NORIYOSHI OHRAI

by Mariko Oka

 

Chances are if you’re on this site, you know of Noriyoshi Ohrai. But even if you don’t know his name, you probably know his art.

 

Unfortunately, his death from pneumonia at age 79 in October 2015 means the world will no longer be graced with new works by Ohrai. His corpus of commercial art, however, is rich indeed.

 

While a known quantity in his native Japan prior to 1980, Ohrai and his illustrations became known to international audiences when none other than George Lucas was taken by an Ohrai illustration, inspired by the original “Star Wars,” that appeared in a Japanese movie magazine.

 

Impressed by Ohrai’s stately painting style, Lucas commissioned Ohrai to illustrate the one-sheet for “The Empire Strikes Back” used in that movie’s international release — and his fame beyond the shores of Japan was launched.

 

From his Miyazaki City studio in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture, Ohrai produced a steady stream of illustrations for movies, video games and books, including more than a dozen movies featuring Japan’s best-known movie character, Gojira, a.k.a. Godzilla. Ohrai also famously illustrated the posters for such movies “The Goonies,” “Above the Law,” “Mad Max 2” (as “The Road Warrior” was known in its Japanese release) and more.

 

In the area of video games, Ohrai famously illustrated the art that accompanied “Metal Gear Solid Twin Snakes,” “Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots,” “Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops” and “Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.”

 

It’s an axiom that an artist’s works become more sought after his or her demise — and Noriyoshi Ohrai is no exception. With that increased popularity has been an increased curiosity about Ohrai himself. But in life, Ohrai kept the details of his life private. Little is known (at least to English language fans) about his life, influences and so on. His art, in other words, must speak for itself. But isn’t how most artists want to be remembered?

 

If there is any consolation, it’s that while Ohrai is gone, his wonderful, iconic masterpieces of pop art live on and will do so for years to come.



Also in News

Ghostrunner: First Person Cyberpunk Ninja Hack & Slash Previewed
Ghostrunner: First Person Cyberpunk Ninja Hack & Slash Previewed

by Renzo Adler 0 Comments

The ninja represents a sort of ideal in video gaming. From the first moments Ryu Hayabusa nimbly leapt off the walls in Ninja Gaiden, games have been trying to encapsulate the speed, agility, and lethality of ninja. Ghostrunner, from developer One More Level, aims to capture that speed and fluidity while dropping the player into a grungy cyberpunk world.
Read More
Takayuki Takeya: Ifu no Zokei Quick Read
Takayuki Takeya: Ifu no Zokei Quick Read

by Renzo Adler 0 Comments

In 2016, Shinji Higuchi and Hideaki Anno created a terrifying new vision of a classic movie monster with Shin Godzilla. It was belched forth from the ocean and slithered across the usually sleepy neighborhood of Kamata, knocking cars aside effortlessly, and grew to spew lasers across Ginza. 
Read More
The Mad World of Toei Tokusatsu is Now on YouTube!
The Mad World of Toei Tokusatsu is Now on YouTube!

by Renzo Adler 0 Comments

A creature with five faces belches flame from the top of a skyscraper. A young girl finds out she’s descended from an Egyptian goddess that fought demons. A superhero does battle against someone making counterfeit merchandise of them! The spectacular world of Toei’s tokusatsu TV shows have only existed on the periphery of mainstream US access  for decades. 
Read More

x