A Noriyoshi Ohrai Night Thread

When I was young, the Horror section of Blockbuster always freaked me the hell out. Wall to wall of genocidal killers in skinmasks, monstrous clowns, maniacal Leprechauns, and murderous gingerbread men. But I would brave it all, just so I can rent a Godzilla movie.

Perhaps no other videos, save for Studio Ghibli films, did I rent more then ol’ atomic breath. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. Mothra vs. Godzilla. King Kong vs. Godzilla. I tried to watch them all. The aspect that helped me find them among rows of creepy covers was its own striking art. I remember when I was perusing the aisles and seeing this spectacle, forever searing into my brain.

Godzilla, drawn in a triangler shape that draws the attention to a gaping, rose maw that looks like a distant cousin of Audrey II. It’s an imposing image that is perfect for such awe-inspiring creatures.

Like some contemporary artists like Drew Struzan and Richard Amsel, Noriyoshi Ohrai made his claim to fame by George Lucas. Lucas, who saw Ohrai’s work of a Star Wars illustration in a science fiction magazine, commissioned him to illustrate the international poster for The Empire Strikes Back. The commission made him prominent internationally, especially within Japanese cinema.

Noriyoshi Ohrai-Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back Remastered imprint.jpg

A remastered imprint of the original poster.

Toho soon after commissioned for him to illustrate a poster for their reboot of Godzilla titled The Return of Godzilla.

This is one of my favorites of his work. A raw power emanates from this, a ruined city below with Godzilla rising above like a mushroom cloud. A morbid reference to the nuclear devastation that inspired him.

Like Struzen, Amsel, and many others, Ohrai understood that it was the characters you were coming for and placed them prominently in the posters. No, not the pesky little humans that would patter for an hour, but the monsters.

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II

Every monster he drew gave an awe-inspiring terror to them. Ohrai perfectly positioned many of them in a low-angle shot, putting the viewer as if they themselves we’re there, looking-up at the fearsome spectacle of gods in conflict.

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah

His last Godzilla work, Godzilla: Final Wars, was an amalgamation of nearly every kaiju Toho spawned, along with the first humans that Ohrai incorporated into his Godzilla posters. All underneath the gaze of the King of the Monsters himself.


Hope you enjoyed my little tribute to Noriyoshi Ohrai, and have a great Night Thread!