– AN ARTIST A DAY: YOSHITAKA AMANO –
a one-on-one talk with the legendary Yoshitaka Amano!
How likely is it for someone to meet a long-life idol and get the chance to have a chat with them? I never imagined that I would ever be able to get an opportunity like this; an interview with the legendary Yoshitaka Amano – artist, theater and film scenic designer and costume designer – among the many of his other professional talents.
As soon as I landed in Dubai, Bee and I headed straight to Abu Dhabi’s du Forum on Yas Island for ANI:ME – a local convention celebrating Japanese entertainment and pop culture. Upon arriving, I was able to spot Mr. Yoshitaka at his booth beside The Panther.
As I waited patiently for my turn to approach him, I got told that he would be leaving and will no longer sign autographs. However, the staff members were extremely accommodating! Special thanks to the wonderful translator and to the team for making this incredible interview happen:
1. Is this your first time in the UAE, how do you find it?
“It’s actually my second time in the UAE but my first time in Abu Dhabi. My first visit was made to Dubai where I stayed at a resort in the desert – it was very impressive and beautiful. I am happy to be back in the UAE and this time for work reasons.”
2. I read that you were involved in designing the world map of Final Fantasy 7, one of my favorite games of all time – which layout did you most enjoy designing?
“There are so many places that I like but I resonate with nature, so instead of a regular landscape, I would prefer to add a natural element. I am often inspired by nature and so I would say that the locations with clear natural elements are considered to be my favourite”
3. Speaking of which; out of the characters that you designed was your favorite?
“That’s a popular question. In fact, it would be Final Fantasy 6’s Terra (Tina in the Japanese version); as she was the first female heroine in the Final Fantasy Series”
4. One of the most fascinating animation movies that I have watched as of yet is Tenshi no Tomago (Angel’s Egg) – can you explain the vague symbolism behind the concept?
(WARNING: spoilers ahead – for those who have not yet watched the movie)
“Tenshi no Tomago was difficult to understand and often misinterpreted; the intention behind the movie was not easily understood. However, apart from the distinct Christian Symbols integrated into the movie, the metaphors were an indication of transitions: the little girl growing into a woman. The egg was a symbolism for her youth and once it got taken away from her, she was no longer a little girl. The director might have had another perspective of the movie; thus the religious elements – however, to me, the girl is the main subject.”
(I finally found an answer to a question that the internet wasn’t able to provide. I am contented).
5. Have you always known that you wanted to be in the art and animation world? A lot of people are unsure if they could pursue that path in life as a career.
“I started when Anime was kind of the new trend in the entertainment field and so, I became an illustrator. The point is, the concept of illustration in the animation world was a rather abstract one at the time. That’s why I enjoy doing everything now, instead of limiting myself to one option.”
6. Is your art targeted at a specific audience or is it for everyone?
“I just want to do what I enjoy doing and creating – thus making my art accessible to everyone.”
Bee joined along with the questions and asked him the following:
7. You have a distinct style of drawing that does not comply with the usual rules of animation, what can you tell us regarding that?
“That’s true; when I was an animator, the art had to be simple for animation adaptation purposes. However, when I moved on to illustration, I wasn’t limited to anything and intentionally wanted to experiment with more complicated styles.”
8. What would be your favorite medium to tell a story for a project (ie: animation, illustration, manga, etc…)?
“The most important aspect to work is for it to be original and unique. Nowadays, all media is mixed – so if you have a concept, it’s good to diversify into different methods like movies, anime and comics, even music; just as long as you are able to express your idea. This is the era that we live in now.”
9. If you had to choose a creature from the Final Fantasy Series for a pet, what would it be?
*Chuckles* “Probably a dragon!”
By the end of the interview, Mr. Yoshitaka took out his drawing pen and sketched a quick portrait of me. I was crying on the inside (I lied, my tears were actually very visible).
Fun Fact: The Panther, an installation by Yoshitaka Amano, also made its way to the ANI:ME Convention along with some illustrated versions of it. It was incredible to see!