The Narrative World of Ghibli Art Director Nizo Yamamoto

nizo-yamamoto-background (1)nizo-yamamoto-background (2)

left: “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” (2006) | right: “Kawa no hikari” (2009)

Ghibli Art Director Nizo Yamamoto

Background from “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” (2006)

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” is actually an advertising slogan created by an American businessman, but falsely attributed as an old Asian proverb “so that people would take it seriously.” But despite its fraudulent foundings, the words rings true and, most recently, I’ve found myself identifying them with the work of illustrator and art director Nizo Yamamoto.

If you’re a fan of Ghibli films then you’re most certainly familiar with the work of the 61-year old artist, even if its unintentional. Yamamoto has worked as a background illustrator on some of Ghibli’s most noteworthy films including Laputa, Grave of the Fireflies and Princess Mononoke, just to name a few.

Ghibli Art Director Nizo Yamamoto

Background from “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)

Yamamoto creates intricate, detailed scenes that present arresting narratives. His sunny streets under billowing summer clouds and his seemingly quiet forests all seem to tell stories simply on their own. Unfortunately, these scenes present themselves only for split seconds before quickly dissolving into the plot. But a new exhibition is promising a closer, more intimate look at the director and his work, which usually gets out-shined by the more glamorous elements associated with movies. Roughly 200 works from Yamamoto’s career – ranging from early to recent – will be on display at the Shizuoka City Museum of Art from August 4 – September 23, 2014.

Ghibli Art Director Nizo Yamamoto

Background from “Princess Mononoke” (1997)

Ghibli Art Director Nizo Yamamoto

Background from “Grave of the Fireflies” (1988)

Ghibli Art Director Nizo Yamamoto

Background from “Princess Mononoke” (1997)

Ghibli Art Director Nizo Yamamoto

Background from “Future Boy Conan” (1978)

3 Comments

  1. Jackie from France

    July 31, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    I follow you blog since long time. I enjoy every time to read it. Arigato !
    Merci beaucoup. Jackie de France.

  2. Thanks so much for the kind words Jackie!

  3. Monkey from Los Angeles

    August 13, 2014 at 4:07 am

    Hi, Johnny
    I LOVE the SITE, I just discover it today.
    I wish i can buy some of these background drawing.
    They are truly amazing.

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