Name in English: Renji (aka Range) Murata
Name in Japanese: �'�"� �"��, Murata Renji
Birth date: 02 October 1968
Birthplace: Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
Range Murata refers to himself as an illustrator (going by his official website), but he is probably best known to anime and manga fans as a character and conceptual designer. His style combines familiar anime/manga elements with a distinct Art Deco influence to create works that look both retro and futuristic.
In 2006 Murata was given the Seiun Award for Best Artist of the Year.
The list of anime featuring Murata’s design work is surprisingly short, considering how instantly recognizable his style is. The list of books he has released, on the other hand--many though his own publishing company Pasta’s Estab-- is quite long. Some of those books are related to his anime work; there are at least five art books related to Last Exile, for example.
Murata has also designed fashion accessories like watches, bags and shoes, clothing and even a bicycle. The PSE Solid collection of trading figures are essentially three-dimensional realizations of Murata illustrations, and he also designed three of the popular Pinky St figures. Murata has even worked in video game design, on such titles as the Power Instinct series from Atlus and Spy Fiction (Sega, 2003), which sports a recognizably Murata-designed character on the cover.
A number of the books Range Murata has worked on were intended to bring other artists to the attention of fans as well as showcasing Murata’s own work. The Robot series is an example of this--Murata provided cover art and interior work, but the bulk of the book is manga and illustrations by artists whose work he thought deserved a wider audience.
Much of the anime with Murata designs is available in English-language releases. Fan-favorites Blue Submarine No. 6 (OVA, 1998-2000, Bandai Entertainment) and Last Exile (TV, 2003, Madman/Funimation/ADV) are perhaps the best known.
For Last Exile, Murata was essentially given free rein to design the setting and characters, and it shows in the unified look of the series. He spent considerable time on the characters’ costumes, wanting them to both look like garments a person could actually wear, and to reflect the personality wearing them.
Also in 2003, Murata worked on the mechanical design for the story “The Second Renaissance” from Animatrix (2003, Warner Home Video) and a bicycle he designed appeared in the 2005-2006 TV series Solty Rei (Madman/Funimation). The 2009 TV series Shangri-La, with Murata’s character design, hasn’t seen an actual western DVD release, but it was simulcast by Crunchyroll, where it is still available for viewing.
The Range Murata edited Robot series has had a number of volumes in English translation. Volumes 1 through 3 were published by DMP starting in 2005. When negotiations with the publisher broke down, Udon picked up the license and published volumes 4 and 5, starting in 2007. The series is up to volume 10 in Japan, but there haven’t been any further volumes in English since volume 5.
In 2009, Murata made Throw Line d�jin available through the Apple App store in many countries, including English-speaking areas (though it doesn’t appear to be listed in the Canadian App store at the time of this writing).
Many fans will be glad to know that a new Last Exile series is in the works, and while it’s not guaranteed an English release, it seems pretty likely.