Ruben Azama Aquino is a Filipino-Japanese American character animator and supervising animator who formerly worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios. His work has included several Disney characters, including Ursula in The Little Mermaid, Maurice in Beauty and the Beast, Simba as an adult in The Lion King, Chief Powhatan in Pocahontas, Shang in Mulan and Denahi in Brother Bear. In March 2013, it was announced that Aquino had been laid off, as well as 8 other animators who worked at the studio, including Nik Ranieri.

His style is easily recognized by his powerful figures and his extremely geometric facial movements.

Early life

Ruben Azama Aquino was born in 1953 in Okinawa, Japan. His father is a Filipino while his mother is Japanese.

He studied in Christ the King International School in Okinawa from kindergarten to high school and graduated in 1971. He attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and majored in Architecture.

Professional career

From 1975 to 1979, Ruben worked as a graphic artist in Honolulu, Hawaii. He worked for Farmhouse Films as a trainee, which was his first job in animation.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1980, he worked for Hanna-Barbera Studios in visual development, character design, and layout. He was laid off after a year.

Months later, he was able to enter Walt Disney Feature Animation's clean-up training program and after completing it, he worked on a 30-second animation test of Fflewddur Fflam from The Black Cauldron and submitted it to the review board. He was promoted to animating assistant and has been working for Disney since 1982.[1][2]


Year Title Credits Characters
1981 Laverne & Shirley in the Army (TV Series) Character Designer - 1 Episode
The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang (TV Series) Character Designer - 11 Episodes
1983 Mickey's Christmas Carol (Short) Inbetween Artist - Uncredited
1985 The Black Cauldron Animator
1986 The Great Mouse Detective Character Animator
1988 Mac and Me Alien Designer
Oliver & Company Supervising Animator Francis and Rita
1989 The Little Mermaid Directing Animator / Supervising Animator Ursula
1990 The Rescuers Down Under Supervising Animator Jake
1991 Beauty and the Beast Supervising Animator Maurice
1994 The Lion King Supervising Animator Adult Simba
The Lion King (Video Game) Special Thanks
1995 Pocahontas Supervising Animator Chief Powhatan
1996 The Hunchback of Notre Dame Additional Animator
1998 Mulan Supervising Animator Li Shang and Fa Li
1999 Tarzan Additional Animator
2000 Fantasia 2000 Additional Animator
2002 Lilo & Stitch Supervising Animator Pleakly and David Kawena
2003 Brother Bear Supervising Animator Denahi
2007 Meet the Robinsons Supervising Animator Mildred and Mr. Willerstein
2009 The Princess and the Frog Supervising Animator Eudora and James
2011 The Ballad of Nessie (Short) Supervising Animator
Winnie the Pooh Animator
2013 Frozen Additional Visual Development


  1. Script error
  2. Script error

External links

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