12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

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It’s no secret that Japan is sexist (ranked 104 worst out of 142 countries for gender equality) and this spills over into anime, most prominently in the lack of ladies that have directed anime.

Fortunately, things have been changing in the industry. We have seen a small increase in female directors and many of them are some of the most talented young directors in the industry who have been at the helm of some of your favorite recent shows (Blood Blockade, anyone?)

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

1. Sayo Yamamoto

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: Michiko to Hatchin and Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Sayo Yamamoto is one of anime’s raising stars. She has directed two critically acclaimed works, and won the New Face award at the Japan Media Arts Festival in 2012 for her Fujiko Mine. While Yamamoto is new to leading a whole series, she has worked Samurai ChamplooEureka Seven, and Ergo Proxy as a storyboard artist and an episode director.

2. Yoshimura Ai

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU and Ao Haru Ride

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Yoshimura Ai has been making waves, having directed OreGairu and Ao Haru Ride. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Ai has worked as an episode director on Gintama‘s first season and Oreimo.

3. Atsuko Ishizuka

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: The Pet Girl of SakurasouNo Game No Life, and Hanayamata

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Atsuko Ishizuka is one of the more respected female directors, but she never intended to enter that industry. Reportedly to have never watched anime while growing up, Ishizuka was planning on joining the music industry, but an animated short she made caught the attention of Madhouse. Since then, she has directed the acclaimed Aoi BungakuThe Pet Girl of Sakurasou, and No Game No Life series.

4. Naoko Yamada

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: K-On! and Tamako Market

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Naoko Yamada is one of KyoAni’s youngest directors. K-On! is one of KyoAni’s most popular franchises and Tamako Love Story netted a New Face Award for Yamada at the Japan Media Arts Festival in 2014.

5. Utsumi Hiroko

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: Free! and Hyouka (episode director)

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Another one of KyoAni’s young female talents, Hiroko Utsumi has only directed Free! so far. She has appeared as an episode director on Nichijou, season 2 of K-On!, and Chuunibyou.

6. Chiaki Kon

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: Junjō RomanticaHigurashi no Naku Kori ni, and Golden Time

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Chiaki Kon has been in the anime industry since 1998, and has built up a diverse portfolio. She’s directed horror (Higurashi no Naku Kori ni), yaoi (Junjō Romantica), reverse harem (Arcana Famiglia), and romantic-comedy (Golden Time). Kon has also appeared as an episode director on Bleach and Hetalia.

7. Rie Matsumoto

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: HeartCatch Precure! the MovieKyōsōgiga, and Blood Blockade Battlefront

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Fans of stylized anime should keep an eye on Rei Matsumoto. Matsumoto’s first major work was directing the Heartcatch Precure! movie, it was Kyōsōgiga were she would show off her style.

8. Kiyoko Sayama

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: Angel SanctuaryVampire Knight, and Skip Beat!

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Kiyoko Sayama is one of the most successful female anime directors, and has been in the industry since 1993. Starting out as a storyboard artist on the long-running Nintama Rantarō, she made her directorial debut in 1995 with Miyuki-chan in Wonderland. Since then, she has frequently appeared as an episode director on Princess TutuKaleido Star, and Blood +

9. Soubi Yamamoto

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: This Boy Caught a Merman and Meganebu!

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Soubi Yamamoto is known for directing yaoi OVAs and for making the best of a small budget. Meganebu! is her first mainstream series, but she has not forgot her yaoi roots and is still directing yaoi.

10. Kotono Watanabe

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: Btooom!

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Kotono Watanabe made her directorial debut in 2012 with Btooom!. She has appeared as an episode director on ChihayafuruAoi Bungaku Series, and Supernatural: The Animation.

11. Mitsuko Kase

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: SaiKanoGlass Maiden, and Ristorante Paradiso

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Mitsuko Kase is one of the more important female directors you have never heard of. She has worked on Patlobar as a storyboard artist, Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory as an episode director, and City Hunter 2 as a script writer before making her directorial debut in 2002 with Saishuu Heiki Kanojo

12. Noriko Takao

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Notable works: Saint Young Men and The [email protected] Cinderella Girls

12 Female Directors Who Are Creating Your Favorite Anime

Noriko Takao started her career at KyoAni as an inbetween artist of InuYasha (back when KyoAni was an outsource company). She quickly became an episode director on ClannadClannad: After Story, and Lucky Star before joining A-1 Pictures to make her directorial debut in 2012 with Saint Young Men.

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