Animator Kunihiro Abe passed away on Wednesday. He was 50. His wife, Misao Abe, and his daughter, Ayumi Abe, both announced his passing on their respective Twitter accounts on Saturday. Ayumi Abe shared the illustration by Kunihiro Abe seen right, and said that his father “could not live except as an animator.” She further shared that while her father had disagreeable moments and that she was sometimes envious of him, she knew that he loved to draw.
Abe was known for his mechanical animation, in particular his animation for various projects in Sunrise‘s Gundam franchise, including Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: The Afterglow of Zeon, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Operation Meteor, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation, Mobile Suit Gundam Seed C.E.73: Stargazer, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Mobile Suit Gundam UC, Gundam Build Fighters, Gundam: Reconguista in G, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, and Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt. He was also a notable animator in various AIC projects, such as Bubblegum Crisis, Dangaioh, Vampire Princess Miyu, Dragon Century, Megazone 23 Part III, Sol Bianca, Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight, Armitage III, El Hazard – The Magnificent World, and Blue Gender, among numerous other credits.
Fellow animator and director Kou Matsuo recounted an anecdote of Abe animating a scene from the finale of the first Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation film, where Amuro parachutes and is caught by Kamille’s Gundam Mk-II. Director Yoshiyuki Tomino requested that Abe make Amuro’s swaying in the wind look more dynamic. He said that it was a scene that only animators used to drawing both characters and mecha could draw, and that Tomino later admitted to Matsuo that he had not thought someone could draw swaying like that, and that he had made the request as a bluff.
Animator and director Masami Obari also said that their time working together at AIC on such titles as Fight! Iczer-One, Dangaioh, and Daimaju Gekito Hagane no Oni — with Obari as key animator and Abe as in-between animator — allowed Obari to draw his key animation to the best of his ability.