What exactly constitutes being "successful" in something like anime, especially in being a director? Is it being in charge of an influential TV series or movie (or more) that would continue to inspire others for decades to come, like Mamoru Oshii or Hayao Miyazaki? Is it being a "reliable hand" who may not necessarily have a truly "iconic" work of their own but is known for their sheer consistency & ability to work within various genres, like Toshifumi Kawase or the late Hidehito Ueda? Or is it simply being able to continually be given chance after chance after chance after chance, even if your track record at directing is spotty, at best, if not utterly incapable of finishing what you started, at worst? I bring this last one up because while something like that sounds absolutely ridiculous in defining a "successful" anime director, it actually perfectly describes one specific man, someone who has literally never fully directed a single TV anime in his entire career, his only "completions" come from OVAs & movies, yet was not only allowed to continue directing anime up through the 00s but was also put in charge of (at least for part of them) numerous anime that today are considered classics, thereby making him (technically) a "success" by most metrics.
Let's take a look at the self-paradoxical career of Masashi Ikeda.
|This is literally the only photo of Ikeda that seemingly|
exists online... The guy just doesn't like publicity, it seems.
Born on February 10, 1961 in Kagawa Prefecture (located on Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's four main islands), Masashi Ikeda eventually attended & graduated from Tokyo Zokei University with a film major. During his time at Zokei, Ikeda would produce his own amateur animation work on 8 mm film before joining Group Ebisen, an animation production & screening circle formed in 1978 at the Japan Animation Association's first ever animation workshop. Group Ebisen would eventually include the likes of the late Masahiro Katayama (who'd eventually become chairman of the circle in 1981, before eventually joining the JAA itself), Takuya Ishida (who'd become a respected claymation animator, working on almost every single Crayon Shin-chan movie), Koji Yamamura (a very respected independent animator & director of various short films), Sunao Katabuchi (director of Black Lagoon & In This Corner of the World), Hiroyuki Kakudo (Digimon Adventure 01 & 02, Yu-Gi-Oh! "Season 0"), & Tomoo Haraguchi (best known for his work in tokusatsu), among some others. After graduating, Ikeda would be introduced to the late Atsushi Yamatoya (best known for being head writer for Lupin the 3rd Part II's latter 2/3) & would join Animal-ya, an anime planning & production studio that was affiliated with Shin-Ei Animation. With his experience in amateur animation, this eventually led to Masashi Ikeda's first job in anime, which was doing storyboards for 1980's Kaibutsu-kun, something he'd also do for both 1979's Doraemon (the second, & longest, run) & 1982's Fuku-chan, before leaving Animal-ya & joining Nippon Sunrise in 1983.