Nizō Yamamoto (山本二三 Yamamoto Nizō) was born on June 27, 1953, in Fukue-shi (a town within Gotou City [Gotou-shi]), in Nagasaki Prefecture, and is one of the most well-known anime art directors and background artists in Japan.
He is especially famous for his work on several of the Studio Ghibli films directed or produced by Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takahata including Castle in the Sky (1986), Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Only Yesterday (1991), Whisper of the Heart (1995), Princess Mononoke (1997), and Spirited Away (2001).
His filmography both before and since his time at Ghibli includes titles such as Conan: The Boy in Future (1978), the NHK World Masterpiece Theater TV series Anne of Green Gables (1979), The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), Chie the Brat (1981), Sherlock Hound (1984), Little Nemo - Adventures in Slumberland (1989), and more recently The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) and Welcome to the Space Show (宇宙ショーへようこそ Uchuu Shou e Youkoso?) (2010). In 2007 Yamamoto directed (as well as handled storyboards and backgrounds) his first film, the Fuji TV special Miyori's Forest (ミヨリの森 Miyori no Mori?).
Yamamoto had decided to enter the anime industry after seeing the 1974 NHK TV series Heidi, Girl of the Alps and landed his first job at Ad Cosmo the same year. By 1978 he was working at Nippon Animation - with the people responsible for Heidi - first with Miyazaki on Future Boy Conan, and the following year with Takahata on Anne. Yamamoto was invited to join Studio Ghibli at its inception in 1985 to work on Castle in the Sky.
Yamamoto left Studio Ghibli after the completion of production on Spirited Away and continues to work as a freelance artist at the company he founded and directs, Kaieisha. An exhibition covering the more than 30 years of his anime background work was held in in 2012 at the Museum of Art in Kochi City, Kochi Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku.
See the Nizō Yamamoto (books) page for a list of books or articles illustrated by, written by, or about Yamamoto.