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Koyama Takao

Entry updated 13 December 2021. Tagged: Author, TV.

(1948-    ) Japanese author, one of the most influential scenarists in Anime, due to his seminal Television scripts and his mentoring of the next generation of writers.

While studying literature at Waseda University, he was already working part-time in television, writing questions for the programme Quiz Time Shock. Joining Tatsunoko Productions after graduation, Koyama was instrumental in authoring the long-running Time Bokan (1975-1976), as well as episodes of shows such as Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman ["Science Ninja Team Gatchaman"] (1972 Japan vt Battle of the Planets, 1978 US). His work for other companies includes Urusei Yatsura (1989-1996), Dragon Ball (1986-1989) and Dragon Ball Z (1989-1996), for which he was once forced to spin an entire 25-minute episode out of a single panel from the original comic (see also Haruya Yamazaki).

From the late 1980s, Koyama has also taught screenwriting, affiliated to several institutions but eventually as part of his own course, the Anime Scenario House. The venture was soon renamed Brother Noppo, and also functions as a form of writers' agency in the anime business. Alumni of Koyama's training scheme include many of the prominent screenwriters of modern anime, such as Reiko Yoshida, Hiroyuki Kawasaki and Satoru Akahori.

The sheer ubiquity of Koyama's protégés has led some to criticize the creation of an anime "monoculture", encouraging supposedly different shows to adopt similar narrative structures. However, one might also argue that Koyama merely helps his pupils learn how to survive in the fickle and commercialized world of television scriptwriting. Nor is he the only anime scenarist to monetize his profession in a new direction by teaching "how-to" courses: his colleague Hiroyuki Hoshiyama, Tatsunoko's own Jinzō Toriumi, and the younger generation's Tow Ubukata have all published books on the subject, more readily accessible to aspiring scriptwriters than Koyama's face-to-face course. Koyama himself is vocally critical of the formulaic nature of modern anime. His most acclaimed pupil is probably Keiko Nobumoto, the writer of Macross Plus (see Super Dimensional Fortress Macross [1982-1983]) and Cowboy Bebop (1998-1999), itself conceived in reaction to many anime stereotypes. [JonC]

Takao Koyama

born Akishima, Tokyo: 21 April 1948


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