
of lightning - already gone -
thus should one regard one's self
An English language translation of a poem by Miyazaki to Kondou: