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Science-Fiction/Fantasy Illustrator Noriyoshi Ōrai Passes Away

posted on by Jabulani Blyden
Famed artist for Star Wars, Godzilla, Gundam, Macross, Future War Year 198X was 79

Noriyoshi Ōrai, an illustrator best known for his posters for such works as Godzilla and Star Wars, passed away due to pneumonia on Tuesday, October 27 at 11:35 a.m. in a hospital in Kunitomi, Miyazaki Prefecture. He was 79.

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back movie (poster, 1980)

Yoshinori Ōrai was born in Akashi City in Hyogo Prefecture in 1935. He attended Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (now known as Tokyo University of the Arts), and after leaving school early, began pursuing art in 1962. He later moved to his wife's hometown of Miyazaki.

Ōrai is perhaps most well known for his international poster for the Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back movie. He gained the opportunity to create the poster artwork after his Star Wars art, featured in a science-fiction magazine, caught the eye of George Lucas. The success of the poster gained Ōrai fame outside of Japan.

Godzilla movie (poster, 1984)

Ōrai then went on to create the poster for entries into the Godzilla movie series from 1984 to 1995: The Return of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Boliante, Godzilla vs. King Ghidora, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II, Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, and Godzilla vs. Destroyah. He also made the artwork for two Godzilla film posters in 2000 and 2005, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, and Godzilla: Final Wars, respectively. Other film poster contributions include The Goonies and The Sinking of Japan.

Godzilla Final Wars movie (poster, 2004)

The Sinking of Japan movie (2006)

He created illustrations for such anime and manga franchises as Gundam, Macross, Akira, and Aura Battler Dunbine:

Macross Perfect Memory book (poster insert, 1983)

Aura Battler Dunbine Roman Album Extra book (poster insert, 1984)

Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack movie (poster, 1988)

B-Club Special Akira Mechanix 2019 book (1988)
Doomed Megalopolis DVD (2007)

He also created the art work for many video games series including Nobunaga's Ambition, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Taiko Risshiden, and the Metal Gear Solid series, as well as other less known series.

Metal Gear Solid (1998)

His art appeared on the novel covers of the Lensman series (which inspired an anime film), the Genma Taisen series (which inspired the Harmagedon anime film), and Jurassic Park. He also drew covers for the Spider-Man and MazinSaga manga.

Genma Taisen 1 novel (1978)

The Great Escape novel (1984)

Foundation novel (1984)
Jurassic Park novel (advertising poster, 1991)

Spider-Man manga #1 (1995 reprint)

MazinSaga manga #2 (1997)

He worked as a conceptual artist for the image illustrations on the anime film Future War Year 198X. In 1980, he received the Art Award in 11th Seiun Awards.

Below is a video for an exhibition of his works this past summer:

The Facebook page for the exhibition posted still more examples of his work.

Uchūsen magazine (Summer 1995)

Sources: Sankei, Asahi via Hachima Kikō, Yaraon!

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