March 2012 has been a tragic month for science fictions fans. First we saw the passing of Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie, followed closely by the passing of French comic book and SF movie visionary Jean ‘Moebius‘ Giraud. And as if both were not painful enough, last week saw news that anime legend Noboru Ishiguro had also died at the age of 74.
Ishiguro may not sound familiar to US science fiction fans, but like Moebius he’s another figure whose influence extends further than his name. There are few people in anime history — especially within science fiction anime — who worked on so many landmark series and franchises. And he started early too — in 1963, while still a student, he got his first work as an animator on Tetsujin 28-go, arguably the first giant robot anime series. A massive hit in Japan, it is the story of Shotaro, a young boy who takes control of the eponymous robot built by his late father to fight crime and invading enemy robots. A year after Ishiguro joined the already long-running production, Tetsujin 28-go was one of the first anime series to receive a U.S. translation and TV broadcast in the form of Gigantor, fueling an early interest amongst American SF fans in Japanese animation.