Otaku USA Magazine
Beyond Final Fantasy: Classic Anime Designs by Yoshitaka Amano

The iconic art of Yoshitaka Amano

If I asked you to describe the artwork of Yoshitaka Amano, you’d immediately go to — well, the above. High fantasy inspired, with flowing hair and intricate patterns. Or intricate hair and flowing patterns. The Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D artist has an unmistakable look. But you’ve probably also seen his work elsewhere without realizing it!

When he wasn’t penciling those glorious long-haired vampires, Amano created character designs for a lot of classic series. If you’re a fan of older series, you may know these shows’ pedigree already. If not, prepare to never un-see his influence on these old-school faves.



Doronjo, from Yatterman

The best remembered of the Time Bokan series, Yatterman made enough nostalgia bucks to get a Takashi Miike film adaptation. As with Pokémon‘s Team Rocket, Yatterman‘s Doronbo Gang — led by masked femme fatale Doronjo — makes Saturday morning villainy fun. And, as it happens, Yoshitaka Amano designed these memorable characters.

The series sees heroes Gan-chan and Ai-chan solving mysteries as the gang tries to steal treasures from around the world. Brightly colored and eternally goofy, it’s a far cry (but a fun one) from the designer’s more elegant work. Though he’s not at all shy about bringing Doronjo back for art pieces. Which is great.


Science Ninja Team Gatchaman


Speaking of the 1970s and wild anime villains, Gatchaman had it all. This team of bird-attired science ninjas protected the world weekly from Galactor, equally science-y baddies. We’re glad to have them around to protect our natural resources and make sure we make good use of them. And we get a certain kind of joy from knowing Yoshitaka Amano designed these outfits.

You’re probably noticing a slight trend, and you’d be right. Amano did a lot of action anime character designs. Casshern, Hurricane Polymar, Tekkaman, and more from that Tatsunoko set. It’s wild to think that, years later, the guy who made these caped bird people is also drawing beautiful portraits of David Bowie.


The Last part of RobotechYellow Belmont, from Genesis Climber MOSPEADA

Yoshitaka Amano also did character designs for Genesis Climber MOSPEADA, which was recycled into the final arc of Robotech. This is one of the ones we can see most easily, for one reason: Yellow Dancer. Amidst all the mecha action, the character (Yellow Belmont in MOSPEADA) most fits the aesthetic we all know and love.

The character designs got another outing in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles. The newly-made OVA picked up where the original series left off, this time with entirely new animation and story.

Incidentally, Yoshitaka Amano turns 70 next year — and he apparently has some exciting ideas in store! Keep an eye on his website.

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.