Famed illustrator and founding member of Key Itaru Hinoue has announced on Twitter and via the Animate Times blog that she has retired from VisualArt’s and Key, and is pursuing a career as a freelance illustrator. This comes just days before Hinoue’s final Key title Harmonia is scheduled to launch on Steam.
Seeking new employment, Hinoue has partnered with Animate Times to run a campaign advertising herself to potential employers. She is looking for work as an anime or game character designer, or for illustration on novels and light novels. They’re currently raffling off her autograph to people who spread the word on social media. Animate Times has also published an extensive interview with Hinoue, asking about why she has decided to go Freelance, which you can read (in Japanese) here.
In the interview she expresses that after designing schoolgirls for nearly two decades, she desires to produce more fantasy and horror oriented work, which is certainly reflective of her recent creative endeavours. She also mentioned that despite being her most recent work, she is most happy with her designs in Harmonia above all others.
Shocking as this news is, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Hinoue has spoken in the past about feeling less and less needed by Key as the years have passed. True enough, Key’s most recent flagship title, Angel Beats! -1st beat- was designed entirely by Na-Ga, and Na-Ga also produced the character designs for the Angel Beats! and Charlotte anime series’, something Hinoue never got a chance at. Hinoue’s most recent work for Key, Harmonia, is much smaller in scale, and her work on it is believed to have been completed at least a year ago, so it’s not hard to see why she has been feeling undervalued at Key.
During the drought of new work from Key, Hinoue has been keeping herself busy with the recent HOLY BREAKER! 1 & 2 produced under the Hinoue Itaru Works brand of VisualArt’s, and most recently worked on illustrations on Yuto Tonokawa of Key’s light novel Farewell,ours. From this news, it’s a pretty safe conclusion that Key has decided to go with Na-Ga as the illustrator of their upcoming as-of-yet-to-be-named Visual Novel.
Many may be saddened by this turn of events, but we at Kazamatsuri wish Itaru Hinoue all the best in her freelance career, and pray she ends up receiving lots more work. We hope this decision ends up working out the best for everyone involved.
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