Renowned anime art director Nizo Yamamoto, celebrated for his unparalleled contributions, passed away at the age of 70 due to stomach cancer on Saturday, August 19. A commemorative service is scheduled for August 27 at 11:00 a.m. in Hanno City, Saitama Prefecture, where his legacy will be honored. His son, Takao, will preside as the chief mourner during the service.
Yamamoto’s artistic journey began in Gotō City, Nagasaki Prefecture, on June 27, 1953. His artistic pursuits led him to study architecture at a Gifu Prefecture high school, followed by attendance at an art school in Tokyo. It was during this time that his talent emerged, as he crafted intricate background art for various anime projects.
Notably, he embarked on his career as an art director with the acclaimed television series Future Boy Conan, collaborating alongside visionaries Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. These two directors later united to establish the renowned Studio Ghibli.
Subsequently, Yamamoto’s role as an art director adorned numerous Ghibli masterpieces, including Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Grave of the Fireflies, and Princess Mononoke. His artistic flair extended to contemporary gems like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Weathering With You.
Yamamoto’s signature aesthetic was characterized by majestic panoramas, where realistic yet imaginative clouds earned him the affectionate moniker “Nizō-gumo,” translating to Nizō Clouds. His artistry transcended screens, captivating audiences nationwide through a museum exhibition that garnered over 900,000 visitors.
In 2018, his hometown erected the Clouds Over Goto: Nizo Yamamoto Art Museum in his honor.
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From 2010 to 2021, Yamamoto meticulously crafted Gotō Hyakkei, an art compilation immortalizing the landscapes of his birthplace. Even in his final days, his dedication remained unwavering. He was painstakingly sketching a 120-page manga inspired by a local Gotō folk tale, a mere page away from its completion at the time of his passing.