Princess Mononoke Art Director Nizo Yamamoto passes away at age 70

Princess Mononoke Art Director Nizo Yamamoto passes away at age 70

On Saturday, Nizo Yamamoto, renowned for directing the beautiful art of Princess Mononoke and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, passed away at 70 due to a struggle with stomach cancer. His Twitter handle, @kaieisha_nizo_y broke this sad news to the internet. A prominent presence within the anime industry, he made remarkable contributions to several beloved Ghibli films. The announcement of his passing deeply saddened both the anime and Studio Ghibli communities. Let’s delve into his background and explore his notable works further.

Who was Nizo Yamamoto?

Nizo Yamamoto Princess Mononoke Art
Princess Mononoke | Image courtesy of Studio Ghibli

Born on June 27, 1953, in Fukue-shi, a locality within Gotou City in Nagasaki Prefecture, Nizo Yamamoto has emerged as a prominent anime art director and background artist in Japan. He holds particular renown for his contributions to numerous Studio Ghibli films directed or produced by figures like Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.

Notable examples of his work include Castle in the Sky (1986), Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Only Yesterday (1991), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Princess Mononoke (1997), and Spirited Away (2001).

Early Career of Nizo Yamamoto

Castle in the Sky Nizo Yamamoto art
Castle in the Sky | Image courtesy of Studio Ghibli

His portfolio, spanning both preceding and subsequent to his tenure at Ghibli, encompasses works like Conan: The Boy in Future (1978), the NHK World Masterpiece Theater TV series Anne of Green Gables (1979), The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), Chie the Brat (1981), Sherlock Hound (1984), Little Nemo – Adventures in Slumberland (1989), and more contemporary productions such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) and Welcome to the Space Show (2010). In 2007, Yamamoto took on the role of director, as well as handling storyboards and backgrounds, for his maiden film endeavor, the Fuji TV special Miyori’s Forest.

Yamamoto and Studio Ghibli

Nizo Yamamoto art in The Girl who Leapt through time
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time | Image courtesy of Studio Ghibli

Inspired by the 1974 NHK TV series Heidi, Girl of the Alps, Yamamoto made the decisive choice to join the anime industry and secured his inaugural position at Ad Cosmo in the same year. By 1978, he had transitioned to Nippon Animation, where he collaborated with the minds behind Heidi. He began his journey alongside Miyazaki on Future Boy Conan and later teamed up with Takahata on Anne in the subsequent year. Invited to contribute to Studio Ghibli’s inception in 1985, Yamamoto participated in the creation of Castle in the Sky.

Subsequent to his involvement in the production of Spirited Away, Yamamoto departed from Studio Ghibli. He has since pursued his career as an independent artist through his self-founded and directed entity, Kaieisha. An exhibition commemorating his more than three decades of anime background work was held in 2012 at the Museum of Art in Kochi City, situated in Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku.

The Nizo Yamamoto Art Museum

Princess Mononoke Art Director Nizo Yamamoto passes away at age 70
The Nizo Yamamoto Art Museum | Image from Google Maps

In 2018, the Nizo Yamamoto Art Museum was inaugurated in his birthplace of Goto within Nagasaki Prefecture in southwestern Japan. This museum is situated on the Goto Islands and boasts a distinctive feature—it occupies a rejuvenated historical samurai dwelling initially constructed in 1863 during the Edo period.

Within the museum’s confines, an array of his animated artworks is showcased, encompassing both replicas and a select number of originals. Among these exhibits, the “Goto Hyakkei,” translating to the “100 Sceneries of Goto,” stands as one of his recent artistic endeavors. As visitors meander through the traditional samurai abode, they encounter contemporary animation sketches imbued with the splendor of Goto’s natural landscapes. This unique juxtaposition presents a nostalgic and unforgettable encounter for all those who explore the museum.

Funeral Ceremonies

The Twitter account has additionally informed about the upcoming funeral service details. A memorial gathering is scheduled for Sunday, August 27, 2020, from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM at the Hanno Funeral Hall, situated in Hanno City, Saitama Prefecture. This occasion will provide a quiet farewell to the artist who had succeeded in bringing smiles to the faces of countless individuals.

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