Michiyo Yasuda, Studio Ghibli animator and color designer of 30 years, passed away on October 5th according to Japan's Mainichi Shinbun. She was 77 years old. The longtime colorist had worked with Hayao Miyazaki since 1976, beginning her distinguished career with the television series 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, going on to work as one of Studio Ghibli's key color designers for the next three decades.

Name a Studio Ghibli film and chances are, Yasuda breathed color into it with her vast palette and world-renowned artistic sense. Her projects during her long career included My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies, and Kiki's Delivery Service. Though she officially retired after Ponyo, she made a brief comeback back for The Wind Rises.

In 2009, the Los Angeles Times wrote:

For Yasuda, color is a storytelling tool that is every bit as powerful as words. 'What I like best is when I am building up the colors in my head, thinking of how to get the tone worked out,' she says. 'Color has a meaning, and it makes the film more easily understood. Colors and pictures can enhance what the situation is on screen.'

Cristy Lytal ーLos Angeles Times

Yasuda's legacy will certainly live on through the breathtaking colors of our favorite Studio Ghibli films. We extend our deepest condolences with the family.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.