Worlds of Amano
René Walling · April 16, 2007 | What do Tekkaman, Elric of Melniboné, Vampire Hunter D, Final Fantasy, Neil Gaiman's Sandman and The Tale of Genji have in common? Yoshitaka Amano illustrated, created concept art for, or otherwise worked on all of them. And the list above is just a small sampling of what this incredibly creative and productive artist has worked on. Worlds of Amano is an overview of just part of his career, from the mid-eighties to the turn of the millennium.

Best known to fans for his work on Vampire Hunter D and Final Fantasy, Amano was hired at the young age of fifteen by Tatsunoko Productions, where he worked as character designer for a variety of productions, including Gatchaman and The Time Bokan. In the early eighties he made the move to freelance illustration but never left animation behind, working on productions as varied as Hutch the Honeybee, Twilight of the Cockroaches and Angel's Egg (with Mamoru Oshii).

Worlds of Amano
Dark Horse, 2007
156 pages

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Of all these animated productions, only the two better-known ones, Vampire Hunter D and Final Fantasy, make it into the book, but both are very well represented. With close to two dozen illustrations each, they take up almost a third of the book.

The book itself is divided into twelve parts. All but the first one, a brief overview of various works, highlight a particular project Amano has worked on. Vampire Hunter D and Final Fantasy each have their own section, and a short biography is also included at the end of the book.

Each section starts with an all-too-brief paragraph and is followed by a series of illustrations. Which brings me to my only complaint about the book: the lack of information on the projects depicted. Considering the variety of people who have praised Amano's work, his extensive experience (he's had studios in Japan, Paris and New York), and the variety of media he's handled (paint, stained glass, lithography and many others), this scarcity of text in the book is surprising. I want to find out more about Amano and this book leaves my desire for information unfulfilled.

What is fulfilled is my joy at seeing so many beautiful illustrations collected in one book. Trying to do justice to Amano's work using only words is just plain impossible. Like many others, I could mention influences and what some of the images evoke in me, but in the end, it's just something that has to be experienced.

Being so prolific, it's not surprising that not everyone has seen all of Amano's work. Being so talented and having worked in so many fields, it's also to be expected that very few people know of the range of his work. Worlds of Amano is a book that lets the reader explore many of the worlds he's created. If all you want is page after page of Final Fantasy or Vampire Hunter D concept art and nothing else, then this is not the book for you. If you know some of Amano's work and want to see what else he's done or simply love beautiful illustrations, then you definitely want to get this book.
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