Born in 1952 in Shizuoka, Japan, Yoshitaka Amano has spent most of his life in the pursuit of two-dimensional visual art. In a 1967 visit to Tokyo, he visited Tatsunoko Productions (known for "Space Ace" and "Mach Go Go Go") with his portfolio and, after a year of training, he was designing characters for cartoons such as "Gatchaman" (a. k. a. "G-Force and Battle of the Planets"), "Hutch the Honeybee", and the "Time Bokan" series. At the age of 30, he resigned from his job at Tatsunoko to pursue more independent creative interests, and his "Twilight Worlds" comic series was soon published in the Japanese Science Fiction Magazine. In 1984 he published his first solo publication, called "Maten" ("Evil Universe"), while working on the "Angel's Egg" film with director Mamoru Oshii. After this success, he went on to collaborate with other writers, producing a total of seventeen illustrated books including Hideyuki Kikuchi's "Vampire Hunter D", Kaoru Kurimonto's "Guin Saga", Yoshiki Tanaka's "Arslan Chronicles", and "Rasen-O" and "Chimera" by Baku Yumemakura.

His artistic renown in Japan was rewarded by Square (now Square Enix) in 1987, when the company comandeered his skill for character design for the Famicom (NES) game "Final Fantasy". He also created character designs for the games "Front Mission", "Gun Hazard", "Rebus" (released as "Kartia" in the US), and "Emblem of Eru" (released in Japan by Capcom). While creating character designs for Square, he also took up printmaking, the products of which became wildly popular with the Japanese public. He expanded his artistic territory to include New York City, where an exhibition of his work was held in 1997 in the Puck Building; this exhibit went to Tokyo's Uenonomori Museum in 1998.

In 1998, a CG film and music collaboration by Amano and David Newman, "1001 Nights", was finished, and it heralded the beginning of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association's "Filmharmonic" series. In 1999, Amano teamed up with The Sandman author Neil Gaiman in order to produce The Dream Hunters, a Sandman story that is not in comic format as usual, but in illustrated prose based on an old Japanese folk tale called "The Fox, the Monk and the Mikado of All Night’s Dreaming". 1999 also saw Amano's creation of a new character, "Hero", who has travelled through many realities in search of a love he lost ages ago; this character was unveiled at the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts in New York City in October of that year.

Since Yoshitaka Amano is still alive and very much kicking, no static writeup can keep up-to-date without constantly checking his official website. Those wishing to remain on top of the latest Amano news should visit <http://www.amanosworld.com>.

Sources:
http://www.amanosworld.com
http://home.comcast.net/~hasshin/amano.html

Mr. Amano also does huge paintings (from 1997's "Think Like Amano" and 1999's "Hero/Sandman: The Dream Hunters" exhibitions) that can't just be seen in book form; The paintings should be admired in person.

I can remember most of the paintings from 1997 being thrice or four times as tall as me, and those as far-reaching... from one side the Puck Building ballroom to the other side (the painting "New York Nights" from "Think Like Amano")...

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