We were very saddened to learn of the passing of animation legend, Jimmy Murakami. Jimmy had been like a ‘rock star’ in the Irish animation community since the eighties. He was also among the first to identify the potential for Ireland to be a world-class leader in animation. Below is a piece written by his longtime friend and work colleague, Michael Algar.
“Jimmy Murakami, one of the fathers of the Irish animation industry, passed away peacefully this morning. He was eighty years old.
Jimmy came to live in Ireland in 1971 and established Quateru Films to produce commercials in animation and live-action. In 1989 with his former partner Fred Wolf he established Murakami Wolf Dublin to produce the hit animation series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. MWD had a staff of over 100 Irish artists. The studio went on to produce James Bond Jr, Speed Racer and Budgie The Little Helicopter. As a freelance director, Jimmy directed The Storykeepers for Shepherd Films in Dublin, a hugely successful international hit.
After leaving art college in Los Angeles (his home town), Jimmy worked as an animator at UPA Burbank and Pintoff Studio in New York. He joined TVC London in 1960 and produced and directed award-winning shorts. Returning to Los Angeles in 1965, he established Murakami Wolf to produce shorts and commercials. He won the Grand Prix in Annecy in 1967 for Breath.
He directed Battle Beyond The Stars, a live-action effects feature, in Los Angeles in 1980. In 1982 he was supervising director on The Snowman at TVC. Also at TVC, he directed When The Wind Blows in 1986. In 2000 he directed Christmas Carol The Movie in London.
For the last ten years he concentrated on painting and had several exhibitions. Most recently he was developing The Morning Of One Hundred Suns, a feature based on his reaction to the Hiroshima bomb.
From the time he came to Ireland, Jimmy lectured and tutored animation students. He was a guest lecturer at IADT Dun Laoghaire and at Ballyfermot College, and personally mentored many young animators.
He married Ethna McInerney in 1972 and had two daughters, Deirdre and Claire. He had four grandchildren.”