Animator Spotlight – Gorou Sessha

Gorou Sessha [拙者五郎]/Masaharu Watanabe [渡邊 政治]

-Started out as an in-betweener on Kyoto Animation, working on various outsourced episodes made by Kyoto Animation for other studios, like Inuyasha [Sunrise], Kiddy Grade [Gonzo] and Nurse Witch Komugi [Tatsunoko Production]
-Debuted on the episode 83 of Inuyasha, outsourced to Kyoto Animation, using his real name Masaharu Watanabe, that he would use for all his non-Pierrot work, his drawings were corrected here by Shouko Ikeda, the younger sister of fellow KyoAni animator kazumi Ikeda, taken a lot of her style on his next works.
-On Kyoto Animation, he was mainly influenced by animator and director Taichi Ishidate and director Yutaka Yamamoto, appearing on their episodes constantly, and even worked as assistant episode director under the guide of Yutaka Yamamoto on the episodes #1 and #12 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
-His work on Kyoto Animation varied from wild and crazy Kanada-inspired wacky comedy sequences to detailed, complex, full character acting sequences, starting to stand out as one of the few excellent talents that the studio had to offer, taking a lot of style from Taichi Ishidate’s animation.
-He, after leaving Kyoto Animation on good terms, started working on Pierrot under a pen-name, Gorou Sessha, where he debut as Animation Director on the episode #213 of the first Naruto series, co-sakkan with Pierrot Plus animator Hidehiko Okano and that featured more young talent like Shigeki Kawai and Masayuki Kouda, that were recently ascended to key animators.
-His first full fledged Sakkan work was on Naruto Shippuuden #5, that didn’t feature a lot of outstanding work, but still featured solid drawings and nice animation all over the place, being his first destacable work the first big episode of the series, the episode #26, with the storyboarder Atsushi Nigorikawa, that’s going to be with him, helping him to develop his career from that point, giving him most of Gorou Sessha’s directorial sense for action scenes, as we’ve seen on Re:Zero recently, the episode featured young talent as Hiromi Ishigami, Ryuta Yanagi, Shigeki Kawai, Hiroyuki Yamashita and Masayuki Kouda, and some established talent like GAINAX animator Takafumi Hori, that did one of the overall best scenes of the first part of the series, that, by the way, Gorou Sessha know him thanks to working on Manglobe’s Michiko to Hatchin together.
-He still maintained his link with Kyoto Animation, helping one of his mentors, Yutaka Yamamoto, on the first series of his new-founded studio Ordet, called Kannagi, where he worked with other ex-KyoAni’s animators like Yuusuke Matsuo, Shinobu Yoshioka or Satoshi Kadowaki.
-The very first chance to direct was gave to him by Production I.G on the second season of the Samurai-themed series Sengoku Basara, where he storyboarded and directed the second episode of it, with a side of the usual staff of the series, featured work by fellow Pierrot animator Masayuki Kouda, that helped him out with said debut as Director.
-His first work as Series Director was when he replaced Masahiko Murata on gag-series Naruto SD, where he directed from episode 27 to 51, and SB’d the latter, that was a full-fledged sakuga festival, with work of Naoki Kobayashi, Yuta Kiso, Kengo and Norio Matsumoto, Toshiro Fujii, Hiroyuki Yamashita, Eiji Komatsu and Abiko, Takashi Mukouda, et al.
-He also directed the first entries of two of his friend as Sakkans, the episode 180 of Naruto Shippuuden, where Masayuki Kouda did his debut as Sakkan and the episode 363, where Tatsuya Koyanagi did his debut as Sakkan.
-He left Pierrot at the same time as fellow animators Haru Watanabe, Asuka Mamezuka and Tatsuya Koyanagi, going to the studio White Fox, where he worked on Akame ga KILL! with said animators until making his first full directorial debut on Re:Zero, a super-production of White Fox based on a popular light novel.
-There he let his influences go all out, from Taichi Ishidate, to Yamakan, Kazumi Ikeda, Tatsuya Ishihara and even Atsushi Nigorikawa, he compiled all his experiences and influences from all these great directors and animators to give his special touch to the series, to the action scenes, heavily similar to Nigorikawa’s ones, to everyday life scenes at the vein of Ishidate, ReZero was unique thanks to him, he also led the “Monster Animation Director” to his longtime friend and fellow Ex-Pierrot animator Tatsuya Koyanagi, that did a great work on the series.
-He’s still attached at Naruto, directing the wonderful opening 16, with his longtime friend Masayuki Kouda as Sakkan, and doing storyboards for sixth and seventh Naruto Shippuuden movies.

-Before ReZero he also did Wakaba*Girl, a series of 14 8-minute shorts for the programmation block Ultra Super Anime Pictures, that put out shorts anime made by the studios that belong to the japanese joint holding company Ultra Super Pictures, directing that show under his real name, Masaharu Watanabe, and being produced by Nexus, that later helped a lot on ReZero, the show featured few talented animators like Kazuya Nakanishi, Jimmy Stone or Yochi, being his debut as a series director, but not on a full series, that was, as previously said, ReZero.
-Is still growing as a director and as animator, hoping great things on his future.



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