Masahiro Katayama was born in Tokyo on February 7, 1955. His career has included working as an illustrator, a manga creator, an animator, and a professor. Katayama also directed a documentary film about Osamu Tezuka's animation called, Film is Alive: A Filmography of Osamu Tezuka, 1962-1989. He also jointly produced the 2003 anime film, Winter Days, which was the 2003 Japan Media Arts Festival Grand Prize winner and the 2003 Mainichi Film Concours Ohfuji Award winner. In addition to producing this piece, he also animated the "Kakei" portion of Winter Days. Katayama supervised all 21 volumes of the DVD series, New Animation Animation. He also wrote Animated People. Katayama also contributed to Kihachiro Kawamoto's 1988 production, Self Portrait.
Katayama was employed at the secretariat of the Japan Cartoonists' Association from 1978, and continued there through 1990. He also headed an animators' collective called Group Ebisen, which has also included such names as Hiroshi Hara, Sunao Katabuchi (Black Lagoon), and Hiroyuki Kakudou (Digimon). Katayama has served as the administrative head for the Japan Animation Association and for Anido. He also illustrated the cover of Kihachiro Kawamoto's book, Puppets for "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms," which was published in 1984 by Anido. In 1987, he contributed to a brochure Anido released titled, "TOKYO’87." In 1990, he illustrated another book published by Anido, which was Goro Sugimoto's All of My Life for Animation and Cinema.
In addition to all of that work, Katayama has judged or co-organized several contests and festivals. He has worked with the Hida International Animation Festival of Folktales and Fables, the Hiroshima International Animation Festival, the Japanese government's Media Arts Festival, and the Tokyo International Anime Fair. He served as a panelist at the 2006 Tokyo International Anime Fair, and was also a panelist for the Yuri Norstein Grand Prix.
Katayama also spent time teaching at Tama Art University; he joined the school's Department of Graphic Design in 1998. He helped to pioneer the study of animation in universities throughout Japan. During his teaching career, he personally taught a student named Kunio Kato. Kato would later go on to create La Maison en Petitis Cubes (which is also known as Tsumiki no Ie); it is the second of only two anime to win a major Academy Award.
Sadly, Masahiro Katayama passed away from pneumonia in a Tokyo hospital on February 12, 2011. He was 56 years old at the time of his death.