Godzilla vs. Mothra poster artwork by Noriyoshi Ohrai, 1992
A prolific Japanese illustrator and oil painter since the early 60s, Noriyoshi Ohrai has created works of art for almost a dozen different Godzilla films dating back to 1984, as well as countless other films such as Star Wars, The Goonies and 1981’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, to name just a few. Ohrai’s bold, sci-fi illustrations have also graced the covers of fantasy and horror books and video games—most notably the pioneering video game Metal Gear.
Godzilla vs. Biollante movie poster by Noriyoshi Ohrai, 1989
The Goonies movie poster by Noriyoshi Ohrai
Sadly, Ohrai passed away at a hospital on the island of Kyushu in Miyazaki, Japan in October of last year at the age of 79. Since his passing, there have been many tributes and a few large retrospectives held in honor of the artist whose stunning work will be instantly familiar to you, even if Ohrai’s name is not.
If Ohrai’s name is familiar to you, it is likely thanks to Star Wars creator, George Lucas who commissioned Ohrai to design international posters for The Empire Strikes Back (see it here). If you happen to find yourself in Japan, the Parko Gallery X is hosting a show featuring Ohrai’s Godzilla paintings, illustrations and sketches through January 17th. The show will also feature Godzilla tribute artwork by illustrator Yuji Kaida.
Godzilla movie poster by Noriyoshi Ohrai, 1984
I’ve included Ohrai’s Godzilla artwork in this post as well as many of his pulpy sometimes Giallo-esque pieces that span his nearly 50-year career as an artist. Ohrai’s work is truly mind-bending and possess a similar quality to artwork associated with the works of the equally prolific author Isaac Asimov, or a writer who is often referred to as the “dean of science fiction writers, ” Robert A. Heinlein. Although I do find Ohrai’s work contains a bit more of a dangerous edge, even when Godzilla isn’t involved in his creations. Examples of Ohrai’s work have been featured in a number of books, most of which are difficult to track down. One exception is 2014’s Green Universe which contains Ohria’s Godzilla’s and a large assortment of his other far-out work.
Images of Ohrai’s work follows, and some of it is delightfully NSFW.
Cover art for a fantasy novel by Noriyoshi Ohrai, 1984
Godzilla vs Space Godzilla artwork by Noriyoshi Ohrai
Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, 1995
Noriyoshi Ohrai, 1970s
Godzilla artwork by Noriyoshi Ohrai artwork, 1980s
Artwork for the 1973 film, Nihon Chinbotsu or Japan Sinks by Noriyoshi Ohrai
Artwork for the 2007 film, Doomed Megalopolis or Teito Monogatari by Noriyoshi Ohrai
Godzilla artwork by Noriyoshi Ohrai, 1980s
The gorgeous cover of the book, Green Universe, 2014
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Amusing behind the scenes photos from vintage Godzilla films