Amano was born in Shizuoka, Japan; as a young adolescent, he was
fascinated with drawing. In 1967, he began working for Tatsunoko
Productions in the animation department, where he was introduced to
the early Japanese anime movement. His first paid project was for
the Speed Racer anime franchise (also known as Mach GoGoGo). He
worked in character design for anime shows such as the Time Bokan
series, the Gatchaman series, Tekkaman and the Honey Bee.
In the 1960s, Amano was exposed to Western art styles through
comic books and their Japanese Western-influenced counter parts.
Amano was also fascinated by the art styles of psychedelic art and
pop art of the West, particularly the work of American Pop artist
Peter Max. In the 1970s, Amano's intrigue led him to the study of
the artworks of the late 19th century and early 20th century
European movement of Art Nouveau, as well as the ancient Japanese
hand woodblock printing work of Ukiyo-e. While concentrating on
illustration, he was still at Tatsunoko Productions until he left in
In the early 1980s, he concentrated on illustrations for Science
Fiction and Fantasy, while still keeping the influence of his
animation and other illustration works from the 1960s and 1970s.
This in turn created a unique personal style, which was influenced
by both modern surrealism as well as realism fluent in many classic
and modern techniques.
In 1983, he was behind the illustrations for the novel Demon City
Shinjuku and the first of Hideyuki Kikuchi's novel series Vampire
Hunter D. This was adapted to a movie in 1985 for which Amano worked
as character designer. The film was one of the first anime movies to
be released outside of Japan. In interviews, however, Amano has
stated that he was not pleased with the final product of the movie.
More involvement in illustration had led to the creation of
collections of his artwork being published, such as "Maten" in 1984.
In 1987, he was introduced to a newly developed art department with
a promising future for conceptual design for video games. He joined
Square (now known as Square Enix) to work on what was expected to be
their last video game for the Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment
System): Final Fantasy (released on December 18, 1987 in Japan).
This task opened a new realm for Amano to work in. Even though video
game technology was very young, Amano produced striking pieces of
conceptual design for the games in both traditional and computer
designed artwork. Final Fantasy, the first in a continuing series,
was a success and brought Square popularity in the RPG genre in
Japan, as well as modest international fame. But the series would
ignite extreme international fame as the series continued. At this
time, he also worked for another video game company called Kure
Software Koubou in which he did box cover illustrations as well as
some character designs. This included work on Kure's First Queen
series, which, despite being fairly unknown overseas, is regarded a
classic in Japan.
In 1989, he had his first exhibition called "Hiten" at Yurakucho
Mullion in Tokyo, Japan. He continued to work with Square and their
Final Fantasy series, and in 1990 he started to work as an artist
for stage theater. His first work for theater was Tamasaburo Bando's
Nayotake, which was in the same year.During this time while working
as illustrator, character designer and set designer, he had
exhibitions of his becoming well-known for his printing works.
Yoshitaka Amano designed the characters for the first six Final
Fantasy games, as well as providing some conceptual artwork for
Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy IX. The above is a depiction of
Terra riding a suit of Magitek Armor from Final Fantasy VI, who he
has said was his favorite character to design.In 1994, after Final
Fantasy VI, he was no longer the main character, image and graphic
designer of the series (he started to provide promotional and
character artwork for the next games, as well as working on the
title logo designs for most of the games), but in 1995 he started to
become better known world wide with his work at the Biennale
d'Orléans in France, and then in his newly established workshop and
exhibition "Think Like Amano" in New York in 1997, which followed
another exhibition in New York at the Angel Orensanz Foundation
entitled "Hero". Amano also appeared in the 1998 movie New Rose
Hotel which is loosely based on the William Gibson short story with
the same name, in which he played the character Hiroshi.
In 2000, Amano did the illustrations for comic writer and novelist
Neil Gaiman on Sandman: The Dream Hunters which won several awards
and was nominated for a Hugo Award, as well as having his character
designs used again in another Vampire Hunter D movie entitled
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. In 2001, Greg Rucka and Amano
collaborated with another comic book tale, this time for Marvel
Comics, Elektra and Wolverine: The Redeemer. In 2006, he was
selected with Final Fantasy video game composer Nobuo Uematsu, by
former designer and creator of Square-Enix's Final Fantasy series,
Hironobu Sakaguchi to work on video games at his company Mistwalker.
He also stated in an interview in the French magazine "Japan Vibes"
that he is working on artwork for Final Fantasy XIII. Finally, his
series, Hero, will debut to American audiences by Boom! Studios. He
has also illustrated three album covers for the Japanese power metal
band Galneryus: The Flag of Punishment (2003), Advance to the Fall
(2005) and Beyond the End of Despair (2006).