Benimaru "Ashura" Itoh (Japanese: 伊藤「アシュラ」紅丸) is a manga artist, designer and musician who 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.
Itoh is usually seen wearing his quirky leopard print attire, and likes to go by the nickname "Ash" (アシュ).
|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|
|Opening Theme of Mario||Mario & Zelda Big Band Live CD||2003-12-15||Sony/Columbia|
|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. Though not as sophisticated as current 3D illustrations, the Brock's Onix and Steelix in particular work because of their composition. For a list of cards he has illustrated, go here.