Early Life and Career Before Video Games
Yoshitaka Amano took to drawing and painting at an early age. Born in Shizuoka, near Mt. Fuji and the ocean, he often painted as a hobby, finding it very enjoyable. At the age of 14, while visiting Tokyo, he left a sample at the Tatsunoko offices, a major Japanese animation company. They were impressed by his work, and shortly thereafter he was hired.
There he learned the craft of animation, being involved in all aspects of production. By his second year at Tatsunoko, he was an animator and was often given opportunity to create characters. He was successful in this role, and eventually the position of "character designer" was created for him. In this capacity, he created Hutch the Honeybee (Minashigo Hatchi in Japan) and worked on Gathchaman
and Time Bokkan
He remained at Tatsunoko for 15 years. He left as he felt constricted by character development and wanted to improve as an artist. For a couple years he worked as a science fiction and fantasy artist, drawing inspiration for modern and classical techniques. He has been illustrating the Vampire Hunter D
novels since 1983.
Career in Video Games
Hironobu Sakaguchi first approached Amano to work on Final Fantasy
for the Famicon. At the time Square was under performing in the market, and Final Fantasy
was expected to be the company's last game. As character designer for a system that offered primitive graphics, Amano attempted to design the pixel art himself. Unsatisfied, the Final Fantasy team told Amano to design the characters as he normally would, and the team would then translate his creations into the game. Unsure how to approach this method, Amano envisioned the pixel art as symbols of his own art.
Since then, he has worked with multiple developers on a variety of games. These include the Front Mission
franchise for Square, the First Queen
series for Kure Software Koubou, and installments in the Final Fantasy Series. In addition to this, he has worked on multiple animation projects, graphic novels, and art exhibitions.
Amano is still actively involved in video games. Currently he is the art deisgner for Beyond Good and Evil 2
and collaborating with Square Enix on the Final Fantasy XIII
series of games. He has also stated that he has been contacted by former Final Fantasy team members Sakaguchi and Uematsu and their company Mistwalker, to work on an as-of-yet unnamed Nintendo DS project.