Benimaru Itoh

Ashura Benimaru Itoh (Japanese: 伊藤あしゅら紅丸[1] Itoh Ashura Benimaru) is a manga artist, designer and musician who has drawn artwork for various Nintendo franchises. At Creatures, Inc., he worked as 3D modelling director for the Pokémon Stadium series games. He also illustrated Pokémon Newspaper Strip comics and several Pokémon Trading Card Game card artworks.

In his Creatures, Inc. roles, he was typically credited as Benimaru Itoh (Japanese: 伊藤紅丸); however, for his work on Pokémon Newspaper Strip comics, he was instead credited as Ashura Benimaru. He likes to go by the nickname "Ash" (アシュ).

Itoh is usually seen wearing his quirky leopard print attire.


Itoh began drawing comic strips for various Nintendo franchises, including Star Fox and Metroid. Itoh then worked closely with game designer Shigesato Itoi while at Ape, Inc. on the EarthBound (Mother in Japan) series of games. Ape, Inc. later became known as Creatures, Inc., where Itoh became involved in the development of several Pokémon titles, and also illustrated a handful of cards for the Pokémon Trading Card Game. During this time, he became more involved in 3D development, serving as a chief designer and supervisor on a number of games. He eventually moved to HAL Laboratory, Inc. in 2002, where he has continued to work on the Kirby franchise.

Itoh is also an accomplished guitarist, and was the guest host for the Mario & Zelda Big Band Live concert, held at Nihon Seinenkan Hall, Tokyo on September 14, 2003. The concert featured performances based on music from Mario and The Legend of Zelda, as well as original music. The collaboration of The Big Band of Rogues, Yoshihiro Arita and his band performed jazz, Latin, country, and bluegrass arrangements—Itoh himself started the concert off with a guitar solo rendition of the Mario opening theme. The concert became the source of a CD and DVD.



Title Platform Release date Position
EarthBound SNES 1994-08-27 Character Design/Special Thanks
SimTunes Microsoft Windows 1996-12-31 Composer/Special Thanks
Star Fox 64 Nintendo 64 1997-04-27 Special Thanks
Pokémon Stadium (Japanese) Nintendo 64 1998-08-01 Pokémon Modelling Director
Pokémon Trading Card Game Game Boy Color 1998-12-18 Card Illustrator
Super Smash Bros. Nintendo 64 1999-01-21 Original Game Staff/Source Modelling Chief: Pokémon Stadium
Pokémon Snap Nintendo 64 1999-03-21 Super Duper Special Chief Designer
Pokémon Stadium (English) Nintendo 64 1999-04-30 Pokémon Modelling Director
Pokémon Stadium 2 Nintendo 64 2000-12-14 3D Pokémon Director
EarthBound 64 Nintendo 64DD Cancelled Art Director/Character Design
Super Smash Bros. Melee Nintendo GameCube 2001-11-21 Supervisor: Creatures Staff Management
Kirby: Nightmare in DreamLand Game Boy Advance 2002-10-25 Supervisor
Kirby Air Ride Nintendo GameCube 2003-06-09 Graphic Design
Kirby: Canvas Curse Nintendo DS 2005-03-24 Special Thanks
Kirby Super Star Ultra Nintendo DS 2008-11-06 Design Advisor
Picross 3D Nintendo DS 2009-03-12 Art Director


Title Album Release date Label
Opening Theme of Mario Mario & Zelda Big Band Live CD 2003-12-15 Sony/Columbia


Title Release date Publisher
Star Fox comics 1993-02—1993-12 Nintendo Power issues #45-#55
Super Metroid comics 1994-02—1994-06 Nintendo Power issues #57-#61
Ness's Great Adventure 1994-09-15 Shogakukan, Wonder Life Comics
Bulbasaur's Trouble (Pokémon Tales #3) 1997-06 Shogakukan
Onix Underground (Pokémon Tales #6) 1997-07 Shogakukan
Pokémon Snap Official Nintendo Player's Guide 1999-03 Nintendo
Totodile's One Gulp (Pokémon Gold & Silver Tales #3) 2001-11 Shogakukan

Work for the TCG

Itoh has contributed art for 6 cards in the TCG. The first was a reprint of a promotional Mewtwo card illustrated in the same style as his manga drawings, limiting the colors used on the character and utilizing many lines of various strokes to create areas of detail and shadow. His other cards show his transition into 3D, the Pokémon depicted reminiscent of their renders in the Pokémon Stadium games. For a list of cards he has illustrated, go here.