By James Robert Shaw (The Wind up Geek)
Japanese illustrator Noriyoshi Ohrai, known for his artwork for the Star Wars film franchise and Richard Donner’s The Goonies, has passed away at the age of 79. Ohrai died at 11:35 on October 27th at Kunitomi Hospital in Miyazaki Prefecture of pneumonia. Ohrai had been a resident of Miyazaki Prefecture since 1973.
Born in 1935 in Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture, Ohrai attended the Tokyo Art University in 1957 before eventually dropping out. Working as an illustrator Ohrai came to the attention of George Lucas after his Star Wars creation was published in a science fiction magazine. Lucas commissioned him for the film’s sequel The Empire Strikes Back which was released in 1980.
Ohrai has created art for the Godzilla film series, Mad Max 2, Good Morning Vietnam, the Metal Gear gaming series and for companies like Koei.
But there is much of Ohrai’s works that can be found on Japanese editions of horror and science fiction books as well.
In the Miyazaki Daily Newspaper article that coincided with the major exhibition of his artwork in 2014, it was revealed that Ohrai was once commissioned to create a painting for Farewell to Yamato in 1978. As a translated passage from the article reveals:
“In describing this painting of a battleship in his lifework, Mr. Ohrai did the illustration for the anime Space Battleship Yamato. However, because he used the dimensions of the real battleship Yamato from World War II, it did not meet the demands of the client. Compared with the anime Yamato, the length of the hull is shorter and the muzzle is also smaller. Conversely, it is closer to the actual size of the Yamato that has appeared in a recent TV series.”
There was actually two Yamato paintings that were done by Ohrai but neither of them saw public light until his exhibition last year.