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Concept illustration of a city from Final Fantasy VI (1994)

If you were a gamer you knew him from his illustrations for Final Fantasy. If you watched 1970s anime you knew him from his design work for Gatchaman and Tekkaman. If you were a music fan maybe you knew him for his illustrations of David Bowie. Either way, it’s clear that the character designer and illustrator Yoshitaka Amano touched many colors of the art spectrum.

A new exhibition just opened in Tokyo, and spans Amano’s fascinating career with an emphasis on his earlier work.

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The 63-year old artist got a career boost early on in the 1960s when he was given the opportunity to work on Speed Racer. And within 10 years he was creating iconic and influential characters like Gatchaman, Tekkaman and Time Bokan. By 1982 he had made a name for himself; enough of a name to go independent. Amano’s renown as a character designer was sealed before he even turned 30 when he was commissioned to create concept art for Final Fantasy, a game that would go on to define the lives of kids growing up in the 90s.

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Exdeath from Final Fantasy V (1992)

Over 100 of Amano’s original prints and illustrations are on display at the Yurakucho Asahi Gallery, a space hidden away on the 11th floor of Yurakucho Mullion building.

And part of the show features some of the illustrations that Amano did of David Bowie and his wife Iman as sci-fi characters, which appeared in Issue 29 (Summer 2004) of V Magazine as part of a short story called The Return Of The Thin White Duke written by Neil Gaiman. For fans of both it was somewhat of a dream-team, and given the unfortunate news of Bowie’s death last month the exhibition decided to work them into the show.

The exhibition is up through March 8, 2016. However, note that general admission is 1000 yen.


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David Bowie and wife Iman in “The Return Of The Thin White Duke” (2004)

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“Marchen” (1996)


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“Casshan” (1995)

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“Candy Girl” (2012)