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Veteran Ghibli Art Director Nizo Yamamoto Passes Away Due to Cancer

posted on by Egan Loo

Image via Clouds Over Goto: Nizo Yamamoto Art Museum
Acclaimed anime art director Nizo Yamamoto passed away due to stomach cancer on Saturday, August 19. He was 70.

A service will be held on August 27 at 11:00 a.m. in Hanno City in Saitama Prefecture. His son Takao will be the chief mourner.

Yamamoto was born in Gotō City in Nagasaki Prefecture on June 27, 1953. He studied architecture at a high school in Gifu Prefecture. While studying at an art school in Tokyo, he began drawing background art for anime.

He first worked as an art director on the Future Boy Conan television series with Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata — the two directors who would later co-found Studio Ghibli. Yamamoto then served the same art director role on many of Ghibli's films, including Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Grave of the Fireflies, and Princess Mononoke. More recently, he contributed to the art of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Weathering With You.

Yamamoto's signature style featured grand vistas with clouds that were both realistic yet fanciful, which earned the fan nickname "Nizō-gumo" (literally, Nizō Clouds). A nationwide touring museum exhibition of his works drew over 900,000 visitors. His hometown opened a museum in his honor under the name Clouds Over Goto: Nizo Yamamoto Art Museum in 2018.

Image via Clouds Over Goto: Nizo Yamamoto Art Museum

Between 2010 and 2021, Yamamoto drew Gotō Hyakkei, an art collection depicting the landscape of his birthplace. He was drawing a 120-page manga about a local Gotō folk tale up until just days before his passing. He was one page away from completing the manga before he passed away.

Sources: Asahi Shimbun, Game Watch

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